Author Topic: Going back to work part-time post FIRE  (Read 4763 times)

kap1an

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Going back to work part-time post FIRE
« on: July 30, 2016, 05:16:57 AM »
I reached F.I. about 12 months ago, and while I had the desire to R.E., I wasn't sure if I was willing to make that big a statement in my mid thirties. Having spent the last 15 years in a very full on career, at the very least I wanted to take a meaningful break, so I committed to take 12 months off as a 'trial retirement', while just telling people I was taking a 'break'.

I lived, and managed my finances as if I'd never return to work, and didn't find it all that difficult. I could live comfortably on a withdrawal rate well below 4%. And I certainly didn't have any trouble finding things to keep me occupied. My health, fitness and personal relationships improved dramatically. Meanwhile, I took up plenty of new and interesting hobbies to ensure I continued to learn and grow. As far as I was concerned, there was very little downside to FIRE!

So this was all going fine until a few months ago, when a pretty interesting opportunity came up to take a part-time job back in the field I was working. The offer was too good to pass up, so here I am back at work a few days a week, feeling like I've got a foot in each of the work/FIRE camps.

Having work encroach back into my life, I've made a few interesting observations, and am wondering if others have had similar or different experiences:

1. Being F.I. with an additional income has made me LESS financially disciplined. I'm still frugal relative to the average consumer, but I give less thought to eating out, or using the car as often. There's definitely a bit of lifestyle inflation creeping in which wasn't there pre F.I. and I'm not sure I'm happy about it...
2. Certain expenses go up A LOT. Eg. travel expenses, lunches, work clothes, dry cleaning... I was surprised by how much my expenses dropped when I stopped working, so I shouldn't be surprised to see these  costs come flying back in.
3. Working part-time can make me LESS productive. If I've beein in the office for 8 hours I falsely feel like I've achieved something that day, so I'm less inclined to pick up other interests in the free time I have left over.
4. Having a job to go to can make me LESS social outside of work. Basically I think there's a minimum level of social interaction you need each week, and it's easy to hit that quota with office colleagues. When I wasn't working I'd make an extra effort to go out and socialize with new friends in my community.

Basically the point I'm trying to make is when you've tasted FIRE you become a lot more attuned to the somewhat hidden costs of work, and you tend to look at everything a little more critically to weight up the costs vs benefits.

I'm interested in other people's experiences, and whether you think working part-time post FIRE is a good or bad thing overall?

MandyM

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Re: Going back to work part-time post FIRE
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2016, 06:59:26 AM »
Thanks for the insight! My original plan was to either quit or go PT in May 2017...but I'm thinking about talking to my boss this fall about PT. It probably isn't quite the same as going back after a year of not working, but I do wonder how PT work will impact me.

How many hours do you generally work/week?

MakeSmarterDecisions

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Re: Going back to work part-time post FIRE
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2016, 08:41:05 AM »
This is really interesting because I am here - today, right with you and I notice the exact same things. I gave up my full-time job in May (when they asked me to sign on for four more years) but I am still doing some part-time teaching online and consulting in a few schools. I find myself doing those things before I do things I care about and it takes away time from my health and relationships for sure. And you are so right about the costs! Yesterday I had a consulting meeting for 3 hours and we were meeting in a cafe and I ended up buying coffee and lunch - $10 gone, had to drive there and the commute was an hour total... If I was home, I would have gone for a long walk, done some reading, and made coffee and lunch at home. I haven't felt that less financially disciplined because we funnel the money toward a rental home mortgage to pay off later this year (but I can see where that could easily happen). I do feel less productive too - because I often know I want to be doing other things and then can't focus on the work as well as I used to. 

I work about 10-15 hours a week outside of home. I think we need a support group to help us when we get ready to say "OK" - I'll take that on. Honestly - I think I just signed up for more consulting yesterday even though I planned to say no.  It's like we're programmed to work and earn money...crazy.

Stachey

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Re: Going back to work part-time post FIRE
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2016, 09:22:41 AM »
The points you make definitely resonate with me even though my case is slightly different.  I could have FIREd a lot earlier than I did but had a serious case of the golden handcuffs.  So what I did was consciously make a decision in my final year of working to see how the other half lived, as it were, to see if I was missing out on anything.  So I ate out a lot (didn't find the food at restaurants any better than what I could cook at home) and searched around for things to buy that I thought I would like (but I already had everything that makes life pretty damn marvellous).  So basically spending a lot more than I would in retirement and not getting very much value or happiness from it.

I definitely agree with your thoughts about workplace relationships.  That amount of social interaction is enough to satisfy most people but are rarely what constitutes real friendships.  So there is definitely a void that needs to be filled after FIRE creating new friendships because the workplace ones don't carry over into real life.

I was wondering about possibly PT work in the future but you've given me a lot to think about.

benjenn

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Re: Going back to work part-time post FIRE
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2016, 07:58:13 AM »
I got the opportunity after retiring last summer to do some part time work for the national organization the statewide organization I had worked for was affiliated with.  It involved working just a couple of days every month or two as a program facilitator presenting a short, half day class a couple of times per trip.  They offered to pay me a ridiculous amount of money ($1,800 per day plus travel expenses) so I didn't feel I could say no.  After only a couple of trips, I decided that it just wasn't worth it... I enjoyed being retired too much and didn't want to be away from the beach or from my husband.  We didn't need the money so it felt selfish taking it when someone who did need it could be working to make it instead.  So I emailed them and said thank you for the opportunity but I am bowing out.  Never expected to be able to walk away from easy money like that but I have no regrets.

Now, however, I have found myself working part time in a local gift store during this busy summer tourist season making $10 per hour and I just love it.  :) I feel like I'm helping them out, it doesn't feel like "work" at all, I get to be friendly to people who are visiting our area and tell them all the fun things they can do while they're here and I know I'm really helping out because I'm dependable and trustworthy and can actually make change without thinking about it too hard.  However, I am looking forward to going back to being full-time retired as soon as school starts again.  :)

MakeSmarterDecisions

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Re: Going back to work part-time post FIRE
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2016, 08:16:18 AM »
Hi Benjenn! I LOVE that story! I am so feeling like making that same move right now. I was offered a consulting job for next year and I just want to say no...but I feel guilty too. I need more stories like yours! I would much rather do a $10 an hour fun job too! I felt like I "paid it forward" when I gave up my full-time job. But the consulting is a bit different because they don't have many people to call on. I just need to copy your message and look at it for a few more days!  Thanks for sharing!  OH - and we visited Gulf Shores in May from Upstate NY. No wonder you love it there! We hung out on the beach and caught the Jimmy Buffett concert. A BEAUTIFUL area - can't wait to go back!

benjenn

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Re: Going back to work part-time post FIRE
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2016, 01:12:38 PM »
Hi Benjenn! I LOVE that story! I am so feeling like making that same move right now. I was offered a consulting job for next year and I just want to say no...but I feel guilty too. I need more stories like yours! I would much rather do a $10 an hour fun job too! I felt like I "paid it forward" when I gave up my full-time job. But the consulting is a bit different because they don't have many people to call on. I just need to copy your message and look at it for a few more days!  Thanks for sharing!  OH - and we visited Gulf Shores in May from Upstate NY. No wonder you love it there! We hung out on the beach and caught the Jimmy Buffett concert. A BEAUTIFUL area - can't wait to go back!

Thank you for not thinking I'm crazy for saying no to something like that.  LOL.  It definitely felt that way at first but I'm really glad I did it, too.  I'm sure your consulting gig can go on without you, too, so if you don't really WANT to do it, don't do it. I really thought at first I'd want to do the class...it was something I knew inside out and had always enjoyed sharing.  But when it came right down to it, it was just too close to the work I left behind.  My $10 an hour job is NOTHING like that and is just fun and social.  Plus, since we're at the beach, I wear a t-shirt and shorts to work.  :)

Glad you enjoyed Gulf Shores - and coming in May is the perfect time before the really busy season hits.  Hope you'll get a chance to visit again.  It really is paradise.

jim555

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Re: Going back to work part-time post FIRE
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2016, 01:46:20 PM »
Going back to work part-time post FIRE = FIRE fail.  Someone had to say it.

homestead neohio

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Re: Going back to work part-time post FIRE
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2016, 02:19:57 PM »
Going back to work part-time post FIRE = FIRE fail.  Someone had to say it.

Which is the bigger fail? 

- The certainty of working longer than you need to, ensuring you never have to work again, or
- Retiring earlier on the chance you might need to work again due to [insert unlikely event here]

I think I'd rather have the chance I might need to work again, but get started sooner.  Because I might NOT need to work again.  This has everything to do with personal circumstances, though.  I could easiliy find meaningful work I enjoy that is different from a career I'm starting to feel burned out in.  Others might be enjoying their current gig, or be making so much money they'd have to work many years in a lower paying job they would not enjoy, so may as well go OMY in their current job. 

Do what you want, and don't let someone else decide what is a failure and what is success.  Sounds like benjenn is succeeding in enjoying each day, whether that day includes going to a fun job or not.

I find it really interesting that some who have experienced FIRE and gone back to some PT work find it really gets in the way.  I'm guessing it is still better than going back to full time employment.

Gronnie

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Re: Going back to work part-time post FIRE
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2016, 05:28:03 PM »
Going back to work part-time post FIRE = FIRE fail.  Someone had to say it.

Well geez, excuse me Mr. FIRE policeman.

Aelias

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Re: Going back to work part-time post FIRE
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2016, 01:44:32 PM »

Thank you for not thinking I'm crazy for saying no to something like that.  LOL.  It definitely felt that way at first but I'm really glad I did it, too.  I'm sure your consulting gig can go on without you, too, so if you don't really WANT to do it, don't do it. I really thought at first I'd want to do the class...it was something I knew inside out and had always enjoyed sharing.  But when it came right down to it, it was just too close to the work I left behind.  My $10 an hour job is NOTHING like that and is just fun and social.  Plus, since we're at the beach, I wear a t-shirt and shorts to work.  :)

Glad you enjoyed Gulf Shores - and coming in May is the perfect time before the really busy season hits.  Hope you'll get a chance to visit again.  It really is paradise.

You're definitely not crazy!  One of my FIRE fantasies is working super part-time at my favorite fancy gourmet food store. (Yes, I like fancy foods--insert facepunch here!)  It's a nice half-hour walk from my house, I could talk to other people who like fancy foods, and maybe even get a discount.  Sounds sort of ideal.

Dicey

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Re: Going back to work part-time post FIRE
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2016, 10:56:54 AM »
Only if my volunteer activities would be considered part-time work. Otherwise, not unless it's something I'd be willing to do for free. I just do not want to be tied down to a job. One of the best aspects of FIRE is the fluidity of my days.

Libertea

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Re: Going back to work part-time post FIRE
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2016, 04:28:11 PM »
I am planning to work PT (so semi-retire rather than ER) on purpose so that I can quit my job sooner.  Will be changing jobs to something hopefully more enjoyable and less stressful, however.

OP, have you considered working FT for a few months, then taking a few months off, rather than working PT consistently?  I'm thinking that pattern would be more consistent with a "good" semi-retirement, in the sense that when I'm off, I'll really be off, and when I'm working, I'll be working.  But the working part will only be for a few months at a time, with a long "vacation" always on the horizon. 

MoonLiteNite

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Re: Going back to work part-time post FIRE
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2016, 03:09:55 AM »
Basically the point I'm trying to make is when you've tasted FIRE you become a lot more attuned to the somewhat hidden costs of work, and you tend to look at everything a little more critically to weight up the costs vs benefits.

I am still 7-15 years years out from FIRE (really depends on that overtime)
But tonight is my last night of a little trial run, i took about 4 (paid) weeks off work. And oh boy do i live cheap when i am not going to work.

My CC statement is empty, 2 line for going food shopping, and 1 line for takeout, and that is it.... in 4 weeks!
Spent almost nothing, compared to the 20 or so fast food lines, and 3 lines for gas, and extra lines to the food store to buy some more PB and bread.

My spending rate was like 10% of a normal month. Even my water bill is going to be cheaper since i didn't shower or do laundry is often.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2016, 05:04:43 AM by MoonLiteNite »