Author Topic: Post Semi-FIRE Update  (Read 3992 times)

Libertea

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Post Semi-FIRE Update
« on: April 15, 2018, 10:20:31 AM »
So since I'm goofing off on the internet right now instead of doing something productive, I figure I should at least post an update, because I always liked hearing about what happened to other people after they quit their jobs, and a lot of them kind of stop posting very much at that point.  (Present company included - sorry). 

To recap since it's been over a year, I quit my FT job in January 2017 at age 41, took six months off to travel/spend time with family, and then started an internship in a new (much lower paying) field.  I am also still working (very) part time in my old field, about one day per week on average.  Because of that, I have not had to touch my stash at all, and in fact, it's grown considerably larger.  (I semi-FIRE'd with about $600k and am now just north of $700k.).

First, I want to say that while I still don't love my old field, it is MUCH more tolerable when I'm only working in it PT.  Even if every day that I'm doing it sucks (which it doesn't), it's only like 4-5 days per month, so it's not a constant vampiric drain on my psychic energy.  I have gone back and forth about whether to quit doing it altogether, and I almost did quit last month.  But I ultimately decided to continue for a while longer for several reasons, including wanting to have enough money to continue helping family and donating to charity at my current levels, neither of which I would be able to afford to do while not working unless I double my stash. 

Second, I really like the new field a lot, and I would even consider continued FT work in it if I could find a reasonable position.  Unfortunately, I am not sure how possible that will be, but I'm looking at options.

Third, I am not less busy than I was before semi-FIRE'ing.  In fact, if anything, I have less free time than before.  That is not such a welcome surprise, but it is what it is.

Last, I really like Tony Robbins's concept of graded FI, which he outlines in his book (Money Master the Game) and on his blog.  We speak a lot here about FU and FI levels, but in general people tend to think of FI and RE as all or nothing.  Meaning, you're either FIRE or you're not, analogous to how you're either pregnant or you're not.  However, while it is not possible to be half-pregnant, it is most definitely possible to be half-FI, or any other gradation in between 0-100%.  Robbins has five levels of stashes, from financial security (meaning you can cover your basic living expenses but no luxuries/discretionary spending) all the way up to absolute financial freedom, where you have enough money to cover all of your dream goals as well as your expenses and luxuries.  By his accounting, I am at the second level for sure (expenses + half of everyday luxuries) and am at or getting close to the third (expenses + all everyday luxuries), but I still have a way to go to be able to fund a lot of the dream goals using my stash.

On a (somewhat) related note, has anyone here read the book "Happy Money"?  The authors apparently make some arguments for spending more money on specific things that free up your time and energy for other things that you enjoy doing more.  (Say, paying someone to clean your house for you if you're like me and don't enjoy cleaning.)  I haven't read the book yet, but it sounds intriguing.  I've struggled for years with this specific issue of whether to pay someone to clean my house (it doesn't just bother me financially - I find it kind of ethically icky too.  But that's another story.)

DreamFIRE

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2018, 11:55:01 AM »

It sounds like semi-FIRE is working well for you.  In 2019, if I FIRE on schedule, I might offer to my employer that I stay on part time 1 to 3 days per week for at least a year.  But I don't know if my employer will go for that since I'm budgeted as a full time position, so they just might try to replace me.  But due to specific skill requirements, it's possible they will keep me on part time for a while.  I think semi-FIRE will be heaps better being off more days in a week than I work.

Paying someone to do house cleaning has come up in a few recent posts.  Some people do it.  I haven't done it during my career, so it seems even less likely I would do it during FIRE/semi-FIRE.  I can see the advantage of freeing up time if someone doesn't mind spending the extra money for something they could do themselves.

Basenji

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2018, 02:03:50 PM »
Thank you for updating! Sounds like you are doing very well. The Happy Money struggle is real. For me it's DIY. Do I really learn how to remove and reinstall baseboards, buy supplies, make mistakes, or do I just hire someone? Will have to check out the book.

mausmaus

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2018, 03:39:04 PM »
Great post. I want to take a moment to analyze why people feel icky about paying someone to clean their houses.
I don't think the activity per se is problematic. We hire people to do lots of things for us (plumbers, housepainters), and I don't see cleaning as essentially different. No reason for ethical qualms there.
I think the problem lies in the fact that usually house-cleaning ladies are treated very unfairly. Most are ghastly underpaid and in some cases employers take advantage of problematic situations like lack of immigration visas.
I think employers should feel guilty (and act accordingly) if that were the case.

As (former) employees, we should be sensitive to the needs that every employee has (and house-cleaning workers are no different): a fair wage, healthcare, retirement, paid vacations, sick days off, reasonable obligations and a good working environment. As long as we provide those conditions, we should feel no shame about employing a person.

Financial.Velociraptor

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2018, 04:49:52 PM »
I was just wondering if you kept the part time gig or not.  Glad to hear it is an optional consideration at this point.

Libertea

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2018, 06:10:32 PM »
Great post. I want to take a moment to analyze why people feel icky about paying someone to clean their houses.
I don't think the activity per se is problematic. We hire people to do lots of things for us (plumbers, housepainters), and I don't see cleaning as essentially different. No reason for ethical qualms there.
I think the problem lies in the fact that usually house-cleaning ladies are treated very unfairly. Most are ghastly underpaid and in some cases employers take advantage of problematic situations like lack of immigration visas.
I think employers should feel guilty (and act accordingly) if that were the case.

As (former) employees, we should be sensitive to the needs that every employee has (and house-cleaning workers are no different): a fair wage, healthcare, retirement, paid vacations, sick days off, reasonable obligations and a good working environment. As long as we provide those conditions, we should feel no shame about employing a person.
I think you've hit on one factor, which is that there is certainly a potential imbalance of power.  Though I don't think fixing it is all that easy.  If I have someone clean my place for an hour or two once a month, or even once a week, it doesn't seem terribly realistic for me to be providing them with healthcare, retirement, and paid vacations.  A fair wage certainly sounds reasonable on the surface, but the problem is that I'm not sure what that means in this context, because I don't pay myself a single cent when I clean my own place.  If I think $50 would be fair, and someone else thinks $75 is fair, how do I know if I'm right or they are, beyond trying to find someone willing to work cheaper?  Never mind services; prices of even tangible objects are so arbitrary anyway.  Thank you Dan Ariely for disabusing me of the notion that economics is any more logical than any other human endeavor. :-/

To me, though, the greater part of the ickiness factor comes from the invasiveness of having someone who is likely a complete stranger (or at most a bare acquaintance) come into your personal space and handle your personal things.  I don't typically even have my friends come into my bedroom, for example, let alone people I barely know.  Maybe I'm just weird that way, but there you have it.

I was just wondering if you kept the part time gig or not.  Glad to hear it is an optional consideration at this point.
Yeah, for now I'm keeping it.  The whole OMY disease runs strong, particularly because I know that once I do stop, I'm likely going to be stopping for good.  Glad to see that you're still around this forum.

sui generis

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2018, 06:25:16 PM »
I haven't been around long enough to read your prior posts, but it's great to hear another example.  Can you say what field your internship is in?  Just curious, but more importantly, how does it feel to be an intern at your age?  I'm almost that age, too, so there's definitely no insulting tone behind those words, but honestly wonder how it might feel to start a new field with people half one's own age.

Libertea

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2018, 07:07:55 PM »
I haven't been around long enough to read your prior posts, but it's great to hear another example.  Can you say what field your internship is in?  Just curious, but more importantly, how does it feel to be an intern at your age?  I'm almost that age, too, so there's definitely no insulting tone behind those words, but honestly wonder how it might feel to start a new field with people half one's own age.
I sent you a PM, but the general gist is that I do feel like I'm not in the best social environment possible.  However, that has less to do with the fact that my coworkers are a bunch of millennials (although yes, there is something of a generation gap), and more to do with the fact that, although they're generally very nice people, they're all total spendthrifts. 

mausmaus

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2018, 08:52:41 PM »
I think you've hit on one factor, which is that there is certainly a potential imbalance of power.  Though I don't think fixing it is all that easy.  If I have someone clean my place for an hour or two once a month, or even once a week, it doesn't seem terribly realistic for me to be providing them with healthcare, retirement, and paid vacations.
Agreed. I only spoke of the extreme case of full-time employment, which I think is rare, to make the point that all employment rights should be met as if it were any other job.

Quote
A fair wage certainly sounds reasonable on the surface, but the problem is that I'm not sure what that means in this context, because I don't pay myself a single cent when I clean my own place.  If I think $50 would be fair, and someone else thinks $75 is fair, how do I know if I'm right or they are, beyond trying to find someone willing to work cheaper?  Never mind services; prices of even tangible objects are so arbitrary anyway.  Thank you Dan Ariely for disabusing me of the notion that economics is any more logical than any other human endeavor. :-/
I will check out that Dan Ariely guy. Although it is true that there's no one way of determining the price, my point was less nuanced in that in some cases it is blatantly obvious that basic needs cannot be met with certain wages. Your point is certainly more interesting and complex, and here's to spending probably my next hour researching that Ariely guy online.

Quote
To me, though, the greater part of the ickiness factor comes from the invasiveness of having someone who is likely a complete stranger (or at most a bare acquaintance) come into your personal space and handle your personal things.  I don't typically even have my friends come into my bedroom, for example, let alone people I barely know.  Maybe I'm just weird that way, but there you have it.
Now I get the ickiness factor. Understandable.

Libertea

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2018, 06:24:14 PM »
Dan Ariely is a behavioral economist and the author of "Predictably Irrational." 

googooplex

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2018, 04:02:45 PM »
Last, I really like Tony Robbins's concept of graded FI, which he outlines in his book (Money Master the Game) and on his blog.  We speak a lot here about FU and FI levels, but in general people tend to think of FI and RE as all or nothing.  Meaning, you're either FIRE or you're not, analogous to how you're either pregnant or you're not.  However, while it is not possible to be half-pregnant, it is most definitely possible to be half-FI, or any other gradation in between 0-100%.  Robbins has five levels of stashes, from financial security (meaning you can cover your basic living expenses but no luxuries/discretionary spending) all the way up to absolute financial freedom, where you have enough money to cover all of your dream goals as well as your expenses and luxuries.  By his accounting, I am at the second level for sure (expenses + half of everyday luxuries) and am at or getting close to the third (expenses + all everyday luxuries), but I still have a way to go to be able to fund a lot of the dream goals using my stash.

I hear ya on this point. Wife and I "retired" a couple of years ago with a fairly modest stash, something like Robbin's "Financial Security" level - We bought and paid for our house and land, and we get enough income from our stash to cover very basic living expenses. Our home uses very little energy too. We love it. Total freedom to not work, and then when we want to indulge in a trip or some big purchase, well, we take up some paid work for a little while.

It took us a while to get our head around this version of FIRE as a possibility because, as you say, the impression you get from most of the FIRE discussions I've seen is that you either have enough money stashed to do everything you can imagine yourself ever wanting to do, or you don't. Setting the bar a bit lower and targetting somewhere else along the continuum allows one to exit the accumulation phase earlier, which was of immense value to us.

Steve Ainslie

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2018, 10:56:23 AM »
I am also semi-FIREd. I have enough stache to make it part way, but not enough to cover everything unless I do some major, major downsizing - like selling the house, moving somewhere rural and living in a trailer. I'm not sure I want to do that and I am certain my wife doesn't want to.

That said, after losing my FT sales management job unexpectedly about 18 months ago, I've been able to cover expenses with some freelance consulting and using savings.

The benefits of not working have been outstanding. After 30 years of working, it took me almost 12 months of being self employed before I stopped getting that Sunday night dread I always felt in the pit of my stomach.

I exercise in the middle of the day. I get out in the sunshine every day. I eat breakfast with my wife every morning. We we walk the dog  together every evening.

Had I realized I could make a living as a PT freelance consultant, I would have done this years ago.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2018, 06:58:37 AM by Steve Ainslie »

Daisy

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2018, 09:38:46 PM »
Nice update Libertea!

I came here to answer this:

The benefits of not working have been outstanding. After 30 years of working, it took me almost 12 months of being self employed before I stopped getting that Sunday night dread I always felt in the pit of my stomach.

The removal of Sunday Night Dread while FIREd is amazing!

BTW, happy TGIM tomorrow! (TGIM is trademarked by @spartana)

Orca2

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2018, 09:19:59 PM »
I like it - sliding towards that soon - best wishes, keep it up

Linda_Norway

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2018, 02:39:45 AM »
The benefits of not working have been outstanding. After 30 years of working, it took me almost 12 months of being self employed before I stopped getting that Sunday night dread I always felt in the pit of my stomach.

I would so much like to have this at the end of every vacation and every (long) weekend at our cabin. It is always a stress to plan to be back on time, influencing the last couple of days of your vacation. And the eternal queues on the road on Sunday afternoons because everyone needs to be back home from their cabin at Sunday night.

I exercise in the middle of the day. I get out in the sunshine every day. I eat breakfast with my wife every morning. We we walk the dog  together every evening.

Had I realized I could make a living as a PT freelance consultant, I would have done this years ago.

This. Especially in a country where the days are short, getting outside in the middle of the day and catching a bunch of daylight is very important to prevent depression. And having a relaxed breakfast together with your partner is a great way to start the day.


Tiff

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2018, 11:03:31 AM »
Love the idea of graded FI. I think this concept can help a lot of people break their fears and get rid of OMY syndrome! (myself included)

Cubert

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2018, 04:45:30 AM »
I should visit the forums more often. Here I thought I might have come up with a new FIRE term and I even posted about it a few weeks back. Whoopsie!

Mainly, just happy to read that folks are considering the SemiFIRE option, rather than thinking they have to tough it out in a difficult cubicle situation Full Time.