Author Topic: The urge to give back  (Read 4337 times)

FFA

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The urge to give back
« on: January 28, 2015, 01:55:25 AM »
Hi, I’m new to the MMM forum and relatively new to the world of “FIRE”. Actually I’ve been working towards FI for 15+ years, but somehow only recently discovered all these FIRE blogs and fantastic resources, just as I am just reaching the finish line myself. It would’ve been extremely useful to know earlier, but oh well, better late than never!

I guess a brief intro is in order for the first post : I’m late 30’s with wife and two young kids. I guess based on typical FIRE criteria we’ve been FI for some years already, but only now about to RE. Perhaps this is partly conservatism, partly an enjoyable expat lifestyle, and final part due to OMY syndrome (there’s another acronym I recently learned to describe myself!). I’m currently serving notice period and we will relocate home (Australia) in the coming month to open the exciting next life chapter. Our initial plan is two SAH parents vs two toddlers, so at least the game will now be numerically balanced and we have a hope to succeed…. Just kidding. I may continue some home based freelance/consultancy, but the clear objective is to wind down career, prioritise family time and pursue new interests, hobbies, meaningful pursuits etc.

This last point is the question I want to ask here, regarding meaningful pursuits and specifically the strong urge to “give back”. This seems to be one of the focal points in my mind lately about what I should be doing post FIRE. I keep having floods of ideas like volunteering, learning new skills in “giving” professions, starting a NFP, etc. I catch myself in these thoughts and try to tame the enthusiasm, usually by reminding myself of the first objective (ie. to cherish a few valuable years at home with our kids before they reach school years). Maybe this is a guilt thing due to never needing to work again?!

I’d be interested to hear feedback, if this is common for those about to FIRE / post FIRE, and any tips how people handle it ?

Thanks, FFA

former player

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Re: The urge to give back
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2015, 04:02:40 AM »
I had a sudden opportunity to retire aged 50 (a very good redundancy offer after years of mustachianism).   In the first six months I moved home, did a full refurb of my old house to turn it into a rental, and took on a biggish consultancy job.  In the following year I also got a dog, started an MA and became an elected local councillor in my new location.  Six months after that I became a carer for two relatives in their 90s.  It was too much, and I've not taken on any more consultancy jobs (don't need the - very nice - money, don't want to spend the time) and put the MA on hiatus because of increasing caring commitments. 

The rental is bringing in the money for not much effort, the local councillor job is more work than I expected but a great connection to people and the community, and the dog is a sweetheart.  I'm also slowly rehabbing the house I live in, and having a lot of fun reading about people's lives and giving them advice on this forum.

So yes, I took on too much, after having been worried that I would be suddenly cut off from a busy life and have nothing to do.  I think it would have worked out OK if not for the caring responsibilities which meant I had to drop the MA (hoping to get back to it in September).   My take on it now is: you are obviously intelligent, educated and resourceful.  Things to do will probably find you rather than you having to seek them out.  Take your time and allow space in your life for the unexpected and unplanned.  And enjoy - it is an extraordinary privilege to be young(ish), fit and healthy and have all one's needs met without having to work for them.

RetiredAt63

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Re: The urge to give back
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2015, 07:14:04 AM »
Former player nailed it.  Plus you are following an unconventional path, so you need to take time to sort everything out.  It is easy to over-commit. 

FFA

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Re: The urge to give back
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2015, 06:23:46 PM »
Things to do will probably find you rather than you having to seek them out.  Take your time and allow space in your life for the unexpected and unplanned.  And enjoy - it is an extraordinary privilege to be young(ish), fit and healthy and have all one's needs met without having to work for them.

Thanks former player for this good advice, I will keep it in mind !

Thanks too RetiredAt63, yes I need to remember to allow time. I read in another thread here it typically takes 6 months to "de-compress", which was a memorable and fitting way to describe it.

MsRichLife

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Re: The urge to give back
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2015, 07:03:21 PM »
I have a huge list of things I want to do post-FIRE, but I'm taking the advice of other early retirees and allowing myself at least 6-12 months to de-compress. We are moving to a new location post-FIRE, so in reality we'll probably spend that time sorting our our new home and working on projects to improve the property.

After 12 months I intend to either start a PhD or jump into volunteering on some projects around town. I also have to be careful about taking on too much. I love to start new things, but can get overwhelmed if it becomes too much.

I'm also late 30's with a toddler so I really want to spend some quality time with him before he starts school.

Daisy

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Re: The urge to give back
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2015, 07:14:05 PM »
I'm not FIREd yet, but I had a trial-run FIRE kind of sabbatical at the age of 42 a few years ago after an expected layoff. I knew the second I got laid off (and I had a feeling it was coming), that I'd want to take the summer off before deciding what to do. My costs were much higher then than now, so in all honestly I was not ready for FIRE. Not to worry as I got a job at my old-old-employer five months into the sabbatical without really looking for a job. I guess I was thinking I might have been FIRE then. I hadn't read this blog at that time, but I had read other stuff about ER.

Anyways, my first order of business was to get myself healthier as I had had some back pain from sitting too long (even though I still exercised) at the old job. So I did a lot of "wandering" around time, walking to the beach, taking long hikes along my neighborhood to explore (and how I found my new place of residence). I also took some art classes that I had always wanted to take. I also spent a lot of time with my aging parents who need a lot of help, company, and TLC. I spent a bunch of time with my cycling friends once the back pain dissipated.

I didn't really have a plan for anything as the layoff happened quite suddenly, but it seems like I was doing everything to decompress, and it was great!

But I do feel that when I truly FIRE soon, after this decompress time, I will want to continue to help my aging parents, and also volunteer at some stuff in the community that sound interesting. I don't have children so I'd like to work more with Big Sisters, guardian ad-litems, and at the science museum with children. As an engineer, I'd like to help the next generation of scientists and feel this would be a fun "job", without having to participate in the red-tape filled educational field.

RootofGood

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Re: The urge to give back
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2015, 01:50:36 PM »
I help out here and there but don't feel a huge need to jump into a significant volunteering time commitment.  I prefer to keep my giving of time very casual.  I guess I'm not a joiner.

Lots of stuff at the kids' school and helping out family, friends, and neighbors.  I'm full of advice and technical skills when it comes to computers, appliances, finances, home maintenance, traveling, and travel hacking.  I don't know if you can call any of what I do (other than sitting on the school advisory board) volunteering, but it's more meaningful to me than collecting spare change for a 501(c)(3) legit non-profit charity.  I guess I stay busy enough with my own kids and family and friends that I don't feel a calling to branch out any more than that. 

But I don't want to belittle my contributions.  Saving somebody from the jaws of a financial adviser can easily buy them 2-3+ years of their life back, as can suggesting tax efficient ways to structure their finances or ways to cut costs without drastically cutting lifestyle (traveling off season, travel hacking, etc). 

FFA

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Re: The urge to give back
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2015, 05:49:53 PM »
Thanks MsRichLife, Daisy and RootofGood, I appreciate these further perspectives. Am coming around to the view to keep it very open/flexible for at least 6-12 months to allow first the decompression (I love this phrase, I can physically still feel the "compression" of 18 years working grind in my shoulder blade tightness) and adjustment to post FIRE.

Daisy

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Re: The urge to give back
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2015, 09:19:52 PM »
I help out here and there but don't feel a huge need to jump into a significant volunteering time commitment.  I prefer to keep my giving of time very casual.  I guess I'm not a joiner.

Lots of stuff at the kids' school and helping out family, friends, and neighbors.  I'm full of advice and technical skills when it comes to computers, appliances, finances, home maintenance, traveling, and travel hacking.  I don't know if you can call any of what I do (other than sitting on the school advisory board) volunteering, but it's more meaningful to me than collecting spare change for a 501(c)(3) legit non-profit charity.  I guess I stay busy enough with my own kids and family and friends that I don't feel a calling to branch out any more than that. 

But I don't want to belittle my contributions.  Saving somebody from the jaws of a financial adviser can easily buy them 2-3+ years of their life back, as can suggesting tax efficient ways to structure their finances or ways to cut costs without drastically cutting lifestyle (traveling off season, travel hacking, etc).

There's a lot to agree with here. I think our best "charity" is done with the people and community we know best. Many times that's within our own family and circle of friends.

I've tried to focus my charitable giving in this way after just flailing around with anyone that asked for money in the past. For example, I've stopped giving to "disease" charities because I think my money is better spent in the local charities that help the poor, disadvantaged, disabled, or down-on-their-luck people. I also try to keep it local rather than sending money to large organizations that will spend the money somewhere else. At least it keeps me focused. ;-)

Dr. Doom

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Re: The urge to give back
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2015, 08:17:00 AM »
.. allowing myself at least 6-12 months to de-compress. We are moving to a new location post-FIRE, so in reality we'll probably spend that time sorting our our new home and working on projects to improve the property.

This describes my plans as well.  I've got a massive pile of both constructive and 100% leisure activities to fall back on but I'm not putting any pressure on myself to do any of them for at least 6 months after quitting because the consensus is that it's not a good idea to immediately overwhelm yourself.  Also moving, and there will be some work there -- any new place you occupy needs some customization.  (painting, installing tile, whatever.)

Re: giving back, I've built some charitable giving into my FIRE number so there's that.  Plus I'll continue to donate blood as often as they'll let me.  Not signing up for anything serious until I get my bearings in ER.  And I'm not pressuring myself to do anything.  But I certainly understand the urge.  One of the things I've thought about is going into teaching public if things get boring after 10 years.  They can use comp.sci types to teach programming, math. 

But again, that'd be a long way out, if at all.

Jon_Snow

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Re: The urge to give back
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2015, 09:37:24 AM »
I figure I'm going to take as much as year to "repair" myself - to describe this period as one of decompression also works - I need this - my job left me scarred, literally and figuratively. I intend to use this time to get my fitness to a high level. To pursue my hobbies/passions without previous limitations. To learn new skills (gardening). I also want to bring new life to my marriage to a wonderful woman. Just 5 months into ER, I have made wonderful inroads on all these items.

Yeah, this next year is going to be all about "me". But down the road I would like expand my efforts to the larger world around me. There are particular causes that I feel strongly about - most of them concerning the health and welfare of my beloved Salish Sea and the incredible creatures that inhabit it...I think I am too much of a quiet introvert to rattle the "establishment" - but I know I can make a difference.