Author Topic: Life in the Donut Hole  (Read 3285 times)

Glenstache

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Life in the Donut Hole
« on: February 07, 2019, 10:41:04 AM »
So, I'm at the point where I have a solid stache, but am still a few years away from FI (RE is a maybe). I generally really like my career and people I work with and even after reaching FI don't plan on stopping cold turkey. It is a chance to get nerdy, which I enjoy very much. That said, there are still days and weeks here and there where I realize that I could just walk away and do a 5 year road trip and be just fine (though FI would be pushed even further back). This is pushing me to take more time off in the interim and allow FI to creep back a bit. The math on this is interesting to me because at this point a large amount of my year over year gains are investment driven rather than direct contribution driven.

How are others thinking about and adapting to this donut hole stage? I'm leaning towards more of a taper to FIRE. This also seems like maybe the trial version of the mental adjustment to full FIRE. Thoughts?

Bird In Hand

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Re: Life in the Donut Hole
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2019, 10:51:45 AM »
How are others thinking about and adapting to this donut hole stage? I'm leaning towards more of a taper to FIRE. This also seems like maybe the trial version of the mental adjustment to full FIRE. Thoughts?

I think the two main strategies are 1) racing to the finish, and 2) downshifting.

I don't have the drive to do the former, and I (so far) have lacked the courage to do the latter.  But for me, I think gradually downshifting until I eventually reach ~1/2 time is the plan.

YoungGranny

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Re: Life in the Donut Hole
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2019, 10:52:09 AM »
I'm in the same stage and finding it harder to want to keep my career. I have so many hobbies I'd like to pursue outside of work and as my 'stache grows it's harder to come up with reasons why I shouldn't just quit and see if I could make $x amount of money doing part-time work or freelancing for a few months a year. On the other hand if I keep my job I can walk away in ~2 years. At the same time if I quit but made enough to cover expenses I could just let my expenses grow and not have to worry too much. It's a weird stage to be in regardless!

bacchi

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Re: Life in the Donut Hole
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2019, 11:00:44 AM »
I did 2) downshifting. I went down to 4 days and then 3 days (~20 hours) of 1099 work.

I missed out on some Big decisions -- at 20/week, I was doing bug fixing and small feature adds to an app -- but it definitely helped my sanity. Eventually, I made it to FI and slid into OMY status. I then quit.

I should've moved to part-time earlier. A job almost becomes tolerable at 3 days/week.

Mississippi Mudstache

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Re: Life in the Donut Hole
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2019, 11:11:01 AM »
I've seriously let up on my FIRE by 40 ambitions after transitioning into my current role. Two main reasons: 1) I'm happier at work than I used to be, so the urgency just isn't there like it once was, and 2) I started to realize that my obsessive focus on spending was having a negative effect on my mental health. I've been an above-average, but not particularly high, earner for most of my working career. I also suffered severe financial setbacks with 2 houses that I lost $30K apiece on (perfectly timed both purchases just before the local markets began to suffer) and I have a child with a disability who requires a significant health care spending. So coming to terms with the fact that saving what I could was good enough, and finding a job that I enjoy reasonably well, have really been good for my mental health. I will likely be able to FIRE at 45 if I don't hit any bumps with my job and get average market returns for the next decade. That's good enough for me. I'm a jogger, not a sprinter.

EnjoyIt

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Re: Life in the Donut Hole
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2019, 12:05:12 PM »
I can share my experience. Over the last 2 years I have been slowly cutting back on work and enjoying life more.  Back then I realized that investment growth alone without a single additional contribution will eventually get us to FIRE.  Life has been much much better since cutting back.  This year we did a total of 9 weeks of traveling.  Also, at the end of 2018 I went part time.  This action has delayed reaching FIRE by about 1.5-3 years at our current lifestyle, but I believe it was well worth it. Today I find myself enjoying my work even more.  The little things that used to get to me don't bother me anymore. The good days are even more enjoyable, and the sporadic bad day is no big deal because I am well rested and more then likely I have 4 or 5 days off coming right up.   

Our current plan is to continue with part time at least till we hit 25x.  If work continues to stay enjoyable thereafter, I plan to continue with part time for a bit longer.  I really like what I do, and I believe I provide something positive to the world with my work.  The extra money will be used for a bit of retirement security and likely some additional lifestyle creep.

Here is another interesting tidbit. Because of our progressive tax code, although I cut my pay by 50% my take home is only cut by about 25% making the transition much less dramatic than at first thought.

If you like your job, I highly recommend going part time. So far it has been a terrific decision.

WSUCoug1994

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Re: Life in the Donut Hole
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2019, 02:40:04 PM »
I am in professional services - which renders a downshifting nearly impossible.  I am usually engaged in 10-14 projects at a time but even if I dropped that down to 2-4 I would still need to be available 110% of the time to my clients.  I don't feel like I really have an option for downshifting so I am powering through the next four years and will just completely walk away.

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Life in the Donut Hole
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2019, 02:54:17 PM »
I love it - the idea we are in a donut hole!  Either FI and feeling too young to ER or wanting to ER but not quite FI.  There is a lot of voodo-math that comes in to play when you have decent savings, somewhat older, and want to make a drastic change!  So many options open that you feel yourself swirling around a black hole or enough time on your hands that you can actually watch original 1979 The Black Hole and write a post in an online forum about it afterwards :)  Sorry, no good advice, just appreciation for where you and I are in life.

nemesis

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Re: Life in the Donut Hole
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2019, 01:55:19 AM »
The idea of taking a long break from work is neat, but dangerous if you work in tech. Tech changes every 6 months, so not really a good idea for someone like me who works in tech.  I plan to add to my stashe pile and then slowly taper off.

Taking long sabbaticals from a tech career is not practical.  Especially if you take a long 1 - 5 year sabbatical, coming back to a 9-5 corporate job is going to seem like murder.  It's like taking time away from the gym...too long and it's so damn hard to get back into it.

With work, I'm going to do a long run and then call it good. When I'm done, I'm done, with no plans to come back unless I choose to for non-monetary reasons.

There is also ageism discrimination as well, so the more I work during my prime, the better off I am not worrying about having to work later in life when people in their 50's / 60's have a hard time getting a decent job / wage.

soccerluvof4

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Re: Life in the Donut Hole
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2019, 04:27:01 AM »
The idea of taking a long break from work is neat, but dangerous if you work in tech. Tech changes every 6 months, so not really a good idea for someone like me who works in tech.  I plan to add to my stashe pile and then slowly taper off.

Taking long sabbaticals from a tech career is not practical.  Especially if you take a long 1 - 5 year sabbatical, coming back to a 9-5 corporate job is going to seem like murder.  It's like taking time away from the gym...too long and it's so damn hard to get back into it.

With work, I'm going to do a long run and then call it good. When I'm done, I'm done, with no plans to come back unless I choose to for non-monetary reasons.

There is also ageism discrimination as well, so the more I work during my prime, the better off I am not worrying about having to work later in life when people in their 50's / 60's have a hard time getting a decent job / wage.



The Ageism Discrimination is so spot on and way to many people think there more valuable than they are.  So if your not sure of what you want to do then I highly recommend downshifting a step at a time to keep in and up to date in your field until you feel secure enough to walk away.

Dances With Fire

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Re: Life in the Donut Hole
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2019, 06:04:55 AM »
The idea of taking a long break from work is neat, but dangerous if you work in tech. Tech changes every 6 months, so not really a good idea for someone like me who works in tech.  I plan to add to my stashe pile and then slowly taper off.

Taking long sabbaticals from a tech career is not practical.  Especially if you take a long 1 - 5 year sabbatical, coming back to a 9-5 corporate job is going to seem like murder.  It's like taking time away from the gym...too long and it's so damn hard to get back into it.

With work, I'm going to do a long run and then call it good. When I'm done, I'm done, with no plans to come back unless I choose to for non-monetary reasons.

There is also ageism discrimination as well, so the more I work during my prime, the better off I am not worrying about having to work later in life when people in their 50's / 60's have a hard time getting a decent job / wage.



The Ageism Discrimination is so spot on and way to many people think there more valuable than they are.  So if your not sure of what you want to do then I highly recommend downshifting a step at a time to keep in and up to date in your field until you feel secure enough to walk away.

I am in the same boat as the OP, but I also can relate to the above posts. Late in my career, to leave for any extended time would probably not be wise in my case. Staying with my current employer while stepping away from any added responsibility as much as possible (I am rarely invited to anymore mindless meetings because they know that I have little interest in petty shit anymore and very near complete FIRE.) Also not afraid to ask for extra time off when possible and step aside and let others compete for the corporate ladder. Good Luck.

Mike in NH

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Re: Life in the Donut Hole
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2019, 10:29:36 AM »
I think this conversation touches on an interesting thing I have noticed: presumably most of us got to the point of having all these good options by flexing our delayed gratification muscles and yet here I am, looking on at what the Mustachian Jones's are up to and wondering if I should do the same. I want X just a litttttle bit before I have completed Y. Not like it's a fancy car or a big house, it's my life and clearly there are many ways to hack this game, I get it. But I try to look at it in those terms when my mind starts to wander, it helps me stay the course and remember that in my specific situation (2-5 years out, not a very transferable skillset) I think I'm better off putting my head down and using a good job to my advantage.   

Sidebar: Mmmmdonuts.

wageslave23

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Re: Life in the Donut Hole
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2019, 11:40:48 AM »
Its too bad that such a premium is put on full time employment by employers.  Because everything else equal, I would much rather work 4 years at 20 hrs a week than 2 years at 40 hrs a week.  The problem is part timers have a harder time getting raises, sometimes don't get the same employment benefits, are usually doing a bit more menial tasks, and for lower pay per hour. 

Much Fishing to Do

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Re: Life in the Donut Hole
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2019, 11:52:27 AM »
Don't know if this was best but admittedly I used that period as a time to streamline even more, to try to get it where I could theoretically lose my job the next day and I'd know things would be "fine" if I never worked another day (as opposed to optimal, which if that were the truth I'd of course be FIRE).  I did learn to appreciate the fact that no external factors would be financially devastating at that point, you quickly realize how close you  (and 90% of the population) were to the edge.  Then I had a couple huge business years and pushed into fatFIRE before I knew it and everything changed again.

FIRE 20/20

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Re: Life in the Donut Hole
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2019, 06:53:26 PM »
I worked my way into a low stress position with my current employer.  My partner chose to switch to part time work.  We both have more time away from work, less stress, and have tried to use this to live a better life the last few years before FIRE.  I don't think it pushed out our FIRE date significantly but it definitely made our lives a lot more enjoyable. 

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Life in the Donut Hole
« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2019, 08:15:20 AM »
I think this conversation touches on an interesting thing I have noticed: presumably most of us got to the point of having all these good options by flexing our delayed gratification muscles and yet here I am, looking on at what the Mustachian Jones's are up to and wondering if I should do the same. I want X just a litttttle bit before I have completed Y. Not like it's a fancy car or a big house, it's my life and clearly there are many ways to hack this game, I get it. But I try to look at it in those terms when my mind starts to wander, it helps me stay the course and remember that in my specific situation (2-5 years out, not a very transferable skillset) I think I'm better off putting my head down and using a good job to my advantage.   

Once you get to FI, the snowball takes care of itself.  I have bough a pool (I live in Houston, run almost every day, and I'm in it all the time, along with having kids and love being outside), we have pets (strictly a no-no from MMM's perspective), and we even have relatively new, low maintenance cars!  And I'm still getting my SWR down YoY (unless I decide to stop working, which is also an option).

TL;DR  The frugality aspect that got you here is now optional.

EnjoyIt

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Re: Life in the Donut Hole
« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2019, 01:01:46 PM »
I think this conversation touches on an interesting thing I have noticed: presumably most of us got to the point of having all these good options by flexing our delayed gratification muscles and yet here I am, looking on at what the Mustachian Jones's are up to and wondering if I should do the same. I want X just a litttttle bit before I have completed Y. Not like it's a fancy car or a big house, it's my life and clearly there are many ways to hack this game, I get it. But I try to look at it in those terms when my mind starts to wander, it helps me stay the course and remember that in my specific situation (2-5 years out, not a very transferable skillset) I think I'm better off putting my head down and using a good job to my advantage.   

Once you get to FI, the snowball takes care of itself.  I have bough a pool (I live in Houston, run almost every day, and I'm in it all the time, along with having kids and love being outside), we have pets (strictly a no-no from MMM's perspective), and we even have relatively new, low maintenance cars!  And I'm still getting my SWR down YoY (unless I decide to stop working, which is also an option).

TL;DR  The frugality aspect that got you here is now optional.

I find it interesting that despite adding new expenses, somehow our yearly spending does not change as we naturally adjust elsewhere. I think once you have your frugality muscles well exercised it becomes second nature. Spend more on child expenses this year somehow has us spend lower on travel or electronic toys or whatever and it just evens out.

We are also looking forward to experiencing the snowball effect over the next few years and see compound interest at its finest. I suspect soon enough we will hit another recession and I am curious how we come out on the other side.

ToTheMoon

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Re: Life in the Donut Hole
« Reply #17 on: March 07, 2019, 02:10:09 PM »
First off, this might be my favorite journal title EVER!

How are others thinking about and adapting to this donut hole stage? I'm leaning towards more of a taper to FIRE. This also seems like maybe the trial version of the mental adjustment to full FIRE. Thoughts?

My DH and I are in a different industry (blue collar) than most on the forums, and it has allowed us to take advantage of doing lots of serial mini-retirements over the past few years.  We paid off debt and saved hard for a few years, then started taking planned short breaks.  As time has gone on, our planned breaks seem to get longer and more frequent! :)  Our kids are school aged, 7 & 9, and we figure we do not have that many years left where they will want to spend long chucks of time with us so good bouts of family time take priority for us ATM.  Without adding another penny, our retirement accounts should be good to go for a traditional retirement age, and we do have great earning potential when we choose to work, so there is currently little downside to this plan for us.  The health scare a couple of years ago also made the serial mini-retirement plan seem like the best option.  Does this make us Donut-Holes (or Timbits, as we are Canadian!?) :D

I think there are certain elements of taking these breaks that feel like practice FIRE, but I don't think we can ever fully change routines, or plant that huge garden, because we know that it is still temporary at this stage.  We are trying to take on small projects and learn some new things, but I feel that true FIRE will feel much different, and will still require some transition time when it finally comes to fruition.   Are there small things that you might like to do in FIRE that you can test drive now during your breaks?
« Last Edit: March 07, 2019, 02:15:33 PM by ToTheMoon »