When I started this blog in early January, I had a few simple goals. Now that we’re nearly half-way through the year, I’m going to take a moment to reflect on progress, examine accomplishments, and draw renewed attention to remaining tasks and challenges. In the process, I’ll also set sights upon additional destinations.
Setting a FIRE Date
I believe in making difficult goals public for purposes of accountability.
When I started this blog, I had a vague idea of quitting early in 2015. I’ve now solidified the date: April 1, 2015.
Here’s what’s going to happen. I’ll give my 2-week notice in mid-March. If my employer starts freaking out for any reason, I’ll offer to work a few weeks extra in April if they make a case for it. In no case will I still be working come May. I plan to be be flexible, within reason. Working a maximum of 6 weeks after announcing intent to leave is about as far as I’m willing to go. Some readers may notice that in a few other pages of the blog I’ve mentioned the target as Feb 2015.
Let me explain the rationale for pushing the date. First and most importantly, I want to get one final full year of max 401(k) contributions (17.5K) in the bank via front-loading prior to terminating employment. Second, I will be listing our house some time between mid-March and the end of April, precisely around the same time I’m quitting. I’d prefer to be salaried while grinding through the moving process.
Bottom line: Each month in 2015, I’ll be able to add another 5.8K of tax-free earnings to my employer-sponsored account. I know that my stash is looking very healthy at this point, and some people may ask why I’m bothering to continue to save at this rate. The best answer I can offer is that 1) It’s only an extra month 2) It’s hard to pass up nearly 6K in tax-advantaged savings for just 30 days of extra work and 3) I think the markets are overvalued right now and are due for a correction.
It’s difficult to imagine not sticking to this date, as I’ll have very little personal incentive to work in my industry after adding this final sack of greenbacks to the RE pile.
Monthly Reports (In Progress)
Part of being ready to quit your job is having a very firm grasp on your rate of spending for the year. And the only way to do that is to carefully track every dollar leaving your pocket.
So far, I’ve been keeping up with this goal, posting lists of expenses roughly every other fortnight. Not only have the reports been filed, but the spending totals are, thus far, in-line with estimates.
Converting Passive Income into Spendable Cash (Done)
It’s one thing to have assets on paper, and it’s another thing to pull money out of your accounts and put it to use. Thanks to the Mad Fientist, I had a vague idea of my overall strategy back in mid 2013. But that vagueness has since been solidified, replaced by a complete plan to implement. (For the full details, visit the Drawdown series of posts.) In addition, I examined some of the mental aspects of taking money out of accounts during downturns to help understand potential emotional stress.
Generating your own plan is an absolutely necessary step for anyone wishing to put the RE in FIRE. Thankfully, I’m now looking at this task in the rearview mirror.
Downsizing the House (In Progress)
I haven’t yet written about the non-financial issues regarding downsizing in this blog, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not considerable. Figuring out where to move is taking time and energy. When it comes to relocating, you don’t want to make a bad choice because the high cost of doing it yet again. In addition, this is a team decision involving both me and my wife, which makes things somewhat more challenging. Everyone has got to be happy with the direction. If my wife isn’t on-board with the details of the move, we need to keep working on it until it’s something we both want to do. That’s the only way this works.
Overall Grade on Financial Goals: B+
Documenting the Work Experience
Earlier this year when I began the blog, I found it to be important to chronicle details of my working experience. Venting frustrations serves as a constant reminder of my soon-to-be-former existence. I’ve only been partially successful here. There’s a smattering of posts which I informally think of as the “Day in the Life” series but there remains a lot of story left untold.
The Job Gamut
I want to talk a bit about each of the five positions I’ve held in my industry. Ultimately, being exposed to a number of different corporations and functions has led me to the conclusion that office life will never result in anything resembling real happiness: The grass is brown everywhere.
10.22.2014 update: This was sort of addressed in the Job Experience set of posts.
Throughout the years, I’ve had any number of managers, some good, some okay, some 100% suck. The worst of them have left permanent imprints of evil behind, like the dog shit stuck in the grooves of your sneaker that you can never quite wipe out.
10.22.2014 update: Also sort of addressed in the Job Experience set of posts.
The Bar is Always Rising
‘Strivers.’ AKA Achievers. I’m fairly disgusted by this personality type. They think things always can and should get better. Spoiler alert: At one point, I was one.
Goals and Objectives
Companies continually seek to make their employees feel engaged. But what does that really mean? In short, they want you to think about their well being above your own — without you even realizing it.
I’ve mentioned a bit in other posts, but I have always loathed and dreaded one on one meetings with management. If I produced a dedicated post with some painful anecdotes, I’d honestly have trouble controlling the length of it.
The Litany of Office Hate
A long list of things I’ve despised about work at one point or another. This would essentially read like hate-porn. Without proper context, it’d probably look like a complete psychopath wrote it, but the truth is that it’s just an extended list of grievances stored up by a gentle geek with a long memory.
Overall Grade: C+
There’s potentially a lot to write about here. I know these types of posts aren’t functionally useful to readers but damn, they seem really important to write for some reason.
09.24.2014 update: Completed — though not in the way I quite planned. My work experience has been fully documented in the Job Experience set of posts.
Questions Unique to FIRE Types
People who are on this path are confronted with challenges that the vast majority of people simply do not consider. I’ve managed to work through a few, such as what you might want to tell your family or employer about your FI status. There’s also the question of personality types and their attraction to this lifestyle, as well as some discussion of one-more-year syndrome and how to finally leave your job. Yet, there remain missing pieces in this area. I’d still like to explore the following:
From Versus To (Pending)
The difference between retiring to pursue another passion versus retiring simply to escape your job or industry.
Convincing the SO (Pending)
I’ve had challenges getting my wife on-board with pulling the trigger on employment. Some of these are as yet unresolved.
Quitting the Cushy Job (Pending)
I’ve been working since I was thirteen. Since then I’ve held all sorts of employment. My current gig is, hands down, the best I’ve had in my life, and I’m going to leave it anyway.
Maturity and RE (Pending)
Lately I’ve been reading about how people mature over time, eventually reaching a point of ‘generativity’ where their primary interest is giving back to others. Working seems to be the way that most folks feel they contribute to the world. Does this mean that individuals who want to voluntarily leave the work force are immature, or lacking in some way? What does this say about aspiring FIRE-ists? Is there something inherently wrong with the vision or the people who subscribe to it?
Retirement and Death (Pending)
It’s a fact that some people who retire feel, after a while, like they’re just waiting to die. Who are these folks? Is there anything we can do to prevent becoming one?
Friends and FI (Complete)
I’ve told some of my friends about the whole FIRE thing, and withheld information from others. Things you might want to consider before launching into it with a buddy.
Health and RE (Pending)
Physical health is important for everyone, but perhaps especially so for people who are about to retire early.
Overall Grade: B
What Comes Next (Done)
When I first started seriously thinking about quitting, one of my primary concerns was figuring out what my days would look like, post-employment.
I feel I’ve completed most of the work in this area by engaging in the Three Weeks Off experiment. I could always do more here but for now I’m giving myself a good mark. I just don’t feel like I have a ton of posts mentally backlogged on this subject.
Overall Grade: A-
Posts I Won’t Do
- I will not document step by step instructions on how to improve part of your house, do your own landscaping, or install a tin-roof. Although I subscribe 100% to the DIY mindset, this is not a DIY blog.
- I also won’t be writing out recipe details anytime soon.
- I will not review products — ever.
I’m not in any way knocking sites that do these sorts of things. They’re super-important subjects for some people at various points in their lives. It’s just not part of what this blog is about. Instead, I’m more focused on lifestyle aspects of FIRE, as well as some information to help make the dream a reality, making that light speed jump to a genuinely happy no-job future possible.
In most cases, it’s safe to assume that I’m already in agreement with tips and advice offered on sites like MMM and ERE.
On the other hand, if folks are interested in some of the specifics of my budget, like where my $150/mo on food goes or why I spend $40 on electricity, I’m happy to get into the details there.
I’m also interested in examining topics important to readers. If you have comments or suggestions for posts, please drop me a line. I’m not going to limit myself to only writing about the ideas above, but at the same time I thought it’d be valuable to give everyone an idea of where things are headed with the content and open the door to course modifications.
Congrats on setting your FIRE date. It takes a massive commitment building a great “retirement arc” but until you put it in the water and start maneuvering, it is all just theory. I can’t wait to see you chronicle your journey after FI. I really enjoyed and learned a lot from your “draw down” articles and thanks for taking the effort to post them!
From the looks of things on your blog, you’re not all that far away from setting your own date, MDP. With your earnings, you can hit it pretty quickly, there is really no doubt in my mind. Thanks for stopping by and I’ll keep the content coming. Good work with your running, btw, I really enjoyed your post today.
Really appreciate the ‘posts I won’t do’, and look forward to the pending topics! I’ve seen arguments on both sides as to whether RE improved health and longevity vs. becoming depressed or losing a sense of engagement. I think people who are taking the proactive approach, achieving FI, and making the choice to RE (or are prepared for unexpected job loss) have stacked the deck in their favor. Congrats on the solid report card
Hi Steve. My intuition agrees with you but I’m doing research in that area before embarking on that particular post. Sense of purpose is definitely one of the keys to a happy and healthy retirement, though, no doubt about it. I’m hoping to find stats and reports to help support some of my personal conclusions. I like data 🙂
Great post and I’m really looking forward to what’s to come from you. You are truly at a great spot in life with a lot to look forward to and a lot of advice to give out to those just starting out (life myself). I just graduated college and for some reason really enjoy the posts that people make with advice they would give a younger version of themselves or someone else starting out in life and FIRE. I think these are great because even though they may be targeted to someone in their 20s if one is starting their FIRE journey in their 30s the advice is still relevant.
Interesting – I don’t think of this as an advice blog exactly, but I’m really glad you’re getting something out of it. Appreciate the suggestions — I’ll queue up a few posts that are appropriate for those that are just starting out.
I’m curious about your “Quitting the Cushy Job”. I’ve had a couple friends who wanted to quit, but instead just quit putting in the 60-80 hour workweeks. They still kept their high salaries for a few months, and after that they received a very generous (+/- 10 weeks) severance package plus unemployment (which never actually kicked in because they had new jobs lined up pronto).
It is an odd situation. My current job is honestly very good. 35 hours a week, very low-stress compared to anything I’ve held before, etc. I won’t spoil the post in advance but I will say that it’s not an easy decision to make. I’ve had jobs in the past that I’ve had to flee, running as fast as I could away from the burning rubble behind me. This isn’t that. Love that idea about just not working and getting fired. It reminds me of Peter from Office Space, when he just decides to not go in on Saturday. And even on weekdays, he just starts doing what he wants to be doing — but in the office instead, like when he’s gutting his fish at his cube. He half-acknowledges that the job still owns him (after all, he reports for work every weekday) but just stops doing the stuff he doesn’t want to do. If you haven’t seen Office Space, btw, run out to your nearest RedBox or Library and get it immediately.
I love that movie, and watched it just a few weeks ago! Despite the fact that it is a decade and a half old, it still rings true today. I’m glad to hear your job is relatively low stress and consumes a “reasonable” amount of hours. I would have trouble just not doing anything in your situation because of ethical concerns… but conversely I wouldn’t have had any trouble doing what my friend did because the expectation when he hired on was for 40 hours.
I’ve had my share of 60 hour a week jobs. They’re not fun and after a while I left them. I intentionally downsized my so-called career from the 60+ hour nutso non-stop workweek to my current much slower gig about 2 years ago because the time commitments and stress were breaking me mentally and physically. Software and finance jobs will take over your life if you let them. And sometimes, even if you don’t.
I’d love to see a post on how you “downshifted” to a sub-40 hours/week job. I work in software as well and I’m not sure how easy/possible it is to find a job where the expectation isn’t at least 40 hours/week (of course, I haven’t really spent enough time researching that situation… that sounds like a good side project…)
Yes, it was difficult and involved some luck to downshift. Software does NOT generally want full timers working only 35 a week because of tight development lifecycles (i.e. business pressure to perform) and the complexity of design/impl/testing usually simply requires a lot of time. There’s also what I call the ‘sprawl’ of cross-timezone work — if you have, say, a sister shop in India that is also developing, there’s a good chance you’re on off-hour meetings with that group to discuss goals, timelines, progress, technical issues, etc. It’s difficult to avoid the job taking over your life. At any rate, I will definitely post the story of how I managed it at some point.
Really enjoying your series about your work experiences. Your Cthulhu descriptions are priceless. I was not familiar with that story before reading your blog. I also look forward to posts about friends and FI…I have not shared my FI plans with friends/family yet and am curious to hear more about how this goes for you.
Just started reading you and will read up to current, but wanted to note that I am particularly interested in your thoughts on RE and Maturity. Many of my family members seem to look at it that way–if you are not working you are not invested. Its a big fear of mine in considering RE–what’s next? what’s my purpose in life? will my self esteem disappear without my somewhat cool high-paying job? Thanks for writing.
your email went pyscho. i had to unfollow you.