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Did becoming FI change your attitude about work?
Old 03-08-2010, 09:25 AM   #1
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Did becoming FI change your attitude about work?

For those of you who have already reached the point of financial independence....

Did your financial independence change your attitude towards working, in either a positive or negative way? I have not reached that point yet, but I can imagine that if I was financially independent, I would be less stressed at work for obvious reasons. Did this happen to you? Did you start to enjoy your work more when you realized that you didn't have to work? Did this cause you to work longer than you expected? On the other hand, did reaching financial independence have a negative impact?
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:46 AM   #2
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I thought that I wanted to retire early and planned accordingly . Then when the nestegg could support my somewhat frugal lifestyle my attitude changed. All of a sudden I didn't mind working anymore. In fact I look at it as a privilege and an honor to be working. So now that the frugal retirement is covered I'll reach for a better lifestyle - both now and after I quit working.

Working isn't so bad if you quit worrying about all the things that really don't matter. Yes the place could be managed better. yes some of the co-workers have unusual personalities. But who cares I can walk away anytime I want. For the first time you can be yourself at work - You don't have to keep your head down anymore.

My advice is to skip the collection of stuff when you are young to enable financial independence. All that stuff you think you need won't really make you happy anyway. And it just may cause you to work way harder to support it all. Collecting stuff means working harder which raises the stress level and lowers your contentment.

Being financially independent is really quite liberating.
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:54 AM   #3
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As I approached FI I got less patient with everything about w*rk. The projects became less meaningful, and the abrasive personalities became intolerable. More and more I resented spending my precious, fleeting time at something that didn't significantly enrich anyone's life, including my own.
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:58 AM   #4
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With financial independence, there is no 'fear' of losing a job and the economic impact it brings. That said, one's intolerance for 'shenanigans,' increases incrementally.

All of this assumes you don't need work to define who you are, what challenges you intellectually, and how you spend your time.

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Old 03-08-2010, 10:32 AM   #5
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Hmm. Let me think...

For 2-3 years before ER, I was FI but did not retire because the future of health care costs was puzzling. During those years I didn't notice any difference whatsoever, because I had decided that I needed that medical coverage before I would quit. I could afford to quit and pay for private insurance, but who knew if that would be the case later on? That bothered me. When I inherited the waiting began to seem even more ridiculous so I started a thread about the costs of medical and got some advice (thanks!) as to whether or not to wait for lifetime medical coverage. In the process of reading the thread I realized that I wanted to wait and do this my way. Actually I *could* have quit, but it wouldn't have been on my terms and I tend to be a bit insistent about such things.

So, I waited until I was eligible for lifetime subsidized medical coverage and retired the very next working day after I reached that eligibility. Why continue to work if I was completely FI and could leave with a (tiny) pension and lifetime subsidized medical coverage?

To me, being FI was less important than reaching my goals and doing it my way.
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Old 03-08-2010, 11:23 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by MasterBlaster View Post
I thought that I wanted to retire early and planned accordingly . Then when the nestegg could support my somewhat frugal lifestyle my attitude changed. All of a sudden I didn't mind working anymore.
<snip>
So now that the frugal retirement is covered I'll reach for a better lifestyle - both now and after I quit working.

Working isn't so bad if you quit worrying about all the things that really don't matter. Yes the place could be managed better. yes some of the co-workers have unusual personalities. But who cares I can walk away anytime I want. For the first time you can be yourself at work - You don't have to keep your head down anymore.

<snip>

Being financially independent is really quite liberating.
I pretty much agree with Masterblaster per above. Once you know that you've got the bases covered, whatever sense you may have had of being trapped greatly diminishes (if that's applicable to your situation). Once the golden handcuffs are off, the deal you make with work is made on much more of an even footing. Should you choose to work a little longer to put away a little more, you know it's a choice that you're willingly making, for whatever the reasons.

I think of lot of this depends on attitude anyway, irrespective of FI status. Much stress can be self-imposed, from falling into the trap of "woe is me, why I am stuck here" thinking (and I am really not just talking Pollyanna here, even in admittedly tough circumstances, attitude influences how we react and our resulting stress levels). If not, becoming FI would indeed not make much of a difference. Barring a simultaneous improvement in the "reality" of your day-to-day work situation, becoming FI just changes the way you think about it.

"Pain may be inevitable, but misery is optional."
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Old 03-08-2010, 02:34 PM   #7
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Fascinating responses from MasterBlaster and Onward - they are diametrically opposite but I can see the reasons for both of them. In one camp you have

"It's even more irritating to deal with these people / this work now that I don't have have to. Why do I need to put up with this BS?"

and in the other

"I really don't care anymore - I am free and can go anytime. This BS does not bother me anymore."

I am not FI, but I am trying, not always successfully, to learn how to mentally join the latter camp when some BS comes up... (Plus I figure BS is just inevitable when enough people are grouped, so it's better anyway to learn to deal with... the grass is usually not greener in the other place.)
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Old 03-08-2010, 03:06 PM   #8
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FI does not necessarily mean in the US you can quit your job. Unless you have enough money to self insure or are getting company or government Ins. you must buy Health Ins. and that may or may not be possible. If you have the money and the Ins lined up then you are truly FI and can consider quiting at anytime.

I worked three more years before ESRing after achieving FI. The last years were after obtaining Health Ins. I wanted to get use to having private Ins. first and see what the increase would be. I am glad I did. You really have to budget for 15% or more per year on Private Ins.
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Old 03-08-2010, 03:28 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by JustCurious View Post
For those of you who have already reached the point of financial independence....

Did your financial independence change your attitude towards working, in either a positive or negative way? I have not reached that point yet, but I can imagine that if I was financially independent, I would be less stressed at work for obvious reasons. Did this happen to you? Did you start to enjoy your work more when you realized that you didn't have to work? Did this cause you to work longer than you expected? On the other hand, did reaching financial independence have a negative impact?
Did your financial independence change your attitude towards working, in either a positive or negative way? - Absolutely. We were close to FI 6 years ago and I had the opportunity for a move within the company which I really wanted to do but it meant DW leaving her well paid job. She was delighted to ER and the move worked out great for me.

Did you start to enjoy your work more when you realized that you didn't have to work? Once we did reach FI 3 years ago I didn't enjoy my work any more but I enjoyed the freedom of knowing that losing my job was not a big a deal. I worked another 3 years after FI to add a thick layer of icing to our ER cake by getting to the age of 55 when I could start my pension immediately instead of at 62, plus receive retiree medical benefits.

On the other hand, did reaching financial independence have a negative impact? No way - I felt a great weight lifted from my shoulders once we were FI.
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Old 03-08-2010, 03:43 PM   #10
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I have been pretty much "I don't care to deal with cr@p from people my whole life, even when I was NOT FI"...

I have always had the attitude that whatever the boss wanted, he would get... even if it was stupid.... that is as long as I did not do anything immoral or illegal... it has worked well for me for a long time... and believe me, I have had to do some things I KNEW were going to fail...

One time, I had a boss who I kept telling 'this is not going to work', but kept doing the work. He did not want to go to the higher ups and tell them that we had spent over $100K for nothing... he wanted me to 'do what it takes to get it to work'... I said, that is rewriting the whole program since they started it out wrong. Finally, one of the higher ups asked me about the project and I told the truth. It was closed down the next week. The boss said that he appreciated that I did try to get it to work even though I did not believe in it....

So, when I became FI, I did not change that much... but then I got married with two kids and I am not FI anymore... but still have the same attitude...
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Old 03-08-2010, 03:47 PM   #11
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I know my work related stress went way down. Probably for the same reason as the others. I also quit working quite so hard and didn't take on any really long term assignments as I expected I would probably retire in 2 years. This eventually got noticed, and I didn't quiet get the raises/stock options like I did before. Funny - when I finally told my supervisor I planned to retire in 3 months, his first reaction was - "Was it the stock options?!!!!". LOL!

I don't know that I enjoyed work any more really, it was more of a switch to a "short-timer" attitude and not sweating the small (or big) stuff.

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Old 03-08-2010, 05:16 PM   #12
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It's a great question. I'm kinda/sorta FI. Health insurance is the unstable factor that keeps me worried about actually pulling the plug indefinitely - I'm only 39 and would have decades of private insurance premiums with unpredictable annual increases. This is one reason why I seriously consider moving to Mexico. I don't care about having the BEST care, but having AFFORDABLE care. Of course, if I had a serious chronic illness I might think differently. I also think about selling my big house and moving to my cabin in the woods so that I have zero housing costs and can afford whatever disgusting health insurance premiums are forced on me. By the way, I think it's an abomination that in this supposably wealthy, developed nation people who have worked hard and saved their money still can't retire early because of healthcare costs, even those of us who are relatively healthy. Raise my taxes and give me Medicare For All! But I digress.

Back to the question, I have actually found a slightly negative effect on my work orientation since being kinda/sorta FI. I'm currently not working and technically have an independent consulting firm, but currently have no paying clients. I have found a problem with motivation, either to get a job or to go out and hustle for consulting clients. I'm pretty sure that the motivation problem is due to my financial situation. I don't HAVE to go out and make money in order to pay my bills or put food on the table. (And currently I am enrolled in a master's program and the school provides me with basic health coverage). This not HAVING to make money to live definitely keeps me from waking up early every morning and going out into the world with lofty ambitions. I've even been dealing with a midlife crisis/depression combo, also as a result of this. Friends and family tell me how lucky I am that I have all these options in my life at a young age, and I know they're right, but a tiny part of me longs for the days when I was handcuffed to a desk like the rest of the world and worked really hard because there was no alternative. I know this will all settle out, and I am currently interviewing for a couple of jobs, but I have been really surprised that freedom has actually caused a lot of anxiety in my life. I never would have expected that. Hope this helps....
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Old 03-08-2010, 06:24 PM   #13
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I haven't reached my retirement number yet, but my work related stress levels started falling very noticably once (i) I reached the point were I could quit if I was prepared to cut back on some lifestyle preferences and (ii) I worked out a specific end date when I can FIRE without compromising my lifestyle. Many (but not all) of the things that used to irriate me, I now take a "yeah, whatever" attitude towards.
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Old 03-08-2010, 08:37 PM   #14
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I'm not FI yet, but I have a friend at work who turned 55 a few years ago, becoming eligible for immediate monthly pension payments and retiree medical. He has become very mellow and content, calling his present situation "My happy place". He says that knowing one phone call to HR is all it will take to set retirement in motion has given him a new outlook that has enabled him to wait for his portfolio to recover from the 2008-09 shellacking without stressing too much. Nothing much bothers him these days and it's now just a matter of watching his retirement lifestyle improve with continued accumulation.
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Old 03-08-2010, 10:01 PM   #15
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Interesting variety of responses. My views are common in part to many of them.

For me, it was not so much the work but the lousy commute which took its toll on me. I was able to switch from F/T to P/T in 2001 to lessen the commute from 5 days to 1 day (along with telecommuting). But the telecommute deal ended abruptly in 2003 so I had to haul my sorry a$$ to the office 3 days week. In 2007, I reduced it to 2 days but had to give up my employer subsidized health benefits. That alleviated some of the unpleasantness of the commute but the fact that it was still there made me miserable. The commute made me physically ill at times so it spilled over into my work day, making it lousy.

In 2008, once the final pieces of my retirement plan fell into place, I gave my notice and left. Those pieces were the value of the ESOP and having found an affordable individual HI policy. But as those final months wore on, the main question I asked myself several times each day (whether I was working that day or not) was this: "Why am I still working here?"

I worked hard on the one project which took up nearly all of my reduced time at the office in those final 17 months of 2 days a week. It was a challenging project but I did have some trouble staying focused on it, especially in the last few months once I had selected a resignation/retirement date and gave my notice. It was an important project and I was somewhat concerned with my "legacy" (but not THAT concerned).

I was not willing to go the extra mile or even an extra yard in those last 17 months. I surely did not volunteer to do anything special, just get my one big project done which I did with 45 minutes left to go in my last day. I wanted no special party and left quietly without any fanfare, choking back some tears on my last train ride home, knowing I would never have to make another trip there again!
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Old 03-09-2010, 05:37 AM   #16
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As I approach FI, it has not influenced me to work more or work less, but it has influenced me to work "bolder". I take more risks and do not work "defensively" (do whatever to not lose job).

The result has been to enjoy w*rk more and my contribution at w*rk actually has gone up.

However w*rk still sucks and my primary ER goal stands unwavering.
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Old 03-09-2010, 07:57 AM   #17
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As I approached FI I got less patient with everything about w*rk. The projects became less meaningful, and the abrasive personalities became intolerable. More and more I resented spending my precious, fleeting time at something that didn't significantly enrich anyone's life, including my own.
That's kind of where I am now. When I'm asked to do something by management, there is a kid of resignation in their voices, that tells me the know it doesn't really matter to me. I'll really miss some aspects fo the job, and will try to volunteer for those aspects, but there are many others that I will not. Its become "Not Fun".
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Old 03-09-2010, 09:19 AM   #18
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I actually enjoyed my job. What made me retire was frustration over the bureaucratic nonsense that got in the way of getting things done - sometimes I bought inexpensive (~$25) utility software myself just to avoid spending an entire day dealing with the procurement process - and the thought of getting out of the Washington, DC traffic, where what should be a 20-minute drive can take 2+hours if attempted at the wrong time of day.

And DW's job of of funds administration for bio-terrorism research mushroomed into 12-hour days six or sometimes seven days a week after 9/11 and that was taking a heavy physical toll on her. She'd come home, collapse on the couch, and go back to it the next day. Lots of chiropractor visits for neck, back and shoulder pain.

That's no way to live. Six months later, on half our previous income, friends and relatives were saying "You two look better than we've seen you in years". DW hasn't been to a chiropractor since we moved.

Aaaaaahhhh.
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Old 03-09-2010, 04:13 PM   #19
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I became FI plus acquired ER health insurance from DW megacorp about the time the market tanked from the financial meltdown. ERing earlier than my original plan was not in the cards unless we adjusted our planned income. I was not willing to do that.

I am still on target for my planned ER date which is a little over a year away.

Our portfolio has recovered quite a bit but is still off its peak. We are debt free. I am making some final moves to the portfolio and various retirement accounts in preparation of ER.

FI has changed my attitude about w*rk. Now that I do not really have to work, I am less tolerant of the BS.... I am ready to go and counting down the months.
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Old 03-10-2010, 02:06 AM   #20
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Not quite FI, but getting closer. Certainly changed my attitude..and not in a good way. As a school teacher I always said that if I got like some of the older I saw when I started out I would get out as soon as possible. I can see the end now (16 more months I hope at 54) and I don't do any of the extra things I used to do that took lots of extra time (coaching etc). Just come to work and go home as soon as possible. Once I saw the end was getting close I just started to focus more on things outside of work that I enjoy and haven't had the time for. I guess I have been around for long enough now that I see things in education that I don't like and don't see things changing in a good way.
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