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Would you call me FIRE'd after I do this?
Old 09-12-2012, 12:22 PM   #1
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Would you call me FIRE'd after I do this?

Ok, we have not done it yet...but getting very close (within months).

Wife and I both have high-paying MegaCorp jobs and are getting burned out. I'm 50, she's 54. Two years ago I suggested two options for either of us.

1) Work 4 more years at our current pay, and never need to work another day in our lives
2) Get a lower-paying, fewer hours, less stressful career soon, and then work about 5-6 years from that point.

I chose #2...and I'm close to making the switch. She has chosen #1, and is still hard at it.

I currently work in corporate finance, Treasury to be specific. I've been doing various Corporate Finance roles for 18 years, and my MBA has paid off quite nicely in many ways: good assignments, interesting work, challenging things to improve, contributions to the company, and pay.

But about two years ago I started feeling like life was getting away from me. I would go on vacation, but sleep much of the time. I was too tired to go out with friends, and some of my hobbies layed dormant. So we developed a plan, and I've spent the past two years researching alternatives.

I had it narrowed down to 2 things, and ultimately I've chosen to become a home inspector. I would work for an existing inspector, so I'd be a sub-contractor. We have already agreed verbally on all aspects, we're drafting a contract together, and I'm about 3/4 of the way through all the education/certifications to do inspections, radon testing/remediation, termite inspections, and so on. Once I get certified in my state in about 6 weeks...I'll give notice at MegaCorp and begin the new life.

Why do I like this idea?
1) I love working with my hands, and have hobbies such as woodworking and automobiles.
2) I have an undergrad degree in engineering, so the idea of understanding how houses work and what makes them fail has been fun thus far
3) I own rentals (2 single family units), and feel this dovetails nicely into that experience...will allow me to inspect units with confidence so I can add more rentals (perhaps 2-3 more is my goal)
4) I've been very honest with the guy I'd be working for...I told him I was looking to phase into retirement over about 5-6 years. He said that was fine with him.
5) The inspection business is perfect when it comes to the type of flexibility I need
5.1) I can work as much as I want today (I told him I want as much work as he can throw at me for the first 1-2 years), and then 18 months from now say "I don't want to work Fridays anymore"
5.2) I am essentially my own boss. Although he sets the work standards, I can schedule my appointment times as I see fit. He said "If you're an early morning person, you can start at 7 AM if you like. If not, feel free to start at 10 AM...do whatever you like)
5.3) The $/hr income is quite high, so I can still make a decent wage by simply working more.
5.4) He said the issue most people have when he tries to hire them is that they cannot afford the "seed money". You must buy about $3,000 in tools (ladders, moisture sensors, gas sensors, infrared thermometers, insulated screwdrivers, and much more), and you must invest about $3,000 in education programs, software to do the inspection reports, and so on. This is not possible for many, but for me it's not an issue...it's simply an investment in capital.
5.5) If I decide to move to a different state, I could start my own business in this area (I'll be signing a non-compete clause with this guy)
5.6) I can take vacation whenver I like so long as I give him notice (not true in finance, we are on an "accounting calendar" and there are 2 weeks each month when I cannot be away from work.

I'm very much looking forward to 1-2 years from now, when I'll be trained, experienced in this, and can work 24-30 hours/week for a few years. That will give me much more time to go on vacations, attend car shows on weekends in other states, visit family in other states, and devote more time to hobbies (I'd love to learn to play the guitar).

We have the financial means to do this, so I'm pumped about it. The money is secondary at this point...I'll be taking about a 60% pay cut. I've done all the financial budgeting, we CAN afford this. We currently save 34% of our GROSS pay, so we can obviously live on much less. Our nest egg is of the size that it matters less how much you add to it, and more how long you leave it there and the rate you earn on it. For the last two years, our account has earned more than my net pay!

I consider myself FIRE'd after doing this, but wonder about the forum's definition. I believe that being "financially independent" is what's allowing me to do this.

If you're wondering "what if the market turns down and there is no work...what will you do?" I could do many things. I used to be an auto mechanic and could return to that. I could deliver pizzas. My wife could work one more year. Heck, we have a 9-month emergency fund and rental income on two properties...I think we're covered.
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Old 09-12-2012, 12:43 PM   #2
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It sounds like a good plan.
My husband is considering a similar phase in to retirement. He's an architect with an engineering mindset - and is looking at doing commercial building inspections. (His architectural work has been commercial, not residential.)

I also had a friend who's husband did this as a second career. He enjoyed it immensely.
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Old 09-12-2012, 01:01 PM   #3
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A friend was a home inspector for many years. He retired early, partially because it hurt to move around in crawl spaces. Eventually, he started to charge extra for pier & beam houses.

You'll need plenty of insurance. He was a very good inspector but he did get sued.

Similarly, he also had to sue to get payment when an inspection broke a deal. In those cases, it was the seller or seller's agent that was paying (or, rather, refusing to pay).
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Old 09-12-2012, 01:07 PM   #4
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If your happy doing what you want with the FI part covered, the RE part doesn't really matter.
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Old 09-12-2012, 01:08 PM   #5
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Its not important what the Forum thinks, but what makes you feel content and happy. I applaud you for thinking this out and moving in a direction that gets you away from the corp finance chains.
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Old 09-12-2012, 01:11 PM   #6
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Sounds like you have things well thought out. If for some reason it doesn't work out there are loads of temp or part time finance jobs that you could probably do if you wanted to. Congratulations.

P.S. I would consider you FI but not FIREd.
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Old 09-12-2012, 01:15 PM   #7
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IMO you're not FIRED if you're working 24-30 hours/week. You could say you're semi-retired. I wouldn't say you're FI either. FI means you can live without any earned income, IMO. It seems like you can easily afford to semi-retire(work parttime) so go for it. Good luck
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Old 09-12-2012, 01:28 PM   #8
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What a great and well thought out plan ! I applaud you for setting the goal and working hard to keep on track to achieve it.

As for "am I FIREd after this" - probably not, but being FIREd is just a label. Your plan LIBERATES you which is one of the main goals of being FIRE'd, and thats what's important.
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Old 09-12-2012, 01:32 PM   #9
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Its not important what the Forum thinks, but what makes you feel content and happy.
I agree. If you are looking for a universally-accepted definition of FIRE'd, you will be disappointed. Some people might point out that you can't be still working and call yourself retired. And that if you have to work, then you can't call yourself financially independent either. Others might be less literal in their definition of FIRE'd. So call yourself what you wish and pursue the path which is right for you.
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Old 09-12-2012, 01:38 PM   #10
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I love your plan and want to do something similar whereby I ditch my career (also finance) and do something else on a part time basis. That's at least a decade away for me sadly.

One other benefit for you.....presumably you can now write off home office and auto expenses whereas I assume you can not do so now.
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Old 09-12-2012, 01:49 PM   #11
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I love your plan and want to do something similar whereby I ditch my career (also finance) and do something else on a part time basis. That's at least a decade away for me sadly.

One other benefit for you.....presumably you can now write off home office and auto expenses whereas I assume you can not do so now.

Thanks everyone! Good point on the split of FI from RE.

And as to the above, yes I can write them off, but the IRS rules are very stingy these days...to write off a home office it must be used EXCLUSIVELY for business. I'd have to move a small TV and beer fridge out of the room to qualify.
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Old 09-12-2012, 01:53 PM   #12
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..... I'd have to move a small TV and beer fridge out of the room to qualify.
Not worth it.
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Old 09-12-2012, 02:10 PM   #13
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..... I'd have to move a small TV and beer fridge out of the room to qualify.
That is a real deal breaker for sure.
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Old 09-12-2012, 04:21 PM   #14
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I don't know that you are fired but it sounds like a sensible "get a life" plan. And with your DW working the other approach for 4 years you will have her home to ease the transition before you know it.
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Old 09-12-2012, 05:50 PM   #15
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I don't know that you are fired but it sounds like a sensible "get a life" plan. And with your DW working the other approach for 4 years you will have her home to ease the transition before you know it.
+1

Good for you!
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Old 09-12-2012, 06:31 PM   #16
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I would go on vacation, but sleep much of the time. I was too tired to go out with friends, and some of my hobbies layed dormant.
Have you been checked for low testosterone?
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Old 09-12-2012, 07:02 PM   #17
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Sounds like a great move that will make life more interesting for you. I'll vote for semi-FIRE'd. Part-time work doesn't count for the RE part.
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Old 09-13-2012, 01:45 AM   #18
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Thanks everyone! Good point on the split of FI from RE.

And as to the above, yes I can write them off, but the IRS rules are very stingy these days...to write off a home office it must be used EXCLUSIVELY for business. I'd have to move a small TV and beer fridge out of the room to qualify.
You can use part of a room for an exclusive home office.

Home Office Deduction

"So, if you use a whole room or part of a room for conducting your business, you need to figure out the percentage of your home devoted to your business activities."
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Old 09-13-2012, 03:59 AM   #19
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Sounds like a good plan and most of all, you seem to be happy with it. As long as you are FI, the RE (in its true form) can come along when you are ready. Who cares what other people think as long as you and your spouse are happy with it.
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Old 09-13-2012, 07:11 AM   #20
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I would say semi-retired. But the title doesn't matter. If your happy, that's all that matters. Who knows......you might enjoy the new gig so much that you continue on for years.
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