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The Other Side of the (FIRE) Coin
Old 04-08-2008, 06:06 PM   #1
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The Other Side of the (FIRE) Coin

May be the wrong place to ask but we find ourselves:
- FI (we could live on 2/3rds of projected income if needed),
- tired of my job on one hand,
- but I recognize it's a very good paying job that I'm very lucky to have and it still has it's good days,
- and I'd probably be smart to stay with it and build more of a FI cushion (although I don't know where I'd call it enough, 150%, 200%, more?) as who knows what investment returns will be like and/or where taxes and healthcare will go in the next 40 odd years.
Edit: If I wasn't married, I could quit tomorrow without hesitation. Nothing is certain but I want to know with at least 95% confidence that DW will never have to worry about $. Least I can do after she's put up with me for all these years...

This is not a 'one more day/year' question. I never stopped to think about it, but obviously it was easier to go to work every day when I wasn't even close to FI. I suspect you'll tell me "I'll know when, it will be when you just can't stand the job anymore." But for those of you who are FI and still working, any advice on how to keep your head in the game (at work)?
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Old 04-08-2008, 06:45 PM   #2
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I became FI in 1999 and quit working in 2007 . I'm unusual on this forum in that I did not dislike my job in fact I enjoyed nursing so FI had nothing to do with it . I had been working 39 years when I called it quits . Nursing is a very physical job and while I could still do the 12 ,13 hour shifts I did not bounce back as quickly . I also was ready to explore other areas of my life plus my Mother needed more help so it was time to turn in my scrubs .
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Old 04-08-2008, 07:01 PM   #3
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But for those of you who are FI and still working, any advice on how to keep your head in the game (at work)?


In a word, no. I'm marginally FI and would love to be able to gut it out for a couple more years, just to be on the safe side.

Toward that end I've tried everything I could think of to try to give a damn about the work, but I've concluded that it's impossible.

I know exactly where investment returns or healthcare costs are going -- down and up, respectively. But I also see folks younger than me in the obits every day.

I no longer believed in Santa, the Easter Bunny, or the personal value of selling one more widget / completing one more spreadsheet / getting one more good job review.

The best I've been able to do is dangle carrots in front of myself. "I'll quit after I vest in the pension" or "I'll quit after my vacation" or "I'll quit after Christmas, since that's the slow season" or "I'll quit in spring 'cause if I quit in winter the weather will be bad anyway."

I've logged about 5 years in this manner, in six-month increments, but I'm at the point where a golden carrot the size of Cleveland isn't going to be enough to keep me.

Throwing off these golden handcuffs still won't be easy. I feel your pain and I hope someone has something more constructive to offer. Good luck!
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Old 04-08-2008, 07:15 PM   #4
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I think you need to sit down with a paper and pencil (or Excel), and do some serious introspection and re-examining of your financial goals.

It seems to me from what you said, that originally you set a goal that was enough to make you FI but did not provide enough of a cushion to give you peace of mind. That's great - - as one of the "carrots" Caroline spoke of along the way - - but now that you have reached that first goal you are floundering because it is not where you want to be.

In my opinion you need to re-set your goal, and this time make it a firm goal that you can really live with. Go ahead. Set sub-goals along the way, and work towards your new goal just like you worked towards your initial goal.

Hope I'm on track with this.
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Old 04-08-2008, 07:23 PM   #5
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had i enjoyed my job, it would not have mattered how much money i had.
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Old 04-08-2008, 07:49 PM   #6
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Midpack , I have to add that after I became FI but still liked my job . I went part time and treated myself very well . I travelled several times . I took my mother ,aunt and daughter on a cruise . I took one month trips and explored different areas . I had several parties . Basically I just enjoyed my life and the extra money I was bringing in just was the cherry on the sundae of life . So my suggestion if you decide to stay or are not ready to retire treat yourself with some of that extra money .
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Old 04-08-2008, 09:38 PM   #7
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Like Moemg, I was FI in the late 1990s but did not really retire until 2007...for a lot of reasons. I did not hate my j* b but it was a drag on my mind and my body. 12+ hour days of constant stress and corporate BS wears thin after a while. I could haved stayed longer and they tried very hard to keep me there but I had a dream...and 2007 was MY year to pull the plug and burn all my copies of the CFRs.

I have thought about doing some consulting but have not had the time to do so. Anyway, it would be the same but worse than what I did for so many years and if I ever w*rk again it will be at something very different.

My reasons to stick it out longer (4 years) longer were mostly for personal reasons that had nothing to do with my financial situation. It was not my love of the j*b either. I think you have to find a reason to stay more than you need a reason to leave once you reach FI.

How much $$$ is enough? Only you can say. Padding if fine up to a point and that point to me would be are you really ready to ER or not?

Good luck and stay if you want but do so for the right reasons...because you truly want to.
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Old 04-08-2008, 10:11 PM   #8
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This is not a direct answer to your question.

When my DW and I married I was 31. Within 2 years she said she was ready to have children. I had a lot of uncertainty. How do I know if I would be a good father; how do I support children (money was very tight at that time); yadda; yadda; yadda. If I had waited until all questions and doubts went away, I would probably still not have children. Sometimes you need to have faith and then jump in the water (and then paddle like mad).
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Old 04-08-2008, 10:50 PM   #9
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We are in a similar position to you, ticking all the same boxes that you list. I also felt so over my job I actually resigned though they talked me into staying. What has helped me tremendously is I have gone to 4 days a week and I can not believe what a difference it has made to my life having a 3 day weekend. I feel reinvigorated, my days at work seem to speed by, here it is Tuesday and my work week is half over. I am able to avoid some of the meetings that were previously deemed essential that I attend on the grounds that due to my limited hours I need to use them wisely. I am not doing 5 days work in 4 days, I pretty much stay within the confines of my 32 hours a week. I did take a 20% cut in pay but that does not bother us at all as we were losing close on 45% of that amount in taxes. It is probably worth giving that option a try before you quit completely.
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Old 04-08-2008, 11:00 PM   #10
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Similar deal to midpack. Comfortably FI, but been in "just 6 more months" mode for a while. I don't hate my job, the highs are still great, but the hours and stress are things I no longer want in my life -- and I'm anxious to get on with the next chapter.

No one at work knows I'm close to RE, and there is a certain guilt factor associated with the thought of bailing. Interestingly, I do find myself relating to work more on "my terms" -- I engage where I want to, and delegate the stuff I don't want to deal with directly. It's less and less about my career advancement and more about pushing my staff to step up their game, while still keeping engaged on a few pet projects. This has made things more tolerable for the time being, but I suspect hope I'll be out of there in less than a year.

One "forcing function" I've been considering is signing up for a full time course load in the fall at a local college (art, music, etc...), which would make me commit to a date certain to be gone.

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Old 04-08-2008, 11:10 PM   #11
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Dory used to say that when you'd filled your FI bucket, your BS bucket suddenly got very small and overflowed very quickly.

The whole point of being FI is that you can begin to assess your job in a rational problem-solving manner without the "Helsinki syndrome" coercion. Usually the problem is solved by walking away from it.
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Old 04-08-2008, 11:18 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
But for those of you who are FI and still working, any advice on how to keep your head in the game (at work)?
There are some things I enjoy, primarily solving real problems that real customers hit. I find I can still get engrossed in those, and time flies when I'm working on some of those.

When there's just overhead junk or these psuedo emergencies caused by the bean counters and process people, I just let it roll off my back. I usually do them because I like my boss and don't want him to get a bunch of grief, but I'm in no hurry and I don't mind goofing off online, or taking off for a run or an errand once they are done if there's nothing else pressing. So basically I don't worry about keeping my head in the game except for when I feel there's actually something meaningful to do. In the past I'd have felt guilty about not working all of the time, now I don't worry about it. And my boss knows that when something important comes along, I'll be there and can take care of it better and faster than any replacement he could find.

Sometimes that's borderline of not being enough, but I haven't been pushed over the edge yet.
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Old 04-09-2008, 08:36 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
This is not a 'one more day/year' question. I never stopped to think about it, but obviously it was easier to go to work every day when I wasn't even close to FI. I suspect you'll tell me "I'll know when, it will be when you just can't stand the job anymore." But for those of you who are FI and still working, any advice on how to keep your head in the game (at work)?
I was in your situation for about the last four years of my employment. I solved the issue with Ritalin. It made those meeting much more tolerable if not really interesting. But then I really have ADHD . I don't use it now that I am not working.
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Old 04-09-2008, 09:39 AM   #14
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Life is short.

My philosophy is to go with what produces the less stress in your life.

One option would be to retire and get another part time job that is more enjoyable. If you don't need health insurance, you might be surprised at the jobs available.

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Old 04-09-2008, 02:13 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Caroline View Post
[/b]

In a word, no. I'm marginally FI and would love to be able to gut it out for a couple more years, just to be on the safe side.

Toward that end I've tried everything I could think of to try to give a damn about the work, but I've concluded that it's impossible.

....
The best I've been able to do is dangle carrots in front of myself. "I'll quit after I vest in the pension" or "I'll quit after my vacation" or "I'll quit after Christmas, since that's the slow season" or "I'll quit in spring 'cause if I quit in winter the weather will be bad anyway."....
I've been in this club since I realized I was "entry-level" FI. Never a w*rk day goes by that I don't shake myself up, grab myself by the collar and say "remember this day when you have buyer's remorse." Caroline, I thought you were going to burst into, "If ever I would leave you, it wouldnít be in winter, no no not in springtime, not in summer or fall...." Yeah, I take the vacations and sick days but I dread going back.

As far as giving a d*mn, a few weeks ago I really got annoyed at myself because I realized that I had lost my empathy towards clients, donít know when it happened. I really thought about it and it isnít in my j*b description but it was nice while it lasted , maybe 14 years, but this is year 15, or year 17 if you count a previous stint with the same company.

Reminds me of the Cable Car conductorís joke: A tourist asks, "how long do those breaks last"? Conductor says "three days." Second tourist didnít hear that, says, "I can smell the breaks burning, how long do they last"? "Three Days." Third tourist asks the same question. "Three days and this is day four."
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Old 04-09-2008, 03:13 PM   #16
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My head is a similar space to others: nearly FI and the job is miserable. Caroline captured it perfectly, thanks. I try to be responsive and care, but often feel defeated by the bureacracy and complexity. Only rarely does a project come along that both seems to match my skills and be useful to the outside world, and usually it's not a corporate priority. I try to make my coworkers a priority, be responsive to their needs, but some of the tasks are just a mismatch. I agree with the suggestion about 3-day weekends. I have a lot of vacation time and have found that spreading it out into 3-day weekends is better for pure daily survival then taking a long vacation, getting my head out of the game, and then having to come back. I'm seriously considering whether it would be better for mental health to do a part-time for a long time, instead of a full-time job that is miserable for just another year or two. Most of us are pretty disciplined or we wouldn't be where we are, but as somebody said, those obit's are beckoning: how much more of life do we spend just to buy FIRE?
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Old 04-09-2008, 04:50 PM   #17
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I guess you could also call us "entry level" FI. Part of our FI assets include a home that needs to be sold. If we ERd now, we would have to sell the one we want to keep, and keep the one we want to sell. That situation flips at the end of this year due to a windfall...(yeah I know, don't count your chickens before they hatch...but this one already earned, and just a matter of still being there in 9 months).

Then, we had been considering ER after DD finishes HS next year in June, or the following December which gives me a little extra time to get the succession issues worked out. However, DW is now saying she wants to stay another year beyond that in this Asian city, which she thinks will give us time to travel around this part of the world.

Frankly, I'm not so interested in the extra year, nor the Asian tour. I've been in most of the major cities and don't find the travel enjoyable anymore. But a few things can be said about this possible outcome: 1) keeping DW happy is pretty important to me, 2) our FIRE plan will be completely prepared and we will be able to afford to treat ourselves a little before we punch out, and 3) the transition to a new administration would likely be much smoother if I stuck it out for another year (and a smooth transition is important to me because a) I am proud of what I have built and do not want it to fall apart, and b) I feel it is an executive's responsibility to his customers, shareholders, employees and to society to do his best to ensure that power transfers smoothly, without the blips that so often plague a change at the top).

All of that said, I must admit that there are days that I feel like I have had enough, and check my countdown (in an Excel sheet) of how many days to go until a few key checkpoints along the way. Sometimes after that I feel better, sometimes I feel worse.

Midpack, as for your last comment, I think that going to work everyday will be easier when I reach the "full FI" point, because I will know I can walk if I want to, and will have a little more leverage. Megacorp needs me now, but I need them as well. When I no longer need them, I have the advantage. FWIW.

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Old 04-09-2008, 05:05 PM   #18
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headingout, I requested to go to part-time starting in June. If that isn't accepted, or if they continue hemming and hawing past the end of this month, I'm leaving in September (after the yearly bonus comes out). And I've got a bunch of vacation, that I'm going to use up before I leave rather than cash out.
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Old 04-09-2008, 07:05 PM   #19
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ER doesn't have to be permanent. Take the step - see if you like it - and you can always go back to work if you wish. That's our plan.

If you're FI, you don't have to worry about getting the same high-paying job back. You can try other careers that may have appealed to you once.

All the best with your decision.
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Old 04-12-2008, 06:00 PM   #20
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Personally as soon as I reach FI (annual expenses x 25), I will call it quits and take my chances. ER means that much to me. I know that there is plenty of padding already factored into my plan and I am willing to tough it out if needed to make it work. But for my wife, it will be more difficult. I have a feeling that in her case she will come home one day, long after we reach FI, and be so fed up with her job that the decision to retire will be the only sensible one left. My only fear is that she keeps working until something major,like a health scare, forces her to review her priorities.
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