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Update on my "phased" FIRE process
Old 10-23-2013, 10:49 PM   #1
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Update on my "phased" FIRE process

I tried to respond to an earlier thread of mine, but it was too old...so I cut and pasted the original post below as reference.

Well...a year has passed and what a whirlwind it has been! I did leave MegaCorp in Nov 2012, and spent about 3 months (some of that BEFORE I left MegaCorp) getting all my licenses/tools/training/certifications. I am now a licensed and certified home inspector, termite inspector, radon measurement tech, and radon mitigation tech. I started doing paid jobs in Dec. 2012, and I just recently passed 300 paid inspections...so I've averaged about 8 per week!

It has worked out about as I expected, but getting started was a bit more difficult than anticipated. The training was intense and expensive, and the licensing complex. I had to go to weeklong training in Chicago for home inspecting, Lafayette Indiana for termite training, and then did 6 weeks of self study for radon licensing. Each training class costs $$, the exams cost $$, and then the licensing costs $$...so after adding it all up including business cards, tools, etc...I had to invest about $8,500.

I essentially created an LLC, and I subcontract myself to an existing inspection company. The upside is that I avoid all the overhead, marketing, scheduling (they have an office manager that schedules all my jobs), ordering of materials such as mold swabs and water testing kits, brochures, maintaining the website, depositing checks at the bank, realtor marketing meeting costs, and so on...plus I benefit from the established name of the company (I wear uniforms with their company name/logo). The downside is that I only keep a portion of the income of each job I do...the rest goes to the Owner. That's fine with me...it's a tradeoff of less money for less stress.

I pay all my own variable costs such as fuel for my car, tools, postage to mail off mold swabs, etc. I give the Owner all the checks and cash I collect, then I invoice them for the work I do. It works pretty well.

What I enjoy is: dealing with lots of interesting people and using my expertise to help them with the largest purchase they'll likely make in their life, having a flexible schedule (I choose to start my jobs at 9 AM because I'm not a morning person), and the ability to take off whenever I want (at MegaCorp...I was in finance...and when you're "closing the books" each month, you are prohibited from taking vacation for those two weeks...and if it's the end of a quarter where we are reporting results to the SEC...then there are THREE weeks you cannot take off!

Overall it's been great. I'm currently working 45-50 hours/week, but I just wanted to do that for about 1 year to get my experience up fast, get to know the realtors, and earn back all my seed money I spent. I'll be going to 4 days/week starting in January 2014, and then in 2015 my plan is to work 2.5-3 days/week....which I may keep up for a few years depending on whether I'm still having fun and how our portfolio is looking.

I can't tell you how refreshing it is to be done with the 2 AM China conference calls, constant emails about volunteerism (I do volunteer, but I don't need my company to encourage me to do it), budget cuts to our departments when the execs keep flying 4 days/week on the $10M corporate jet, annual performance reviews, stuffy dress codes, poor cafeteria food, and "I'll drive safely" pledge forms I had to fill out each year. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the MegaCorp job for many years and they provided my education (I did all my schooling, both BS Engineering and MBA Finance at nights while working full time...and they paid for it all) and a good living for my family for many years...but it was time for a change for me.

I'm really looking forward to the long weekends next summer!



Quote:
Originally Posted by Finance Dave View Post
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 10-23-2013, 10:59 PM   #2
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Congratulations FD! Sounds like you are having fun. I have a friend who has done something similar, but he isn't as busy as you are. I think he is enjoying himself too.
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Old 10-23-2013, 11:33 PM   #3
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Congrats on finding a job where you can work as many or few hours as you like to, and doing something you enjoy too.

A good example for people who's tired of working at megacorp, but not yet ready for retirement. One has to be proactive and makes it happen.
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Old 10-23-2013, 11:45 PM   #4
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Sounds great. DH and I both left megacorp and have a couple of small, low stress businesses where we work whatever hours we want. It is nice to be able to do that and still have an income without the long hours, commutes and high stress.
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Old 10-24-2013, 12:02 AM   #5
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Congratulations! A well executed transition.
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Old 10-24-2013, 08:10 AM   #6
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Congrats! Sounds great.
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Old 10-24-2013, 08:11 AM   #7
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Nice when a plan comes together.

Where are you located and what's the going rate for a standard single family home inspection there?

I'm a Realtor and the guy I normally recommend charges $390. He does a pretty thorough job but in MN we don't need a termite inspection and most buyers choose not to do radon testing. There are certainly people who charge less but I like that he seems to do a good job and is very responsive in setting stuff up and getting the reports out usually overnight.
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Old 10-24-2013, 08:47 AM   #8
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Wow. You made it happen. Congratulations!

Sounds great and like a much healthier lifestyle, for your body, soul and mind.
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Old 10-26-2013, 07:38 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishingmn View Post
Nice when a plan comes together.

Where are you located and what's the going rate for a standard single family home inspection there?

I'm a Realtor and the guy I normally recommend charges $390. He does a pretty thorough job but in MN we don't need a termite inspection and most buyers choose not to do radon testing. There are certainly people who charge less but I like that he seems to do a good job and is very responsive in setting stuff up and getting the reports out usually overnight.
Indiana....and a "standard" rate is $275 for a house under 2,000 square feet, and $325 for one over that. We also charge extra for ancillary services such as outbuildings, double garages, termites, radon, etc. We guarantee our reports go out "next business day".
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Old 10-26-2013, 07:39 AM   #10
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Thanks everyone for the nice comments!
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Old 10-26-2013, 08:00 AM   #11
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Awesome Finance Dave!!! I am so happy that you got out Now you can coast the semi-retired life for a very long time doing something that is fun!
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Old 03-07-2014, 12:57 PM   #12
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Another update....

Slight change in plans...decided to wait a bit longer to shorten my workweek...we had a few unexpected expenses. Current plan is to go to 6 jobs/week (2 inspections on each Monday and Wednesday, 1 on each Tuesday and Thursday). I'll take every Friday off. And as for Saturdays, I've told the mother ship that I'll work Saturdays so long as I get a $60 premium per inspection and have at least 3 days notice. I don't think too many people will go for that...which is fine with me...but there are a few people that can only do inspections on the weekend...and that allows us to fill that need (the other inspector does not work Saturdays) while making it financially attractive to me. A typical inspection takes 4-5 hours total...so that's another $12-15 per hour.

Currently I'm doing 10 jobs/week when the demand is there...so going to 6/week will be a 40% reduction in my workload. I've already told the boss I'll do this starting late spring...but no official date yet...probably mid May when the weather gets nice.

Other than that, all is going well and I'm now over 400 paid inspections...my how time flies!

In about summer of 2015, I'll probably drop 1-2 more per week and do perhaps 4-5...and then stay there for another 1-2 years before I give up *orking altogether...but I can make that decision later.

My stress level is down, I like the work, and it's nice to be able to help others in their biggest financial decision. The downside is that the pay is about 1/3 of what I was making at MegaCorp...but the flexibility is awesome...I don't start until 9 AM and it's easy to ask off any time I want.

Looking forward to May!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Finance Dave View Post
I tried to respond to an earlier thread of mine, but it was too old...so I cut and pasted the original post below as reference.

Well...a year has passed and what a whirlwind it has been! I did leave MegaCorp in Nov 2012, and spent about 3 months (some of that BEFORE I left MegaCorp) getting all my licenses/tools/training/certifications. I am now a licensed and certified home inspector, termite inspector, radon measurement tech, and radon mitigation tech. I started doing paid jobs in Dec. 2012, and I just recently passed 300 paid inspections...so I've averaged about 8 per week!

It has worked out about as I expected, but getting started was a bit more difficult than anticipated. The training was intense and expensive, and the licensing complex. I had to go to weeklong training in Chicago for home inspecting, Lafayette Indiana for termite training, and then did 6 weeks of self study for radon licensing. Each training class costs $$, the exams cost $$, and then the licensing costs $$...so after adding it all up including business cards, tools, etc...I had to invest about $8,500.

I essentially created an LLC, and I subcontract myself to an existing inspection company. The upside is that I avoid all the overhead, marketing, scheduling (they have an office manager that schedules all my jobs), ordering of materials such as mold swabs and water testing kits, brochures, maintaining the website, depositing checks at the bank, realtor marketing meeting costs, and so on...plus I benefit from the established name of the company (I wear uniforms with their company name/logo). The downside is that I only keep a portion of the income of each job I do...the rest goes to the Owner. That's fine with me...it's a tradeoff of less money for less stress.

I pay all my own variable costs such as fuel for my car, tools, postage to mail off mold swabs, etc. I give the Owner all the checks and cash I collect, then I invoice them for the work I do. It works pretty well.

What I enjoy is: dealing with lots of interesting people and using my expertise to help them with the largest purchase they'll likely make in their life, having a flexible schedule (I choose to start my jobs at 9 AM because I'm not a morning person), and the ability to take off whenever I want (at MegaCorp...I was in finance...and when you're "closing the books" each month, you are prohibited from taking vacation for those two weeks...and if it's the end of a quarter where we are reporting results to the SEC...then there are THREE weeks you cannot take off!

Overall it's been great. I'm currently working 45-50 hours/week, but I just wanted to do that for about 1 year to get my experience up fast, get to know the realtors, and earn back all my seed money I spent. I'll be going to 4 days/week starting in January 2014, and then in 2015 my plan is to work 2.5-3 days/week....which I may keep up for a few years depending on whether I'm still having fun and how our portfolio is looking.

I can't tell you how refreshing it is to be done with the 2 AM China conference calls, constant emails about volunteerism (I do volunteer, but I don't need my company to encourage me to do it), budget cuts to our departments when the execs keep flying 4 days/week on the $10M corporate jet, annual performance reviews, stuffy dress codes, poor cafeteria food, and "I'll drive safely" pledge forms I had to fill out each year. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the MegaCorp job for many years and they provided my education (I did all my schooling, both BS Engineering and MBA Finance at nights while working full time...and they paid for it all) and a good living for my family for many years...but it was time for a change for me.

I'm really looking forward to the long weekends next summer!
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Old 03-09-2014, 03:22 PM   #13
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The mental health improvement you have is worth a lot. You are having fun at the new job, and have flexibility in hours and days. Sounds like a good balance between the megacorp grind and being fully retired with no work.

You probably notice a physical health improvement as well. Just being outside and doing more than sitting at a desk or in mtg is good for you.
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