I started occasionally reading the forums, mainly "Fire and Money", about five years ago. Although I had then been studying investing off and on for a decade, the varied discussions introduced me to new ideas and valuable references. I appreciate the boost many of you have given to my early-retirement education.
Early this year my corporate job ended (a quasi layoff, given I didn't want to move from rural Virginia to Silicon Valley). I was surprised, with my ego pinched a bit, but overall I was ready for the change ("thrilled" with the change is probably more accurate). Financially, I wasn't fully ready to FIRE, but no reason not to enjoy what I couldn't control. I'm 30% short now of my target number, nevertheless enjoying a new stage of life (hmmm....probably no coincidence I recently turned 50).
My modified plan, to cover the short-fall, is working part-time. I'll first focus on self-employed ventures that I find fulfilling, even though there are certainly easier way to make money. As a fall-back plan, I can occasional do contract work (I enjoyed most of my thirty-year career developing software, but a change is good given AFAIK we only live once). Long term we can also sell our mini-farm to make up any continuing short fall, but we consider this home, so that is a last-resort option. A priority is covering the needs of my family, with four kids (ages 5, 7, 15, and 19), but I figure having more of me is a good trade-off for some loss in security and income. They are all supportive, although my wife worries a little (not too much) and my older kids are wondering what's up with dad.
For a starting venture, I heard there are big bucks in writing books (yeah, right). Seriously, after considering my options I will first try my hand at writing, committing to myself to get out one book (later I can become as pragmatic as needed). If I have any success with the first, a long-shot I know, there are several more books on different topics that would give me great satisfaction in writing. (Given I had a hard time squeezing out a "C" in English 101, and disliked writing all my schooling years, life unfolds in unexpected ways.)
The book is on personal investing, oriented towards providing a rational and candid guide for the common person, without the over simplification of many intro books. I've been researching seriously for 6 months. Given the breadth and depth of knowledge within this forum, I feel a bit pretentious introducing myself and stating I'm writing an investment book, but on my good days I feel I can pull it off well and make a contribution (and the bad days I don't count). In the six months of digging deeper into investing, I am surprised to say my thinking has been rattled a little and changed, considering I thought my general knowledge was firm and settled. My surprise may be due to overestimating what I thought I knew, but in part I believe it is due to the nature of the topic, the state of the underlying theory, and the amount of convoluted literature one has to wade through to establish any kind of clear perspective.
All that to say, over time (I work slowly) I hope to start participating in the "Fire and Money" forum to kick around some of the investment topics I am finding more interesting and curious, or ones I just happen to be struggling through. Also, I hope to contribute something back now (I'm typically a silent observer in forums).
Just to be clear, the above is not a prelude to any kind of sales pitch. I have no investment-related business (although I toyed with the idea a little), no blog (although I probably should try it), and no investment secrets to make anyone rich or poor (Motley Fool appears to be selling more than enough "secrets" to go around). Also, I have no intention of bringing up again that I'm working on an investment book -- I felt it was a relevant and fair disclosure when introducing myself, but not germane to future discussions. Finally, in case anyone is curious, my investment philosophy is very conventional (as least in present company), circling around well-diversified low-cost index funds.
This looks long winded, so no more for now.