Well a confession of sorts I suppose.
This week, I celebrated my 6th year of retirement from the Air Force. The attached picture was the last day of my Air Force career and while I miss the perks of wearing pajamas to w*rk everyday (actually, a flight suit...but it's pretty much the same) I don't miss the buffonery that was part of the everyday j*b. It really enabled my FIRE at a pretty young age too, so no complaints there!
Before my confession...here is a quick summation of what I have been doing the last 6 years.
Year one was very much a time of relaxation. Although my j*b in the Air Force was rarely a chore or difficult, I didn't realize how much it had beaten me down in the previous 22 years. Some of it could be attributed to help care for two elderly family members.
Year two through four involved me going to law school. "Why" you ask? Lots of reasons, I guess one of which I would not have been, "become a lawyer!" Instead, the law had always interested me and while I never saw myself practicing law; I thought the study and the nagging feeling that I would actually enjoy it was enough of a bother to pull the trigger on that choice. It didn't hurt that it would be a "free ride" thanks to the GI Bill. I had joined the Air Force as a high school drop out and over my career, I got my GED, three associate degrees, a bachelor's degree and a master's degree--all while just being "just" an enlisted sweaty. I don't regret my choice. It was really an enjoyable experience and it was quite the blast to hang out with the "kids" that were 20+ years younger than me. It definitely changed my perspective of the oft derided millennial generation. The last year of law school was challenging since my Dad was getting progressively sicker and ultimately died less than a month after I graduated. A mixed emotions kind of year, for sure.
Year five involved uprooting and moving 1000 miles to the state that my DW is from. With my Dad gone, there was no real reason to stay in the ATL area. I had really outgrown the area and I knew that the "grand 'ole days" of "only" two million people living in the metro was over. This is also a decision that I think was right. I do have friends out in ATL, but I don't miss the area at all. Later, I decided to take the bar exam. Why? I know...I said I didn't want to be a lawyer. Ah yes...but I always looked up to my Dad and how he lived his life. I could write for HOURS about his life and adversities but that's not the point here. Nonetheless, I could hear him in the back of my mind saying, "So, are you going to FINISH this or not!?!?" Law school is not really considered to be complete until you take -and- pass the bar and I felt that I needed to do that to finally complete that journey. As you might expect, it sucked. I didn't put forth a ton of effort in law school for the simple fact that it's tough to fail out and I wasn't there to "become a lawyer." So, much of what was covered in law school I ignored. I really didn't care to know about the "rule against perpetuity" (look it up if you are curious about one of the WORST areas of law EVER) but I knew that this and other similarly boring subjects could/would be on the exam...so I spent a good two months studying for that exam. Yes, it sucked, but I passed.
Year Six. The reckoning and now...my confession. I was still enjoying my retirement and the freedom that it afforded. I still do. It's fantastic. Yet., 2020 brought us all sorts of challenges with this COVID bull squeeze. Blah! Much of my freedom had been snatched from me (STAY HOME! DON'T TRAVEL! NO FUN FOR YOU!!!) and yes...boredom did set in. Yes, stuff around the house kept me quite busy...but you can only weed the flower beds so many times. So...yes. I did the unthinkable....I un-retired.
The un-retiring was kind of unexpected and not something I had expected. Instead, something fell in my lap and while COVID was raging, I had nothing else better to do. What was this you ask? Well, as some of you know, my DW works in the real estate leasing business. They have/had in house counsel (attorney) that they used for most issues, but they didn't have anyone that could help out in the state in which we live (her territory covers six states). Her boss asked me if I would be interested in helping out with some local matters, and I I thought, "why not?"...I wasn't really doing anything else, anyway. I did that for a couple of months and it was a pretty good deal. I didn't have set work hours, just dealt with issues as they came up and was paid fairly well. Some weeks were pretty busy, others there was nothing. It was really the perfect legal job. Not too much work, pay was decent and I didn't have to leave my house. Not too long after I started this, her company was sold and my services were no longer needed. Thankfully, we are still FI, so no need to work.
Since then I have had the opportunity to do some other contract legal stuff. The first deal was as a contract attorney for the Small Business Administration reviewing/processing PPP and disaster loans for borrowers. I thought it would be a decent job where I could help folks during some pretty awful times. Well, that idyllic idea was snuffed out quickly when it came to actually trying to get stuff DONE at the SBA. It is the government and the buffoonery is strong in that organization. It was heartbreaking to talk to borrowers who had a loan kicked back for some ridiculous reason and I was the bringer of bad news...always. It wasn't healthy for me and I quit about a month after I started. I feel for all those folks that are dealing with the government trying to get help.
As fate would have it, an attorney I worked with at the SBA called me up about another opportunity. It was similar to the SBA, but it was working (from home still!) with a law firm that processes applications for the Main Street Lending program for small and medium sized businesses. I have been doing that for about a month and have really enjoy it. I am able to work as little or as much as I like and the pay is pretty darn good. Since it is being run by a large firm that bills A LOT, it runs pretty well. It's unfortunate that the SBA can't run as smoothly as these large law firms. Oh well, thus is life, right? The work has been interesting and I have learned a LOT about how some businesses work and are financed and the folks that own/run them. The most eye opening thing I have seen is that some of the executives that run these companies make very, VERY good money and have substantial assets ($10mil+) yet really live the "millionaire next door" lifestyle. It's such a change from some of the folks I have helped at the legal aid clinic file who have filed bankruptcy...oye...all I can say is that cell phone leases will be the downfall of those in the lower income class.
I know this has been a long missive, but it's tough to summarize 6 years of retirement. I guess since I am working again, I can't really call myself retired. That's OK, though. We are still very much FI and our NW has increased much more over the last 6 years than I ever thought it would. Nonetheless, the new job(s) has been nice to offset a particularly expensive year (so far...we have spent about $30K more this year than normal).
As you may have seen, the treasury secretary announced last week that the Main Street Lending program will probably come to an end on Dec 31st barring any action by Congress. Well, we know how that works most of the time.
So, I expect that this cushy job will come to an end around then. But, that's OK. Hopefully the world will start to get back to normal and I can re-retire and continue to enjoy my freedom and ignore any "opportunities" that may come my way. It's not a bad deal and I can still watch 60 Minutes tonight without the angst it brings to those folks that HAVE to work. OK...off to change my signature before the retirement police come around!!!
Oh..and I am happy to report that in the last 6 years, I have only worn a neck tie twice. Once at the "Barrister's Ball" (prom for law school) and once at my swearing it and I plan on keeping that record.