Going back to work after you have retired? Any stories from those who have?

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Matt3121
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Going back to work after you have retired? Any stories from those who have?

Post by Matt3121 »

So, since I retired in 2019, I got 2 different jobs. The latest job I got allowed me to save 96% of my income! But I quit after 2 months. I just found that I was unwilling to do the crazy things they asked, since I didn't need the money. I made enough in those two months to live for a couple years, so that's nice, though I didn't even need the money.

I'm sure others have gone back to work after reaching FIRE, I'm kind of curious about the outcome of that. If you didn't need the money what was your motivation? Did you find it harder to tolerate craziness?

I'm a software engineer, and I got a Director of Engineering role. After a month or so my boss said that he wanted Engineering to present things in an impartial manner so the executives could make the decisions. But it was a interesting ask because instead of saying:

Instead of saying: "Do we plan to support legacy customers with this product?", you had to say: "We're sure you have a great solution. How can we leverage it with our existing customer base?"

I thought it was absurd to have to do that over and over again. And, had I not been FIRE I might have stuck it out but I just figured it wasn't worth it. Unexpected issue honestly. Never thought that would even be a problem. Don't get me wrong, this is such a first world issue, it's ridiculous. But I noticed I've developed this huge disdain for people who live paycheck to paycheck. My boss was making like 300k and saving a bit but still living kind of pay check to pay check and was stressed, and it was hard to even take him seriously when he can't even save money.

Okay random musings over.

UK-with-kids
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Re: Going back to work after you have retired? Any stories from those who have?

Post by UK-with-kids »

These two posts from very different FIRE bloggers in the UK spring to mind:

https://sexhealthmoneydeath.com/2016/08 ... -returned/

http://www.retirementinvestingtoday.com ... ul-fi.html

Matt3121
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Re: Going back to work after you have retired? Any stories from those who have?

Post by Matt3121 »

UK-with-kids wrote:
Thu Dec 17, 2020 4:59 am
These two posts from very different FIRE bloggers in the UK spring to mind:

https://sexhealthmoneydeath.com/2016/08 ... -returned/

http://www.retirementinvestingtoday.com ... ul-fi.html
I really liked the second link, thanks!

Loner
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Re: Going back to work after you have retired? Any stories from those who have?

Post by Loner »

I’ve always been puzzled about the "I’ve gone back to work" posts in the FIRE sphere (referring to the two links above, not OP). They often sound confused (Jacob excluded). What did those people think they’d do once "retired"? Stay home and twiddle their thumbs for half a century? Drink margaritas non-stop until death do them part from their hammocks? It’s often obvious that FIRE was a way out of something, and not a tool to achieve some long-standing desire, which is a sure way back to work.

I can’t blame the people themselves, since we’re often a product of our culture/environment, but I think it speaks to how wicked our collective view of work has become that one feels the need to justify doing something active involving a retribution. Kind in implicitly assumes that the only worthy thing is complete passivity. You must have really drunk the consumption Kool-Aid to get engulfed in the whole quagmire around the words “retirement” and “work”.

Anyhow, back to OP. I’m not FIREd proper, but my stash has been growing, and as it does, I’m tolerating less and less BS and reducing the work that I don’t like (for various reasons) in order to replace it with work that I like more (or rather, dislike less). When FIREd, I’ll eliminate what’s left of what I don’t want to tolerate to do only things I like, whether or not they pay—that’s the beauty of FIRE, if makes money irrelevant, and allows you to do what you want. That’s been the whole point of ERE since the beginning. My drive for autonomy has always been very high, so typical work arrangements never suited me. I’ve been self-employed since I started working, and it’s far from perfect, but it’s better than typical employment. My stash allows me to (often) refuse contracts/clients that I don’t like (low-quality projects, unpleasant client, short deadlines, etc.). I refuse (better paid) job offers at least 1-2 year. Still, I remain unsatisfied by a lot of the work I do, and the constraints it involves, so FIRE will help.

Your desire to leave all the craziness aside makes complete sense to me, and I’d have done the same as you--quitting. And I wouldn’t be as inclined as you to call this problem ridiculous. There’s no pride, meaning and enjoyment in doing work whose means and/or ends you don’t agree with, not to mention that doing bad work makes the word a worst place, which is one thing I find difficult with a lot of work.

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Sclass
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Re: Going back to work after you have retired? Any stories from those who have?

Post by Sclass »

Matt3121 wrote:
Thu Dec 17, 2020 12:19 am

I'm sure others have gone back to work after reaching FIRE, I'm kind of curious about the outcome of that. If you didn't need the money what was your motivation? Did you find it harder to tolerate craziness?
Funny story @Matt3121. I take it you couldn’t just bite your lip and take their money? I guess there is a point where the task is unpleasant beyond the compensation.

So halfway through my career I took 1.5 years off. I guess I was financially independent. I was surviving on <4% SWR at the time. I wasn’t ready to stop working so I just got really picky about jobs. I interviewed a lot and found a lot of jobs I wasn’t interested in doing. I didn’t intend to retire at the time because I wanted a bigger factor of safety and I was hoping to increase my absolute withdrawal to fatten my FIRE. I think I also overestimated my retirement expenses and thought I needed more money in the bank.

Here are some of the interesting takeaways.

When I finally returned to the workplace I found the equations of motion kind of the same but the constraints/boundary conditions different. They had a job that needed to be done and money, I had the skills and labor to do it. But I soon learned that threat of firing and coercion played a huge role in sustained employment at the new place. I met it naively with some confusion because my prior workplace was a little more sophisticated. The new guys were blunt...do this or else.

I ran into a similar issue that you did. Doing what they wanted was wrong in a number of ways and would result in failure. I let them know this. “I won’t do it your way because we will fail. I get it that you have twenty years of industry experience, but my suspicion is you’ve been unsuccessful given your naive strategies. Had you tasted success you’d have changed your process long ago.” Career limiting move on my part. At the time it was more important for me to “win” than get a paycheck.

At the same place I noticed one guy on my recruiting committee was skeptical of me because “I was so rich I didn’t need to work.” Apparently they had some long discussions about my employment history before the interview. He first expressed it publicly during my interview because of my long work hiatus I was unwilling to work. Then later as I was hired on when I refused to work after seven o’clock or on weekends he complained that it was a bad decision to hire a guy “who was so rich he didn’t need to work.” While I got pretty pissed off at the time I realize now he was just an high functioning autistic engineer with some demanding debts. Fifteen years later I’m a little more understanding. His world view was primarily derived from his own experience as a financially compromised W-2 slave. It was his first and only job he ever had and continues to have.

I refused to do a lot of their fool’s errands. They treated me like I was crazy and fearless of layoff. Other engineers complained I was unwilling to work the customarily long hours and on weekends. I told them I didn’t see the point and we’d sort it out Monday morning. I had “a poor work ethic.” It was company culture to spend long hours on the job to divert scrutiny from the fact you made shit or generated a lot of heat. I was like “your rules don’t apply to me because my stuff works. WTH is your problem don’t you know the difference?”

At first I was kind of confused by their threats. I was like, “okay, so you’re mad and frustrated. So what? Now we’re supposed to make dumb decisions to make you happy?” Then I realized that was the primitive exchange they offered. I mean what’s the use of keeping your naive boss happy when there is no revenue?

So I guess this opened my eyes to how much fear is supposed to motivate employees. Without fear of firing things get wonky. At a certain point I was just there to design and manufacture a great product and the paycheck was just a way to make me do it for them and not somebody else.

If you don’t do what we say you won’t get paid. You’ll be foreclosed upon. Then the wolves will come. Right.

A subordinate finally approached me and said “ya don’t get it Sclass. You gotta stop saying no all the time and realize your paycheck is contingent upon you saying yes. Even if it’s wrong. Say yes and apologize after we succeed doing it your way.” Maybe that’s when I realized the paycheck wasn’t all that important to me.

Matt3121
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Re: Going back to work after you have retired? Any stories from those who have?

Post by Matt3121 »

Loner wrote:
Thu Dec 17, 2020 11:27 am
I’ve always been puzzled about the "I’ve gone back to work" posts in the FIRE sphere (referring to the two links above, not OP). They often sound confused (Jacob excluded). What did those people think they’d do once "retired"? Stay home and twiddle their thumbs for half a century? Drink margaritas non-stop until death do them part from their hammocks? It’s often obvious that FIRE was a way out of something, and not a tool to achieve some long-standing desire, which is a sure way back to work.

Your desire to leave all the craziness aside makes complete sense to me, and I’d have done the same as you--quitting. And I wouldn’t be as inclined as you to call this problem ridiculous. There’s no pride, meaning and enjoyment in doing work whose means and/or ends you don’t agree with, not to mention that doing bad work makes the word a worst place, which is one thing I find difficult with a lot of work.
Yeah I agree on the points above. I think I just wanted to escape the unpleasant pressure from work. But other jobs come calling and I get excited. I was also enthralled that I could have a 90+% savings rate. But in the end, you realize how little you are willing to tolerate, which in my case wasn't a whole lot, lol.

fingeek
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Re: Going back to work after you have retired? Any stories from those who have?

Post by fingeek »

I took a "test year" off in 2019 when having a kiddy. I wanted to explore RE safely. After a few months of decompression and a few of enjoyment/freedom as ranted in my journal, I ended up being bored and directionless and went back after 9 months. The mindset I had was very much what @Loner describes - "Once I'm retired, I can do all of those things I can't do now". Except, I didn't - and really I could/should have started doing those things while working.

Work was a convenient excuse/distraction and an antagonist to blame and run away from. Turns out, I missed the structure and challenge, and didn't really have enough discipline to put this in place for myself at the time. Now I'm back at work, I've job-crafted myself into a position where I'm enjoying and have the day-to-day freedom I want for now (eg can take an hour or two off randomly to catch up with a friend). And that's enough "potential freedom" for me, while getting the benefit of structure, challenge, growth and of course the money.

I will ERE at some point, but before I do so I'll be first partly living that life and the trigger will be "work is getting in the way of my ability to do X" - That's when I'll know it's time to go (part time or zero time).

Edit to add: I do have a fresh perspective in work now though. I'll speak my mind without fear of sacking/whatever. I'll say and do what's right. And where I work, that's commended and even encouraged. Call it "leadership". It's a lot easier not having to filter due to fear, and to say No.
Last edited by fingeek on Thu Dec 17, 2020 2:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Loner
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Re: Going back to work after you have retired? Any stories from those who have?

Post by Loner »

other jobs come calling and I get excited.
Yeah, I've gotten fooled like that over the years too. I'm learning. I'm not FI/REd, but through the years, I've had opportunities (that I could have turned down) to work for the biggest names in my industry, and every time, even though I'm excited at first, I'm always ultimately disappointed. Best of luck on your journey, you seem to be in a really good place.

Also, +1 for Sclass. Love your stories, more than relatable, unfortunately.

I've turned down many (work) offers in the past few years, and I'm kind of amused at how startled people are when they don't control the frame (because you don't need their money), even if you do so politely. I've had a guy invite me for lunch about a (publishing) project I was pitching to different publishers (deliberately being vague here). One of them wanted to take on my project, but change many thing about it. He also offered me a lot of more work ($) if said yes. Unfortunately, he didn't offer the creative licence I wanted, so mid-lunch, I just took a disappointed voice, and said "I'm sorry, I want to be transparent and avoid both of us wasting our time. This is a deal breaker. If we are to work together, I can't accept to change so-and-so about the project". He literally stopped eating and stared at me silently for 10 long, long seconds, before regaining composure and using the rest of the time to try to convince me that I needed to change my projet (he hadn't even read the summary I send him). I had the same thing happen at another similar lunch for another project. They are just so used to having people say "Yes, will do!", whatever they ask, that they have a hard time believing it when someone does otherwise. Glad to be able to cut the worst of that.

UK-with-kids
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Re: Going back to work after you have retired? Any stories from those who have?

Post by UK-with-kids »

Loner wrote:
Thu Dec 17, 2020 11:27 am
I’ve always been puzzled about the "I’ve gone back to work" posts in the FIRE sphere (referring to the two links above, not OP). They often sound confused (Jacob excluded). What did those people think they’d do once "retired"? Stay home and twiddle their thumbs for half a century? Drink margaritas non-stop until death do them part from their hammocks? It’s often obvious that FIRE was a way out of something, and not a tool to achieve some long-standing desire, which is a sure way back to work.
Yes, that reminds me of the concept of "freedom from" versus "freedom to" which the ermine at SLS talks a lot about:
https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2016/03/24/
Anyone who's not familiar with this blog might find that article (and many others) quite interesting about how an introvert escapes work and what he can do instead. If you're looking for a recommendation, it features in Jacob's blogroll (it used to be called Simple Living in Suffolk before he moved to the other side of the UK).

I also read another very recent article about making sure you fill your life with a hinterland before you pull the plug:
https://www.caniretireyet.com/lessons-f ... etirement/
If there’s anything that you think you will do in retirement that you’re not doing now, I’m going to be brutally honest. You probably won’t.

There is a good reason you’re not already doing that thing. It is not a priority in your life. If you want things to change, you need to own that.

If you plan to start exercising, meditating, or eating better when you retire, start now!

If you plan to become a better spouse, parent, child, or friend when you retire, start now!

If you are going to try that hobby, develop that new skill, or learn that foreign language you’ve always wanted to when you retire, start now!

If you want to travel in retirement, start traveling now! (OK, you might want to wait a little bit on that one until it’s safe, but I think you get the point.)

So much of retirement planning is wishful thinking. I was guilty of it, and I commit to being brutally honest about it in my writing so I don’t contribute to spreading that mindset to others. I encourage you to start building your best life today, even if you can’t retire yet.

FRx
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Re: Going back to work after you have retired? Any stories from those who have?

Post by FRx »

I retired from medicine back in 2016 at age 37 and was mostly worried about forgetting my skills. After a year or so I did some clinical consulting and it was fine. But because I was never frugal by nature, as soon as my income went up my spending went up accordingly. I feel that the higher income sort of set me back a little so that I would have a hard time now living on my retirement income.

Alphaville
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Re: Going back to work after you have retired? Any stories from those who have?

Post by Alphaville »

FRx wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 2:24 pm
I retired from medicine back in 2016 at age 37 and was mostly worried about forgetting my skills. After a year or so I did some clinical consulting and it was fine. But because I was never frugal by nature, as soon as my income went up my spending went up accordingly. I feel that the higher income sort of set me back a little so that I would have a hard time now living on my retirement income.
we have a dearth of medical care in rural areas (one reason i fled them) so your rejoining the workforce is greatly appreciated. even if you work i portland, because that adds chances that someone else will go work in the sticks.

ertyu
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Re: Going back to work after you have retired? Any stories from those who have?

Post by ertyu »

I am thinking of going back. I want the money to make my enclosure pretty rather than just functional. After a year off, I am less burnt out than before, so I am cautiously optimistic. I expect the main hindrance to be corona-related; I'm still to figure out how this all will impact international travel.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Going back to work after you have retired? Any stories from those who have?

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

ertyu wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 4:39 am
I am thinking of going back.
Having just done what you're thinking about doing, I have mixed feelings.

The money coming in is nice, it feels safe, and right now with the suppressed ability to travel or do many of the things one might enjoy doing with spare time, maybe it's worth it. But there is also this feeling of disappointment, of taking the easy route. Maybe that's because my separation from work was voluntary (or was it? I was realllllly burnt out/unhappy).

To the OP, I'm in a similar boat right now. FI (individually, but not as married couple) and after 13 months of not working, went back because we needed to be in a HCOL area during Covid for at least a few months. The last few years of my career were a rollercoaster, and I knew stepping off that eventually I would go back to work to pad the stache and get to a better position as a household.

I'm finding that the effects of being FI while working are twofold. It's harder to ignore the many things that I perceive as BS/wasteful/annoying about FT work......but it's also much easier to not get sucked into them by having the balls to say no to more things.

After 6 weeks of being back, a few more observations;

1) my inner voice often questions whether the money will be worth it once the weather gets nicer/the world opens up a bit
2) feeling of defeat creeps in sometimes, because the W-2 was the path of least resistance in the situation
3) In my personal situation (recently married to non-FI partner), it helps to know that each week of work significantly gets us closer as a couple
4) How long will I last?
5) How do people do this for 40+ years?

ertyu
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Re: Going back to work after you have retired? Any stories from those who have?

Post by ertyu »

2Birds1Stone wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 6:58 am

5) How do people do this for 40+ years?
My theory is that they corner themselves into it and then they take it out on their personal relationships. They create circumstances in which they feel they must. It's to pay the mortgage, the car payment, the credit card debt. Or for the children's sake. Then when they're 40, they're just as burnt out as I was and thrash desperately in the net they've set out for themselves until they "free" themselves - from the wife, the kids, the too-large house that now needs to be sold - and jump into trying to live out some imaginary red sports car - young girlfriend narrative. That's what they're doing it now - they're doing the full-time job thing because it gives them enough money to be the shit.
there is also this feeling of disappointment, of taking the easy route.
unsure if this rings true for me. Right now, my FIRE is way way too lean. I cover bills, food, and shelter: given stash size, I can withdraw approx 300-350 euro per month if I hope for that stash to last. While it's possible, imo it's too lean: no provision for shelter repairs, electronics replacement, health care and dental, therapy, etc. Also, I am discovering I am just too used to my world being larger. Lately, I seem to find myself watching scores and scores of those "Life in X Place" videos, and it seems like what's happening is I started living as an expat, regularly changing countries and cities, at 16, and by this point I'm too used to it. I miss it. Doesn't make it any less likely that I burn out on the job again, but basically save for fucking w*rk I was happy about everything else in my life.
it's also much easier to not get sucked into them by having the balls to say no to more things.
this is what i'm hoping for. That this time I will somehow work smarter.
Last edited by ertyu on Mon Dec 28, 2020 1:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Alphaville
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Re: Going back to work after you have retired? Any stories from those who have?

Post by Alphaville »

ertyu wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 9:21 am
While it's possible, imo it's too lean: no provision for shelter repairs, electronics replacement, health care and dental, therapy, etc. Also, I am discovering I am just too used to my world being bigger. Lately, I seem to find myself watching scores and scores of those "Life in X Place" videos, and it seems like what's happening is I started living as an expat, regularly changing countries and cities, at 16, and by this point I'm too used to it. I miss it. Doesn't make it any less likely that I burn out on the job again, but basically save for fucking w*rk I was happy about everything else in my life.

this is what i'm hoping for. That this time I will somehow work smarter.
Something similar happened to me during my homesteading period: I was stuck in low gear and bored by the lifestyle, spending entire days on Mickey Mouse projects to save me $3 while lacking quality medical care, sufficient social stimulation, and a greater sense of meaning.

While I might have to return to that in case of global collapse some day, I don't want to live that way *before* that collapse happens. Felt like a waste of brains or something, being an overeducated, undercapitalized peasant. And I missed cities--even mediocre ones.

Tyler9000
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Re: Going back to work after you have retired? Any stories from those who have?

Post by Tyler9000 »

Matt3121 wrote:
Thu Dec 17, 2020 12:19 am
I'm sure others have gone back to work after reaching FIRE, I'm kind of curious about the outcome of that. If you didn't need the money what was your motivation? Did you find it harder to tolerate craziness?
You can read my journal for the full version, but here's my short story:

It's now been 6 years since we last worked full time, which is kinda crazy in retrospect. Time flies. Over that time we've both worked part-time on and off. DW found a few small businesses that she found rewarding to support in a low-key way, and I took a few tours back at my old company on my own terms (these days I'm back to happily doing my own thing).

When it comes to evaluating my own attitude towards work, I think it's important to put it in context that I've always had a highly proactive approach towards not tolerating a bad situation. I've worked at lots of places over the years, and even when I couldn't afford to just tell my boss "no" I had no qualms with leaving a bad situation for something more in line with my values. As a result, the last job was a really good gig run by good people. Refine your work environment for long enough, and eventually you get what you need.

I originally left my job largely because I was burned out on my industry as a whole. Even in the best company, new product development is a crazy fast-paced treadmill. I went back part time for a few strategic reasons like the social circle that made me happy and to fund a lifestyle change that was a little beyond my FIRE budget at the time. Remote working from COVID killed the first motivation and successful portfolio growth trumped the second, so the balance tipped back in favor of me not working again for a while. But I never rule things out.

To your question about whether FIRE makes it harder to tolerate craziness, I guess I'd more accurately say it makes it easier to avoid craziness. As I mentioned, I've never really tolerated toxic work environments and have always looked for avenues within my control to better my work situation. But finally having the ability to simply walk away and do nothing is definitely an empowering tool. How you choose to use it over other options is up to you.
Last edited by Tyler9000 on Mon Dec 28, 2020 9:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Going back to work after you have retired? Any stories from those who have?

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

@ertyu, what you write makes sense. My own father has used those excuses to this day, even though his health is quickly deteriorating and many of the things he's talked about doing in retirement are for one reason or another impossible.

wrt the "too lean" FI, two thoughts;

The beauty of your situation is that doubling or tripling your current SWR budget does not require a very stressful/consuming job....all you need is min wage...or higher wage with PT hours. You're pretty much set if you do some semi-ere, whether that's shorter bursts of more stressful/high pay work like you were doing, or something more relaxed for low wage in your current location even.

I know there is a varied range of spending levels here, and my own goal isn't very hardcore compared to some, but I don't know if I would feel too comfortable long term even with what our portfolio would throw off now, even though it's significantly higher than you (750 euro/pp). That's why I have periods of earning income baked into the plan.....I'm just disappointed a bit that I went back so soon =D

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