Living a FI (Update)

Simple living, extreme early retirement, being wealthy, ...
Wads
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Living a FI (Update)

Post by Wads »

After five years of no post on his blog, I was surprised to see an email notification of an update this morning. Livingafi was one of my favorite FI bloggers and the update is worth reading.

https://livingafi.com/2021/03/17/the-20 ... nt-update/.

sky
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Re: Living a FI (Update)

Post by sky »

One needs to have a certain amount of disdain for the current version of human civilization/behavior to avoid getting sucked into keeping up with the Jones' behavior. It is not hard to dislike civilization and the working life, since it is entirely absurd.

Creating a separate belief system works for a while (while inventing and creating it) but it is so easy to fall back into simple consumerism and worker drone mentality.

The everlasting pressure of "what to do with my time?" is both a blessing and a curse. You can succeed one day, and the next, waste your time doing something unsatisfying. The here and now requires constant attention.

I don't think that having a job is a bad thing. In fact using a skill you have can be very satisfying, even if it brings a certain amount of discomfort and it is not something you would do if they didn't pay you.

A sense of purpose. Purpose! Purpose in life is for the most part fiction. A fantasy believed in only by the individual seeking purpose. Yet, purpose, or dreams are what keeps an individual on a course, like a compass.

Hold on to dreams, because when dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.

The dream is to create a steady state world of happiness and joy. A castle in the clouds protected from any disruption.

Just when you are enjoying your dream world, reality can rudely intrude. Responding to chaos is the real human condition. One is truiy living when fighting for life. Not that I am asking for it, but a little chaos now and then makes things much more interesting.

tsch
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Re: Living a FI (Update)

Post by tsch »

That was a good read. Real life is always messier than The Plan, and yet everything he did before that 5 years of no posts gave him a lot of options and resilience for handling how everything played out during that time. I feel like he's a little apologetic for not doing things according to the archetypal plan of FIRE/ERE, but in some ways he's an even better example of what's great about it.

white belt
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Re: Living a FI (Update)

Post by white belt »

Interesting read. I think his experience highlights some of the pitfalls of going the traditional FIRE route rather than the systems thinking we strive for in ERE land.

Ultimately, frugality alone doesn’t provide life purpose, it’s just the other side of the same consumerism coin. In fact, he talks about how one of his first years in retirement was mostly spent consuming content in the form of travel destinations, books, movies, video games, etc. The part about focusing on SWR and how he stresses out anytime the stock market has a correction tells me he is still too focused on the financial side, rather than all of the other forms of capital. To me it comes off as WL5 and shows that FIRE lacks some resiliency because of its focus on financial capital rather than skills, yields/flows, web of goals, etc. He’s still the same consumer, he’s just figured out how to optimize his consumption so he can spend less.

Of course the medical issues and relationship problems he had were unexpected, but I think it just serves as a reminder of the fragility of a one dimensional solution. I also find it interesting that he lumps ERE and MMM together without realizing that FI is only the carrot Jacob offers to get us all to reduce consumption for ecological reasons. Not surprising given that the jump from WL5 to WL6 is not one that mainstream FIRE bloggers seem to make (I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not an easy process as I wrestle with it myself).
Last edited by white belt on Wed Mar 17, 2021 1:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Frita
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Re: Living a FI (Update)

Post by Frita »

Hm, happily ever after and continued, upward progress is a common narrative (and myth). ERE has a different worldview.

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Lemur
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Re: Living a FI (Update)

Post by Lemur »

Glad he posted! I've read through his blog twice and it was interesting to read about the relationship dynamics...

theanimal
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Re: Living a FI (Update)

Post by theanimal »

Well said, White belt. I struggle to see how ERE is in the same ballpark as something like this or even with most of the folks in the other cult on MMM. Like you said, he just reached the highest peak of being a consumer. Everything completely optimized and FI is and was in large part an END, not the means. Most people need structure and community, work provides a decent means of achieving that for many people. This is why the web of goals is so important. You can't sit on a one legged stool.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Living a FI (Update)

Post by Hristo Botev »

I like the analogy Jacob used on the last podcast (or two?), analogizing achieving FI or FIRE (I'm totally paraphrasing, obviously) with getting a black belt in martial arts; it's not the end, it's the beginning--you've mastered the fundamentals, now you have to figure out how practice the art.

ETA: Very rough paraphrase, no doubt.

jacob
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Re: Living a FI (Update)

Post by jacob »

Hristo Botev wrote:
Wed Mar 17, 2021 12:58 pm
I like the analogy Jacob used on the last podcast (or two?), analogizing achieving FI or FIRE (I'm totally paraphrasing, obviously) with getting a black belt in martial arts; it's not the end, it's the beginning--you've mastered the fundamentals, now you have to figure out how practice the art.
Pretty sure that was the latest RPF podcast while discussing "my opinion on the FIRE movement" during the last part of the first third. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ee2VtoYYQis

Add: Could also have been the first part of the first third.

Qazwer
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Re: Living a FI (Update)

Post by Qazwer »

Dr Doom Yay
The blog survived the political BS - thank you for the link

BWND
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Re: Living a FI (Update)

Post by BWND »

Happy to be corrected but I just wanted to check the terms used. The blogger framed 'lean fire' as a sub 4% wr, which for him was $30,000 annual spend. I only heard this lean fire/fat fire thing mentioned on one of Jacob's recent interviews. In my head I immediately figured 'lean' fire was defined by low expenses in absolute terms not as a % of capital. Is there a thread discussion on this? Don't want to derail this thread too much with what is a technical question.

mathiverse
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Re: Living a FI (Update)

Post by mathiverse »

BWND wrote:
Wed Mar 17, 2021 7:09 pm
Is there a thread discussion on this?
Here is an old thread about it where you could ask questions and continue the discussion: viewtopic.php?t=10316

mathiverse
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Re: Living a FI (Update)

Post by mathiverse »

I felt pretty sad after reading LAF's post. Not the triumphant RE I hoped he would have. I'm glad he posted since, as white belt said, it's another example showing why one may want to go for ERE over FIRE.

Tyler9000
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Re: Living a FI (Update)

Post by Tyler9000 »

He's such a good writer. Hopefully he takes the opportunity to pick up blogging again.

Personally, I didn't find it sad at all. More honest. He's clearly been through a lot, learned just as much about himself and his life goals, and now has a new path forward that works for him. We can all hope to be as resilient and adaptable when our own turn comes for life's curveballs.

1taskaday
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Re: Living a FI (Update)

Post by 1taskaday »

Tough Crowd...

ertyu
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Re: Living a FI (Update)

Post by ertyu »

As always, it was a great post. While it's sad he split with his partner, what happened with her is a legitimate thing that can happen: maybe they both agreed on reaching FI but discovered they did not agree on what FI means. While their situation made him happy, it did not make her happy. She tried to voice she was unhappy with the status quo, he tried to suggest that she does activities so the status quo can stay as is (with a side dish of, "i don't feel like i'm making any progress // well, i feel it's *them* who aren't making progress" -- great job on the listening right there my man), and she smashed the exit button on the relationship. I've found myself in similar situations, not in relationships but with regards to work. Eg I'm unhappy but I feel like I "should" keep working and "must" keep working and "it's more rational" if I keep working, and subconscious would put up with it for some time until it throws a fit and says basta. I empathize with both sides here, and think in the end it was better for them that they split. Both of them seem to have ended up with partners they are ultimately more suited to.

Didn't MMM also divorce or am I remembering wrong?

I guess what all those people are discovering is that even when you've achieved FI, life still happens: it might still turn out you and your partner are going different ways, you or a loved one might still get ill, etc. As someone who is FI but very very very leanly so, I understand his desire for more security, especially in a situation like the US where access to health care is so heavily dependent on employment. He also seems to be able to work from home in a position that doesn't exacerbate his condition, and seems to be happy with the level of seniority and control he has on the job.

BWND
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Re: Living a FI (Update)

Post by BWND »

Thanks Mathiverse for the thread link.

IlliniDave
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Re: Living a FI (Update)

Post by IlliniDave »

Ditto on the thanks. That was a compelling read given were I'm standing right now (I only read the most recent entry). Fortunately, I don't identify too much with the author insofar as I'm not where he was when he made his jump. Understanding his is just one retrospective experience, I couldn't help doing a risk assessment of my state relative to his journey. It provided just shy of a feast for thought, in three areas especially.

-I'm glad I opted to push a good bit beyond what I estimated would be "lean FIRE" for me. As pertains to relationships, I always hold in the back of my mind that a relationship can come with additional responsibility, including financial. I never really consider the opposite--not because I don't think it's possible. It's just my conservative nature to plan for the more stressing items on a given continuum. Plan for the worst, hope for the best. I assume I'm a good bit older than the writer because future medical liability has been near front and center in my planning knowing the window I am planning for includes the end game. I've always kind of assumed that if medical costs begin to systematically exceed what I judged was reasonable to plan for, my health would preclude my re-entering the workforce. I'm glad to hear he is able to find a workable way to reenter.

-Since the beginning I've had desire for freedom pushing me towards FI, but at the end I've got a stronger pull from purpose at the helm guiding the specifics. One place I'm a lot like the writer is in how I view work. Looking back at the 34 years and 16 days it never felt like what I was put on the earth to do, I never really defined or measured myself by it, but I have very little in the way of complaints about it. I've mentioned before that I view the FI journey as moving towards something rather than away from something. The one change as the transition from dream to reality materializes is that I've become very impatient with the inevitable pauses in the action. I'm not a busybody by any stretch, but when not fully engaged on the job I'd rather be working on the transition.

-The human connection realm is the most difficult to gauge. I do get a lot of casual interaction in the workplace with a varied group of people. It's better than 95% enjoyable, but I don't know whether it is essential. True loneliness has never been a real problem for me. Being an introvert helps, obviously, but I'm reasonably personable and generally don't get overcome by shyness. Bottom line: the possibility is definitely something to be aware of.

As Tyler9000 pointed out, the guy is a good writer. At one time I intended to make writing a core activity in my post-career life. Then once my mom became sick the words dried up, and now having some distance from the idea I realize I'd never make the cut. Best I stick to guitar as far as artistic pursuits go. In an absolute sense I'm worse at it than writing, but it is ephemeral in nature and I enjoy it more as an in-the-moment experience. Silence is less intimidating to me than an empty page. He's got the skills to pull it off.

The biggest takeaway for me is that one must allow fluidity in the future they envision. I was lucky that I stumbled across Ernie Zelinsky's books fairly early on. His style is light and humorous which can be annoying (ER is serious business, after all) but he did get me thinking about small and moderate scope endeavors to optimize my sense of being alive during my time. Seeing how my "list" has evolved over time disabused me of any fantasies that a one-time shuffling of the game pieces would yield an enduring solution. I'm not the kind of person who would venture off with no plan whatsoever, but beyond maybe an initial course setting, a few themes, and a pocket full of ideas; the vagaries of the universe are apt to sweep the meat of most visions away.

I salute his courage for taking a chance on lean fire, for fighting through setbacks, and for telling the story as bluntly as he did. Not sure I'd measure up on any of those fronts. I sometimes think it would be good if we had another word besides "retire". It carries an underlying sense of "withdrawing from" which for those of us with a few miles left before the tires fall off (more so for those who qualify as outright young) the healthier outlook is to see it as embracing life in different way.

jacob
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Re: Living a FI (Update)

Post by jacob »

A big part of the general issue, perhaps better posted here viewtopic.php?f=24&t=11757 , is that over the past ten years as many people picked up on FIRE from blogs is that many have come to see FIRE as a freedom-from solution. In contrast, I suspect although I may just be projecting, that the earlier FIRE promoters who started all this saw FIRE more as a freedom-to solution because they wanted to do other things in life than what necessarily pays well in this day and age.

Another issue is a FIREd person who is far from the traditional retirement age will discover a certain paucity of market based service and product offerings for young retirees. You'll be fine if you want to spend your day playing bingo or golf but market-based retirement offerings mostly cater to the 55+ crowd.

There's simply not a whole lot to do if you retire at 30-40 and expect to consume your way to entertainment or meaning(*). Scaling up market-based recreational consumer solutions like traveling, eating out, and watching netflix all of which are only meant to be consumed in small quantities like a few hours per day or a few weeks per year to a full-time occupation just doesn't remain interesting for very long. If that's all or most of what one has, I think this explains why FIREd consumers---I recognize them by the $30k/year/person spending---return to their old careers after a couple of years.

(*) Even worse if meaning is derived from climbing the socioeconomic ladder.

Overall though, creating the option for freedom-to but simply not knowing what to do with that freedom is not bad as far as worst-case outcomes go as the option can be resold for $1M.

IlliniDave
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Re: Living a FI (Update)

Post by IlliniDave »

jacob wrote:
Thu Mar 18, 2021 9:37 am
...I think this explains why FIREd consumers---I recognize them by the $30k/year/person spending---return to their old careers after a couple of years.
This does not bode well for me. :( :lol:

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