Gus' road to retirement

Where are you and where are you going?
wolf
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Re: Gus' road to retirement

Post by wolf » Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:37 am

That was an insightful description of how your focus changed during the last 10 years. It sounds amazing. I guess the "money problem" is solved then?
Augustus wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 6:22 pm
I'm actually kind of sad to go on my road trip, because I've been enjoying myself so much right here. I've heard the idea thrown around that you should make your life a sort of vacation, instead of dreaming of vacationing for 2 weeks a year, or dreaming of FI, you should be building your life in such a way that you're on a perpetual "vacation." I call it maximizing joy. This is my primary focus now.

I think you mean the quote from Seth Godin
Seth Godin wrote:Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don't need to escape from.

suomalainen
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Re: Gus' road to retirement

Post by suomalainen » Wed Jul 10, 2019 5:29 pm

Congrats, man. Enjoy it for what it is while it lasts, knowing that this too shall pass, either because you get your fill of it and you're ready to try something else, or because that unexpected curveball gets foisted on you.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: Gus' road to retirement

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Tue Jul 23, 2019 10:53 am

I hope you spend more time dancing in your underwear at home before you have another kid.

Augustus
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Re: Gus' road to retirement

Post by Augustus » Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:44 pm

@CL: You jinxed me! Something about the road trip sent me crashing back to reality, I'm still trying to figure out why.
@wolf: I think money is solved at this point, yes. It's just a matter of time as long as I maintain my current trajectory. I don't see any cause for my trajectory changing as there is plenty of work out there as far as I can tell, and I'm predicting my expenses to go down and not up.
@suo: I was double jinxed!
@MI: I think kid 2 is off the table haha, that leaves plenty of time to dance in underwear.

The road trip was fun and many memories and photos were had, it's always good to see my parents (more so now that I'm aware of my own and their mortality), Zion and Bryce were neat, Zion was my favorite. All that said, I don't want to go on another road trip in a looooong time :D I'll fly next time. California is next to the great american desert, so the driving consisted of 90% super hot no water zones and 10% things I'd like to see. If I do another road trip I'll fly over the desert and rent a car somewhere I've never seen before. I've criss-crossed the great desert 10+ times in my life, no desire to do so again.

I've been really moody and negative upon my return. I think it has to do with focus and scheduling.

Re: scheduling. I've noticed that I need to have part of my days allocated to accomplishing goals, part to exercise/physical joy, and part to being a lazy contemplative bum. Once again, what sounded amazing while working did not sound as amazing while not working. Gone are my dreams of lazing on the beach all day, in is the practical reality that I start to get depressed if I'm not getting goals accomplished. So now I try to get in some app work or studying, exercise, projects (I started my novel!), reading, and meditation in a balanced manner. Doing all one thing or the other doesn't do it for me.

Re: focus. Now that I don't have external pressure shifting my focus all day with work and the like, I tend to fall in to negative moods and not snap out of them if I'm not careful. I have to consciously adjust my focus on the good things, otherwise I can end up depressed. It's really weird how this works. While working, I would have figured I'd feel like I was on top of the world while not working. Once again proving that I can't predict what I'll actually want to do or feel like when not working. The road trip was kind of stressful, and I think I shifted to being anxious.

A balanced schedule, some productivity but nothing overwhelming the entire day, consciously choosing what to focus on, etc seem like they may be the key to my eventual retirement.

It's also still amazing to me that I STILL feel like I don't have enough time in a day. At least I'm doing what I want now though, and not what other people want. But it almost feels like my days are shorter, because I want to do so much.

Augustus
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Re: Gus' road to retirement

Post by Augustus » Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:18 pm

Augustus wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:44 pm
Re: scheduling. I've noticed that I need to have part of my days allocated to accomplishing goals, part to exercise/physical joy, and part to being a lazy contemplative bum. Once again, what sounded amazing while working did not sound as amazing while not working. Gone are my dreams of lazing on the beach all day, in is the practical reality that I start to get depressed if I'm not getting goals accomplished. ... Doing all one thing or the other doesn't do it for me.
This makes me wonder if working part time might actually make me happier, even if I didn't need the money. Although I suspect it would only work if it were my own products (apps, novels, etc). I've been working on apps a little bit each day, at first it chafed me to have to do anything related to "work," but now I realize it actually makes me feel better to build something.

Upon reflection, perhaps what really kills me about working full time is that it overwhelms everything else. When I'm done working after a full day I'm drained, and all my other aspirations are pushed to the wayside. If it were just a portion of my day each day, and I could do some work in the morning, and hit the beach or write or read afterwards, it might be a positive thing? This is new territory for me, as I've always thought my goal was more along the lines of never having to work for money during my increasingly longer periods of time off.

I don't know, I'll be experimenting over the next month or two to find what makes me most happy.

suomalainen
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Re: Gus' road to retirement

Post by suomalainen » Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:51 pm

Not a jinx, just a restatement of the facts of life - impermanence, hedonic adaptation, etc. For me, I think the key is the mindset-shift - the things you do every day: preparing meals; grooming; caring for kids, spouse or others; tidying up; creating/fixing things; etc...these are all forms of work. Working for money is also a form of work. Sometimes we work for money so we can avoid doing these other jobs; sometimes we take care of these other jobs so that we don't have to work for money. At the end of the day, work needs to be done and it gets done one way or the other. Why spend so much time stressing about it being this work or that work?

Point being - as you said above too,
A balanced schedule, some productivity but nothing overwhelming the entire day, consciously choosing what to focus on, etc seem like they may be the key to my eventual retirement.
Accept the fact that life requires some work without differentiating that this work is "good" while that work is "bad". It's just work and although you might have preferences, perhaps it's not a negative thing...but thinking makes it so.

That said, full-time work (whether paid or chores) + parenting = unbalanced and therefore draining.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Gus' road to retirement

Post by classical_Liberal » Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:37 am

Augustus wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:18 pm
Upon reflection, perhaps what really kills me about working full time is that it overwhelms everything else. When I'm done working after a full day I'm drained, and all my other aspirations are pushed to the wayside. If it were just a portion of my day each day, and I could do some work in the morning, and hit the beach or write or read afterwards, it might be a positive thing?
Pretty sure you are psychically channeling me here! There can be the group work side of this too. It forces some social interaction. Which, even if you don't love all the personalities, tends to be good to a limited degree, too much time with people who aren't my type overwhelms. Also, there's the whole "forced" group dynamics. Because lets face it, adults have a hard time playing well together to reach a goal, but in a job most feel obligated to show up and do their part. Even amateur sports teams are hard to keep together in 30's+ age range (I've tried, it sucks). I kind-of like accomplishing group goals, it creates comradery.

This whole thing goes back to my main problem. Paid work for someone else, at least my experience of it in the US, has very little respect for personal schedule. Sure, there can be some flexibility, as long as you put in your 50 hours or whatever. However, the total time commitment and/or the days or time of day they want you, always force a whole bunch of compromises on personal life. I wish I had an answer. At this point the best I can see is part time, or full-time with large breaks. Not sure which will end up better. Unless you want to work for yourself, but that's not an option for me in any serious endeavor because I'd be the worst boss I ever had. My personal expectations for myself are way too high.

EDIT: Although there is the concept of work and play intermingling/being indistinguishable, but I'm no where near this Wheaton level.

Augustus
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Re: Gus' road to retirement

Post by Augustus » Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:14 pm

There's been a bunch of thoughts I keep wanting to put down, but I've been busy. I might as well not some down.

1. I actually wanted to go back to work, wtf? It was mostly a loss of control problem.
2. I'm back to work, and it's not so bad, I think I finally cured my burnout. I've dreaded work for years.
3. I'm going to need a big ass cash buffer (100k) now that we're in socal and I'm planning to semiRE. Watching my bank account go down was ridiculously anxiety inducing, especially coupled with the inability to go get work the instant I was ready to start earning.
4. Having time off makes anxiety waaay worse, since you don't have anyone else forcing you to focus on other things instead of worrying all day.
5. I'm still glad I took the time off, but it was an eye opener, being a lazy ass won't always be sunshine and daisys.
6. I'm going to continue saving, buy a house, and build up a big cash buffer, then try again. I figure I'll just keep trying until I figure it out.
7. It was totally different when we lived in a paid off house.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Gus' road to retirement

Post by classical_Liberal » Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:57 pm

Interesting update. How long were you off in total?

I think #1 will eventually happen to me, but I'm most worried about #4. I tend to find a home for my anxiety no matter what I'm doing, at least when I can blame it on work and having lives literally in my hands it stays out of personal matters. I just don't think I'll stress about money though, for some reason, once I decided to place accumulation on the back burner all my money anxiety is gone.

suomalainen
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Re: Gus' road to retirement

Post by suomalainen » Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:09 am

Ebbs and flows, man, ebbs and flows. When we’re in the flow, an eddy could look pretty good. When we’re stuck in an eddy for a while, getting back in the flow starts to look interesting. I think the thing about ERE or semiERE or FI or FIRE or whatever version you have is that it allows you to transition from ebb to flow and back again at will and without fear. THAT is true freedom. Why be stuck in either one when you don’t want to?!

Congrats on jumping back in the flow, following the feeling of what you need when you need it. Smart man.

Augustus
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Re: Gus' road to retirement

Post by Augustus » Wed Sep 11, 2019 10:34 pm

@CL I was off for a little over two months. The first month was great, no worries. I think the anxiety is due to timing, wife's job is unstable, we want to get a house before kid gets in public school, expenses at all time high, contracting market was slowest I've seen it in years, plus some other smaller irritations. All that together had me freaking out and happy to get back into a gig.

It was really interesting to want to work though :lol: didn't see that coming. Felt thankful to land a gig, which is refreshing. Perspective I guess. Until now it's been planning escape for years, dreaming of not working.

@suo: Apparently so! It honestly feels good. Of course that's starting to wear off now that I'm back in the flow :D But at least now I feel like there's some purpose beyond ticking off the days this time.

Regardless, still looking forward to long stretches of time not working, just not right now.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Gus' road to retirement

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:54 pm

This is very interesting to read about, coming from someone who is just behind you. The time I had, despite not as long as yours, was nowhere near enough imho. Please keep us updated if your sentiment changes.

Augustus
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Re: Gus' road to retirement

Post by Augustus » Fri Sep 13, 2019 3:59 pm

2Birds1Stone wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:54 pm
It surprised me too, I took 3 mos off in 2017 and I loved every second of it and felt that it was too short as well, then I fell into a new gig almost by accident while talking with an old colleague. I was living in a paid off house with lower expenses then.

My financial position right now is a lot more unstable for a number of reasons, which I think is the cause of the anxiety. My career also seems to be in flux, just today I found out that California banned independent contracting as a subcontractor with their new AB5 legislation, which is a huge part of my business. It's a weird time for me, so I want to sit on a large pile of cash and keep some money flowing in.

Anyone contemplating semiRE may want to think about what they'd do if a recession hit. When jobs start contracting, which is how I'm feeling right now, work doesn't seem like such a bad idea :idea: Makes me sleep better at night, that's for sure.

My expenses are a lot higher than most of the people on the forums though, high expenses cause stress, who could have seen that coming? It's my own fault there, *shrug* happy wife happy life

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Gus' road to retirement

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Sat Sep 14, 2019 5:59 am

A lot of food for thought. I went back and reread the last 6 months of your journal to refresh my memory. It sounds like the job was providing you with much more than an income in terms of structure and feeling of purpose, and your time off was spent largely unstructured. Did you retire to anything else besides surfing and spending time with the family? I feel like I would need some sort of structured times (PT job, volunteering, big projects) after a while off to feel like I'm doing more than just counting down the days as well.

Did your burn rate end up being the $2k/month you predicted?

I actually don't worry about a recession during a period of unemployment. It actually sounds like the most stressful time to try and secure work. c_L pointed out in my journal that a recession would just lower the cost of most things I wanted to do in semiERE anyway.

As suo pointed out above, it takes guts to go after what you want, even if it's something you didn't think you would originally. I really look forward to following your next chapter.

suomalainen
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Re: Gus' road to retirement

Post by suomalainen » Sat Sep 14, 2019 9:33 am

Augustus wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 3:59 pm
My expenses are a lot higher than most of the people on the forums though, high expenses cause stress, who could have seen that coming? It's my own fault there, *shrug* happy wife happy life
Double shrug. You know the saying in investing “Don’t fight the fed”? I don’t remember the exact etymology of the saying, but my general sense is that it means the fed is like the tide - you can fight the waves of particular economic data on particular opportunities, but you can’t fight the tide. Well, wives are like that too. Particularly when said wife is also a mother. You’d have better luck rolling back the tide.

Augustus
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Re: Gus' road to retirement

Post by Augustus » Mon Sep 16, 2019 3:03 pm

2Birds1Stone wrote:
Sat Sep 14, 2019 5:59 am
Thanks!

The structure part I definitely found to be important, and that was the same as the last time off. That was an easier problem to solve though, I needed to make sure I was setting goals and working on them each day. It also made the periods of laziness sweeter since they had contrast.

Purpose was a trickier problem, and not one I solved. I did feel like I made progress there, since I finally had time to sit down and ponder "what is the meaning of life?" for hours at a time. I think that's more of a thing to be worked on continuously than solved. Family is kind of what I settled on though for a partial answer. I went off on a whole other tangent about purpose that I'll have to write up some time...

I've never really gotten much purpose from work, other than the basic human element of it (I enjoy helping people I interact with on a daily basis), so it's not a purpose thing. It's more of a calm port in a storm: my industry is in flux, it's gotten more competitive with all the people trying to become programmers, I need to catch up on new technologies, and from what I hear from others there's an overall slowdown in software development contracting. By itself that wouldn't be so bad, but my wife's job is shaky because the company is close to running out of money, and our expenses are the highest they've ever been, and we want to buy a house to lock in kids public school/childhood neighborhood for the next 10-20 years. Having a couple income streams right now helps me to sleep at night. The totally possible worst case scenario was that wife loses her job, we start burning 4-5k per month, and the contracting market is slow so this goes on for 6+ months, wiping out a good 30-50k of my savings. All that together made me feel thankful to have found a couple new gigs, I think I've taken for granted the easy availability of work when I wanted it for the last few years since I had more than I wanted. So there's a positive spin on going back to work this time, I'm grateful to have found more, it was totally dead for about a month, no call backs no nothing, which is really odd in my experience, slower even than the 2009 crisis.

That's where I was going with you might want to consider what semiRE would feel like in a recession environment. When jobs aren't plentiful, it's a different feeling to be taking time off, since you need a lot longer runway to get back in. I was projecting that it might take 6 months to find another contract this time, based on the completely dead/radio silence month I experienced. It cuts down the time spent simply enjoying everything, and shifts focus to oh crap I need to work on finding something new. Just something to think about.

Burn rate was roughly 2k/mo, a bit higher since some annual expenses came up like car registrations and insurance, totaled out a bit more than 5k because of those. At some point I need to average those and automatically transfer a monthly portion expenses like that to a separate account, that way it's not shocking to see large expense months.
suomalainen wrote:
Sat Sep 14, 2019 9:33 am
Yeah it is what it is. I think you have to factor happiness in, not just finances. When family happiness is maximized, finances may not be, depends on the family. Finances aren't the only criteria. It's too damn bad my wife didn't like snow :lol: Would have been great if that had all aligned, I'd be done with accumulation this year if that had happened. I've got enough cash in the bank to buy two more rentals right now, completing the trifecta. *triple shrug*

---

Anyways, typing it out made things a bit more clear for me what happened in hindsight. When the situation is more stable, like it was in 2017, I'll enjoy time off more. But there will probably also be times when time off ain't that great, but still worth it, I definitely consider the time off as worth it. The anxiety was finance/work related, and it was probably a good thing, because it gave me the kick in the ass I needed to fix the situation now before it went off the rails.

theanimal
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Re: Gus' road to retirement

Post by theanimal » Mon Sep 16, 2019 4:45 pm

I had the same issues when I took a big chunk of time off of paid work a couple years ago. There used to be a lot of posts on these forums and elsewhere (MMM) about how not working was great because there was so much to do. That idea excited me for a while until I actually had the freedom to do whatever I wanted. The lack of structure and purpose drove me crazy (literally, although most of it was due to lack of community). While I had the option to do whatever I wanted, I tended to be lazy and achieve the bare minimum unless I made a schedule and set goals for myself. That experience made me have a 180 degree change in how I view work. And regarding purpose, I came to the same conclusion-family. It's really great to read about others having the same experience, for a while I thought I was an outlier. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Augustus
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Re: Gus' road to retirement

Post by Augustus » Wed Oct 09, 2019 5:50 pm

theanimal wrote:
Mon Sep 16, 2019 4:45 pm
Thanks! I have a half typed up longer response to that, but it keeps spiraling out of control and I keep running out of time to post it. At some point I'll get it finished. Glad to hear I'm not alone. It's interesting what happens when you're no longer devoting all your thought and energy to work, you can go down rabbit holes.

---

It's been an interesting and painful month for me. But I'm starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. I have been positively freaking out but it's been hard to put a finger on why, as a lot of things changed on me at once. My new client is a pain in the ass, and my skills are a little outdated, which has been keeping me off balance. My wife has been so upset with her job that she's broken down in tears a few times, bad boss and company cashflow issues. Couple that with our expenses being the highest they have ever been, and it's been really stressful. I knew it was going to be hard when we moved back to an HCOL area, but shit just got real, what was once abstract is now painfully concrete.

Things are improving though. I'm getting my footing on the new gig, my skills on new tech have grown a lot, I am able to push back effectively, this has been reducing the pressure I've felt, and the client seems mostly satisfied. It's better, but I still hate high pressure clients, and this is one of them. I hate even more that I need the money right now and can't just say fuck you and quit. That was a risk I took on when I stopped juggling multiple clients. I started looking for multiple clients again and juggling, and found one, but now I remember why I didn't want multiple clients! I have no time for myself, and I hate that too. With my wife feeling as bad as she has, I gave her my blessing to quit her job, even though she doesn't have anything lined up, which is even more pressure, but some things aren't worth it. If we have to eat into savings, well, whatever, that's what it's there for right?

With all that in mind, I've been reminded of the importance of decreasing costs and not relying as heavily on income. This is the light at the end of the tunnel. I've abandoned my ideas of owning a detached house in a HCOL area. I became accustomed to living in one when we were in an LCOL area, and my parents had one in the area we're looking to move to when I was a kid, so now I feel like I'm going to be living below the standard I grew up with and have been accustomed to, but with the shit storm I've described above, fuck that. It's been agonizing to see real estate prices increase and increase, I feel fairly certain that they'll be going down in the next few years, but I want some stability, lower monthly costs, and homeownership now. So I'll be paying top dollar for a much smaller place, roughly 480k (still mind boggling). A detached house is running in the range of 700k, so that's a 220k reduction, which sounds fantastic to me. With the kid going into school next year, owning a smaller place in the area we want to live in, right next to good schools, and paying less money each month for housing (~500/mo less than our current place), sounds like a slice of heaven to me. Couple that with lower cost after school care than our current neighborhood, and we'll been lowering expenses by roughly $1500/mo in 11 months. Things are moving in the right direction again.

I think a lot of my anxiety and unhappiness lately has been rooted in the pressure I've been feeling money/work wise. It feels like I've taken a giant load off my shoulders and set it down by the wayside in abandoning a more expensive residence. In a year from now, my wife and I could in theory take a job at mcdonalds and cover the bills. We are both thinking about working part time/short term contracts, which sounds really nice right now.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Gus' road to retirement

Post by classical_Liberal » Fri Oct 11, 2019 11:25 am

Augustus wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 5:50 pm
now I feel like I'm going to be living below the standard I grew up with and have been accustomed to
According to whom? This type of mental framework is devastating and is what drives so much of the upper middle class culture in our country. A smaller townhome that suits your needs is NOT a lower standard of living. It's the standard of living that is right for your situation. It's a right-sized standard.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: Gus' road to retirement

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Fri Oct 11, 2019 3:04 pm

Maybe don’t buy expensive housing in a state that’s burning to the ground and ready to slide into the ocean.

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