Mini-retirements vs ERE?

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classical_Liberal
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Re: Mini-retirements vs ERE?

Post by classical_Liberal »

Time of day and duration requirement of activity are both huge! Doing something for two hours in the afternoon is different than doing it for 12.

It seems in virtually any employed by other situation you loose out on at least one of the big three (flexibility to choose which days, duration, time of day). Usually more.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Mini-retirements vs ERE?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@classical_Liberal:

In the growing gig economy, there are quite a few jobs that provide all three forms of flexibility, but what you have to give up in exchange is some level of security that work will be available. For instance, I could set my app to indicate that I am only available to teach on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon half-day shifts, but I wouldn't be able to count on getting jobs in these narrow windows of availability, so I would only do this if I was okay with only working half this much. Obviously, the more competition there is to fill any given gig, the more available hours you will have to offer up to get the minimum hours you need/want to work.

Another variant which I have found to be quite important in the realm of temp work is whether you prefer a very busy chaotic work environment vs. calm routine. For instance, I have found that I enjoy being on board for the start of the school year in teaching or holiday shopping season in retail or any other sort of "rush" season where you have to be very flexible and amped, but steady part-time work throughout the year where you are just doing the back-up dull stuff that the full-time staff left behind is not at all appealing. There's always a sort of festive vibe which I enjoy when humans come together to take on some big short-term task like raising a barn.

SustainableHappiness
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Re: Mini-retirements vs ERE?

Post by SustainableHappiness »

I disagree on the 2 days per week as ideal for my life situation and demeanour. I've become a morning person, therefore my most productive hours are between 6am to lunch. Typically that gets filled with an hour of physical work (exercise) and 3-4 hours of mental work (I like the term "deep work") + breakfast.

Ideally, I do this 3 to 5 days a week (depending on workload) and have every afternoon to play, socialize, not look at email, or do structured work-related events (i.e. a dinner, or a meeting) if necessary.

With this structure, I generally get more done than bosses expect and yet DW and friends think I am a slacker if the conversation turns to work schedules... That is nature of being distracted during working (the majority) vs turning everything but Spotify off and hunkering down for a couple few hours (the minority).

Caveat, this only works for creative (hours put in isn't indicative of success) jobs, not applicable to, your ass has to be in the chair, or walking around hammering stuff types of jobs.

This is also why I quit my past corporate jobs because they turned an essentially creative job into a "your ass has to be in the chair" job for no good reasons.

SustainableHappiness
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Re: Mini-retirements vs ERE?

Post by SustainableHappiness »

For me, unstructured work after lunch goes side-ways without extra effort and mental drain, particularly, if it isn't forced.

conwy
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Re: Mini-retirements vs ERE?

Post by conwy »

I've been thinking about this topic a lot.

I've been working for about 12 years as a software developer (contractor). During some periods I stepped down to part-time and studied or relaxed out of hours. That was great fun. I also took 3 months off travelling the US, while working part-time remote for a company. Also great fun.

Here's my ideal life-style, which I'm strongly considering adopting:

3 months of the year: Take time off, travel, muck around with new technologies, monitor the job market and do some networking.
9 months of the year: Pick up work resulting from my activities in the previous 3 months and save 70% of my income + enough to cover my expenses for the next 3 months.

I worry a bit about my my rate going down if my breaks get too long, but career advancement isn't such a big deal for me, as the work is purely a means to 1) make money, 2) gain some enjoyment from the creative problem-solving.
Last edited by conwy on Fri Mar 22, 2019 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jin+Guice
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Re: Mini-retirements vs ERE?

Post by Jin+Guice »

SustainableHappiness wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 8:42 am
I disagree on the 2 days per week as ideal for my life situation and demeanour. I've become a morning person, therefore my most productive hours are between 6am to lunch. Typically that gets filled with an hour of physical work (exercise) and 3-4 hours of mental work (I like the term "deep work") + breakfast.
What is your job? I agree the situation would be different if you can work only 3-4 hours a day and/ or you view your work as more of a calling. For 2 days a week I'm assuming fixed 8-12 hour days.
classical_Liberal wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 12:22 am
Time of day and duration requirement of activity are both huge! Doing something for two hours in the afternoon is different than doing it for 12.

It seems in virtually any employed by other situation you loose out on at least one of the big three (flexibility to choose which days, duration, time of day).
I agree that it's difficult to lock down the 100% perfect work schedule, not in the least because the closer you get the more slippery your own definition starts to become. It's also difficult to lock down the 100% perfect leisure schedule, especially when you've got a lot of leisure.

@conwy/ @Augustus: I agree that this is also desirable. If like to focus on one thing at a time, doing things that are more project based, where extended time off is one of your projects, is more desirable. If you are focused, doing something you enjoy and your work lends itself to it, working more than 40 hours a week for a short period of time can be desirable as well.

conwy
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Re: Mini-retirements vs ERE?

Post by conwy »

Augustus wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 3:41 pm
I'm in a very similar position, I've cut back to 1 large whale client. I'm planning to reverse your ratio though, 3-6 mos work, 6-9 mos off. I know a guy who has been successful doing 2 months work, 10 months off, for the last 3-4 years. Lives a block from the beach. Dude is killing it.
Encouraging to hear that people out there are making this work!

conwy
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Re: Mini-retirements vs ERE?

Post by conwy »

Jin+Guice wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 3:59 pm
@conwy/ @Augustus: I agree that this is also desirable. If like to focus on one thing at a time, doing things that are more project based, where extended time off is one of your projects, is more desirable. If you are focused, doing something you enjoy and your work lends itself to it, working more than 40 hours a week for a short period of time can be desirable as well.
Yeah, I think this focus really suits me.

Weirdly enough, I do actually enjoy being in the midst of a challenging, hectic project, pulling long hours, meetings, phone-calls, deadlines. I enjoy the adrenaline and the social interaction and the feeling of achievement at the end of an engagement, when the project is delivered.

Just not constantly, non-stop, for 12 months of the year!

And what really drives me nuts is when things grind to a halt and there's no work for me to do. So I basically just have to sit there at my desk like an idiot. Not allowed to work on other projects on company time. Just have to sit there and wait.... Ughhh drives me insane!

So I think my ideal lifestyle would be 6-9 months of intense project work, followed by 6-9 months of completely uninterrupted rest & relaxation, preferably in a nice seaside resort with some nearby woods to wander around in.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Mini-retirements vs ERE?

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

Having absorbed this discussion and concepts over the past two weeks, it's very interesting to see what everyone values most when it comes to a work arrangement.

It's looking more and more likely that I'll simply alternate between bouts of work and bouts of play, of unspecified lengths of time. My career choice is simply not conducive to part time work, and doing a year of work followed by a year off is much more realistic to be able to do. It's also much more appealing vs. working another 4-5 years non-stop, till we hit full FI. I gotta say, it's hard walking away from that steady stream of money, knowing that it will/can be much harder to replace in the future. For me, it's going to be about taking the leap of faith and proving to myself that I can re-enter the workforce at will, and still command a respectable salary which will allow me to replenish savings and let the portfolio do it's thing in the background.

conwy
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Re: Mini-retirements vs ERE?

Post by conwy »

It may be because I was younger at the time (28 I think?) but I had no problem picking up new work after taking 3 months to travel the US (some of which included remote work, but very minimal hours, maybe 5-8 hour per week). Practically the moment I set foot in my home country again and started looking for work, my phone was ringing off the hook and I had an offer lined up within days.

It seems that as long as I have (and maintain) a skill that's in demand and am willing to put in the effort of going to interviews and willing to be flexible about location and specifics of the work, then there will always be job opportunities, so I can pretty much jump back in to work whenever I want.

If somehow I were to find myself in an occupation that requires constant and complete dedication for life, with no time for breaks, I think I'd choose a different occupation.

But happily, I don't believe that's the case. My experience in the software industry so far is that taking several months off between projects isn't a problem at all. What's most important is being diligent in interviewing and scouting for work, doing the best job possible at every gig so that you always have one or two good references, and being willing to learn new technology and stay up to date.

None of this at all precludes taking 3 or even 6 month holidays between gigs. In fact, I imagine taking time off can help, especially if some of that time (doesn't have to be huge) is spent learning and experimenting with new technologies and improving one's portfolio.

I also am skeptical of ageism being a problem. I have worked alongside software developers (just regular devs like me, not in any way senior or managerial) who were in their 40s-60s and didn't seem to have any difficulty getting contract extensions or new work. They weren't extraordinary in any way. Just got the basics right - got the job done, friendly, professional, good team players.

I think the software industry is productive and profitable enough that a lot of companies will hire whoever they can trust will get the job done, and aren't so hung up on details like age (at least not as much as many other industries).

classical_Liberal
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Re: Mini-retirements vs ERE?

Post by classical_Liberal »

Ageism and worries of not being able to reenter.... I still have them too, and I've already proven to myself with past anecdotal experience that they are overblown.

They key here is social capital. I've never applied for a job that I wasn't pretty sure I already had (only exception being an internship in a brand new field, in a different state, once). The only thing that could have blown it in these situations would have been some massive screw up on my part during interview process. Creating this capital may take some leg work and a bit of time. Particularity if in a new geographic area, or a new field that is only tangentially related to past experience. But, generally if you meet the height requirement for a job and take the effort to break in socially, anyone here (ie people determined enough to ERE) will have no problem finding employment after an extended period off.

Ageism becomes more of a problem if your contacts in the career world leave. For example, the former manager that's 10-20 years older, who knows you are the "go to guy/girl" retires, etc. So, social capital needs to continually update with each new period of work. Also, there is always the risk that physical or mental abilities diminish over time.

SustainableHappiness
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Re: Mini-retirements vs ERE?

Post by SustainableHappiness »

@Jin+Guice This schedule has worked doing:

- freelance digital marketing work (primarily ad campaign management and creation across multiple platforms with weekly reports to the client)
- in a past corporate role on work from home days as a salesperson in a key account management setting (where unlike business development time put in does not necessarily translate to increased success), however, I had to keep my phone on in the afternoons. This was why I couldn't understand when a new company changed rules to having to be in the office 4 days a week (or maybe that's why they changed the rules??).
- works best with my current role as a college professor (minus when in-class hours are outside of that morning window), because I have lots of autonomy in terms of response times and I schedule almost all of the meetings.

@C_L + Bigato, +1 the social capital point (on both reentry and normal entry!). Which is why I tell almost all of my students to aim to meet with a new person for coffee every 2 weeks in their final year of schooling. If they do this (unless they are a complete nutsack), they will get a job. Unfortunately (or fortunately for everyone who does it), <10% actually do because it is harder than complaining about sending off 300 resumes online and not getting a single hit. No shit Sherlock. Same has applied to me getting work after a "normal" job.

This point on social capital is also compounded for people who are trying to break into the North American market with only international experience. I teach a lot of Indian students, they NEED to build Canadian social capital in order to break in. You build it by working shitty jobs and networking within hopefully based on some merit, and/or you build it by spending $5 a week buying someone a coffee and bagel.

fingeek
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Re: Mini-retirements vs ERE?

Post by fingeek »

I've followed this thread for a while, but now I can finally add myself as a datapoint.

I've been mini-retired for 9 weeks of a 1yr period now (tldr from my journal: job is (was?) typical high salary/high stress, baby happened, took UK Shared Paternal Leave). I love it.

I've gone from grouchy, stressed and achy, to happy, joking around and rejuvenated in this time. I'm already 100% sold on "mini-RE" even if it's a method of job performance enhancement. Equally, as it stands I don't want to go back to work...

Edit to add: after 9 months I was ready (and mentally needing!) to go back to work. Enjoying work for the last 6+ months, and I'll enjoy the next mini-RE when I'm ready for it in the future
Last edited by fingeek on Sun Jul 05, 2020 2:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Stahlmann
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Re: Mini-retirements vs ERE?

Post by Stahlmann »

interesting, but also scary perspective on getting older on first pages of the discussion.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Mini-retirements vs ERE?

Post by classical_Liberal »

I'm only about a year into this so far and think it's fabulous. I've taken one 5 month, and am currently on month two of my second "mini-retirement". I did set myself up for a recurring intermittent job before starting, so have had zero stress there, outside of the fact I don't really like that job and may not go back this time.

Two big issues I've noticed. One, mental issues with "spending down" capital. When you've been in accumulation mindset for years, it's really hard to spend down your hard earned savings when your not yet FI. However, I've found a mental trick that really works. I have an operational account separate from my FI finances. Each time, before a mini-retirement, I save enough for 1-year of expenses in that operational account before adding to my FI finances. I do not track it as part of my FI funds. This does a couple great things. a)I don't feel bad as it dwindles down because it's not directly impacting my FI progress, it's more of a timer of max time left in mini-retirement. Which is the second great thing. b) I have a timer limiting my time off, acting as a sort-of external pressure to find ways to move cashflow positive and be productive. If I REALLY don't want to get a job, I can cut my spending more, or figure out other cash flow positive activities to extend the current mini-RE timer.

The second issue is that having complete control of my time is so frigg'en great. Working FT you become so used to having to live your life around work. In a mini-RE you have so much control it's really hard to give up. So the transition back to work is pretty tough. Mostly though it's the couple of weeks or so before I go back. Once back at work, I seem to quickly acclimate back to the "normal" lifestlye. Although it's a bit more miserable, but that may just be because I don't really like my job anymore. It also may be I haven't yet found the right mix, and maybe a PT job, longer term, is the answer. I know it works really well for others from the semi-ERE crowd, because you can fit a PT job into your life at the right times to get rid of the preworking dread I seem to face.

Wrt ageism and having problems plugging back into the workforce. As stated, I have an intermittent job. However, I decided on friday to apply for a couple other temp jobs, hoping to maybe quit the one I'm not so fond of. I'm 44, and unemployment is at, what, 12% right. With theall the extra federal bene's due to expire soon. So it should be a pretty tough job market. I applied for a slightly more than local minimum wage job, PT and temp. Also a mid-skill level FT temp job that pays about half (3X local minimum wage) of my current hourly rate. I have an interview for both tomorrow. That's right, Friday application, Monday interview in a 12% unemployment market, with no direct experience for either position... Let's just say my concern level for finding jobs when I want, where I want, is only slightly above 0 at this point.

Frita
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Re: Mini-retirements vs ERE?

Post by Frita »

@c_L
Good for you, I will be interested in following along if you try part-time work instead of the intermittent contract nursing.

IMO The biggest drawback of many part-time jobs in the US are typically having no benefits. A consistent gig with no ability to take trips unless one quits concerns me. I guess I will give it a try during COVID-19 as we can’t really travel anyway. Since we live in a destination with a HCOL, low wages, and lots of part-time work; people just stick around and don’t travel much, if any. On a daily basis, we can do lots of cool outdoor stuff. While I enjoy it, I need to get out for a month or so at a time two to three times a year.

A job share of a full-time position between two people would be ideal. At times each could work full-time while the other was off. My BIL had such a part-time job in the Portland, OR, area before he retired retired. He had full benefits too. Talk about a happy, loyal worker!

Matt3121
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Re: Mini-retirements vs ERE?

Post by Matt3121 »

Just my 2 cents on this but I think that most people, once they retire, will still do some money making endeavor. But when you are retired it's WAY less stressful. No or very little pressure to succeed. At least that's why I did it. I'm working on a number of things that may make money, I don't want to just watch TV all day, so yeah, mini retirement, I'm all for it.

ertyu
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Re: Mini-retirements vs ERE?

Post by ertyu »

Knowing I don't have enough money yet and that I need to make more money is really stressful to me. i am one of those who wouldn't be able to really relax on a mini-retirement because they know that like it or not, employment is looming. I am not the "start a business" type, but even if I was, I would still feel an inner imperative that while i still need to make money, making money has to be a priority over anything else in my life. Thus I have a hard time getting in touch with things like, "well, what activities would i like to pursue in and of themselves" and the like. Also for some reason, can't waste time on developing diy skills etc while still need to work; must work first, must recuperate so I can work second, all else after if spoons. So it depends a lot on personality, too. I am definitely the grind your teeth and bear it type vs. the 6 months on, 6 months off tyle.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Mini-retirements vs ERE?

Post by classical_Liberal »

Another thing I should add about my serial mini retirements that I just noted when looking at my spending over the past year. Transitional months, either from not working to work, or from work to not working have increased spending. When I first start work again, getting used to the lack of time causes convenience cost increases until I get back into the flow. The month or so after, there are alot of YOLO expenses associated with the celebration of being done. It appears this is a trend.

Transitional monthly spending comes in at about $1700 average
Normal working month costs $1500 est Average
Normal off months costs $1200 est Average

These are with no material changes to lifestyle (ie housing base costs, etc)

I think it's noteworthy for me, although I can see how the underlying fundamentals behind this behavior could be a trend to guard against, or at least realize is a potential for anyone. Plus it's really an added cost to this lifestyle, at least for me. Also of note, the significant general decrease of costs while not working.

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Jean
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Re: Mini-retirements vs ERE?

Post by Jean »

@cl, i experienced the same. I don't think it's worth thé effort to do something against it.

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