I didn’t know what early retirement was until October of 2012. I had a very bad, no good, terrible day at work and googled something like:
How do I retire early?
What kind of scam have I stumbled upon? When does the sales pitch come??
And then I read MMM’s post on the 4% Rule and realized that FIRE is nothing more than a simple math problem.
I was fully onboard from that moment on. Since I was already a saver and had worked my ass off, I had $586,043 saved up along with $150,000 in home equity. It was off to the races.
Phase 1: Running Away
I’m not happy at work. I need to get away. Now. But what am I running to?
I don’t like uncertainty, so I was more than a little terrified. I considered staying at work, deleting the blog (what the hell do I tell the readers?), and disappearing into the night. Luckily, I didn’t do that.
Stage 2: Finding Meaningful Work (Loving Certainty)
The answer of what retired Carl should do was in front of me the whole time:
The blog is what you like to do. No need to delete it. Keep going! Talk about life post-job.
OK. that was settled. Phew. I could now retire and not be a basket case.
Stage 3: Finding Random Work (Embracing Uncertainty)
When you don’t have a job, you have the time to go on long walks that don’t have a destination. With time bandwidth comes mental bandwidth. When you have mental bandwidth, you become more creative. When you have time for creativity, you come up with all kinds of fun ideas and projects. Some of mine include:
- Trailer Park (or Elevated Living Estates to the ultra-politically correct): This thing has started to crank out cash. Woot! Even though I don’t actively manage the ELE, the investment took a lot of time to analyze.
- Coworking Space: I’m very bullish on Longmont, from both a residential and commercial perspective. So, I jumped at the chance to own a building and the coolest business I can imagine. I call it a coworking space and it is certainly that, but it’s also a social club, idea factory, tool library, and gym. Our members are a fantastic group of humans.
- Podcast: I’m thrilled to be launching a podcast with some of my favorite friends, Craig Curelop and Miss Mazuma.
- Webcomic (I WILL get this thing out the door on or before 1/1/2020).
- Live-in flip: A couple of weeks ago, we made an offer on a home and then learned it had a lot of issues. We adjusted our offer significantly downward and expected it to be rejected. However, the sellers agreed to the new price. BOOM! If all goes according to plan, we’ll take ownership in less than two weeks. This is a very recent development and I’ll have MUCH MORE to say about it including documenting the entire remodel (finish a basement with a new bathroom, rehab the kitchen and three existing bathrooms). Sidenote: In the meantime, is there anyone out there with good design skills? I can build, but I’m terrible with design. If you’d like to help me design my basement, kitchen and master bath, hit me up here.
- Brewery: This is the idea that’s the craziest. I started talking about it as a joke, but then some friends took it seriously, so we are going to try to make it happen. Plans are loosey-goosey at the moment, but perhaps a FIREy brewery will launch in 2020. As a sidetone, one of the best parts of life is collaborating on interesting projects with like-minded friends (Hello Mr. WoW, Big Ox, Brad, and Eric).
The big message here is this: All of these things happened because I didn’t have a job.
There is just no way I’d have time to review a deal, produce a podcast, work on a home, or any of those other pursuits with a job. Hell, I don’t even have time to do these things now!
Queue the Early Retirement Police!
Side note: Am I really retired? Not in the traditional sitting-on-the-beach-drinking-crap-with-umbrellas-in-it sense. I work at a lot of different things and I’d have it no other way. Meaningful work, where happiness is the goal instead of money, is the most satisfying way to live. The funny thing about meaningful, happy work is that it has a habit of generating money anyway. Toss it on the pile.
Stage 4: Giving Back
I feel so fortunate that my life has turned out the way it has. I’ve mostly lived according to my own rules and the first 45 years have been a good run. Lately, I’ve started to think about deeper questions like this:
What is my mission statement?
Here is what I’ve come up with:
I want the world to be a better place because I lived.
Now, that’s a broad statement and that mission can be taken in a million different directions. Here are some ideas:
- Financial Education: I write about money. Should I try to help others sort out their financial lives?
- Give Money Away: If investments continue to do well, I’ll die with a lot of money. Which worthy organization is the best to leave it to and how do I do it?
- Help My Community: At FinCon last week, I had a good conversation with Marla about how we could encourage/help the FIRE community to make positive change in the world.
Anyway, Stage 4 is still a work in progress. However, it is fun to think about.
Your Why Of FI
How about you? Some questions for you to ponder in the Comments section:
- Why did you decide to pursue FIRE?
- Which part of FIRE is more important to you; the Financial Independence or Retire Early part?
- Have your goals or motivation changed along your journey?
- Are you a hopeless planner like I used to be or do you live life by the seat of your pants?
I’ll feature the best answers next week.
Join the 10s who have signed up already!
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