What do you do once you’ve reached FI?

As I noted in an earlier posting, we’ve officially hit our FI point, as of Jan 1st, primarily due to the jump in the market at the tail end of 2019. I’ve also written about how I’m concerned that the current market is showing all signs for overpriced stocks, and we are probably going to have a serious correction in the next 12 months. Of course, Covid has further confused the situation.

Still, let us assume everything is “hunky dory” and the stock market will have its typical upward trend going forward, with the occasional dips. What do you do now? Retire immediately? Stay on for “one more year”? Keep going? It’s the eternal question in the FI community, and I’ve got an entire category of blog links to folks who have stepped away, so that I (and my readers) can look for additional guidance.

I’ll start with just the decision on whether to keep working after hitting FI or to separate.

Pluses to continue to Work:

  1. Our current status is that we are both gainfully employed in jobs that, though not entirely enjoyable, aren’t so repellent we just want to get away. We’re well compensated, and with no debt, this gives us a lot of free income. Of course one of the things having the jobs restrict is free time – which is what most folks in the FIRE community discuss.
  2. One of the other benefits of the job is the social aspect of it. While we are both working from home, we do have online meetings, emails, and other conversations with outside reps. In the age of Covid, this is very important, as it gives us the chance to interact with the outside world, something which is difficult to do right now outside
  3. Medical: Ah, one of the big ones for our community. For the first 6-12 months, we’d be using Cobra, so my medical would be 3X what I currently pay. While I budgeted in medical if we retired in 2020, I know that the medical we currently get from my work is superior to what we’d get on the open market once the Cobra ended (note: I’d have to take Cobra, because the large amount of severance money I’d get would kill any chance of our income being low enough to get subsidies for medical)
  4. Physiological advantages of continuing to work. My generation (baby boomers) generally determined their worth and identity off the work they did (for better or worse). I have had a lot of restless nights this month as I have struggled with the idea of what to do next with my life. If I’m not an engineer in logistics, what am I? What is my purpose for continued existence? You may laugh, but it really is a challenge for me.  

Minuses to continue to Work:

  1. Lack of Free time. I was able to carry over 7.5 days from 2020, so I’ve got 26.5 days (5 weeks) I can use them fairly easily. Mrs. 39 Months carried over a week, so she has three weeks of vacation. With that, we’ve got t sandwich in trips to see relatives, our 35th Anniversary, some dulcimer conferences she wants to take and backpacking trips I want to go on
  2. No ability to engage deeper in the hobbies that I enjoy (woodworking, backpacking) and to explore new interests (history, travel, etc.).
  3. No ability to take extensive trips to visit my mother in Tennessee. She is in her mid-80s now, and doesn’t have forever on this planet. We typically see her once a year, for a few days. I’d like to spend more time with her, especially since my Stepfather passed away last year. She is alone in a big house.

I’m not sure if my musings have helped me reach a final decision. Like a lot of folks, I think these thoughts lend themselves to “status quo” decision making, where folks just stay in place – sometimes for years! For the moment I’ll continue to ponder this.

Next Time, I think we’ll discuss the topic of moving now that we’ve hit FI.

Good Links on this subject:

Living a FI

Read more

Mr. 39 Months

2 thoughts on “What do you do once you’ve reached FI?”

  1. I don’t want to throw worry into the mix as you evaluate your plans but it only makes sense to pass on what I noticed when I retired. I only retired a few years early at 60 so it may be apple and oranges but I did notice a big change in my behavior at work when it finally sunk in I was FI. And FI by enough of a margin that I couldn’t logically find any reason to make more money. What I noticed is I stopped caring, stopped trying as hard and became more difficult to manage. And my CEO was a charismatic guy but also one who used intimidation and veiled threats of termination as his go to motivational techniques. I was well paid and those “pep talks” didn’t really bother me, until I internalized the truth that the money I was making no longer had any real value. If I lived to 100 I’d never spend a penny of it because those years and more were already well funded. At that point I alternated between suppressing giggles when I was being dressed down to getting back in his face, which wasn’t a fun experience for either of us. It was obvious it couldn’t go on. He couldn’t control me and I didn’t really care about work anymore. All that to say, once you know you don’t need the job it might change how you relate to it. It certainly did for me, in fact I think it is accurate to say that realizing FI made me unsuitable for my job. For me that was a good thing. But good or bad it is a risk that I never realized might come from being financially independent.

    1. Thanks for this – it really is good info.

      I have found that my motivation level has dropped significantly as my financial status has improved. I was typically a fast mover, jumping up the ranks of management and pay over 25 years of work. Then I had a management change about 4 years ago, new manager’s style and mine just didn’t mesh. I approved of a lot of the changes that he was making, but we just didn’t work well together. I pushed for and got a lower level of responsibility, and I’ve been doing the work for the last two years – but my motivation has definitely not been where it was earlier.

      I think part of that also has to do with realizing that there are things in life worth more than the constant stress and issues with being upper management. The pay just didn’t compensate me for what I was having to deal with.

      Again, thanks for the comment, and I hope more people read it.

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