Late Starter to FI Series Progress Update 2022 Part 3

Golden coins in soil with young plant.

I started the Late Starter to FI Series to highlight those of us who began our FI(RE) journeys later than the ‘traditional’ FIREes; specifically those who started in our 40s, 50s and 60s.

And if you know my back story, you already know that I started this blog because I didn’t find many late starters when I first discovered FIRE at 47. There were many in their 40s but they had either retired for many years or about to retire. No one was just starting out.

So I am eternally grateful to the 34 Late Starters who have so generously shared their stories. This proves that there are late starters out there. And the more we read each other’s stories, the less alone we feel; the more achievable our goals are when we see others like us accomplishing them.

We are a community and I want to also share our progress. Because being on the path to FI is not a get rich quick scheme 🙂 It really is like a journey – with setbacks, roadblocks and detours along the way. And we want to celebrate any wins along the way too, of course!

The first progress update was published last year (2021).

This year, we’ll divide the progress update into several parts.

Catch up on Part 1 which featured Late Starter to FI #6 – Fire For One, Late Starter to FI #21 – Vinnie and Late Starter to FI #27 – Pursuing Slow FI as a Late Starter

In Part 2, we featured Late Starter to FI #9 – Deanna, Late Starter to FI #20 – Caroline & Scott and Late Starter to FI #32 – Jay

Today’s Part 3 features 3 Late Starters who have already RETIRED EARLY – Late Starter to FI #12 – Mama Purple, Late Starter to FI #33 –  FI for the People and Late Starter to FI #14 – Frogdancer Jones.

 

Do you have a Late Starter story to share? Please connect with me via email (info@latestarterfire.com), TwitterFacebook or Instagram – I’m always looking to connect with more late starters 🙂

 

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Inflation

There’s been no change to my strategy in retirement as a result of inflation. I’m 7 years into retirement and no change was needed since my retirement is going even better than expected financially.

I started receiving social security so for that reason, I decreased my drawdown since some money was coming from another source.

Any other strategy changes?

I started receiving social security so for that reason, I decreased my drawdown since some money was coming from another source.
 
I sold my rental property at the height of the housing boom and invested the profits in our index funds.

Life updates

Since my 2019 update, I was able to drop everything and take care of my great nephew for 7 months during the pandemic while his parents worked.

Also, once vaccinated, I started travelling with my daughter domestically to the beach in New Hampshire and on a road trip through the Southwest US to see National Parks.

This year, we’ve started travelling internationally: we went to Thailand for a month and I’m writing this now while in Mexico with her for a month. I’m looking forward to travelling more domestically this year and internationally to Peru, Australia and New Zealand next year.

Similar to the rest of the world, this pandemic has continued to hammer home that life is so short and made me so grateful that I didn’t wait to live the life I wanted.

Inflation

Thankfully, we’re not nearly as affected by recent high inflation as are many others. The biggest hit we’ve taken has been in the food category, gas for our car, and our energy bill. As none of these categories is a massive expense for us, the aggregate damage hasn’t been too painful (even if it’s still highly unwelcome).

This all said, I’m playing things conservatively and have kept our spending lower than I’d prefer, in part because of the inflation rate.

Any other strategy changes?

The other (and main) reason that I’m playing things conservatively and have kept our spending lower than I’d prefer is that, as with many others, our investments have taken a beating this year.

Having FIREd at the beginning of the year, my hope was our investments would have kept rising for at least a while and that if they stagnated or dropped modestly, we’d rely on our cash reserves during the downturn.

As it’s turned out, the hit has been bigger than I’d have hoped. So, we’re drawing down our cash reserves at a far faster rate than I’d have wished.

Life updates

I called it a day on the career I’d had for many years at the end of 2021. I don’t say that I’m retired as I anticipate that I’ll take a (likely part time) job at some point, even if not the same type of work that I’ve done over the course of my career. I also do/will do some gig work.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve had two great successes. First, I’ve managed to de-stress very well. I knew things were good when I came to a realisation on a midday mid-week visit to a grocery store soon after FIREing.

Pre 2022, I’d be checking my work email on my phone during such a visit, and thinking/stressing about work. In the middle of this particular visit, however, it occured to me that I wasn’t thinking/stressing about work.

My second accomplishment is that I’ve read more books in 2022 than I have in the previous 20 years collectively. I’ve all along been a voracious reader, but for the last 20 years, it’s been mostly magazines, newspapers, and blogs. I still read all those things as much (or more) than I always have. But now I’m able to indulge my love of reading books.

 

Side hustles / gigs

As for side hustles, when I had the good fortune to be profiled on this blog in September 2021, I”d just started getting gigs as a pet sitter. I ended up earning a decent sum by the end of the year. This year, I’ve gotten several gigs, and even some repeat customers. This has provided some welcome income. The gigs are all fun, feel nothing like work, and don’t in the least require me to think about the work after my visit is over.

I’ve also had another side hustle for a few years now, but haven’t gotten any gigs for that work this year. On the one hand that’s disappointing as the hourly rate is pretty good. On the other hand, the work is the same type of work I’ve done over the course of my career and is not something I’m excited about doing. So I’ve mostly shrugged at the lack of opportunities.

I’ve also been surprised to have been reached out to for contract work by some people in the industry I just left. Like I mentioned, the work isn’t something I’m super excited about. But I no longer have the qualms I once had about quoting an eye-watering hourly rate.

I plan to quote rates far higher than I billed out at pre 2022, and to put a hard and low cap on the number of hours per week that I’d commit to. So my lack of enthusiasm for the work itself would mostly be offset by the payday and pretty limited effect on my free time. If I get the work, great! If I don’t get the work, meh!

 

What can we celebrate?

I guess the milestone to celebrate since I was profiled is that I FIRE’ed, and also that by doing so, I fulfilled a promise that I made in a blog post in early 2021.

I admit it’s not been all sunshine and roses since FIREing. Mostly due to the fact that because our investments have taken a hit this year (even if I know that it’s a transitory one :-)) and inflation is high, my instinct to be financially conservative has kicked in big time. I’d rather have had the chance to have taken a breather once I FIRE’ed.

The upside, I guess, is that it’s that instinct that underpinned my taking the steps to FIRE in the first and surely will allow me to get through this period.

I’m not sure I’d necessarily call it an epiphany, but I’ve become even more sure that I don’t ever want a boss or a client who has a lot of control over my days and weeks. If I take a job or client engagement, it’ll be on my terms, solely for my own enjoyment, and strictly transactional.

Put another way, it’ll be about me getting to do work that I enjoy and /or just to make some money. Nothing more, nothing less. I’m not looking at all to make a career, brown-nose or make friends (though if I happen to make friends, so much the better).

 

Inflation

Inflation in itself hasn’t affected my retirement strategy, though of course, along with everyone else, I’ve noticed prices heading skyward. As a frugal person who has recently had another adult child move back in, my groceries, gas and electricity bills have gone up.

This doesn’t make me happy, but I haven’t made any changes to my investments. Anyone who has learned how to stretch the dollars is able to cushion the effects of rising prices, particularly with groceries. There’s a lot people can do to keep living expenses to a minimum, if needed. I’ve been there.

Any other strategy changes?

While inflation on its own isn’t bothering me too much, what I’ve always had on my radar is Sequence of Return Risk. This is when the stock market crashes in the first 5 years of a person’s retirement, decimating their portfolio and making it much harder for the investments to fully support them for the rest of their retirement.

Being a single person, I only have one superannuation account and one set of other investments to see me through the rest of mt life. I can’t lean back on the security of having a partner’s superannuation to help pay the bills. When I retired at the end of 2020, I knew that I’d be keeping watch on the gyrations of the stock market, particularly in the first 5 years.

The short dip last year wasn’t an issue for me, but the dip this year seemed to feel a little different. This, coupled with a phone call letting me know that my old school was desperately short of CRTs (Casual Relief Teachers), got me to thinking that maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to pivot and earn some extra money to avoid pulling cash from my investments when the market was down.

I also have the added expense of a wedding I’m helping to pay for. A day’s CRT work is paying for two places at the reception. I’m also pretty pleased that I’m not taking $5k out of my portfolio to help my son and his fiancee – hey, I probably would’ve done enough CRT to pay for this, even if the stock market was booming!

I’ll likely keep picking up CRT days until I get tired of it. I know, intellectually, that I have more than enough to ride out the wave. But after struggling financially for so many years when the boys were children, I feel better about having that income stream coming in at the moment. It helps with the “Can you sleep at night” test.

Part of the FIRE mentality is being flexible enough to pivot when/if the situation demands it. If we’re smart enough to see the possibilities in the FIRE lifestyle and determined enough to go for it, surely we’re also far-sighted enough to adapt when we feel we need to?

Picking up some work in retirement wasn’t part of my initial plan, but for now – it seems to make sense.

Illustration of teacher with book and pointer

What can we celebrate?

Since I retired, I’ve been doing whatever the hell I want – every day.

This might seen like a glib answer, but it’s very much the truth. Last year (2021), even with all the lockdowns, was one of the happiest years of my life. I finally had the luxury to spend every hour exactly as I wished. That’s a freedom afforded to very few.

If I hadn’t have had such a struggle in the first decade or so of being a single parent, I likely wouldn’t have gone back to work as a casual teacher when the stock market dipped. Or, if I did, it would only be for a day or two a week to help pay for my son’s wedding.

I’ve absolutely loved having my freedom, being able to do whatever I wanted without having to worry about finances.

This portion of my life as a casual teacher is purely to make myself continue to feel safe while in the Sequence of Return Risk years. I had a grandparent who ran out of money when he was 90 and had to ask my parents for a ‘loan’. Apparently it was an uncomfortable conversation for everyone. I never want my boys and me to have a similar conversation. A few months of CRT work is a small price to pay.

Then I’ll be back to my beautiful days of untrammeled freedom …

Back to Latestarterfire

Once again, inflation hasn’t affected our late starters’ investment strategy. What shines through is the confidence that late starters to FI feel about their ability to weather any storm , come what may. After all, they’ve done the hard work of getting to Financial Independence and Retiring Early.

They have the tools and grit to see out this market dip and inflation. FI for the People is picking up enjoyable, non stressful side hustles and Frogdancer is working some shifts as a casual relief teacher to have another income stream besides their investments.

Being FIREd allows them to pivot and change their lifestyles as needed. And adjust strategy such as Mama Purple selling an investment property to invest in index funds.

The other insight that is absolutely shining through in neon colours is how much they enjoy having the freedom to travel, to do whatever they want without regards to a boss or client, now that they have retired.

Thank you for sharing the progress along your journeys – it is so inspirational for those of us still getting there 🙂 Oh, to have that freedom of doing whatever we want ….

 

How are you preparing for the market dips, inflation or whatever curve balls life may throw at you when you finally retire?

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