Late Starter to FI Series Progress Update 2022 – Part 4

different piles of coins with seedlings growing on top
different piles of coins with seedlings growing on top

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 generouslyshared 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

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.

Today’s Part 4 features 4 Late Starters who are still progressing towards FIRE but some have made significant changes. They are Late Starter to FI #34 – Maz, Late Starter to FI #3 – Heavy Metal Money, Late Starter to FI #31 – Cutting Through Chaos and Late Starter to FI #4 – Adulting World

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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We haven’t changed our strategy with inflation, although it’s a few years off for us anyway.

The biggest thing is that I’ve gone 4 days a week at work, and loving it. The work life benefits are greater than one day a week. I’m trying to encourage my partner to do the same, but he feels like he’d rather pay the mortgage off first.

4 day work week words on a caledar

Inflation

Inflation has been felt in many areas. Especially in grocery stores and other daily essentials. It has affected my habits. I’m beginning to be more cost conscious when shopping for poultry, produce, and other grocery items, and at times, skipping certain items that week.

Any other strategy changes?

The downturn in the market does cause some anxiety with my investment/retirement accounts seeing the value drop thousands of dollars. It doesn’t pay to watch! But us long term buy and hold investors stay strong and keep dollar cost averaging.

Still progressing towards FIRE

I’m still planning on leaving my W2 work by 2029 at the age of 55. After I leave my W2 job, I plan to spend more time dedicated to my newly formed non-profit, The Luger Foundation.

We provide financial support and resources to the families that have incurred substantial medical debt due to premature birth, extended stays within the neonatal intensive care unit, or complications during pregnancy.

I continue to place any positive cash flow from my real estate investments into the commercial debt I carry on my portfolio of rental properties. I’ve paid off an additional $30k in debt besides the monthly payments in 2021.

 

Life updates

I’m still a single divorced dad although muy children have now grown some. Now at the ages of 20 & 22!

Since we last connected, I’ve started my Heavy Metal Money YouTube channel – I invite you and others to check it out!

Inflation

We haven’t changed anything on a day to day basis. We’re in a place where we’ve stepped back from full time employment to have more time as a family. Our income broadly covers our costs and our investments are doing their thing in the background.

The longer term impact is that we may need to work a little longer before we can retire fully or may need to cut out some of the nice-to-haves from our retirement budget. But the trade off between work longer or reduce some discretionary spend is a decision for our future selves to take.

Any other strategy changes?

No significant changes to our strategy. If anything, the more time we spend prioritising family life by stepping back from full time work, the more we realise that we’re on the right path for our family.

We’ve not touched our investments in the last couple of bear runs (March 2020, H1 2022). And whilst I check in with what’s happening in the markets at least weekly, I’ve felt no inclination to sell, or worry about what the reduced prices mean for our future. Not something I can control, therefore not something to worry about.

Life updates

Our story appeared on the series about a year ago. I wouldn’t say we’ve had any epiphanies, though as noted above, spending more time on our flexible slow approach to FI has confirmed to us that this is the right path for our family.

The other thing that has changed in the last year has been the return of travel. Mrs C and 2 of our kids were able to travel to South Africa to visit some family and close friends they hadn’t seen in 3 years. We also had 5 sets of visitors with us in April this year. It was hectic, but so good to be able to reconnect with friends face to face.

Inflation

Inflation has only had an impact by noting the significant increase in the cost of living. No change to the strategy for me due to inflation.

Any other strategy changes?

Ah, such a great question. My, oh my, how to answer. Finances have had no bearing on strategy changes. The last few years have had such a significant impact on me in other ways that is so much more important than finances.

Unlike so many, I have been truly fortunate in my dealings with COVID 19. There are many wonderful Tweeters who take the time to ask – who was impacted in the worst way by this horrible pandemic. They make the losses more than just numbers – they make them into humans. @FacesOfCOVID is probably the most famous, however there are many more across Twitter who do us this service. I am getting a little side tracked, but wanted to give a shout out to those that care enough to light up the details of those we as the human race have lost over the last few years.

So, COVID and the sheer volume of people lost to this pandemic had an effect. I didn’t realise this until late last year / earlier this year. I knew I wanted to travel, knew international travel was lost to me for a while but was not quite sure on how to make travel in general happen.

Then last year, I reconnected with my love of camping. During the spring, I managed to get away, right even into early summer (thanks to La Nina) and knew that I wanted to continue throughout the summer.

However, I absolutely hate the heat and sleeping in the summer is pretty rubbish at the best of times with aircon. (Yes, there are those that say a fan will cut it, but as I enter perimenopause I say bugger off to that idea!)

So, a campervan/motorhome was going to be my only option. I looked at renting, but the cost is prohibitive and with animals, it becomes more complicated. However, I was fortunate enough to find such a vehicle – lil old campervan with an air conditioner already installed. I realise this answer is becoming a bit lengthy, but what the hell, we only live once.

Where was I? Oh yes, what else changed my strategy. So, as noted before, I reconnected with my love of camping and now had a way of doing it easily on weekends – chuck animals in van, fill with petrol, food and wine and bugger off for the weekend. Pretty good way to spend my weekends. So, yes – that is what I did, until …

 

Life updates

A couple of things happened in what feels like quick succession. Shane Warne passed away suddenly (he was my age). The politician, Kimberley Kitching who also died suddenly – her death was around my age. And yet there were more – near enough to 50ish and they were dropping out of the game.

Their deaths were the jolting shock that just added to the changes from COVID and enough for me to say – that’s it! I am going to travel, one way or another. I am not waiting one more minute – f*%k waiting for retirement – what if I never get there? Do I really want to put these things off for another 5 years? What if I only make it to 60 – then I will have only 5 years to delight in this country.

So I took stock – I had a campervan (that admittedly needed thousands of dollars of work), the company I work for, and am grateful for each and every working day, that did not care where I work, as long as I get my job done. And a fully furnished property with enough equity that I could rent it or not and could still afford to travel. So, I realised how truly fortunate a position I was in. So, I was just about all set up and ready to go. Then Duck arrived …

For decades that I have been reading, I have been a really big fan of Dean Koontz. And he is a really big fan of Golden Retrievers. Through his writing and my own interactions with goldens, I knew that they were the breed of dog that I would love to share my home with. But with all my previous jobs I knew that I worked long days away from home and so would not be a good environment for them.

Given my situation I knew I wanted to travel with a dog and really wanted it to be a golden retriever. So, here I was, looking at Gumtree and there is this beautiful female golden adult who needed a home. I met her and somehow, we instantly bonded. Within 3 days, we went away camping and she just settled into my life easily. Yes, Duck is sometimes naughty but I can honestly say she is a true delight to live with. And yes, her name is now Duck (she started out as Crystal but it just did not suit her.)

So after another short stock take of life again, I confirmed that travelling was ok with work, set it all up, got the campervan fixed and away I went.

Well, after 3 months into this new life, I noted that the vehicle is great as a weekender. But to work 5 days a week, it’s a little squishy. The daily pack up/down of office equipment and not being able to have adequate space for Duck and me has meant that I have spent extra time each day on organising/reorganising etc.

I really needed a vehicle that could have a dedicated office space as well as room for Duck and me to store everything. Also, I didn’t realise how much I really love having a microwave. So, reassessed again and, after a chat with work where they confirmed that they would like me to stay on beyond my current contract, I decided to size up to a motorhome.

I have now been living in the motorhome for about 4 weeks and genuinely love it. It has all the fantastic benefits of the campervan with the added benefit of an onboard bathroom and microwave – both of which have been used as I managed to twist my ankle very badly recently.

I am glad I tried it in the smaller/cheaper campervan first and then when I was sure that this lifestyle will work well for me, only then did I commit to a much larger purchase. What can I say but, pure luxury in the size and storage capacity of this vehicle. I love it and am decorating it in a yellow and white colour scheme.

Each and every day has aspects of delight – beautiful and noisy birds, stunning flora that is different in every place, lovely travellers to meet, lovely dogs for Duck to play with, brisk mornings where I get to watch the sun come up and stunning sunsets where I get to see the sun go down. Wonderful little country towns to explore in a slow travel way.

There have been challenges as well – vehicle issues, twisted ankles which makes it hard to get to the shops. Duck being sick, and living in a VERY small space but those things could well have happened while staying at home. There really is a truth in that the #vanlife is not just travelling and fun, there is beauty etc but that in reality it is life, so mundane and challenging things will happen anyway.

The upshot of all the above is that I now find myself in the truly fortunate position of travelling and working and living a life I never dreamed could be this good. Yes, there are mundane and challenging parts about it, as there are in every life. But would I trade it – not on Duck’s life. 

Still progressing to FIRE

Yes, I am still pursuing FI. Yes, I have also slowed down.

I could probably do it a little faster if I chose not to travel and just stayed put in my home.

However, as so many of the FI perople I follow have noted (Latestarterfire, Frogdancer Jones, Money Flamingo, Fire For One, RVonFIRE, Baby Boomer Saver and others, the journey is so important, rather than the destination.

I think if I was one of the ones going for FI in my 30s or 40s I might have seen it differently and wanted to go hell for leather. But as I am in my 50s  now, the journey has become so much more important. The actuarial tables note that  I might make it to my 80s or 90s so hey, if that happens, great. But if it doesn’t, I don’t want to check out without having spent as much time making a life vs making a living.

I still fully intend on doing my bucket list long hikes across the globe, but while I still have to work to build up my finances for retirement then I want to do it with as much joy and gratitude and adventure as I can.

Back to Latestarterfire

All four of our late starters are able to enjoy the benefits of their progress towards FIRE.

Even though they are not at the destination yet, all of them have taken steps to identify what matters to them – Maz with working 4 days a week, Mr C going the slow FI way, Heavy Metal Money starting a non profit foundation and Adulting World travelling in a motorhome with Duck.

No one is waiting till they reach FIRE to do things that matter to them.

But what has made it possible for them to enjoy the benefits now is that they started managing their money and investing when they did. Once your money is working for you, you have the freedom to pursue what truly matters to you.

Thank you for sharing your progress – it is so inspirational!

 

How can you enjoy some benefits of your progress to FIRE before reaching the final destination?

Late Starter to FI Series Progress Update 2022 Part 3

Golden coins in soil with young plant.
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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