Stash stuck at 70% of FIRE


#1

Help?

I am stuck at 70% of my FIRE target. I am just not motivated to save money anymore. It feels like I am FIRE already. That if I would simply do whatever I like then the last 30% will take care of itself somehow. That’s because I am naturally frugal and my interests are naturally commercial. I expect that over the long term I will earn more than I spend even without external pressure.

This feels like what MMM means when he says that money and confidence are interchangeable. I have a FIRE mindset today. 70% of that comes from money and the other 30% comes from confidence.

Questions is: Is this overconfidence? Am I deluding myself? If I indulge this mindset then after 10 years will the stash be gone (and the confidence with it)?

This is a practical question because I work as a consultant and I am able to decide how much work to do each year. I could work long and hard now to save until the stash is 100%. But I have small children, good health, and personal interests. Isn’t this the time to slow down and enjoy life? There will be plenty of time to work more later, if necessary, but the kids will only grow up once.

The middle road that I take now is working just enough to cover living costs without withdrawing from the portfolio. This way the stash can be left to accumulate and gradually reach 100% without new contributions. This feels like a conservative approach to me, that I don’t really need to work even this much, but it is the limit of my confidence right now.

Can anybody relate? Is it reasonable to change your approach to savings once you come close to your FIRE goal, or is this a classic mistake? Is it time to glide blissfully towards the finish line or is it time to crack the whip and finish the race?


#3

Hey bruce, good problem to have!

Of course there is no right or wrong answer but pros and cons for each strategy.

One big negative of working with brute force towards your 100% target is that you will experience a huge change from one phase of your life to the next. I interpret FIRE as a mean to the ends and not ends to the mean. Therefore a gradual change into RE gives you the chance to work out what you want to do with your life once you’re out of the daily grind. Why not working 60% for a while and then adjust as you see fit? There is no reason to work a fix amount of time or up until a certain salary.


#4

My fear is that all my wealth is located in an ETF. So I fear a bit of the ETF losing a lot of its value, but even more I fear about somebody stealing it or it disappearing due to some glitch. My confidence and life plans are very much dependent on this little stash, it is also practically the only product of my life. So if it were to disappear, I would be devastated. Do you guys not have such thoughts? I guess that’s why many people buy real estate. It gives you a greater peace of mind.


#5

I ask myself how much can go wrong if I’d try to sell my ETF shares (let’s say each worth 100$) for 1$ each due to a fat finger or something.

Also my phone sometimes does silly shit when in my pocket. It sends random pictures to random people due to sweat and not having it locked. For this and many more reasons I dedicated my old S4 to be my second smartphone for all the second factors of all kinds of banking solutions. Yes, I was inspired here:


#6

If you have shares with high liquidity like VOO then it wont make much of a difference because you get the highest bid(s) from the order book. Obviously, if you can - set a proper limit. :slight_smile:


#7

Totally agree with that. I’m less than 10% of my FI target, but I already started working 80% because it’s important for me to chill and enjoy my life on the way to FI. I don’t want to postpone all my plans and life enjoyment for 15 years. In my opinion the journey to FI is equally important as the destination - it’s about building happiness, not only wealth.


#8

I also wonder if the 100% FIRE approach means that you have to be more conservative about withdrawal rates. The reason you can only safely withdraw 4% of your stash is sequence of returns risk: what happens if the world economy tanks exactly when you start your retirement?

If you are open to returning to work then maybe you don’t have to be so conservative. The market will probably deliver more than 4% and you can wait and see what happens. Maybe you could project the way that you want your stash to grow over the rest of your life and only work when the market is not delivering this to you passively?

This could be similar to rebalancing your asset allocation. Once per year you could compare your actual portfolio value with your projection and calculate how much money you need to earn to cover any shortfall. If there is no shortfall then you don’t have to work at all.

This seems safe provided that you can find work when you want it and that your projection will put you in a safe place at the age when you “really” want to stop working e.g. 60.


#9

My strategy post-FI is to continue working for a salary less and less, to about 20%-50% work equivalent. I might also start a startup, if I’ll get proper funding or go to Uni to start studying finance or economics. Not sure yet - besides, in 15 years so many things can change.

My advice, however, is to chill - if there’s a crisis, you’ll easily find a job. No worries. You’re in better position than 99% of humanity. There’s no reason to over-stress. The whole point of FI is that you can stress less and enjoy life more.

And you’re right that children grow up only once - you won’t have second chance to read them children books when they’re in their 30’s.


#10

Well, I don’t know. Let’s say you retire at 40. At first you work 20%, but then you have no project, so you decide to give yourself a break. Years pass, now you’re 50 and there comes a crisis. Your portfolio plummets and you figure out you should get back to work, just to be safe. But you have not been working for a few years. You’re not used to it. You forgot a lot of stuff. The World has changed. Nobody needs an old fart like you.

My dad is in his 50s. He used to be a financial director. Since 2 years he is unemployed. He still has 10 years to go until retirement, but nobody wants to hire him so far. He is enjoying his life at home, but I guess with every month it will be harder to find a job. Maybe he will not be able to find a job anymore.


#11

I think it ultimately depends on two factors:

  • unemployment rate in the country you live in (in Switzerland it’s now 2.4%, in Poland it’s 6.1%)
  • readiness to take worse quality jobs temporarily (there ain’t that many financial director jobs, but there are much more in different areas)

I’m aware though that it’s much harder to get a job when you’re in your 50-ties.

In worst case, you can go for a year or two to some ultra-cheap country.


#12

Oh, I totally understand and agree with you! I just find that it’s difficult to strike the balance, especially when younger and under a lot of pressure from work - also the pressure we put on ourselves to excel at what we do. A few years down the line, I find it far far easier to cut down on work expectations and appreciate time for what it is: our most precious resource, and the only one we can’t make more of.