I’ve been thinking. I do that sometimes. A little personal thought experiment. Loosely inspired by TheSavingNinja’s thought experiments.
What if I’d kill my financially independence and early retirement aspirations? Stop investing actively, stop trying to squeeze an ever higher savings rate out of my income? Throw the Excel files with all the numbers, projections and calculations out the window(s)? Quit blogging? Simply stop chasing things I may or may not reach? Let go of the future and live for today?
What would this 180 degree change mean in the short and long term? Would it be good? Bad? A slice of each?
What about time?
Let’s talk about time for a moment (having more time is one of the main themes when it comes to financial independence). On average I have around 5 hours per day for doing anything I like (so after subtracting sleep, work, transport, chores, social activities, etc.). Less time during working days and more time in the weekends obviously.
This means 35 hours per week.
Let’s say I use 16 hours per week for financial independence and early retirement related activities. This includes reading (posts of other personal finance bloggers mostly), investing, researching, writing (posts), etc.
I now have 19 hours left.
That’s a “time savings rate” of 11% (19 hours divided by 168 hours).
What do I do with those 19 hours?
I either watch football (premier league, what else?) or Formula 1 (cheering for Red Bull), am glued to Netflix, go for walks, run, read, make music, drink coffee in a cafe or do absolutely nothing (I love staring into space on my balcony with a glass of wine or beer).
Those 19 hours are important. They allow me to recharge.
But let’s stop FIRE. No more reading, investing, re-investing, writing, tweeting, promoting, guest posting, podcasting, monetizing.
For one, my time savings rate would instantly jump to 20% (35 divided by 168).
Also, if I can afford to save 30% or more of my income (which I currently do), I could actually afford to work 1,5 days less per week. That’s here and now. I already cleared that with my employer some time ago actually.
Let’s say that saves me another 14 hours per week (work and related transport).
My time savings rate is now 29% (49 divided by 168). With this much time I can kickoff at least two days per week at my favorite coffee shop. And start giving some of my time away as I said one could when reaching financial independence.
What about money?
I would no longer invest a single dollar (or euro or whatever).
My work income would be reduced because I will trade 1,5 days per week less for money. I can afford it.
I will keep my current portfolio (no, move the money to index funds), but not maintain it. In the event it grows, wonderful. If it doesn’t, no problem. It’s close to $70K as we speak.
My mortgage-free home ($300K) will be sold when (if) I reach full pension age or a few years prior to that (or I get a reverse mortgage). This will allow for leaving the labor market a few years early and supplement my somewhat modest pension.
What about all the other plans?
I wanted to go on more road trips. Can this still be done? That’s a yes. If I work 1,5 days less per week I could for example ‘save’ half a day each week. This would imply I’d save 2 days each month. After 6 months I would have 12 days. Those would be in addition to the 6 weeks I already have each year.
12 days would cover 3 work weeks. In other words, time wise I could afford two additional 3-week long road trips (or whatever I want to do) each year.
How would I finance those trips? I have a couple of options:
- Reduce expenses. There is some room for that. I wouldn’t go all in with tracking expenses, maintaining new Excel sheets, etc. This would defeat the purpose of throwing out all the financial independence Excel sheets. But there are some low hanging fruits that could give some financial breathing space. I’d get rid of my lease car for one.
- Sell assets that I currently have (the $70K)
What are the pros?
More time here and now. Time to travel, volunteer, drink coffee at my favorite coffee shop, spend time with people close to me.
No worries about my investments taking a hit due to trade wars or the next global economic crisis.
Peace of mind. Be happy. While disaster could still hit (losing job, health), I’d feel comfortable with the situation (I have insurances, a mortgage-free home). And when (if) I reach full pension age there will be sufficient funds to maintain an acceptable lifestyle.
What are the cons?
Financial independence and early retirement is about getting rid of work related schedules and deadlines. If I leave the road – turn around – I’d still need to work a minimum of 3,5 days each week – for the next 18 years. I like my job, but the prospect of having to continue for another 18 years is not something I’d call a motivator.
Financial independence and early retirement is only partially about me. The rest is about my dependents. Ultimately – if I invest responsibly and wisely – they’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of my journey.
I’d stop blogging about my journey, which is something I actually love doing.
So what will you do Marc? Are you flirting with the wrong girl?
Are you crazy? I’m not giving up and continue my journey to financial independence and early retirement!
Joking aside, it does make me think. It’s good that one does not rule out the other. I can aim for financial independence and early retirement and at the same time live for today as well.
I should be conscious about how much time and money I want to dedicate to the pursuit of FIRE. Be conscious about my time savings rate. If it drops too low it’s an indication I should prioritize differently.
Maybe read, write and tweet a little less? If you suddenly see a little less activity from me you’ll know why.
How about you?
What are your thoughts?
Have you ever been in doubt and considered killing your aspirations for FIRE?