My FIRE journey is approaching 1 year old. I first came across FIRE around this time last year by reading a New York Times article about it and was completely inspired. I set about doing it right away. I chucked some money into a Stocks and Shares ISA before realising I was making a false start. I had to pay off my vast debt before anything else and now I’m actively investing.
Over the past few months, I have had a niggling pain in my side about the whole process. Although I am completely enamoured with the FI part, the RE end is what is bothering me.
I think I have come to understand what it is that is causing me an issue.
Firstly, I should say I am highly enthusiastic about obtaining financial independence. The benefits are clear in that you are beholden to no one and you are free from the shackles of work.
Retiring early is, in theory, a great thing. When you rock up to work on Monday morning wishing you could continue the weekend, it never seems more appealing.
I may be speaking from a position of privilege as I have a professional job, but work is good for you in many ways. Beyond making money, you have a daily challenge, meet interesting people, and can have a sense of achievement once you have done something.
In my line of work, managing the design and construction buildings, it is rewarding to finish a job. Yes, the journey there is often a war of attrition, but overall it can be a very interesting and rewarding job.
Is giving that up in my mid-forties, at a time when real success is likely to come knocking, really going to make me happy? Giving up decades of hard work at the peak of my career is likely to be something that would be quite depressing.
I feel like if I was 10 years younger retirement would allow me to undertake some sporting challenges, but I’m getting older. In 10 years I will likely have kids and be in my mid-40s. I won’t be able to do the physical challenges I once thought I could do. I’ll also have mouths to feed!
However, with success comes time commitment. It may be that spending more time with my family (yet to have one…but fingers crossed!) will be the reward. FIRE will give me the choice.
I know lots of wealthy people who work by choice. My old boss was married into the Pilkington glass fortune. They were so rich that they sold some vases they had in the family home for around £20m. I oversaw him on his iPad once looking at his current account. It had £140k in it. He came in every day, worked and had a jovial attitude to work. He perhaps could see it for what it was rather than a financial need and I think that led to him enjoying the challenge. I think this is where I would like to be once Financially independent.
Going forward, I am going to strive for FI but maybe take it easy on the RE part. If I retire at 50 that would probably be great. After all, they say the Devil makes work for idle hands…