Friday 30 March 2018

It’s starting to get Interesting

Time since my One More Year call has passed by incredibly quickly.  In fact so quickly that if I’m to stick strictly to it resignation day is now just a few a short weeks away.  At the time of my last post this was looking to be an incredibly 100% easy call with Brexit being just over a year away as well as an employer who had apparently decided I was now Mr Average.

Enter 2 events that have shifted that to 20% work on a bit longer to 80% FIRE to the Med in 2018.

The first is the draft Brexit Withdrawal Agreement which was published on the 19 March 2018.  As somebody moving to the Med keeping my EU rights is a very important consideration.  With that in mind, if I’m reading the Agreement correctly, I now gain no advantage by being in the Med by Brexit day, the 29 March 2019, when compared with setting up my new home during the Transition Period, which is now agreed by both the UK and EU as ending on the 31 December 2020.  Brexit pressure off.

The second is that I was just recently contacted by a very senior person in my organisation who proceeded to p*ss in my pocket for half an hour about how much of a contribution I make, how much they value that contribution, how essential I am to the organisation, blah blah blah.  To say I was surprised by all this is an understatement and talk about the left hand not talking to the right hand.  Then the interesting bit occurred.  I was offered what I could only describe as a retention bribe which consists of a workload reduction as well as a big chunk of cash if I stay on until the middle of 2019.

On the other hand as a Financially Free family I’m looking out my window as I write this and I see grey skies plus lots of rain.  Meanwhile I’m imagining this:

Paphos forest, Cyprus
Click to enlarge, Paphos forest, Cyprus

It’s starting to get interesting. 


  1. I'd certainly want some sort of compensation if someone pissed in my pocket.

    If someone took a shit in my pocket I'd ask for a new pair of jeans as a bear minimum.

    What are we talking? I'm imagining its going to be something quite chunky.. more wheelbarrow than brown envelope?

    I'd be very tempted to take it, especially if you're working less into the bargain. Its all about managing the glide-path down, but if you find a few thermals en-route and the views good then make hay while the sun shines..

    1. I think I might have meant 'bare'? I've got bears on the brain at the moment..

    2. "What are we talking? I'm imagining its going to be something quite chunky.. more wheelbarrow than brown envelope?" There are a few caveats on it but nominally and after tax it would be enough to buy an up-spec Japanese naturally aspirated convertible sports car in readiness for my upcoming mid-life crisis.

    3. Interesting how these opportunities are appearing out of the woodwork.

      Even if you had little intention of taking it up you should still make sure you've investigated working a few months a year back in the smoke or working remotely or somesuch combination. You could have the best of both worlds.

      Imagine earning top-london-dollar working remotely in cyprus for a few hours early in the morning. Laptop out on the sea-view balcony watching the sun-rise whilst supping on a freshly brewed coffee?

      I think that would feel extremely sweet?

    4. "Interesting how these opportunities are appearing out of the woodwork." Of course I don't control Brexit and in a way the transition agreement is unfortunate. Otherwise it would have pushed us off the cliff and we'd be 100% off. Regarding the work offer. By now they would know I am a flight risk. I'm not sure what the plan is though - buy some time to get a trained replacement or buy some time to convince me to stay...

      Good point about not burning bridges. I've always said that FIRE for me means work becomes 100% optional forever. That said it's always good to have options that you just let expire.

      Right now we're still 80% off to the Med. The comments below from P, Felice and vicarage reinforce that. A little bit of time yet to weigh up all the pro's/con's.

    5. It was the bear that shits in the woods.

  2. OMY looks like it will evolve into TMY.
    Remeber, it is unlikely you will run out of money, but it is certain that you will run out of time.
    Choose wisely.

    1. I'd agree, there is always one more year - a combination of the endowment effect (e.g. "my job is more intrinsically rewarding than most others") and the status quo.

    2. You both make very good points and in particular ".you will run out of time". One is most definitely a long time dead.

      I'm also very conscious of the hedonic adaption effect and even at times find myself falling for it before I snap back out of it.

      It's certainly real and maybe worth a post to give my experiences.

  3. Not that I'm anywhere near FI yet, but I was thinking the other day it would be nice to reach FI, then work OMY, but use a large portion of that last year's income to splash out. Treat myself, buy some new furniture, modernise the house. Spruce up the garden. Etc etc. No frugal living for that OMY and get everything all nice for a more comfortable retirement.

    That was my fantasy, but looks to be an option for you.

    If you're moving abroad though, it's tricky to know how the sale of your current home and/or purchase price of your new home will change in that OMY period.

    1. We are currently very mobile. We are renting and have no car to sell. We've also not been adding/replacing anything in our home to minimise the move pain. This means in FIRE we will need to replace a number of items as you describe. It's also likely we'll buy second hand so garden sprucing will also definitely be required.

  4. We reached FI at the same time, but I've spent 18 months pottering in the garden while you've been slaving away. I hope you have a clear plan for the money

    1. Hopefully, I've been very transparent with what I intend to spend and with the wealth I have today my withdrawal rate, before investment expenses, would be just under 2.5%. That includes 47% discretionary spending - holidays, stuff, eating out...

      You do make a good point though.

    2. I meant what you plan to do with each extra tranche. 'This week battling the regulator is a trip to Venice'

  5. Hi RIT,

    I've posted before that I'm in the camp of doing whatever makes you feel most comfortable and adapting to changes as they come. If you choose one more year (on top of one more year), DO NOT stress about the decision. Don't worry about running out of time or any such thing. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that you've been presented with a gift. You could choose to accept the one more year and really live up your last year of UK working life. If it were me, I'd consider everything and if the decision was to stay for that period, I'd move somewhere where my commute was trifling (say 15 or 20 minutes, hopefully stroll or cycle) and really cut down on the stress and maximise your own time.

    It almost seems like a win/win. You end up with possibly a more relaxed working lifestyle and an added financial bonus on top of it.

    To me that has always been what FI meant. The ability to make such decisions as you have without any stress, knowing I'm free whatever happens.

    Btw, summer is coming.

    Good luck.

    1. Just getting to Financial Independence has indeed been liberating. Just knowing I'd won the game has certainly helped the stress just melt away. Then knowing the world was our oyster was the icing on the cake. Even though I'm yet to pull the full FIRE trigger I'd still recommend this journey to anyone in a second.

    2. I'm with this Anonymous poster, RIT - it really doesn't matter if OMY turns into TMY, if that's what you choose to do. You have been presented with a great opportunity to consider - rake in the profits with a reduced workload and this can just be the 'luxury/fun' fund, with your FIRE funds covering the 'normal' living expenses.

  6. Oh no... when you did the one more year my better half said you weren't going anywhere. I posted that on here at the time and you said she was wrong! You are comfortably past your target but it's one excuse after another not to pull the trigger. Brexit, work bonus, next it might be Mr Market isn't behaving, etc. I hate it when she's right. Enjoy your next work promotion and future career.

    1. This blog is just a transparent view of a real financial life warts and all. It's also the life of somebody who has nobody in the real world to model this journey on and I'm yet to find an online resource either. Many will call out Mr Money Mustache, Go Curry Cracker or even Root of Good as 'well known' examples but none of them have retired according to my definition. They're just monetising websites.

      So this real life is learning as he goes, which includes new emotions/psychological changes never experienced before, while also trying to do the best thing for the family as possible. I've never claimed to have all the answers but have always tried to share my learnings as transparently as I can.

      That said if there's a friendly wager with your better half I wouldn't pay up yet. FIRE in 2018 is most certainly not over yet.

    2. Wandering Star1 April 2018 at 16:54

      Yes it's the psychological not financial side she bases her thoughts on. Thinking that someone who is still so young and had the drive to secure such a well paying job, won't give it up. It's at least another 10 years working for the man for you!

  7. I don't want to be lumped in with the noisy crowd bleating that you'll never make the leap, they told you so, etc.

    All I'd say is think about your original reasons for wanting FIRE (the RE part in particular), and assess whether they still hold.

    You've certainly met the FI part, with some to spare, so the offer of extra money, while nice-to-have, is not something you need, and I don't think should influence your decision.

    FYI, I FIRE'd 12 months ago (similar age, not as wealthy, but no kids, and partner works.) I don't run any successful blogs that bring in income, and haven't (yet) felt the urge to return to work.

  8. I Fire’d a couple of years ago, at 45, and have worked only the odd day Consulting since.

    The occasional longer term contract opportunity comes up every now and then but by the time I’ve compared not working/freedom (with a return of ~5% of net worth) I find it hard to consider getting back on the hamster wheel unless the financial reward is material versus net worth (probably 15-20% pa).

    I’ve also come to the conclusion that a year of freedom now is worth a lot more than a year when I’m +5/+10/+15 years.

    You can always go back to work, but you can’t retire any earlier than you are now.

    Enjoy the leverage, and milk it for all you can.


    1. @boltt - that's a very interesting way of looking at it. Makes a lot of sense. You including primary residence in the net worth?

    2. Yes, the thought process is total net worth inc primary residence and deferred pensions. Not much equity in the primary residence though as the lifetime base-rate tracker has been leveraged to buy other assets.

      It’s more of an opportunity cost comparison between £passive income and income via selling time. B.

    3. I had thought about your approach but from a slightly different angle previously, i.e. rather than what amount per annum would warrant going back to work, more like at what salary as a % of net worth does your job really start making almost no difference to your overall financial situation - i.e. you can't really justify working for the income any more - you'd have to use more pastoral reasoning as to why you're still turning up.

      I was at 2.6%, but a recent pay-hike now has me at 4%.

      I wonder what the threshold % is when you spin it round to look at existing salary rather than potential contract rate?

    4. Interesting - yours is more akin to a measure of when to leave, and mine a measure of when to come back! Which probably fits our current situations.

      When I left my perm role to FIRE - Gross salary to net-worth was ~ 10-12%.

      I suppose the key question is, what is your living cost as a % NW?
      If it’s pretty low, eg <3%, and you are working full time for 3-4% (over and above passive income) then you probably enjoy your job (or struggling with OMY syndrome).

    5. yes, thats it exactly - the two sides of the coin..

      total annual expenses as a % of net worth is ~2%

      Thats inc. everything in net worth, i.e. primary residence

      I do enjoy working a lot. However I think it may push me towards part-time or increased leave. I think those options would be more valuable to me than the money.

  9. I appreciate the honesty on this blog and making these dilemmas public helps all of us on a similar path. So thanks for that!

    To throw one other thing in the mix: how do your children feel about another year in London vs the Med? Are they ready to make the move now? Maybe the older the children get the harder it will be for them to leave schools and friends, and settle in a new place. They might not be so keen to move later on, even if they are excited about it now. Perhaps they are still young enough for that to be a minor factor?

    Best of luck, whatever path your family ends up choosing!

  10. Tell the firm that if it really wants to keep you it should arrange a helicopter for your commuting.

  11. I'd keep working a little while longer. You have the freedom already, to quit when you want, and it's already paying dividends. Plus it does no harm to be prepared for a 30% fall in markets, which would put you below your FIRE status I think?

    1. I agree - a 30% decline ( either a rapid one or spread over up to a year ) plus 5 years of no significant growth in the markets that your portfolio is most influenced by.

  12. I would pay for a good lawyer to review your retention bonus agreement and insist that you pick the lawyer and your company pays it.

    Be aware that while you can get the company to adhere to pay a retention bonus they will pay no attention to any reduction in workload promised as the purpose of a retention bonus is suck an employee dry before dispensing with them.

  13. Falls in the box of a nice problem to have.

    I guess it's time to decide how much you enjoy the job and whether you want to carry on doing any part of it.

    My guess is they've realised they are stuffed if you go soon, and need to figure out how to manage the transition.

    Myself, I've just been offered a 4 day week and a salary cut for a role which has rather less stress and has been pretty much custom designed around my skills, experience and interests. Essentially, they've designed the role around the fun bits I enjoy. As someone who is also FI, it feels like a pretty sweet way of easing myself out of work and seeing if I like it.

  14. Up to RIT to a certain extent whether he gets sucked dry to use the rather dubious parlance.

    He can certainly pay attention to the reduction in workload. I'm assuming he's not going to be beaten or tortured if he doesn't work as hard as hasn't been agreed previously?

    1. You generally end up fitting five days work into four days via overtime and if not whining emails from colleagues do the trick. We are all Pavlov's dogs. The reason that university graduates are preferred for so many occupations these days is that they are such well-conditioned mutts

    2. Nearly all of us are Pavlov's dogs

      I get the distinct impression you aren't?

  15. Dear RIT,

    you do not say so explicitly, but I assume you must know it to be so, that your firm has identified you as the blogger RIT.

    You have, in the past, been disparaging about your superiors within the firm and thus it must be assumed that they are not your bosom friend.

    It is very likely that they have been FF since birth and that this has influenced their whole feather-bedded path to power and influence over you (and their present world-view).

    Within that world-view you always were, and are now, just an expendable pawn in their greater intent of continued unjustifiable feather-bedding to positions of power and influence for their progeny (and their's, to infinity).

    The mind-set of this class of person will expect that you will come back to them with a counter-offer, and you are now in a position where you can do this with almost zero worries about it being rejected.

    Thus, you should, just for the fun of it (and irrespective of whether you would accept any offer), ask for three naturally-aspirated sports cars and see what they have to say; you have almost nothing to lose.

    With thanks for the many interesting posts,

    Yours sincerely,


    1. @EHB - that is extremely unlikely, unless RIT is employed by Sherlock Holmes?

  16. Here is a very perceptive quote from yourself on Cyprus :

    ".. Our rulers have a bad habit of changing their minds and the rules when it suits them. For example, savers in eurozone banks are supposed to have their deposits protected to the tune of €100,000 yet when Cyprus blew up they were originally going to tax savings below €100,000 at 6.75%. How did they manage that? By calling the financial aid received a 'rescue' rather than a 'bailout' meaning the banks were not regarded as having failed. They eventually changed their minds but IMHO it nicely demonstrates how nothing is 100% guaranteed."

    No doubt you have thought of ways to protect yourself already.

    Thanks very much for your blog.

  17. How do you think Cyprus will fare if Turkey attacks Greece?

  18. If they are that keen to keep you, tell them you want to work from Cyprus and have a year over there. You will have done / visited everything you can on the island in 2 years. It really is a small place.

  19. Have to agree with RIT, (it is not unusual)

    My most recent contract just ended before Easter. I was offered an extension [working away from home, staying in a Premier Inn 3 nights a week, waking up to a view of the car park as opposed to the view from my Derbyshire Dales home. Job satisfaction, well let us just say sub-optimal.].

    Reviewing my options, the financials look like:

    Self and spouse defined benefit pensions: £17,255 pa.
    Home Equity: £325K
    Defined Contribution Pension pot (2xSIPPs, plus couple occupational pensions): £225K
    Cash & ISAs: 97K

    The SIPPs and ISAs are invested in a combination of UK equities and corporate bonds, invested on a High Yield, Buy-and-Hold basis, currently yielding about £8k pa.

    Between us, the median time to the State pension is 9 years, which will be, assuming no State meddling, another £17k a year.

    So, I declined the offer of an extension, and today is, I, think, Day 2 of my real retirement, aged 56.

    I could go back, my skills are current, the market is strong.

    But knowing that 'work' is now 'optional' is extraordinarily liberating. I may report back on the psychological implications after our week in Tenerife. (If you can travel off-peak and outside school holidays there are some remarkable deals to be had)


    1. Congrats, and enjoy. Soon to head off on my fifth foreign trip since finishing work 12 months ago (manageable whilst living relatively frugally - I didn't retire early on a lottery win!)

  20. One thing that hasn't been mentioned is the possibilty of a sudden, serious illness in the family. I speak from experience as my wife was diagnosed with the big C. Fortunately and thanks to the NHS she is in the clear now, but you have to experience it to understand how it brings the important things in life into focus.

    This was the trigger that caused me to FIRE and I've not regreted it for a second.

    Worth thinking about? But if you do decide on TMY then it might be wise to have some kind of caveat in your contract regarding serious illness to yourself or family (which God forbid).

    1. I agree. My missus was diagnosed shortly after we got married. Thankfully has been clear for more than a decade. But she's been unable work for much of the 15 years we've been married. It was the trigger to work towards being FI (especially as my own health hasn't always been great).

      We are now FI which takes the pressure off. Not sure if ready to RE, but will be reducing my hours in the summer.

      But ultimately life is short, and I'm told people regret spending more rather than less time on work on their death beds.

  21. Is it possible that you have been caught up in political games driven by the pay equality survey?

    Might your company be using the annual review system to reduce the salary of male employees relative to female employees to massage the reported "pay gap"?

    Since bonuses are not included in the "pay gap" figure might your new offer be a way of mitigating the problems caused by these political games?

  22. Some great comments here - a fascinating thread - RIT I admire your willingness to play out your doubts in public. It is helpful on a personal level, while at the same time we, your audience, can't help but cheer, hiss, wince and cover our eyes from the galleries.

    My question is this (it's a long question): No decision is without second order consequences... If you go, you commit to FIRE, you start to taste the life you've dreamed of. As many point out, you could go back to work if you need to, much like Jim at SexHealthMoneyDeath. But if you stay on, how might the next twist affect you? Say the market does crash 25 - 30% in the next six months... What then? Do you stay on a while longer to get back to your target figure?

  23. I think you can expect many more happy conversations / circumstances now you're financially free. Your bargaining power is turbo-charged. And now you're off the wheel, you can look around.

    With that said, I'd do some version of the retention bonus / delay / glide path. You don't seem to ever be writing that you hate work nowadays -- indeed you seem to quite enjoy it? Perhaps also how it makes you feel psychologically? These are big things to give up.

    I'd go for a three-day weekend (i.e. four day work week) and I'd try to spend one long weekend a month in the potential retiring destination.

    Once they and you are used to that, maybe try three days on/four off?

    It's true we're a long time dead. But that cuts both ways. If you can be just as happy/satisfied with more money, why cut your nose off to rectify a situation from five years ago, that doesn't hold anymore?

    Good luck, anyway.

  24. Hi RIT,

    I don’t know why I’ve only just discovered your blog as I’ve been reading around the FIRE Community for some time. I’m excited to discover someone so close to FIRE to follow!

    I found this a fascinating post to read. I am nowhere near FIRE however I found myself recognising aspects of your post and in the comments that are similar to my current situation. I am a contractor and over the past 6 years I’ve built up a pot of money in my business account that is sufficient to sustain me for at least a year. For about 2 years I have been working to set up side income streams but have been struggling to find enough time to really build this up. So a year ago I decided that at the end of 2017 I would stop contracting for a year and focus all my time on creating side hustle revenue, supporting myself from my business account. However...near the end of 2017 my client approached me because they had not managed to find resource to cover the work I have been doing. They practically begged me to stay on. I’d been very up front with them about leaving and my reasons why. So I felt in a real dilemma. It did give me a strong hand of cards though! I thought about it overnight and offered to stay on but for just 3 days a week. Whether they accepted or not I felt like I would win. If they said no I could leave feeling guilt free and take the year I wanted, if they said yes I would be cushioning my extraction so that I gained 2 extra days a week for me but still with enough income to cover my expenses.

    They went for it! Since Jan I’ve been on a 3 day work week. I’ve actually found it’s a beautiful compromise, I would offer a couple of words of warning if you opt for this route though...I am essentially cramming 5 days of work into 3. It gets hectic. I frequently find myself spending an extra hour or two at the end of the days when I’m in the office playing catch up. But my work weeks are over so quickly because I only work Tue-Thu. In my mind it’s worth the extra hours to keep this sweet work life balance, at least for now. I still plan to take my year for hustlin’ but I’m happy to have a gradual approach to that year.

    For what it’s worth, it probably won’t surprise you to hear that my view on your work situation would be to see how much you can milk from your employment before you finally pull the trigger. I think it’s better to negotiate a gentle/gradual release from the work place for psychological as well as financial reasons. That way you’re less likely to have doubts that you’re making the right decision.

    Good luck with whatever you decide. I shall be following along with interest!