Playing With FIRE

This post is partly about the eponymous movie, featuring outgoing FIRE exponents like MMM. It will be shown in Birmingham on the 5th of July, well done Cashflow Cop for getting this shown outside the Great Wen. But I couldn’t help thinking about the other meaning, too…

The Ermine is an introvert1, so I fought the FI battle as a loner. For sure, I learned from other people – Monevator for how and sort of why2, Early Retirement Extreme for why though not so much how, I was too old and too wedded to some creature comforts to live the ERE life.

At that time the FIRE blogosphere was ruled by introverts too, unlike now, where I’d say extroverts rule the roost. I’m glad I started when I did, because I could relate to people’s narrative. We were crawling from the twisted wreckage of the credit crunch. The credit crunch had squeezed The Firm I worked for, and what had been a decent job for 20 years started to go bad, fast.

I read this post shortly after what I interpreted as a manager trying to run me out of the company. I was more than a decade away from retirement and needed a fast track out. I had been living the usual life of hedonism, though I didn’t carry consumer debt.

The world looked very different then – as Monevator described people’s emotional state was in the pits, the financial world was ending. I read that, and yes, I was one of the people that thought he was barking mad. Rather that yell abuse, however, I asked myself “what if this nutter is right, there is some logical coherence in what he says”. If he were right, this was a remote chance to stick a rocket on my exit plans. So I bought. That committed money to a remote chance, but that money wasn’t anywhere near enough to buy me out of 10 years of working. Looked at in that way, it was a rational choice, though a long shot.

I chose individual shares and a HYP approach, because I thought I was smarter than perhaps I was. I still have most of those HYP shares. It didn’t matter what you bought then, everything was down the toilet. It mattered that you bought.

Swimming in troubled waters – if I will fall, may I fall slowly, all is lost

I recall coming across the song Désenchantée from a colleague, and even with schoolboy French I got the feeling and it matched my mood playing on my work PC as I put half or the 2008/9 allowance into a Cash ISA and half into an III S&S ISA.

I had been slaughtered in the dot-com bust a decade before. Intellectually I saw the logic of Monevator’s words, but I did not feel that there was any hope, after all, it hadn’t worked out that well last time. I invested that money because I saw I was going to fall, though not when the end would come3. I did not have 10 years of working life left ahead of me. Your late 40s is often a troubled time of life,  you cannot live the afternoon of life by the principles of the morning.

The next month I did the same again, in the new tax year, but I also signed up to the company salary sacrifice AVCs and pushed my pay down to virtually the minimum wage, investing in a 50:50 UK:Global index fund. The other options were cash or 100% UK. I did not do this because I was an optimist, I was of the view that this was most likely a lost cause, but that there was a worthwhile chance.

The modern FIRE landscape is a very different place from that lonely and desperate world

We stand on the ramp of a long bull run from those troubled times. Extroverts are optimistic guys, they need to feel things can only get better. Let’s hear it from MMM on the practical benefits of outrageous optimism. Pete isn’t the sort of fellow to play Désenchantée on loop as he throws overboard the trappings of a comfortable middle class lifestyle into the bottomless stock-market pit for a low chance of a big win. He knows he is going to clean up and face-punch the bad guys. Every last one of them. Self-doubt is for pussies.

His story is better, and it’s been turned into a movie. Well, there’s more to it than that. Apparently it was shown in London earlier this month. I totally agree with Cashflow Cop that it shouldn’t just be the Londoners that should get the benefit. CfC has been instrumental in getting this sorted so it will be shown in Birmingham on the 5th of July. Take a look at Cashflow Cop’s site more generally – he is a UK FIRE aspirant who doesn’t live in London or work in finance. As for the movie,

It’s all rather American, but the principles of financial independence are the same. Go and see it for inspiration, particularly if you are an extrovert.

But leaven the feelgood story with the knowledge that…

Winter is coming

The cynical Ermine raises a wizened claw to all this feelgood feeling. If you are at the start of your FI journey, then you need to take special care, because winter is coming to the world of finance. You do not know when, it could be next year, it could be five years’ time, I would be surprised if it is as long as ten. Stock market valuations are high compared to historical levels, and geopolitical risk is ever-present. Strangely enough that is not necessarily a recommendation to do anything different. Invest, by all means. Steadily, and in a globally diversified way. But be prepared for your mettle to be tested.

I am the Ancient Mariner, and you millennial FI sorts are the Wedding-guest

You cannot reliably derive investing plans from valuations4. It would seem wise, however, to adjust your FI risk profile. At high valuations like now, it is reasonable to allocate your spare cash to safety first – eliminate unsecured debt5, get your emergency fund in order (three to six month’s running costs, in cash, in liquid funds, or if you have balls of steel and can properly understand this post,6 as a credit card line of credit). That is sensible at any time before investing, but particularly so now.

So you are saying markets are high, don’t invest?

No. Why is that? The reason is that for most people getting to FI from starting work is a journey of a couple of decades7. You will see more than one market cycle, and by regularly investing you integrate over these market cycles.

But be prepared. You will see a market suckout, and these are emotionally tough. When you see drawdowns of 50% in a year, you will feel the irresistible urge to sell. How do I know?

I was that guy. In the late 1990s we were all going to get rich. Dividends were trash, the dotcom companies were going up and up and up. Until Wile E Coyote looked down, and saw there was very little profitability in this biz.

FTSE100. Don’t start in the late 1990s, and it’s even worse if you work in tech and think tech is all there is. The early 2000s drawdown was brutal, particularly in tech stocks. Guess when I got out of the market? I know the graphic’s a little out of date, at the time of writing it’s still up there

I lost about £7k then. I was investing from earnings, and I could afford to lose £7k (about 11k now). These days I look on that fondly as the cost of tuition on how to use the stock market. You can easily spend more than 11k on people telling you how to be a shit-hot trader and get rich quick by day-trading.

The result of the training in the Stock Market University of Life is basically:

Know why you are buying this stock at this time, and what you expect from it. Ask is that expectation reasonable?

Do Not Sell 8 (in my particular case, because I learned that I perhaps was OK on when and what to buy, but was bad and jumpy on selling.) I have since read that professional investors have the same problem. I have an advantage over them. I can simply shut down selling, because I am not paid to do stuff in the markets to justify my pay packet.

Celebrate market lows. By buying into the suckers, not selling into them, you doofus

It’s easier to apply that training if you start to buy into the market at low valuations. Let’s face it, even if you manage to put in the £20k a year ISA allowance, the typical yields now available of ~3% aren’t enough to butter the parsnips after five years. It was a time for vague celebration when my ISA was paying more a year than JSA9, which meant I would never have to go to a jobcentre to go through the mental torture that is qualifying for contributions-based unemployment benefit.  This came after fewer years of my investing career than if I started now because I bought into higher yields at low valuations.

If the stock market falls 50% tomorrow I still have a reasonable lump of wedge, because I bought a lot of my holdings at less that their current valuation. Someone buying now and seeing a 50% suckout in a few years time is looking at a gut-wrenching real-terms loss. The rationalists are going to say well it’s all a loss, I should be as pig-sick as the new guy. Maybe I should, but having been there the other way round I am not so sure.

The ancient mariner in Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner had seen some things the Wedding Guest hadn’t experienced. I have been through two gut-wrenching stock-market suckouts. In the first I did the wrong thing. In the second I did the right thing. Putative FIRE aspirant, you will pass through the same sort of trials. I can’t guarantee that I will get this right next time, but I will do my level best, and I have greater understanding.

Be warned. The time of the introvert FIRE aspirants will come once again. Perhaps there will be another burned-out Ermine in a large FTSE100 company  lost in the tempest seeing his career flame out as all around screams don’t touch the stock market. And in the storm there will be a very weak signal, the unsteady light of a distant lighthouse showing the path to a distant haven. Perhaps Monevator will still be on station and sound the trumpet into the low-water mark.

For the FIRE aspirant fortunate enough to be poised at the start of their journey, heed that faint call in amidst the noise of the storm. That will be the time to buy. For all the rest of us, that will be the time to hold on and DO NOT SELL. If we can accelerate buying, well, all to the good, but don’t be greedy10 out there if you can’t stand watching the rout. Above all else, DO NOT SELL.

So, optimists, go watch the movie, and do the right things. Get the basics right, they are independent of the stock market. But once you get to investing, do not let your optimism fail you in your hour of need. That hour will come soon enough. Do not capitulate. If you need to hold some cash or gold to reduce the potential drawdown, well, do just that. You could do worse than read about the Harry Browne portfolio, I considered this in 2012 and the principles informed some of my investing, it is why I have a significant amount of gold. Don’t screw up like I did, however, and stick gold in your ISA. 11.

Do not invest above your risk tolerance. The younger Ermine split the difference in that first couple of ISAs, though I was equities all in in the pension and after the first couple of years. In hindsight the Cash ISA was a total waste and a real-terms loss until I finally shifted it into my main S&S ISA. But perhaps it performed an intangible role. It stiffened the spine, and limited my forecast worst-case losses to 50% as my investing career got out of the gate.

  1. Less so as a retiree, it so happens, but still well on that side of the spectrum 
  2. Sort of why because I quite fundamentally disagree with Monevator that work is of inherent value. Our axioms are different. Even before the crisis if I had had enough money not to work I think I would have gotten straight out of Dodge. I am at variance and probably in the minority of FIRE folk with this renegade attitude. 
  3. I applied to internal transfers to get out of that division and fortunately found a niche using a legacy skill that took me to 2012, another three years. They were tough, but I was at the peak of my earning capacity, so those three years counted for much more than say three years at the start of my career 
  4. I say this because it’s the officially sanctioned story, and as a responsible writer I should give you the generally accepted wisdom. I don’t personally believe it. The signal isn’t strong, the emotional storms around it make it tough to use. It’s not something that you can use right now. In theory some talented people might be able to use it on the sell side, and they are probably getting out now. But I have been able to use valuations on the buy side, arguably Monevator’s who isn’t buying now post was an example of a valuation-led call. There hasn’t been much opportunity to use valuations to buy of late. Valuation’s time is coming, every dog has its day. But the official story is that the market is efficient and this cannot be done. Yeah, right. If the market is so goddamned efficient how come it has market swoons and irrational exuberances. I’ve kept this heresy in a footnote because most people CBA to read footnotes. 
  5. with the specific and particular exception of student debt. Leave that be. If you ain’t earning, you ain’t paying it. 
  6. Properly understand means you can mount a convincing counterargument as to why this is a bad idea, particularly if you have equity in a mortgage IMO, and have a good counterargument to your counterargument ;) 
  7. If you were like me, and needed an out in 10 years from a standing start, then perhaps no, don’t start 100% equities now ;) 
  8. More accurately, Do Not Sell for stock market reasons. I have sold to be able to borrow from my ISA to bridge a house purchase. That was in times when valuations were high so the downside risk of being out of the market is not high, and the money was returned to the ISA. Do Not Sell is more OMG this stock has gone down it’ll never come up Sell Sell Sell. I made one exception, and that is TSCO. I bought on the principle if Warren Buffet says this is good, it probably is. When WB came to the conclusion he had cocked up, I figured  he’s a better investor than me. 
  9. Jobseeker’s allowance, the UK’s unemployment assistance program.  It is £71 a week, so when my ISA paid > £3700 p.a. in dividends I was safe from that 
  10. Warren Buffett, memorably, tells us to be greedy when others are fearful. Monevator can do that. I have done that. It is tough as hell, I wouldn’t bet my life on being able to do it again. For most of us exposed to the market, just staying in there when we are fearful is good enough. If you can be greedy, well, knock yourself out. Paradoxically – safety first. DO NOT SELL. That really doesn’t feel safe… 
  11. Seriously, when was the last time you saw gold pay a dividend? Balance that against the hazard of CGT, sure, but if you think you are going to have to liquidate a profit of > 10k p.a. in gold then you are either a lot richer than me or you are foreseeing scenarios when you would be better off investing in guns, ammo, and MREs. Most ISAs have a a parallel unwrapped trading account, and there are other ways to hold gold. 

21 thoughts on “Playing With FIRE”

  1. Hi Ermine,

    It’s very kind of you for giving the Birmingham show a mention. I’m so excited about it and really looking forward to meeting everyone on the day.

    I wish I can claim all the credit, but it’s a team effort from the Financial Independence Midlands Facebook Group to get it this far. Particularly Roanne who reached out to the director.

    I must say, as an introvert myself; helping out with this has been very much outside my comfort zone.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was thinking about the next rout only today!

    My defence, if I can get there in time, is to:

    a) have the house situation sorted, i.e. have upsized
    b) rejig things portfolio wise to have more of an income focus

    b) has to follow a) really

    If valuations are tanking I’m hoping I can steady the ship by not thinking my chances of moving house are evaporating and that I can still see some income and therefore think of cash-flows and not so much net-worth. I think possibly indeedably pointed out that its cash-flows not net-worth that make you feel rich, and in a falling market I think there’s probably something to be said for feeling rich to prevent wealth-destroying behaviours?

    All things going to plan I’ll have some mortgage debt too, but I’ve waited a decade too long for the penny to drop on that one. So in one way I got it right by going balls-deep in 2009 on the investing front, but I was to blinkered into thinking debt was bad, why oh why didn’t I smash the mortgage up a bit (a lot) in the face of sub 1% base-rates? That has cost me a fortune.

    I’d agree the scene has changed and interesting to view it through the lens of introversion/extroversion. The shiny suited hucksters have definitely turned up (the blog who shall not be named springs to mind) with their tough talk and bravado, desperate for a bit of attention. I still think there’s enough of the original ethos left to make it worth sticking around though. I still find it all fascinating. My focus is definitely tending towards the psychology of it all, maybe less on the nuts and bolts of investing, particularly on the ‘whats it all for/what do you do when you get there’ question which seems to be tripping up a few of late.

    On the emergency fund, I was aware of EREs credit card approach. I also just recently read a particularly persuasive argument from big ERN –

    My emergency fund is all mixed up with some house-buying cash so its a bit hard to quantify what size it really is. If I ever do manage to move I think I will sack the emergency fund off altogether. I think I’ll replace it with the ‘offset’ portion of an offset mortgage and just increase debt if need be. That seems like a nice way of doing it to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of my greatest fears when I bought a couple of years ago was that I would still be in the sausage machine the the markets went titsup without any ammo. I was more exposed because I am mortgage free and bridged the loan myself – no mortgage company will touch FI people with no income. So yeah, get that housing situation nailed, PDQ!

      I’d disagree with indeedably – I have a very low income cash flow. I am slowly burning down the capital of my AVCs until I can draw my main pension. In is liquid networth that lets me do this. But where someone is still working, he may be right. I believe indeedably works half the year and takes the other half off, so he is still working.

      ERNs case is also predicated on earnings, it’s largely Jacob’s case writ larger. Again, the FI/RE doesn’t have that option, perhaps otherthan the HELOC. And even having a mortgage is a bad track to run on when retired unless you really know what you’re doing.

      > So in one way I got it right by going balls-deep in 2009 on the investing front

      You did fine. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. In a market crash a) do not sell b) buy if you can. c) borrow shitloads of cash to invest is way down there. You got to live with the idea too. You bought into the suckout. Good enough is good enough 😉

      That cash ISA cost me a bunch in opportunity cost, but it gave me the grounding to hit the rest out of the park.

      > ‘offset’ portion of an offset mortgage and just increase debt if need be. That seems like a nice way of doing it to me.

      An offset mortgage is a beautiful thing. I’d have had an easier past few years if I still had mine. Just don’t take it out with your bank or anywhere you have other debt.


      1. It is liquid net worth that lets me do this

        That’s the other thing I’ve noticed over the years, liquidity is much undervalued (well it was by me anyway). You only realise just how valuable it is when you need it and you haven’t got it. Over time, various experiences have rammed this one home for me. The other thing I’ve noted is the way the brain flip-flops between ‘how do I make the most’ and ‘how do I lose the least’ type thinking depending on the prevailing winds. Critical to try and hold both those thoughts at once in a Gatsby-esque manner for consistent outcomes no matter the weather..

        Liked by 1 person

      2. > liquidity is much undervalued (well it was by me anyway). You only realise just how valuable it is when you need it and you haven’t got it.

        I think that’s because your regular worker bee has liquidity, in two forms. It’s not usually called out as such, so they’re unaware of having it.

        One is the regular income stream, that for instance I (and other people living off investment and savings) don’t have. For sure, my networth may increase more than a worker bee year on year, but there is an uncertainty in how much of that increase in NW is real. When I was working I knew exactly what my income was.

        The other advantage workers have is when you have an income, you can borrow money. So, subject to Micawber’s rule averaged over a couple of years and the assumption they don’t lose their job, they have a lot of liquidity they can call on. Some of it turns up every month, some of it can be raised on demand.

        I can’t do that. So I have to carry very high float levels of genuine liquidity (cash savings) and a fair amount of implicit savings (arguably gold, and such bond holdings as I do have). This is undoubtedly a drag on returns.


  3. Great post.
    I think that the value in having someone who’s been through the boom and the bust and can acknowledge their failures is invaluable.
    Many of the recent FIRE bloggers don’t have that and what they put out us all a bit samey.
    FIRE is a long game and there are no real shortcuts and you’ve given us some good reading over the years.
    My own journey to FIRE predates me joining the world of full time work.
    Why would you trade in the freedom of your youth for the bondage of debt/wage slavery?


    1. > Many of the recent FIRE bloggers don’t have that

      I wonder about that too, was I particularly error-prone or do these guys really not screw up at all? There’s valuable learning to be mined from mistakes!


  4. Couldn’t leave a proper reply earlier and just managed to read the post properly.

    I find myself agreeing with much of what you have said.

    I’m in my mid-30s, and I’d be lying if I didn’t think to myself I wish I had started my FI journey sooner. This way, most of my stock related wealth wouldn’t have been bought during years of record highs.

    Alas, hindsight is a wonderful thing. If I didn’t go through the earlier years of normal consumerism behaviour, maybe I wouldn’t be as determined to reach FI as I do now. Then again, maybe that’s just me trying to make an excuse and trying to allow myself to get off lightly for earlier poor financial habits.

    Fortunately, we also invest in property and that, “touch wood”, has given us steady rental income over the years.

    ‘Maybe’ one regret I have is perhaps not going down the traditional BTL investor strategy by leveraging more to expand our portfolio whilst interest rates were stupidly low.

    My reasons for doing so at the time (in my mind) made perfect sense. I felt interest rates can’t remain low forever, markets are really high – I just wanted to get rid of debt. I don’t believe in ‘good’ debt and ‘bad’ debt. It should be framed as a risky debt and less risky debt.

    For me, I didn’t want to risk our FI plans go to the sh*tter due to greed and over ambitions to build a property empire. As a result, over the years, we have been really aggressive at paying off all our mortgages. If another financial crisis where occur and we were heavily geared, we might struggle to remortgage due to negative equity. Or, if interest rates unexpectedly rise rise to levels a few decades ago resulting in properties not cash-flowing after mortgage interest.

    Perhaps this shows the type of investor I am. Cautious. Needless to say, I don’t touch blockchain stuff, p2p lending etc. I’m plain old vanilla world index. The only excitement is my property investments; if you can even call that excitement.

    I say ‘maybe’ regret because I now have hindsight. Now I know I still had some years to play with and to grow our portfolio as well as having the time to reduce the debt. But it could have easily gone the other way.

    I agree with you that the word of the day is caution. With the growing uptake of the FIRE movement, some of the numbers I have seen are very optimistic; especially the expenses. Can someone really spend X dollars or pounds a year for the rest of their lives? I mean, really. You might be able to now whilst you’re focused on the goal. But once you reach it, can you really live on such a small budget for the rest our your life? By then, it might be too late to get back into your career. You’ve taken the foot off the gas. You’ve stopped developing yourself because you believe you’re free and done – so long suckers attitude.

    If someone is able to maintain their low expenses to get to FI and maintain it beyond, then good for them. I think this is the value FIRE adds. It is selling a dream. Not everyone can do it. Not everyone wants to do it. But at least we know what could be possible. It’s up to us pick and choose what will work for us and to design our own FIRE.


    1. You’re also too hard on yourself-you started. Most people don’t. You started earlier in life than I did

      > You might be able to now whilst you’re focused on the goal. But once you reach it, can you really live on such a small budget for the rest our your life? By then, it might be too late to get back into your career.

      That disturbs me too, when I see real pedal-to-the metal attempts. You need more creature comforts as you get older, and you get less hair-shirt. We used to have a wood-burner, and yes chopping up cordwood scrounged from tree surgeons saved us money. But ten years on I CBA to do that to squeeze the lemon a bit. I don’t precluded getting another one, but I’ll pay some local fellow to do this for me. I’ll do some plumbing, but I’m not going to piddle about painting the bargeboards. And so on. I do enough campervan trips, but sometimes we want to go for a really decent meal out.

      One should try and avoid needless hedonic adaptation, but locking your future self into a Spartan lifestyle for the rest of your life is limiting. I read some of what Jacob ERE got up to like living in a camper van and thought, yeah, that’s all very well in your 20s but it’s not gracious living in your 50s 😉 I think he mellowed with age and getting a partner.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes there is a lot for me to relate to here as well. I’m early 40’s but only found FIRE within the last couple of years. I’m concerned that with an 80%+ savings rate, my investing period is short and may be at one of the worst possible times.

    I spent just over £10k last year, but I agree I won’t be able to do that forever. My FIRE number is based on double that. I’m just playing catch-up at the moment so am happy to cut everything right back.

    I have been contemplating changing my asset allocation to only be 40-50% stocks so I could feed my stock buying in over a much longer period of time, to avoid all my buying having been deep in this bull run. If time in the market and a true passive approach is the way forward though maybe that is over complicating things.

    My work place is deteriorating rapidly after 20 good years. I suddenly feel both the urgency and a responsibility that I need to be getting my investment strategy right. I need to make hay while the sun shines and unfortunately the sun is fading.


  6. Stock market levels are high in the USA and high globally because the USA dominates the global index. Stock markets are not so high in the UK, in Europe, or in the Asia Pacific region. I calculate that buying £1 of income is now 31% cheaper in the UK than it is globally. There are opportunities to buy income investment trusts with dividend yields of above 4% in these cheaper areas, if one can put aside the current political and macro-economic background!


    1. > There are opportunities to buy income investment trusts with dividend yields of above 4% in these cheaper areas

      You are absolutely right. I don’t monitor the markets regularly, but I have always wanted to add EDIN to my forever holdings of things like CTY and RCP, and they seem to have taken a jolly good spanking of late, it seems remarkably out of favour and worthy of an inquisitive mustelid snout 😉 Thank you!


  7. I haven’t seen “Playing with Fire”. If the film’s aim, however, is to take “FIRE outside of a narrow middle class bubble into all parts of society” (TEA), then the subject of the film could have been better chosen. According to his own resume, the subject is an Emmy nominated film producer, with 30 awards in 3 years, “trusted by some of the biggest brands in the world, including Facebook, NBC, FOX, Microsoft and WIRED Magazine” with his own production company. He and his partner were clearing $142k per annum, net after taxes. Uni graduates with minimal student and CC debt but $190k in savings before they started their FIRE journey. Sounds fairly “middle class bubble” to me.

    My thought is that if you want to make a serious documentary about FIRE, don’t use a subject family earning the equivalent of £160k gross. That puts them well into the top income decile. Pretty easy for the average journo to tear into that. Ok I’ve tipped from sceptical to cynical. I’ll move on.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I haven’t seen it either, other than the trailer. The credits/trailerboard credit Pete from Mr Money Mustache, and one of the clips sure looks like him. Your point still stands, MMM played a strong hand well. Although in that post I managed a drive-by shooting of one UK PF guru that I didn’t really intend, I more or less made the same point in Liar Liar Pants on FIRE to wit:

      already established part of the dirty little secret to retiring early. You need to earn more than average for a decent amount of time, or massively more than average for a shorter time.

      I was the former, many of the current FI crew are the latter, particularly in London. It’s not for all parts of society. The guy working Uber in the day and bussing tables nights isn’t going to retire early. Some parts can be generalised – don’t buy feelgood shit that doesn’t last, and if possible try not to buy consumer goods on credit. That sort of thing is applicable to someone on minimum wage as much as the middle class, though there are peculiar cashflow challenges to being poor at the best of times that make it harder. But a 50% savings rate bussing tables and driving Uber? You can’t get there from here.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Whilst it may be possible with the benefit of hindsight to envisage better strategies, you were extremely fortunate to have access to salary sacrificed AVC’s and very smart to take them up. Do you know if many of your former colleagues took up this offer?


    1. > Do you know if many of your former colleagues took up this offer?

      I personally sold the idea to three of ’em. Though it was another colleague who originally brought my attention to the idea when I was 45, bless him. I didn’t do anything with the idea, I was going to work to 60 then retire in the normal way. He more or less said you’re nuts if you don’t do this. So for four years I did n’owt, and then the SHTF, and I hit it hard with all I had.

      I left at 52. The originator of the idea is still working at The Firm. His wife and kids rather liked the trappings of the middle class lifestyle, thank you very much 😉

      > you were extremely fortunate

      Absolutely. My job was destroyed by the GFC, but I was the right age, and with the right opportunities, and given the right pilotage out of the storm to go grab that good fortune, and old enough to be able to use that safe passage. Ten years younger and it wouldn’t have got me from there to here, ten years older and it would hardly have mattered as I would have been a year or two from retirement anyway.


      1. I love reading your blog, it really gives me hope that there is life after retirement. Finding my job very stressful at moment, and spending a lot of time crunching numbers as rumours of a voluntary redundancy scheme with 12 months pay off.
        My income will mostly be small DB pensions which if I withdraw at 54 will be £8,000 per annum, plus a small DC pot of £40,000.
        We have 3 properties we rent out which net make £10,000 per annum. And my oh has a DB pension of £20,000 . Ideally I should work for another couple of years to build up nest egg but don’t think I can put up with work much longer.
        Want to retire while young enough to enjoy it, so I can get fit and healthy, rather than just exercising of a weekend. Holidays, gym, reading, decluttering the house, walking. Not enough hours in the day to do what i intend to.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. This is indeed a great blog, just about the only one worth reading (apart from Monevator’s weekly links) for this reader not in the London/Finance bubble and who’s never got close to paying higher rate tax. The film looks unbearably smug to me, I do wonder what the reaction will be if the mainstream media pick up on it.


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