My (f)unemployed dream came crashing down in March… that’s right, I messed around and got myself another… job 😲
But this time it’s different. And I’m really excited to share some of the details with you guys (I might even make a pod about it).
This shouldn’t be all too surprising considering Mrs. FB and I are not financially independent yet but I had been thoroughly enjoying the abundance of free time during February. It was nice to just have a little break and stop to think about what we want to do next.
If you’re an experienced FIRE devotee, you’d know that meaningful work is a staple for all humans and whenever anyone in the FIRE community talks about the retire early part, they’re not referring to never working again. But if you’re new around here, I can totally understand that you might think that stopping all forms of work is the goal because of the word retire in the FIRE acronym. But it’s really about freedom, choice and having control of our most precious resource of all… our time.
So given that fulfilling/meaningful work is awesome, and is something I plan to do until the day I die, I had been thinking long and hard in February as to what my next move was work-wise. It’s an interesting thought experiment that I’d encourage all of you guys out there reading to try.
What would you do if money wasn’t a concern?
Money is still a concern for Mrs. FB and I (not FI just yet) but we’re so far along the journey that it almost feels like I could try my hand at anything and still be ok long term as long as it made some sort of income.
In the past, I had given serious thought about really ramping up AFB content and increasing the monetisation of the site and podcast. Hell, the increase in general podcast popularity in the last two years, especially in terms of advertising maturity would have probably been enough income each year from the site/podcast to be able to coast to the end goal. This thought popped back into my head but I kept thinking… do I want to do AFB as a proper job? And if I was being truthful to myself, the answer would always come back as no. AFB is first and foremost, a passion project. And I intend to keep it like this all the way until we have reached FIRE. Plus I couldn’t see myself enjoying the idea of spending my days behind a microphone/keyboard all the time.
At my core, I’m an extrovert nerd who loves sports, keeping fit and solving puzzles. My career in technology has always been a good fit, it’s just that the full-time nature of the job always felt like I was giving up way too much of my time each year.
So the longer I thought about it, the more I was leaning towards starting my own business as a freelancer in the data services and analytics space (my specialty).
And that’s what I ended up doing!
I landed a contract for 3 days a week in the project space which was so much more exciting to me. A lot of my old job was admin/operations which were never my thing. I like to solve business process problems utilising technology. That’s my jam and I tinker around in that space during my free time anyway. It’s the sort of work I’d been doing during the last 2 years in London but the pace of those contracts were a little too intense. I’ve been working 3 days a week since mid-March and my work-life balance atm is honestly on another level. 3 days of work and 4 days free every week is a serious game changer holy shit.
I feel like I get so much done during those three days too. How many people do sweet f’all from Friday lunchtime to knock off? Isn’t it a bit crazy, I’m sure there have even been studies done on how much work actually gets done past 12 PM each Friday yet most people piss fart around the office chatting or trying to look busy just to clock up their hours (I’ve been guilty of this too). I have so much more drive and purpose with my work these days. I don’t feel like I’m trading my time for money anymore because I’m scratching that extrovert collaboration itch of my personality with this type of work.
And that’s the big update from March. I’m going to work this freelancer gig for the foreseeable future to satisfy my love of solving problems with technology that allows for plenty of free time to work on other creative projects like AFB and anything else that pops up 🙂
Net Worth Update
Have you noticed a trend when it comes to FIRE related forums such as Reddit/Facebook/Whirlpool that 90%+ of the questions asked by newcomers are about investing? I’m almost certain that people discover FIRE and think that we all must be the second coming of Warren Buffett or something. That’s the only explanation as to why we can retire early right? In reality, it’s a high savings rate and usually a decent income that builds the foundation of the portfolio all the way up until around 70%-80% of the end goal, and then compounding does its thang.
A huge reason why we’re able to have a high savings rate is that we don’t conform to societies pressures and expectations to always buy the latest and greatest and consume as much as possible… most of the time 😅
It’s okay to splurge every once in a while on something you value highly… Which just so happens to be an engagement ring for Mrs. FB 😂
I’ve never really understood the whole diamond ring thing but ya know what? I know Mrs. FB better than anyone else in the world and she would never spend that much money just because the marketing machine told her she needs it. As long as she’s happy, I’m happy and god knows how much I’ve spent on weird obsessions over the years that she never understood but that’s just what a relationship is all about… understanding and compromise.
I actually read an incredible blog post in March that did make me step back and reassess what’s actually important in life and how money is simply a tool that we can use to become free but is not as high in the pecking order as you might think.
It’s a long read but trust me, it’s one of the rawest and most sobering articles I’ve ever come across in 7+ years of consuming FIRE content in all formats.
Living a FI was one of the earliest FIRE bloggers on the internet and he has rarely provided an update since retiring early in 2015. This isn’t an article that you can skim through, dedicate half an hour of reading time and check out his latest post here. I won’t ruin it for you but my biggest take away from reading it was there needs to be more consideration to how your partner is feeling during and after the journey towards financial independence. Because I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be broke in a happy relationship vs FIRE’d without my life partner.
I remember feeling a bit down when Mr Money Mustache revealed that he had split up with his wife a few years ago. I mean, I respected this guy so much (and still do) and thought that his philosophy on life was one that I could look to for inspiration and mould my own around. He’s written about the breakup a few times and reiterates that their way of life did not contribute to the relationship breakdown but man… it’s hard not to wonder… Especially after reading the Living a FI update and all the issues he faced once he reached financial independence and quit his job. There’s a whole other mental side to this movement post-retirement that doesn’t really get talked about much. Food for thought.
But yeah, the engagement ring plus my outfit for the wedding and a huge tax bill for AFB really smacked the old NW around for this update. Shares/Super really pulled through though so the damage wasn’t too bad
I feel like Mrs. FB and I have done pretty well since we’ve been back home. She’s back teaching, I’ve started a business and have found work, the wedding in June is all systems go, we’ve sorted out a whole bunch of life admin work and tied up many loose ends in the UK. The last major piece of the puzzle is finding a PPOR to call our home.
And we were so close to ticking this off in March 😩
Long story short, we found a place that was right where we wanted to be, had all the features we needed, was within budget and our offer had been accepted. But the building report was not satisfactory and the most annoying thing about this heated market is the inability of buyers to negotiate. I won’t get into the finer details, but the vendor was making it really hard for us to get the deal done. Wouldn’t share engineering reports, kept changing the reasons as to why the defect was occurring, and completely ignoring other issues that were raised. Our gut told us to walk away from this deal which is what we ultimately ended up doing but I won’t lie, we were pretty shattered. I’d even started to imagine our future children running around the backyard lol. Emotions come into play so much more with a PPOR as opposed to buying real estate for investment purposes solely.
And it’s not like the vendor has to address our concerns right? Buyers are lining up around the corner for these type of properties and because we were asking too many questions, it was probably just easier for them to accept a slightly lower offer 🙃. I’ll probably meet the couple who ends up buying that house at the pub in 20 years time and they’ll tell me that they haven’t had any issues with it… 😤. Ah well, everything happens for a reason and it helps me sleep at night imaging that we dodged a bullet but who really knows.
So we’re back at square one now and I’m starting to realise why so many couples just get sick of the whole process and end up either buying something that they don’t love or overpay. We’re not at that stage yet but it’s easier now for me to relate.
The current value of our properties is a rough guesstimation based on similar surrounding properties. I only really update these when we get an official bank valuation
We continue to build up our PPOR deposit and didn’t purchase any more shares in March.