It is my FIRE anniversary.

music selection:  “Queen In Love” — Yngwie Malmsteen

Eight years ago today (5OCT2012), I walked out of my workstation at Baker Hughes (BKR) for the last time.  I had spent years on the “insider roster” with restricted stock sales, access to “material non-public financial information”, and was entrusted with loads of confidential information about salaries and compensation.  They still had security escort me out of the building like there was a risk I might steal a coffee pot on the way out.  Such are the ways of huge faceless corporations.

I can’t say I’m proud of my former career.  I had some small degree of professional respect and was good at what I did (accounting).  But I was doing it tangentially in service to the ultimate corporate goal of despoiling the planet for fun and profit.  Fortunately, what I did for a living never became part of “who I was”.  It was access to a paycheck for me and not an identity.

Still, I found that even if you aren’t wrapped up emotionally in your work, it takes six months to decompress.  At first I slept in every morning.  It was glorious.  But then I started getting up closer to my old work routine wake time.  Without the aid of the alarm clock.  When you have nothing coming up in the day to dread, you oftentimes look forward to getting out of bed and starting the day.  Even when your agenda is completely empty for the day.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still sleep in (some times till 11 AM!) when I wake up to a cold house and snuggley/toasty blankets.  But it is always at my discretion and on my own terms.

At one point, the post-FIRE period was a personal mission.  I felt I had a duty to show other people they could throw off the corporate shackles as well.  I started this blog to that effect.  Today, I have a few loyal readers and I’m glad to continue this labor of love for their benefit (my “earnings” for the blog are about $200 a year [less than minimum wage]).  But I’m truly delighted if someone who feels trapped sees the light and breaks free.  I’m past the point of thinking I’m going to “go viral” and start a new movement to retire with less than 15 times annual budget saved.

Honestly, most people are better off indexing and going with the 4% rule.  I find a lot of people simply don’t understand options no matter how many times you explain it to them.  And some people have a risk tolerance that doesn’t support my style of trading.  For example, I helped my father with some banking today after joining for a seafood gumbo lunch.  His IRA is in a single premium insurance annuity.  His primary criteria for investment vehicles is “it can’t EVER go down. It is everything I’ve worked for all my life.”  That meant bank CDs at first and a switch to the SPIA when the rates became more favorable.  Today, a taxable account CD was maturing.  We were a little stunned to learn the rollover rate was 0.20% (and that was the best option in his zip code after rate hunting).  A simple passbook savings at his deposit size pays 0.35% variable.  We downgraded his checking and opened the passbook with 100,000 to qualify for the highest rate.  Dad is happy with that.  Fortunately, he qualifies for what I consider a generous Social Security benefit.

The point is (yes, I do have one!) is most of the people who have come to me for investment advice since I went FIRE 8 years ago have ended up with something very conservative.  Usually a mix of indexing and bank time deposits.  I’m not looking to proselytize with this blog.  If it is “for you”, I’m glad to be of service (although I can’t offer personalized investment advice – license requirements).  If it isn’t for you, I still wish you the best of luck and will be glad to discuss the conventional wisdom, including the CAPM model as I learned in grad school (MBA).  Promise to spare you the gory math if you happen to be math phobic.

It has been a glorious eight years.  In most ways I can’t imagine going back to a career.  But I am increasingly interested in giving back by imparting some of my knowledge of US GAAP and accounting best practices.  I have a couple feelers out for part time non profit work but COVID-19 and social distancing have made it problematic to schedule interviews.  Most positions are on indefinite hold while the pandemic plays out.  I’m toying with the idea of buying a professional tax software package and offering discount tax return preparation for seniors and the disabled.  I’d just make the various local churches, senior centers, etc. aware of my expertise and rate and do the work from my home in violation of my HOA covenants.

In summary, it is totally possible to retire much sooner than the conventional wisdom states with some savvy options investing and a higher than normal allocation to fixed income.  I’m truly grateful.  If you have been reading along all these years, I appreciate you.  I think I will celebrate tonight by opening a bottle of port and gently sipping therefrom.   Hope to see more of you join me in the FIRE cohort soon.

Devour your prey raptors!

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Eight Years

Never miss another opportunity to devour prey!

8 thoughts on “Eight Years

  • October 5, 2020 at 9:35 pm
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    Congrats on 8 years of freedom! The last couple of years have been “interesting times” and your portfolio has taken a beating. Down about $60k in 4 years on spending of, I’m guessing, 90k? That number sounds big, but you could potentially recover it within months. I’m still down about $75k from where I was in January 2020. The passive index investors win again, damn them!

    I’d be tempted to lock myself into more passive investments that could cover my WR and then work a year or two to cover a decade or two of inflation and any desired short term lifestyle upgrades – car, home improvements, etc. A lot of healthcare REITs and financial/insurance stocks are radioactive right now, but they won’t be forever, and they are currently where one finds yields higher than your WR. Take a look at OHI, SBRA, NHI, PRU, BNS, & NAVI, all of which also have options markets to squeeze out a couple percent per year in covered calls.

    Also, it’s very hard to go viral without saying/doing stupid things [waves hand around at the world]. That’s no way to live a life. It’s the stuff of Black Mirror.

    Reply
  • October 10, 2020 at 6:15 pm
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    Hi, just checked, i have bookmarked you now for 4 years.
    I was fiddling with options before, and have a bit different approach than you, but you gave some good ideas and new insights. Especially the idea that the option trades can be a large part of the income.

    I have now reached my goal (age and monthly-distributed-money wise) but are now reluctant to jump from the cooperation ship, since with covid i’m not so sure about the future of the markets.
    I have reduced my workweek to 4 days at the beginning of the year, so it dosent hurt that much… and my plan of long traveling is currently not an option.
    So i’m carry on, hopefully increasing my nest egg.

    I hope to read from you for a long time to come,

    greetings from Europe

    Reply
    • October 11, 2020 at 12:17 am
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      Bamb,

      Thanks for reading all this time. Congrats on hitting your number; gogogogogogogo! It is mentally very hard to make the jump to post work. When you finally do it, expect six months of “decompression” time before it starts to feel real and comfortable.

      Reply
  • October 17, 2020 at 5:13 pm
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    Congratulations on 8 years of freedom!

    I enjoy the blog even though I’m just a passive index investor. Options is just too complicated for me. But I like the intellectual exercise of reading about how you’re doing it.

    Reply
  • October 19, 2020 at 3:28 pm
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    Congratulations on 8 years. Had to get past the 10/15 tax deadline so I am just now getting back to reading the blogs that I follow. Like you, I was done working and left my job in January 2019. A lot of my clients followed me and now I work 1/4th the hours for just slightly less money. Don’t worry about the HOA requirements. Most of my clients mail or email me their info so it doesn’t look like many come by the house. And since it’s during the day, no one really notices when they do come by.

    Reply

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