What Slackers, Vacations, Storms and Mansions Have In Common

Slackers, Vacations, Storms and Mansions

What Slackers, Vacations, Storms and Mansions Have In Common

Hello Swanigans! Yes, I just made that up. If you have been sticking with me this long, you are officially a Swanigan! Thanks for stopping by, it’s greatly appreciated and I hope you enjoy today’s post. Today, I will be laying out the reasons why I work.

You may be saying to yourself right now, “I know why you work Swan, you need money…you aren’t financially independent (“FI”)! You said so yourself on Independence Day.” Well yes, you are right. There are still a number of things I need to do yet before I reach FI and am ready to retire early. For example, I need to fully fund my little ones college fund. It is about 50% funded today (I’ll save this detail for another post). And for that matter, Lucy and I aren’t done having kids and we, of course, haven’t even started funding additional kids’ 529 plans.

On top of that, I have a lifestyle to maintain and I’m not there yet. And lastly, there are a lot of things to prep for before entering the retirement stage. For example, how to tax efficiently withdraw assets to live on, do we want to fully plant roots in Charlotte or elsewhere (we came to Charlotte solely because of a job opportunity), and lastly figuring out how we want to live our “life at work”. Of course, there are other reasons too, but these are the main ones.

So, yes, I must keep working now. But what about after I reach FI? Even after I hit that magic number, I do plan on continuing to work for a few years. Why? Because of slackers, vacations, storms and mansions…let me explain further.

You Are FI, Why Don’t You Quit Now?

Slack on the Job

I have worked very hard for my Company. And actually, in just over four months from now I will have reached my 10 year anniversary. All with one Company, starting right out of college (actually the semester before I even graduated)!

As with many jobs and careers, you don’t start out with your dream position. You pay your dues, you bust your butt, you work nights and weekends, you take orders, and you march on. The way my job is beginning to evolve with recent promotions, etc, I am becoming a leader in my group. More often than not, I am the order giver rather than the order taker.

And probably most importantly, I have gotten really good at my job and know what it takes to perform and succeed at my responsibilities. Work has gotten a bit easier. While I still need to occasionally pull the all-nighter and work the weekends (including most recently the Fourth of July weekend), and upwards of 90 hours a week, on the margin it is a bit more tolerable.

So for that reason, I can slack a bit on the job without letting my responsibilities escape me. This is the time I have worked so hard the last 10 years to get to. And while I may work less (or less hard), I am getting paid more and more. This makes it even more difficult to give up and let go. Which is a perfect lead in to my next reason…

Pad My Lifestyle

Yes, each year more will pad my lifestyle in material ways. Not only is it one less year I would need to live off of my retirement accounts, but it is one more year of adding a pile of money to my accounts.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love nothing more than to spend more time with my family and have complete freedom over my daily activities, but as I get paid more and more, it almost makes it more difficult to retire because I think of ways I could pad my lifestyle by working one more year.

But by continuing to work, I can pad my lifestyle in multiple ways. First, by buying my time back, and secondly, by buying experiences. Let me explain.

How exactly can you buy your time back? Right now, there are a number of things my wife and I do that we don’t necessarily care to do. By continuing to work, we could elect to pay someone to perform these activities for us in the future.

For me, this would primarily include yard work. I love having a nice yard, but I don’t particularly care for mowing the lawn, landscaping, weeding, fertilizing, trimming, etc. The next thing I would pass off to someone else would be vacuuming, sweeping, and cleaning floors. This may sound like WW to you (woman’s work – we maintain some natural gender roles, but not all), but this squarely falls into my realm in our household.Slackers, Vacations, Storms and Mansions

For my wife, this list would include paying for a cleaner to do a deep clean every 3 months or so. She also isn’t a big fan of doing dishes; if she could outsource this it would relieve a big chore. And lastly, she doesn’t really like going to the grocery store. We typical grocery shop as a family and I don’t necessarily dislike grocery shopping. However, I wouldn’t mind not having to waste that time so we’d both be in favor of someone grocery shopping for us and a nutritionist or someone creating our menu/meal plan. Wouldn’t that be a convenience!

By continuing to work, we could pad our lifestyle by paying someone to take these tasks off our hands and free up hours a week.

How about buying experiences? By working another year or more, we could use that incremental income to buy a nice vacation or two. Or we could set aside a lot of that income to supplement vacations in future years.

One of our goals is to show our kids the world, not only taking vacations around the US (so many great places to explore domestically), but also abroad. By working beyond FI, we could afford more and more of these great and memorable family experiences.

Weather the StormSlackers, Vacations, Storms and Mansions

One of the biggest reasons I’d advice anyone to work an extra year (or a few extra years) is the potential of retiring in the face of a recession. The timing of returns can have a major effect on the longevity of retirement assets and a major risk to the often cited 4% safe withdrawal rate.

In 2008, the S&P 500 dropped 37%. Let that sink in a minute and tell me how you would react if you retired the year before. Even if the decline wasn’t that dramatic, say your portfolio was given a haircut of 25% in year 1, would you still feel comfortable with the 4% rule?

You can answer that question however you want and whatever you feel comfortable with. But before I retire, I want to make sure I could weather a storm that immediately ensues my retirement. Or, for the sake of timing things, perhaps I retire immediately following a big drop. Assuming I’m still comfortable with the amount in my retirement accounts and having confidence that market returns will be strong in the coming years, this may be the most opportune time to retire.

Future Aspirations

The last reason I will list today, and there may be other reasons I come up with later, is the evolution of future aspirations. The first million is always the hardest to save, and it took us ten years to do so as I laid out in my Net Worth Explosion post. And as I discussed in that post, I hope the second million will take only four years (my everlasting four year goal to double our net worth) or maybe five years.

I recently posted about My Mansion Fantasy, I hope you check it out if you haven’t already. What if someday I decide I do want a million dollar home, or my wife and I downsize to say a 2,000 s.f. home, but want to load it with awesomeness, luxury, and convenience?

I’m a big fan of college athletics. While I don’t necessarily have an urge to give back to my alma mater (I think my tuition was fair compensation), I would be open to gifting to its athletic department. Perhaps I’m feeling generous one day and want to have a new building be named after me (that may be a bit too much…) or a wing of a new building (still might be a tad too much…) or even my name etched on a brick or plaque as a donor (that might be more feasible…).

Lastly, while I don’t worry about passing on an inheritance to my children, I would be in favor of passing something on. Hopefully my wife and I live to 85 or maybe longer, our children would be 55 or so at that point. Would they really need any money from us at that age? Not if we raised them appropriately. Hopefully they will be well on their way toward building a nice nest egg and maybe even considering an early retirement themselves. And if that is the case, a few bucks leftover from us won’t mean much anyway.

But with that said, I previously mentioned how hard and long it took my wife and I to build our first million. What if we wanted to help them build their first by setting aside money in a trust fund for them (something they can’t touch or get at until well into adulthood)? Not an all that bad aspiration and something we could achieve by stretching out our retirement date a bit.

These are just a few of my aspirations. We have and will continue considering these aspirations of ours. If we had endless money, we’d probably pursue them with no doubt. But maybe we work a few years past FI to fulfill some or part of the future aspirations we have or may have in retirement.

Final Thoughts

After reading this post you may be thinking I’m off the early retirement bandwagon or something isn’t quite right with me. While I can definitely dispute the first one, I’ve never been able to dispute the second one…

Quite honestly, part of the reason I wrote this post is to convince myself to keep working and keep working and keep working! I know I’m not ready to retire yet, but considering I am pre-disposed to wanting to retire early and regularly reading close to 75 personal finance / early retirement blogs in recent years, it is almost enough for anyone to say enough with it and make the leap.

So, as I said, I occasionally need a pep talk to keep working and stay motivated to work, and no doubt I will surely be referencing back to it myself when I am about to convince myself to pre-maturely make the leap to retirement. After all, that is one step that is hard to take back.

So tell me, what do you think about my motivation to keep working? Will you work one or a few more years past FI to build yourself a cushion? What drives you to keep working? Let me know in the comments below.

As always, thanks for taking a look!

The Green Swan

Work Harder, Work Smarter, Retire Earlier and Find Your Beach








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  1. Keep going Green Swan. You’ll know when you’re ready to pull the plug on full time work just like I did. There will come a point where you tell yourself “I just don’t need this anymore” and that’ll be the time.

    Unfortunately for most, they just have to keep doing the ‘yards’ because they can’t afford to give it up. That’s what sets us apart from them isn’t it.

    1. That’s good advice, I appreciate that Martin! Yes, it’s much better to be in this position with optionality than “needing” to keep working.

  2. I think it’s very much an opinion I share too! As much as I want to become financially independent so I can retire early, I don’t want that to come at the expense of the life I want to, and have always imagined I’d lead. I also, like you, want to be in a position to give my future children the life I really want for them also. So as long as I’m enjoying my work, and not just slaving away for the next paycheck, I would be happy to delay retirement. Life is long at the end of the day, so as long as I’m fit and healthy, there’s always going to be time to enjoy it! While importantly, enjoying life along the way.

    1. Yeah great point Elliot! And it’ll be great to be in the position to pull the plug at anytime and not having to worry about it. Thanks!

  3. It sounds like you have your goals, wants, and needs well established. If those things will make you happy and you are in your highest earning years, why pull the plug now? To walk away and then not have the things you want will likely lead to at least some regrets. You don’t want to change your mind in a year and then not be able to get a position that pays what you are making now. As Elliot said, just make sure you are focusing on your health too. You will know when it is “time”.

    1. Thanks Vicki! That’s right, the real motivator is the potential of regret down the road. That’s what makes these types of decisions so difficult!

  4. This sounds like the common “one more year syndrome” that a lot of early retirees discuss. If you love your job, I see no reason to leave, although occasional 90 hour weeks still sounds brutal. It is nice to see your overall work load has decreased over time. I recently left my public accounting job and one of the main reason was because I would receive back an additional 40-50 hours each week.

    If you are valuable to your company, do you think you can transition to part-time or even as a paid consultant?

    In any case, could you maintain your skills while being retired early. In the event that you want to return to work, you could still find a job at your old company or a similar one.

    I think I would find it equally hard to walk away from a great job that I do enjoy. My eventual plan would be to ask for part time work. Perhaps start with 4 days a week for 75-80% of the pay. I also feel I could take a year or two off and would still be able to return to a job because my expertise is in a small niche.

    1. Yeah one I hit FI I could definitely see myself saying one more year over and over, but we’ll see.

      I don’t think part time would work well in my profession since the occasional long work week is inevitable and unavoidable. But retiring and then returning to work if needed could be an option.

      I can understand your move from public accounting, that can be a tough work environment! Sounds like a good move. That’s nice to be in a niche space and be able to command good value and demand for your skill! Thanks for sharing, Matt!

  5. Like others said, if you know what you want and what the financial costs of those things are in FIRE, then why quit sooner just to “retire early”? My biggest fear with getting on this whole FIRE band wagon was that I’d worked my butt off to get to where I am and have a comfortable life and not ahve to worry about money, and I’m going to walk away from that so I can stress over a budget, being frugal, and having to tell the kids, “sorry we can’t afford that because mommy and daddy didn’t want to work anymore.” No thanks. So, our plan will take a few more years than if we wanted to live off of less than what is “comfortable for us”.

    When I realized that we were living comfortably on a number way less than I expected, then sure, I was on board. Over the last year, and some change, we’ve been living on our “FIRE Budget” and I don’t feel miserly, stressed about spending too much, or anything I was worried about.

    I say you know your goals, needs, and wants and if they’re not aligned with an earlier date, then why are you entertaining an earlier date? 🙂 There’s nothing wrong with knowing what you want and planning for it, that’s why I love keeping the “Personal” in personal finance.

    1. Yeah absolutely, Mr SSC! Sounds like we are on the same page. The extra couple years of work are worth not having the stress and anxiety throughout retirement. Thanks!

  6. Swanigans- I like it! 😉

    I like the idea of leaving a legacy rather than just “enough” to allow you to live out your life. Do you plan to start a new business once you leave your day job? I think I will at least work part-time upon early retirement to keep from going crazy and minimize cashing out investments (maybe 2% rather than 4%).

    1. Yeah that’s a good thought and plan, transitioning into retirement sounds better than jumping straight in. I would consider working part time doing a number of different things that interest me including a role with the small business my siblings and I are buying. Thanks for the comment!

  7. Leaving the workforce before your statistically highest earning years is something I have been thinking a lot about lately.

    For me the major factors will be how much I enjoy/dislike my job and if I am generating enough passive or self powered income

  8. I wonder if you’d still want to outsource those household tasks if you weren’t working full-time? Maybe yes, because you’d want all that free time for yourself and you don’t like them. But maybe you wouldn’t mind as much if you had more free time? Just curious.

    We will probably work a little past FI to fund kids’ college. What amount are you aiming for, for each kids’ college account? We are trying to figure out how much to save. Any insight is appreciated!

    1. We probably wouldn’t care to outsource them if we weren’t working full time unless we had way too much money burning a hole in our pocket.

      Thanks for the question on kid’s college estimate. It depends on how old your kids are of course, but we expect tuition inflation continuing at current rates. This question deserves its own post to address in detail though so I’ll be sure to do so soon. Thanks!

  9. It is wise to plan for a conservative withdrawal rate. Otherwise, it is like playing with the dice at Vegas. I continue to be amazed how much press the 4% rule gets. And it has become a bit of a rule within FI community rather than guidance, which was the intention of the seminal articles on it. Important distinction. If a year or two more work can get an early retiree into a more comfortable SWR zone, then that is very smart in my book. If they also choose part time work at FIRE then fine also but part time work is not in our plans. Everybody’s situation is unique and I respect that a lot.

    1. Agreed! A year or two would definitely do a lot in terms of helping us feel better about the SWR. There are definitely a lot of risks and issues with assuming 4% is fail safe, especially in today’s low interest rate environment. Thanks for sharing Mr Pie!

  10. I think your motivation is well placed to continue working for a year (or a few) past financial independence! Building in some cushion is very important. In my world of allocating capital towards investments, a margin of safety in an investment and cushion are one in the same, and having the same aspect toward personal finance is just as important! I think I will surely work past financial independence. Mostly because my goals are to own my own investment fund and manage the capital of others. It’s something I enjoy too much to let go of past financial independence.

    1. Thanks Chris! That would be perfect starting your own fund after FI and going out on your own. That’s a perfect profession if you’d be taking the time to research and manage your own portfolio, might as well leverage it to manage others and get paid! My older sibling is in a similar line of business and he is thinking about it the same way. Great plan, thanks for sharing.

  11. At the aTL house, we are in favour of buying back some time now at the expense of working longer to reach FI. We do have a cleaning lady that cleans every week the house. We do not consider this too much of a luxury… We tried without before having kids and already then, one of us (me?) would not be happy with his chores…
    In exchange, I do almost all garden work myself, we shop frugal and brownbag to work….

    And I like the storm plan… I guess I will do that, add one year of extra buffer…

    1. That’s a good trade off for having a cleaning lady, we may end up there soon too!

      Always good to have some buffer, better safe than sorry is the way I’m looking at it. Thanks for the sharing!

  12. I think I’m in with the crowd on this one. The benefit you get from FI is the option value. You’ll have the option to leave and do something else if you want in the future. As long as the money is good and you find the work rewarding, keep on trucking! Once you are FI and if/when the work becomes unsatisfying, pack up your stuff and move on. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a job you hate because you need the money!

    1. You’re right, having optionality is key and that has been a guiding principle for me in many decision making processes. Thanks for stopping by, Jon!

  13. Seems like you have your thoughts in order when it comes to what you want. I am a pretty conservative person when it comes to mitigating risks so I’m sure when I get closer to our goal, I will opt for a couple additional years to maximize our savings and investment base as we head into our life after FI.

    1. Very good, thanks for sharing Thias. I think it’s great having a few conservative bones in your body, I do as well and it helps keep my crazy ideas (like retiring super early) in check :).

  14. Thank you for the honorary Swanigan title! Getting to $1m mark in your 30s is fantastic. Always wanting to add a margin of safety to retirement accounts by working a few more years doesn’t hurt 🙂 I would like to know your road to $1m+ net worth hopefully in a future post!

    1. Thanks Finance Solver and I appreciate that feedback! I hadn’t thought of doing a post like that before but it’s a great idea. You’ll see it in due course!

  15. I’m glad you touched on the potential of walking into retirement and facing a steep recession, JW. I often think about that possibility and end up doing complicated mental math for a few minutes until I can figure out what my FI number is under such dire circumstances.

    Retiring is a lot like ripping off a Band-Aid for many folks: once you make that separation, you either have to go for it entirely or start over completely. Most of the retirees I know claim that they can feel when it’s time; I’m sure you won’t be an exception to that trend.

    1. That’s great advice Finance Superhero and I think that’ll be true. I’ll know when I’m ready when I get to that bend in life. Thanks!

  16. Thanks for laying it all out there! Sometimes I get sucked into the, “Retirement by 40 or Bust,” mentality and then I realize, well, I’m getting close to 40 (and how did that happen:), but mainly that my husband and I talk about it and while the freedom will be great, we both enjoy what we do so that isn’t our focus. Our focus is on what you said, socking away money and padding our future. If we want to retire before the typical 65yo, great! But we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves if we retired in a few years-just not our goal. Keep going Green Swan-and when you do retire, please don’t retire your blog as well!

    1. That’s great for you folks, keep rolling it in and enjoying life!

      Oh thanks, that’s so kind Staci! I have no intention of shutting the blog down, there will be so much more finance to talk about on the “journey through retirement”. Thanks for visiting!

  17. I think you have to do whatever you feel is best for your situation. If you feel like you need to keep working, by all means, that’s what you should do!

    Though we aren’t FI yet, we are in a place where we have options and, if my husband was really miserable, he could quit. Having options feels really good. Plus, we don’t plan on not working at all in retirement – the hope is he’ll be able to either work remotely or cut down to part time in his current position.

    1. That is nice your husband has flexibility to go part time and allow a transition into retirement. I don’t have that option with my current employer but could consider transitioning into a new part time gig. Thanks for sharing, Amanda!

  18. My vote is to keep working! 🙂 I can relate – when I made the decision to stay home with the kids to fully support my husband’s job, I knew I needed to build a flexible, at-home income because of all the things you’ve mentioned – retirement, 529s, future aspirations. And as you know, it’s still in progress. I also love that you are in a place where you are really good at your job. It makes it so much more enjoyable. That’s how I felt before I left mine, and that made it really hard to leave. Keep on keepin’ on. 🙂

    1. Yeah I understand the transition you’re going through right now. I’m sure you’ll see continued growth and comfort with your new at home business. Thanks for sharing, Kelsey!

  19. My grandparents partially retired right around the 2007/2008 bubble and lost a decent chunk of their portfolio. My grandfather admitted that he held too many stocks for his age, which made the blow worse. He had to take on more work as a result. I don’t know how much money they have saved up, but they are officially retiring this year.

    1. That’s too bad! Not uncommon though, we obviously went through a tough recession and many people got caught up in it. Thanks for sharing the real life example.

  20. Due to our debt, we will keep working part-time out of necessity, but in different types of jobs. In your situation I imagine that we would work to build a good cushion, but then use our time in more personally, versus financially, rewarding ways. If your work is bearable, I understand the decision to keep working. My job is very stressful and I am struggling to stay here long enough to pay off our debts and build a small 401K. Then, I’m gone!

  21. Good post JW. We all need a safety margin in our retirement plan, but it’s also important not to go overboard on this because it leads to ‘one more year’ syndrome, from which few recover. Before you know it, you are pushing 65 and when you finally retire, sitting on your couch watching That 70s Show reruns sounds more appealing than flying to Cambodia and walking inside the ancient temples.

  22. I love the idea of one more year you won’t have to fund from your investments. It’s also sensible to enjoy the fruits of earning a much higher salary for commensurately less effort.

  23. You touched in your article on something close to my heart. Yes, you could hold onto all your money until you are 85, but your kids won’t need it much then, but should you help your kids on their way to their first million / FI themselves. My husband and I are retired. I went slightly early at 56, 5 years ago. (I would love to have known about FIRE 30 years ago….) We have always been ‘careful’, saved hard, put our kids through school and college debt free, cleared our mortgage early etc…
    However, over the last couple of years we have shifted a significant amount of money to our kids. Why? They would really benefit from it (clear their mortgages), enable them to build their own pension /saving funds, and generally start on that path to FI themselves. Were we right? Time will tell, but so far it’s looking good. (And we’re UK based so all money we give, and then live for 7 years is tax free, saving 40% inheritance tax – good financial planning! )

    1. Very good financial planning! I think that is great what you are doing and such a blessing for your family. Your kids will be in a great spot with you passing on not only some of your wealth, but also personal finance know-how. Hopefully they will carry the tradition forward to the next generation! It could be quite powerful!

      Thanks, Erith!

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