You’re Financially Independent. Now What?

Today’s guest post comes via Peter Koch who also shares his stories and thoughts with a growing readership on his popular blog, Seller at Heart.

Peter is an international serial entrepreneur who has run a variety of businesses both online and offline. The father of two and huge basketball fan has now reached financial independence, and he often ponders what to do with his newfound freedom and time.

What will you do?

Let’s explore some options with someone who contemplates the question from a practical and very real standpoint. From the Seller at Heart:

You’re Financially Independent. Now What?

 

When you’ve reached financial independence and are faced with the prospect of retiring, it’s normal to feel a little adrift and unsure of what comes next. Work generally comprises the majority of our adult lives, often eclipsing personal interests and passions in the process. And when you’ve been striving so long for financial independence, it can be a little anticlimactic when your accounts actually reach that target number.

Taking a week or two for self-reflection should be step #1 for anyone experiencing this. Evaluate what you really want out of life and what you want to do, see, and accomplish in the decades ahead. You’ve achieved your big goal…now it’s time to make some new ones. Start with these ideas.

 

Keep Working (Just Because You Want To)

 

Being financially independent can mean sipping pina coladas on a beach all day — but it can also mean you continue working. Except now, you’ll know that you’re working because you enjoy it, not just because you need a paycheck. Being financially independent means you get to work on your own terms. You don’t have to stay in a job you hate because you need the money.

Personally, this is the camp I fall into. I achieved FI about four years ago, but I love challenges. Executing product ideas are exciting to me. That’s why I’m still an engineer, that’s why I still sell on Amazon, that’s why I run my website and blog. I do these things not because I have to, but because I choose to.

So if you love your current job, keep doing it! Maybe you only want to work 30 hours a week there or start working remotely — in which case, you now have the leverage to negotiate those terms.

set for lifeIf you don’t love your current job, but still feel the drive to work and be productive, you now have the financial freedom to pursue that dream job you’ve always had in the back of your mind. You could go back and get another degree. Attend a coding bootcamp. Take online classes. Train for an entirely new field.

Essentially, if you enjoy a job, you can turn it into a hobby: an activity you do out of choice, not out of necessity.

 

[PoF: I am a good example of this. I wasn’t ready to walk away when I was FI. I’ll add The White Coat Investor and Passive Income MD. We’re just three busy financially independent docs who make up the WCI Network, but I believe I’ll be the first to retire from medicine, putting the RE in FIRE.]

 

Invest Time Into Favorite Hobbies (Or Find New Ones)

 

Creating music, art, food and drink, or physical goods is something that many people find deeply satisfying. It opens up that creative side of your brain, lets you develop new skills or improve existing ones, and allows you to make something you can be proud of.

If you don’t have any hobbies in mind, try some different ones until you find what clicks. Take a woodworking class at a local community college. Buy a guitar and watch tutorial videos on Youtube. Learn to paint or draw at an art workshop or on your own. Pick up a camera and train your eyes to see the world in a new way. Get some equipment for brewing beer or making your own wine. [PoF: I didn’t wait for FI to start brewing beer, but it’s a rewarding skill to pick up at any point.]

Even if you don’t think of yourself as a very creative person, it’s a skill that, just like any others, can be nurtured with practice. You don’t have to be an artistic savant to make art that’s interesting and meaningful.

Of course, hobbies can be practical as well. Fixing up cars, learning home maintenance skills, and cooking delicious recipes can enhance your life and even help you become more self-reliant in the process. Or you can even bring in extra income by pursuing hobbies you can monetize.

 

[PoF: Many early retirees are doing this to varying degrees. A few that come to mind because they frequently write up posts about their hobbies in early retirement are Mr. Crazy Kicks, Mr. Money Mustache, Mr. 1500, and the Frugalwoods.]

Buy An RV And Hit The Road

 

The United States is a big country, but most of its own residents have only seen a fraction of what it has to offer. And getting an RV is the classic way to start your own great American road trip.

If you have friends and family around the country, plan out a route that allows you to visit them. Include your “bucket list” destinations like the Grand Canyon or California redwoods that you haven’t been able to see yet. Hike in national parks and visit historical sites. Take photographs and make memories.

 

bankofamerica[PoF: We plan to buy an RV within the first year or two after FIRE. JD Roth recently published a thorough recap of his RV adventure, Michelle Schroeder from Making Cents of Cents just traded in her motorhome for a sailboat, and there’s a great European FI blog by the name of Our Tour that goes into great detail of their adventures. Even Boglehead Rick Ferri blogged about his two-year adventure on the open road.

Nick True of Mapped Out Money is another (although not yet FI), and of course, there’s a whole genre of RV blogs written by digital nomads traveling the country while earning a living.]

 

Travel Internationally And Explore New Cultures

 

Never got a chance to see much of the world during your working years? Take the opportunity now. Experiencing other cultures can open your mind and give you new experiences and memories to enjoy. People often credit travel as one of the best things they’ve done, and a common regret of many on their deathbed is not traveling more.

The world has so much to offer, no matter what your interests are. Are you a nature lover? Hike beautiful trails in Switzerland and New Zealand. Do you love trying new foods? Visit some of the food capitals of the world like Paris and Tokyo. Are you a history buff? Explore castles in Scotland and WWII sites in Eastern Europe. Want to try your hand at motorbikes and street food? Explore Southeast Asia. Love beaches? Admire the beautiful pink sands and blue waters of the Caribbean.

 

 

Traveling can easily be done on a budget if you want to conserve funds, or you can go big and reward your hard work by staying in luxury hotels on the trip. Whatever your style, get out there and see a few more corners of this beautiful planet. You won’t regret it.

 

[Most early retirees do some extensive traveling, but few travel as extensively as Jeremy and Winnie of Go Curry Cracker or Kristy and Bryce of Millennial Revolution. And Jason Fieber, Mr. Free at 33, up and moved to Thailand.

Honorable mention to Justin and Kaisorn from Root of Good. Their blog post series on their family of five’s nine weeks in Europe is fantastic.] 

 

Get Involved In Volunteering And Philanthropy

 

All you have to do is look at Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg, and others who’ve achieved great financial success to see what they have in common: a history of philanthropy.

If you find yourself in the fortunate position of having more money than you know what to do with, donate some to a cause you believe in. Or contribute personally to someone in need on a platform like GoFundMe.

You don’t necessarily have to contribute monetarily to make an impact, either. Use your professional skills to help charities, use your influence to advocate for causes, or use your time to do boots-on-the-ground volunteering. Seeing the kind of impact you’re able to have on the world is a reward well worth it.

 

[PoF: I’m a big proponent of charitable giving and recently donated a week’s worth of my anesthesia services in Honduras. I do much of my giving via a donor advised fund, and I’ve got a list of about 20 other bloggers who do the same here.]

 

 

Stay Mentally And Physically Active

 

Relaxation is great, but for most people (especially those as driven as people striving for FI tend to be), too much of it will start to grate on you after a while. Even after you retire, be intentional about seeking out ways to challenge your brain. Read books that give you different perspectives. Start research projects on topics you’re interested in. Play brain-stimulating games like Sudoku or Lumosity. Seek friends who you can have spirited debates with. If politics is an area of interest, consider running for local elections and brainstorming ways to improve your community.

And make time to keep your body active as well–the health benefits of regular exercise can’t be overstated. Choose an activity you enjoy, whether it’s swimming, kayaking, weightlifting, or even just going on a walk every day. Seek out new scenery and appreciate how it feels to move and make your body stronger.

 

[PoF: The FI community may not be as the fit as the CrossFit community, but there’s some significant overlap. Former All-American linebacker “Coach” Chad Carson comes to mind as an avid athlete, and my friends at Waffles on Wednesday are always running, biking, and hiking. 

Brad and Jonathan of ChooseFI talked about having a skinny waist and fat wallet in their 10th episode, and the vast majority of “FIREwalkers” have some sort of workout routine. I heard Mr. Groovy can do 27 dips. That’s a lot of dips!! He clearly knows how to stay fit for a better retirement.]

 

Bonus: What I Don’t Recommend

 

It’s a common retirement dream to open a pub in town and spend your days chatting with regulars, drinking your favorite beers, and having your friends come over whenever they want.

But let me tell you…owning a pub or bar is nowhere near this idyllic. It is nice in theory but the reality is something different. I’ve done it, and it’s a hell of a job.

 

Seller_at_Heart_Pub

 

Originally I opened the pub because I really liked the idea of having a meetup spot for my friends and being able to sit at my own bar drinking free beer. At the time, my father told me not to do it, with one simple reason. He said, “I am 60 now and none of the bar owners I knew from my generation are alive anymore.”

I should have listened to him. The stress is intense. You are married to the business. You’ll have to deal with unsatisfied customers (even if there’s no reason for dissatisfaction), corrupt inspectors (they will always find a way to write you a ticket for something), and drunks. [PoF: In other words, it’s exactly like working in the Emergency Department.]

Employees will steal from you, and your friends (drunk friends to be precise) will act like they own the place. Not to mention that you are in constant contact with alcohol, so many bar owners start to drink–and drink in excess–sooner or later. Bartenders and owners are over twice as likely to die from alcoholism.

Trust me, unless you have a long history o bar management and know it’s something you actually enjoy, steer clear. You’re much better off brewing or mixing drinks as a hobby.

In the end, financial independence is exactly that–independence. The freedom to do what you want, when you want. Everyone’s journey will look different, and that’s exactly what keeps life interesting.

[PoF: There goes my microbrewery idea. Guess I’ll stick with blogging for now.

Thank you, Peter, for giving us some food for thought on the post-FIRE life. Be sure to check his site out to see what else the financially independent man has to say. ]

 


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Do you have a plan for what to do after reaching that magic FI number? Will you retire right away or continue working? What are some of the things on your bucket list?

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17 comments

  • Keeping mentally and physically fit is probably the biggest thing an early retiree has to do. Some studies have shown that there is a higher mortality for people who retire early and it is likely because they let themselves go when they no longer have to be active doing a main job.

    I personally plan to travel a lot more when I am done with radiology but that will only take up so much of the year.

    Hopefully I can continue blogging which is mentally stimulating for me and fulfills my creative side.

    Lots of good options you have given

    • Absolutely. Relaxation is great in moderation, but humans need a reason to get up in the morning. Usually a job is that reason, but it’s important to replace it with something else after FIRE.

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  • I’ve heard it said that people who retire and don’t maintain activities that provide mental stimulation tend to wither. I full intend on staying at my job – part time – after I reach FI. My hope is that it’ll allow me to focus on the aspects of my job that I really love and separate myself from the parts I am not as enamored with doing.

    I really do look forward to the opportunities to pursue things outside the hospital with more vigor. Right now my every waking moment (when my kids are not awake) is spent on side hustles or passion projects. While this is good, and I have the energy for it now, I look forward to being able to relax a little more. Fortunately, some of these side hustles (like my blog), help me get out of my head and process things.

    For now, I get to keep hustlin’ and pondering what I will do when I one day get to FI. Thanks for giving a framework to go through this process.

    TPP

    • My grandfather used to say “The day I stop working will be the day I am gonna die.” I think I inherited that! Of course, adding more balance to your life is important too. FI gives you the freedom to design that balance in exactly the way you like it. Going part-time or keeping your side hustles lets you have the best of both worlds.

      • Lynne

        Great comment about balance. about 5 years ago my closest friends had a talk with me about how my life was out of balance. Working full-time in a high-stress job and trying to run a 20-acre horse farm by myself took every waking moment as well. the best part about reaching FI was the ability to reduce my work hours so I don’t have to be in motion every waking moment.

  • MillionaireInterview73

    Great article and I am at the “Keep working because I want to” but love these articles as feel like I have to get mentally prepared and come up with a plan (I am very goal orientated) 🙂 if I decide to take the leap and retire early. Talk a bit more about it in my article below as well.

    MillionaireInterview73
    https://esimoney.com/millionaire-interview-73/

  • So far, I chose the first route. After becoming financially independent I really enjoy my job a lot more. I also reduced the parts of my job that I did not like and I increased the parts that I did like. I also reduced the total number of hours. Becoming financially independent empowered me to negotiate from a position of strength.
    Early in my career I planned for financial independence. I assumed I would retire early. As I worked towards that goal however I realized it may take one or two decades and I did not want to sacrifice my current life for a future possibility. I decided to enjoy the journey and not necessarily focus on the destination. As a result I have been able to increase my exercise, time with family, hobbies, international travel, etc. but also enjoy a productive career. I see no need to change anything since I love my life the way it is. I also know if things get worse at the job place financial independence will give me freedom of choice.

    • “I see no need to change anything since I love my life the way it is.” The sentence that everyone wants to be able to say one day! Congratulations man.

  • At fi I’ll continue working. At fifty five I plan to start living somewhere randomly for six months and at a home base for six months.

    • Avocado OB

      I love this idea – will
      Consider once kids colleges are paid for
      When I am around that age as well. Maybe locums or part time at
      My current job even.

  • GasFIRE

    Thanks for an excellent post on an enjoyable topic. I attained FI in 2010 and left my group practice in 2012 in a burnout inspired departure. I don’t recommend this as I knew I had to get out but didn’t really have a plan going forward. Several months later a part time contract position at a surgery center presented itself. I accepted it with reservations but it’s turned out to be fantastic decision.

    Removing all the things I detested about my prior position allows me to actually enjoy being a physician. There’s enough time off that my wife and I are doing some international traveling although having an empty nest has also helped in this endeavor.

    While I won’t be wandering the roads in an RV, I was delighted to see the Grand Canyon as a bucket list destination. I wholeheartedly agree and additionally suggest viewing it from the inside on a Colorado River rafting expedition through the Canyon. It is spectacular and unforgettable.

  • This post reminds me of how President Bush (W) started painting in retirement to relax, and it turns out he’s pretty good!

    Both my grandfathers owned their own businesses and both sold them and retired at 55. One of them then started flipping homes and did all the work on them, while the other retired to his easy chair. One died at 74 and one died at 94. You can guess who lasted longer. Staying active is truly key to a long, satisfying life.

  • I still enjoy my job, but hitting my major financial goals has made it better. One reason is the psychology of not desperately needing the money. The other is that because I still work and make money, psychologically it makes it easier for me to spend money without guilt. For example, a motorhome has been money well spent for us despite the fact it is a depreciating money guzzling machine. Buying the RV was a good behaviour modifier to counteract my workaholic tendencies – I take way more time off to travel because darnit I need to get my money’s worth out of it as it rapidly depreceates.

  • PoF,

    Definitely agree. And the great thing is that many of these things are complementary to one another. It’s not binary. I enjoy hitting the gym six days/week, learning amazing new things almost every day, writing, giving through philanthropy, etc. And I do all of that while also living abroad. Living abroad actually helps me enjoy all of these other activities, since I’m more financially free over here (and more flexible as a result) than I’d be in the US.

    Thanks so much for the mention!

    Best regards.

  • Awesome article showing all the amazing things you can do after FI! What FIers choose to do is up to each person, but the point is that we all have choices. Thanks for the mention!

  • Lynne

    This is a great article. I am wrapping up my post FI contract work in 6 weeks and thinking about what I’m going to do afterwards. Big on my list is taking a darned vacation! I was thinking about that just this morning and thinking maybe I will take that RV I already own – a special kind of RV/horse trailer hybrid – and take a trip up to the Smokies with my favorite horses.

    After that I plan to fix up my horse boarding farm and sell it, to escape the crushing burden of maintenance and daily labor. This Farm helped me Achieve Financial Independence but I’m turning 60 this year and it’s just too much. What I don’t get rid of possession wise will go into storage and I plan on getting in that RV and hitting the road for a year or two.

    Eventually I’ll figure out where I want to live and buy a small place. I’ll probably board my horses at someone else’s farm so they can have the work and I can continue to travel. If I miss shoveling stalls or other farm work, I’m sure that farm owner will gladly accept some free help.

    Oh, and definitely exercise! I’ve gained weight the past 8 years and it’s got to come off!

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