They Don’t Need More Money, But He Wants More

My friend Jim retired from his career at the same age and around the same time that I did. He did, however, retire with a smaller budget in mind and less of a cushion to accommodate life’s potential changes.

After a couple of years living the FIRE lifestyle between the U.S. and Panama, they have more money than ever. While they don’t necessarily need more money, he can’t help but want more.

Below, he describes why they’re good right now, why it wouldn’t hurt to have more, and the different ways in which they could get more.

This Friday Feature, recently featured in The Sunday Best, was originally published on Route to Retire.

 

 

 

The guiding principle of the Financial Independence / Retire Early (FIRE) movement is to get to the point in life where you have enough and don’t need more money to cover your expenses.

Once you pull that off, you’re golden. You’re now financially independent and never have to work another day in life again… if you don’t want to.

It sounds great, right?

And for someone that pulled it off at the age of 43 a couple of years ago, I can tell you that I love early retirement (though it does come with its own set of hurdles). Being able to spend so much time with my family is such a blessing in life.

Having enough money in our accounts to cover our regular expenses like a monthly paycheck makes life pretty simple, too. We don’t have to worry about the possibility of layoffs, being fired, traffic in the mornings, or even having to get up at a specific time each day.

It really does remove a lot of the stress out of life.

But after over 2½ years of early retirement, I gotta say it… we don’t need more money, but I want it. I’m glad we pulled the trigger when we did, but now it’s time to start thinking of some ways to bring in some more income.

Today, I’ll tell you why we don’t need more money, why I want more anyway, and how we’ll try to get there.

Why we don’t need more money…

 

Here’s the deal, if you’re unfamiliar, a lot of the FIRE community follows the idea of the 4% rule. In a nutshell, a study was done years ago that showed that you should be able to pull 4% per year (adjusted for inflation) out of an investment portfolio every year without running out of money over a 30-year time frame.

There are several caveats to this rule of thumb and there are plenty of arguments as to why you should make your withdrawal rate more or less. Regardless, it’s a great starting point in trying to determine how much money you’ll need to be financially free.

As we sought financial independence, I used the 4% rule as one piece of our retirement planning. But, in addition to our market investment portfolio, we also had rental properties in the mix, the last of which we just sold during this crazy hot market.

In general, though, our plan allowed us to have an annual spend of about $55,000 per year (adjusted annually for inflation). That said, I would prefer not to spend that much if possible. That’s especially true during the first 5-7 years or more, while the sequence of returns risk can be the most lethal.

The first few years of withdrawing from a portfolio can be the most critical. If you’re pulling money out during a bull market, you’re hopefully withdrawing mostly gains and dividends. If you’re pulling money out during a bear market though, you’re going to be withdrawing principal and that’s tough to rebuild when you’re not working.

Our investment drawdown plan considered this with a bucket strategy. Essentially, we have 1 year of cash-on-hand as well as a 5-year ladder of BulletShares fixed income ETFs. This is structured so that we don’t need to sell stock investments during a bear market to fund our lifestyle. Although it can hinder some growth, the peace of mind we gain from protecting our principal is worth it to us.

Fortunately, though, I happened to retire during a phenomenal bull run in the stock market. On the day I retired on 12/31/18, our net worth was $1,127,049. As of 08/01/21, it’s now $1,634,608.00… even after completely funding our expenses over the past few years!

You can see our net worth by month throughout the years on my Net Worth page. If you’re not tracking you’re own net worth, I strongly recommend that you do so. It’s the single best way to know how close you are to reaching financial independence.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to use Personal Capital. It’s free and they beautifully do the heavy lifting for you. You link your accounts and it pulls together all your data for you. It also gives you some insights that would be hard to see otherwise. I saved $50k in fees over 10-years in an instant with the knowledge and tools they provide.

 

 

Personal Capital Dashboard

 

I’ve been using Personal Capital to help manage my investments for years now and I think it can be a huge benefit to you, as well.

So far, our plan has worked well. Our needs have been completely met by our investments. We’re living in a beautiful resort in Boquete, Panama. We have fun and can do some traveling as well. Most of the traveling lately has been back and forth to the U.S. a few times a year.

We continue to have new adventures like taking a bus from Costa Rica to Panama after a cruise we enjoyed. And last year, during the pandemic, we bought a Honda Pilot and took an awesome road trip across the U.S.

In other words, we don’t need more money to live a pretty nice lifestyle and have some fun… life is good, my friends!

 

Why do I want more money…

 

Sounds pretty good, Jim. Seems like you guys are living the dream… why do you need more money then?

7 thoughts on “They Don’t Need More Money, But He Wants More”

  1. Heya – seems like at the time of writing this comment, the post sort of just cuts off in the middle?

    But I’d say even if I FIRE and have enough money, I always would want a lot more money. There’s nothing wrong once you’ve reached the first stage of retirement (FIRE) to be able to want to reach fatFIRE / obeseFIRE where you want so much money that you can buy very expensive things and take all the lifestyle inflation without worrying about your net worth at all.

    And even after I’ve earned enough money to basically be able to spend it on anything I want for the rest of my life, I’d still want more money as long as the game of making money is still a fun game (which it has been for me, and will likely continue to be).

    That said, at FIRE and beyond we’ve all got the choice of optimizing for the other things in life, like relationships/time with family/health and so on. Having that initial FIRE is crucial because the optionality to take a step back means that even in the midst of a relentless pursuit of wealth, one can just say, at any time, “yeah I don’t want to play this game for a while” — whereas pre-FIRE you’re kind of stuck playing that game until you reach FIRE.

    Reply
    • Well said, Angie! I don’t regret early retirement one bit – it’s been an incredible time with family and experiences thus far. I also don’t see myself going back to a full-time gig anytime soon. But earning a little more “play” money through some side hustles is a game I’ll continue to play for a while. 🙂

      Reply
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  3. This is a very valid point that Jim brings up. For physicians, there’s a small complication in that coming back to work requires maintaining a bunch of requirements- some of which can prove cumbersome and/or expensive during an extended retirement- such as certifications/MOC/hospital privileges etc… something to consider before a young physician decides to hang up her white coat.
    PFB

    Reply
    • I actually had something similar, PFB – but I’m sure on a much lower scale. I spent most of my years building up higher-end IT certifications, even after my days as an engineer when I was in management. Thinking about losing these certs was a tough decision, but early retirement won out in my case.

      I would guess that the certs and privileges are a bigger investment than my undertaking, but I do think you bring up a valid point. It’s a personal decision that’s probably going to be different for different people, but it’s something to seriously contemplate before making the decision to bail… especially if it’s considerably early in a career.

      Reply
  4. For some reason the article cuts off after the line “Sounds pretty good, Jim. Seems like you guys are living the dream… why do you need more money then?” in Firefox. Switching browsers allowed me to see the rest of the article. Seemed odd.

    Reply

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