For a Dentist, Mine wasn’t too Bad…

I made an appointment the other day for a dental check-up and was shocked to find that my dentist had had the audacity to retire early!

There’s me planning my own early retirement and yet for some reason, I’m half expecting everyone else around me to continue doing their jobs forever!

This really shouldn’t have come as a surprise – over the years, my dentist has talked about his kids going to uni, then graduating and then all getting jobs in locations around the world.

I’ll Miss Him

If it’s at all possible to miss your dentist, then I will miss him. Always jolly, with a pleasant manner, the kind who liked to chat/crack jokes while your mouth was wide open! But not cheap – I’ve mentioned here and there where I’ve had to fork out for expensive treatment but that’s the price I’m paying now for avoiding appointments when I was too lazy younger. Still, my dental fees paid over the years probably helped with his kids’ education haha!

He was the only dentist I’d seen as an adult – I must have just graduated when I first saw him (as a young dentist) as I remember receiving free treatment! I have now met the new replacement dentist and it’s going to take a while for me to feel at ease in the dentist’s chair again.

I wonder if my old dentist spared a thought for his patients as he swanned off into retirement?

What if this last year was his ‘one more year’?

If I ever saw him in the pub, I would like to ask him!

So where am I going with this post?

Well, until my dentist had retired, I hadn’t previously considered the impact of someone’s surprise early retirement on the people around them.

So I wonder…

People at Work

When I hit FI, RE will follow pretty swiftly, I am quite sure of that.

So when I retire early, I don’t think my boss would be too surprised when I hand in my notice, as she will suddenly recall that I did mention to her about retiring early (when I first met her, before she became my boss, haha!). I do occasionally mention investing to her but of course, no details. I guess it’ll be a shock to everyone else.

My boss and immediate colleagues would miss the work that I do and I’d like to think that they would miss me too!  I’m not trying to make out that my work is so critical or so important but it’s a job which I perform reasonably well and I’m now viewed as someone who ‘knows things’ (I also drink….that was for GOT/Tyrion Lannister fans 🙂 )

Of course, I’m not irreplaceable, someone else will just come along and do my job. Maybe my ex-colleagues could reminisce – “That Weenie, she wasn’t too bad...”

My Close Friends (My Inner Circle)

These friends have some inkling that I plan to retire early. When I pull the plug, I think all will be surprised I did it after all, a few (though not all) will likely ask me how I did it and would be genuinely interested. I’d like to think that all would be happy for me. I suspect, however, the others will just think I’ve been lucky in some way. I hope I’m wrong here and that most/all of them will like to know, so they too can speed up their own retirements (all my friends are younger than me).

I will be making all efforts to maintain my close relationships with these friends and part of that will include trying to not rub it in too much in their faces that I no longer need to work!

My Family

My family will probably wonder how I could retire early having only ever earned a relatively low income but are unlikely to be too surprised – they know I’ve been ‘careful with my money’, that I’ve been investing though not that I’ve been aiming for FIRE. It’s likely that one or two of my siblings could be retiring about the same age (if not before) but their FIRE would definitely be Fat FIRE!

They will be glad that I will be able to spend more time with them, although probably not too much time – you know how it can get with families!

My Other Friends

For friends who are not in my inner circle, I’m not even sure I would tell them I’d retired. Maybe I’d say I was just taking some time out, looking for opportunities. For my old uni friends, I’d tell them I was a ‘lady of leisure’ (being one seemed to be something we talked about a lot as 19 year olds for some reason!) but that too would be taken to mean just taking some time out before getting back into work.

I guess I think not everyone needs to know of what I’ve achieved as not everyone will understand (or be positive about it) and I’m not sure that I can be bothered to explain, unless I really thought they might be interested themselves and might be open to the FIRE ethos.

The Community/Charities

I’ll include this because right now, I think when I retire early, I’d probably do some volunteering to hopefully do some good in the community so that will be a beneficial impact resulting from my early retirement.

Anyway, for a post which started with dentists, this has ended with me feeling quite positive about FIRE, especially during a time when I know that my Future Fund has no doubt been plummeting relentlessly with the markets!

No, I haven’t been checking, I don’t need to and don’t want to know the gory details!

So, how do you think those around you will react when you hit FIRE?

Going Mainstream and ‘Liquid Food’

These past couple of months, FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) has been in the news, included in the main newspaper websites (here and here) and other media outlets.

Although for a long while, there has been more publicity in the US due to the exploits/fame of Mr Money Mustache, FIRE in the UK has been quieter but steadily growing, the community expanding and awareness increasing.

Even the BBC picked it up with this  article, which unlike some of the other articles, does not include the usual hysterical negative comments.

Mainstream

In one way, I’m finding it quite exciting that FIRE is in the public eye. It’s good to hear about UK ‘ambassadors’ of FI, people happy and willing to go public and get the message out there to the masses.

Personally, I think more people should aim for FIRE, even if their ultimate aim isn’t to retire early – ok, that means aiming for FI! It won’t do them any harm and if they don’t ultimately achieve it (whatever ‘it’ is), their personal finances would be in a far more reasonable state than had they not made the attempt to follow some of the ideas or the ethos.

However, in another way, I’m not sure I’m totally comfortable with all this publicity that FIRE is getting. Not because I liked being in a secret little club (like Fight Club, you don’t talk about it, etc). I’ve been on this journey a while now but I’m no ‘ambassador’, nor do I have any interest in being one or being in the public eye.

With FIRE becoming more mainstream, there’s an increased chance of someone stumbling across my blog and saying “OMG – I know Weenie!”.

I’ve been blogging semi-anonymously all this time and no one I know is aware of my blog.

@Firethe9to5 once commented that she was surprised my friends and family didn’t know about the blog. Well, they’re obviously not interested in FIRE or never thought to search for it. Except now it’s going mainstream…

If my family discovered my blog, I think I’ll be fine with it. Probably.

If it was friend or colleague, I think I will be mortified!

Why?

Because it feels ok for me to be talking publicly about my finances to a bunch of people I don’t know on the internet but not to discuss them in minute detail with my friends.

I’m sure it’s not just me. If there is the rare conversation about money, there are definitely no numbers involved anyway.

It’s possible that my friends might view my blog positively but I quite like not having to talk about it with anyone who knows me personally. It seems too…private, and yet here I am sharing all with anyone who happens to read my blog!

I take care not to mention the name of the company I work for – don’t want to be sacked for integrity/reputation issues after all.

So, it seems there’s no stopping FIRE and that the media will continue to talk about it, so to delay the inevitable, the eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that I’ve slightly adjusted my avatar  – can’t remember what I did but the image has been ‘stylised’ or made cartoony. I was going to replace it completely but then realised that I would lose a bit of my ‘online’ identity’, for what it’s worth. I think it still looks like me, just a bit less so…

Ah well, if I get found out, I’ll get found out! I’d just rather it was later than sooner, ie when I’m near achieving my goal as I’m sure I couldn’t care less by then!

Liquid Food

Some of you may have seen the Huel experiment which theFIREStarter has been conducting.

I won’t go into detail since it’s all explained in his post but essentially, Huel has been marketed as a nutritionally complete food, convenient, affordable with minimum impact on animals and the environment. It’s 100% vegan.

I prefer to drink it out of a glass, though it means more washing up!

I commented that this wasn’t for me but to cut a long story short, I somehow ended up ordering a couple of bags to try out myself!

I’ve been trying to shift a few pounds of excess weight (from last winter!) and thought perhaps that Huel could help.

Results

Well, I’ve been on it for over month now and I’ve probably only lost a couple of pounds, so not very positive on that front.

However, my clothes seem to fit me better so it seems like I’m a little less bloated, not that I thought I was bloated before.

I have only replaced one meal a day, 5 times a week. Normally, the meal I’m replacing is my breakfast – it’s all very well work providing free breakfast as a perk but that huge bowl of Crunchy Nut cornflakes I used to scoff most days was not good for me and rather high in calories! A Huel shake in the morning is better for me and still keeps me full until lunchtime. It’s also a great post-workout drink.

My standard Huel shake is made with milk (soya or semi-skimmed), topped up with decaff instant coffee and a teaspoon of chia seeds. The coffee seems to make the shake less sweet – the flavour I’m on is vanilla (new).

One thing I have noticed is that the Huel shakes are very high in fibre – even though I’m generally vegetarian during the week, (just for convenience rather than for anything else),  I could always do with more fibre in my diet so this is a good thing.

I don’t feel any different or any worse, energy levels are the same but I can see that if I do want to seriously diet, I have the option to up my Huel meals.

As TFS mentions though, there is a placebo effect – since I’ve started on Huel, I’ve consciously cut down on snacks and upped my exercise.

I got some great info from the Huel website and forum which is likely to be a life changer for me – I’ve been going about my life thinking that an average woman needs 2000 calories to maintain healthy weight. However, I’m smaller than the average woman so need less calories (only around 1500), so with that in mind, I’ve started to adjust my normal food consumption.

I don’t think I could ever replace all my food and go 100% Huel but I think replacing occasional meals the way I have can be sustained fairly long-term.

My food shopping bill has gone down a little, though not by too much.

If anyone is interested in trying Huel and wants a £10 voucher (I get one too!) to use if they place an order >£40, please contact me direct and I’ll send you the link.

Is Huel the food of the future? Not so sure, but in a small way, it’s environmentally friendly so perhaps it has its place.

Have a great weekend all.

Thinking Fast, Reading Ever So Slow

So one of my goals of the year is to read at least 3 non-fiction books this year.

As someone who only enjoys reading fiction, non-fiction pushes me out of my comfort zone so three is just about all I might manage!

A book that was recommended by various FIRE people was ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman, so I picked this up at my local library.

Verdict

I’ll be blunt and shall say that I really did not enjoy reading this book.

I thought the writing was soooooo tedious, far too academic and far too long – an eye-glazing textbook.

It was a struggle and I found that I could only read/only wanted to read a few pages at a time, which didn’t sit well with me, as I usually enjoy reading chapters for hours at a time.

I don’t like to give up on books – I know some people think that life is too short for books you don’t enjoy.  I started reading it in May, it’s dragged on til now and I ended up paying a library fine.

However…

Despite the above, I thought that the topics covered by Kahneman were absolutely fascinating!

That’s the annoying thing about this book – I was really interested in the experiments and some of the theory and history, it just wasn’t an easy read by any stretch of the imagination.

One of the book’s aims is to “improve the ability to identify and understand errors of judgement and choice, in others and eventually ourselves…” and indeed, after toiling and slogging through the pages, I did learn about or rather increase my awareness of decision-making.

What did it cover?

There’s an interesting chapter titled ‘The Illusion of Stock-Picking Skill’ – one for those who think they can beat the market – which covered things like halo effects and regression to mean.

There’s been recent mention of cognitive biases and the book touches on these, which might have me looking at my FIRE plans again as it seems most people (and I include myself) are prone to these biases, such as:

  • Optimism Bias, which includes underestimating costs and duration of projects we undertake – will definitely be looking at my spreadsheets again!
  • Confirmation Bias, where we look only for info to confirm what we already think/believe, whilst ignoring any info (even if true) which contradicts our view – perhaps I shouldn’t dismiss the views of FIRE naysayers so quickly…
  • Availability Bias, where continued exposure to things can affect your judgement/thoughts – has being in the FIRE bubble/community lulled me into thinking that what I’m doing is a probability rather than a possibility?

Another topic covered was that most people underestimate the role of chance in events.  Fortunately, I believe very much in luck and chance, being a bit of a gambler (still).

The piece on loss aversion was particularly interesting especially as I could directly apply it to how I feel with my matched betting and also with my investments.

Lots of other interesting stuff covered, such as anchoring effects, stereotyping, how experiences and memories differ and the rise in use of algorithms in decision making (uh oh, robots taking over!)

Some of this stuff I would very much like to read more on, starting with this great piece titled ‘Your Lying Mind‘ which the Monevator kindly brought to my attention this week.

Anyway, I’m so relieved to have gotten the book out of the way – only two other non-fiction books to get through now although I will try to choose something a lot friendlier to read!

Recommend?

Please ignore the negativity at the start of this post – that’s just me struggling with my general aversion to non-fiction! I do recommend this book as it’s got some great insights, some interesting stuff on how people can get swayed in their decision-making and it does make you think.

Oh and I was finally able to update my book bingo card again – yay!

Retirement Conversations

Just a random post to share a few recent conversations I’ve had about retirement:

Conversation #1

I had a routine medical appointment the other day and was attended by the same nurse I’ve been seeing for a while.

When I saw her, I made a comment about her not wearing her usual glasses.

She proceeded to tell me how she had finally gotten round to having a minor operation on her eyes, which meant that she no longer needed her glasses.

The reason why she was able to have the time to have the operation and recover from it? She’d dropped to part-time hours, or as she revealed in our ensuing conversation, she’d gone into semi-retirement (Is there a difference? I don’t know, I’m just repeating what she said).

I realised then that she didn’t look different just because she wasn’t wearing her glasses, it was because she looked a lot happier and relaxed!

She told me that after a 30-year career with the NHS, she still wasn’t mentally ready for full retirement but that at age 55, she was drawing on part of her pension and that this, coupled with her part-time wages was enough for her to live on and pay for her holidays and hobbies.

Conversation #2

One of my neighbours semi-retired a year ago when she was 53.

The last time we spoke, she was working part-time for a non-profit organisation.

I hadn’t seen her in a while so when I spotted her unpacking some shopping from her car the other day, I stopped for a chat and asked her how things were going.

“Oh I’ve jacked in my part-time hours,” she told me.

“Why’s that?” I asked.

“I’m too busy to work! Too much to do, too many places to visit!” she replied.

Work/Semi-Retire/Early Retire

So that’s just two examples of people who are very happy with the decision they’d made as regards retirement/semi-retirement, and although not extremely early retirement, still early in that state pension won’t be available til they are 65.

However, I wonder how easy it was for them to make that decision? Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that it was something I could ask either of them!

Which brings me to all the kerfuffle going on about early retirees changing their minds (nicely put in this excellent post by Monevator).

Who really knows what they will do when the time comes (unless you absolutely hate your job, in which case it’s clear what you will do!) and you reach your financial goals?

Jim from SMHD tried the early retirement thing and decided to go back to work.

Early retirement is not for everyone,  even for those planning for it!

There’s every chance that instead of going for early retirement when I reach my FI number, that I may choose to work reduced hours. However, like my neighbour, I may find that even part-time hours will get in the way of me enjoying my new found freedom properly!

Or I may actually go for full retirement, which sounds very appealing when I’ve had a tough week at work and wish every weekend was a bank holiday weekend.

Or I might continue working (one more year?), which is how I feel when I’ve had a good day at work, had a great laugh and felt like I’ve achieved and contributed loads. (Yes really, I do have good days!).

I have no idea how I will feel when the time comes to pull that retirement trigger but the most important thing is that I will get to choose what I want to do.

There was a third conversation I had:

Conversation #3

Bumped into an ex-colleague at the gym. She’s still at the company which made me redundant and things seem to be going well for her.

While we were chatting, she revealed that her husband had retired some months earlier.

“When will you be retiring?” I asked her, knowing that she was in her mid-50s.

“I’m not,” she replied, “It would do my head in sitting at home with him all day! I go to work to get away from him, the weekends are enough!”

She was joking…I think!

And Another Thing

The nurse and my neighbour? Both single (one divorced) which cements in my mind that I’m fine going it alone, since it appears that most people aiming for FI are married or with significant others, helping them build their FI pot, sharing expenses.

Not that I’m intentionally staying single (or plan to stay single for long…ooooh!) but if things don’t work out on that front, I’ll be just fine! 😉

And on that note, have a great weekend all!

Where you’ll probably find me at some point on Saturday night…