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The Downside of Financial Independence


The Downside of Financial IndependenceI’m a huge fan of Financial Independence. It’s the pinnacle of personal finance achievement and everyone should at least learn about the concept. Of course, it’s even better to pursue financial independence and then achieving it. We reached financial independence in 2012 and I retired from my engineering career soon after. My life improved so much since then, it’s unbelievable. I encourage everyone to shoot for financial independence because it’s such a great goal. There is no downside to it.

Well, that’s what I used to think. But, now I’m not so sure. Financial independence has been fantastic for us, but nothing is 100% good all the time. We’re running into one of these downsides now. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Trouble in Paradise

You may have seen this if you follow me on Twitter. Here is a tweet I sent out earlier this week. If you’re not following me on Twitter, click over and follow retirebyforty. I post regular life pictures and comments so you can see what the ER lifestyle is all about. You can also follow me on Instagram if you prefer that platform.

twitter tweet

Change is the only constant in life

Mrs. RB40 (my wife) has been happy at work and she doesn’t mind working while I’m a stay at home dad/blogger. It’s a great situation for us because we can continue to save and we don’t have to worry about healthcare. However, she came home in a huff and gave everyone a hard time earlier this week.

It turns out that her boss is leaving for greener pastures and her job is going to change. That’s too bad because she is in a great spot at work. She gets to do what she enjoys and impacts the organization in a positive way. This shift means she will get a new boss. While the vision/mission of the organization won’t change, her role will (even though she is really happy for her boss). Her current project which sets a foundation for other projects may be deprioritized. She’ll either get pushed to work in a different area which she doesn’t care for or absorb those duties in addition to what she’s already doing. (It’s already coming down the pipe.) Of course, it’s an opportunity to move up as well, but she doesn’t want or need that either. Her current job is just right and she doesn’t want additional stress and responsibilities. Her current work/life balance is very good right now.

That’s the problem with a job. Even if you have the perfect job, it will change. A job won’t be perfect forever. I liked my engineering job when I first started, but I couldn’t stand it by the time I quit. That’s why saying you won’t retire because you love your job is a fallacy. You probably won’t love your job in 10 or 20 years. Also, there is no guarantee that your employer will still love you. These days, most employers prefer younger workers who are more driven, have long term potential, and are paid less. Experience doesn’t mean jack because technology changes so fast now. More and more jobs are outsourced or turned into independent gigs. No job is secure, so don’t ever think you’re indispensible. Everyone can be replaced.

The downside of financial independence

Fortunately, we are already financial independent. We will be fine if she quits her day job and joins the RB40 team full time. Sure, I’d miss her income and healthcare coverage, but it’s not a big deal. At this point, we can afford it. She’ll be much less stressed so it will be worth it. She always wanted more time to do non “work-related” things (more volunteering, designing and other creative arts stuff.) This is the opportunity to do it.

That’s the downside of financial independence. When you’re FI, your tolerance for workplace BS drops like a rock. If Mrs. RB40 wasn’t financially independent, then she would just soldier on like everybody else. But now she has more options. She doesn’t have to deal with any workplace BS if she really doesn’t want to. In all likelihood, the workplace will settle back into some kind of rhythm and her job will probably be fine even if it does change. I think she should hang on for a few months to see how things shake out. It might not be as bad as she imagines. Nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems, right? Also, she’s not quite ready to retire yet. Let’s stick to the 2020 target date.

Okay, that’s it for today. This is a short one because it’s been a semi stressful week here at the RB40 household. In addition to Mrs. RB40’s problem at work, I’m trying to replace our undead HVAC from the 80s. I met a few contractors to get an estimate and they are all pretty expensive. It’s been somewhat disruptive because they all take about an hour each to go through everything.

What about you? Do you think there is any downside to financial independence?

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Image credit: Daniel Pascoa

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, he hated the corporate BS. He left his engineering career behind to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. At Retire by 40, Joe focuses on financial independence, early retirement, investing, saving, and passive income.

For 2018, Joe plans to diversify his passive income by investing in US heartland real estate through RealtyShares. He has 3 rental units in Portland and he believes the local market is getting overpriced.

Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help every investor analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.

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{ 98 comments… add one }
  • Darren @ Learn to Be Great May 3, 2018, 2:41 am

    …doesn’t sound like a downside at all to me. You guys are financially independent so she can weather the storm or bail. FI has given you options!

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 9:05 am

      I know… I was thinking this is rich people problem when I was finishing this one.
      If it was me, I’d just quit. Mrs. RB40 is a bit more patient so she’ll stick with it for a few more months.
      It will probably work out. She knows the incoming boss and he’s good. She’s just bitter that her current project will be deprioritized.
      That’s how I felt when my engineering projects got canceled.

    • David @ VapeHabitat July 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

      I think, in general, being independent of anything has more pros than cons. But, as everything else, this may have it’s own exclusions.

  • Accidental FIRE May 3, 2018, 3:19 am

    “That’s the downside of financial independence. When you’re FI, your tolerance for workplace BS drops like a rock.”

    Joe I think I’d put that in the “upside” category myself, just sayin’. To me the only downside to financial independence is how your family might look at you different or ask to borrow money if they know about it. But it’s a small downside.

    I hope things work out with your wife’s new boss and position!

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 9:07 am

      We have a small extended family here in the US so we don’t have that problem. My brothers are doing okay financially. I feel very lucky to not have to deal with this one.

  • Good morning Joe,

    Sucks that your wife is stressed and concerned about work. It sounds like she doesn’t actually want to quit (even though you’re FI), but rather she just wants this specific problem to go away.

    Who knows – maybe the new boss and the new role will be even better than her current one? She won’t know until she tries. Definitely stick it out for a bit!

    Remember, the grass is not greener on the other side. It is greener where you water it.

    • Anita May 3, 2018, 4:20 am

      Chris, I love that quote. How true!!!

    • Pennypincher May 3, 2018, 5:37 am

      Chris, I love your that quote too. Going to post-it note on my mirror-thanks!

    • Thanks Anita and Pennypincher. Not sure where exactly I first saw it – somewhere on Facebook I think.

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 9:08 am

      Right. She just wants things to stay the same, but change is inevitable. Nothing stays the same for long these days.
      I like that greener quote. Nice one.

  • Mr. Tako May 3, 2018, 3:31 am

    “No job is secure, so don’t ever think you’re indispensable. Everyone can be replaced.”

    So true Joe! There is no 30 year career at one company anymore.

    Sorry to hear that Mrs. RB40’s job got stressful. I’ve had that same scenario happen to me a couple times and it’s no fun.

    I agree that she should give the “new” job a chance. She might like it. But if the stress of the job gets too much, she should just quit.

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 9:10 am

      She said she’ll stick around and see how it goes. It’s only fair. I’m much less patient these days and didn’t stick around. I probably should have stayed 6 more months so I could squeeze out a severance package. It worked out fine so I can’t complain. 🙂

  • BusyMom May 3, 2018, 3:33 am

    I already have zero tolerance for workplace BS. We aren’t FI yet, so the only thing that happens is me changing jobs every now and then. I would rather be FI …

    What you said is right -nothing is as bad or good as you would imagine.

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 9:12 am

      That’s good too. I tried changing job a couple of times. It helped for a while, but the BS always came back. Eventually, I knew it wasn’t the right career for me. Part time self-employment fits me much better. Keep at it!

  • Tom @ Dividends Diversify May 3, 2018, 4:09 am

    Hi Joe, The downside is actually the upside being the freedom of choice to continue on in the work place or move on. It’s still hard to deal with negative change that your wife does not control.
    We are similar in that my wife carries our health insurance through work in a second “encore” career. We will need to purchase health insurance when she hangs it up. We had a few year stint where we had to purchase health insurance in the past. Like anything with health care, it’s expensive and confusing. I’m hoping you will write about your purchase experience and decision making on health care insurance when the time comes. Tom

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 9:17 am

      I’m not looking forward to that part of early retirement at all.
      I checked the HealthCare.gov yesterday and we’ll pay around $500/month for a silver plan. That’s not bad and we can afford that.
      We like our current plan, though. Changing that would be painful. Our current doctors are great and I’d hate to change. I hope they’re in the network when we have to change health insurance.

  • [email protected] May 3, 2018, 4:28 am

    I can see me downside being a lack of motivation.

    Being productive makes me happy. It’s why I envision myself doing some kind of work through retirement.

    Money motivates me to work. If I did not need the money, I can see myself working less. That could make me less productive and less happy.

    I’ll worry about that problem another time though. For now, I’m focusing on getting there.

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 12:17 pm

      I’m running into the motivation problem. It’s hard to follow through on things when you don’t have to.
      Complacency sets in after a while especially when everything is going smoothly. Kid is in school so we don’t want to make big changes at this time anyway.

  • Eclipse On Fire May 3, 2018, 4:48 am

    FI definitely does have a downside in the form of exacerbating dissatisfaction of work. On the plus side, after a few years of living on half our income, job loss is no longer scary. It also means I work hard when I think it’s important and slack when I don’t, rather than stress out and work my ass off on everything. Actually this approach seems to impress my bosses more than anything, so yeah, FI pays in a lot of ways.

    • That ability to discern when to work hard vs. not as hard is awesome. In other words, you can hold back and keep some energy in reserve for when it really matters.

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 12:20 pm

      I like your approach. Mrs. RB40 has a hard time with that. She doesn’t know how to slack off. It’s tough to be a perfectionist.

  • FullTimeFinance May 3, 2018, 4:49 am

    Like others I view this as an upside. Having the ability to weather the storm but if it goes badly just leave can alleviate a lot of the stress.
    I’m reminded of a saying, people don’t leave companies they leave bosses. They really can make or break the job.

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 12:21 pm

      You’re right about bosses. My old boss who got laid off in 2010 made the job bearable. Once I got a new boss, it was no fun anymore. The new boss wasn’t that bad either…

      • Jim May 3, 2018, 4:16 pm

        So true and so many thousands of us can relate to the “new boss syndrome”, but never mind “job not fun anymore” – the real stress comes when the boss changes from someone reasonable to a total jerk, along with difficulty getting a different role. Wish Mrs. RB40 the best moving forward. No doubt in my mind FI is the best stage to be in.

  • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance May 3, 2018, 5:03 am

    The only downside I can think of is that hubby and I will get tired of seeing each other too much and will start bickering all day everyday. Since he started working, we only see each other for about an hour before going to bed, but sometimes that also involves getting on each other’s nerves.

    That said, trying to keep ourselves busy with different things might help.

    I hope everything will work out for Mrs. RB40. Sometimes I get frustrated at work and take it out on Mr. FAF too >.<

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 12:23 pm

      That’s a good point. Usually we can keep out of each other’s hair at home. But it might be different when we’re home all the time, especially in the winter. I might need to go back to working at the library.

  • Jonathan May 3, 2018, 5:14 am

    These days, most employers prefer younger workers who are more driven, have long term potential, and are paid less. Experience doesn’t mean jack because technology changes so fast now.


    Unfortunately, that’s so true these days and becoming more so by the minute: You become obsolete faster than a New York nanosecond.

    The future certainly does look very, very bleak for all workers. I’d hate to be part of our children’s generation and the generations after that.

    • Joe May 3, 2018, 7:47 am

      Not all workers. It looks great for robot brain designers.

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 12:24 pm

      I’m afraid for our son too. He’ll have to be adaptable and be open to changes. The traditional career will probably be extinct in 20 years.

    • Jim May 3, 2018, 4:23 pm

      Though pessimistic, I’ve got to agree – other than medical, no clue what career path i would advise for young people. And with the trend it seems someday society will need to confront what all professionals age 40-60 will do

  • abuckeye May 3, 2018, 5:30 am

    Sorry for the stress of a workplace change. I am with you that she should give it some time to see how the dust settles. I was in a situation where the most wondrous boss I had ever worked moved on to a better opportunity. I had worked with him for 10 years and he was everything a person wants in a boss. He gave me complete autonomy and complete trust, but his brilliance was always available to me when I ran into a challenge for which I needed coaching. I had no interest in his job and turned down the opportunity when it was offered to me. Sometime after that I fell out of grace with my boss’ boss….combination of blocking the organization by refusing to move and insulting his fragile ego. Word came down to me that my new boss’ first assignment was to fire me….it was well crafted. I tele-commuted part of the week due to my 60 mile commute. The path to my dismissal was to revoke my telecommuting privileges. Boy did I have anxiety when my new boss showed up to take charge at our location. My anxiety was unwarranted. I teamed up with him and continued to perform as I always had. In the end he went to bat for me to obtain a miracle severance package that includes grow in to pension and healthcare at 55. I know each person’s experience is different and I may have won the lottery on that outcome, but keep the faith as it may work out okay.

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 12:26 pm

      Wow, it turned out very well for you. Nice job working with the new boss. That’s a great story. Thanks for sharing.

  • Pennypincher May 3, 2018, 5:35 am

    I n t e r e s t i n g post, Joe. Tell Mrs. not to panic (breathe!), go w/the flow and see what happens the next 3, 6, 12 months perhaps? Meantime, stash that paycheck! Never fails, your great boss moves on, and doesn’t take you w/them. And oh how the scene changes. She could sit down, look at her options (go w/her boss?), perhaps see a career counselor for a change.
    You’re so right about having a lower tolerance for workplace BS after you leave. The constant changing/updating/learning new software used to drive everyone nuts!
    I would tough it out until your target date, go w/the flow, see what happens. Maybe it will put Mrs. RB40 in a whole new direction to a new job, or career path. Even it’s a short one! Good luck Mrs., you are not alone! Best-

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 9:39 pm

      I’ll tell her that. She reads the comment so she should see it here too. 🙂
      Thank you!

  • Adam and Jane May 3, 2018, 6:17 am


    Sucks that changes are causing Mrs. RB40 stress. That is precisely why in 2010 I was mentally prepared to quit when I heard rumours that I may report to a bad manager and of future lay offs. By 2012, we were almost FI generating 40K (not enough money for medical coverage) tax free income from muni bonds. The re-org and laid offs occurred in 2012. I was suppose to report to the bad mgr but he got laid off. Karma is a bitch! I dodged a bullet.

    We had to scramble to generate passive income from scratch and it took 4 years to be fully FI by 2014 with 66K of tax free bond income. At least, you guys had a head start striving towards FI and Mrs. RB40 has the option to quit now if she wants to.

    In 2012 to 2017, 1,000 IT workers were laid off. We were extremely fortunate that we heard of the rumours in 2010 and prepped for doomsday. All of our co-workers did not prep and they had financial stress when they were laid off. Many had to relocate to another state for a job. Since we were FI, we had no financial stress but we felt bad for our co-workers.

    Since 2010 I had 5 different managers. One manager was looking out for me said to learn to support another application so that it looks better on my eval. I said “no thanks since I am stressed enough supporting my existing systems”. I said I will be OK if the company lays me off. He asked if I would look for another job and I repied “No since I am FI”. He was surprised that I can stop working at age 50 and he was 62. He never brought up “new opportunities” to me again. My co-worker who wasn’t FI got stuck learning the new pain in the ass application. Having FU money or being FI gave me the power to say NO Thank you!

    Tell Mrs. RB40 to hang in there and just be prepared for the worst, early retirement which is NOT a bad thing! See how the new manager is and politely say what she wants to do when she is given “new opportunities”. She can say no thanks and negotiate her new responsibilies. If her mgr plays hard ball then Mrs. RB40 can always hand in her resignation letter and her manager will be worst off losing her.

    Jane was laid off in 2016 with a 234K severance and she is SO HAPPY! With her 52K pension, 8K yearly for retiree medical and with our tax free muni bond income, our passive income is 2X expenses. I just have 17 more months until I am eligible to retire at 55. At 55, my pension doubles to 70K and I get 8K tax free yearly for company medical. I am focused on this prize and I don’t give a hoot on the company BS.

    This year management gave me a 7K raise and 30K bonus because they fear that I may retire. Normally, I would get 2-3.5K raise and a 24K bonus. My boss said management wanted to give me more money because I am doing a great job supporting the systems by myself and to not retire. It turns out that they need someone to support my systems for a min of 5-8 more years. Silly how they did not see this and they laid off my co-worker who is my backup. Now, they don’t have anyone when I retire in late 2019. When asked, I would tell them that I will stay another 2-3 more years…yeah, right 😉

    If Mrs. RB40 gets a pension, company retiree medical or any money incentive in 2020 then grind it out if it is important financially. If not then hand in her walking papers when she had enough.


    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 9:43 pm

      Thanks for sharing. You’re doing really well. Just hang in there a little longer. You’re almost there.
      It’s great that you pushed back and got to do what you wanted. It looks like they tried to optimize too much and shot themselves in the foot. 🙂

  • Helen May 3, 2018, 6:19 am

    I understand why your wife is frustrated about this sudden change. It plays a huge part on our work life who the boss is. A good boss could make our job enjoyable, good, or at least not bad. A lousy boss could really make us miserable at work every day.

    Hey, try to embrace the change. You never know, it might turn to be a great opportunity for her, in the long run. In my last job as a banker, my boss (a very good manager) left the company. I stayed there for 2 more months after he left, and decided to retire. I have to thank for that change.

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 9:44 pm

      You’re absolutely correct. I had good bosses and bad bosses. They made a huge difference.
      We’ll see how it goes.

  • Doc G May 3, 2018, 6:52 am

    The problem with financial independence is that it removes all the BS from your life and makes it glaringly obvious if you are not being your best self. You can no longer hide behind excuses like:
    If I just had more money.
    If I just had more time.

  • The CFO May 3, 2018, 7:10 am

    Same conversation with my wife last night. Last week she loved her job. She loves Learning and doing new things so I think it is just a phase. She’ll probably be home tonight loving her job again. Ebbs and flows, I say. Our target is 3 years out, so close that no use bailing out now.

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 9:45 pm

      My wife’s job has been great for a while now. She didn’t have to deal with this kind of changes in a long time so it’s stressful. 3 years is very close. Keep at it!

  • Steve @ familyonfire.org May 3, 2018, 7:13 am

    No one goes to Roger Federer and says you have mastered Tennis so you need to spend the next 5 years becoming just as good at golf. And if you don’t become as good we are firing you. But that is what happens In business all the time.

    If you are good and motivated and happy at your job it would be nice to be left alone to continue the good work rather than upsetting the status quo.

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 9:46 pm

      Every new boss want to make some changes. It seems like they just can’t leave things that are working well alone.

  • Young FIRE Knight May 3, 2018, 7:21 am

    That really is a bummer that your wife’s job is changing like that. Even the best laid plans may have a roadblock! That’s why I think it’s essential that on the road to and during FI you need to be flexible in order to change course when life throws you curve balls. Hoping it all works out well for you and family!

  • Joe May 3, 2018, 7:57 am

    Some good suggestions here. Like you, I am from the semiconductor industry, so job security was always iffy. I never got laid off but always ready to move any day. It frequently can work to your advantage. My job moves always led to a better position, higher pay, more stock options, growth, developing more contacts and more experience. Embrace change…

    Perhaps following her boss is an option? Often new employees are not allowed to recruit from their old company but if she drops him a hint, nothing prevents her from taking the initiative to forward her resume. I’ve done that type of move and it worked out great. Since my field was technology, it was perhaps more important to give the appearance that I was not recruited.

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 9:48 pm

      Her boss is moving to the east coast. I don’t think she wants to do that at the moment. Who knows?
      Maybe once her boss settle in, they might work something out.

  • freebird May 3, 2018, 8:05 am

    I wouldn’t see having the freedom to choose, along with the responsibility to make the decision whether to stay or leave, as a downside. It puts you on an equal footing with your employer, so if the position isn’t mutually satisfactory it can be terminated by either party. True having this power can be stressful, but it gives you an idea what it feels like on your employer’s side. Contrary to popular belief most employers don’t enjoy making life miserable for their workers.

    My idea of an FI downside is the risk of damage from bad investment or spending decisions. Back when we were just starting out our account balances were low enough that even after a wipeout they could be restored after a few paychecks. Now you’re in a situation where it could take decades to recover after a major loss. I’m not saying that Mr Market is out to get you, but I’m not inclined to trust him any more than my employer.

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 9:49 pm

      You’re right about Mr. Market. You can’t depend on anybody, but yourself.

      • freebird May 5, 2018, 6:32 am

        This just in from Monevator– even if your investment decisions are spot on, holding them at the wrong broker can be surprisingly costly:
        “Ring-fenced client money is going to be taken and used, and clients will not get all their money back.”

  • [email protected] May 3, 2018, 8:30 am

    I agree with Darren above…it doesn’t seem like a downside at all. I feel like I have less BS for work stuff and I haven’t reached FI yet but I’m on the path there. My last boss was horrible but my current boss is great…she might retire in a few years so I’ll have to reevaluate then. Plus the other work BS stuff does get bothersome.

  • AGoodLifeMD May 3, 2018, 10:07 am

    I agree with many other comments that a low threshold for walking away from workplace BS is an upside and luxury afforded by FI. I feel similar since becoming FI.
    It is a negative because it kills motivation to soldier through and maybe push past into new territory, new skills, character building, *insert personal growth cliche*.
    If she doesn’t have a career to fall back into it’s scary though becuase unlike you she may not have a blog to keep the hands unidle.

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 9:52 pm

      You got it about the motivation. I’m much less motivated now. Complacency sets in because everything is going so well. I want to learn new skills, but the timeline is a lot more relaxed. Maybe too relaxed…
      I’m pretty sure she won’t be idle. She is always busy with something or another.

  • Abigail @ipickuppennies May 3, 2018, 10:40 am

    For me, the big worry would be the healthcare coverage. Speaking as someone already stuck on the marketplace (and who has chronic ailments… and a husband with chronic ailments) I don’t think a lot of early retirement folks realize just how expensive it is to be sick. Or they may just not realize how easily they *could* come down with something chronic or life-threatening. For that reason, I worry about couples who retire early together.

    • Abigail @ipickuppennies May 3, 2018, 10:43 am

      PS. Our trivia group needs more people and is no longer on Meetup. Don’t suppose you’d be willing to travel to central/north Phoenix once in a while?

      PPS. If not, hopefully I at least make it out to the next Phoenix FinCon gathering so we can finally meet!

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 9:54 pm

      Thanks for your input. I’m afraid of the healthcare coverage too. We’ll get a silver plan, but probably has to pay quite a bit out of pocket too. I’ll also use medical tourism for expensive procedures. It should be okay..

  • jim May 3, 2018, 10:48 am

    I agree with what some others have said. The ability to not have to tolerate BS at work is a luxury and a good thing.

  • Reverse Engineer May 3, 2018, 11:00 am

    So why isn’t her boss being replaced?

    Astonished at how much it cost to replace an AC/furnace 10 years ago (almost as much as a nice used car!). Luckily there were generous energy credits that cut the price about 25%. And the new system uses about 1/3 the energy, and performs so much better.

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 9:56 pm

      Her boss is getting replaced. I think the new boss will be on the east coast, though. Not sure how that will work out.
      We rarely use the HVAC so the energy saving isn’t a big concern. The initial cost is pretty crazy.

  • BucketBabe May 3, 2018, 11:35 am

    I know exactly what Mrs. RB40 is dealing with…I left at the right time. It can get as bad as you think. I saw the storm coming, made the appropriate plans and hurried the FI plan along as fast as I could. I may go back to work to shore things up to a point where there is no possibility of failure but I get to decide after taking some time off to think about what my goals are now. All the people I left behind at the dreadmill are now texting me, asking for advice as the rays of FI sunshine have finally penetrated through to some of my ex-co-workers.

    The ONLY downside I’ve seen so far is that I haven’t found enough people with my similar interests who have the luxury of time that I do…hence, I travel alone, backpack alone a lot and hang out by myself a lot. I’ve joined some Meet Ups to help with this but it’s still a struggle to find people to do cool things with during the workweek. A lot of the people with lots of free time are much older than me – physically, mentally, and chronologically. That’s kind of a bummer.

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 9:58 pm

      Nice move! My old co-workers are tired of working too. It’s a grind mill at Intel.
      Yes, you should do more meet ups. I’m okay with that aspect because I’m an introvert. Also, our son helps a lot. I need to take him to soccer, play date, etc… I can socialize with other parents. Good luck!

  • Sam May 3, 2018, 11:55 am

    Oh Joe, how will you survive choosing between the Porsche or the Ferrari or a luxury cruise or flying first class?!

    Sometimes you have to choose toro belly sashimi and skip the unagi.



    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 9:59 pm

      You finally get a chance to get me back for leaving this kind of comment at your site.
      Nice! 🙂

  • Felipe May 3, 2018, 12:12 pm

    Ditto on having less patience for BS. I’m still working, but ready of the FI side. I’ve just been waiting for the mood to strike to leave. I’m pretty sure I’ll leave 12/31, telling them on 9/1.
    Good news is I get less BS because they know I’m about to retire. I haven’t been given extra raises or bonuses to incent me. They want me to promise to stay, so I ask how long they want me but that requires a contract we both sign. They don’t do things that way. So, I say “no guarantees then”. It makes them mad, but c’est la vie. If they let me go now, who’s punished? It’s not me.
    Employers are used to owning employees, dumping on them, having them beg to keep their jobs. As more people reach FI the tables turn on negotiations. BNSF locally is offering $20,000 signing bonuses, Union Pacific offering $15,000. The transit authority is short 100 drivers, making for mandatory OT for existing drivers, so their drivers leave burned out.
    I know the economy will tank again and employers will have the upper hand again. But I’ll be at home, shoveling snow, splitting firewood – or biking in a warm climate and tending my garden. Right now people should be changing jobs for better pay, and saving that extra pay for the future.
    I’m pretty much mentally done with employers and ready to wind down. These last 7 months will seem long.

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 10:01 pm

      Good luck! I don’t think it’s a good idea to tell them that far ahead. Maybe 4 weeks at the most.
      Just hang in there. It’ll go by pretty quickly if you don’t dwell on it too much. Enjoy the summer!

  • theo May 3, 2018, 1:29 pm

    I went through that exact thing, I dropped my job at 40 like a hot potato when I couldn’t take it anymore and I never went back although it was 2-3 years earlier than I expected to do it. But that is not really a downside.

    A downside which has been gathering steam in the 9 years since my “retirement”, is the fact that I have very few deadlines so I can always leave unpleasurable things for later… It seems that I achieve less from my “to do” list or spread it over longer timeframes while dedicating much more time to pleasurable activities. I am not really complaining, it’s just an observation…

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 10:03 pm

      Thanks for sharing. I’m running into that problem more this year. I have a list, but things keep getting push out. Complacency sets in. Maybe you need a new project you can get excited about.

  • EngagingData May 3, 2018, 2:24 pm

    Not sure it’s a downside or just a readjustment of priorities. When something isn’t essential (i.e. a job for money), you are less willing to tolerate unpleasant aspects of it.

    Work is, unfortunately, mostly binary. You either do it or don’t (though there is the option of part-time). So it’s hard to scale back on a job until the benefits and costs are equivalent. Instead, you are forced to decide whether the less pleasant parts are worth a complete separation from work. That is the hard part, I think.

  • Britt May 3, 2018, 6:19 pm

    Most astoundingly true theory I’ve heard lately: “When you’re FI, your tolerance for workplace BS drops like a rock.” I worked 33 years at my law firm, retired @ 57 and WOW! Hearing the cr*p that is happening there, I couldn’t have said it better! ??

    • retirebyforty May 3, 2018, 10:04 pm

      Good move! I could never deal with the old workplace BS again. I’d just walk out.

  • Mr. Income Master May 3, 2018, 8:17 pm

    “That’s the downside of financial independence. When you’re FI, your tolerance for workplace BS drops like a rock.”
    I treat that as an upside and don’t let things stress me as having the FU fund means you can leave whenever you want comfortably.

  • Jason May 3, 2018, 9:19 pm

    Yep, once you stop believing you have to do something you don’t really want to do then the motivation falls off.

    A downside of not having a job to go to is that you can start to feel isolated. You have to find other things to keep you occupied and motivated but it’s not that easy.

  • Mark @ fifreaks.com May 3, 2018, 9:31 pm

    Hi There. You never know what the future holds so if Ms. RB40 likes her work then she’s got nothing to lose by sticking it out for a few months to see how it unfolds. Option 1: The new boss lets her keep the same role and responsibility and all is well. Option 2: New role sucks and she joins you in ER. That’s my favorite part of FI. I’m in control of my options, not someone else who doesn’t have my best interest in mind.

    I also liked the “When you’re FI, your tolerance for workplace BS drops like a rock.” comment. I started my “Workplace Honesty Program” last October when I found out I was FI. I just gave notice last Friday. On to the RE part real soon.

    Good luck with your decisions.

  • Cubert May 4, 2018, 4:10 am

    Like many of the comments here, Joe, I tend to think Mrs. RBF is holding all the cards here. Sure it bites when a good boss moves on, but think how worse she’d feel if you guys were NOT financially independent?

    At least in your current situation, she can plow straight through the BS and push the envelope a bit. If she doesn’t like the new boss, she can ask to be reassigned and with higher confidence. That confidence – if backed up with the best interest of both the employee AND the company is what will ironically help her advance.

  • Lily | The Frugal Gene May 4, 2018, 6:12 am

    Oh dear I totally missed this post. I read that tweet and thought “wow and it’s all happening so quick too!”

    There might be a small downside to financial independence (getting lazy?) But that’s not really FIs fault solely. And there’s a easy cure for that.

  • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life May 4, 2018, 10:11 am

    I’m like your wife – I don’t want things to change. At least not the things *I* like 😀 But since I know they always will and EVERYONE is replaceable, I focus on preparing myself for the inevitable changes.

    It’s good to know you can always leave if you *want* do (being FI) but it’s also good to build patience and see how things shake out in the end (whether or not you’re FI). It may be better. That’s not something I would ever have said at the beginning of my career, but 15+ years has taught me that sometimes, weathering changes is worthwhile. PiC had 2 really crappy years with his manager, we worked through that time, and then came into 5 really great (and lucrative!) years with the new manager. The old manager would not have been replaced if he, like ten other people, just left without fighting for what they deserved. He’s been promoted twice and earned great raises every single year in a top company in his industry and he’s been using the most important skills he’s proud of. That’s cool!

    But there’s also our friend who retired early because his company insisted on hiring that same terrible manager and he just walked because he knew that manager, and knew that they had not changed at all. Freedom!

    • retirebyforty May 6, 2018, 5:05 pm

      Right. It’s harder to weather the changes when you don’t have to.
      Great job on PiC’s part. Sometime it works out. 2 years is a pretty long time, though.

  • Mr. Thrifty May 4, 2018, 3:46 pm

    This is a really thought provoking topic. I can tell from the discussion there are a lot of different perpsectives. I agree it would could be challenging to want to stay at a job you don’t need, but I sure wouldn’t mind the freedom in that!

    What would your wife want to do next if she left?

    • retirebyforty May 6, 2018, 5:06 pm

      That’s the problem. She doesn’t know what she’ll do if she retire early. There are a ton of projects at home, but nothing long term. Maybe she’ll find something once she has more time.

  • My Early Retirement Journey May 4, 2018, 8:12 pm

    looking forward to checking out your “real life” on instagram whenever I get that far…
    …finding that sweet spot in the workplace is part of the pre-retirement goal…but unless you’ve plateaued it doesn’t often last long… more options is good…but not always best… your bring up some good thinking points.

    oh! came to tell you…you were one of the first blogs I read when I stumbled upon FIRE… I did a spotlight on your site on mine. Check it out: https://www.myearlyretirementjourney.com/2018/05/spotlight-on-retire-by-40.html

  • David @iretiredyoung May 5, 2018, 12:02 am

    I also think that there can be a downside to financial independence, but more in the journey to it rather than once FI has been achieved.

    The downside I see is that there is a risk of getting so fixated on achieving FI in the shortest possible time that some forget to live life to the full during the journey. Aiming for a sensible balance is generally good advice.

    • retirebyforty May 6, 2018, 5:10 pm

      You’re right about that one too. We can’t focus solely on money. We need to relax and have fun too.

  • Don’t burn bridges behind you is one old saying that comes to mind and take things one day at a time is the other … I agree with your basic take on it … one it is a good time for reflection and reviewing your options … and on the other hand give it several months to a year to see how things play out and pray for wisdom along the way seeing we are in constant sea of change … CPO 🙂

  • GYM May 5, 2018, 10:31 am

    Sorry that Mrs. RB40 work is changing. You’re right, the only constant is change. It’s good that she knows who the new boss is and she likes him- that’s HUGE. It’s so true that when you are FI, your tolerance for work BS is so much lower (just like tolerance for traffic haha). It will only be 2 more years (or really 1.5 more years) that she has to stick it through if she doesn’t like the boss.

    I’m on parental leave right now and before I left for parental leave, I got a new manager. Manager’s make or break your work environment. Let’s just say she’s not as good as the previous one who retired (the previous one was so amazing there was one day where everyone brought flowers into her office to show appreciation). She hasn’t responded to my follow up email and it’s been about 3 weeks (I sent her another reminder email 2 weeks ago).

    • retirebyforty May 6, 2018, 5:12 pm

      OMG, I can’t deal with rush hour traffic anymore.
      Good luck with getting back to work. It’ll be pretty tough. I had a hard time going back too.

  • Financial Orchid May 5, 2018, 1:26 pm

    Finally some truth from seasoned FI community members ! Thank you for sharing the raw honesty of FI -good, bad, and ugly.

    A lot of younger folks think FIRE is some rainbow lollipops with a pot of gold once they reach the end of the rainbow or fantasies of infinite vacations and trekking to exotic destinations 12 months a year with off season fares because of more aggressive retained earnings early in life than the average masses.

    Similar to what you mention about people loving their perfect job now -that may not be the case down the road as with FI. People need to understand that self employment with slightly higher degree of freedom with their time still comes with downsides, drawbacks, unfortunate tragedy, surprise costs, illness, and accidents… Aka real life.

    No life is perfect –not even FIRE . It’s simply self employment with more flexibility than a w2 paycheck along with less resources, manpower, and more control over daily expenses, output, and cash outflow.

    FIRE folks still have to report taxes, declare residency somewhere in this world, be a part of something bigger than themselves (eg family, community) and that will always come with responsibilities even with 0 personal liabilities.

    Of course it helps alleviate a lot of stress the less bills there are that requires to be serviced.

    People just out of school want to maximize their earnings and they absolutely should. But the older we become past the prime earning years the more content we are to take on less pay and responsibilities for more family or personal time especially the fortunate ones who accumulated FI

  • Mr ATM May 5, 2018, 1:58 pm

    Sorry to hear about all the stress, hopefully things will work out for you guys. BTW, remember all those reorgs at intel? There are only so many one can take and then it’s time to get out.

  • Liquid May 6, 2018, 12:00 pm

    Good for her. 🙂 I would consider this an upside rather than a downside because it’s more favorable than the alternative of not having the choice to step away from the workforce. It might take awhile for her to adjust but I think she will ultimately enjoy her new lifestyle more. 😀

  • Lazy Man and Money May 6, 2018, 8:01 pm

    For a short article, you hit the nail on the head here. I wasn’t FI in 2007, but I was doing okay with blog money. Living in Silicon Valley, the engineering workplace demanded 10-12 hour days. It seems like every company was looking to hire, but they weren’t prepared for someone to say that they really want a work/life balance that focuses more on life. I think the concept made their brains explode.

    Long story short, I’ve available for extra work for some time, but it has to be work that fits into the family schedule.

  • The Poor Swiss May 6, 2018, 11:07 pm

    I think it’s a very small downside compared to all the advantages!

    Sorry about all the stress, but given that you are financially independent, she thas the advantage of being able to call it quits if she wants!

  • Mike @ Ninja Budgeter May 7, 2018, 12:08 pm

    “tolerance for worplace BS drops like a rock”

    Could be worse. FI gives you the ability to walk whenever you want. That would be amazing.

  • firecrackerrev May 8, 2018, 9:34 am

    ” I retired from my engineering career soon after. My life improved so much since then, it’s unbelievable.”

    My feelings exactly. Life is so much better after FIRE I can’t even believe this is my life. As for the “no patience for BS” I can attest to that too. Though I consider an upside of FI instead of downside 🙂

    Sorry to hear about the changes in Mrs.Rb40’s job. It’s so true that just because you love your job doesn’t mean you’ll love it forever. You have no control over what changes. Good thing you’re FI so she has options!

  • Mr MSW May 20, 2018, 6:04 am

    Ah, the power of FU money! I see this as the most important reason to build up that stash. Most people seem to think that if they come in to work and consistently perform, their employer would look out for them and give them a fair shake. Nobody ever thinks that the bad boss scenario (or the layoff scenario, etc) will ever happen to them – until it does! The key is to know that it’s a real thing and to be prepared, as you have.

    I’ve been through that before – was considered a superstar engineer, then had a management shakeup where new managers wants to reduce costs by making all the highly-paid staff miserable enough to quit. Once I saw this and went through it, we began building the FU stash and have actually used it recently.

    Most recent story – was on a travel assignment that was supposed to last about 6 months, that ended up going on about a year. When they told me that they wanted to keep me travelling past the year, I – very politely but firmly – told them they either stopped my travel or they’d have another headcount to fill. And it worked!! Never actually did something like that before. What they say is right – FU money is so empowering.

    The biggest problem I have with the FI-while-working thing is maintaining my motivation while I’m there. I can probably lean-FIRE now, but want to keep going for a few years to pad the stash further and reduce risk later. But then I read the blogs (GCC, Firecracker/Wanderer, etc) where people are travelling and doing all the things I want to do with less of a stash…but then again the job pays well and isn’t really THAT bad….ugh. Nice problem to have tho, to be sure.

  • Mr Shirts May 20, 2018, 7:03 am

    You’re absolutely right about the lack of tolerance for work BS. Usually people who make FI at a young age actually care about their work. It’s tough to see something you care about go downhill. I struggle with this every week, I have a deep loyalty to the company that gave me my first job out of college and I know what needs to be done to get better, but I don’t care to play the political game or work the number of hours necessary to be promoted to a level where I can impact change. It’s tremendously frustrating and I’m not wired properly to “rest and vest” like I need to until early next year

  • Rheumd May 20, 2018, 7:52 am

    As a doc we have numerous pressures tons of bs daily with insurance companies and computers. But I find that being FI makes me more tolerante, knowing I can walk away at any time.

  • Gasem May 20, 2018, 12:52 pm

    I think the problem is not with FI but RE. Most people offload their risk onto an employer. They bargain their time for a paycheck and let the employer worry about the details of making sure that paycheck shows up. When you RE or retire all that off loaded risk returns, and it’s freaky. If you have a robust plan, the risk is something you learn to live with.

  • T May 20, 2018, 6:15 pm

    We found the upside though is that it is easier to put up with the job related rubbish when you know you can work out the door anytime you like.

  • Westcoast May 22, 2018, 10:10 am

    Is the FI blogging community over saturated? It’s articles like this that start to make me think yes.
    The downside of FI is that you might use your FU money to say FU? Diluting good content with these posts really does the community a disservice.
    Sorry for grouching off on you but I expect better here.

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