I’ve been having fun over the last few months. Actually, rather a lot of fun since I’ve not been working. And you know what I’ve been thinking? Could every day be like this? Could I make it work?
The appeal of giving up work now
As I’ve mentioned in the last few months, I’ve not had to work and moreover, I’ve really been enjoying it. Additionally, I have lots and lots of hobbies I’d like more leisure time to pursue. Could I improve my marathon time with more training? And get through more of my to read list? Not to mention when my Chinese course starts up again, I’d like to dedicate more time to it.
As I have reached the hallowed FI ratio of 25, (although I don’t really think I am FI yet) I am getting the strong urge to take a long, long break. And it’s an idea I am struggling to shake.
The original plan
So it’s probably sensible now to recap my original plan. This was to continue to work for 2 more years clearing a decent contract rate, keeping my high savings rate and then making it to my £750k target (or £700k back up target) in my FIRE fund.
In perspective, as of June 2019, I now have £587k in my FIRE fund. Which, as I’m sure you can agree is (a) not too far off the £700 back-up target and (b) a substantial amount of money in it’s own right.
Original FIRE activities
My original FIRE plan was to go long term travelling, sell the house, lose my material belongings and be a nomad. There are so many countries and place in the world I have not seen yet, that I have a strong desire to see. I see a lot of slow travel in my future, moving from place to place in an ecologically friendly way rather than flying everywhere.
However, I am not yet ready to undertake this travel for a few reasons, but I will be in a couple of years.
Looking for work
Truth be told, I’m not as flexible as I used to be. I’m not hungry for work and have no desire to take contracts that don’t appeal to me. While there are plenty of jobs out there, not many are really calling to me. And this is reflected in my attitude to looking.
Not to mention I just don’t have the patience to deal with recruiters, which is 90% of the battle to securing a decent contract job. The incessant phone calls and sales pitches are no fun – not to mention being screened by people who are fixated on job title – which is meaningless for contractors.
What I could do now
So, I am toying with the idea of taking a break to study Chinese full time. For fun. I think I would have so much fun being a full-time student again. And my Chinese would come on leaps and bounds I am sure with much more time dedicated to it.
Not that I have been hedging my bets, but I have already applied for the full-time course. I was originally planning to drop down to half time – but as I’m not working now this seems like an ideal opportunity.
If I was to stop working, I’d continue with my voluntary work, which means so much to me and bring me good ‘feels’. Moreover, I know I am actually supporting people and helping non-profit organisations with my professional skills. Not to mention that these would keep me one foot in the door of work.
As I get older, I am getting more and more political. I *think* I’d love to get involved in some activism or campaigning, but I’ve always shied away from this as these things need a mega commitment and lots of time. But if I was to stop working, this sort of thing becomes a more and more realistic possibility.
As you may have noticed, I’ve got strong feelings on Brexit and want us to remain. It seems like late summer 2019 will be a time with lots of campaigning to this end. Is it time for me to get involved?
And onto the downsides of stopping working. Currently, I’m very much at risk due to poor market returns – sequence of returns risk could slaughter me here. And with the Brexit saga ongoing, sterling-denominated markets are not looking very stable. Not to mention a substantial amount of my funds are in pensions, not accessible for another 18-20 years.
Additionally, given the tight financial situation, if I stopped working I’d end up imposing tight financial rules on myself. I’d be squeezing that budget and keeping my expenses down. I predict I’d be reluctant to spend money and hence avoid going into central London on a regular basis. But would I go so far as to make my life unenjoyable? After all, most of my hobbies are not expensive.
Getting back into the job market
As the daughter of career workers (civil servants no less), I’ve always had it drummed into me you always have to work. That you line up the next job before leaving the existing job.
In a perfect world, all the planets would collide and I’d never need to work again. But this isn’t a perfect world, so I need to plan to get back on the gravy train. And truth be told, that is the bit I am unsure about, put simply what rate cuts would this involve and could I have it after the freedom?
My money isn’t in the right place for a long break
I always hear people planning properly to give up work or retire. They move money to cash and bonds and reduce their exposure to the markets. At the moment I’ve got a 95:5 portfolio, and probably around 1.5 years of expenses in cash around. Truth be told, I think I’d need more cash, and I don’t want to liquidate my investments.
But the nomadic end goal?
And this is a big issue – if I take a few years off now, I am pushing my nomadic travel end goals further down the line by probably a few years. Realistically I’ll still have to work a few more years before going nomadic, so any time I take off now could just delay the end goal.
What to do?
To conclude there is no doubt I am very, very tempted to quit working. I just don’t have that drive to work anymore. I’m going to play it by ear at the moment and see what falls into my lap. If I get accepted full time into the Chinese course, that may be my plan. If an amazing contract comes up, that will be the plan. I’m clearly at a crossroads, waiting for a sign.
Over to you
- What are your thoughts?
- Is now the right time to take a break from working?
- Have you ever taken a long break from work?