What a week its been!
When I first started working aged 21 my vague dream was to work until 40 and then buy a little farm in the English countryside complete with an old Land Rover and some wellies. Think Shaun the Sheep and you have the picture. I’d have kids who’d roam free outdoors, scrumping apples and making camps in the woods.
Reality intervened and I ended up in the ‘burbs via Battersea. Whilst we do have a decent size garden, not even an estate agent would describe it as a smallholding, let alone a farm.
As keen eyed readers will have spotted from the About page, I handed in my notice at the Job in March 2014, aged 43. So about 3 years behind schedule. Funnily enough, the salary income and investment returns went as well as I could have hoped; it was excessive spending from lifestyle inflation that meant I missed my early retirement target by just over 3 years. However, I figure that 3 years (~ 10% slippage) is an acceptable level of overrun on a large, complex project like getting to Financial Independence.
Since March, I have been easing myself into freedom after a 23 year stretch in the Prison Camp. I can not even begin to tell you how much more awesome life has been since then.
But even in March, I wasn’t fully clear of The Job. I had a six month notice period in my contract which ran until mid-September. There were also some handover duties that needed to be taken care of professionally. But here is the thing. I finished 100% last Friday. From now on, some one else will be sewing the mail-sacks and peeling the potatoes.
Given that I am only one week in, a lot of great things have already happened. I want to share some of these with you as they may help illustrate the reality of financial independence and may help address some of the irrational fears that people have when confronted with the prospect.
I have not been bored
Not for a minute. I’m buzzing and no substance abuse is involved. It is as if my life force has been returned to me (along with my civilian clothes) when I was discharged from the Prison Camp. Here is Dilbert’s classic take on where this life force goes when you are working.
My new business went cashflow positive
The thought of never earning any money ever again is scary. But its very unlikely that this will be the case.
I have been doing some financial coaching, helping people with the stuff that I bang on about on this blog. This is about helping people to have the confidence to make their own decisions and to stop getting screwed by overpaid fund managers and parasitic financial advisers.
This week, the first income started to come in from this baby business. T.E.A. Consulting has a low cost base due to the lack of fancy offices and staff. There are no employees trawling Facetweeter, bitching about the boss (me) and flirting with each other. Unfortunately, it is not what venture capitalists call scalable because the Escape Artist is “special” and can not be cloned or manufactured in a factory in China.
I taught my children to invest
Our children are between 8 and 13 years old. We decided that now is the right time to start teaching them the essentials of capitalism. Actually, the magic of compounding means that the right time to start saving and investing is always NOW.
To help in this process the grandparents have kindly provided them with a token amount of money to invest. I gave the kids my portfolio list and told them to choose one stock each. Unlike fund managers, they performed this task without bleating about how difficult it is or being paid £500,000 per year.
The shares have been bought without fuss via a low cost online broker. Its funny when you consider how many adults are sitting on idle cash balances, nervous and paralysed by indecision. In contrast, my children had no problem making these decisions. I also doubt they will fret much if the share prices go down next week. Sometimes our children teach us whilst we teach them.
The most important thing here is not the money that the investments will ultimately deliver (though I suspect that will turn out pretty well) but that children learn that shares are not just for people like Mr Burns from The Simpsons. I want them to have the confidence and knowledge to own a slice of the Casino.
I learnt about something called “cleaning”
It turns out that houses do not clean themselves and all those years when I was at work, the house was being cleaned by someone called “a cleaner”.
A couple of months ago our cleaner told us that she was going to move on to greater things. Good luck to her. We took the opportunity to right size our cost base and have not replaced her. I am now sharing in the cleaning. It’s actually more fun than you might imagine. By replacing all of the effort in our lives with convenience, we risk turning into jelly babies. If you put some music on while you do it, its a bit like a free Zumba class in your own home.
I made new friends
People worry about losing the social aspect of work. They really shouldn’t.
This week I went to a social evening at a local running club that I joined recently. This has turned out to be a good way of making new friends. If you work in the City for 20 years, you become accustomed to people trying to screw you over all the time. This breeds a certain cynicism which can be healthy in moderation but ultimately toxic to the soul if that is what you are continually immersed in. Out in the real world, its surprising how friendly normal people are.
As a side note, I was talking at one point to a woman who I’d guess was about the same age as me. She asked me the standard “What do you do?” question. Previously I’ve always muttered something about doing something in finance. Whilst I was never embarrassed about my job, I wasn’t exactly proud of it either. Its great to be able to answer the question positively. I told her that I had just quit and didn’t intend to get another full time job. Her jaw dropped as she assessed my age and tried to do the maths. You could almost hear her brain whirring and see the error message pop up.
I got paid
My former employer has used the fact that I’ve stopped working for them as an excuse to stop paying me….I know!
Fortunately my Vanguard ETFs pay out dividends towards the end of each quarter which was this Friday. I also received 3 other dividend payments from individual stocks during the week.
The blog reached 45,000 page views
I appreciate 45,000 views is like nothing for serious, well-established websites. But it’s pretty amazing for my little baby.
When I started tapping shit into a computer a few short months ago, I did not expect that The Escape Artist would be read in the following countries: Singapore, India, Hong Kong, Israel, Thailand, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Brazil, Malaysia, Romania, Russia, Macao, Kenya, Cambodia, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Peru, Mexico, Turkey, Taiwan, Pakistan, Vietnam, China, Etheopia, Indonesia, Columbia, Argentina, Uruguay, Brunei, Nigeria, Bolivia, Chile, Honduras, Qatar, Bermuda, Mauritius, Kyrgyzstan, Equitorial Guinea, Venezuala, Trinidad and Tobago, Morocco, Maldives, Northern Mariana Islands…
…but it has been.
I helped an old friend
One of my best friends had been having a tough time, capped off by his wife recently telling him that she was leaving him.
I have been doing my little bit to try and help my friend. You may think I should be able to do this with or without a job. And you’d be right. But the reality is that having more time in my life has made this possible.
Now this area is not my speciality, but I do know how to find the best advice in different fields. I identified some resources that have helped my friend get his shit together and get back in the dating market. This has had surprisingly powerful results. It all depends on what his objectives are but, if he wants to, he will now be able to score like Michael Jordan (see clip below):