Monday, November 16, 2015

Life after Financial Independence

In a previous article, I discussed that I will reach Financial Independence some time in 2018. After I reach the dividend crossover point, my dividend income will pay for expenses. Many assumed that I will just call it quits and live off the $1,500 - $2,000 in monthly dividend income that the portfolio will generate.

These assumptions are further away from the truth however.

Last year, I shared with you that I was running low on motivation on my quest towards financial independence. I was working at a job that was really nice to work at initially. After about an year or so however, I was put on a terrible project with impossible deadlines and management. After burning out quickly, I found a new opportunity.

I once worked at an organization just like that where I kept track of my time in 6 minute increments and worked 60 - 80 hours/week. Not a lot of fun, and a lot of backstabbing too. Though if you stayed for 10+ years, you could have made a lot of money and earned a decent pension too.

Then I moved to an organization where I worked 30 - 40 hours/week, and earned more income. The first organization taught me how valuable my time was. This lesson I never forget - allocating time is as important factor in success as allocating capital.

I enjoy my current position. I have ebbs and flows in the amount of work throughout the month, but I actually enjoy it. I could see myself doing that for several years after reaching financial independence.


I would see myself there for a while, as long as they keep me of course. If we get a round of layoffs, it is possible that I may have to either find another opportunity or just take some time off to explore other things.

I do enjoy investing, and have also enjoyed writing about investing. I guess I have a track record of consistently writing about dividend investing 3 – 4 times per week, every week, for eight years in a row. I have never taken “a break from blogging".  I believe that my consistency in posting has translated into consistency in investing every month for years.

While I personally enjoy writing about investing, and connecting with smart readers, I do not know if I will enjoy it as much in a couple of years. After writing for eight years, I can tell you that my motivation has decreased from the initial stages.

I would think that in a couple of years I would be at the crossroads with this site however. I could either

1) Post much less often.
2) Stop posting altogether

The thing to consider is that over time, we evolve. I was really hungry to attain financial independence when I started this site 8 years ago. I didn't want to work 60 - 80 hours per week at a stressful job, and live paycheck to paycheck. This desire to be able to do my own thing, and have more control over my own life, is the reason why I worked so hard to live below my means, and front-load my efforts by saving as much as possible early in my 20s in an effort to reach financial independence quickly.

Nowadays, I do not have that fire as much. I do enjoy flexibility, and I have grown to really enjoy time that is not scheduled or booked for in advance.  I have really pushed myself for the past 8 years, and would likely push myself for two more years. But since I see the light at the end of the tunnel, my drive is decreasing a little bit.  While learning about the stock market and investments has been a focus for over a decade and a half, it is quite possible that I may want to explore other interests in the future. Building relationships with others could be an important priority. Taking a break to explore the world, and not pushing myself too hard could recharge my batteries and help me rekindle the fire again.

Slowing down would be beneficial for health as well. It makes no sense to retire from working at some point, only to replace that with spending 50 - 60 hours/week on this site and 20 - 30 hours/week on my investing. I have come to appreciate having a job for once where I work 40 hours per week, but have some flexibility. For example, I am able to research companies, and respond to comments during any down time. Going from 60 - 80 hours/week to 40 hours/week ( a few of which are working from home) has definitely increased my level job satisfaction. If things can remain the same, I can see myself doing this job for a few more years. If not, I have the flexibility to find something else or just take a break.

In the meantime, I will try to keep my current job for a few years until I reach FI. I would likely stay at it for a couple of years past FI. I get to see how a few businesses operate in my current position, which is interesting, and builds my knowledge of business. The nice thing is that my job offers some flexibility such as working from home, and a decent vacation package. The other nice thing is that my retirement plan allows for both pre-tax and after-tax retirement contributions. This would mean that I could put as much as $53,000/year in tax-deferred accounts per year. This includes $18,000 in pre-tax 401 (k), a couple of thousand in an employer match, and the rest in after-tax 401 (k) contributions. Those after-tax contributions could be converted into a Roth 401 (k) several times per year. As part of my long-term financial plan, I want to have as much of my assets as possible in a tax-deferred plan. This would allow those funds to compound tax-free for decades, and would also provide a hedge in case tax-rates grow in the future. In addition, assets in an employer retirement plan under $1 million offer more protection than assets in a taxable amount.

The other nice thing about having a job is that I get to earn money with a lower level of effort than say entrepreneurial activities ( such as writing on this site). Over the past several months, I have been thinking about return on investment for different activities I pursue. I have learned that writing for a site could earn some money, but the return on each hour spent writing is rather low.  While some people end up earning thousands of dollars per month online, only a few manage to accomplish that. And of those few that manage to accomplish it, they are subject to an intense level of competition, and many suffer from burnout due to excessive amount of hours worked. Of course, I don't write on this site for money. If i wrote only for money, I would have stopped having fun since it would have felt like a job. If I didn't enjoy doing what I was doing, I would not be doing it. However, it is possible that at some point in the future, I may become wiser, and therefore stop positing here as frequently. As much as I enjoy interacting with you readers, I may decide that focusing my efforts on building relationships with close family members to be of higher priority. I do not want to become Warren Buffett, who focused exclusively on making money all his life, to the detriment of building relationships with his spouse, children and relatives.

I would not be selling the site however if I stopped writing. Selling a site is usually a mistake, because I have no idea if the administrators after me will maintain the level of quality that I think I offer here. In addition, sites sell for 1 - 2 times earnings, which is very low. If I sold this site for one or two times earnings, and then used the money to buy dividend paying stocks at 15 - 20 times earnings, I would be proving to you that I am a terrible capital allocator. If I simply stopped posting, I would likely generate as much revenue as the amount the site sells for after 3 - 4 years and still maintain ownership of the site. If I kept the site however, I could generate the same amount of revenues after two years as the sale price. However, I would also still have ownership of the site as well.

Not all is bad however. I have an enormous amount of ideas daily on the topic of dividend investing, investing in general, and dividend investing strategy. I have several hundred pages worth of ideas, article drafts etc. This could easily translate into two or three articles per week for the next two years. What can I say, I like the process of preparing for various outcomes in the future.  In the meantime, I would be focusing on important things in my life. But I would also be exploring things such as slow travel, reading, and connecting with others.

I would also think that I want to try different things, that may end up generating money. One of them include writing a book. It would likely be a very bad return on investment on my time however.

Jacob from Early Retirement Extreme talked how he would have made more money for the time spent writing the book if he worked a minimum wage job.

So I would assume that while you could earn some money from a book, chances are it won’t be anything earth shattering.

I could also be a financial adviser to others. I would feel more qualified to provide advice for people on how to reach retirement, if I were FI myself. I have absolutely no interest in selling complicated but lucrative annuities, loaded mutual funds etc. I would have an interest in helping others reach financial independence.

I also need to focus more on my health, which would mean less time sitting in front of a computer. It could also mean spending more time building out relationships with people that matter.

To summarize, financial independence provides you with options on what you want to do with your life. Some people retire from a job they absolutely hate. Others retire to a life of travel, exploring new interests and volunteering. In my case, I am going to keep options open, but will focus on things that are important to me, such as family and relationships. I may continue working at a job, but I may not update this site as much as I have in the past eight years. The important thing is to be able to do things I enjoy doing, rather than doing things that I have to do.

What are your plans after you reach financial independence?

Thanks for reading.

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How to retire in 10 years with dividend stocks
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54 comments:

  1. Very valuable post, thank you much! Especially this:

    "I would not be selling the site however if I stopped writing. Selling a site is usually a mistake, because I have no idea if the administrators after me will maintain the level of quality that I think I offer here. In addition, sites sell for 1 - 2 times earnings, which is very low. If I sold this site for one or two times earnings, and then used the money to buy dividend paying stocks at 15 - 20 times earnings, I would be proving to you that I am a terrible capital allocator. If I simply stopped posting, I would likely generate as much revenue as the amount the site sells for after 3 - 4 years and still maintain ownership of the site. If I kept the site however, I could generate the same amount of revenues after two years as the sale price. However, I would also still have ownership of the site as well."

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  2. Wow DGI. Some very interesting thoughts here the mirror the realization I've reach way later in life than you have. You are an old soul ! Not a insult but a compliment. I'd write more but unfortunately I "have to" go to work now. Not want to. That is a huge change to make in ones life and what FI means to me.

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    1. Hi BlueCollarDividend,

      Just like you, my goal is to be able to live life on my own terms and have the flexibility to do things I want to do, not things that I have to do.

      DGI

      PS I found your first part of the comment about the old soul funny ;--)

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  3. I only earn $70 a month in dividend income so far so my plans are more like a dream right now. My main goal is to avoid days like today when I am up early to go to work in the dark and later I will come home in the dark.

    Beth

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    1. That's exactly where I'm at too. I just try and focus on saving as much as I can during each pay period while making daily frugal choices to keep the budget light. I feel like if I keep making these financial choices these dark days, literally, will be behind us before you know it.

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    2. The most important thing is to get started with your plan. After that, it is important to keep at it, till you hit your goals. The power of compounding really shows its stregth midways through the journey - that's when most of the heavy lifting is done by dividend growth and reinvestment, rather than new capital. This dividend income is enough to cover cell phone or internet bills for a month forever.

      DGI

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    3. I started out like you many years ago. Working towards financial independence was a difficult job with no mentor or internet. It took me a long time to finally make it - still, I got to retire early. I learned to pay myself first, listen to people like DGI, make a business plan for my portfolio and treat it like a business. I now make a lot more than I did while working. If I can do it anyone can. Be diligent and persistent. If dividend investing is the way you wish to go then never stop studying it. Good luck to you.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your thought processes and your analysis of your options moving forward. It was a good reminder of the value of our time. Also good advice to think practically about return on investment of non financial assets.

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    1. I am glad you enjoyed this analysis and the reminder on the value of time

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  5. Personally I would not wait until retirement as an excuse to build a relationship with family members, but rather that would be priority number one. I don't know if you are single or married with children, but if you think you have to be retired to be close to them, you are missing the point of life. Warren Buffett raised a family while building his fortune, and I have seen interviews with his grown kids, who claim he was an excellent father. The only other point you make that I am curious about is that you would start taking better care of your health if you reduced your computer time in early retirement. In honestly, as much as I really enjoy your articles about investing, and put you as one of my favorite bloggers on investing, if you don't have health & family as priority 1 & 2, before work, writing & investing, you need to get your priorities straight. You keep writing & I'll keep reading my friend.

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    1. I agree with you about importance of priorities such as family and health. Not everyone has a choice to tell their employer to stick it..

      However it is much easier to do things on your own terms when you are closer to the finish line than if you are at the beginning of it. For example, if your job requires you to spend 60- 80 hours/week in an office, you will do it, even to the detriment of long-term health and family. Otherwise you will be without a job – this is inconceivable for majority of the population that lives paycheck to paycheck. There are a lot of industries where people are expected to work insane amounts of hours, which are detrimental to the employees health and family relationships.

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  6. Perhaps you'll find that you and your readers have a mutual interest in managing investments after early retirement. It's almost certain that, from time to time, you'll encounter challenges and opportunities that may be around individual investments, or macro in nature. It's one thing to experience these while you're still in asset accumulation mode, and another when your situation is such that you rely on your investments for financial independence, if not survival.
    And you may also find that your perspective changes to the point a whole new set of fertile areas for blogging exploration present themselves. I hope so.

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    1. Hi Even Keel,

      It would be interesting to see how things progress in 5 or 10 years. I am almost certain that things will not progress in a linear way. I have also operated under the assumptions that I will be able to generate investment income, and also earn some income on the side.

      As I mentioned in the post, I have a lot of articles in draft status, and a lot of ideas on posts. Most of those will be relevant 5 or 10 years from now. So I don’t see a significant interruption of service within the next 12 - 24 months.

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  7. Dear Mr DGI,

    I fully understand how you must feel as I'm even surprised how much effort it must take to post three blogs per week consistently. Your site and a number of your 401k, IRA, and tax related blogs have been very useful for me in my mission towards financial independence. With the holiday season fast approaching maybe it is time for you to take it a little easier and recharge the batteries? Even one blog per week would still have me regularly returning to your website. It is the quality, not the quantity, of the blog postings that count in my mind. By the way if you look over at dividendmantra.com we can see the disaster unfolding after that site was sold.

    Sincerely,
    DGI Reader

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    1. Hi DGI Reader,
      Thanks for reading. The funny thing is that I sometimes spend weeks not really doing much on the site – I just schedule some posts in advance. Other times I just sit around and write drafts/posts ideas. The DGI site is so ingrained in me, that when I sit down to take a pause, I end up with ideas for future posts. Many times I interact with readers/answer questions, I end up with even more ideas. Perhaps, it is the weight of all those ideas that is heavy – I may never develop all of them into articles.

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  8. As someone who has achieved FI and coming up on two years of early retirement, I appreciate your candor regarding your perspective of life after FI. I had the same outlook as you leading up to those final years of working for money.

    Then I hit FI, and about a year later I pulled the trigger and retired (in my 30's). Six months or so went by, and I found my satisfaction with things was good but not great. Way better than sitting in an office working hard for someone else, but not as great as I'd dreamed of. And then somewhere along the line it hit me: I'd spent the past 15+ years working hard, saving hard, studying the stock market and my investments, and always viewing everything in an entrepreneurial view - in other words my entire perspective on everything was about making money. And I could be wrong, but after reading this article I get the impression that you might be on that same path.

    Fortunately for me, I eventually realized that I could stop. I could stop focusing on money, stop doing anything that I wouldn't do if it didn't pay me. I could stop looking at everything and thinking "hey - I could make money with this!" You mentioned blogging, book writing, financial advising, working low stress jobs, etc. Trust me, I had all those same thoughts. But, at least for me, I didn't truly enjoy FI and ERE until I let go of all that. After all, are you really FI if you let the "F" control your decisions?

    I don't want to give you advice considering I don't know you, I just wanted to share my experience in case it helps. Just like we'll never achieve peace through one last war, I'd never truly achieve financial independence through just a little more financial obsession. When I let that go, I found that FI was better than anything I'd imagined. I spend everyday now doing exactly what I want to do that day. Today, I spent this morning playing games with my kids before they went to school. Now I'm catching up on email before I head outside to put up some fence. Then I'll have lunch with my wife before heading out to graft a few dozen fruit trees. Most of those trees I'll keep, but a few I'll grow in pots and sell in a few months for enough profit to pay for the trees I'm keeping. And every time I'm tempted to turn this or anything else into yet another entrepreneurial venture, I force myself to take a step back and ask whether that's something I really want to do, or whether I'm just reverting back to the financial obsession that once plagued me. I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, I'll decide that when I wake up in the morning.

    Perhaps I shared too much. I hope this didn't come across as judgmental or that I think I know what's going through your head because I don't. But since you have a bunch of readers that are seeking FI, I'm sure at least some of them have or will have these same struggles. For me, letting go of the desire to always make money was an instant +10 on the life satisfaction scale.

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    1. Hello BNL, I for one really appreciate the thoughts you shared here. Though I'm not FI, I can relate in some ways to your comments.

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    2. Hi BNL,

      I am honored that you read this site and commented on it. I say that because I have been following your journey on your site. You have managed to post quite an inspirational list of articles that are useful and practical for those of us on their way to FI. Perhaps you could post this update for all your readers ( assuming you want to do your site still)

      Your advice is spot on actually. I have found out that I am a little competitive, meaning that I may be prone to go a little crazy in entrepreneurial ideas and investing. On one hand, I do want to be able to own my schedule, and do only things I want to do. On the other hand, I have spent a large portion of my time dreaming about/thinking about/planning/strategizing becoming financially independent. This has probably been the past say 15 – 20 years in some sort, shape or form. So this is something that is so ingrained in me, it probably is me. I treat accumulating money, starting out income streams, buying stocks similar to a fun game I play. Perhaps on some level I am still someone who wants to become the next Warren Buffett, but haven’t really realized that making more money will not really make me happier.

      On the other hand I actually enjoy having a job, since I get to do interesting things that I otherwise wouldn’t have access to as an independent person. I think that anything I do in life will involve some level of unexpected stress – it is unavoidable. But I have been enjoying recently the nice realization to go from 60 – 80 hours/week to 40 hours/week ( guess when I am writing this based on the timestamp). I would imagine that when I reach the dividend crossover point in a few years, not working potentially could be even better.The things about writing a book and advising others are seeds that could turn into something or they might not. I do not want to look at my life at the end of it however and regret that I didn’t do things I really wanted to do. I do like the feeling of accomplishment.

      Perhaps I am scared that things could go wrong if I retire in my 30s and have to provide for myself and my family hopefully for 50 years. So my ideas of working a little longer, starting out side ventures, updating this site regularly and becoming a super investor are just ways to minimize those risks of running out of money?

      Either way, I would say my goal for the next few years is to streamline my life in a way that I do not have recurring obligations (unless I want to take on obligations).

      I thoroughly enjoyed your comment, since it made me think about things. Please stop by again with your wisdom – I really appreciated it!

      DGI

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  9. A number of FIRE people I've talked to have experienced a loss of motivation when closing in on the goal. I think what happens is when you are just starting out, you are making 100% gains a year. As you get close, you are only making 2% progress a year so it doesn't provide the same jolt of seratonin and dopamine. It certainly hit me.

    Like you, I had a pretty good gig as I approached my number and thought I'd stay with work (maybe part time?) But I got transferred to a new supervisor who was a despicable person. I managed to arrange for a new position in a new department but I just didn't enjoy it the same. Once I hit my number, I walked. No looking back.

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    1. Well, the truth is that I have been pushing really hard for the past 8 years. The preceding years were not easy either – though they were instrumental in the fact that I managed to get a clean slate and wasn’t burdened by any debt or things like that ( and I had a decent knowledge base also).

      On the other hand, I am unsure how I would feel if I become FI, and end up spending most of my income, but never really add to my income producing list of assets. Even if I manage to be FI for the next 40 – 50 years, I would feel like a failure if my net worth doesn’t grow by much over time ( due to lack of new capital added as you discussed in your first paragraph).

      I was afraid to post that I like my gig, because I do not want to challenge my fate. My previous job started out really great, until I was put on a project I absolutely started to hate, since it had impossible deadlines, no direction from leadership, but a lot of blaming aimed at me. Until I am proven otherwise however, I will try to stay there.

      Thanks for taking the time to write your response! Unfortunately, I have never met actual people in person who have retired early. My sample size is limited to those in their 60s ;-)

      DGI

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  10. DGI, I was curious what your plans were for your site in light of DM selling his site. It sounds the deal (not monetary) didn't go as expected per some commenters on his site. Hopefully he negotiated the $$ to receive upfront because I'm afraid the readership will decline or maybe the site will be different and attract other kind of people. At least I will have one blog less to visit LOL, though I didn't really frequent it anyway.
    Re Roth IRA in your post, if you expect your tax rate to be lower after FI or in retirement, is it prudent to contribute after-tax $?
    You give a gist that WB wasn't an excellent person on the personal level in the circle of his closest people. I had thought the opposite, but who knows, I don't know the man and media can spin stories different ways to make money.

    Health is important, your divvies will not be helpful if you don't take care of it.

    I have inner fights re job myself, glad to hear you've found a reasonable job now. I've been with my co. for 12+ years, pay is not super great (not sure what's the median household income these day to compare my salary to), commute is not the best either. The trouble I have is that I get almost 5 weeks of vacation and will have a small pension (401k match is tiny ~1k /year). Those 5 weeks of vacation are precious to our family as we travel to Europe every other summer for 2.5-3 weeks and show the kids the US in the summers we don't travel overseas. Sick kids, teacher days? We must use vacation time for that. So, partially I think I make a sacrifice for our family. As I hope I will be able to early retire within 7 years, I think I could stick around with the same co. OTOH, the last 1.5 years have been quite challenging (not awful, no OT needed, thank goodness as a salaried person I wouldn't get paid for it anyway). Management says it will be better in the next 1.5 years. I think that I'm not brave or am a risk-averse person. I hear some people changing for a better pay but then either quit or are let go in a year or two because the pasture wasn't greener. So, in the end I say to myself, is it really worth it to look for a new job to earn extra $10-15k/year salary wise (taxes would be higher on the joint return though) when I don't know what I'll be getting myself into?

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    1. Unfortunately, I am not privy to any of the details on the DM site, so I can’t really add much there.

      For taxes –In the accumulation phase, it makes sense for me to invest through tax-deferred accounts. I am stuffing after tax and pre-tax accounts today, in an effort to minimize tax waste today ( compound money tax free and get a tax break upfront if I can). It makes no sense to pay 15% tax on dividends ( +5% state and local) while I am accumulating my nest egg – the money is gone forever to the tax man without any benefit to myself. I am not sure where taxes will go in the next 30 – 40 – 50 years. This is a way to hedge myself in case taxes do go up in the future.

      Buffett is an interesting individual – there is much more to the grandfatherly figure he is being portrayed as by the media. His first wife left him in the mid 1970s, when this was not very common. Buffett spent all his time early on compounding his capital, and not a lot of time on his kids – he rectified that in later years. You may want to read the Snowball. http://amzn.to/1hlLPzz

      I hope your job situation turns out for the better. The job where I worked 60 -80 hours/week had me working 100 hours/week for a few months several years ago. After this was over, management told us that things will be easier going forward – then a few deals happened which meant that we were going for a repeat of the 100 hour workweeks – I bailed out for more money and better work life. Going for a new job is always risky, since you don’t know what you are getting into. On the other hand, switching jobs is a good way to earn more money and speed up your way towards FI. Life is full of trade-offs.

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  11. Whether you have reached FI or not, focusing on the needs of others will give you a rewarding perspective and joyful outlook on life. But once you place others before yourself, you will never again consider FI to be a goal but rather a means to bless those with greater needs. - Jungle Jim

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    1. Do you live in the Vatican?

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    2. I agree...been there and it's really nice.

      You mentioned being a financial advisor. How about use your blog to start doing one on one financial coaching? Do you think that might be interesting for you? You would get to continue to spread your knowledge, make friends and help others.

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  12. Thanks for writing this article and sharing your perspectives on financial independence. It looks like you're starting to think about it and with some time to spare, so that's a good thing. I think its not a good idea to make rash decisions without trying to imagine what the post decision life would look like. Personally, I can't imagine retiring early because I really love what I'm doing, though I realize that's not true for many others. One thing you could consider is scaling back, which you've already done going to a 40 hour work week rather than a 60 hour work week. Best of luck and I hope you decide to continue blogging, even if you scale back a little!

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    1. I like that dividend investing provides options to me. I like my current gig, but if things change for the worse, I will have more latitude to change course. You never know what will happen on the job front.

      Best Regards,

      DGI

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  13. DGI,
    The amount and length of the replies to this post show how good you are doing with your blog, and how much it is appreciated. I hope that you keep it even if you only post once a week in the future. I would truly miss it if you did what another popular dividend investing blogger did this year and changed the format into something that is not worth visiting. This may be the same person that you inquired regarding writing a book; it would not surprise me.

    I also want to say that I have enjoyed the ''how to" posts, or this type of philosophical mussing, as much or more than the individual stock analyses. Still like the analyses and the "what's on my buy list" posts, but these add depth to your blog and give us a better insight into the person who is DGI. ;)

    I could write a volume on the first 7 months (7 months already?!) of retirement, but I will keep it brief. I would second what BNL wrote about focusing on making money not being the greatest way to enjoying life. I am currently trying to limit the amount of time that I spend reading blogs or Seeking Alpha articles since I can get a bit OCD and spend the whole day without learning anything. Don't worry, your blog is one of 3 that I read and I have no plans to quit. There are also a few SA authors that are worth reading, but much of what is out there is just opinion/editorial pieces from authors that don't even own the stocks that they are recommending. Having skin in the game makes your work worth reading. CNBC can also be a real time waster if you aren't careful. Probably better to walk or ride a bike and get the blood flowing, at any rate.

    Mrs. X and I also try to give back to the community by doing charity work. Mrs. X has been retired for 29 years (stay at home Mom) and is farther along in this regard, but I already spend a few hours a week helping out at church. Much better than the high stress job that I left. I spent a couple of hundred hours working on the house this summer, particularly installing hardwood flooring. Fun wouldn't be the correct word, but enjoyable/satisfying might. In that regard, you may find that you enjoy blogging even more when you have all the time in the world at your disposal.
    Best wishes (and keep writing!),
    Keith

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  14. Great post. I found the following line very insightful in particular:

    "allocating time is as important factor in success as allocating capital."

    Time is money. The better you use your time, the more money you will have, which will free up more time in a virtuous cycle (up to a point).

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    1. Time is more valuable than money, because wealth create can be passed on from generation to generation, but when your time is up, there is no more.

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    2. Thanks for stopping by both. The sad truth in life is that you can always make more money, but you can't make more time. Time is a great equalizer for all of us - we all get the same 24 hours in a day so it is up to us to determine what to do with it.

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  15. An excellent, thought provoking post DGI. It sounds like you're happy enough doing what you're doing. But whatever the future holds, the choices you have made these last eight years have given great life-choices and opportunities, and for that you should be proud.
    I always enjoy the site, and following your progress.
    The possibilities are many, though sometimes that can be a little overwhelming? in the sense of actually deciding what to do...
    If you carry on working the money you will accrue will build a big margin of safety. Is it needed? You can't take it with you.
    Anyway keep going, and keep writing. I'm sure people would understand if you decided to scale it back a little though, if that's what you want one day.
    Cheers, Nick.

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    1. Hi Nick,

      Life is full of trade-offs isn't it?

      Do I work for a few years longer than I have to in an effort to build a decent margin of safety OR do I call it quits on the margin and hope things turn out to be fine? I would much rather take the extra safety than having to update my resume in a hurry after 10 years out of the labor market. But I am more risk averse than others.

      DGI

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  16. Noooooooooo! First DM and now you. You two guys are the only two who I read every day.

    Seriously though, you couldn't make a better decision than putting family and friends first in your life.

    As I see fewer and fewer posts from you l will realize you are achieving your dream.

    Thanks for sharing your journey.
    Bill

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Bill,

      I think said I could write at a decent clip for a couple ( 1-2) years, right? Plus, there will always be the archives – we have more than 1500 articles, many of which are relevant today.

      As for Jason, he still posts on Twitter and Facebook and DTA.

      Good luck in your dividend investing journey!

      DGI

      Delete
  17. D, your integrity, intelligence, and maturity have shown through for years as I have kept up with your blog. I think I started reading you in '08. I echo the people saying fewer postings per week would still be great. But as always, it is your choice and what makes you happy. If you decided your emotional ROI isn't reciprocated from the blog, I'd be happy for you and understand if you didn't post any more. I also appreciate that you have enough pride in your "brand" and yourself that you wouldn't want to dilute the brand. I wouldn't expect anything less of you and it is nice to see you write it.

    I have found my "side gig" (a service position to people) to be very gratifying. Thus, I am trying to phase out my regular job and trying to do my side job for hopefully the rest of my life until I am very old. It is my hope that my dividends and side job will start paying the bills and in time, the side job will take over completely. Then, I will have my own side business, and "write my own ticket"- I won't need to answer to anyone except my clients, which are people I am friendly with and want to keep up with their lives.

    Thank you as always for sharing your journey. As one "old soul" to another, cheers! To many years of happiness. And indeed, money doesn't buy everything. In fact, there was a very legitimate study which shows that people who grow up in enormous wealth are often unhappy. We can see the JNJ heirs were full of suicides and drama. Often there is unfulfillment in people who grow up super-wealthy. So indeed, it is important to have a good balance between work and life, and to give attention to and nurture your children etc.

    Thanks again for your great blog which is a reflection on your character. I am personally grateful to you for helping me discover the value of dividend investing.
    -J

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi J,

      Thanks for reading all those years. Without support of readers like you, I would have been several years behind on my goals due to lower motivation and resources.

      My attitude towards things evolves over time. I once wanted to be a full time writer on site, but then decided it is too risky. Who knows if I end up changing my mind a few years from now? I just don’t want to get to a position where I put myself in a corner – this is why I said I will be keeping my options open my friend. So if I go from 3 articles/week in 2015 to 2 in 2016 and 1.5 in 2017, the transition will be slow. If I change my mind in 2018, I would hopefully be able to scale it back up to 2 -3 etc. The nature of dividend investing is such however that as long-term investors I may be doing you a disservice by posting 3 times/week.

      In an ideal world, I could have asked readers to post their own stories on how they have achieved their goals or how they are working towards achieving their goals. But unfortunately this would take a lot of management on my part, and I am not sure if others would be interesting in reading anything other than me ( or maybe I am just afraid that those readers will find other stories more interesting than mine)

      I am glad you are doing well in your service position – satisfaction is paramount in anything you do. Hopefully you can scale it up to a point where you can just collect the checks.

      I do agree that living without clear purpose is a terrible thing to do to a fellow human being. I hope I don’t raise a parasite when my time comes.

      Take care!

      DGI

      Delete
    2. I for one would enjoy hearing other's stories and would also be interested in participating in that. Who else thinks this is a fun idea?

      Delete
  18. Great insight here.
    I think a lot of times the FI community (myself included) acts like a dog chasing a car. It doesn't know what to do once it catches it.
    -FwF

    ReplyDelete
  19. Sometime ago I was able to make it to 6-figures in passive income and thought seriously about taking the plunge into full-time retirement. But unfortunately I have a wife who believes that your last day working is when you drop dead on the job...

    Guess she/our kids will have a nice inheritance.

    But another great article, now if only I could get the wife to slow down, read it and see the light.

    -MS

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you have passive income that you cannot enjoy, that doesn’t sound like a lot of fun.
      How did you manage to accumulate that in the first place?

      Delete
  20. Hello DGI,

    I have to admit that I would be extremely sad to see you completely stop your insightful blogs so I hope you will keep it going even if it's sporadic. I would like to credit you with giving me the information and courage to start an investment account for my husband and I a few years back considering I never paid any attention to anything remotely related to financial news or stock markets. I was one of those people that would file the reports or letters one gets from the banks/financial institutions without reading them.

    We have a financial advisor as well from whom I unfortunately get very little to no advice. I have learnt a lot from your blogs in terms of determining stock valuations - I read through every one of your blogs when I first found your site in 2011. I'm still extremely cautious in my buy and hold strategy but it seems to be doing great growing my dividend income from $400 in 2012 to over $3500 this year in our little "dividend portfolio".
    .
    I have the unfortunate issue of having to contend with the US/Canadian exchange rate in my stock purchases although we have been blessed with well paying jobs and luckily are fairly thrifty. Both of us are hoping to "retire" in the next year or two and this dividend income should help. I wish we had started earlier but I'm thankful that we were able to start when we did. You are absolutely correct in stating that it's "time in the market" that counts. I've been trying to teach my 3 daughters that concept and have forwarded your links to them several times :) Hopefully, they'll learn...sooner than later!

    Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading. A nine-fold increase in dividend income over 3 years in nothing to sneeze at. As for currencies, they tend to balance each other out in the long-term.

      What is your target dividend income, and when are you aiming to achieve it by?

      Delete
  21. DGI,

    I wish you the best after you achieve your goals. Health and family are first before money. I would prioritize your energy on those. It doesn't matter if you have all the money in the world, health and family cannot be easily bought.

    I am estimating that I am 7 years away from FI. My goal is $2-3k a month in passive income. I am probably around where you were 8 years ago! However, I don't expect to stop working in the tech industry after I reach FI. Achieving FI will allow me to pursue other goals without the pressure to pay my bills. It will open more possibilities for me with less risk, like starting my own business or joining a startup. Good luck!

    YD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Young Dividend,
      You are actually way ahead of where I was 8 years ago. The nice thing is that due to power of compounding, further increases in dividends and net worth are much easier later on in the game than at the beginning. In 2007, it would have taken me a lot of time to save $15K – now that is my expected annual dividend income. So I think you may be able to reach your goals earlier than expected.

      And I hear you on staying in the IT field. FI provides you with the flexibility to do what you want. It is nice to have some margin of safety in life, and knowing that you will be covered under most conditions.

      Best regards,
      DGI

      Delete
  22. You were one of the very first DGI writers I discovered in 08 on SeekingAlpha as I was sorting out my goals of FI and early retirement. I've found a few more sense then.
    I enjoy the journey for myself and my family and reading about the lives of others on the same path. I look forward to reading about your experiences as you transition to FI and early retirement one day. You're writing is very educational and inspirational. Whatever you do, please don't sell your blog. Let it stand as a testimony to what hard work, smart planning and DGI can bring to people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading all those years Jeffrey. How far along are you on your FI journey?
      DGI

      Delete
  23. DGI- as mentioned before longtime reader. Wife and 2 kids and home, and 10 yrs into serious career and DGI and 18k this year in DGI income. Some observations at the risk of being an "armchair quarterback...err, psychiatrist." I am still learning the answers but I have seen many answers come forth.

    Overall, I agree around years 7-10 you feel blah. Discipline takes energy, and even when you intelligently automate things, fatigue can set in.
    1. You mention several times health and basically too much screen time. Check with your physician that you have no contraindications to starting an exercise program, and if you have not already, start one. You are sage and have enough introversion to "know thyself." Exercise and the physical discipline will boost your mind to maintain the needed financial discipline and cope with a stressful job. Trust me, it is no accident all the mutual fund companies have ads of sinewy distance runners when talking about "long term returns." Lasting wealth comes with discipline-as does lasting physical health.
    2. Even bolder. I am male. I would venture you are male. The same pangs of frustration and fatigue you are voicing are the ones I feel when I am one thing-lonely. I do not know and do not want to know your personal situation, but trust me, seeking solace and strength in a significant other, frugal family, or the disciplined lessons of grandparents can give you the "kick in the a**" you need to keep going. I apologize if this inference is incorrect. (And yes,the road to hell is paved with good intentions.)
    3. Reread the classics, like "The Millionaire Next Door" even one more time to stoke the fires.
    4. Consider a limited splurge-like a 2 week vacation that is paid for in cash. Note though, from my humble anecdotal experience, this recharge will last about 6-8 months at most.
    I only give these in appreciation and respect for your past writings' motivation in my family's journey.
    Take what you like, and discard the rest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by. $18K in annual dividend income is a lot – this is more than what someone working fulltime a minimum wage earnings per year. What is your target annual dividend income you are aiming for? When do you want to accomplish this goal by?
      1) I can exercise, the issue is that the activates I enjoy are mostly sedentary – like reading. I agree that exercise can be helpful, but the exercise I like to do is seasonal in nature.
      2) Yeah, I am not really lonely because I have a strong support network. Perhaps I am at a point where dedicating too much time to this site might not be worthwhile – that's what I trying to get to in this post. The marginal benefit of growing this blog from say 100- 150K pageviews to 300 - 400K pageviews per month might not be worth it for me. I am in good relations with others.
      3) I actually never read this book before, only saw it mentioned. So I recently ordered it and started reading it. Pretty interesting stuff.
      4) I have been vacationing a lot in the past few years actually. I just always made sure I have posts written up in advance – I have gone as much as 1 - 2 months with minimal input on this site.

      Delete
    2. DGI, first, I am very glad that (despite your regular postings) you have been taking needed vacation and it is even better to hear that your social network is robust. All those things lead to long term financial and life sustainability. (If your life payout ratio is too high, then at some point your life yield will diminish :).
      For the record, TMND is less of an investing guide and more a solid kick in the rump to remain frugal and keep going. Thanks again for all you do!

      Delete
  24. Change is natural, but once a writer, always a writer.
    You say you want to build relationships. You have been. It is us, as we follow your journey.
    We are invested in you, so take care of yourself first (exercise, health).
    But whatever path you choose in life, you will want to write about it and the written word is worth nothing if hidden in a drawer (hard drive).
    I appreciate your candour and will be reading whatever you share with us. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, I would prefer to be a good investor, rather than a good writer (though each one of those activities is not mutually exclusive of the other). Given the growth of the site, it actually is starting to interfere with my investing and take more time than before. I also am starting to have less patience if I have to explain the same thing I have explained for the past 8 years.
      My health is fine today, I was mostly thinking somewhere down the line in the future.
      The sad part is that I don’t owe you anything – you don’t owe me anything either. If you decide that this site doesn’t offer any good information, you should move elsewhere. If I decide that I can no longer find the drive to inspire people, I will move elsewhere. So on that note, our relationship might not be as lasting as say your relationship with your friends from the real world
      PS Perhaps reading some accusatory comments on a fellow site that was recently sold made me realize that. Unfortunately many of those relationships are not as strong as offline ones. But thanks for reading.

      Delete

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