Irish Financial Independence & Personal Finance Podcast

October 2021 Portfolio Update

Wednesday 3rd November 2021

The Inability to Jump

When I was teenager, I had a very good friend. We played golf together. When we first started playing together, we had a similar ability, Both playing off around a 14 handicap. He had great natural talent and a real passion to become better.

As the years went by, his passion grew to desire and I soon noticed that he was working harder than ever on his game. He started missing his study and investing more in his game. He paid for regular lessons and practiced nearly every day.

His scores started to get better as well, and his handicap dropped as a result. He soon found himself with a clear goal - he needed to get to a 3 handicap to qualify for golf school. This would allow him to eventually become a pro-golfer. I admired his work ethic when it came to golf and he was a pleasure to play with and watch - he made it look effortless.

I will never forget the day that he finally got his handicap under 3. I was so excited for him - I remember saying something like “well, are you going to get the paperwork and apply for golf school”..... “Na, he said…. I like playing as an amateur too much, I don’t think I will go for it”.

To this day, I don’t truly know why my friend didn’t want to push himself - he had so much talent that it has been hard for me to come to grips with his decision, even all these years later. To see someone sacrifice so much, and to be given such a gift that hasn’t been able to live up to its full potential. I have never come close to his ability on the golf course, in fact I am far worse than a 14 handicap these days!

In October, I started to reduce my workload. I gave notice to clients who I have worked on and off with for many years that I was no longer going to be available to work on their software projects. I started the journey into the semi-retirement phase of my FI journey, as I had mentioned I had planed to do last month.

At the same time, I started to notice more and more opportunities. I get contacted on LinkedIn several times a week for contract roles. I would often go back and say something like “what is the day rate that is budgeted”, often more out of curiosity than anything else. To my surprise, an opportunity came through a couple of weeks back, and when I got the reply on the day rate, I nearly fell off my chair - it was significantly more than what I have been making up until now.

I started to look back on my 18 year career. All the terrible projects and clients that I had been through. Starting out working for free for the first year or two, earning very little and all the stress that came with the work of being a software developer. Software development is easy once you know what you're doing - but very hard when you get stuck, or have no idea how to solve an issue.

Ironically, software development and golf have a lot in common - the good golfers make the game look easy, yet most of us struggle to even hit the ball straight!

My earning potential has never been better as a software developer and I am in the age in my life where my experience is highly desired, without being considered “too old”. Would I be doing what my friend did when he finally got down to a 3 handicap by moving to part time work, at a time when my hard work is finally starting to pay off?

The numbers are scary. Keep in mind, we are already saving around 50% on my full time income. By taking this new opportunity, it would push our savings rate up to around 75%, as our expenses will still remain the same.

Of course, this is the problem. Greed VS time - it is the FIRE trade off that everyone on this journey will face at some point. That inability to jump when one can. The whole “just one more” challenge that we all have to try to overcome.

Would I be the biggest hypocrite to talk about how much I am looking forward to going back to part time, to then simply sell out when the money gets high enough. I guess deep down we all have a price.

And the problem of course, is the thought about what that money can buy. Yes, it would potentially allow me to retire years earlier, but then you think of all the other things. Forget about securing your own financial future - now I could save up enough money to ensure the kids have a great future, oh and my own parents and inlaws and anyone else that comes to mind...

Greed is never good, and the ability as humans to say no when we are made an offer we can’t refuse is very difficult.

Of course, no job is hardly ever worth the money. Higher money usually means more stress, longer hours, more time away from the family and being brain dead when the day is over. Worrying about someone else’s dreams rather than your own. But would my older self thank me for taking it?

And here lies the issue. We know that our FIRE journey is ultimately about sacrificing today to give ourselves a better future, but where do we draw the line?

Back in May, I wrote about our plan of building a portfolio to €500k and looking to adopt Coast FI from there. At the time, I expected it would take me 5 years to hit a portfolio of €500k. Being that our portfolio is nearly €200k, if I were to take this new opportunity, it would take a little over 2 years to hit a portfolio of €500k (assuming we were to save €10k a month). Is this extra 2 years of hard work worth it?

I think I need to plan my FI journey from here. If I take a high paying role, does that give me an earlier path to FI before 50? Would I be better off to take a stress free, cruisy role and focus on lifestyle design and just accept I won’t be able to fully retire until I am 50 or later, but knowing that I can enjoy the next 12 years or so until I get there. These are the questions I will be looking to answer in the next few updates!

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