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L2F 016 Speaking Our Mind Ted and Claire Discuss Comparing Yourself With Others, Talking about FI During the Pandemic and Claire's Career Break


Show Notes

Our show features 3 topics that we’ve talked about around the house: comparing yourself with others, is it OK to talk about FIRE during the pandemic and Claire’s career break

Topic 1 Comparing Yourself With Others

  • This topic is inspired by one of Shaun’s (Project Palm Tree) weekly postcards which is entitled “Postcard From the Mirror, Alice”.
    • How do the expectations of others affect how we see ourselves
    • There are times in our lives when comparing yourself with others helps. These include school (e.g. competing for grades) and work (e.g. competing for pay, promotions and recognition).
    • There are times in life where comparing with others is undesireable. We decide whether we accomplished what we set out to do.
    • When it comes to pursuing FI, setting goals is a form of completion. In one sense you’re trying to do better and in another you’re trying to outperform where benchmarks say you should be when it comes to savings and net worth.
    • Claire has a lot of creative projects in retirement. She doesn’t feel that competition plays a part in what she does. She appreciates it when people recognize her work but that’s not why she embroiders and quilts. It’s more about self-expression.
    • Success in retirement is whatever you decide.
    • Ted also doesn’t feel the need to be competitive in retirement. He doesn’t want the pressure that comes with monetizing his content. He prefers to help other people achieve success.
    • Our conclusion is that there are times in life when it’s good to be competitive and other times when it’s not.
    • When it comes to pursuing FI, if it helps you to compete, that’s OK. It’s really about what works for you.

Topic 2 Is it OK to Create FIRE Content During the Pandemic?

    • I was the guest on a podcast in March that never aired because they said it was inappropriate to talk about FI and early retirement.
    • Certainly in the early days of the pandemic, things were more chaotic and people didn’t know what was OK.
    • Later however, Claire read posts on spending less and prioritizing debt if you lost your job. (Mention of Lisa at 12 mins)
    • Sometimes it takes a crisis for people to think how I can do better before the next crisis strikes.
    • The further along the road to FI you are, the better.
    • The current COVID economic disruption is also a test of your plan and understanding of markets.
    • Retirement plans should include contingencies to buffer either forced early retirement or the next economic disruption.
    • Talking about the practices of FIRE is more than just about becoming financially independent. It’s learning about finance and how you achieve your goals.

Topic 3 Claire’s Career Break

    • We discuss Claire’s 6 month career break (read more about it in Why My Wife’s Career Break Was a Great Move).
    • Being unhappy and being unfulfilled at work led her to decision to leave. There was something out of balance in her life.
    • Before she left work she had a plan: how much money she’d need, what she wanted to accomplish and how she would re-enter the workforce.
    • She decompressed from the stress of work and traveled. She had a friend who owned several coffee houses. She worked at one of them to learn more about small businesses.
    • Eventually she resumed her career in finance and accounting because her earnings potential was much greater by continuing that career. Due to her preference for lower risk, you could say it was more of a sure thing.
    • Perhaps the biggest benefit from her career break is that she decided to not let work define her. She viewed work as transactional – she performed a service in return for a fee. Eventually her return to work in her field enabled her to leverage her experience into consulting which provided considerable variety and much improved job satisfaction.
    • Claire’s advice for anyone considering a career break is to go into it with a plan.
    • Ted left work for a year to complete his MBA. Unlike Claire, he didn’t have a plan – he just winged it.
    • It turned out great for him because he successfully transitioned from the government service sector to business.
    • Our next episode features our conversation with Katie from Along the Camel Ride.

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