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In this post, inparadise said -

"It was nice to know this morning as I headed up to the principal's office, that I could head over to my parents regardless of the consequences of only being on the job 1 day, to know that if the airlines chose to screw me over on a fare purchased and used on the same day, that my bank account would survive. Knowing that my credit was good enough to whip out my credit card on a moment's notice and pony up for the ticket was comforting."

This is the essence of FI/RE. Freedom from financial want. It is a tribute, in our case, to luck and a bull market, and to our adherence to what we refer to as the six fundamental principles of FI/RE:

1. Develop a sufficiently motivating purpose. In my case, I developed an appreciation for the brevity of my existence. As a result, I wish to spend much more time with the kids. I have seen several colleagues croak at young ages.

2. Obtain employment that is on the higher end of the remuneration spectrum. Leverage your time/efficiently use your time by maximizing the productivity and pay per hour spent in paid employment.

3. LBYM.

4. Slash your taxes.

5. Enhance the impact of both #3 and #4 by our living overseas in low tax jurisdictions.

6. Invest in a low cost manner through index funds.


inparadise later said -

Dad says that Mom is doing well, but something about hearing his voice crack near
tears leaves me less than reassured."

As a male, it is my observation that we boys, through a very serious flaw(?) in our cultural upbringing/genetic defect, carry very big burdens (just as women do), the strong feelings about which we are encouraged to hide beneath a veneer of emotional control. As a general rule, and greatly oversimplifying, we feel it is our responsibility to fix and control things and situations and to provide for our families.

Although this can give a great feeling/sense of self control when times are "good", when times are "bad", through no fault of our own, this can lead those used to being "in control" to unwarrantedly blame or question themselves. In many cases (e.g. our investing success, one's ability to remain gainfully employed), the good and bad times are illusions in themselves (we "won" in the stock market because a rising tide lifted all ships; we lost our jobs because of a recessionary industry). Like reputation to Othello's Iago, the good times and bad are "oft got without merit, oft lost without deserving."

Hoping not to sound presumptuous, I suggest you kiss your dad on the forehead and let that gentleman, who you obviously care about and respect, know that no one could have done a better job; that no one could have loved and been a better husband for your mother, his life partner, more; and that it has been and that things will always work out OK, maybe not right now, but sooner than he thinks, for him and his extended family.

There are things stronger even than death. The love of one good person for another is one of those things. Gratitude for all the good fortune with which every one of us has been blessed is another of those things.

inparadise -

While for some people the responsibility of having children is overwhelming, I found that the excuse to play like a child was just great. The reality of my true age has hit me like a ton of bricks with the news of my Mom's stroke. Growing up can really suck. Or am I just facing one of the major fears of childhood, fear of one's parents death?"

I remember thinking about the impending birth of our first child. I had just changed careers and was wondering about the wisdom of that choice. I had left a career in which I had achieved some degree of "success", for one utilizing (apparently) a radically different skill set and one in which my prospects appeared dubious at best. I was an insignificant cog at the bottom of the food chain, employed at the whim of my mercurial employer, which, in turn, bent to the will of an equally unforgiving economy. To top it all off, we had just purchased a house, incurring more debt than had ever seemed possible.

The responsibility of a child, at first blush, seemed to be yet another, even more overwhelming, burden or responsibility perhaps tipping the scales of (the illusion) of "control" against us. I wondered how I would be able to keep all the balls I was apparently juggling in the air. "What if I get fired?" I frequently thought. "How will I provide for them?"

In fact, over a relatively short period of time, I came to see that having a child was liberating. Yes, liberating. This child, this product of life's longing for itself, clarified what was really important for me. Not the career. Not contorting and denying myself to please the unpleasable boss. Not the house or all the debt. Not starting over and having to scramble for bucks. Not any of the self-doubt and fears. Not anyone else's approval or disapproval.

This little baby, our family, our health (in the broadest sense of the word) was what I truly cared about. A wife who loved me. A best friend who placed absolute confidence in my abilities to handle what life served up. Other friends, who formed our extended family and who, similarly, showed faith in an unproven commodity (me) who had some crazy dreams but not much resembling what a traditional creditor would classify as "collateral".

Those people and relationships, and, IMO, certain personal qualities of faithfulness, honesty, creativity, insight, an incredible will to power (over our lives), and a heaping teaspoon of luck, would be what would see us through. And what would determine, in the final analysis, whether we had lived lives worth living.

As a result of this shift in perspective, I got less stressed when the boss yelled at me, less worried about paying the mortgage, less preoccupied with setting the world on fire (at least, in the traditional sense), less concerned about living up to others' expectations.

Which, ironically, made me, in some respects, a better employee. Because I was less worried abut the job, I became calmer and less perturbed by those around me who were emotionally out of control. Because I was learning what it meant to be a parent, because I was in the same boat, and because I began to appreciate what a privilege it was to be in the same boat as the J. Alfred Prufrocks (who were the vast majority of my client contacts at that level), I became more able to communicate and service the clients varied needs (most of which were non-financial).

In other respects, it made me a worse employee in the sense that it became very important, at bottom, to get one and only one thing out of my job: me.

After this insight, I became more concerned about Chloe (and, thankfully, later, Chris') health. And who was their day care provider. And how in the hell we could become their primary day care provider and teachers. I became more concerned about becoming the best husband, father, friend, brother, "son", wanderer I could be.

And wander I did. From single person to husband, from DINK to father. From father to daddy to dad. From client to client. From employee to contractor. From exclusively working as a practicing public accountant back to combining that skill set with my roots as a teacher. From the comfort of the friendly confines of our beloved mother land, the U.S. of A., to the challenges and intrigue of the Middle East. It has been quite a random walk, indeed.

There are things stronger even than fear. Faith - in oneself, others, the future, the love of a parent for his or her family, and respect for oneself are three of those things.



Has anyone else noticed how "FI/RE" looks like the word "fire"? I remember attending church (a long, long time ago) and, during the benediction, the preacher saying, "Take our minds and think through them. Take our eyes and see through them. Take our hearts and set them on fire." I always liked that turn of phrase.

I'm not much for religion, but I do believe in the sanctity of the human spirit. FI/RE is a fire that burns in me. Maybe it consumes me, but I like to think I am that phoenix, rising from the ashes, to fulfill his special mission of realizing his true potential.

So, from now on, I'm gonna drop the slash. A "FIRE" it is. May it be ever thus.

Wanderer, hopefully not sounding too "unhinged"

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