Coasting to FIRE (Without Saving Another Cent!) – Our Semi-Retirement Plan

We reached Flamingo FI six months ago and are now officially semi-retired. In this post, I’ll talk about our plan to get to FI in the next 10-15 years while working part-time and without saving and investing another cent for retirement.

The Race to Flamingo FI

Here is a quick recap of our plan (you can find more details here):

In Phase 1 (Accumulation) we saved half of our FIRE nest egg (12.5x our annual living expenses). This is how Flamingo FI got its name by the way – it’s FIRE standing on one leg (like a Flamingo!). We reached this milestone in October 2020. Our nest egg consists of a diversified portfolio of income-producing assets.

We are currently in Phase 2 – Semi-Retirement. In this phase, we are no longer actively adding funds to our nest egg. This means that we can work part-time and only need to earn enough to cover our ongoing living expenses. Our nest egg does all the hard lifting in the background. As long as we don’t touch it and let it do its thing, we should hit our FIRE number sometime in the next 10 to 15 years.

Once we hit our FIRE number we can retire completely if we want to. At this stage, I don’t see us retiring completely as we both enjoy working, especially if it is interesting work in a low-stress environment and only a few days per week (or months per year). But who knows, plans change and it will be nice to have the option. Eventually, Traditional Retirement will be an option as well. If we stay in semi-retirement for a while after we hit FIRE our nest egg will continue to compound in the background and our golden years should be exactly that, golden.

The Casual Stroll from Flamingo FI to FIRE

So, how exactly do we plan to get from Flamingo FI to FIRE without lifting a finger?

Let’s have a look at our progress so far. Avid readers of this blog will remember the monthly progress updates we published during the accumulation phase. This is what our graph looked like when we hit Flamingo FI back in October 2020:

The reason we went from almost zero to 12.5x our annual living expenses is that we invested 50% or more of our after-tax incomes from our corporate full-time jobs. Investment returns only made up a small portion of the growth of our nest egg.

This will change in Semi-Retirement. From now on, we count on our investments to get us from where we are now to FIRE. This will of course be a much slower yet enjoyable process as we will only need to earn enough money to pay the bills, not to fund a retirement nest egg. Instead of the race our path to FI has been so far, this next chapter will be more of a casual walk.

If we can achieve a 7% return (inflation-adjusted), we will hit FIRE in about 10 years without adding another cent to the nest egg:

An average return of 7% after inflation seems realistic and actually pretty conservative compared to historical returns. We use this number for all of our projections. However, we are fully aware that no one can predict what future investment returns in different asset classes will look like.

“What if you don’t get 7% returns?” is probably one of the most common critical questions I get in response to the plan we have laid out. The answer is simple – then we’ll simply stay in semi-retirement longer. And since that is what we are probably going to do anyway, regardless of our FIRE status, it really won’t matter much if we get a lower average return over the next decade or so.

Let’s have a look at our path from Flamingo FI to FIRE if we only manage to achieve an average return of 5%:

Still not bad at all!

I would argue that even if we end up staying in semi-retirement for another 20+ years, working 2-3 days per week without any financial stress whatsoever, our quality of life will be better than that of 90% of the working population. Not a bad worst-case scenario if you ask me.

And remember, it could also go the other way. What if over the next few years we achieved 10% inflation-adjusted returns?

We’d be done in 7 years from now!

The truth is that no one knows what the future holds (as 2020 has shown us all!). What I do know is that I want to enjoy more freedom and have more time now while we have a young family and are in good health. Our approach allows us to do just that.

For most of us in the FI community, FIRE is all about freedom and reclaiming our time rather than actual “retirement”. When we combine semi-retirement with a Coast FIRE approach (like Flamingo FI) we get our lives and time back much sooner than with the traditional FIRE approach AND we will become financially independent eventually. This type of semi-retirement really offers the best out of both worlds!

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31 thoughts on “Coasting to FIRE (Without Saving Another Cent!) – Our Semi-Retirement Plan”

  1. Good summary, you can also see from the graphs you posted that would not be a big difference in time if you guys kept at it. What you would loose though is all that valuable time spent with what counts in life. I will take family over corporate job any day of the week!

    • Thanks! We are transitioning to part-time at the moment. I’ll post an update on this in the next few days. I’m on maternity leave at the moment, so I’m not working in the traditional sense. Not sure if looking after a baby and a toddler counts as semi-retirement though! πŸ˜‰

  2. Congrats and YES!

    “I would argue that even if we end up staying in semi-retirement for another 20+ years, working 2-3 days per week without any financial stress whatsoever, our quality of life will be better than that of 90% of the working population. Not a bad worst case scenario if you ask me.”

    I think this is a great strategy. Especially if you can pull it off expense wise, which it seems like you can.

    Also, really love the graphics!!

  3. I love this blog. One question I have for you on the 5% projection, wouldn’t the amount for FIRE increase from 25x ? I don’t know for certain, but just assumed that the 4% rule was contingent on historical returns in the market? If it increased, I’m guessing the timeline to reach FIRE might extend out a bit.

    • Thanks John! Yes, the amount for FIRE will increase the longer we stay in semi-retirement. That’s why we use inflation-adjusted numbers, so the 5% growth would be something like 7% in real terms, 5% inflation-adjusted. Hope that makes sense.

  4. Hi Guys, congrats on living your best life! It’s fantastic to see some people in the FI community actually achieve the dream. I see so many FI bloggers always on the journey, but never quite turning the journey into a real, tangible benefit. I’m looking forward to your future updates to see what happens in semi-retirement. You are giving myself and others the confidence to follow in your footsteps.

  5. Totally with you! Working 2-3 days a week can not only provide value in the form of purpose, but also a valid excuse to get out the house and interact with other people! When you FIRE eventually and choose to continue working that’s also awesome because that’s so much more spare cash you can use for luxuries, travel or even donating to charities! Great work guys.

  6. Found this blog while starting off my FIRE journey (just an year in) and love the approach. I thought I only had an aggressive approach for FIRE but this is a great way to achieve it too.

    I do like the idea of spending my time with part time gig post phase 1 accumulation but I will need to work out what I will do with my new free time if I do this approach. If that means holidays, more spending to fund my hobbies and kids aren’t cheap too (school zone property or private, childcare, etc) How do you account for this in flamingo plan to avoid going back full time?

    In my tradition fire plan I was mainly planning to do fund these out of my part time gig.


  7. I like the idea, but I’m concerned the return assumptions are far too optimistic. Your worst case scenario has a 5% real return. Meanwhile, big investors like Vanguard expect a median real return of somewhere closer to 3% real return over the next decade.

    This isn’t such a big problem for people who have several decades left in their working life and can adjust, but if someone approaching retirement in the next decade decided to stop saving, it could be a disaster.

    • I agree that the return assumption should be more conservative for someone who is closer to retirement. The numbers in this post are our own personal assumptions for our plan. We are 25+ years away from traditional retirement. We will actually be ok even if we only achieve 3% over the long turn (although this will, of course, push out our retirement date). I always recommend people re-calculate their Coast FI number every couple of years to see if they are still on track. The good thing about semi-retirement is that it’s easy to increase one’s income in case additional savings/investments are needed along the way. Also, we go by historic averages, not predictions for the next decade, at the end of the day this is all just a rule of thumb, no hard science and everyone just makes wild guesses about future returns anyway.

  8. Stumbled across your journey while listening to an Aussie Firebug podcast and have been reading up on Flamingo FI. Five years ago, my wife and I took a look at our lifestyle and wanted to be more intentional with our time. We moved out of Sydney to buy on the Central Coast, in our late 30’s, have two young kids (6 weeks and 2 years) and both work part time for charities (what’s it called planning for FIRE when you are already part-time but not FI?) where we spend Wednesday’s and weekends together as a family. It’s great! But we aren’t your typical FIRE persona either…

    So now we’ve the many approaches to FIRE to draw from to start building our FI. We may take a little longer (estimated 14 years till full FIRE using the two bucket inside/outside super approach), we wouldn’t have known this to be possible. Thanks for sharing your approach and experiences! πŸ™‚

  9. Thanks Matt! Sounds like you have a fantastic lifestyle. I think the concept you are referring to is Barista FIRE. It’s great that you are prioritising your family while your kids are so young. All the best!

  10. Looks like u saved $1m which at 10% it doubles in 7 yrs or 7% doubles in 10 years. $2m by then pays your $80k which is ur expenses now. But don’t forget your expenses will likely be $120k even if it does not double.

    And while you are not owning your own house yet, isn’t it more prudent to work full time for that, since you cannot use the portfolio to buy that primary residence, instead of working part time?

    • Sorry, you actually guessed wrong. πŸ˜‰ All our numbers are inflation-adjusted, so price increases are largely irrelevant. I think enjoying life as much as possible and minimising full-time work is the most prudent choice in my mind, but everyone is different.


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