Is This Still Semi-Retirement? A Little Life Update.

“I’ve decided to semi-retire the Money Flamingo blog. I’ve changed; my priorities have changed; the FI community has changed – so I feel it’s time to take a step back and make space for other things.”

These are the words I wrote when I announced my semi-retirement from blogging in October last year – almost nine months ago now. Since then, things have been very quiet around the blog. I managed to publish one net worth update and send out a couple of emails to subscribers, but that’s about it. So now is as good a time as any for a long overdue life update.

Thank you to everyone who reached out to check in with me over the last 6+ months. I know I have been chronically bad at responding to messages, but I really do appreciate hearing from readers and people on a similar path.

I’d also like to give a massive shoutout and say thank you to Michael from the Irish FIRE Podcast, who dedicated an entire tribute episode to the blog late last year. Check it out here: The Money Flamingo Tribute.

If you missed the last article, it might be helpful to go back to that for context before reading the life updates below. What I said about our goals, overall plan and changed attitude towards Financial Independence still applies (more than ever when I think about it).

In this update, I’ll share

  • what I have been up to for the last year
  • whether I still feel semi-retired
  • a major lifestyle decision we’ve made as a family
  • possible plans and considerations for the future
  • an update on the book

It Happens Every Time

People chase FIRE for years and years, and the closer they get to the finish line, the more the urge to actually retire early disappears. It happens every time. By the time people hit their number, the desire to “call it quits” and live a life of permanent leisure is usually completely gone. Instead, questions about the meaning of work, contribution and how we can best use our monetary freedom to make a difference and live a value-based life come into focus.

No one who reaches FI before what would be considered a “normal” retirement age actually retires when they reach FI. Most people continue working in some capacity and generating an income. I’ve talked about this for years. I knew this would be the case for us as well. This is why we proactively tailored our FI strategy around this realisation (and I’m glad we did!) and opted for a Semi-FI approach.

Now that we are pretty much at FI and several years past the active accumulation phase, we are less interested in stopping work and “retiring” than ever before. While the details of how this is all playing out in our case are a bit different from what I pictured a few years ago, it is really cool to see what I knew would happen eventuate in my own life.

I can’t stress enough how happy I am that we realised this would happen early on in the game and decided to pursue our Flamingo FI strategy instead of opting for the traditional path to FI. I truly believe that that decision saved us several years of unnecessarily “grinding to the finish line”.

Long story short, as we close in on our FI number, we join the ranks of (almost) everyone else who continues working once they no longer need to (by choice!). I’ve said it many times, and I’ll say it again – work is better when you don’t really need the money.

Part of the reason I’m sharing this is that I hope that seeing the same thing happen over and over will inspire people who are still in the accumulation phase to rethink their approach and consider that this will likely happen to them as well.

I Have to Tell You Something

So, what does this (almost) financially independent life of mine look like right now?

You might want to sit down for this if you are a hardcore FIRE fan.

Ready?

I’m working. Full time. In a corporate job.

And you know what? It’s been fantastic.

I realise this is not what most people in the FIRE community picture when they think of someone at the finish line. And it is also not what I pictured my life would look like now. Even a couple of years ago, I was convinced that I would never work full-time again, especially in a corporate job.

So what happened?

About a year ago (around the time of this update post), I worked part-time (first two, then three days per week). Things had been pretty rocky at work, with many (not-so-great) changes being made to the org and business structure. At this point, I was ready to call it quits and leave (and was fully expecting this would happen within a few months, to be completely honest).

However, right at that point, a role opened up in a part of the business I had always been interested in (and had gotten involved with over the previous 12 months or so). I was then approached by my now boss – one of the best in the business in this particular field – who asked if I’d be interested in taking the role.

This was an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone (after many years of doing work I could do in my sleep) and work directly with/receive mentoring from someone I look up to and respect. The only downside was that I would have to return to five days a week as the role required a full-time headcount. However, because I was reasonably confident I would not lose my flexibility and autonomy through this change, I decided to just give it a go.

And… it’s been amazing.

After years of generally enjoying work but feeling and acting quite detached, I am pretty invested for a change. When I took on the role, I decided to give it 100% just to see what that would feel like, and it’s been a really refreshing shift in perspective.

I have not lost my flexibility or anything else I value work-wise, and the whole ‘going back to full-time’ part has been an absolute non-event. Instead, I feel I have gained so much (even some things I didn’t realise were important to me). I’ve probably learned more in the last 12 months than in the 12 years before that. Working pretty much 1:1 with and learning from someone I really respect has honestly been a fantastic experience that continues to keep me motivated and interested.

Overall, this change has definitely been a challenge for me. And not just because I’m learning so much but also because it has made me test and question some of the assumptions and decisions I had made around my relationship with work and what my working life would look like in the future.

If I’m completely honest, this has probably been my favourite role to date for a number of reasons. And I found it just when work (especially full-time work) had become pretty much optional. Life is strange sometimes. I will try to keep this going for as long as possible. But because a lot of what makes this role so great for me at the moment is tied to working directly with one particular person, AND because of the fact that we operate in a slightly unpredictable corporate environment, I have started thinking about the whole “what’s next” piece (more on that below).

Ok, so now that the cat is out of the bag, let’s move on to the question many of you will no doubt have on your mind after reading this – “But aren’t you supposed to be semi-retired???”

Is This Still Semi-Retirement?

I’d understand if you told me that all this doesn’t sound very semi-retired to you.

And I admit I am not sure how I feel about this myself sometimes. Maybe I have really just outgrown the FI label and categories.

However, we have always defined Semi-Retirement (in the FI context) as the point at which you are done saving for retirement (which we undoubtedly are). After that, it’s all about having choices and flexibility.

This is what I wrote about Semi-Retirement in my monster article on the topic:

When you are semi-retired, the income you generate becomes a secondary consideration. Instead, the focus is on a good work-life balance, a low-stress environment and work you really enjoy.

Being semi-retired isn’t simply a synonym for working part-time. Of course, most people will likely choose to work part-time in semi-retirement. However, it would also be a completely valid option to work full-time in a relaxed, fulfilling job.

I’ll let you decide for yourself, but I still feel semi-retired because I enjoy my job and have a great work-life balance. I am done saving for retirement. And now that we are very close to FI, I can walk away anytime. That’s the real freedom FI creates, in my opinion. It’s invisible to the outside but makes such a difference mindset-wise. Like I always say, FI is an inside job.

What’s Next?

I genuinely feel like this current role is a bit of a unicorn. I have mentioned before that I am not actually sure how employable I am these days (because of my aversion to other people controlling how I spend my time, not my chances of finding another job). So when this current arrangement ends (and it will, of course, at some point), I am pretty sure I won’t just look for another corporate role.

I feel compelled to try and use the freedom and choices I’ve been able to create in my life to do and/or build something that has a positive impact on the world (even if it’s a small impact). I’m still figuring out what that could look like in practice, also considering my work values, how I like to work, and what I’d want to get out of it on a personal level.

I am not 100% clear on what’s next. What I do know is:

  1. I enjoy working for the non-financial benefits work provides. I need to work because it is good for my mental health and overall life satisfaction.
  2. I thrive in a work environment that involves a level of social connection and teamwork.
  3. I enjoy learning and challenging myself, working towards goals I find meaningful.
  4. I want to use the financial freedom we have built to do something useful that gives me a sense of purpose and makes a difference.
  5. I am pretty resilient and adaptable. I enjoy critical and big-picture thinking, problem-solving and turning ideas into concrete plans.

None of the points above are directly related to money. However, please don’t get me wrong – money will still be a consideration when deciding what to do next, even if it’s no longer one of my main decision factors. Everyone should be paid what they are worth, regardless of their personal financial situation. I don’t buy into the idea that people should be happy to work for free or accept a low income just because they can afford to and get enjoyment out of what they do.

Here are the four main ideas I’ve been thinking about:

Start a Business

I am seriously contemplating this option. And by business, I mean a proper business (not some “solopreneur” online venture), ideally with 1-2 business partners. I am not set on a particular business model or sector, but I would want it to be something that I can stand behind 100% and that has a positive impact in some way, shape, or form. A for-profit social enterprise maybe (if that’s a thing)?

What excites me most about this option is the process involved – going from idea generation to turning it into something tangible/sustainable, working with (hopefully) inspiring people who are on the same wavelength.

I know I’ve talked about this for a while, and I am still not 100% sure I am ready for this option just yet, but if someone came to me with a cool concept, I would be all ears.

For some reason, I have a feeling this is where things might be headed sometime in the next 2-3 years. Obviously, starting a business involves a lot of work and commitment, but that doesn’t deter me. Of course, there is also a level of risk involved, but I feel I am at a point where I can afford to take some risks (financial and otherwise).

Work for a Startup

I’ve never worked for a proper startup, so this might be an interesting experience and a chance to get involved in different areas and decision-making within the business. I know this option has many pros and cons to consider, but I think it might be a fun change in environment. I realise many people burn out working in startups, but that doesn’t really concern me because I know I can walk away at any time if I need to.

Contracting

I am not in love with this idea, but I can see that it might be a good alternative to another permanent role. One benefit of the consulting option is that it would be easy to take time off between contracts to travel for longer periods of time, etc.

Find Another Unicorn Job

I said I would likely not look for another job once time is up in my current one, but then who knows what the future holds…

Grow the Blog (Again)

I’m adding this one to the list because I know some of you might otherwise ask why I wouldn’t. However, to be honest, after experimenting with the whole blog monetisation thing for a bit, I’ve concluded that it’s not for me. Maybe I have approached this the wrong way, but for some reason, it just doesn’t give me any joy to generate an income from something I created as a personal hobby project and that I am really passionate about.

I still do some coaching (exclusively for long-term clients at this point), which I really enjoy and find satisfying. However, I have no motivation to grow the blog itself.

I sometimes feel conflicted about this because I realise that the site has made a small but meaningful difference for some people by spreading the FI message and showcasing alternatives to the slow, long grind to full Financial Independence. I absolutely love getting emails from readers who write to me to say that a piece of content I wrote gave them the clarity or motivation to make positive changes in their lives. That’s something that makes me really happy, mainly because I know for a fact that some of those readers have gone on to use their newfound freedom to do good things in the world.

This is the main reason I’m keeping the blog alive, and I will make an effort to add a bit more content again. However, actively growing and monetising Money Flamingo is not in the cards at this stage.

What FI Actually Does

FI really does one thing: it removes money from life equations (for the most part, anyway).

This, in turn, means that

  • Finances are no longer a good reason to stay in a situation that doesn’t serve us (like a horrible job).
  • We have more options and more possible life paths available to us.

That’s it. All other considerations and questions that go into making life decisions remain. Contemplating “what’s next” from an (almost) financially independent standpoint has made this crystal clear to me.

And because FI gives us more options, those decisions aren’t necessarily easier. That has been my experience, anyway.

Tim Urban, the blogger behind waitbutwhy.com, has a really cool graphic that I think about often:

FI simply gives us more possible paths on the future side of the image. Not more, not less.

I am still very much in the phase of figuring out which one to take (just like everyone else). I also don’t think this will ever change; I have accepted that it’s an ongoing, lifelong process.

Other Life Updates

Ok, so now that we’ve covered the work part in detail, here are some other life updates in no particular order:

We are not moving.

If you’ve followed along for a while, you know that we purchased a house on the Sunshine Coast a couple of years ago. The intention was to move up there in 2023 or 2024 (before the kids start school). Considering how content we are with our current situation in Sydney, we have put this plan on hold and have decided to stay here instead.

We also went to the Sunshine Coast for a two-week test drive of our area, and while it is really nice, the lifestyle does feel a bit too quiet and monotone for where we are at in life at the moment. We think we can offer our kids a bit more in Sydney in terms of school options, culture/diversity, opportunities, etc.

We might un-FIRE.

The decision to stay in Sydney has raised the question of whether we should sell our house in QLD and use the proceeds to buy a home here on the Northern Beaches (which would basically mean we’d have to un-FIRE and take on a significant financial commitment – aka a new mortgage).

For now, we are happy to continue rentvesting, knowing that our house and the FI lifestyle we originally planned for are available to us anytime in case things change.

Starting a business might also involve dipping into the FI nest egg for funding. However, in a way, that would be a case of reallocating invested funds to another investment (the business, in this case). I would not have a problem doing that. FI is all about using the wealth we’ve built to create opportunities and live meaningful lives, after all.

I’m still writing a book.

In the last big update article, I announced that I was planning to write a book. I want to document what I’ve learned on our FI journey and through my work with others over the years.

Many of you have asked where things are at with the book project. And the answer is that it’s still very much a work in progress. In fact, I didn’t write a word for a few months after the announcement, but I’ve recently started working on the book again.

Thanks also to those who have offered to help with the editing, pre-reading, etc. (I will be in touch when the time comes).

To be clear, as much as I hope this book will be a valuable resource for people interested in alternative paths to FI, it really is more of a personal project and a nice way to close the Money Flamingo chapter of my life eventually.

I will keep everyone posted on the progress.


There you have it, the long overdue life update you may or may not have been waiting for. I will post a financial update with our FI progress soon as well. Thanks for reading and your support! 🙂

 
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30 thoughts on “Is This Still Semi-Retirement? A Little Life Update.”

  1. So happy to see another update from you!! ☺️ Thanks for sharing. Love your honest approach. I can confirm you your content has made a massive difference in my life. Can’t wait for the next email!

    Reply
  2. Excellent post and resonates with a lot of my own feelings and what I’ve seen from my work. I am a GP and have met a lot of retirees. One thing that has always been consistent amongst my patient cohort is that the people who continue to work or engage in work like activities are always healthier and happier. That is why I believe it’s actually much more important to find work that you enjoy than it is to turbocharge your way to FIRE. Work that you enjoy that can be done part-time is even better.

    In part to your work the way I’ve planned my FIRE journey is to keep chugging along and in about 4 years once I hit my coast FIRE number, cut down my work hours to 2-3 days a week. I’ll gladly do that in to my 70’s. The excess money I make from working I’ll invest seperately and gift to my kids or any local good causes.

    I am yet to meet a retiree that calls it quits and remains healthy, physically or mentally.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing. The further I get down this path the more I realise that coasting from whatever milestone you feel comfortable with is the way to go.

      I 100% agree with your comment around finding work you enjoy and the importance of never stopping work altogether. I am a bit unsure about the part-time piece at the moment (personally) because I actually enjoy work more again now that I am back to full-time after working part-time for about 4 years. I guess it’s all about experimentation and staying flexible.

      Reply
  3. Thank you so much for this. To me your life sounds like the perfect FI life. Who cares about the RE part, especially at such a young age.

    Really good to see you want to use your freedom to do something that benefits society rather than just living it up. Looking forward to your next update, whether that is in 1 month or 1 year from now.

    All the best and THANK YOU!

    Reply
  4. Thank you for posting this!! I’ve learned so much from you and many of your posts have really got me thinking. In fact my whole behaviour has changed (I believe). I really can’t be bothered with things anymore, choosing to go without frivolous spending in return for travel and experiences with friends and I’ve loved that switch around for me. I agree with you – FI can be absolutely anything you want it to be – work or not work, what ever ticks the boxes at the time. I love the thought that I now have choices of where I want to be and when….. that is the best feeling and you can’t put a price on that!

    Reply
  5. “Retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for an imaginary tomorrow. When today is complete, in and of itself, you’re retired. You retire by saving up enough money, becoming a monk, or by finding work that feels like play to you.” (Naval Ravikant)

    What you are saying sounds pretty much like retirement for me 😀 All the best to you and your family!

    Reply
  6. Good stuff and thanks for commenting. As a fellow Aussie it is good to your thinking. Flamingo FI is still a great way to plan your life and as you said gives your more choices. I am about 5 years away from reaching that timeline and even that I am fairly confident I will do it.

    In fact all of this work has given me the confidence to leave my current job that I do not like and have take the decision to explore the myriad paths from your graphic. Knowing where I stand in terms of FIRE I would rather spend time for the next 10 to 15 years doing what I like and this approach gives me confidence to do that.

    Keep blogging!

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment, S. I felt the same way once we figured out where we stood financially, how long it would take us to get to certain milestones, etc. Glad going through this process has given you the confidence to re-think things. All the best!

      Reply
  7. Thanks so much for the update, I really enjoyed reading it, and you surprised me a bit with the full-time role 😂

    I can only recommend working for a startup, but it has to be the right one. I never wanted to work for a startup either because of the chaos combined with low salaries and long hours. But then I got approached by my now CEO, and I am still there 3,5 years after starting. It all depends on the people, but you already found out in your new full-time role 😉

    Either way, I always enjoy reading your updates, and I am sure you will find the direction that suits you and your family, and I am looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

    Good luck with everything,
    Nadine (from Germany)

    Reply
  8. Fantastic post. I’m a long-term follower and big fan of your work. I’m also a big advocate of mission-driven enterprises and have co-founded two in the past. Let me know if you ever want to chat and bounce ideas. Will also send you an email with my details.

    Reply
  9. Appreciate the honesty and agree with many of your points. Left me curious however about the impact on your family relationships (especially with children) of your choice to go “all in” on a full time job. Would be great to hear your thoughts on this at some point.

    Reply
    • Thanks Dave. The impact on the family has been front of mind with all of this. Because the role is not a “sit at your desk in the office from 9-5 every day” type of role things have been really good in terms of work-life balance. I still get to spend a lot of time with my kids. My husband has taken on a bit more of the parenting to give me time and space to adjust, but it’s been a pretty smooth transition and I don’t feel the kids are missing out in any way. That’s one of the reasons I am not sure I would be able to replicate this current setup in a different role for a different employer.

      Reply
  10. Love this post, and good on you for doing what is right for you and not being beholden to the idea of retirement in its ‘usual’ form. And being willing to share with others when your views or plans change.

    The thing that resonated with me is what you said about not wanting others to control what you do with your time. That seems to be the crux of the FI movement. Being in the position to choose how you spend your time. You’re just lucky to have found a role that you enjoy and the additional funds is a nice extra benefit of it!

    Reply
  11. Thank you Tina. I came across you through IrishFIRE ( with Michael). You’ve listened carefully to yourself and your family’s needs throughout your journey, evolving as you go. If you continue with this approach, you can’t help but succeed! Best of luck with all your future endeavours and thank you for your meaningful output, Caroline (Dublin, Ireland).

    Reply
  12. this is a great update. To be honest, getting these less frequent but ‘bigger’ scope updates is actually probably better! I get really excited when I see you’ve written an update.

    Super interesting the road that your life journey is taking you down. It is inspirational to me and makes me re-consider if I am spending too long grinding away until that fateful number is reached.
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Thanks Dickrog. Glad you enjoy these less frequent longer-form updates and get something out of them. I think that’s what these posts will look like moving forward. All the best!

      Reply
  13. Another great read, thank you. Sounds like you have many good options. Reach out through my email if you’d like to have a discussion at some point on the social/purpose business.
    Matt

    Reply
  14. I know how you feel. After retiring 18 months ago I’m like whatever… Its great to do nothing as much as its also great to travel. Some days get a little nervous about outliving expenses, but then that’s just human nature after working and saving for so long and still watching your colleagues working, spending and trying to keep up with the Joneses.
    All the best and enjoy the new adventure.

    Reply

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