Why the Semi-Retired Life Is the Ultimate FIRE Sweet Spot

Why the Semi-Retired Life is the Ultimate FIRE Sweet Spot

In today’s article, I’m going to share a simple realisation I recently had about one of the main topics we discuss on the blog: Early Semi-Retirement. Mr. Flamingo and I have been semi-retired for 12 months at the time of writing and I can honestly say that this lifestyle is amazing. Choosing a slower FIRE approach is one of the best things we’ve done to date. The balance we enjoy in our lives right now is great. And the reason is simple: (Early) Semi-Retirement is the ultimate sweet spot when it comes to the pursuit of Financial Independence.

There is a Sweet Spot for Everything In Life

A couple of weeks ago I read through some of my favourite Mr Money Mustache articles (I have a handy bookmark list of 20+ MMM articles that I re-read regularly). In one of his more recent posts, MMM talks about a concept that is really under-appreciated in my opinion: balance.

MMM argues that there is a sweet spot for pretty much everything in life: work, exercise, success, time with your kids, you name it. I couldn’t agree more.

I think this is a really cool way to think about living a balanced life. Just hit the sweet spot in as many areas as possible and you’ll probably be a content person with a great quality of life.

Here is a chart from MMM’s post:

Reading this article got me thinking about all the different areas of my own life where balance is key. One area MMM didn’t mention in his article is one of my favourite topics: balance on the way to Financial Independence.

Semi-Retirement is the Financial Independence Sweet Spot

To us, Semi-Retirement is the ultimate sweet spot when it comes to the pursuit of FIRE

This is probably no surprise to regular readers of this blog. I often talk about the importance of considering different types of Financial Independence, many of which involve a Semi-Retirement Phase. What is more, making a life plan is crucial for success and happiness. A financial plan that will get you to FIRE as quickly as possible simply isn’t enough.

The outcome of this kind of holistic planning process depends on where on the FIRE spectrum you are:

  • Those who previously wanted to get to FIRE as soon as possible often decide to slow down and smell the roses along the way.
  • Those who previously thought they will never get to FI and shouldn’t even bother trying (I like to call this the Yolo trap) often find the motivation to get started. Once we realise that FIRE is not a race things become more achievable and enjoyable.

Both groups (and anyone in between these two extremes) have one thing in common. They often opt for a slower FIRE path (using Coast FI, Barista FIRE or Flamingo FI strategies) and a semi-retired life instead of full FIRE.

The semi-retired life is the sweet spot between two extremes: a super slow FI journey with a slow savings rate and a YOLO attitude and a stressful full-time job you hate plus a side hustle.

A Semi-Retired Life = A Balanced Life

Semi-Retirement is a sweet spot in many ways, but here are the two that stand out:

  • FIRE/Money: Your path to FI is not too slow (or nonexistant), so you will still get there at some point in the future. Being in a position to semi-retire means that you have your money under control and a decent net wealth as well. However, choosing a Semi-Retirement path to FI means that getting wealthy isn’t your only focus and that you don’t risk wasting precious years of your life chasing money.
  • Work-life balance: Work-wise you can strike the perfect balance with Semi-Retirement: not too little (you don’t get bored or depressed) and not too much (you don’t burn out). Working part-time (or seasonally) seems to be a nice balance for most people.

By following a Semi-Retirement strategy you are still creating wealth and you most certainly don’t need to worry about having enough money in retirement. Consequently, you are definitely not caught in the YOLO trap, but you are not hustling all day long to get rich either.

Ask yourself: Who has the lowest stress levels?

  1. Someone with money problems, a lot of debt and no retirement savings
  2. Someone who is super-focused on getting rich, hustles all day long and checks their portfolio every hour
  3. A semi-retiree who has figured out and secured their “enough” and enjoys a balance of work and play

I think we all know what the answer is.

Conclusion

When it comes to the pursuit of Financial Independence, being semi-retired probably is the sweet spot for most people. If you are interested in this concept you can find an extensive collection of articles about the strategies you can use to semi-retire and the many, many other benefits of the semi-retired life on the blog.

The beauty of this concept is that hitting the sweet spot in this area of your life will lead to hitting the sweet spots of other areas as well. If you work less, you automatically have more time for leisure, fitness, friendships and your family.

How are you creating balance in your (financial) life? Are there any other sweet spots you find important?

14 thoughts on “Why the Semi-Retired Life Is the Ultimate FIRE Sweet Spot”

  1. It is a good sweet spot. But careful not to go MMMโ€™s route and get divorced while your kid is still in middle school.

    Not all is what it seems, even though many people pray to him.

    But I give MMM props, he presents a nice picture.

    Reply
    • MMM has a post about that too – people judging him through the divorce, people like you. Please don’t became another grumpy keyboard hero. You might be right. Or not. You don’t know him and the circumstances of the whole fallout.

      Reply
    • Haha thanks for the advice (I guess?!)…. Not sure where this came from. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Just because MMM is a lot of people’s favourite personal finance guru that doesn’t mean we have to agree with every aspect of his personal life. I actually think he deserves to be left alone. He has always been pretty open about his divorce and the mistakes that happened while he was married. That doesn’t give me the right to judge him though…

      With your logic you wouldn’t go to a dentist, lawyer or gardener who doesn’t have the perfect personal life….

      Reply
  2. Hello Mrs. Flamingo,

    Really enjoyed your blog. We have pushed to FIRE by the time we are 31 now. But still working because we enjoy what we are doing and the $ is really good. So now the goal is to Flamingo Fire to FAT Fire over the next 5-8 years and the reevaluate.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Reply
  3. Another awesome article! I love your sweet spot chart too. I agree, semi-retirement just makes so much sense. How I wish I’d known about it 10 years ago…….

    Reply
  4. Hi Mrs Flamingo,

    I enjoyed your article. I’ve been trying to dip my toe into the water gradually by taking one day off every fortnight (a Monday) as an unpaid leave day. I really enjoy the time off with my family, although the downside is that work is often super busy and stressful for the next couple of days trying to play catch up. Do you have any thoughts about this?

    Reply
    • It’s important not to fall into the trap of doing a full-time workload for less money – which is often what people who reduce their hours end up doing. If you’re being paid one less day a fortnight, then you do one less day a fortnight of work and that work either needs to be moved onto someone else, or the powers-that-be need to accept that it may just take longer for that work to get done.

      I had my full-time hours reduced from 42 down to 18.6 per week due to COVID and my Directors have certainly had a hard time understanding that I am not able to, nor would I be willing to even if I could do my full-time workload in those reduced hours. In fact, it’s imperative that you DONT get that full-time load done in less hours, because why then would your employer ever pay you for more?

      It takes discipline when you’re a hard, and good worker to not fall into this trap.

      Reply
      • I agree with this 100%. I work part-time now and can see the challenges. It’s so so important to set boundaries and make it crystal clear that part-time means part-time, not full-time squeezed in a few days per week. I do think it is possible to teach full-time colleagues this and they will respect it if you are firm.

        Reply
    • What Casey said. Taking time off your full-time job is not the same as being semi-retiring and working an actual part-time job! And if you go part-time it’s important to make it clear to everyone that you can’t manage the same workload anymore. Good luck!

      Reply

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.