I’ve got some big news. As those on my newsletter found out last week, I will be taking a 1 year sabbatical to test Coast FI.
After a rough September of juggling working full-time in my day job, uncertainty with our oldest’s school with the pandemic, a strike in our youngest’s daycare system and various other stressors, I’ve come to a turning point. Ouf, I’m out of breath just writing all of these out! No wonder I’ve been feeling exhausted!
As the journey became a lot less enjoyable, I decided to reflect on changes to find better balance in our life and draw out projections of their potential impact on our FI plan. One of those ideas was to see if Coast FI might be an option for me. That is, if I were to try to cover my share of our yearly expenses with running my business part-time while letting my investments to compound and hit my FI#.
This led me to the decision that I will be taking a sabbatical to test out Coast FI starting at the end of January 2021.
While I started my career a decade ago already quite mindful of wanting to pay off debt quickly and start saving money, it’s truly in the last 6 years that we’ve deliberately focused on reaching for financial independence. Our purpose behind this goal was to have more flexibility in our everyday life in order to dedicate our time to our core values.
This allowed us to increase our total value of investment in % of our desired FI# from 21% to almost 80%. Along the way I also learned more about how many people are opting for a Slow-FI approach, utilizing the incremental financial freedom they gain along the path to FI. In our own way, we implemented some of this for example when I negotiated work from home, or when we took 1 month leave to travel to Mexico. We had even planned to take unpaid leaves during the summers once our kids would be in school.
As my last few months became a lot less enjoyable along the journey, I reminded myself of the core values to which we plan to dedicate more time after reaching FI. These surround spending more quality time with family & friends, learning and pursuing our passions, and finding ways to incorporate a sense of adventure into our life.
Another important aspect for me was to avoid neglecting these values while on the journey towards FI by integrating them in my present. That being said, the way I’ve been feeling rushed and anxious these last few months has definitely made it more difficult to put this into practice.
Is it worth it to power through at my current rhythm for the last 20% of our FI value, despite how I’ve felt so out of balance with my core values these last few months? Would it be rather preferable to pivot and slow down and try to cover my share of our yearly expenses while letting my investments compound to hit my FI#?
I set out with that idea in mind and pulled out my various projection spreadsheets to play around with the numbers. (Yes, this is how I spend my very limited free time, creating spreadsheets and “playing” around with projections 😆… this might sound dull for most people this is a super fun activity for this personal finance nerd!)
For the first five years of following this plan, our spending has been closer to an average of $52,000 (CAD) annually. So I basically need to generate between $26,000 to $35,000 to cover my portion of our costs without dipping into my investments.
I was delighted to see that if I stopped working now at 32, managed to cover my share of our average yearly family spending, my investments could compound to my FI# by the time I’m only 40 using a 5% growth rate. Even if I were to generate less income and rather be semi-retired, say using a withdrawal rate of 2% to cover my remaining share of our expenses, I would reach FI at about 45. Oh the magic of compounding interest!
The next step was to then look at my Yearly Savings Week by Week Tracker to figure out my cash-flow for 2021. I absolutely do not want to feel stressed about having to generate a specific amount quickly or to have to pull out money from investment accounts for larger one-time expenses. I made a few changes to where I’m directing my savings from my final paychecks and felt pretty confident about this roadmap.
Finally, since I’m intending to generate some income on a part-time basis, I then brainstormed the many options I have to do this. I mapped out how much income I could generate through 10 to 20 monthly hours of various side-hustles I’ve maintained over the years and through my passion project surrounding financial coaching.
That’s really the beauty of Coast FI, when your retirement will essentially be covered thanks to your investments compounding with time, it turns out that covering your annual costs (especially when those are shared costs like in my case) you really don’t need to be working that many hours!
While this all seems lovely in theory and in my spreadsheets, I believe it’s always important to test out our hypotheses in the real world. That’s why I decided to opt for the option of a sabbatical leave from work rather than quitting and transitioning right into Coast FI.
I don’t want to feel pressured about generating income and want to continue being picky in choosing what type of things I want to work on. I want space to deal with the chaos of parenting two young children through a pandemic. Having the knowledge and privilege that I can return to my job one year later allows me to feel confident that I can be flexible with my business objectives over the coming year.
Furthermore, as mentioned above, in the past few months, our combined investments have reached almost 80% of our desired FI#. Our projections only had us reaching over 80% in 2023 to hit FI in 2025 – so we are quite ahead on schedule. While it can be really challenging to plan a transition to FI, having greatly surpassed our initial projections is quite a positive boost to my confidence to take the leap to slow down my rate of accumulation.
I’m beyond excited for this change and feeling grateful that I can do so while being able to have a job to come back to a year later if I choose to do so! It also helps that Mr.Mod still wants to stay the course for his own portion of our investments as he still enjoys his job for now.
I am greatly thankful for the fact that we have spent the last 6 years deliberately focused on reaching for financial independence, combined with the good fortune we’ve had along that journey. I’m excited for the flexibility to find better balance, especially in these crazy times and I am incredibly thankful to have this choice available to me.
Have you ever considered transitioning to a slower approach to FI? What are some things you would need in place to have the confidence to take action?