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Creating Freedom Through Financial Independence


Uh-Oh, Call The Internet Retirement Police!

May 12, 2018

Early Retirement is a noble pursuit.  At least, in my book.

We spend many years working, saving and investing to finally arrive at our destination.

But what then?

Well, the majority of people I’ve come across, end up enjoying their new found freedom for a while, spending extra time with family, getting stuck into their hobbies or travelling.

After that initial honeymoon period, some people start looking for new challenges.  Some of those even include work!

But you’d better be careful…out there on the internet, an angry mob awaits you.  And that mob, is the Internet Retirement Police!


Internet Retirement Police

Yes, it’s a real thing.

Years ago, Mr Money Mustache spoke out against this inflexible and negative culture.

Their theory goes, once you’re retired you should not be undertaking any new activities which produce money or save you money.

Because if you do, you are obviously doing it for the money.  Therefore, you aren’t really retired at all, so your ‘early retirement’ is a complete fraud!

Now, you can imagine, some of these folks will be doing it because they’re jealous, or enjoy bringing others down.

As for the others, since productive activities are a form of work, I can see their point.  But sadly, they’re missing the bigger picture.

The real world is a huge, awesome place with unlimited possibilities.  So much so, that an inflexible mindset in this area helps no-one.

Hopefully, the world will come to realise that Financial Independence, or Early Retirement, just means freedom to live your life as you see fit.

And we’re all a little happier with some type of work to do, project to build, or research to undertake.  It gives us a purpose and gets our creative juices flowing.

Surely nobody can argue with that, right?


Mrs Strong Money Breaks The Rules

Currently, we’re keeping a secret.  I suppose we should come clean now…

After a little over a year of freedom, Mrs StrongMoney was offered a part-time job at her old work for 2 days per week.

Internet Retirement Police Violation #1

She always enjoyed her job and the people working there.  The only thing she didn’t like was the lack of freedom from working full-time.  As of recently, she decided to take them up on that offer.

So far, Mrs Strong Money is enjoying the extra work/social time, comforted by the fact she can leave anytime she likes.

And that’s the point.  Without the pressure of needing a job, you end up enjoying whatever you work on that much more.  Because it’s by choice, not by necessity.

Anyway, she’s at work, while I’m busy tapping away on the computer at home.  And this leads to our next indiscretion…


Mr Strong Money’s Scandal

As for me, I spend a chunk of time each week ‘working’ on this blog.

I really enjoy the writing and getting comments and emails from readers.  Some of them make my day!

And now this blog has even started earning a trickle of income, which is obviously not allowed….

Internet Retirement Police Violation #2!

But I also bury my head in the investment world trying to learn stuff.  Mostly, this involves reading stock news, listening to podcasts, reading company reports and poking around investment forums.

And over time, one thing becomes more obvious…

The amount of stuff I don’t know, is absolutely limitless.

Anyone who thinks they know it all, is full of shit.  The investment world is too complex for someone to have all the answers.

But that’s not to say, don’t bother learning about it.  Not at all.  In fact, it’s kind of exciting, because it means I get to learn a little bit more all the time.

Just because it’s a complex topic, doesn’t mean we need to make our investing complicated.

Find a simple, long-term investment strategy which makes sense to you, is easy to follow, combined with a strong savings rate, and you will do incredibly well!


Which brings us to the next sin…

Because I enjoy the investing world so much, I applied for an opening to do some freelance writing for an investment website.

Nothing major, just a few small stock articles.  Hopefully I’ll enjoy it, we’ll have to wait and see.  But it’s paid work, so that means…

Internet Retirement Police Violation #3!

Jeez, three strikes and you’re out?

Well, I guess it’s official, our Early Retirement is a scandalous bed of lies!

Here’s the thing…the world will probably throw opportunities your way, or you’ll come across stuff that looks interesting, so you’ll give it a try.  From what I’ve read, that nearly always seems to be the case after people reach Financial Independence.


Final Thoughts

Of course, I’m mostly joking around with this ‘Internet Retirement Police’ stuff, but some people actually think this way.  And I can’t for the life of me figure out why.

Initially, I thought I’d be perfectly happy doing no ‘work’ ever again.  And I even thought of actively ‘not working’ just to prove a point.  (haha, sad but true)

After a while, I realised that was pretty silly and life is more enjoyable when we have some of this ‘work’ stuff to do.

So yes, we’re absolutely breaking the rules and doing various forms of income-producing activities again.  The difference being, now it’s optional.  And that’s the whole point!

It’s completely up to you, what you spend your time and energy on, once you reach Early Retirement and have that freedom in your life.  Plenty of that stuff will have nothing to do with work, but some of it might, and that’s okay too!

Knowing you can hit the ‘stop’ button anytime and get off that ride when it’s no longer enjoyable, will take away any fears and give you peace of mind.

Retirement is as much a mindset shift, as it is a lifestyle change.

Maybe I can put it this way…

Reaching Financial Independence means you’re free from work, but paradoxically, it also means you’re free to work.


20 Replies to “Uh-Oh, Call The Internet Retirement Police!”

  1. Bit of part time work is good for the brain so Mrs StrongM ‘s venture back into the workforce part time is fair enough IMO. I’m like you in that the more your poke around the investment /equities world the less you find out you actually know which makes you more hungry for knowledge so you poke around more. Like I have said before I like a bit of active investing to supplement my passive stuff so that leads you to even more poking around and I found a interesting article on a well known investment service that was spruiking a stock VVR….some bloke trying to sell the idea that a Petrol Station REIT can make me money? 7% Yield did make me read the article and I noticed the author had a strangely familiar name.
    I said to myself this cant be right, he cant have sold out to the Dark Side….not the MF’s…but sure enough its true.

    Just winding you up mate…it was a nice article and good to see a income themed article . Hope you write a lot more of them with the income theme in mind.
    Impressive list of stocks too, yeah I know I poked a bit more and had to have a look…I was happy with my portfolio…. but now I feel inadequate…!!!
    Keep the articles coming, enjoy reading your work…

    1. The investment world is very humbling in the sense the more you delve into it, the more complex it can become. I think it’s really helpful to bring it back to simplicity where possible and not go too far down the rabbit-hole!

      Haha that sounds like a dodgy investment mate be careful 😉

      Don’t feel like that mate, that list is embarassing, it feels like far, far too much! The reason is I had to include my personal holdings as well as those in super for myself and Mrs SM.

      Thanks Mark, my plan is to write almost entirely income focused articles!

      1. Nice reviews on SYD and BKI…….think I might throw a few dollars at BKI but reckon the price might drop below their offer of $1.50 so I might hold back till after the offer closes….been caught before with another company.
        SYD just worries me with their debt levels, bit too bond like and while its a Buffet moat business its never really stood up and said buy me…..P/E of 45, overvalued IMO and no franking credits either…

        1. Thanks Mark 🙂

          BKI – it could definitely drop below the offer price, hard to say.

          As for SYD – the PE ratio is not a good metric for a company like that. The reason it appears so high is because they are able to claim a gigantic amount of depreciation which shelters their earnings from tax and shows lower ‘taxable’ earnings. Transurban (TCL) is the same. Toll roads and airports are enormously expensive to build, which generates huge depreciation write-offs over a long period of time.

          The underlying cashflow is strong, which is why they’re able to pay out a decent dividend 5%, and have been able to grow that at a pretty fast rate. I don’t think they’ll have any trouble growing that dividend over time, given their strong pricing power, growth in passengers, and the addition of more flights, shops etc. Should add up to a solid total return over time. Appreciate you may see it differently.

          1. David…Thanks for the reply on BKI, SYD and my apologies for introducing another subject matter into a different topic, that was my fault getting Jack confused over that MF article.
            PS..I’m a buy on a couple of the Banks but take your points…..
            Maybe you need a seperate thread for comments on your articles so silly folk like me dont clog up the other subject threads..
            Keep up the good work mate…might see you on TV soon doing Scott Philips gigs!!!!

          2. All good Mark! Maybe one day I’ll even start a forum here? I’m pretty hopeless with this whole website building thing so not sure how that would happen!

            The banks look cheap, they’re probably fine, but I won’t be buying any shares separately…plenty of shares already held inside the large LICs, don’t really need more than that 🙂 (title wasn’t my choice, I don’t personally think they should be intentionally ‘avoided’)

  2. Man, who makes up all these silly rules!? And why does anyone pay attention to them? It’s not just the early retirement thing – it’s having to work FULL-time if your not 65 or older because that’s just what you do with life, and how you ‘do your bit’ for the economy. It’s constantly wanting promotion after promotion, because that’s just what people do in companies. Balanced life? Living differently? It’s like you’re speaking a foreign language to most people!

    I’m so glad there’s people like you out there sharing your real experiences, as we need more and more ‘other’ role models than corporate high-flyers. Like you (and most people), I love being productive, but it doesn’t have to be all day every day. There’s plenty of other ways to add value and grow in life – as a mum / dad / husband / wife / friend / healthy body and mind / creativity etc etc…

    Keep up the good work Dave – hope the income stream from the blog keeps building, and perhaps you’ll be able to start up a fun little Global Shares Fund like Global Gary 🙂

    Cheers, Frankie

    1. Haha who makes the rules? I dunno, some disgruntled folks with internet access!?

      “Because that’s what people do” is the best answer 😉 I saw someone say, they mentioned to their friends/relatives they were going to retire early and how they’re doing it and they looked at them like they had 3 heads! Haha that’s the best description I’ve seen!

      I love your message there, well said…so much more to life than the non-stop work/consume lifestyle.

      Thanks for your support Frankie, really appreciate it!

  3. I am currently gathering my thoughts and penning as to why I am pursuing FIRE …. and one thing that comes to realisation is that it’s actually financial independence that’s the jmportant part really… early retirement from full time work is just a by product of that independence…

    As you said once the FI part is taken care off you can do anything you want with your time… and if that thing is continuing to work because u enjoy, or there is an opportunity or u make more money – it’s really upto u… the critical difference is you Choose… before FI you are just a modern day slave…. after that ur a hustler

    1. That’s a good way of looking at it Money Turtle.

      It’s all about that flexibility and choice at the end of the day. Trying to build a satisfying and content life, not about watching TV or waiting for the grass to grow so you can mow it for the third time this month 😉 Although that’s still an option I guess!

      I tried to comment on your blog recently but it kept saying spam, even after changing it multiple times?

      1. I am having some trouble with the comments… few people have told me the same thing… still trying to figure out the technology part… I am still a novice .. hahaha.. hopefully I will get it sorted soon.. will keep u updated… thanks for visiting my blog ..

        1. No prob, thought I better let you know!

          Haha I’m in the same boat as you, I look at other people’s blogs in amazement at how fancy the are 🙂

  4. Glad you’ve found interests you enjoy but still earn some income. Retirement is all about doing things we enjoy regardless of being paid or not. In my case some of that has been trying to help newer investors as you know and enjoying a productive (Food wise) lifestyle.

    In regard to your freelance writing for a specific website hopefully they let you improve on the quality of their LIC articles that pop up regularly. It would be foolish (fuelish????) of them not to consider you for this role????.

    1. Cheers Austing!

      Well said mate – you get to remove money from the equation when deciding what to do. Yeah growing food is quite enjoyable too, but I probably get in the way more than anything lol.

      Haha yes that’s the plan, I won’t be writing any articles detailing why Woolies is down 2%, for example. Hopefully I can just write exclusively long-term dividend-focused articles about various shares and LICs!

      Thanks again for your contributions to the investor community by the way, always appreciated.

  5. To me, financial independence and early retirement means freedom from time (no need to set alarm clocks, no need to be anywhere at certain time) and freedom from place (no need to go to anywhere that you do not wish to be and to go anywhere that you do wish to be, at any time). Once these two freedoms are achieved, then everything else is irrelevant. However, the next step up which I think has not been commonly discussed is freedom from any unwanted activities (e.g. cleaning, cooking, driving, etc.) – meaning that the passive income is of sufficient level to allow the person to be in complete control of time, place and person.

    1. Thanks for the comment Jon. That’s an interesting outlook, I probably hadn’t thought of it quite this way before!

      It’s true, the more money one has, the greater the ability to ‘opt-out’ of almost anything becomes. The alarm clock thing is super cool, I think everyone knows the feeling and can imagine that one! I guess it depends how many things we want to ‘cover’ with our savings, and the trade-off between how much longer that will take to reach FI, and which things are the most important.

      I’ve obviously gone for simply the time/location freedom part with a modest lifestyle, and operating on the lowish end of the wealth spectrum compared to some. Quite a personal choice how far one takes it!

  6. Just started listening to the audiobook “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” and it resonates alot with your blog and the purpose of FIRE.

    Paraphrasing a bit here, but he says the quality of ones life is dictated by the quality of the problems we choose to solve. It is in the pursuit of solving those problems that ultimately leads to happiness.

    The absence of problems (e.g. FIRE) doesn’t make one happy. Rather, achieving FI should be a means to ‘upgrade’ your problems to be problems of your own choosing. For me, it’s about solving other people’s problems that gives me the most joy.

    1. Funny you say that Jack – I’m about half way thru that book! It’s really good and makes a lot of sense – many folks are looking at the success and happiness aspects all wrong it seems (years ago I was too).

      Thanks for sharing those thoughts mate – couldn’t agree more. I think for most of us, after we’ve improved our own situation first (reached FI), the only logical thing to do is to help other people or causes, while continue living a life that each of us enjoy!

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