FI Personal Finance

Did We Retire at the Worst Possible Time?

storm lachlan ross pexels

Photo by Lachlan Ross on Pexels

Retiring in the midst of a storm

In November of last year, we reached FIRE, and my husband M retired. Since then, the world has faced a lot of turmoil, and it seems as if everything is crashing down around us. 

Today, I’m taking a deep dive to answer the question, did we retire at the worst possible time? In the post, I’ll share:

  • A blow-by-blow account of what’s happened since we FIREd.
  • How our retirement’s been affected.
  • Whether we regret our decision to retire.

In sharing my experience, I hope you’ll take away ideas for managing your own finances. (Or, at the very least, know that you’re not alone in navigating this challenging period.)

A timeline of terrible events 

There’s no sugarcoating it—we retired into a perfect storm of terrible events. Here’s a timeline of what’s happened since my husband M retired: 

  • November 2021We reached FIRE, and M retired.
  • December 2021: Our portfolio hit an all-time high.
  • January 2022: The markets faltered, then took a dive.
  • February 2022: The war in Ukraine escalated.
  • March 2022: The Bank of Canada raised interest rates by 0.25%.
  • April 2022: BoC added another 0.5% rate increase.
  • May 2022: The markets continue to tumble.
  • June 2022: BoC adds another 0.5% rate increase (and there may be more to come).
  • Throughout 2021 and 2022: Inflation is higher than it’s been in decades.

But wait, there’s more…

As if all the above wasn’t bad enough, there’s also all of this:

  • COVID-19 is still with us.
  • Gas prices have skyrocketed. 
  • Supply chain issues linger.
  • A food shortage looms.
  • Social unrest abounds.
  • Political divides deepen.
  • The climate crisis continues to worsen.

The world is, literally and figuratively, on fire. I wish it wasn’t so, but things are looking bad right now. (It’s so bad that the editor of The Georgia Straight interviewed me to ask how the FIRE community was coping.)

How badly are we affected? 

Within months of retiring, M and I have been hit with a triple whammy of financial calamities: poor returns, high inflation, and rising interest rates. Given all this bad news, it sure looks like we retired at a terrible time! 

But… how badly are we really affected? To answer this question, I’ll go through the factors that could impact the success of our retirement. Then, for each factor, I’ll give my rating for where we stand:

1. Sequence of returns

If you’ve been in the FIRE community for a while, you’ve probably heard of something called sequence of returns risk. The gist of it is this: if you start your withdrawal phase in a declining market, there’s a risk that your nest egg won’t last. 

That’s because, when your portfolio is down, you’ll be withdrawing a higher percentage from it. If this continues for too long, you could withdraw too much too early. As a result, your portfolio may be too small to recover—even when the good returns come back. 

Conversely, if you start your withdrawals in a rising market, your portfolio growth will likely outpace your spending. In other words, there’s a higher chance that you’ll not only not run out of money, but you’ll also end up with more than you need.

How we’re doing: 6/10 

In late December/early January, our portfolio hit its highest point ever. But soon after, it fell by a jaw-dropping six figures!!! 😱 As far as sequence of returns goes, our timing is admittedly not great. 

However, we planned for this scenario by saving more than enough. In addition, much of our savings is earmarked for expenses many years in the future. Therefore, even though we’re starting our retirement in a down market, our withdrawal rate will still be far below 4%. (It’ll be closer to 2.5%.)

I also know that we’re invested for the long term, and our investments will eventually bounce back. We’ll stay the course and ride out the storm (while wishing that we had extra money to invest while stocks are on sale)!

2. Withdrawal rate

A 4% withdrawal rate is generally regarded as safe in the FIRE community. However, due to our longer-than-typical retirements, many of us feel safer aiming for 3.25–3.5%. Being the overachiever I am, my goal was to save enough in our nest egg to hit as low of a withdrawal rate as possible.

How we’re doing: 10/10

Even with the markets doing as poorly as they are, we’ll still only withdraw about 2.5% for the year. A withdrawal rate that low is as good as fail-proof, so we’re feeling very secure. Regardless, we’ll still carefully monitor our spending and investments to ensure we stay within a safe zone. 

For more on how we’re able to achieve such a low withdrawal rate, scroll down to the “income” and “spending” sections.

3. Inflation

Inflation is known as a “retirement killer” for good reason—over time, it can silently erode the spending power of your portfolio. (Think of it like compound interest, but in reverse.) Most of us can weather a period of temporarily increased inflation. But if it drags on for many years, it can most certainly ‘kill’ an otherwise comfortable retirement.

How we’re doing: 10/10 (currently); 5/10 (if inflation continues to rise)

Since 2016, I’ve tracked our personal rate of inflation (PRI) by comparing our total annual spending (without travel) from year to year. Looking back on my records, our PRI has ranged from -4% to -11% per year. 

Yes, you read that right—our personal rate of inflation has been negative every year. (Except for 2021, when our PRI was +39%. That’s because we purchased several large, one-off items before M retired. If we subtract those unusual expenses, our PRI for 2021 was -8%.)

So far in 2022, we’ve been able to counteract inflation by DIYing even more, putting off some purchases, and continuing to shop and stock up during sales. My estimate for our 2022 PRI is around 0%. 

The optimist in me believes that high inflation will be temporary and relatively short-lived. If it is, we’ll make it through by continuing to be strategic with our spending. But if inflation affects more of our spending categories, remains high for a prolonged period, or increases significantly, we could be in trouble.

Only time will tell which way inflation will go. I’ll continue to track our spending and PRI, so we’ll have plenty of warning to change course if needed.

4. Interest rates

Rising interest rates can significantly impact retirees with debt—including those who’ve leveraged their home equity to invest. (M and I fall into this camp.) So far in 2022, the Bank of Canada has raised its key interest rate by 1.25%… with the possibility of more increases to come. 😣

How we’re doing: 7/10

Note 1: See this post from Ed Rempel for a good primer on the Smith Manoeuvre and the terms discussed in this section.

Note 2: Our leveraged investing strategy works just like the traditional Smith Manoeuvre. But because we started it mortgage-free, we’re not ‘manoeuvring’ anything. Therefore, it’s just leveraged investing.

We’re fortunate that most of our borrowing is in the mortgage portion of our loan (versus the HELOC). Our rate for the mortgage portion is locked in for a five-year term, so we’re mostly sheltered from interest rate increases. 

We will, however, feel some pain from the increases as we have a variable rate mortgage. That means every month, when we reborrow the principal to capitalize the interest on our loan, there’s less to withdraw. (That’s because more of our payment is going towards the interest.)

Thankfully, our financial planner is very experienced with leveraged investing. Before setting up our loan, he first ensured that we had multiple contingencies to cover or pay it off. One such contigency was to save enough to make payments on a loan of up to 4.5%. 

Our rate is only 1.3%, so we still have quite a bit of room for interest rate increases (and another 3.5 years until our term ends). We’re safe for now, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed that rates don’t increase much more. 🤞

5. Income

One way to mitigate sequence of returns risk and ensure portfolio longevity is to bring in a bit of income in retirement. Some retirees do this by working a fun part-time job or starting a side hustle. Earning even a small amount (e.g. $10,000 a year) could make a significant difference.

To demonstrate the power of this strategy, here’s an example: 

Mandy and Eric retired with a $1,500,000 nest egg. They plan to spend $60,000 per year, which means they’ll be withdrawing 4%. But soon after they retire, their portfolio drops by 15%, bringing it down to $1,275,000.

Their $60,000 annual spend is now 4.7% of their investments. But if they bring in $10,000 in income, that brings their withdrawal rate down to 3.9%. Even better—if they earned $20,000 ($10,000 each) their withdrawal rate would drop to 3.1%!

How we’re doing: 8/10 

We’ve been fortunate to have received some income since M retired… but it’s not what you may think! (Don’t worry, Internet Retirement Police—M and I are well and truly retired!)

We do engage in plenty of ‘work.’ But unlike Mandy and Eric in the example above, it’s all unpaid—mostly projects around the house or helping family and friends. So, if we’re not employed, where has our income come from? I’ll share the details below:

  • A lump-sum vacation payout when M retired in November.
  • 2020 and 2021 ad income that was sitting in my PayPal account. (It was all in USD, so I used Wise to convert and transfer the money to my EQ Bank Savings Plus Account.)
  • A large tax refund in April. (Thanks to the interest and fee deductions from our investment loan.)
  • A tiny trickle of ad and affiliate income from my blog. (It’s essentially passive at this point—I haven’t had much time to blog this year. 🙁) 
  • Payments for hosting our new homestay student until June. (Some may argue that this is ‘work.’ But for us, it’s just a fun way to house hack. 🏠)

Luckily for us, this income was all bonus—we neither counted on nor relied on it. We’d saved enough that, even with the market declines, our withdrawals would still be under 4% this year. Still, I’m not complaining! Extra income is always a good thing (especially in retirement). 😉

Note: Our kids also receive the Canada Child Benefit, but we don’t count it as income. That’s because I invest 100% of the CCB payments in their informal trusts.

6. Spending 

Spending isn’t the sexiest of FIRE topics. But in my opinion, it should be! After all, spending is the foundation for FI—your FI number and withdrawal rate are both based on how much you spend.

Spending is also one of the most significant factors in determining how long your portfolio will last. If you spend too much, you’ll risk running out of money. If you spend too little, you’ll risk leaving behind too much.

That’s why it’s crucial to continue tracking your spending in retirement. Doing so can give you an early indication that you’re going off track. And, if you are, it’s relatively easy to rein in your spending and get back on track. 

How we’re doing: 8/10 

I knew that being flexible with our spending would be key in helping us navigate bumpy markets—I just didn’t think we’d need to get flexible as quickly as we have!

Fortunately for M, he was able to squeeze in one big-ticket item before I clamped down—a new glass and aluminum patio awning. (I was hesitant about this purchase, but it’s admittedly been a useful and beautiful addition to our home.) 

awning
Our new glass and aluminum patio awning (excuse the mess—we were still reconfiguring our patio)!

Once the awning was installed, M agreed to hold off on other large purchases until our investments rebound. Naturally, he’s not thrilled about this, but he understands and is doing his best to be patient!

So far, putting big-ticket purchases on pause is the only change we’ve made to deal with the downturn. We’re otherwise living life and spending as we normally would. That means we’re still going on staycations, eating out, and spending on other discretionary items. 

Even with all these extras, our withdrawal rate remains very low, so I don’t see us needing to reduce our spending further. (However, if things get worse, it’s comforting to know that there’s room to trim our spending even more.)

Our overall score: 8.2/10

Since M retired six months ago, we’ve faced some challenging headwinds (with more uncertainty ahead). Considering all that’s happened, most people would say we retired at a terrible time… and they could be right. 

Even so, I remain as optimistic and confident as ever. We’re happy and healthy, and thanks to the multiple contingencies we’ve built into our plans, we feel secure and confident with our finances.

In addition, we have a team of professionals overseeing our plans and reviewing our numbers. If we start to veer too far off course, they’ll be our early warning system (along with my diligent monitoring).

So, while the storms rage around us, our careful planning and over saving are sheltering us and providing much peace of mind. I know that we’ll eventually make it through these tumultuous times. 

Do we regret retiring when we did?

Now that I’ve shared the ugly truths and all the mitigations we’ve put in place, it’s time to discuss the elephant in the room: do we regret our decision to FIRE when we did?

Both M and I can honestly say, “NO WAY—not for a second!” Early retirement has been amazing, especially for M. (Read my mini update post to learn what he’s been up to since retiring in November.) 

I can’t count how many times we’ve been doing regular, everyday things, and M’s stopped to say, “I’m so happy. Being retired is awesome!” Every time he does this, it just reaffirms that we absolutely made the right decision to FIRE. 

Sure, it would’ve been better to FIRE in 2009—right when we entered the longest bull market in history. But I obviously can’t magic us back to that time. (And really, what we’re living through now is not so bad and totally survivable.)

So, again, we definitely do not regret FIREing when we did. Now that we (but especially M) have tasted the freedom of FIRE, there’s no going back! If we were to do it all over again, we’d still make the same decision. 

Final thoughts—did we retire at the worst possible time?

Things aren’t as bad as they could be, but I’m still not thrilled to be retiring into so much volatility. It’s a little unnerving to be hit all at once with a dropping stock market, high inflation, and rising interest rates!

However, as a longtime member of the FIRE community, I learned to plan for worse situations than this. Thanks to our careful planning, we were very well prepared (both financially and mentally). And so, we’re weathering this storm just fine. 

If things continue to go sideways (or get worse), our many contingencies are there to protect us. We continue to sleep well at night… and we’re still very happy that M retired when he did.

So, did we retire at the worst possible time? As bad as things are right now, the answer is still no. Indeed, it wasn’t the ideal time, but it’s not the worst possible time.

However, we can’t predict the future. Only time will tell—there could be worse to come. Whatever the case, we’ll be watching, ready, and prepared. (So long as it’s not a zombie apocalypse… then we’ll all be in trouble. 😱)

Listen to a detailed critique of our plans

Unbeknownst to me, this post became the focus of the July 1, 2022 Stacking Benjamins podcast! (I was so honoured and thrilled to be featured, but also intimidated!!!)

Joe, OG, Paula and Kyle Landis-Marinello went through each point in this post, dissecting our decisions and giving their thoughts on how we did. Eek! 🙈

It was nerve-wracking to hear them critiquing each point, but the discussion was excellent. To find out if our retirement plans survived the panel’s analysis, check out the episode!

As always with Stacking Benjamins, it’s a funny, entertaining listen. (And, though they’ll never admit it, it’s educational too!)

What about you? 

How are you feeling during this challenging time? Are the turbulent markets getting you down, or are you happily buying stocks on sale? For those who are already drawing on their investments, are you doing anything differently? Are you worried, or is this no big deal for you?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts, encouragement, or advice—I would love to hear from you! 

Support this blog

If you liked this article and want more content like this, please support this blog by sharing it! Not only does it help spread the FIRE, but it lets me know what content you find most useful. (Which encourages me to write more of it!) 

You can also support this blog by visiting my recommendations page and purchasing through the links. Note that not every link is an affiliate link—some are just favourite products and services that I want to share. 🙂

As always, however you show your support for this blog—THANK YOU!

You Might Also Like

43 Comments

  • Reply
    Shashi
    June 1, 2022 at 8:17 am

    Great post Chrissy. It summarizes all key factors and thanks for sharing how you are doing on each of them. 2.5% is a very low withdrawal rate. Great job at managing your expenses. On converting USD to CAD, any reason you didn’t do a Norbert’s Gambit? Is the Wise option better?

    We are doing okay and have stayed the course, investing every month.

  • Reply
    Brian
    June 1, 2022 at 8:22 am

    Hi there I’m just wondering how do you move USD in Paypal to Wise? I’m new to wise and I’m not sure how to proceed but it sounds great because Paypal has a horrible exchange rate!

    Thank you kindly for your response.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      June 1, 2022 at 8:18 pm

      Hi Brian—I agree that PayPal’s exchange rate is awful! it was remarkably easy to transfer USD from PayPal to Wise (once you set up your USD account in Wise). Here’s an article that explains how to do it. Good luck!

      • Brian
        June 2, 2022 at 12:08 pm

        I’m so sorry wise doesn’t seem to have anyone working today.
        So I think I figured it all out so I won’t bother you anymore you can delete my previous posts.

        my final question I promise is just do I use the Inside the US account or outside the US account to send me paypal money to Wise USD?

        Thank you so much.
        Brian

      • Chrissy
        June 2, 2022 at 8:48 pm

        Hi Brian—I’m so sorry that I didn’t see your comments until now. WordPress has suddenly stopped notifying me that I have comments! I’ll have to get that fixed.

        Wise usually takes about 24 hours to reply. It’s a bit annoying. 🙁 But I seem to recall I was able to phone them at one time. You may get faster service that way?

        As for your question, forgive me, but I’m not sure what you mean by inside or outside the US account? I’ll try to explain how it works for me:

        – In PayPal, I see two balances under “Money”: CAD and USD.
        – I click on the “Transfer Money” button, then select “Standard”.
        – I then select my USD Wise account (which shows up in PayPal as Evolve Bank&Trust).
        – I hit “Next”, then enter the amount to transfer, then hit “Next” again.
        – I think that’s it, and the transfer will then make its way to Wise.

        Once it’s in Wise, you can then convert the USD, then transfer it to your bank account. I’m not sure if that answers your question! Let me know if I didn’t, and I’ll try again.

      • Brian
        June 3, 2022 at 8:13 am

        Yes you answered my question thank you so much!
        for linking my wise accounts to paypal there are 2 bank account options one is Evolve under the tab inside the US and the other one is Community Federal under the tab outside the US.
        I picked Evolve and it seems to be working now.
        I feel like the instructions from wise are lacking details.
        Thank you kindly for your help!
        Brian

      • Chrissy
        June 3, 2022 at 4:35 pm

        Hi Brian—that’s great, I’m glad I could be of help! I hope the rest of your transfer process goes smoothly. I’ll make a note about the sub-par instructions from Wise (in case I ever refer a friend to use them).

  • Reply
    Doug Robertson
    June 1, 2022 at 8:57 am

    Hi Chrissy,
    Great article! I can really relate to your (and M’s) situation as I FIRE’d at the end of May 2021 (my wife is still working for now). My stock portfolio is down 25% from where it was at the end of 2021, which funny enough is almost exactly where it was at the end of 2020 when I made the decision to walk away from Corporate Life [in consultation with my wife, of course 😉 ]. Not great, but not that bad.

    We also own some rental properties, and those are up in value significantly since the end of 2020. Awesome!

    What’s helped me the most in staying comfortable is that I made sure I had 2 years worth of what I felt I would need to withdraw from my investments sitting in cash when I left Corp Life. A year later, I have enough in cash to get us to end of 2023, due to lower than forecasted spending. I won’t need to touch my investments until then.

    Totally agree with your position that there are levers you can pull to adjust to changes in economic conditions once you’ve FIRE’d. Also agree with M, the freedom and autonomy that comes with FIRE is awesome!

    Keep up the great work!
    Doug

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      June 1, 2022 at 8:25 pm

      Hi Doug—congrats on being FIREd for one year! I like how you shared that your investments are “only” back to where they were when you left your job. That sure puts things in perspective, huh? I agree that it’s not great, but not that bad. 👍

      I am very cash-averse, but I have to admit it would be nice right now to have two years of cash like you have. (Even if only to buy more stocks on sale, ha ha.) Joking aside, your plan to keep two years of cash is a good one and one that works well for most people. That was good planning on your part!

      FIRE is pretty amazing. It’s tough to imagine ever going back to a 9-5! How did we ever do it?

      Thanks for reading and for leaving such a great comment.

  • Reply
    Dividend Daddy
    June 1, 2022 at 3:43 pm

    Great post!! I’d love a post about the mechanics of withdrawals. How do you decide what to sell and do you have the sun regularly deposited into your bank account and how? Do you do this? Is this a service you can pay for to be tax optimized?

    Also is the $10K in the second example a typo?

    “But if they bring in $10,000 in income, that brings their withdrawal rate down to 3.9%. Even better—if they each earned $10,000, their withdrawal rate would drop to 3.1%!”

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      June 1, 2022 at 8:31 pm

      Hi Dividend Daddy—I would love to answer your questions, but the investment management firm that I work with (through my planner) takes care of all of the mechanics for us! We just tell them how much we want and when, then the money shows up in our account. It’s easy-peasy.

      Our withdrawals are tax-optimized in that our financial planner helps us figure out the best account(s) to withdraw from each year, based on our tax situation now and in the future. However, I’m not sure if the selection of which securities to sell gets that granular (again that’s all handled by the investment management firm).

      I reread the example you pointed out, and I’m wondering if you missed the “each” before the second $10k? Is there still a typo if you read it that way? (Maybe I should reword it to $20k instead so that it’s more obvious.) In any case, thanks for caring enough to point that out to me!

      • Dividend Daddy
        June 2, 2022 at 11:34 am

        Thanks.

        I am finding it hard to find an advisor who actually manages the drawdown phase instead of the accumulation phase. Every financial planner I talk to insists on managing my money first before helping with the drawdown phase. I know WealthSimple will do it for their higher networth clients – tax optimal drawdown with money deposited like a pay cheque regularly in your account. This may be an option for me to move everything to WealthSimple (basically my Questrade and NestWealth over to WealthSimple).

        Rewording it to $20K may make it easier (for readers like me at least 🙂

        Thanks again for sharing your story – very helpful for me as I plan my exit from my 9-5 most likely this year.

      • Chrissy
        June 2, 2022 at 8:36 pm

        Hi again Dividend Daddy—I’ve made the edit. It now says $20,000. Thanks for the suggestion. 😉

        I’m sorry to hear that you’re still looking for someone to help you with your drawdown planning. My in-laws were with WealthSimple’s Generation service until very recently and were very happy with it. Is that the service you’re referring to? They were using WealthSimple Invest though—not Wealthsimple Trade. I’m not sure if the Generation Service is available to Trade users as well. If you make the switch, I’d love to hear how you like it.

  • Reply
    Gean @ FIRE We Go
    June 1, 2022 at 5:04 pm

    Great post and we are so happy for you both. Thanks for sharing the journey with us.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      June 1, 2022 at 8:33 pm

      Hi Gean—thank you for the kind words. I can’t wait for you to join us on “the other side”!

  • Reply
    Court @ Modern FImily
    June 1, 2022 at 9:34 pm

    Woohooo for the retired life! Love hearing how much M is enjoying it all 🙂 Flexibility is key to it all and clearly you guys have figured that out. Enjoy the rest of the 6 months to make this the best year ever!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      June 2, 2022 at 8:22 pm

      Hi Court—as you and I have often discussed, flexbility is key to a long and successful retirement (not just financially, but mentally as well)! Ha ha, yes, six more months to make this the best year EVER!

  • Reply
    Christopher Mercanti
    June 2, 2022 at 2:39 am

    Great update, Chrissy! As someone who’s retiring early in just three months, I’m inspired by the resilient plan you’ve created and am confident about our own future. Well done and thanks!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      June 2, 2022 at 8:25 pm

      Hi Christopher—woo hoo, I’m so excited for you. Three months isn’t much longer! Happy to hear you’re feeling confident in your retirement. That must be such a great feeling. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Reply
    C
    June 2, 2022 at 9:42 am

    Very informative blog post, Chrissy. Thanks for the update. It’s great that M continues to enjoy retirement. You are a bit harsh on yourself (5/10) in terms of inflation. I believe you are doing very good on that front.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      June 2, 2022 at 8:29 pm

      Hi C—I’m happy to hear the post was informative. I feel a bit weird talking so much about ourselves, but I always do it with the goal to help. It’s nice to know that I do that sometimes!

      Thank you, I suppose we are doing okay for now as far as inflation goes… but I think we will definitely be 5/10 if it continues to run this high for a long time. Let’s hope, for everyone’s sake, that it doesn’t come to that! 🤞

  • Reply
    Teresa
    June 3, 2022 at 5:08 pm

    Like I have been saying all along – where was Chrissy 30 years ago when I was in my 40s! I could have been on FIRE for at least the past 20 years and not worked till 68! 🙂 I love your posts because I always learn from them and keep hoping that more young people will benefit from your advice!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      June 3, 2022 at 9:01 pm

      Hi Mom—you and Dad are such amazing savers and did well in your real estate careers. I have no doubt you could’ve retired much earlier if you’d had the info and resources to invest your money well.

      Even so, retiring very comfortably at 68 is no small feat! You should still give yourselves a big pat on the back for that. 👏

      I sincerely hope I can help others, both young and old, to discover FIRE and the benefits, options and freedom that it brings. That’s what keeps me blogging!

  • Reply
    Teresa
    June 4, 2022 at 9:18 am

    I like the way you share the information – simple and concise. It gives people a direction rather than spending frivolously and not knowing where they can save and stop wasting their hard earned money. Even though we retired very comfortably, I am learning from your blog and am way more mindful of my spending.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      June 5, 2022 at 10:04 pm

      Hi Mom—as always, thanks for your kind words. You know I learn from you as well!

      • GYM
        June 13, 2022 at 11:00 pm

        Omg this is too sweet!!

        My mom doesn’t even remember my blog’s name hahaha… or would she know how to type it into the address bar, lol.

      • Chrissy
        June 14, 2022 at 9:13 am

        Hi GYM—your comment made me laugh! I’m very fortunate to have the best mother-in-law in the world. ❤️

  • Reply
    Moe (Moementum Finance)
    June 4, 2022 at 9:44 am

    Hi Chrissy, this is such a great post.! The fact that you and M. are doing so well during these unprecedented times shows your ability to prepare for difficult scenarios and stay agile when things get tough. I wasn’t as familiar with the personal rate of inflation concept and was amazed how you’ve managed to keep your costs down and declining despite rising inflation. Well done! 👏 I am very happy for you and your family. Keep up the awesome job! I look forward to your next blog post! 😊

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      June 5, 2022 at 10:12 pm

      Hi Moe—I think that the FIRE community is full of people who enjoy and/or see the importance of planning far ahead for multiple scenarios. We realize that what we’re doing is outside the box, and we’ll need to live on our money for a looong time! Therefore, just being in the community trains us to be careful and detailed with our planning.

      I hope that sharing what I know about my personal rate of inflation will help others feel less stressed about high inflation. The numbers we all hear on the news don’t necessarily apply to everyone—they’re aggregated from all the goods and services that the government tracks. If you take a look at your own spending, it’s very likely quite different.

      I encourage everyone to take a closer look at their own spending. It could help to keep you calm and not get in a panic about the general numbers! Thanks, as usual, for your thoughtful comment. ♥

  • Reply
    FOMOTINA
    June 7, 2022 at 8:34 pm

    I can’t say I’m overly concerned that this was a bad time to retire. Sequence of returns risk can happen at anytime. Not just at the initial moment of retirement. It follows you every moment thereafter. Also, I’m quite happy with a 4% withdrawal rate. I do continually pay attention to the markets and business news however I consider it about 1 hour of my day invested towards that so not considered significant. As I’ve done that for years, it’s become really easy now as I can discern the nuggets of valuable infirmation versus the crap.

    There are a couple of things I do which makes me feel like I’m in a good place financially. I’ve included them below:

    https://www.fomotina.com/my-investment-portfolio/

    https://www.fomotina.com/is-your-investment-portfolio-competitive/

    Would love to get your thoughts on the above posts. I enjoy and appreciate the feedback and whether it adds any value for yourself.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      June 9, 2022 at 10:38 pm

      Hi FOMOTINA—you’ve made an excellent point that sequence of returns risk follows you every moment after you retire. I’ve had the same thought, but have never seen anyone else see it this way!

      I try to maintain a “low information diet” and, like you, don’t spend a lot of time paying attention to the markets and business news. To me, it’s mostly just noise that I can easily ignore!

      Thanks for sharing your posts. I’ve saved them to read and will comment directly on your blog once I’ve read them.

      • 1PF
        June 11, 2022 at 2:14 pm

        Wade Pfau discusses sequence of returns as ongoing risk. A down market is a danger, not only after retirement when taking withdrawals but also late in one’s career before retirement. He shows that the risk is greatest when the portfolio balance is greatest (this is indeed usually at the start of retirement). He points out that sequence of returns risk has less impact later in retirement (life expectancy is shortened by that time). He also presents flexible spending ways to mitigate the risk. https://retirementresearcher.com/everyone-experience-different-retirement-income-outcomes/

      • Chrissy
        June 11, 2022 at 10:20 pm

        Hi 1PF—thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’ve followed Wade Pfau’s research for quite some time but have never read the post you shared. It’s a good one! (And very detailed, too. I think I’ll need to read it several times, ha ha.)

        Flexible spending is indeed an excellent way to mitigate risks. I think that’s one thing that many people forget—people are not robots, and most of us are willing and able to change our spending as conditions change throughout retirement.

        Thanks for taking the time to leave a thoughtful comment and share a helpful resource!

  • Reply
    Maria @ Handful of Thoughts
    June 8, 2022 at 12:22 pm

    Knowing how prepared you always are Chrissy made me think that you would never have to be too worried in retirement due to all of the contingency plans you have in place. That being said, there is a balance between creating too many contingencies/working longer than maybe you “need” to and leaving work to enjoy FI. Sounds like you and M have found a great balance even through these non-ideal times.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      June 9, 2022 at 10:45 pm

      Hi Maria—you’re so right that it’s possible to overcompensate by creating too many contingencies. It’s extra easy to fall into that trap when golden handcuffs are involved!

      In my husband’s case, that was definitely true. He was in a job he loved and was set to earn more than we’d ever dreamed (and then some).

      Thankfully, the FIRE community taught us how to find that balance that you mention. It was hard at first to make the decision to quit. But in the end, we know it was the right choice (even, as you say, in these non-ideal times)!

  • Reply
    Dividend Power
    June 13, 2022 at 6:08 am

    Insightful article. Many people struggled with the same problem during the dot-com and sub-prime mortgage crash. However, inflation was a lot lower.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      June 14, 2022 at 9:12 am

      Hi Dividend Power—you’re right, there were similar issues during those crashes, minus the high inflation.

      As mentioned in my post, history doesn’t repeat, but it often rhymes. I’m hopeful that this adage still holds true and that we’ll see a return to stability and better returns within a couple of years. 🤞

  • Reply
    Dr. Cory S. Fawcett
    June 17, 2022 at 10:57 am

    Love this article and will add it to my Fawcett’s Favorites on Monday. I wrote one summarizing my first five years retired early this year. ( https://financialsuccessmd.com/five-years-retired-from-surgery/ ) People criticized it as only covering good economic times. I like that yours only covers bad economic times. My six year summary next February will cover this time as well. Best of luck to you and congratulations on your retirement.
    Dr. Cory S. Fawcett
    Financial Success MD

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      June 17, 2022 at 8:43 pm

      Hi Dr. Fawcett—I’m honoured that you’ll be featuring my post on your Monday roundup! I’ll be sure to check it out and will share it on Twitter and Facebook.

      I thoroughly enjoyed your five years of retirement post. (Congratulations on the birth of your grandson!) It’s such an interesting juxtaposition that your retirement started in good times and ours is very much the opposite. Even so, I see many similarities in our mindsets and outlook on life and money. I appreciate reading so many words of wisdom from someone who is ahead of us in this retirement journey.

      Thank you for sharing and for your kind words. It’s nice to have “met” you! I’ll watch for your six years of retirement post in February.

  • Reply
    Pam
    June 26, 2022 at 5:42 am

    Thanks Chrissy for sharing.

    Do you mind sharing some numbers like actual income, net worth, and expenses? It helps provide a better picture.

    At least how much is are your investments generating a month/year? Without specific numbers, it’s hard to conceptualize things..

    Thanks

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      June 26, 2022 at 7:35 pm

      Hi Pam—thanks for reading and commenting. As much as I would love to share our numbers, I don’t/can’t because I’m not anonymous. Also, my husband is a very private person and I must respect his wishes to keep our numbers confidential.

      However, I can give you some general numbers. You can check out this post to find out how much we spend on our essentials every year. (Our discretionary spending isn’t included, but it’s not much more than what’s mentioned in the post.)

      As for income, I earned less than $50,000/year for the 6.5 years that I worked before becoming a stay-at-home mom. My husband was the sole breadwinner for 16 years until he retired. By tech industry standards, his pay was quite low. But we felt it was good pay (at least in his later years).

      Finally, our liquid net worth (just our stock investments) is more than 25x our total annual spending. We live in Vancouver, so that gives you a rough idea of what our house is worth. We are technically mortgage-free, but we borrowed a portion of our home equity and used it to invest.

      I hope that helps!

  • Reply
    Baby Boomer Super Saver
    October 4, 2022 at 10:18 pm

    Congratulations, Chrissy!

    It’s so heartwarming to read about your husband’s delight with early retirement. “I’m so happy. Being retired is awesome!” What could be more rewarding?

    You’ve planned well, now it’s time to enjoy.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      October 4, 2022 at 11:12 pm

      Hi Kathy—aww, you’re too sweet! Your comment made me smile. We’re almost a year into retirement, and my husband’s still just as happy as when he first retired. I’m so grateful to have discovered this amazing community. It’s changed our lives!

Leave a Reply to Dr. Cory S. Fawcett Cancel Reply