Fired Before FIRE-d?

The road towards financial independence is a bumpy one. In this post I will write about one of the biggest bumps you might meet on the way.

Financial independence is a dream of many people. Nevertheless it cannot be reached from one day to another. There is no get rich scheme. You need to save regularly and invest wisely. From there onwards your biggest ally will be time. And I’m not talking about a few months but several years. The exact speed depends on a lot of factors, but based on my own personal estimation I will need around 15 years until I fully reach the FIRE status.

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As you can see from the above, regular saving is a key element of the FIRE journey. Turning this the other way around, taking away the regular saving can significantly delay the time of reaching financial independence.

The earlier you take away the savings from the math, the bigger the negative impact will be. This is because in the beginning the passive income that your portfolio generates will be very small. The major source of wealth increase will come from your own addition to your savings.

Based on my calculation it can take around 5-6 years when the above ratio turns the other way around; i.e. your passive income will exceed the saving from your salary.

Long story short, if you lose your job during the first few years of your FIRE journey, that can hurt. And why am I writing this now? Because my job is far from being stable at the moment…

Without going too much into details, my company is kindly suggesting me to take on another role. This position would have significant impact on my personal life because of the different working location, furthermore it would also be a bit of a step back financially.

The Netherlands has abolished slavery in 1863 (as one of the last nations), so there’s no big pressure to accept the offer, but if I say no, there is a possibility that the company will give me a “golden handshake” within a year.

Obviously this is a bit stressful situation, but it has made me think through the possible (especially the worst case) scenarios. For how long would the Roadrunners be able to survive without a serious financial difficulty? What are our “weapons”?

Cash

cash-bag

The good old emergency fund. Right now there is around EUR 11k sitting on our saving account. In addition in May/June both Mrs. Roadrunner and I will get our holiday allowance plus company bonus. At the moment it is intended to be used to cover part of our investment in a rental property. Nevertheless if the “shit hits the fan”, this purchase can be postponed.

Our current emergency fund would cover my missing income for about 5 months. If I add the expected extra income in the upcoming weeks, it would be enough for about a year.

Extra “Income”

I don’t really like to call it as an income, but there would be some money coming from other sources if I lost my job.

First of all in the Netherlands you are entitled to receive unemployment benefit in case you lose your job. The amount is 75% of your last earned wage in the first two months and 70% thereafter. Of course there are requirements to be met, but these are generally quite straightforward (e.g. you need to actively look for a job).

Receiving unemployment benefit would be a bit controversial, but if you think about it, part of the tax you pay during your period of employment goes for such purposes.

Another, one-off income would be a compensation (a.k.a the golden handshake) that the company would give me for ending my permanent contract. There is a minimum amount set by the law, but the final amount is usually based on the mutual agreement of the parties.

golden-handshake

A one minute Photoshop fail, but you get the point, right? 🙂

When we got our mortgage on our house, we have signed up for a unemployment insurance. For a couple of months this would also pay a certain amount in case I don’t find another job soon.

If I add the above all together, that would even further extend the one year period, until when we would need to touch our investments. This is a very worst case scenario and I really hope that even if I would lose my job, I could find a new one within a few months.

Lessons Learned

It is crucial to learn from the negative things in your life. What are the conclusions I can make here?

  • First of all, having an emergency fund is critical! You must have a certain amount of liquid asset (typically cash) in order to use it in the times of need. The exact amount depends on several factors, but it should cover the expenses for at least 5-6 months in case the salary tap gets closed.
  • You should be familiar with at least the basics of local employment law and your social rights.
  • Having enough funds that you can call as FU money takes a lot of time to collect. But even after one year from the start of my FIRE journey, my situation is comfortable enough that I don’t need to say yes for an offer that I’m not happy with.

roadrunner-freedom

I’m still far from being financially independent. But the fact that even after a year I see the benefits is something really extraordinary.

I do hope that I will not get fired at the end of the day. But even if I will, it won’t have a huge negative impact on me and my family as I would have plenty of time to find another job. This gives me much more confidence in the negotiations with my company and makes me think about the future years even more positively.

 

How about you? Have you ever been in a similar situation? If yes, how did you manage to resolve it?

 

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10 Comments

  1. Mr. Robot May 12, 2017
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  3. Master Duke May 14, 2017
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