Wednesday, December 20, 2017

My Talk on Mid-Life Crisis #4 : Implications for Personal Finance.

All this discussion on mid-life crisis does not exist in a vacuum.

Over the next 3-4 years, there will be an unprecedented number of financial bloggers who will make their first million dollars or will become financially free. This is in deep contrast to a decade ago when I could show up on the Sunday papers all because I could save 70% of my take home pay. This financial independence will expose a new kind of crisis when my fellow bloggers start to navigate a life in Singapore beyond the need for regular employment.

Here are some ideas for people to ponder :

a) People will give up on FIRE beyond a certain stage of their lives

As we have a deep trough in personal satisfaction at age 46, it would be far better to aim to achieve financial independence by 46 because then you can muster your financial resources to attack your mid-life problems aggressively. Beyond age 46, we become mature enough to finally surrender to our personal circumstances which is why life satisfaction increases at the beginning of our 50s.

It may be possible that there is some kind of hidden deadline to achieve financial independence. It does not make sense to be 70 years old and still talking about delaying gratification.

b) Financial Independence should assist with mid-life crisis and not be a trigger for it

The main takeaway is that we really do not want financial independence to become the catalyst for our existential crisis. Imagine working day and night to untether yourself from a regular pay-check and then finding out that your workplace is your only source of friendships and affirmation.

I gave my BIGx talk because I want the really successful bloggers to start thinking about the existential problems before they finally arrive so that they can start thinking about life beyond the need for paid employment.

c) Employ the four responses to your existential crisis before you reach financial independence.

The four responses of Isolation, Anchoring, Distraction and Sublimation should be attempted when you start to save about 80% of your take home pay. The beauty of this approach is that your passive income can be really useful when you attempt Anchoring and Distraction. Someone has to pay for that beautiful sunset in the Maldives and Skyrim software license.

The response of Sublimation, while being the most rewarding, requires the most maturity and effort so it cannot be totally resolved by throwing money against the problem.

What does this finally mean ?

We are entering a Post Financial Independence era in the blogosphere. As a response, I'm setting the stage to think about a useful framework to live out our lives beyond financial independence and this requires reading up on distant fields like psychology and philosophy.

For the rest of the year, I will contemplate the end of my own financial independence as I return to the workforce as a legal professional.

Sorry, I'm not cool enough to be  Luke Skywalker.

Time to leave Ahch-To and start kicking ass !


  1. Thanks for your insights. Really enjoyed the latest series on mid-life crisis.

    I'm increasingly concerned with existentialism. In fact, I would venture that most in the FIRE community would start out in the intense accumulation phase for a couple of years and as their stash increase, their concerns would (or should?) gravitate to finding out "what is a good life and how to live it". I suppose FIRE somewhat triggers an early "mid-life" introspection about life. If one is continuously introspective about life... perhaps... he or she will not succumb to a mid-life crisis...

    Also, is there an email address I can reach you privately at?

  2. Hi Chris,

    My take is that the age of 40 will be the most appropriate time to enjoy the merits of FIRE.


  3. Yes, definitely.

    But so few people can make it at this age.