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In the inaugural Slow FI Coffee Date, Angela Rozmyn (from Tread Lightly Retire Early) and I discuss:

In the episode, we cover the following topics:

If you’d like to learn more about Angela’s work, you can find her in the following places:

  • Blog: https://treadlightlyretireearly.com/
  • Twitter: @treadlightly_RE
  • Instagram: @treadlightly_retireearly
  • Women’s Personal Finance Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/womenspersonalfinance

Full Transcript of the Discussion

Jess Fioneers  0:00 

Thank you everyone, for joining the session. I would say most of you probably know who I am. If you’re joining this session, I’m Jessica. I run the website, The Fioneers, and recently quit my job to take my entrepreneurship, so writing and coaching, full time. So that’s super exciting. This is technically my first actual week of being an entrepreneur. So it’s real. So I’m going to quickly introduce just like, what is Slow FI, what are we doing this evening, and then I’ll introduce Angela to you, and then we’re gonna jump right in. So for those of you who might not know what Slow FI is, let me describe that. So Slow FI is an approach to financial independence that focuses on the journey. So we focus on using financial freedom that we gain along the way to FI to design lives that we love, before retiring early. So we believe we don’t need to wait to retire early to figure out how to live the life that we want to, we can do that along the way. And there’s many forms of that, that’s unique to every person, it’s you figuring out and writing your own script for what you want your life to look like, and what’s really going to be meaningful and fulfilling for you. And so the purpose of these Slow FI chats, I think it’s going to evolve over time, and this is our first one. But initially, the thoughts are to explore different topics and ideas related to Slow FI, to introduce you to new people in the community who are doing interesting things and share examples of different kinds of lifestyle designs. And then as a note, this is not meant to be an interview style conversation. We want this to be a two-way conversation where we’re going to hopefully go deep into things that we’re thinking, things that we’re learning, and such and then today, we’re going to be focused on some of the biggest changes that have happened in each of our lives recently. So for me that’s taking the leap to entrepreneurship; for Angela, it’s a decision to reduce her hours and for her husband also to reduce his hours. And so we’re going to explore those decisions, what’s been great about them, what’s been hard about them, and will, and you’ll have an opportunity to participate in the discussion as well. And so we’re going to try to not respond directly to questions as we’re going. We actually have someone on here. So Mel, from Modest Millionaires who’s actually going to be compiling questions for us throughout the session. If you do have a question that you would like to ask or something you would like us to go deeper on. Please use the q&a function for that and send your questions to all panellists and all attendees.

Angela TLRE  3:27 

So that’s a different box than the chat box. Yeah, there’s a little different link that says q&a. So there’s a chat box where everybody’s been saying hello and introducing themselves. And then there’s a q&a box to add q&a. So just to make that clear.

Jess Fioneers  3:46 

Exactly. Thank you. And so and we’re gonna, we’re actually going to be trying to not monitor the chat as we go. So that the conversation can flow. But Mel is going to be feeding us questions through it throughout for us to include. So if you do have questions, definitely feel free to drop them in the q&a, just in case there’s a lot going on in the chat. We don’t want Mel to have to sort of sift through all of that. So thanks, Mel, for doing that for us. Um, and so without further ado, I want to introduce you all to Angela and Angela. You can tell everyone a little bit about you before we jump in. But I’m gonna give you an introduction first. So, so if you don’t know Angela, Angela is amazing. So Angela, is the blogger behind the Tread Lightly Retire Early blog and the Women’s Personal Finance Community on Facebook. That is, what, 20,000 members strong at this point?

Angela TLRE  4:51 

Yeah, I think 21,000. Cassandra just cheered about that. So I know it’s 21.

Jess Fioneers  4:59 

Yeah. and growing. And for those of you who don’t know, I’m not just saying the Angela’s awesome because she’s my friend, like Angela’s objectively awesome. Last year, she won Best FIRE blog. And this year, she won an award for being the like, community builder of 2020. So she does fantastic work in the space. And if you don’t know yet the I’m seeing a lot of people saying in the chat that you’re awesome. So I wanted to acknowledge that even though he said we won’t do this. And so yeah, Angela’s awesome, follow her work. She’s incredible. And then one last thing that I wanted to say is that Angela has been incredibly inspirational for me as a person, when I in 2018, was going through my period with sort of my mental health crisis, and I was figuring out what I wanted to do. Next, Angela was really influential for me, because I saw someone who was like, such a powerhouse, and like, had such an awesome life. And like, seem to be such an amazing person working part time. And I was like, I can do that. And so Angela, really inspired me to see that as success. So, thank you for that. Do you have anything else you want to add?

Angela TLRE  6:29 

Yeah, I can’t believe that it’s been like that long since we had those early conversations. It never even really dawned on me that working less than full time and being loud about it was something inspirational. But the longer I’ve been part time or less than full time, the more I talk about it with people, and the more I’m open about it, the more I realized there are more of us doing this sort of thing than I ever realized. Before I had my son I was full time plus hours, like constantly at work. I love my job. I love my job, then I still love it, but I love it more, working less than full time. And yeah, the more I talk about it, the more I realize like, Oh, yeah, I leave early on Wednesdays to go do X, Y, and Z, or Oh, yeah, I don’t work Fridays, or I come in at noon on Mondays, there are a lot of people who have less than the traditional nine to 540 plus hour week schedule. It’s just not that common. And not that discussed, for whatever reason. So I think we have this perception that either you’re working like a really part time job, or you’re working full time, and that there’s nothing in between. But I’m finding that there’s there are a lot more of us in that in between space.

Jess Fioneers  7:52 

And it did, Oh, go ahead. Like there’s a stigma to it. Like people don’t tend to not want to talk about it, because they don’t want to draw attention to themselves if they’re like working less. Which, I’m loud and proud about it as you are. And so it does seem like people sort of come out of the woodwork at that point. But yeah, it seems like people feel like they can’t talk about it, or they shouldn’t talk about it.

Angela TLRE  8:21 

Oh, yeah, I was. Yeah, I was one of those working 45, 50 hour plus weeks all the time. Like, before I had my son, there was a period of time where I was working to pretty much full time jobs back to back when I started my like, now career job when I was still doing my park ranger thing. And I was super loud about like, all the hours I was working and all the hustle I was doing. And you know, there’s a badge of honor and being like, well, I stayed at work longer than you did. And I put in more hours than you did and having my son and realising that that I just couldn’t do it anymore. And realizing how much better my life is for just carving out like, a couple extra hours a day. It’s like I used to be so pre COVID I was five days a week, I just shortened my hours. So I went in later and left earlier. So it’s been a little bit of a transition to work past two or three o’clock in the day because I had like four plus years of working till three was a late day for me. But with COVID and with like childcare juggling, I now have Thursdays off entirely to do the homeschool thing. But that means that I work to like four or five most days and it’s it feels so late to work then now when because I didn’t used to so it’s been an an adjustment, but I am loving the Thursday’s off in a bigger way than I thought. I really liked my like afternoons free every day of the week. But there’s something but that felt like I just had like bonus time every day to get everything done that I was trying to do. So, we would go for a run or a hike or something, and we do some play stuff, but it was a largely, taken up by a workout, which that was for me, but otherwise it was taken up by laundry and dishes and, doing my dentist appointment and that kind of thing. And so I kind of felt like when I was working five days a week, but shorter those that like gap time was used for catch up with working four days a week and having Thursday off completely, especially Thursday, because it’s not the end of the week. It’s like kind of in the middle. It feels like a free weekend day like weekends, you feel like you got stuff you got to get done. Thursday’s just kind of feel like as long as I get like the kiddos homeschool, done, like the day is to do whatever I want. So if I don’t want to do very much like it’s fine, it doesn’t matter. It’s Thursday. It’s It’s my throw away giveaway day. But if I want to do something and focus my time on it, I also have the time so I i’m really liking this new schedule.

Jess Fioneers  11:14 

That’s awesome. I see you have a child on your shoulder.

Angela TLRE  11:24 

Yeah, I turned myself off for a second. Five year old wanted, he wrote, he wrote me a note saying Can I watch the Pokemon show? So we are getting to the point where he’s learning how to write notes. So kindergarten is going well. But it’s it’s like all focused on Pokemon. But yeah, as far as Thursdays, in particular, my husband has Friday’s off now. Because he works like in the field with construction. And so for him Fridays made more sense. Whereas for me, I have a little bit more flexibility what what day take off since I’m almost entirely remote hours at this point. And so at first I kind of felt gypped that I didn’t get Friday off. And he did because he gets a long weekend, every weekend. But now that I’m in this a number of months, I way prefer Thursday’s off. Because of that, because if it’s Friday, then it feels like it’s got to be part of the weekend. Thursday. It’s like the standalone day to that’s just mine, just mine and the kids. Interesting. When so for me when I was working part time, for the first year or so

Jess Fioneers  12:37 

I worked Monday, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. And so then I had Thursday through Sunday off, which was like a four day weekend every weekend. And then for the last like six months or so I switched to working Tuesdays through Thursdays, and then having Friday and Monday off. And I love that. Like there’s just something about how about on Sunday night like realising you don’t have to go to work the next day. Like I don’t know what the if, like, the novelty would have worn off had I done that schedule for longer.

Angela TLRE  13:18 

I mean, I’m in five months now. And I have to say the novelty has not like not at all it has not worn off. Like again today, kiddo and I met up with a friend for a walk outside, massive distance, but the weather is like gorgeous and sunny right now. And so, her schedule is that she gets Thursday’s off all the time. But just like the realisation of like, coming back home at like, two o’clock on a Thursday and like, we just did what we wanted with the rest of the day. It just, it feels like playing hooky in a way that even Friday doesn’t for whatever reason, because lots of people take Friday’s off for some amount of time, but man Thursday, it’s like a perma hooky.

Jess Fioneers  14:07 

For me, I think that’s how I felt on Mondays. Because like I always release a blog post every Monday morning. So like sometimes I’m writing over the weekend. And so on Monday, it would be like blog post has been released. And I can just like do whatever I want on Monday like it definitely felt like it was like a Do whatever you want kind of day. So yeah. So Angela, I’m curious. And I’m not sure we’ve ever talked about this. How How did you like talk to your, your boss and your company about getting part time work one in the first place but to then like switching that to being the full day a week and how did that process hell.

Angela TLRE  14:54 

So the shorter days. So my son was born in February and for the first five months of his life, I did kind of a modified maternity leave. So I took the first bit off completely, and then I slowly ramped my hours up, I did like eight to 12 hours a week to like 20 hours a week, etc, etc, and got up to 40. By the time he was five months old. And basically, I tried to keep that up until he was about a year old. And I was just hardcore struggling. I was getting my work done, but it was a lot of like, working while he was napping after bedtime. We were I was doing part from home and part with family watching him. So I had like, no time at all to myself, I was basically like constant perma treadmill between work, and home and kid and work and home and kid. And I think it was clear that I was stretched thin. I was getting my work done. But I think he was paying attention to the fact that I I was not happy and stress. And so we had a conversation. We do an annual review every winter. And I don’t I don’t even know that it was either of our like, I don’t know if it was like the intention initially, when we started talking, but I realized that like, I needed to do something different. And so we basically wrote out a list of all of my job duties and said, okay, like, how, how can we give away some of this so you can can shrink your hours. So it was it was kind of a two part decision between both of us, like, I think we were both kind of on the something needs to change. So I’m really lucky, I’m on that front. But I’ve definitely heard of other people that have been able to reduce their hours, including you. So and somebody I work with who has been with the company for like 13 years now has had a part time schedule, here pretty much the entire time, she’s been with the company. So it’s not like I was going to be the only person going to less than full time. And I think it’s probably harder if you’re the only one if every single person works 40. So, I mean, somebody’s got to be the first one. But she had always worked for herself. She’s She’s in the like accounting, bookkeeping side of things. And so she really was hard about setting her hours. And so I think it helped have a very small culture of like, this is possible, this is doable. And she’s like a fabulous employee. So I think it helped him to see that it’s doable. And then we Yeah, basically went through my all of my job duties and said, Okay, these are the things that I need to give, get rid of, to, to make this work. And so we were able to figure out who else could do some of my work to let me reduce my hours. But I found that the longer I’ve been part part time, and that’s 80% time, so it’s 32 hours a week, and so 40 It’s not like I’m working 20 instead of 40. So there’s, there’s a smaller gap between the two. But I find that I’m just as productive in those 32 ish hours than if I was full time. Because, honestly, eight plus hours a day, five days a week is a lot. And there’s a lot of like, goof off time built into like the standard, like corporate situation. And so when you have fewer hours to work, like you still have your stuff you need to get done. And so I find that there’s only so many hours you can focus. And so I find that I think it’s been a real win win for both me and for the company. Because, I may have originally given stuff away, but as time has gone on, I’ve just gotten more efficient at some stuff. And so I know for a fact five years later, I’m doing more at 32 hours a week than I wasn’t 45 hours a week when I started. But obviously it’s also a win for the company because they’re paying me less as well. But I have kept above the 30 hour a week line because it does mean that I can still keep my benefits. And I needed I need to work about that much to be able to do my job like there would have been an option for me to like if I wanted to go to 20 hours a week I probably would have had to transition into like an admin type role in order to do that. But to keep doing my like core job stuff, I need to be there for a larger amount of time, but it doesn’t need to be anywhere near 40.

Jess Fioneers  20:03 

Mm hmm. I’ve had a similar experience to that too. And that, like, I feel like 40 hours just just a lot to work for, especially for people who are knowledge workers and are using their brain all day, like no one can actually use their brain for that many hours a day, or like that few people can at like full capacity. Right. And actually, my former boss, she would always say, like, you are getting way more done in 24 hours a week than like any HR manager that I’ve worked with that works full time. Right? And partially, that’s because I’ve been in the field for a number of years, right. And so I know how to do the things, right. So I’m not like learning everything as I go. But part of it is just that I’m not burned out, and I’m not wasting time.

Angela TLRE  20:52 

Yeah, when you’re totally drained, and you come into work Monday morning, because you’ve had the Sunday scaries all day, you start out slow, you get to your desk, you rearrange your paperwork, you get your coffee, you check the news, you chat with three people down the hall, and then maybe an hour later, you might start getting to work. But I think part of this might, I don’t know if this is a negative, but I think it’s related to reduced hours is that because it’s still a minority situation, you feel the need to prove that you can get your stuff done. You know, you have to prove that the part time works for the company, as well as for you. And I think that’s where being a really good employee, the idea that it’s not an option, I think, is probably more an option than a lot of people realize. We have someone at our company who recently moved back across the country for a period of time to help a family member with a health issue. And, we’ve never had somebody like leave the area and stay working for our company. But because she’s been a fabulous asset. She is still working for us, and we’re working with her. So I think if you really show your company that you’re worth it. I mean, clearly, there are companies who just don’t care. But if you’re in a good place at a good company, I think there are a lot more opportunities than you might realize. Especially if you’re in a financial place. You know, when I went to fewer than full time hours, we were in a financial place that if it didn’t work, then I could have said, Okay, well, then I’m done. Because I can’t do full time anymore. And being financially somewhere where you can say that really gives you a lot of power. And I think people would be surprised how often a company will make exceptions for you if they realized that the other option is to not have you at all?

Jess Fioneers  23:03 

Mm hmm. Yeah, no. And then for me, so I started my job, and it was posted as a part time job. But then the organisation grew very quickly, and they wanted me to work full time within like six months have started. And I was like, I’m not like I can’t, I don’t want to like, that’s not what I signed up for and every once in a while, there would be some sort of pressure to like we want you to work more, but then that just like caused me to just set firmer boundaries and be really clear about what I would and wouldn’t do. Right. And so, like, and that was fine, right? Like that felt like, like, they were very respectful of those I worked really hard, I did a really good job at the things that I committed to and said, like, I can do this in the amount of time that I have, and it worked out very well.

Angela TLRE  24:11 

And so I think that’s part of like where if you can say Just give me three months or six months, I can show you that the stuff you need to get done can be done in this time. And really like what company would rather pay you for less hours. I mean, like they they spend less on you, if you can get the same amount of time used same stuff done in less time. So clearly, this only works for the type of job where you are not like hands on like this has to be like mental type work. Because like my husband, he’s cut his hours but he works in the field like 95% of the time. So when he’s working four days a week instead of five, he really is getting four days of work done instead of five, there might be a little Bit more that he can give because his body has time to recuperate for three days instead of two. But it’s I don’t think it’s quite the same as if you work a like computer type job.

Jess Fioneers  25:15 

Right. So, one, one thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, especially with the like, leaped entrepreneurship is setting boundaries. Right. And now I’m like, trying to set boundaries around my own work. And for myself and with myself, which is a weird and interesting feeling. But I’m curious for you, Angela, like, how have you set boundaries around your 32 hours a week, so that it doesn’t just like balloon into a full 4045 hours.

Angela TLRE  25:53 

So I think the biggest thing was, when I went to a reduced schedule, I, we also put my son into preschool and family members had very strict like times that they had to be done. And so it was really easy for me to say, like, I need to leave at this time, because I have to go get my son. So I think that’s kind of the like, it was my cheater out. So I really, if I didn’t have a young child at home, I think that’s where scheduling, like if you go to the gym at a certain time, or if you have a yoga class at a certain time, or make it up, make it your coffee date, long Walk time and just say, I have a hard deadline, I need to get to my next appointment. So giving yourself some scheduling something on your calendar to make sure that like you, like I’m sorry, like I, I have to go. The childcare thing is easy, because it’s really hard to argue with like, oh, like that five year old can’t just be on his own, like, I need to go get him. But you don’t need to be totally upfront as to what you’re doing or like where you’re going. But just saying like, no, I’m sorry, I’m not available, then I’m with going to like Thursdays off, that’s actually been almost more of a challenge. Especially because we’re home all the time anyway. So it’s it’s taken me some effort, the first couple of months that I took off Thursdays, I found I had two or three meetings a day, just because like some of them had been scheduled previously. And they just landed on Thursdays. Or, somebody would try and schedule a meeting. And I’d say, okay, and I took a few months of like getting in the rhythm to just like blocking out my Thursdays and being like, No, I’m not available. Like, it doesn’t matter why I’m not available, but I’m not available. And you know, people reschedule meetings or pick different times, it’s it’s not as difficult as it sounds.

Jess Fioneers  28:18 

Yeah, then that’s somewhat similar thing for me, I found that I didn’t need to tell people like, I didn’t need to give a reason for things. I was like, I can’t do this at this time.

Angela TLRE  28:31 

People think a lot less about you’re like, I’m busy time then you think about the reasons you give them for big.

Jess Fioneers  28:40 

Exactly. And for me one thing, that one kind of strategy that I used, which might not work in your sort of situation, since your job is your main, like you feel like your job is your main gig. For me, I started thinking of my writing and my coaching as my main gig like even within the last, like six to nine months while I was working here, and thinking of this job as my side gig, and and trying to keep that in perspective was for me really helpful to be like this is not for me, this is not my focus. This is not the thing that I like, this is not my career path that I’m planning to continue on like for right now for me, this is a job, that’s good. But I’m only going to put in as much as I’m willing to put in because really my future lies elsewhere and in a different direction. And so that mindset for me was like made made me more able to make those like, those decisions and to just say like, No, I can’t do that part’s up

Angela TLRE  30:00 

It’s interesting that you say that because clearly, like, my main career job is the job that I plan on staying with for the long term. But as you know, I told you and Mel that I had a work, like an important work meeting gets scheduled for four o’clock today. So six minutes ago, clearly, that didn’t work. And I just said, I’m not available. And it got moved to after this is done. And it was not the realising that like that job is my secondary job and the blogging and such as my main, it’s more that they’re both equally important to me. So I don’t know what it was like, literally that epiphany yesterday of like, no, this is really important to me. And what I’m doing is important and good. And it’s just as valuable as the work stuff I’m doing. And I didn’t feel any guilt or anything, it was like, No, we have a whole bunch of people signed up. And I’ve got this chat scheduled, and it’s gonna have to work around it, it’s, this is my day to do what I want. And it I don’t know, somehow that experience has really elevated like, the way that I feel about the like blogging and online community stuff is realising that it is just as valuable and it doesn’t get to get pushed aside, because a work thing comes up later. COVID I think and just this whole year has helped me too, if if I’ve got something scheduled, like other things can move around it, it’s a rock, like, the new stuff, water around it, it’s it’s not a little tiny pebble that just gets knocked to the side, because something else more important shows up. This stuff is important too. And it it gets just as much standing as something else that might come behind it. So it’s it’s I think, kind of similar to your mindset with your second job. But it’s it’s like it’s this is not just a whatever hobby that I can push around to make it fit around the rest of my life. The rest of my life has to fit around these certain important rocks and tread lightly retire early. And women’s personal finance is one of those big rocks that doesn’t move at this point. Mm hmm.

Jess Fioneers  32:29 

Yeah. Well, and I like that you say that? Because it’s like that feels like it’s a more nuanced way of thinking about it. Right? And now it’s saying like, what do I for me, I’m thinking of like, what do I want my big rocks to be? Because it shouldn’t just be my work right now. Right? And especially because my work is now like, sort of the thing that I’ve been doing for fun for the last couple of years. And so, like, I think I I want to make sure that I think more broadly about whether are those big

Angela TLRE  33:10 

Yeah, like a daily yoga practice, or like, I’m making sure I’m running three or four days a week. And like, since my son has been born, running has not been a big rock. Until this year, it’s suddenly like, no, like, this is important. Like, even if it’s a 20 minute run, and I just do it in the evenings, letting go of the guilt of Oh, well, this should be family time, I can’t leave like I can leave for half an hour, like it’s fine. Um, but I would say my like, work, and like the blogging online stuff. And like running and doing homeschooling with my son are probably my like four big rocks right now. And then everything else, like my garden is important. And cooking is important. But I can kind of those can shuffle around and Zoom dates with friends and going for a walk masked up with my in laws. Those are important things. But they can shuffle. I think this year more than any, I’ve figured out the things that can’t shuffle and I need to just move the rest of my life around.

Jess Fioneers  34:23 

Yeah, I’m thinking about that. And I think I’m gonna take that. Because part of what I’ve been, I mean, so part of what I was most worried about, in transitioning to being a full time entrepreneur was losing structure. Which like seems funny because I feel like we all say that, like the thing that we want, when we have more freedom is to have like, more flexibility and have the ability to do things when we want to and like when we’re feeling like you know, and when when we feel like we want to do things but I think For me, like, I know that having a structure is actually really valuable. So that I don’t just end up like frittering the day away.

Angela TLRE  35:12 

That’s like blogging, having my, like scheduled blog post days is super important. Because if I didn’t like, I love writing, I love blogging, I love publishing blog posts. But if I just published them whenever I felt like writing, maybe I’d get one a month out, maybe having that strict schedule of like, what days I’m posting has been, yeah, important there. And that’s a fun, hobby thing. But it doesn’t matter if you’ve got to have some skin in the game, I think.

Jess Fioneers  35:42 

Yeah, no, and one thing that’s been that I’ve been thinking about, and actually one thing that I did before making the transition, was I did a thing called future journaling. And so that was something I heard about on a podcast from Jillian johnsrud, on everyday courage Podcast, where she said, like, just pick a date in the future, like, just any date. So I picked a date in like, January, after I was done with my job. And it was just like, write down what what you’re doing that day? Or like, in your mind today, what do you want that day to look like? And so for me, it made me think about, like, wow, all of these things that I’ve said, that I want that are like part of my ideal day of like, getting up and having that like, slow time in the morning to be able to like, drink my cup of decaf coffee and journal a little bit. And then take the dog for a walk and do a walking meditation while I’m doing that, and then like, settle into actually doing some like writing or other work at like 9.30, 10 o’clock, and then like doing that till lunch, and then like taking a break, has has been really nice. So far, at least for me to have done that activity to say like, what I want these days to feel like.

Angela TLRE  37:08 

Well, and I think that’s the thing is you are now an entrepreneur, you are not early retired, though you probably do the same thing if you’re early retired, but that make means that you’re your boss, like you don’t no longer not have a boss that it’s you that you be in charge of what you’re doing. And I think that’s where like, clearly our focus is on happiness and enjoyment. But I think part of that also comes from contentment and like, feeling like you’ve accomplished something. Just enjoying the day to day doesn’t necessarily mean a thing by itself. It’s, some things are hard. And sometimes some days my job sucks. But you know what, overall, I’m very happy. And I feel like what I’m doing is important. And that feeling of accomplishment means a lot. It’s not just about enjoying the day to day and I saw somebody say what’s wrong with frittering? And I think, I think Thursdays are my days to fritter. But, the other six days are not generally my data fritter. Because there are a lot of things I I want to get done. As much as I love reading and could spend a lot of time reading. If that’s all I did, I think I would not feel very fulfilled. And, yeah, I definitely want to fulfilled life. And that’s where I think working less than full time allows me for more fulfilment, because like, the different pieces of my life get to fill different parts of me. Whereas when it’s always work, it feels like there’s not enough time to do anything else.

Jess Fioneers  38:51 

Yeah, so that made me think of something. So two years ago, two and a half years ago, when I actually like, had my severe anxiety and panic attacks and was off work for six months. At first, I was just like, really exhausted, recovering from burnout, basically just like frittering, right, but that was good. I needed that for a good amount of time to like, just get back to a good place and relax and recover. But then at a certain point, like I started feeling like it made me feel bad, like, worse to be doing that. And I in one of the health care providers at the time, and I didn’t like her, but she was like, you need a routine. And I was like, No, I don’t, I don’t need a routine, like, in my head. And then I went and complained about it to my therapist, and my therapist was like, I think you need a routine. And I was like, Yeah, you’re right.

Angela TLRE  39:54 

Kind of like with sleep, like, yeah, I need nine ish hours of time. sleep at night. And if I get six or seven, like things are very bad for me, but if I also get 12 hours of sleep, like that’s not good for me either. So it’s, maybe I feel like it’s a little harder to wake up in the morning if I don’t just sleep forever, but hitting that like right amount of like frittering versus like doing things, right. I know, there are some people that might enjoy frittering all the time. But for me, that wouldn’t bring me a lot of satisfaction.

Jess Fioneers  40:36 

Yeah. Well, it’s interesting, because right after I actually listened, and then actually put a routine in place, like it was, this was actually a right around the time I started blogging. And so it was like definers was completely new. And I was like, Okay, my routine is going to be right for our do writing work on the blog in the morning, so from like, nine to noon, and then like, do whatever I want in the afternoon. And then many days, I actually felt energized and decided I wanted to keep writing, write or keep working on something for for the afternoon. And sometimes I decided I wanted to, like, go outside or take a hike or watch TV or take a nap, right, like any of those things. But I definitely like that that was a turning point for me, after I had sort of recovered from the worst of the burnout, that the routine actually helped me get back on track and helped. Like, I think building mastery and doing hard things, like helps us in the long term.

Angela TLRE  41:43 

So how did you get ready to reduce your hours? I know you’d gone for like a six month basically sabbatical but like, I don’t think we’ve ever talked about like, how you financially felt ready to make that leap? Or did it kind of feel like you were just in a headspace that you just needed to do it? Would you have done something different financially, like 2020 hindsight?

Jess Fioneers  42:06 

Hmm, good question. So it was really interesting, I think at the time, because part of me was that first, like, Oh, I have to go back to work. And then I started thinking about it and doing interviews, and I just like, was having panic attacks. And I was like, Oh, I can’t do this yet. And, it was interesting, because when I had decided to take the six months off, like, that was really the first time I looked at my finances, and I was like, Oh, this is why a few money means like, this is what it means to have an emergency fund that can cover your expenses for a number of months. And to like have a high savings rate, and to be like, oh, like where I could totally just quit right now. And like, we would be okay. And I think before that point, I didn’t realise that that was possible. So that was like the first step of, of this. And then I think, as I learned more about FI, I think originally, when I went back to work three days a week, it was because I felt like that’s I felt like that’s what I needed to do better for my mental health. And then my plan was to then go up to four days a week, eventually, and then maybe back up to full time eventually, as like, my mental health improved. And I’m sorry, I lost my train of thought here. Oh, so yeah, that that was the original plan, because we were just planning on pushing fastrac toward fi right. Like, it was like this was a blip in the radar. And like, I was gonna eventually get back to working full time so that we could just push hard toward fi and Wi Fi and 10 years or 12 years or something. And then it was like a couple of kind of exciting and kind of amazing thing. Things happened, but one of them was we realized that we spent so much less money like I think you had this experience too.

Angela TLRE  44:12 

Yeah, when you suddenly have time to cook more and not buy on Amazon and, you have time to do the house stuff and you don’t need to buy the time saving things, be it food or cleaning or anything else. And just the like, it’s not even bored shopping. It’s like overwhelmed shopping.

Jess Fioneers  44:31 

Overwhelmed shopping. Yeah. Yeah, I think for me, I think of it it’s like convenience.

Angela TLRE  44:38 

But it’s not just convenience because it was even buying clothes or trinket or something Oh, yeah, yeah, like that. Like don’t have time for yourself overwhelmed just okay, well, I’m going to go spend half an hour Ross just browsing because I need it just to like, have my headspace and when you have more time, I think you don’t have that kind of like overwhelm, like, fix it feeling. But I do want to say though talking about being in a place with fi, and with their finances to be able to cut our hours because I hadn’t really thought about it before I went for it. But as soon as like it was in my brain, it was like, Oh, yeah, we can do this financially. But five years earlier, our finances were not in a place that even if I had wanted to work fewer hours, no matter my mental health, I couldn’t have and so there’s definitely a like threshold minimum of like, the this, this is the level of income, we need to be able to think about doing things differently. And to me, that’s kind of what FIRE is in general about is having enough money at like a base level that that foundation allows you to then once once you hit that threshold, you can consider other things that improve your life more than money. So, if my full time income was where it is, right now, at 80%, it might have been a little harder to go to 80%. Right? Then, or if my income was 50%, of what it is now, going 80% would be impossible. So, getting making more money, working harder earning those raises, or finding a different job if you can, but there’s definitely, a level of privilege to be in a place where you can cut back. Because there there were definitely times in our lives when we were younger, that financially it was, pickup every hour offered, because you need those money, that money to find just like basic life. So that’s where I think once you hit that basic level of life, that’s where you really need to think hard, do you really need that more money? Or is time and sanity? More important? So like, yes, at this point, I am trading away more income than to get to get that more time.

Jess Fioneers  47:13 

One, one way I’ve heard of it talked about before is that, like, having getting to a certain level of financial freedom allows you to not have to optimize everything, whereas like I I feel similarly like early on, we definitely could not have done this, like five years earlier would have been a real challenge to scale back. But as for us, it was like at a certain point, then we’re able to say great, what do we want to do with that be extra? Do we want to…

Angela TLRE  47:51 

Not just the automatic like, okay, we’re going to have a bigger house and Okay, we’re going to upgrade our car and Okay, I’m going to take that raise because that more money is going to make me feel better. So I can do x. You know, at this point, more money is not my goal. more time, more flexibility. More impact with my day. Money is much lower down on on the list.

Jess Fioneers  48:19 

Right, right. I think Yeah. It’s like, it’s like you. It’s important, right? We still optimize for a number of different things financially, I think it’s right, it’s really important to keep for us to keep our spending pretty low so that we have the flexibility. But I think like I think more about like this allows us to optimize for quality of life over finances. So Angela, this is crazy that it’s 7:25 or 4:25. Yeah, you are and I know you have this other meeting that you’re getting to in the next like 10 minutes. Okay, well we do like so I know we do need to like wrap up fairly soon. So why don’t we talk for just a minute about like, what let’s talk about what we’re working on right now. So what are you like what’s new with you with Tread Lightly Retire Early or Women’s Personal Finance?

Angela TLRE  49:19 

Well, as far as Tread Lightly Retire Early, I am treading water in 2020. I’m still blogging relatively frequently, but my Monday posts have slowed down just I allowed myself that headspace to accept that I don’t have to publish every single Monday. It’s okay if I skipped some, and that’s been really good for my mental health. But I’m kind of related to the blog. One of my more recent Monday posts was my like October financial update, because I do it in November, so that it’s after when October spending is all done and we hit over a 40% savings rate in October, which for both of us working 80% time felt like a lot. Still haven’t hit that magical 50% for a year, but 40%, especially in this year, when so many people are struggling in such a big way. And, our net worth is continues to go up because the stock market and, and the housing market continues to be bananas. It felt like I wasn’t doing enough, like, we are so, so fortunate this year. And so from doing that post and realizing we were still saving that much money, it was like, Okay, I need to up my giving game. So I run also the East Side Restaurant Support Group on Facebook, to help our local restaurants basically try and survive through COVID. And this economic downturn. And so just before Thanksgiving, I posted that I would be giving away $50 gift card to whatever restaurant somebody wanted, realising not everybody can eat out so frequently, but they still want to support our local restaurants. And then, after I posted that, people posted that they wanted to enter, but people also started posting saying, all match the 50, pick another winner, and then, somebody else can match that, like pick a third winner, and a fourth and a fifth. And it turned out that 80 people entered and 80 people got it $50 gift card for local. And so, kind of related to the blog, because of like, that’s where I’m paying attention to my money. But I feel like we’re at a point where, we hit that base level, we’re still saving a lot. But my goal with COVID in 2020 is really, how can I make a bigger impact on on more lives? And so, with women’s personal finance, I’m also, in early stages of figuring out how do I, how do I make that community more impactful? So there’s, there’s more of that coming soon. I it’s a little early yet to share. But just to say that there’s more coming with women’s personal finance soon. I really want to, take that community and grow it and find a way to impact more women.

Jess Fioneers  52:20 

Yeah, that’s awesome.

Angela TLRE  52:21 

And then, this coffee date, which has been wonderful. We were chatting for a minute before this started. But, we haven’t, like talked face to face in a while. I think we had a phone call like this summer. But other than that, it’s like Twitter conversations. And so it’s been really nice to like, see your face?

Jess Fioneers  52:44 

Mm hmm. Oh, yeah.

Angela TLRE  52:46 

I just want to say I really enjoyed this. So what about you? What are you working on?

Jess Fioneers  52:53 

So there’s a couple things so one that I want to say sort of money related, because you talked about your like money and giving and focusing on that one thing that I’ve really been focusing a lot on is trying to spend money at small businesses, and particularly black owned businesses. So like, I’ll do a plug for everyone. Like if you’re buying holiday gifts this year, like if you’re doing that, try to buy them from, from small businesses or black owned or minority owned businesses.

Angela TLRE  53:27 

And don’t be looking for a gift card discount, or like if you buy $50, get another 10 or something like that, if you can afford it. Don’t look for the deals. Don’t Don’t look for the way to save money, save money on your groceries at the big box grocery store, and save money by refinancing your mortgage if you have one. save money by seeing if it’s a renters market in your area. And you can negotiate your rent payments. But but don’t negotiate with the small businesses. Yeah, pay them full price.

Jess Fioneers  54:03 

Exactly. Yeah. So I’ve personally been focusing on that. And then also for like business purchases, like if I’m doing like welcome gifts for new clients and things like that. I’m really focusing on getting those from black on businesses too. So hoping to, to contribute in that way. And then the the sort of other big thing that I have coming up that I can share with folks is on the 19th of December, I’m going to be running a workshop about annual planning, so demystifying annual planning, and why you really do not need resolutions. But we’re going to talk about how can you actually have sort of a comprehensive set of goals for your life, right and it right and it’s not something you need to do in January, but we’re here so if you don’t have that we might as well do that now.

Angela TLRE  54:58 

Yeah, it’s kind of like my clothes buying ban started in March, that’s when I had enthusiasm for it.

Jess Fioneers  55:06 

Exactly like your goals can start whenever you make them. But we’re now in a break, we’re in a good period of reflection. And so let’s make the most of your home anyways. Exactly. So I’ll be sharing that by email. Everybody who’s who’s here is on the email list now. So I’m going to share that by email. And then I’m also actually probably, this weekend going to send out a survey to hear what would be helpful for people to learn about, and what’s like what’s most challenging in setting and actually sticking with goals so that we can so I can offer that in the workshop. The second thing is I’m trying to see if we can get this as an audio to release to the public. So we’re gonna see I’m gonna take some steps and see I have watched some YouTube videos on how to do it. Hopefully you will be able to, I mean, you were here live, so you don’t need to listen to the audio of this. But, hopefully we’ll be able to share it as an audio when this maybe like practice for a future podcast. So we’ll see if that’s something that that potentially happens. And so but yeah, those are the those are the updates from me, and I think we’re we probably need to wrap here. Yeah.

Angela TLRE  56:30 

Hey, I also have, What are you reading?

Jess Fioneers  56:33 

Oh, reading? Oh, my goodness. Um, well, one, I just finished adventures in Opting Out is Really Good. Like, I think it might be my favorite book. So if you haven’t read it.

Angela TLRE  56:53 

I have not yet.

Jess Fioneers  56:54 

It’s so good.

Angela TLRE  56:56 

I’ve read The Year of Less, but I haven’t yet.

Jess Fioneers  56:58 

Cool. Okay. Yeah, this one. And she describes it as like The Year of Less was the book she was like, supposed to write. And this was the book that she was like, born to right. Okay, so yeah, I got I think you’re gonna love it. Yeah, how about you?

Angela TLRE  57:15 

Yeah. So I actually tend to read three books at a time, because that’s who I am. COVID kind of derailed that for a while, and I was having a really hard time reading. So I started to get on this audio book kick. So right now I am reading listening to Braiding Sweetgrass, which is absolutely like Kristine, who’s working on Ecofrugals with me, she did a review of this book. And I was like, Okay, I need to read it and listening to it in the author’s voice is just fabulous. And then I am reading a like, fluffy historical fiction set in Scotland and 13 something series. That’s very predictable and lovely for my brain right now. And then I’m also reading Sapiens, which is great, but a lot more dense. So reading that in smaller chunks.

Jess Fioneers  58:09 

Cool. That’s awesome. So I do usually I tend to do two at a time, I tend to do a nonfiction and a fiction. So my fiction right now is book for the stormlight archive. that just came out like two weeks ago. And they’re all like a million pages long, but they’re really good. If you’re like, like, fantasy.

Angela TLRE  58:28 

Yeah, normally, other than 2020. I really like long books, because I read fast. 2020, I’m reading a lot slower. All right. But I do have to go.

Jess Fioneers  58:38 

Awesome. Yeah. So you need to go. I want to say one more thing. Thank you, Angela, for joining me for this conversation. Thank you, Mel for compiling questions for us. I know we didn’t get to all of the questions. But hopefully we can use them as fodder for future conversations. And then I just want to close us by telling us all to remember that we should do something time for ourselves this week. We deserve it.

Angela TLRE  59:04 

And thank you for joining us.

Jess Fioneers  59:06 

Yes. Thank you all for coming. And if you if you enjoyed this and want us to do it again, send us an email, or like tell us on social media or if it was really awful, and you’re lazy, or just not a good format. No, you can tell us but tell us, but tell us like what we could do better. Like maybe we want to hear feedback if you think that there’s things that we can do better. So awesome. Well, thanks, Angela. Thanks. I will talk to you soon. Bye.

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