What the Flock is Flamingo FI? – Part 2

In part 1 of this post we discussed the four stages of Flamingo FI and how it allows you to quit the 9-5 in record time.

By now you know how Flamingo FI works – you work and save hard for a few years and then you semi-retire. While you are busy enjoying the perks of semi-retirement, your nest egg continues to grow in the background. Before you know it, you are financially independent. Magic!

“This is stupid! I don’t want to semi-retire. Once I’m done I will never work another day in my life!” you might say. But here is the problem with this statement: It is not true.

Someone who becomes financially independent in their 30s or 40s is not going to sit by the pool slurping cocktails for the next 50 years. You know this; everyone knows this. And while you might feel like you want to never work again once you hit FIRE, chances are that you will. Most people are not on this path because they hate working. They want to achieve FI so that they have more time for their family, health and hobbies. Almost everyone who reaches FI ends up finding a fun part-time job they enjoy or works on interesting side projects and hobbies that make some money. While everyone knows that this is what usually happens, no one actually seems to plan for it.

Let’s have a look at what a typical FIRE plan looks like:

“I’m free! I will never work again!”

Now compare it to what usually happens once someone reaches FI:

“Hmm… Turns out, I don’t want to lie on the beach for the rest of my life after all. And the fun projects I’ve started working on actually earn me some money. Looks like I won’t need to tap into this massive nest egg I accumulated any time soon. Who would have thought?”

Everyone likes a holiday, maybe even a long one, but eventually you will get bored. Think about it – you are going against the norm, you work hard and stay focused for a long time to get to FI. This means you are an ambitious, motivated and driven person (just not when it comes to your silly day job). If you are like us, you have a long list of projects you want to tackle once you don’t have to spend all your time working, commuting and ironing your work clothes anymore.  And this will almost certainly lead to some form of paid work after you reach FI.

So why wait until you hit your FIRE number before you downshift and do what you really want to do with your life? 

Now compare the charts above with Flamingo FI:

Just a Flamingo casually strolling down the stairs to freedom.

With Flamingo FI, we don’t pretend that we will never work again once we quit our jobs. Instead, we save enough to ensure we will still be able to enjoy FIRE (and a traditional retirement if desired) at some point in the future. After that, there really is no reason to stay in your full-time job, unless you want to.

Mr. Flamingo and I won’t be financial independent when we leave our full-time corporate jobs in early 2021. We are happy to work a few days a week (or a few months a year instead). I’m not talking about jobs that pay six-figures here, just a bit of income on the side. This will be more than enough to sustain our fun yet low-cost lifestyle.

If you are currently working towards FIRE, you should consider Flamingo FI. The advantages are obvious:

  • You can exit the rat race faster: It doesn’t take long to accumulate the nest egg needed for this approach. This means that you are free to leave your full-time career and start semi-retirement sooner. Once you hit this milestone, you don’t have to add to your savings anymore. With the pressure to keep adding to your nest egg gone, your options are endless – become a part-time diving instructor, start your own dog-walking business, retrain to become a pastry chef – it is all up to you.
  • The best out of both worlds: Semi-retirement is part of this plan, but not the entire plan. You will still become financially independent with this approach.
  • A soft landing: With Flamingo FI, the transition from full-time employment to retirement is slow and smooth. You don’t have to worry about sinking into depression once you pull the trigger because you downshift gradually instead of going from 100 to 0. This gives you plenty of time to find out what you want to do with the rest of your life.
  • You don’t need to to save 75% of your income to get there: Flamingo FI is achievable in a reasonable amount of time even if you don’t have a crazy high savings rate. If you can manage to save 50% of your income, you will reach Flamingo FI in 10 years (if you start with zero savings). It is of course unlikely that you start with no savings and Super, so if you have a small nest egg already, you can reach Flamingo FI in just a few years. This is doable even if you live in a high cost of living area (like Sydney and Melbourne) and earn an average income.

By now you have probably figured out why we have chosen this silly name – Flamingo FI – for our approach. We will pull the trigger and quit our jobs when our FIRE plan stands on one leg – like a Flamingo. The word “flamingo” comes from the Spanish and Latin word “flamenco” which means – you might have guessed it – fire. Flamingo FI = FIRE standing on one leg!

You don’t have to slave away in a job you hate until you reach your FIRE number!

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25 thoughts on “What the Flock is Flamingo FI? – Part 2”

    • Thanks Jen! 🙂
      We are considering Vanguard’s new high growth fund (VDHG) or some combination of VTS/VEU/VGS.
      For Australian shares the contenders are AFI, BKI, WAM and MLT. I find LICs more attractive than VAS, but we have not made a final decision yet.
      We’ve held VGAD, VGS, VEU, VAS and AFI in the past.
      At the moment we are working towards buying some investment properties and want to buy the LICs / ETFs after that. I will write a post about it once we’ve made a decision. 🙂

  1. Hi guys! Really enjoying the blog – great to get the Australian context. I’m a little confused about the 4% rule. Say your yearly expenses = $40,000 then your FI number = $1,000,000. However, if you take 10 years to reach $1,000,000 your $40,000 a year lifestyle will have increased to around $50,000 a year based on inflation hence you’d need $1,250,000 rather than $1,000,000. Should I be using the $40,000 figure for working out my FI number or the $50,000 figure for working out my FI number.

    • Glad to hear you are enjoying the blog, Sam! 🙂

      We use inflation-adjusted returns for our calculations. This allows us to look at our future numbers in “today’s dollars”. We use 7% ROI per year AFTER inflation. So if you investments yield 10% per annum and inflation is 3%, the inflation-adjusted return is 7%.

      Say you invest $500,000 in a portfolio of index funds and LICs that yields 9.5% per year. After 10 years, you have $1,240,00. Let’s assume inflation sits at 2.5% during this period. Instead of $1,000,000 in your FI nest egg, you’d now need around $1,280,000. This is in future dollars – using nominal returns (not inflation adjusted). However, this is the same as saying that your ROI is 7% per annum after inflation. It takes you 10 years to get to your FI number, no matter if you look at it in 2018 or 2028 dollars.

      What I would suggest is that you start with your FI nest egg in today’s dollars in mind and then adjust it for inflation each year. In reality, your FI number is a moving target. We use inflation-adjusted returns for planning, but nominal returns when we look at the actual inflation rate and our nominal returns each year.

      I hope this makes sense! 🙂

  2. Loved reading this perspective. Personally I have never been able to wrap my head around the idea of stopping to work completely after attaining FI and have even ranted against Early Retirement on my blog.

    This approach however, of slowing down, working on passion projects and building a nest egg allowing you to do those seems far more relatable to me.

    Also, love those images of the FIRE models.

    • Thanks Firebug! The longer we are on this journey the more I realise it’s not a race and there are many ways to reach the end goal that might take longer but are much more enjoyable. I really enjoy reading about your European adventure by the way!

  3. why do you want to stand on one leg when you have two. Standing on one leg is overrated and only useful for leaners not lifters. We today are enjoying life thanks to the lifting undertaken by our grandparents and parents. This enjoyment means we should continue to pay it forward by working hard, not idle down. Are we ourselves a victim of our society’s success? In much the same way that immunisation has led to the obliteration of diseases like polio such that today we cannot think about a child suffering from this disease. Some parents cannot see the benefit of immunisation and don’t immunise their kids. Another unintended consequence of success.
    Like our forefathers we don’t know what the future holds but I am not sure if FIRE is the answer. Those of us who could FIRE need to continue working hard to build the nation and give thanks to our predecessors. But I agree it is acceptable to change to a less stressful job, once financial independence is reached.

  4. I just stumbled on your blog today and have realised that Flamingo FI is what we’re working towards (even without knowing it was a “thing”!)
    We are married with 2 kids not yet at school, and a fully paid off “forever” house. We had kids later in life so are able to both work part time on different days meaning we both get to enjoy time with our littles and no external childcare is needed. Even both working part time, we have an expected savings rate of ~50-55% (not including employer super contributions). Obviously we could both work full time and stash away the $$$ but time with our kids, especially while they’re little, is more important to us.
    Given we’re a little older (late 30s & early 40s), we’ve decided to both continue to work part time until 50. So one will retire earlier than the other, but we will have reached 50% of our full FIRE number by the time the oldest one of us retires. The younger one can earn enough to cover our living expenses while our FIRE portfolio grows in the background. And once the younger spouse retires at 50 it will only be a few years until the older one can access their super (at 60) if necessary anyway!
    The realisation that we only needed to save half of our FIRE number before one of us retires has brought the goal so much closer that I can almost taste the freedom already (and we’re only working part time to get there anyway)!
    Thank you for giving a name to our strategy!

    • Hi Miranda,

      It’s fantastic that you can both work part time and still have such a high savings rate! This is our plan to – once we hit our Flamingo FI number (which should be in the next few months, fingers crossed), we will both slowly move towards part time work on different days. Childcare really is a killer! Great work on the paid off house too. To me it really sounds like you guys are living the dream already! 🙂

      Keep up the great work!

  5. This blog is AMAZING. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. I’d been wondering about semi-retirement, but hadn’t stumbled upon the elegant math of it. This is brilliant.

    My husband and I have our own location independent business (Aussies currently living in Portugal), and we love what we do. So as committed as we are to FIRE, we have also wondered about how important the big FIRE goal is for us. This blog is helping us tailor our plan. Rock on.

    I have to share a (totally unimportant) tip though…. The birds in the featured image are actually scarlet ibis, not flamingos. Easy to mix them up (pink colour, black wing tips) but since I’m a bird watcher and crazy bird nerd, I just thought I’d let you know…

  6. I love the meaning behind the name — seriously creative, smart, and meaningful. Thanks so much for your fantastic resources.

  7. Just found this blog too thanks to J$ love it, we too are on a similar journey and love reading everyone’s story and methods – it’s also great to see some FI from Aussie bloggers a lot of what I follow is from the US


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