FIRE update: third year anniversary


I have a confession to make. I’ve unFIRE’d myself. For the last six months, I’ve taken on so many paid projects I’m effectively working full-time.

I’ve always done some work since declaring FIRE. Including Monevator, those side projects have kept me slaving over a hot laptop for two or three days a week.


I enjoyed a balance that:

  • Anchored my week
  • Made the freedom of my other days taste like ice-cream
  • Provided a trickle of pocket-money to blow guilt-free

But this is different. I returned to work because I needed the money. And this extra work is squeezing out time I’d prefer to spend on other things.

What happened? Did I miss my old 5.30am starts, back-to-back meetings, and ridiculous targets plucked out of the P&L owner’s backside?



Renovating the house happened. Doing up our money pit turned into a black hole of unforeseen expenses. A swirling vortex sucking in everything with a pound sign on it:

  • The war chest I’d initially set aside for the fix-uppery
  • All our extra pocket money
  • Then, finally, the bridging cash that was tiding me over until I could raid my SIPP

Cash and burn

I don’t want to make it sound like I was an innocent victim in all of this.


Sorting the house could have been done more cheaply. Shortcuts could have been taken. We could have papered over many of the cracks and crossed our fingers. The final result could have been less ‘nice’.

Mrs Accumulator, for one, did not want me to burn the bridging cash.

But I argued for a different perspective:

This is our forever home.

We spend a lot of time in it.

We love it.

Our property is very old. It has a lot of problems we can resolve here and now (probably).

The interior is just dying for want of TLC.

So let’s just fix everything we can in a one-er. Let’s make it look the way we’d talked about on so many walks, late evenings, and envious Internet browses.

Let’s feel really good about living here for the rest of our lives.

And if we have to compromise anything, then let’s not compromise the house. Let’s compromise my FIRE status for a time. FIRE will keep. I can come back to it.

Mrs TA was not won over, but she reluctantly agreed. And she does love the final result. As do I.

So I think it was worth it. Even though I’m still feeling the heat of the backlash.

FIRE alarm

Part of the heat came from The Investor. He gave me a proper grilling about my U-turn.

“Is FIRE not all it’s cracked up to be, then?”

“Are you secretly missing work?”

“Has inflation made a mockery of your numbers?”

Here’s how I feel about it:

Unretirement shouldn’t take more than a year of my life, if I’ve done my sums right. (That’s a sizeable ‘if’.)

Also, I’ve got something I really wanted out of it. A home I’m very happy with, and that I’m loving living in every day.

The work itself is fine. It’s not like my old job. No 5.30am starts, back-to-back meetings, or ridiculous targets. And I’m working for some very nice people. It’s been fun to meet them all. I enjoy working with them.

I choose my hours, I’m given all the autonomy I could ask for, and there’s no commute.

For all those reasons, this doesn’t feel like the grind I previously escaped from.

The problem with my old gig was that it took everything I had and I only felt like I lived in the holidays.

The current arrangement still means I can goof off whenever I like, as long as I get the job done.

Burning my bridges

I’m not pretending this is FIRE. It’s not. There’s only seven days in a week and I’ve lost the balance that FIRE gave me. But I should have recharged the savings account after 12 months, and I’ll be able to rebalance my life again.

For what it’s worth and to address TI’s main point, I’m not worried about inflation now that it’s subsiding. Our underlying portfolio can still support the income Mrs TA and I need.

The only hitch is it’s all locked up in SIPPs and I can’t personally touch mine for [*checks watch*] two years, a few months, some days, and 43 seconds.

Keep the faith

So there you go. That’s what happened.

I’d like to add that – when I was working towards FIRE – I got very disappointed whenever someone in the community went back to work. I suppose it made me worry that FIRE was a mirage.

I don’t think FIRE is a mirage. If you’re on the FIRE path then I say – loudly – “stick with it!”

I’ve gone off-piste for personal reasons related to my values and circumstances. I’d rather not have to, but I’ve temporarily sacrificed FIRE to achieve a goal that I hope will make me happy for decades to come. I think that’s a fair swap.

Take it steady,

The Accumulator

P.S. Our FIRE budget for 2023-24 was £27,600 for two. Actual spend minus one-off renovation costs: £26,200. 

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