How The Pursuit of FI Almost Ended My Life

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Is it possible to go too far in pursuing “Financial Independence”?

Absolutely.  I’m living proof, and happy about that fact.  I’m happy because being “Living Proof” certainly beats being “Dead Proof.”  I should know.

I could have died.

How The Pursuit of Financial Independence Almost Ended My Life

Have you ever done anything stupid?

I suspect many most have done something stupid at some point in our lives.

What were you thinking?

Think back to a time you did something which you realized you shouldn’t be doing.  What were you thinking? In my case a few weeks ago, I brushed off the danger.  I knew there was SOME danger, but I minimized it in my mind.  After all, those gutters at our new “Great Cabin” just HAD to be cleaned, and my ladder wasn’t long enough to reach.  Seemed obvious to me, just go up on the roof.  I could always use my pressure washer to keep me from getting too close to the edge.  Gotta be safe, after all!

What could possibly go wrong?


Financial Independence & Risk

I suspect, with no hard evidence to support the thesis, that the “risk of oversite” is worse within the “Financial Independence” community than the population at large. Sometimes, I suspect, we take unnecessary risks to avoid spending money.  After all, it’s easy to quantify the cost of hiring someone, and we’d prefer to use that money toward our Financial Independence.  Unfortunately, it’s also easy to under-estimate the risks we expose ourselves to in our quest to save money.

What Have You Done To Save Money?

Think of something you’ve done to save money which exposed you to risk.  Have you done something which, in hindsight, you realized you should have hired someone to do. Something that was dangerous, but you justified doing it yourself.  I know I have. Hiring stuff out is a hassle.  It costs money.  And, it’s inconvenient.

Do It Yourself!  Git ‘Er Done!

We’re “Do It Yourselfers” on the path to Financial Independence!!  We don’t pay for this stuff!  But…

….Maybe we should.

There are times when we need to slow down and think things through.  We’re getting older…that risk/reward equation needs to be modified.  The bar gets lower with age.

A good friend/mentor/previous boss of mine, who I respect beyond words, shared the following wisdom with me when he heard about my Fall.  He’s been sharing wisdom with me as a mentor since 1988, and I deeply respect his opinion. He’s given me permission to share his advice with you today.  Listen to his wisdom, he’s a wise man who thinks deeply. My wife and I are attending his birthday celebration in a few weeks, after being fortunate to visit with him just a few weeks ago at a Scottish Highland Festival, where he was enjoying his Scottish heritage in a classic kilt, along with his charming wife.  He’s quite the character, and his wisdom is worth sharing with you:

And, I should mention:  He’s only a month short of his 80th birthday.  

The bar gets lower with age.  Learn that lesson, and spend some money to reduce your risks.  You’ve got enough at this point in your life, and your future life isn’t worth the small dollar savings.

Is your life worth risking for a few dollars? Mine's not, so why'd I do it? Learn from my mistake. Click To Tweet

Don’t Get On The Roof

My entire life I’ve loved getting on the roof.  I remember as a child getting on the roof of the neighbor’s barn (Sorry, Dad, hate to break it to you in a post, but I climbed on The Martin’s barn roof, many times when I was 10-16 years old.  Surprise!!  Then again, you probably already knew that….).   We’re invincible, right? Through my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, periodic tasks would call for me to climb on the roof.

No problem. There’s nothing too concerning about getting on the roof, in spite of what my wife says (smart lady, that one.  I should listen to her more often…but we digress).  Just watch your footing and be careful. Right?

After all, accessing those gutters from the roof when your ladder won’t reach just makes sense.

Except when it doesn’t.


I’m 54, and the line of “acceptable risk” has moved down since I was 24.  Since I was 34.  Since I was 44.

I just didn’t recognize it.  I didn’t take the time to honestly evaluate the risks.  I’m older now, and it pains me to admit I’m a bit less athletic than I was in my 20’s (though I’m working hard to get Younger Next Year.)  Anyway, I had a bit of free time, and the gutters were the next task on my “To Do” list.  I don’t ever hire this stuff out.  I’m a “Do It Yourselfer”.

I’m pursuing Financial Independence.  Why would I pay somebody to do something simple?

Like cleaning my gutters.

I underestimated the risk.  I justified it.

It almost killed me.

(If you think I’m exaggerating, realize 340 workers die each year from falls of less than 20 feet)

Metal Roofs & Pollen

A contractor we hired to fix a few things on our Great Cabin warned me a month ago about how pollen makes a metal roof slick.

I Should Have Listened…

…to that contractor.

…to my wife.

But I didn’t.

I went on the roof.

Falling Off The Roof

It happened suddenly.  Without warning.

One minute, I was inching my way carefully down to work on the next prime target of pine straw stuck in the gutter. The next minute, I was on my butt, sliding at the speed of light toward the edge.

The Abyss.

In an instant, I was airborne.  I couldn’t stop myself.  A simple…

…Slip…

…Slide….

…Airborne…

Ground.

Something indecipherable came out of my mouth as I slid toward, and over, the edge.  My wife heard it. She was right below me, on the deck.  She watched me as I flew overhead.

They don’t teach you how to prepare for this in school.  In the 0.5 seconds it took from launch to landing, my mind was racing…..”How do I land this thing?”

I chose the “Tuck & Roll”.

Instinct, really. Though at the time it all appeared to happen in slow motion, there was surprisingly little time to think.  I realized I was airborne, and evaluated my options.  None obvious.  And none good.

I hit the ground.

I hit the ground hard when I fell off the roof. I'm lucky I wasn't killed. Click To Tweet

I Hit Hard.

I kinda sorta tucked and rolled.  My glasses went flying.  My forehead was bruised from the poorly executed “head plant into pine staw bedding” which resulted from the implementation of the previously determined strategy to “Tuck & Roll”.  I got the tuck part down pat, but the roll was ugly.

Strategy = 10.  Execution = 7.

I remember looking toward the unfocused sky, and realizing I was ok.

I just wasn’t sure where my glasses were.

“I’m OK”, I called to my wife.  In a near state of panic, she disregarded my shout of safety and came sprinting around the deck to my landing area below.

I was fine.

Really.

I didn’t want to move until my wife found my glasses, but other than that I was fine.  Really.  Surprisingly. Miraculously.

I Was Fortunate.

I was fortunate to avoid any injury from my fall.   It could have entirely changed my life (and NOT for the better). I posted the following on Facebook a few hours later, but before I’d had time to really think through the implications of my fall:


In the ~15 days that have passed since “The Fall”, I thought a lot about what could have been.  About this post. About the lesson I learned, which I’m putting into the written word at this exact moment on my handy little Toshiba Chromebook (BTW, I love Chromebooks!  If you haven’t tried one yet, spend the $200 and give it a go.  They’re great!) 

What Could Have Been

I’ve been thinking about what could have been, and thankful that things turned out the way they did.

Life is scary.  Your entire path in life can change SO quickly.  So permanently.  I could have experienced a….

  • Broken Leg (How would I walk my daughter down the aisle at her wedding next weekend?)
  • Broken Arm (Wow, blogging’s gonna be tough, but I’ll get through it)
  • Broken Back (Wow, this could have been really, really, ya know, serious)
  • Death (my sister told me of 2 people she’s know who have died falling off roofs  It happens).

I’ve thought a lot about the dreams my wife and I have for retirement, and how we thought the next few years would unfold.  We’d camp 6 months in our 5th wheel.  We’d hike.  We’d kayak.  We’d swim.

But….maybe not.

It all could have ended in an instant. It was that close. Click To Tweet

It could have been oh, so much worse.  I’m an optimist, but I can’t help thinking what could have been.

It could have been the end of our dreams.

How The Pursuit of F.I. Almost Ended My Life

Am I being Melodramatic with the title of this post?  I think not.  If you define “Life” as the plans you have for the next 5-10 years of your time on this earth, it’s certain that those plans could have ended.

Our life as we’d planned it.

Over.

 In 0.5 seconds.

I just happened to execute an acceptably soft Tuck ‘N Roll (thank you, angels).

Had I not landed so well, things could have ended much differently, and much worse.  Consider, for example, this Twitter response to The Fall from my friend, Vicki, over at Make Smarter Decisions:



Bottom Line:  I don’t think I am being melodramatic with that hopelessly enticing title.  It’s true.  My life could have ended.  Literally.

So could yours.

Conclusion

Realize that your life can change in an instant.  Acknowledge the realities of your aging process, and don’t assume you can still do the same things you’ve been able to do all of your life.  Learn from my mistake.

Do what I didn’t do, listen.

The next time you’re considering doing something that you know could change your life if it doesn’t go according to plan, stop for a minute and think.  Think about this post, and how your life could change if things “went South”.  Consider the cost of having it hired out, and compare that to a “life altering injury”.

Then, hire someone to go up on that roof.

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80 comments

  1. Glad you’re okay, Fritz! A 15′ fall without breaking anything is pretty lucky. My dad fell off the ladder a few years ago cleaning the gutter. He was home alone and landed on the driveway. Knocked himself out and woke up with blood all over. He’s fine, but came to the same realization that we need to assess which risks are worth taking.

    1. Scary story about your Dad. I suspect it’s happened to many folks as they fail to adjust the “Risk/Reward” line as they age. I hope this post (and the active comments) help spread the message! Maybe, just maybe, we’ll save someone from a life altering event. THAT is more important than the financial stuff, but something we just don’t seem to talk about much. Thanks for stopping by with the first comment!

  2. You are definitely not being melodramatic here and I was scared when I read that. One of the people we know was my mentor and neighbor. I was his first (teacher) hire as a new superintendent and he ended up being my advisor as I earned my doctorate in 2011. He lived up the street from us and went up on the roof to clean gutters as you did. He ended up being flown by air ambulance to a trauma unit. He broke a few bones and had a concussion and still has fairly persistent back pain to deal with. The other man fell off a roof just after retiring. I changed teaching jobs and replaced him when he retired so we worked together for a few months in the transition. He was a wonderful man – ready to serve God and his community in retirement. Then he fell off the roof. He was in the hospital for a long time, then in a wheel chair and then he walked with a walker. They had to build ramps at his house and remodel bathrooms so he could get around. The last time I saw him, he looked like he had aged 20 years – and that was without taking the physical injuries into account. His poor wife looked incredibly sad and stressed too.
    Thanks for this post. We can all look at the cost of something and forget about the risks. Enough bad things can happen without adding things we have some control over. This is a good time for that quote that goes something like this – smart people learn from their mistakes, but wise people learn from the mistakes of others.

    1. Vicki, thanks for adding the detail behind your friends “life altering events”. Truly scary how quickly life can change, and your examples help strengthen the arguments on why this is such an important topic. I wish I would have learned it 16 days ago, 1 day prior to The Fall!

      Love your quote. Let’s hope we have some wise people reading this blog (I think we do!)….

  3. I saw the title of your post and knew EXACTLY what you were referring to.

    Here comes the five-minute Mrs. Groovy lecture — part of the trouble with “you men” — the ones your age and Mr. Groovy’s — is that you still think you’re a yung-in. There’s a reason car insurance is more expensive for 25-year old males. You’re not invincible! (Shocking, I know!). Just think if you had to walk your daughter down the aisle in a back brace!

    Fortunate is not even the word for it. You had an angel on your shoulder.

    1. Mrs G!! To think, you’re the only blogger in the world (besides me!) who has actually seen that roof! I’m sure you can relate a bit better to The Fall having been at our Great Cabin (great visit, thanks again!).

      Trust me, I’ve thought alot about how The Fall could have impacted that walk down the aisle for my daughter’s wedding this weekend. I’m thankful for that angel.

      1. Thank God for the snowball bush. When I heard about your fall I was horrified. It’s amazing how one innocuous thing can suddenly turned dangerous. I’m still a nut, but my ego and frugality is begrudgingly giving way to reality. I now work real hard at avoiding night driving because the glare from oncoming headlights is becoming too much. And I don’t mess with electricity. But prior to your brush with death/severe injury, I would have climbed up to our rooftop if necessary. No more. Thank you, my friend. Great warning for all us oldsters.

        P.S. Here’s some insane stupidity on par with that crazy straphanger. When I was in 9th grade (14 years old), my 8th grade friend (13 years old) got the keys to his older brother’s 240Z. My friend then drove the car to the highway to see we could break the 100 mph barrier. We did. Yep, a Japanese sports car being driven by a 13 year old, loaded up with a few 14 year olds, and going 100+ miles per hour down the highway. Oh, and did I mention that we all had a few beers in us? It’s amazing no one got killed.

  4. I’m so glad you are okay Fritz! You won’t believe this but I just had this conversation and same situation with my husband. We are power washing the house and deck and he HAD to get on the roof to wash the peak. I was so mad at him and scared something awful would happen. He is okay however I told him we will pay a professional next time. He is not agreeing at all. I will forward your article to him hopefully he will learn a lesson from your experience! I also voted because I do LOVE your blog!!!!

    1. Oh man, I am in SOOO much trouble. Now the wives are going to start using my words to win their arguments with their husbands!

      In this case, I’m 100% ok with that. Load up your gun, use this article as your bullets. Fire away.

      (And, thanks for your vote and kind words! Much appreciated!)

  5. I recognize myself in this post, I am dreading the day that it will no longer be adviseable for me to mow my entire yard, my yard is a couple of acres with some considerable terrain and the pictograms in the tractor manual about not mowing on too steep of an angle along the contours of the hill are something I routinely ignore. Now at 54 I am still spry enough to counterbalance the tractor and the worst that ever happens is some wheel slippage. But as I get older I suspect my ability to do so will diminish and it may just become time to hire out a job that I really enjoy doing and doing well. But I have come to the conclusion that if I can’t afford to pay someone to do it, then why am I working so hard now to have the money. I will sit back on my porch with a beer and be that crotchety old man who says “you missed a spot”.

    1. Hey Brian, nice to see you on the blog again! Hard to believe we’re both 54, seems like only yesterday we were in college together! Funny you mention mowing the yard. I also LOVE to do yard work, and thought about how long that would last as I wrote this post. I think it’ll last a long time in my situation, with a “flattish” hard (the one big slope can be tackled head on instead of laterally, so I avoid the “tilt”). Be safe out there, we want you to be around to become that crotchety old man…..

  6. I’m glad you’re okay, and that you learned your lesson with only a few bumps. I keep telling my husband the same thing (and he keeps climbing ladders.) I hope he doesn’t have to learn the hard way.

    It’s funny where we will and won’t alter our behavior to fit our age. Jon keeps doing his DIY, but won’t ride a roller coaster with our daughter. He also seems pretty cautious about me climbing up stairs, step ladders, etc. I know I’m getting older too, but I think I can still use an 18-inch step stool.

  7. Very GOOD post Fritz.

    I had two close calls like this when I was in my early 40s and it made me realize that my balance and my faculties were no longer in their prime. I quit doing all dangerous tasks and was very happy to employ young people who are still in their prime to do these things.

    Being frugal is one thing, but being crippled or dead is another.

    My wife and I also believe in employing people to do things that they’re good at, so we can do what we are good at. There is definitely something to Wayne Dyer’s idea about money flow. It’s meant to move.

    Glad you’re OK!!

  8. Glad you’re okay.

    It’s not just age that should keep most people off roofs and ladders….it’s the lack of knowledge and experience. There’s a reason that OSHA requires fall protection if you’re more than 6 feet off the ground. I’m a contractor and there’s absolutely no way that I would walk on a roof now without fall protection (although I did many times when I was younger). I once met a friend of a friend who was cleaning his gutters from a ladder. In the process he disturbed a bee’s nest and in his panic, without thinking, he jumped off the ladder. He’s in a wheelchair now. Very sad.

    I’ve had friends ask to borrow ladders and planks and I always turn them down. I gently suggest hiring a pro.

    1. Mark, great point from a man who knows what he’s talking about. Fall protection is the way to go. If you don’t have the appropriate safety gear, hire someone who does. I’ve learned my lesson, and applaud you for not letting friends borrow stuff that ruin their lives. Sorry about your friend of a friend, shocking how many stories are coming out in these comments!

  9. Sounds like you have an idea, but you are really lucky.

    Good friend fell off a ladder and broke his back. Out of work for around 1-year. Still has back problems.

    Co-worker sneezed and fell off a ladder. Fell less than 4′. Life long back problems.

    Somethings are worth paying others to do. Of course

  10. This is one reason I want a one story house as I get older. I climb a 12 foot ladder to trim my palm trees and clean a window that is 15 feet high. Yesterday as I was spraying the water and looking below me, I thought that maybe it was not such a good idea. Better safe then sorry. No good way to ruin an early retirement, but broken bones or a concussion sure is a bad one.

  11. Hi Fritz. First, count me in as one person who voted for your blog. It has given me plenty to think about as I plan for my retirement next year. I tend to me the one in our family that doesn’t like to take unnecessary risks for things we can contract out. Maybe it’s the almost 40 years I’ve worked in the insurance industry. My husband, on the other hand, still wants to mow the lawn, clear the snow and all the other heavy yard tasks that I would prefer we have others do now that he is 63. It’s funny in a way because while I am the saver in the family and wouldn’t mind spending on these things, he is always looking to spend on some new toy but doesn’t want to spend on stuff like this. Our priorities can be a bit different and we are working on that in our retirement planning. I think he just doesn’t want to admit that he is getting older, but none of us really do, do we?

    1. Pat, thanks for your vote (gees, I feel like a politician!). Interesting that you bring up the differences between you and your husband, definitely an area that requires some planning for those many hours together post-retirement. I like how often couple’s personalities compliment each other, but it takes some compromise to work together at times! Good luck getting your husband to hire a snow removal service next winter, that’s a major cause of heart attacks, and we want him to be around a while! Just tell him he’s getting old, then read him this post! 🙂

  12. It’s amazing how something like that really makes you think about life. Mr. Wow was hit by a car while riding his bicycle home from work last year. That evening he had no memory at all, about anything. I had a brief moment where I felt bad for myself, thinking that this could be my life. But then I realized that no matter what happened, I was going to continue on the path that we were on, even if he couldn’t remember it. Luckily, he has no longterm affects and has since regained his memory. But talk about putting life into perspective!

    Glad to hear you are ok! I think you and the roof need to take a break for a bit.

    1. Scary to hear about Mr. Wow, same thing happened to a co-worker who was riding his bike to work. Broke his shoulder. Ouch. Glad both Mr. Wow and me dodged a bullet. I think the roof and I will be taking a break for ~47 years (assuming I live to Age 92)…

  13. Ahhh! I’m so glad you’re okay!! I don’t think people realize what a common cause of death these falls actually are. But it always seems like a good idea when you’re in the heat of the moment. We had a similar instance when we insisted on doing the electric work on our house. Unbeknownst to us, the wiring in our house was all screwy, so when you *thought* you shut off the power, you actually *didn’t*. Messed up, I know. Anyway, we had a huge power arc that damn near fried Mr. Picky Pincher.

    Pay for a pro, guys!

  14. Thad had to be a helpless feeling once you started to slide. Reminds us that when you take a risk, things can happen quickly. This morning I was out with my Battery powered chain saw, cutting down some small trees, and I was reminded by your blog to be careful that my feet were securely planted before I pulled the trigger on the saw. I don’t cut down anything more than 4″ diameter and maybe I need to hire that out now. Continue to be careful so that after you retire we can do some hiking together….Best wishes to you and Jackie.

    1. The ONE AND ONLY Curtis!! The star of the story! Thanks so much for stopping by, Curtis. Funny, I was thinking about chain saws as well while writing this story. I love my chain saw(s), and really enjoy working in the woods. I’m always extremely careful, but will take it up even a notch further after my experience on the roof!

      I’m looking forward to that hiking, tho somehow I suspect your 80-year old body will destroy me on the hills. I enjoy our friendship, Curtis. Jackie and I look forward to seeing you at your birthday party!

  15. At the plant I worked at the rule was you could not be at any height over a few feet without a harness and fall restraint. It slowed down the work but it was one thing OSHA got right. In my over thirty years there we didn’t have a single death from a fall though we had hundreds of people working at high elevations.

    But off work was different, my closest call was skiing up to the edge of a forty foot sheer cliff and stopping, then comically losing my balance and falling head first over the edge. Great thing about loose snow is that it is soft! Didn’t even get a scratch but it certainly nearly scared me to death.

    1. Interesting that you mention workplace safety, Steve. I’m embarrassed to admit I was once a plant manager, and we took safety VERY VERY seriously. Followed every OSHA guideline, and for good reason.

      Strange how we don’t apply the same thinking in our personal lives, and a lesson to us all. That cliff sounds scary, you’re a lucky guy. I think I borrowed your angel when I fell from the roof. Thanks for lending him/her to me!

  16. When I FIREd at 52, I decided that I needed to up my strength training. I saved Gym Membership expenses by buying an Olympic Weight Set and Squat Rack really cheap on Craigslist. So far so good.

    I then proceeded to squat with too much weight and bad form and screwed up my back. It’s been slightly screwed up ever since.

  17. Oh, I’m so glad you are OK!!! I fall on the overly cautious side when it comes to safety. After having to bury our son, there are very few things that are worth a life threating risk. I will take more risks in other areas (because life is short!) but not many in the areas that actually end life. Be safe, friend.

    1. Ms. Montana! Great to see you in the neighborhood (long way from Kalispell!). I can’t imagine going through what you went through with your son, that post still resonates in my mind. I’m sure that changes your perspective on a lot of things in life, including risk and reward. Thanks for stopping by, hang in their my friend.

  18. So glad you’re okay, Fritz!! That could have been bad. You definitely had someone watching over you. 🙂

    This is a good lesson for those of us that would probably go on the roof. My husband wanted to build our ranch with a hip roof rather than a gable so he wouldn’t have to go as high on a ladder to paint the house (because we’re typically avid DIYers). But the gable is cheaper, you see. So I wanted to go with the gable and reassured him we wouldn’t have to paint for years and years and by that time, we would just hire someone to do it. Well, it just so happens some unplanned siding work means we need to repaint…way up there – like 30 feet up there. You’re story convinced me we need to hire this work done. Thank you!

    1. Amanda, Murphy’s Law, right?! I’m glad my story convinced you to hire it out. That alone has made the effort in writing the article worth it. Tell your husband he saved money going with the gable, so now we can use the savings to hire out the siding work!

  19. Excellent you are okay Fritz! Thank you for sharing your experience and change in DIY philosophy. I’m 55, and need to moderate some of my riskier DIY activities. I’m now more motivated to do so.

  20. Fritz! Thanks to God you’re OK. Seeing that picture and the height of that fall, I’m sure you had a guardian angel! Reminds me of the time I went down the double-black diamond slope that a younger ERN had mastered so many times before. Not a good idea for someone my age. It’s better left to the 20-something year-olds. I will make a mental note that roof work will be outsourced (if I ever own a house again). Same for electrical work!

    1. BIG ERN!! Nice to see you here. Funny how skiing has come up twice in the comments. The concept does apply to skiing, as well. I also had an experience this winter doing a “Speed Test” while skiing in Switzerland. I realized I was WAY to old to be skiing at 60 MPH, tho I will admit it was a rush! Yep, afraid I’ve always had a bit of a high “Thrill Seeking” tendency, need to temper it in my “old age”.

  21. Good gosh Fritz, I’m so glad to hear that you are ok. A good reminder to all of us how life can change in an instant. My elderly mother who will not give in to age recently had a fall which broke her hip. Thankfully she did not need a full hip replacement and will eventually walk again but it’s a long road to recovery. I keep telling her to use it as a reminder from above to slow down.

    I’m looking to move to my retirement home soon and will remember your lesson when I see something that needs to be done that involves even minimal danger. We worked long and hard to get to where we are and it’s a mind changer to transition from a hard core saver to loosening up and spending more when we need to. That’s the hard part, it’s ingrained in me to save more than we spend but I’m trying to get to a place where my cash flow is in balance and mentally not saving so much is ok.

    Stay well and healthy and much happiness on your daughter’s wedding day! Paul

    1. Paul, good point to expand the discussion to older folks and broken hips. My mother-in-law fell while getting ready for bed and broke her hip. The “risk/reward” line keeps getting lower as we age, a trend we should all recognize.

      I agree on the difficulty of the mindset from “saver” to “spend to reduce risk”, but it’s one that I’m focused on making. Money’s no good to you if you’re dead…..

  22. I tend to stay off of the roof. We just have a ranch house, but that is still to high for me. I have tried a few do it your self projects and ended up calling a pro in the end. For small jobs, YouTube provides some great how to videos.

  23. Every time I think I need to quit wasting time reading PF blogs, I see a headline on Twitter like “It could’ve all ended in an instant” and I’m drawn back in. 🙂 SO glad you are okay, Fritz. Rick was a firefighter/EMT for 23 years and went to MANY falls like this where it didn’t end so well. No more crazy stunts like that, mister. Your family – and the PF blogging world – need you! 🙂

    1. Ah, so my “Click-Bate” headline worked! Smiles. I respect Rick for being a firefighter, those guys are heroes. I had a friend who was also a firefighter, he told me some horror stories.

      Thanks for letting me know I’m needed. For you (and others, including myself) I’ll stay off the roof!

  24. DAAAAAMN man! I am so so SO glad it ended up okay!! And we’re here reading this and laughing/smiling/cringing/feeling blessed to be ABLE to read this right now. You are a good man to a lot of good people. Please keep yourself safe so we can enjoy more of you in our lives 🙂 We love you!! (Now can I borrow $100 to hire someone to get up on my roof??)

  25. I had a good friend in college who fell off a roof at his summer job, about 20 feet high. He fell just so that nothing but his clavicle was broken, but he suffered severe brain trauma and passed away about a week later. He was half way through pharmacy school, but worked on houses in the summers. Makes me angry to think about all of the alternative jobs he could have had, or why he was up there in the first place working with other professionals. You are very fortunate to have walked away unscathed, and glad you learned your lesson!

  26. Glad you’re ok. I have a single story house, and I still almost fell from high on a ladder cleaning gutters back in the 90’s. Decided to invest in quality covered gutter system where the water goes in, but everything else just flows right off the front. $7 a linear foot – but the best money I’ve spent on this house in the 25 years we’ve lived here. It’s an extruded, one-piece covered gutter system they custom made from a truck right in front of my house. Zero maintenance over the past 12 years. It’s long paid for itself compared to what I would have paid people to do it. And that’s not even counting contractor liability issues and my own personal safety that I’ve not had to worry about all that time.

    1. Glad you brought up this point, Roger. That would have been my suggestion, too. We don’t have the one-piece system, but the stuff our contractor installed works really well. I think it’s money well spent.

  27. My 70+ year old Grandpa was dying of lung cancer and he still got up on the roof to do some last work before he passed on. The stubborn is strong in my family! We definitely are DIYers, but the pitch of our roof is crazy steep. We’ll definitely be hiring out any jobs that require you to go up there. (Hopefully to someone with a lot of experience and safety equipment.)

    I’ve been thinking of this a ton lately, though more in a penny wise pound foolish kind of way. Those of us with a particular bend towards financial independence do need to step back and think about our actions from time to time. Wise of you to take advice from others! Really happy you made it through without any injuries!

  28. Yes. I slipped on a wet tile floor 3+ years ago. I just had my *fourth* surgery last week to repair the arm I busted up as I fell. (http://www.onesickvet.com/breaking-my-new-years-resolution-there-will-be-surgery-in-2017/)

    Spousal Unit & I are FIRE DIY’ers still (to the extent that I am able), but you’d better believe that we use ALL the safety gear: goggles, hearing protection, respirator masks, gloves, chainsaw chaps, safety harnesses (for trimming tree branches – or cleaning roof gutters 😉 ), protective footwear, etc. If you’re going to DIY, pay for the gear that will keep you safe.

    Take it from me (and Count Rugen from The Princess Bride): “If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.”

  29. A Hydrangea is the same thing as a snowball bush. My Mom always called them snowball bushes and when I moved to NC, they were called Hydrangea. I think it is the part of the country you are from.

  30. Hmmm, I just stumbled upon this post today – I’m not really a regular reader, just a FI/RE noob. I’m happy that you’re OK.

    I’ve been planning how I’m going to run some coax cable from my second story attic down to the first story. It involves climbing a ladder on the slanted first story roof to get underneath the second story eave. I really hate getting on the roof at all let alone climbing a ladder on the roof.

    Is this fate warning me? I think I’ll hire a handyman. Maybe he’ll clean the gutters while he’s up there???

  31. Phew – I’m glad you’re ok. I’ve spent plenty of time on the roof hanging Christmas lights – I’ve always loved the way our house looks when we get everything lit up, but every trip up there was a bit of a risk. Asphalt is a lot easier to navigate than metal though.

    Thanks for the reminder – glad you’re safe!

  32. The pursuit of financial independence is good but it must not be done to the detriment of one’s health. One may get the money but end spending all on health issues. Our watch word should be “health is wealth”.

  33. The bar gets lower with age…so wise!! If only you would have realized that sooner. 🙂 I LOVE that gif of the dude getting off the train – what an idiot! I’m so glad you are ok. What the heck would I do without you at FinCon??

  34. I am glad you are ok Fritz. You are wealthy and FI, so quit this macho stuff and hire people to do the cleaning and repair work around the house and car. If it bumps up your withdrawal rate from 3.5% to 3.6%, ain’t gonna kill you! Your portfolio will still last gazillion years – that’s a technical term by the way. Take care and be afraid of heights.

  35. Glad you’re OK. Sounds terrifying. I bet your wife and daughter gave you a good talking to! It’s hard admitting that we’re not as young as we would like to be, but rather that, than ruin your dreams for the sake of a few dollars.

    We now pay someone to cut the tall hedge for us, and we always pay someone to clean the gutters for us. They were too high for us, even when we were a lot younger and more flexible!

  36. Oh shit! That must have been scary. I’m glad you’re okay.
    I hate going on the roof too, but I was on there last week. It is a metal roof and it’s pretty steep too. I blew out most of the pollen first, though. I was on there for just a little while to blow the pollen off the top of the skylights. Mostly straddled the top because I was scared $*&tless. This is a two story house.
    I use the ladder to clean the gutters and hire out every few years to clean the parts I can’t reach.
    Stay safe.

  37. Great story, and thankfully there was an OK ending. We all need to hear some of these “events” occasionally to help us remember to try to keep some logic in our decision making. Reminds me of a line in a country song that goes like this: “I knew what I was doing, but what was I thinking?”

  38. Thank God you were ok, how different it could have been. I had my penny drop moment when a saucepan fell to the floor leaving the handle in my hand. Thankfully it wasn’t full of boiling water, but I took it as a message. Safety is more important than money

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