Things I Haven’t Done Since I Retired Early (and a few I have)

We all have ideas for what our life will be like post FIRE. I even wrote a couple of posts on things I planned to do and bad habits I wanted to break. Some of those things have come true and the rest I will say I just haven’t got to yet 😊. Hopefully I have many many years of retirement – would be a shame to peak too early!

Things I Haven’t Done….

I Haven’t Drunk Alcohol at Home

Ok, so full disclosure, this post has been sitting in my drafts for a couple of months and at the time of first writing it was true!

It’s increasingly difficult to conjure up what my life felt like before I retired – the bad bits, I mean. A bit like childbirth I guess – you remember how painful it was but you can’t ever really remember what it truly felt like. I know I was unhappy in a stressful job though and I worried I was on my way to having a drinking problem. On getting home from work, I would pour myself a drink before I even took my shoes off and I never had an alcohol free day.

But since retiring, dry January turned into dry February and dry March, April and May – at least at home. It wasn’t difficult at all – the factors and habits that would lead to the vodka bottle were gone and with that, any inclination to drain it also left.

Of course, since then Summer has arrived and with it long evenings spent outside in the garden where having a drink can be savoured. The intention was not to quit but to be healthier and more in control of a bad habit and both of those are now true 😊.

 

I Haven’t Been Bored

Honestly – not even for a millisecond have I been bored. There are so many things to do if I choose to do them – and sometimes I do nothing at all – but it’s never boring. Outside of the boys’ school routine, everything I do is my choice. I can hardly describe the pure luxury of this. Better than any flashy cars or fancy handbags – the decadence of being answerable to no boss or customer, no client or colleague – simply to myself. This is what dreams are made of.

Walking, reading, listening to music and podcasts, meeting friends, cooking, gardening, quietly contemplating – my retirement may sound sedate and boring to some, but for me it is heavenly.

In fact…

 

I Haven’t Had Enough Time to do All the Things I’d Like to do

I want to begin to learn another language and take up piano playing again. I want to see the latest movies with friends and take some study courses just because I’m interested in the subjects. I want to explore my country, visit The New Forest, Snowdonia, The Lake District, Devon and Cornwall. I want to write more fiction and volunteer in some capacity.

I seem to have had time for very little of it so far. Let’s hope it’s a long life.

 

I Haven’t Wasted Time

Perhaps that isn’t true. There is good time wasting and bad time wasting and I haven’t done the bad kind. For me, that means I haven’t turned on the tv before 8pm if at all (except for the occasional rainy Saturday box set day). I haven’t lost days to endless phone scrolling or got lost down any internet rabbit holes. But I have stared at the sea for a whole morning and I have completed jigsaw puzzles while listening to podcasts about everything and nothing.

I’ve learned to value my time as much as if I were being paid for it and I occupy myself in ways that keep me relaxed and grounded and loving life.

 

I Haven’t Eliminated All Stress

Working is far from the only stressor in life and being able to not work any more doesn’t magically fix everything. My youngest continues to struggle and has missed an entire term of school. How we would have managed that whilst holding down a job is unfathomable. Being without one doesn’t make it easy but it makes it easier. I am free to take him to his appointments and when he wakes me in the middle of the night to talk because that’s when he finds it easiest to open up, I can listen, knowing I can catch up on sleep tomorrow.

This won’t be the only thing life throws at us. I’m so thankful for being in this position to help cope with the ups and downs.

 

I Haven’t Drawn Down Any Investments

One of the biggest challenges I anticipated when I quit the day job was the shift in mindset from accumulation to draw down. Fortunately I haven’t had to deal with that yet.

Ok, I’m no longer accumulating, but enough money is coming in that I’m not withdrawing either. Rent from three properties provides the bulk of the income but this is topped up with proceeds from Matched Betting (or its extension of EW) which until I decided to take a Summer break was bringing in over £1k a month. Add to that a tiny but welcome amount of child benefit and some interest and it’s more than enough for the three of us to live on.

I’ve also been offered a few hours a week paid work (more below) and that provides our holiday money. We keep the same standard of living as when I was working in everything but the somewhat excessive holiday habit I’d acquired. And to be fair – it’s not like I need holidays in the same way that I used to.

 

I Haven’t Kept up the Blog Posting

I won’t make excuses or be conceited enough to think that it matters but I had every intention of continuing to blog as a way of paying forward the benefit I received from other people blogging. All I will say is that when you arrive at your holiday destination, you don’t give much thought to the journey that got you there. That’s not the important bit.

The lead-up to reaching FIRE can be all-consuming and as in all things, sometimes a detox does the world of good. I still intend to keep this up as a hobby – albeit sporadically – telling the tale of life post FIRE.

 

I Haven’t Had Any Regrets

Not a single one. Not about the timing or the way I left or the point of my career when I left. Not about not saving more or not staying for one more bonus. No looking backwards, there’s nothing there for me – everything good is in the other direction.

 

A Few Things I Have Done

  • Read 72 books between January and July
  • Discovered a whole range of new podcasts outside of personal finance & FIRE – realising that not every listen has to be educational
  • Decorated both boys’ bedrooms
  • Spent way more time with friends
  • Transformed my garden from a jungle state to something resembling pretty – a newly discovered hobby I had no idea would prove so fulfilling
  • Been offered opportunities to make money without looking for them – one of which I have accepted. An ex-colleague needed some book-keeping at his start-up company and asked if I would do a few hours a week. It’s part favour to him and part bonus for us – working from home and something I can do in my sleep. I didn’t expect to be getting any income, but I’m enjoying it – who knew that could happen 😊

Retirement police – knock yourselves out.

 

 

 

Early Retirement – Early Days – What I’ve Learned from the First 3 Months

I officially retired from corporate life in December 2018 and now enjoy the idyllic, stress-free existence that I had been dreaming of for so long. Conference calls are a thing of the past, as is the feeling of not being in control of my own time and being at the beck and call of of the machine.

But what has the first three months really been like and what have I learned?

Continue reading “Early Retirement – Early Days – What I’ve Learned from the First 3 Months”

It’s Official – I FIRED the 9 to 5!

Hello and long time no speak! Apologies for the break in posting – life got a bit too much there for a while and some things had to give. But the big news is – I actually did it! I resigned from my job in December and have left the Corporate world far behind.

I am still getting used to the idea and genuinely wake up smiling to myself every day, wondering whether this can be real 🙂 So how did it all play out? Continue reading “It’s Official – I FIRED the 9 to 5!”

The Why of FI – Sometimes You Don’t Have A Reason

People talk a lot about the “why of FI” and the importance of having an over-arching purpose that is bigger than achieving financial independence itself. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It wasn’t like that for me. Continue reading “The Why of FI – Sometimes You Don’t Have A Reason”

Does Achieving Early Retirement Mean Failing A Career?

What did you want to be when you grew up? At various points for me it was a doctor, a librarian, an author, a bookseller. I never wanted to be an accountant that’s for sure.

Nevertheless, having fallen onto that path many years ago, ambition kicked in and I put my best foot forward, ever upwards on the career ladder. I always assumed I would keep going until I got to the very top. It didn’t occur to me that I would ever get vertigo and feel an almost irresistible urge to jump off.

The question is, when I look back in twenty years time, the misery of my current day to day will have faded to a long distant memory. Will I be disappointed that I didn’t make it to the top? I will never call myself CFO. Will I look back and wish I had achieved more in my career?  Continue reading “Does Achieving Early Retirement Mean Failing A Career?”

Life, Death and Getting Drunk on FIRE

A few years ago, a small piece of card dropped through my letterbox. I still have it – I’m holding it right now. This is what it says, misspelling and grammar uncorrected: Continue reading “Life, Death and Getting Drunk on FIRE”

The “Do I Have Enough?” Toolkit

Of those who are on the path to financial independence and early retirement, there seem to be two camps. The first is that group of people who believe “that sounds about right” is more than adequate in terms of preparation. For them a rough 4% rule is all the calculation they need to pull the plug and walk away from paid employment and they will deal with whatever happens when it happens.

Continue reading “The “Do I Have Enough?” Toolkit”

Finding the Fun in FIRE

Recently I wrote about finding fulfilment in life when you haven’t found it at work. I have been thinking a lot about how to put this missing piece back in my life and what I might do to feel better about myself and my place in the world.

But I’m not forgetting that life should be fun. The things I wrote about there were areas I lean towards and would choose to do but I’m a real, flawed human being and I am mostly pursuing FIRE so that I have lots of free time just for myself.

So in the name of balance, what’s high on my list for how I want to spend my time once that day arrives where I no longer work for money? Not a bucket list of the big life experiences, but the hobbies and pastimes that will be the new normal. Continue reading “Finding the Fun in FIRE”

Finding Fulfilment in Early Retirement

Confession time: I LOVE Grey’s Anatomy. I lose a week of my life every time a new series is available, binge-watching the entire thing start to finish. More than the characters (yes they are my friends!) and the drama of the show, for me it’s about people doing good in the world.

My family roll their eyes and sigh when Grey’s season comes around, knowing exactly what I’m going to say when the credits roll.

“I don’t save any lives. I don’t help anybody. I don’t make anybody’s life better”. Continue reading “Finding Fulfilment in Early Retirement”

The “Bad Habits Be-Gone In Early Retirement” List

A quick post today to give myself some accountability in the future. I spend a lot of time thinking about what life will be like once I no longer have to work. So many of my thoughts begin, “When I’m retired…..”

Time to put my money where my mouth is. These are some of the ways that my life will change for the better once I no longer have the stresses and strains of a full-time job. Continue reading “The “Bad Habits Be-Gone In Early Retirement” List”

Trimming the Fat – Preparing a Leaner FIRE Plan

Well – here I find myself in my mid-forties contemplating a ridiculously early, albeit leaner retirement than planned. The route from fat to lean has been surprisingly easy to find. (If only this were true in other areas of life (sigh)….imagine becoming leaner rather than fatter with the passing of time…) 

Time will tell whether it is as easy to execute. Continue reading “Trimming the Fat – Preparing a Leaner FIRE Plan”

Preparing for the Return to Work (When I Really Don’t Want To)

It was only a matter of time. From a combination of lots of accrued holiday and some compassionate leave, I have been out of the office for three and a half weeks. The clock started ticking about a week ago; a little whisper of “this time next week….” getting louder and louder as the week progressed until now – Sunday – I can hardly hear myself think for the hammering of that blasted second hand, reverberating inside my skull. Continue reading “Preparing for the Return to Work (When I Really Don’t Want To)”

Saving While Spending – The View From the Cheap Seats

A bit of a mixed up post this week – one which saw us celebrate an anniversary of sorts, spend a lot of money on what’s important to us while trying to avoid the mindless spends, and also win 2:0 against British Airways. (Although they did get us there and back in one piece, on time and luggage intact – worth a point, maybe….?).

Continue reading “Saving While Spending – The View From the Cheap Seats”

The Selfishness of Seeking FIRE

We have an expression in our family – “It’s not all about you ___”.

We use it when one of us is being selfish and not thinking about the other two. Demanding something or complaining about something without considering the wider impact.

Something that bothers me sometimes about my pursuit of financial independence and my single-minded desire to retire sooner rather than later, is the effect it may have on my children. I worry that it’s “all about me” because, well – it is. Continue reading “The Selfishness of Seeking FIRE”

Taking a Time-Out from Saving Money

Three people – two of them teenagers – sharing a moderately sized hotel room for two weeks. It’s a challenge, but I’m pleased to report we are surviving admirably so far.

Just one day has been marred by the appearance of “the face”- that uniquely teenage expression of boredom and disdain that leaves even the most devoted parent wondering if you can simultaneously love your offspring whilst not liking them very much.

It’s at times like these that you become truly thankful for certain things that might normally be taken for granted. Headphones. Spotify “Chill Vibes” playlists. Balconies. Vodka (I’m on holiday after all). Continue reading “Taking a Time-Out from Saving Money”

Is Early Retirement Risky?

I have never considered myself to be a risk taker. In fact I would go so far as to say the opposite. I am naturally conservative; a trait magnified by my professional finance training.

On the whole, my life has followed a fairly standard path. I did as I was told – finished school – went to university – found a career with prospects – knuckled down – worked hard – put in the hours – climbed the ladder.

My instinct has always been to save rather than spend, avoid debt, build up a financial buffer.

So I’m confused when I hear people comment that the FIRE lifestyle is risky.  Continue reading “Is Early Retirement Risky?”

Aspiring to be Rich – What Does that Mean?

 

Before I discovered the concept of financial independence and before I realised early retirement was achievable for someone like me, I was still interested in educating myself about all things money and gaining wealth. I knew that the way to a rich life was out there somewhere and I wanted to find it.

I think I am just one of those curious people. I didn’t want to be working into my sixties, that’s for sure but other than that it’s hard to describe what I was looking for. What did I mean by the concept of a rich life? Continue reading “Aspiring to be Rich – What Does that Mean?”

Safety in Numbers – Refining the FIRE Plan

As I get ever closer to my FIRE date and am facing the possibility of a much earlier exit from my current job than planned, the geek in me has gone into overdrive and I have been spending some time (…..ok, A LOT of time) reviewing and refining the numbers. Continue reading “Safety in Numbers – Refining the FIRE Plan”

The “Just in Case I Quit” List

I realise I have been quite negative over the last few weeks. It hasn’t been the easiest time and I have found myself struggling to cope with the ever present work related pressure and stress. So much so that I am on the verge of quitting at any time – one more unreasonable demand could be the straw that breaks this camel’s back.

But wallowing in misery for the next few months isn’t going to help. Buoyed by the messages of support and solidarity from recent comments, it’s time to get practical. Continue reading “The “Just in Case I Quit” List”

Who Have you Told About Your FIRE Plans?

Anybody else feel the same way that sometimes it feels really weird talking about either financial independence or early retirement (or both) out there in the real world? Continue reading “Who Have you Told About Your FIRE Plans?”

I’m Afraid I’m Going to Quit Before I’m Financially Independent

This is one of those weeks where I could so easily throw in the towel.

(I make no apologies – there is some ranting in this post. Sometimes I just need to get things off my chest).

I had a couple of black days on my tracker and that combined with the beautiful weather we are having means I am yearning to be free of this job millstone and get on with real living.  Continue reading “I’m Afraid I’m Going to Quit Before I’m Financially Independent”

How I Saved My FIRE Fund

I still have some way to go – but it’s fair to say I have saved a good chunk of money into my Financial Independence fund.

At the time of writing this I am 89% of the way there in terms of having enough saved to fund the second stage of my retirement (when I can draw down from my pensions) and I have 78% of the savings I need in place to fund the years until then.

If I succeed in retiring in just under 3 year’s time, I will be 49 years old. It’s not super early like some of the people I read about, but it is well ahead of standard retirement age. I have got to this point partly by having an above average salary in the last few years and partly from good habits or particular personality traits (with a few mistakes thrown into the mix).

These are the habits and traits that have helped me save my financial independence fund. Continue reading “How I Saved My FIRE Fund”

Half Year Financial Update

As a FIRE enthusiast, the end of the month is eagerly anticipated. Spreadsheets at the ready, I update my numbers, track my progress and work out how much closer I am to reaching that Financial Independence goal. Happy as a pig in s*** – is there any better way to spend a Saturday afternoon….?

June is even more special as I can look at my progress for the half year 🙂 (Maybe I need to get out more….?). Continue reading “Half Year Financial Update”

Invoking the F.U. Clause

It’s been a bad week.

Every quarter the VP of the business holds an off-site management meeting and the sixteen or so leaders from various parts of Europe meet for a few days. I attend in my capacity as Finance Business Partner and as an introvert, the whole thing is my idea of hell. Continue reading “Invoking the F.U. Clause”

Financial Resilience – Being Bullet Proof

I have been thinking about financial resilience this week.

I spend a lot of time considering ways to earn more money, or ways of saving money by reducing my spending, but is there a chance of losing what I already have?

We can take insurance against major catastrophes. And so, heaven forbid should my house burn down or I’m involved in a car accident, I would not need to be concerned about money and could focus on dealing with the fallout instead. But life is full of twists and turns and whoever really knows what is around the next corner? What about those things we don’t always insure against or don’t even think about – am I in good enough shape to withstand any shocks to my finances? Would my early retirement plans be derailed if something major were to happen? What could those shocks even be? Continue reading “Financial Resilience – Being Bullet Proof”

Tax and the 4% Rule 

How should we consider tax when using the 4% rule for early retirement calculations?

I have a plan.

A financial road map, leading me from where I am now to where I want to be. It ignores get rich quick schemes and the latest crypto craze and takes the shortest route I know that will get me there in one piece. Continue reading “Tax and the 4% Rule “

Single Parent Seeking FIRE

I spend many hours a week with my head in financial independence blogs. (Maybe that’s why I’m single 😉 ). What often jumps out at me is how the majority of writers are part of a couple. That observation is not unusual – any single person will tell you that wherever you go, the rest of the world seems to be in couples. But more of us are choosing the single life (or having it forced upon us) than ever before.

This post is about my journey – what it’s been like for me being single and working towards financial independence.

(Spoiler alert – it feels good 😊) Continue reading “Single Parent Seeking FIRE”

Rethinking the FI Budget – What Do We Really Need to Include?

It may have taken its time to arrive, but the weather is finally Spring-like in the UK. Every morning, I take the dog for a walk around the the nearby lake before most of the city is awake. When the weather is good, it’s my favourite time of day. No people around except for the occasional other dog walker or early morning runner. No traffic noise. The sky this morning was a beautiful pale blue; sunlight sparkled on the water and the sight of my dog galloping through the shallows chasing her ball was an advert for pure joy.

This. Just this.

If life was as simple as this, who would need an escape? Continue reading “Rethinking the FI Budget – What Do We Really Need to Include?”

Show Me The Money – A.K.A. My Financial Plan

Early retirement is a big deal. For most people it is not going to happen by accident and needs to be based on a solid financial plan.

I’ve talked about how I got to this point in my journey here. What about moving forwards? Where is the money going to come from to live? What will I draw down from and when? What other income streams will be coming in and what back-up plans do I have? Continue reading “Show Me The Money – A.K.A. My Financial Plan”

Be Your Own Insurance Company

The recent tax year-end prompted me to review all my spending. Somewhat arrogantly, I had thought I was in pretty good shape, but it seemed as good a time as any for a once-over just to be sure.

Time to step away from the head shot and visit the full length mirror, if you like. A few extra pounds around the middle can turn into a death sentence for your financial independence plans if left unattended. Best to blitz that fat early on before it becomes several layers deep. Continue reading “Be Your Own Insurance Company”

Financial Independence 101

If you are new to Financial Independence, this post is for you. If you are not new but you’ve ever found yourself in the situation where you try to explain what you’re doing to family and friends and get the blank stare or the shrugged shoulders or the dismissive comment – this post is also for you.

Sometimes I feel as if I am living a double life. I take care of my boys, manage my career, meet with friends and family and yet all the while, it feels like I’m working on this life-changing thing that none of them know much about. Something that has the potential to change my life so radically for the better I want to share it with them all so they can do it too.

Those of us that have had the light-bulb moment know how crucial the message is but it can be hard to convey. So I wanted somewhere to send them that has everything they need to get started. This is my attempt to provide that hub. Continue reading “Financial Independence 101”

Introvert on FIRE

Last night there was an argument in the Twitter personal finance community. I don’t suppose that is particularly unusual, but it’s the first time I’ve watched one play out. I wasn’t involved in this discussion, but I read from the side lines feeling increasingly uncomfortable as the tweets rolled in. Continue reading “Introvert on FIRE”

What (Not) to Hate About Your Job

Mother Nature is trying very hard to bring us Spring in the UK, so the clocks have changed, mornings are lighter and there is a general sense of relief in the air. We are thinking that the worst is over and are starting to look forward to life again with renewed energy and enthusiasm. We Brits are known for nothing if not our love of weather talk and the slightest glimpse of sunshine through the office window brings much excitement for everyone. Continue reading “What (Not) to Hate About Your Job”

You Have to Be In It to Win It

Financial Independence is rarely achieved by chance

…. for most of us it is preceded by the habits of saving and investing combined with the passing of time. Continue reading “You Have to Be In It to Win It”

The Quickest Route To Financial Independence

About this time two years ago it became apparent that my job would soon be redundant. This wasn’t the shock that maybe it would have been to many. Heading up the finance function of a small company that had recently been taken over by a corporate giant, I knew it was inevitable.

To cut a very long story short, come January 1st last year, I found myself in a new role within the aforementioned global corporation. Dodged a bullet, salary still coming in, big relief all round, no need for the poorhouse just yet. Continue reading “The Quickest Route To Financial Independence”

Why Getting Rich is Boring

The more I talk to people about money, the more I realise – those of us who seek out knowledge to improve our financial lives are in the minority. Bizarre as it seems, the majority of the population don’t actively try to learn about personal finance. (I know, right….?). So on the basis that the more content that is out there, the more likely it is that people will stumble across it, I’ll add to the pile with my take on the evergreen question – “How can I get to financial independence?”. Continue reading “Why Getting Rich is Boring”

Why Your Job May Be Better Than You Think

Despite living just over one mile from the gate, every day I drive Teenager Number 2 (TN2) to school. This is not as environmentally unfriendly as it sounds given that the school is on my way to work, which is several miles away. (Yes, I know I could cycle. No, I’m not going to). Parents of teenagers will know what I mean when I say the four minutes in the car where I pretty much talk to myself, occasionally joined by a “yeah” or a “nothin’ really” is about as close to quality time as I get. Another reason I’m not giving it up – you take what you can get in the teenage years. Continue reading “Why Your Job May Be Better Than You Think”

The Illusion of Wealth (Part 2)

Remember Sarah and Paul? Their curiosity got the better of them and one evening at the beach bar the subject of early retirement and the question of “how?” was raised. Continue reading “The Illusion of Wealth (Part 2)”

The Illusion of Wealth (Part 1)

I am on holiday – I may have already mentioned this once or twice. We left England to all its December cold, windy rain, and fourteen hours later were sitting under a palm tree by the sea – the sunshine and warmth a tonic for our vitamin D deprived bodies.

This is not the traditional, hardcore FI way of doing things, but so what? We all find our unique path along this road less travelled and judgement is not a bus-stop along the way.

Yesterday, I met a couple – let’s call them Sarah and Paul. Late forties, they are here with their teenage daughter and son. They own their own business and wear their wealth well. Fit and healthy looking, well dressed, classy casual. A nicer family you could not wish to meet and we spent a fun evening in their company, working our way through the  cocktails menu. Continue reading “The Illusion of Wealth (Part 1)”

Working My Way to Freedom – My Story

Let me just put it out there. At time of writing, it is December. Teenagers 1 & 2 and I have left winter behind for a couple of weeks and are soaking up the sun some place far away from the UK. This may not be typical of something you would read on a blog promoting early retirement. But this is a marathon not a sprint and surviving the corporate grind for the next few years depends on time away to recuperate. Continue reading “Working My Way to Freedom – My Story”

A Dream Of Financial Independence

I am writing this on a beach in the early morning. The sun is just rising, small boats sway gently on the water; the air is still and already warm – it’s going to be a beautiful day.

This would be many people’s dream. I know I should count my blessings, be grateful. And I am grateful. I know how lucky I am. But this is not my dream. My dream is that I didn’t feel the need to escape in the first place, because every day is mine by design. Continue reading “A Dream Of Financial Independence”