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!”

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”

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”

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?”

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)”

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”