About 18 months ago, I started reading a book called How To Retire Happy, Wild & Free by Ernie Zelinski. I downloaded it on my Apple iPad and brought it with me on a weeklong cruise to Mexico. At that point, we were more than a couple years away from early retirement, and had just achieved financial independence. Reading it was maybe my first step toward creating a formal plan to early retirement.
The subtitle for the book is Retirement Wisdom You Won’t Get From Your Financial Advisor. It focuses not on the money side of the retirement equation, but rather when to retire and what will you do in retirement. The author writes “It is wise to start thinking about the personal side a long time before you actually retire”. He quotes a former Canadian university professor, John Osborne, “The more your life revolves around work – the more of a shock retirement will be. It’s like having a portfolio that’s not diversified.”
The book gave me the advice to start getting involved now in the activities you want to do in early retirement. It’s difficult, the author writes, to find your true passions. If you don’t find time for them now, they are unlikely to keep you occupied in retirement. It encouraged me to make a list of 10 things that you might want to “retire to” and start exploring them now.
Since I’ve been traveling again recently, I thought it would be fun to skim through the book again and see how much my thinking has evolved since I first read it. I have just over six months left in my FIRE countdown and have put in place a lot of formal plans in the last year.
Here are some of the things I wrote down and where I am at on them 15 months later:
- TRAVEL – I’ve created a post-FIRE travel framework for how much we would like to travel, the kinds of trips we would like to take each year, and how much money we would need. It is arranged for us to take trips once a season, with different kinds of trips (domestic, international, beach, long weekend). I will post the details soon.
- CHARITY – We’ve been blessed and want to do well by others. In April of this past year, we started our “One More Year Fund”. Since we have reached financial independence, we are now saving all of the money we make in our last year of work and will spend the first few years of retirement giving it away to causes we are committed to.
- NON-PROFIT – I am completing a two-year term as Board Chair of a local non-profit organization and will continue to be involved over the next several years. I am looking forward to having more time to lend a hand.
- CORPORATE – I have been networking with friends & recruiters that are involved in corporate board roles. I am excited about the opportunity to share what I have learned over my 27+ year career and executive roles. I started a role as an Independent Director at a family owned manufacturing company in August.
- FIRE WEBSITE – I started this early retirement/financial independence blog on January 1st of this year. I am amazed to see how many hundreds of visitors and thousands of views these articles have gotten without really having any effort to promote it. I’ve also enjoyed ‘meeting’ like-minded individuals online.
- SNOW BIRD – My wife would like to spend the winter somewhere warm and we went on a long weekend this past February to check out southwestern Florida. We looked at a few cities and familiarized ourselves with the area. We also looked at rental costs and talked to some folks that winter there.
- COLLEGE – Our son is starting his senior year of high school this fall. He’s very interested in a nearby college met with someone there this summer and reviewed his grades, extra-curricular activities and ACT score. He has to make his application this fall, but we are certainly not stressing too much about where he will go.
- CARS – I love cars and wanted to make sure that retiring early didn’t mean our “car standard of living” suddenly declined. (I know – poor me if that should happen). Nonetheless, we bought a new car for my wife last year and developed a framework for how we would keep the family fleet updated in the future.
- BOAT CLUB – We enjoyed a full summer after rejoining a boat club that we had left a few years ago. The summers are beautiful where we live and for $3K we bought an unlimited summer membership. Great boats – 28-29’ runabouts & cabin cruisers available. Looking forward to using it even more next summer!
- EVERYDAY – I also developed a list of 150+ things we like to do over the course of the year in the metro area that we live. My “not bored list” includes museums, shows, movies, restaurants, boating, sports, etc. I have even been keeping a list (by month) of all of the local events, festivals and open houses that happen around town.
Those are the 10 things I wrote down, and I feel like I am making good progress on all of them. My wife said yesterday that I am “way more” prepared for retirement than anyone she can imagine. I do believe the sooner you embrace the idea of retirement and plan for it, the better the adjustment to your new lifestyle will be.
What areas of your life require the most planning for retirement?