This past Saturday (10/1) marked the six month anniversary of the day I walked out of MegaCorp for early retirement. It was April Fool’s Day, which seemed liked the most appropriate day of the year to do something so foolish. How’s it been so far? – terrific, I’d say. A friend who retired a few months early has been thinking the same thing.
To mark the occasion, I captured 10 observations on the last 6 months …
- Early Retirement Brings Less Time Than You Think – I am always surprised at how busy I am when I look at the calendar for the coming week. You would think when you have freed up 50-60 hours a week of work and commuting, you’d have an amazingly free schedule, but I feel as busy as ever.
- It Is A Bit Of A Second Childhood – While I am busy, when I look at the things I spend my time on now, it is almost all ‘fun’ stuff. In fact, it’s weird to say to myself ‘I just need to a take a break from going to the movie, out to lunch, or for a bike ride this afternoon and read a book or take a nap.’ It has felt at times like I am a kid on summer break.
- Less Focus On Finances Than Before – When I was working, I was always watching the market and tracking my nest egg. We’ve been lucky to have a portfolio that is up double digits this year and I’ve spent very little time thinking about our money situation. I posted recently that most people find themselves ‘on plan’ or ahead in early retirement spending.
- More Time To Take Advantage Of Savings – I’m not sure how much this has helped our spending overall, but it seems like we are able to take advantage of more discounts and deals than we ever did before. A lot of things – movies, ballgames, etc – are cheaper during the week than going out on weekends. Travel offers a huge savings – we just booked long weekend trips in October & November that were very affordable because they are off season.
- Too Much Media Is Too Much – It’s easy to get sucked into the 24 hour news cycle without trying too hard because the news is on ALL THE TIME. Especially with this crazy presidential election season. Additionally, I spend much more time on Facebook, Instagram and other social media apps than I ever have before.
- Plenty of Opportunities To Work If You Want – I haven’t sought out jobs in early retirement, but I’ve ended up doing some consulting work and speaking events for money. I’ve done some board work too – some paid and some for non-profits I was involved in before I retired. Without looking, work seems to find people in early retirement and some is probably good to stay busy.
- Different Form Of Status – Some people who have executive level jobs worry that they won’t be as ‘important’ in retirement and will feel a loss of the perks and respect that come with it. I’ve found the opposite – being an early retiree has it’s own status. Several friends say ‘You’re my hero’ when I see them and many others ask to sit down and give them advice on their journey to financial independence. At the same time, I go to a lot of concerts and sporting events run into old colleagues. It turns out it really doesn’t cost a lot of $$$ to ‘replace’ most of the corporate perks.
- Easier To Stay Active Than Ever Before – When I first left work, I was very closely tuned in to my activity level each day. Now, I don’t even think about it that much, but continue to measure via my phone’s fitness tracker. The result? After 6 months, I am averaging 96% more daily activity (13K steps/day). No surprise that tennis, bike rides, golf, and going for walks make a huge difference each day compared with being in meetings.
- Everyday’s A Weekend – Especially Weekends – I still enjoy weekends more than any other time of the week because that is when there are the most activities happening and all of our working friends are off. The good news is it is easy to get all of the errands and lawn mowing done during the week.
- Time To Live Life Well – The best part of early retirement is having time to live life well. If you are making a special dinner, you can take extra time to get what you need at the store and not feel rushed. If you are meeting a friend to play tennis, you have plenty of time to go out afterward for a nice lunch at a brew pub you haven’t visited before. If you are attending a show, you can stay out as late as you want without worrying about being up early the next morning for a presentation or conference call. In short, your relationship with time changes – giving you time to enjoy things more fully.
So that’s it after six months. In a couple weeks, I will give an update of my ‘life wheel’ and the activities I expected to keep me busy in early retirement. Not everything has gone exactly as planned, but I’ve learned a lot and really enjoyed myself.
Image Credit: Pixabay