It’s been 3 years after I quit my engineering career and the early retirement euphoria has worn off. That’s okay, though. That’s just a normal part of any retirement. After working for 20 years or however long, you get a huge positive vibe from making a big change in your life. Many retirees will try to catch up on all the projects they put off and that will keep them very busy for a few years. However, there comes a point when you finished some of those projects and realize that retirement can last a long time. You’ll have to adjust to a new style of life after the novelty has worn off.
I don’t wake up with a big grin on my face anymore, but life is still immensely better than when I was working full time. I don’t have to go to meetings, work on stupid projects that will be canceled, deal with coworkers I don’t like, or get stuck in a traffic jam twice a day. As a stay at home dad to a young child, life is still as busy as ever and I don’t have any time to get bored. I have settled in to a comfortable routine that will last many years. Of course, life will change as our kid grows and I’ll have to adapt accordingly. Anyway, I want to go over a few things in detail and share my early retirement update.
Early Retirement Finance
My biggest fear with early retirement is that I’d have to go back to work for a corporation again. What if we run out of money and can’t pay our bills? I don’t want to be a Walmart greeter when I’m 80. Early retirement can last 50+ years and your finance has to be able to support that. The early years are particularly important because if you don’t start off on the right foot, your finance will most likely keep spiraling downward over time. My goal is to keep increasing our net worth (or at least keep it stable) while we are still in our 40s and 50s. Once we’re 60, then I would be comfortable with drawing down our accounts.
Luckily, the economy has been great over the last few years and our net worth increased about 50% since I quit my job. That’s incredible! This tells me our finance is much more dependent on our investment than my old income. Things are great now, but the real test will come when the economy heads south. If we can come out of the next downturn okay, then I will be assured that my early retirement can go the distance.
Here are the things I’ve done to keep our finance on track.
- Dry run – We saved all of the income from my old job for one year before I quit my job. This gave me the confidence I needed to retire early. It also acclimated us to living on a more moderate income.
- Part time self employment – I make some money from Retire By 40 and that income is very helpful. I highly recommend working part time on something you enjoy. It brings in some extra income and keeps life interesting.
- Mrs. RB40 still works – Mrs. RB40 enjoys her job so that’s a great advantage for our family. She is thinking about retiring in 2020.
- Keep track of our cash flow– I go over our income and expense in detail every month (see the previous article before this one.) I don’t want to start depleting our funds yet so our income should be higher than our expense on the average. I think this is a very useful exercise for everyone. You can evaluate your expense monthly and see if your purchases really increase your level of happiness.
- Dynamic projection – This is new, but I’m using Personal Capital’s Retirement Planner to project our retirement finance. It takes all our real expenses and investment into account and calculates our chance of having a successful retirement. Things look great for now, but it can change if our expenses increase too much or if too many investments go belly up. This is an easy way to look ahead so you can make an adjustment as needed.
Anyway, our finance is doing quite well, but it’s only been 3 years. We need to be vigilant so our retirement finance can remain healthy for the next 40+ years.
Early Retirement Purpose
Actually, finance is probably the easiest part of early retirement once you have settled into a routine. For us, we just need to make sure our cash flow is positive and keep investing. The tougher part is to find a purpose after leaving your career. Last week, I overheard a retired guy at a restaurant. He said “the worse part of retirement is sitting on the couch.” I agree completely. You can’t sit on the couch all day and watch TV. You need to do something to keep life interesting. Sitting at home all day is a quick ticket to Depressionville. Luckily, I have a couple of long term projects that keep me extremely busy.
Stay at home dad – Okay, I admit it. I never thought being a stay at home parent would be this difficult. When I first quit my job, our kid was 18 months old and he was so easy to handle. I had to change diapers, wake up in the middle of the nights, and deal with baby food, but those was all mechanical challenges. Now that he’s 4, it’s a lot more difficult because he is thinking for himself. If you aren’t a parent, let me tell you the unfortunate truth. A 4 year old boy is a rebellious little jerk. 🙂 It’s still a lot of fun, but we have a lot of frustrating moments too. If you’re interested, you can read the latest update in my Happy Stay at Home Dad Day post. Being a stay at home dad keeps me very busy and I don’t have any time to get bored.
Blogging – Another project that keeps me busy is this blog. I’m not a fast writer and it takes me at least 3-4 hours to write and post each article. As a stay at home dad, I don’t have a lot of free time and most of that is taken up with blogging. I haven’t been able to put a lot of effort into growing the traffic this past year and it’s been mostly flat. That’s okay, though. I’ll work on growing the site once the kid goes off to kindergarten. Blogging is still fun for me so I plan to keep doing this for many years to come. Thank you everyone for following my early retirement journey and making this blog a success.
Retired life is busy for me, but that’s a good thing. I think every retiree needs some long term projects to keep themselves busy. That’s why working part time on something you enjoy after retirement is such a great idea. You can learn something new, earn a little income to supplement your retirement, and keep life interesting. Sitting around and watching TV can wait until you’re 85 and need a walker.
Early Retirement Health and Fitness
Health is another big reason why I decided to leave my career. The job wasn’t right for me anymore, I was stressed out all the time, and it was negatively affecting my health. You can read more about my health issues in the I handed in my 2 weeks notice post. Anyway, I feel much more normal now. I can think clearly and I don’t have panic attacks anymore. It’s inevitable for our health to decline as we age, but stress will accelerate that decline. I’m very lucky to be able to age in a less stressful environment. If your job is really stressful, you should think about ways to decrease that stress.
Fitness is another story. I used to work out most days during lunch and that’s one of the things I missed the most about work. Nowadays, I’d be lucky to get to the gym twice a week. It’s just a lot tougher than working out at lunch. This is mostly my fault, though. I’m terrible at scheduling things.
Early Retirement Challenges
Life isn’t static and plans will change. Mrs. RB40 liked her job and she didn’t plan on early retirement when I quit in 2012. However, she has seen how much my quality of life has improved and I think she’s a little jealous. As much as she likes her job in general, she has become hyperaware of the minutiae of office life. Little things are beginning to irritate her. She has given more thought to early retirement and her goal is to quit her job around 2020. She might take a year off and perhaps find something more interesting to do. She sent in an application for a position with the Foreign Service so that might keep her interested in working longer if she gets through the hiring process.
I think 2020 is a great goal for her. We have 5 years to prepare and we should be able to dial in our finances by then. Early retirees should be flexible and adapt to changes as they come. If your retirement projection takes a turn for the worse, then there are many things you can do to improve it. You can work part time, cut expenses, move to a more affordable area, or even reduce your kid’s inheritance. Don’t wait until things are desperate before taking appropriate actions.
Early Retirement is Fantastic
A few weeks ago, I was stuck in a traffic jam for 10 minutes and I was peeved. Man, am I glad I don’t have to drive during rush hour anymore. That’s a terrible way to spend your time. The initial retirement euphoria has worn off, but I still love early retirement. It’s been great so far and I don’t have any desire to go back to work full time. Being a stay at home dad is challenging, but I think it will get easier as our kid matures. There will be more challenges, but that’s just life, isn’t it?
Anyway, the last 3 years flew by. That’s the main thing I learned from this whole adventure. Life is short and time flies. If you are stuck in a life you don’t like, then put all your effort into improving your situation. You don’t want to wake up at 60 and wonder where all the time has gone. If you need some help with quitting your job, check out my review of Financial Samurai’s How to Engineer Your Layoff .
Thanks again for following our early retirement adventure and good luck on your journey!
Follow up – How Is Life One Year Into Retirement?
How’s life 2 years after retirement? – Pretty darn good. 🙂
3 years after retirement and still living the dream.
4 years after early retirement and I feel really good about my life.