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My Secret to a Happy Early Retirement

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My secret to a happy early retirementIt’s been almost 5 years since I quit full time employment to become a stay at home dad/blogger. There were some rough spots, but all in all the last 5 years have been awesome. In fact, this last 5 years have been the best time of my life and I could think clearly again. My stress level was lower than when I was working or when I was in school. My home life with Mrs. RB40 has been great. We’re now very comfortable with each other after 18 years of marriage. There were some frustrating moments with our rambunctious son, but it is smoother sailing now that he is in kindergarten. Early retirement has worked out very well for me.

The only similar stretch I had was when I graduated from college. The transition from having no money to having a good salary was marvelous. I could spend some money and I had a ton of fun with many new friends. Also, there wasn’t a lot of pressure at work because I was new. Being a junior engineer was great because I could focus on the technical work and ignore the BS. Unfortunately, I got promoted and the job gradually became more stressful. Anyway, I’m glad I left full time employment behind because life is so much better now.

From what I’ve read, most retirees also feel euphoric right after they retire. However, there seems to be a divergence in experience after a year or two in retirement. Some retirees settle down into the routine and enjoy retirement. But some become restless and dissatisfied. That’s not good because you can be bored and dissatisfied at work AND get paid. Retirement wouldn’t make any sense in that case. Thankfully, I’m in the enjoyable retirement camp. What’s the difference between these two groups? I’m not sure, but I’ll share my secret to a happy early retirement. If this works for me, then it should work for others, too.

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1. Comfortable finances

First the obvious one, you retirement finances should be good. I wouldn’t enjoy retirement if I had to stress out about money all the time. Well, I’m still cheap and worry about money often, but I know we can keep the lights on. I’m not going to focus on this one too much because everyone has different requirements. Here are my recommendations before you retire early.

  • Your investable assets should total about 30x your annual expense. This way you can withdraw about 3.5% without having to worry much.
  • Your passive income can cover your cost of living expense.
  • Be open to working part time and taking on other opportunities.
  • Try living on your retirement budget for at least a year before retiring.

You don’t have to meet all of these, but more is better. Also, I track my cash flow and net worth closely. If there is a problem, I’d see it coming and adjust accordingly.

I assume people who retire early are comfortable with their finances so this shouldn’t be a big problem for most of us.

2. Have one or two huge long term projects

This is the real secret. You need one or two huge projects that you can throw yourself into. When you work, you have projects to work on and deadlines to meet. Once that’s taken away, then some people can feel adrift and without purpose. Living an unstructured lifestyle is relaxing for a while, but I don’t think it’s a good fit for most people. We’re raised to be productive and not accomplishing much can cause psychological harm.

Okay, most people’s imaginary retirement looks like this.

  • Wake up late
  • Have a leisurely breakfast
  • Take the dog for a walk or exercise
  • Have a leisurely lunch
  • Do some chores
  • Relax
  • Have a leisurely dinner
  • Relax
  • Go to bed

This is an awesome vacation schedule, but it won’t work for retirement. Retirement isn’t a vacation. This kind of schedule is great when you need to recharge, but it won’t work long term. Most of us would feel useless and unfulfilled. There is too much empty time on this retirement schedule. Also, relaxing in this case usually means watching TV. That’s not good.

What retirees need is one or two big projects they can throw their energy behind. It will fill up their schedule and help them feel relevant. This is especially true for early retirement because we are still healthy and have a lot of energy. Once we’re older, there will be more health issues and we’ll spend a ton of time dealing with doctors, dentists, and nurses.

My big projects

OK, I already told you what my big projects are – blogging and being a dad. These projects require long term commitment and a ton of time. Let’s look at them in more detail.

Blogging

I’ve been blogging about personal finance since 2010 and I still enjoy it. Retire by 40 has helped me keep track of our finances and grow our net worth. It’s a big challenge because our situation keeps evolving.

  • In 2010, I thought I could stop working by 2014. However, I quit my engineering career in 2012. That’s 2 years earlier than I thought.
  • In 2012, we thought Mrs. RB40 would continue to work until she’s in her 50s. Now, she’s trying to retire before 2020.
  • Our investments are constantly changing. I’ve tried P2P lending. That worked well, but now I’m moving to RealtyShares, real estate crowdfunding. We had a rental home and a 4-plex. We sold those and now we own a rental duplex and a condo that are located very close by.

Things just keep changing and I like sharing our financial journey with our readers. Your feedback is really great and it helps me figure things out. Also, I like being an advocate for early retirement. Early retirement is working for me and I’m sure it could work for many other people, too. I’ve really enjoyed blogging these past 7 years and I can’t recommend it enough. Here is my tutorial on how to start blogging.

Working on the blog takes quite a bit of time and that’s not a bad thing in retirement. I schedule 2-3 hours in the morning and 2 hours at night for “work.” This really fills up my schedule and I feel relatively productive even if sometimes “work” is mostly browsing the internet.

Of course, having some income from blogging helps a ton. It’d be much tougher to put in 20-30 hours per week if Retire by 40 doesn’t make any money. All in all, blogging has been a great project for me and I plan to keep going for many more years.

Being a dad

Being a dad is a humongous project. RB40Jr was 18 months old when I retired from full time employment to be a stay at home dad. Actually, that was perfect timing because he was great from 18 months until 2. After that, the back talk started and it was tough to be patient with him all the time. He has a ton of energy/curiosity and that tends to cause problems for the grownups.

It’s much better now, though. He’s 6 years old and he goes to kindergarten from 8 am until 2:30 pm. Yes! This is a game changer and life has been so much easier for me since the school year started.

Anyway, the point is that it’s a long term commitment. Our kid will need less and less attention from now on, but we still have 12 more years left on the clock. Being a parent takes up a ton of time, but it’s very enjoyable, too.

Line up some projects

So those are my 2 big projects that will keep me very busy for a long time. I’m sure once RB40Jr leaves for college, I’ll have some other big project lined up.

If you plan to retire early, I suggest you have one or two time consuming projects lined up, too. Here are some examples.

  • Write a book
  • Become a world class photographer, painter, musician, or other kind of artist
  • End hunger in your city
  • Travel long term
  • Take care of your kids and/or parents
  • Build a dream home (an affordable one, of course)
  • Earn a Ph.D.
  • Improve your local school system
  • Save the whales
  • What else?

3. Dream of better days

Keeping busy with a few worthwhile projects is good because you avoid having too much idle time. However, I recently realize there was another essential ingredient for my fantastic early retirement. Happiness is a journey, not a destination. Life is great now, but I still dream of better days ahead. This gives me something to look forward to and work on getting there.

Experts say the pleasure of getting what you want is often fleeting and that’s true for early retirement as well. Not having to go to work is really nice and life is perfect for a while, but it will become normal at some point. This is a real problem for early retirees. We have 40-50 year in retirement and staying static for that long won’t work out. It will get boring at some point. No matter how perfect your life is, you need to dream of something better.

For me, I have a lot of dreams left to accomplish.

  • We need to figure out how to get Mrs. RB40 to retire early.
  • I want to take a year off to travel around the world before RB40Jr is buried in schoolwork.
  • I’d like to move to a better location. Portland is nice, but we want nicer weather.
  • Retiring overseas for a while would be a great experience.
  • A family compound in Hawaii. Not sure if the RB40 Villa is realistic, but I can dream.

Life is a journey, not a destination, so we need to keep dreaming. Happiness comes from making progress on your dreams. So don’t ever think your life is perfect because it won’t stay that way forever. You have to dream of a better future.

So those are my tips for happiness in early or any kind of retirement. What do you think? I’d love to hear from some retirees. What’s your secret to a happy retirement?

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{ 64 comments… add one }
  • Michael @ Financially Alert May 4, 2017, 1:53 am

    Hey Joe, I think you’ve definitely unlocked some of the major secrets to a happy retirement! I really like what you say around looking forward. I’m the same way, if there aren’t any BHAGs (big hairy audacious goals), then growth and our ability to find new points of happiness are stagnated. We’re either growing or dying, right!?

    I’m nearing my 4th year of “early retirement” and I wouldn’t change it one bit. Seeing my kids grow up every day is every bit as satisfying as it is frustrating some days…haha. It’s a privilege that not many ever get to partake in, so I’m doing my best to savor it.

    Beyond that, I really want to help others to taste early retirement too! Thus, my biggest projects which motivate me outside of my family is doing my part to spread the idea of FIRE to others. This passion is expressed through my blog, a book and course in the future, and individual coaching.

    It’s been a lot harder than I thought it’d be, but I think that’s why I keep coming back for more. In the end, I believe persistence will win and I want to be a good example to my kids to go after your passion fully.

    Congrats on all of your blogging success, Joe! I definitely look to your site as a model and hope to find similar success one day. 🙂

    • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance May 4, 2017, 6:21 am

      I follow your blog and think it’s great what you’re doing in your early retirement. Hope to see your new book soon! 🙂

    • retirebyforty May 4, 2017, 9:30 am

      It’s amazing how fast time goes by. If I didn’t quit my job, 5 years would have still gone by and I’d be a lot more stressed out. I think you’re doing very well with your endeavor. Persistence is the key so just keep at it. Good luck!

  • Grant May 4, 2017, 2:05 am

    I would say your point 2 is the big one. My grandparents have been retired for many years but to hear them talk you would think they were working 80 hours a week. I mean that church library isn’t going to keep itself in order.

    • retirebyforty May 4, 2017, 9:32 am

      That’s great! You really have to keep busy or restlessness will set in. Really great to hear about your grandparent involvement in the community.

  • Buy, Hold Long May 4, 2017, 2:52 am

    You’ve done seriously well for yourself, you should be so happy with that. I really like reading this story. I hope one day I can retire and spend time with my family (non existent at the moment). That would be the dream.

    • retirebyforty May 4, 2017, 9:33 am

      Thank you. I’m very happy with where I am right now, but it could still be better. 🙂

  • I can’t wait to be able to take on projects that are my choice, not those that have been assigned to me. I have tons of ideas – but no time. That will change June 30th though! The one thing I think I will have to do is make sure I put myself and my health before the projects. I don’t want to jump in to a bunch of different things without finding my “groove” in terms of taking care of my health (working out, new healthy recipes, etc.) The projects are great – but I need to put other things first.

    • retirebyforty May 4, 2017, 9:34 am

      Health is job 1 when you’re older. Younger retirees have more choices because they’re usually more healthy. Good luck with exercise and healthy eating. It will be difficult, but you can do it.

  • Mustard Seed Money May 4, 2017, 3:14 am

    I definitely agree that you need to retire to something instead of from something. I’d love to have some nice projects to work on in retirement that get me excited. I’m working on it at this point but I’d love to start generating a little bit of cash with the blog that could eventually sustain our lifestyle. We don’t need a ton of money but just enough to keep the lights on 🙂

    • retirebyforty May 4, 2017, 9:35 am

      I’d say both retiring from and retiring too are equally important. At least in my case. I was extremely unhappy at my old job. Good luck with your blog.

  • The Tepid Tamale May 4, 2017, 3:23 am

    I guess I shouldn’t really comment, I am not retired yet. However, the phrase ‘Happiness is a journey, not a destination.’ means so much to me right now. I came to the ‘Early Retirement’ party late, with lot’s of kids, so sometimes it can be frustrating that I am not retired, nor will be shortly. So, ‘Happiness is a journey, not a destination.’ It’s true, but I need to remind myself sometimes.

    Being a dad, you are right, it’s a huge challenge, but SO fun and rewarding. I can no longer imagine the journey without my awesome kids.

    And I hear you on wanting nicer weather. It’s May, and it was 34 degrees yesterday morning here ….. grumble.

    Keep rockin’ it Joe! I’m off to dream of my better future!

    • retirebyforty May 4, 2017, 9:37 am

      I read your post about enjoying the journey. That’s the way to do it. You have to enjoy life now while working toward something. If you’re unhappy, then don’t wait to make a change. Blogging helps you think deeper, doesn’t it?

  • Financial Coach Brad May 4, 2017, 4:06 am

    I think the 3.5% withdraw rate is smart and right on target. As an early retiree myself (and my wife too) our plan to making out investments outlive us is that 3.5% rate. Monte Carlo simulations show that I have an 85% chance that my investments will last at least 50 years – 83% chance that it will last even if I live to 107! 😉 Of course that doesn’t even count social security, so when I start collecting in 23 years (when I hit 70) then the odds of passing on a huge pile of money to future generations becomes very likely.

    • retirebyforty May 4, 2017, 9:39 am

      That’s a great plan. 3.5% is a great withdrawal rate for early retirees. It’s a lot safer and we’re young enough to work part time or make money some other way. It’d be nice to leave some money to the kid. Life is going to be tough in the future.

  • Matt @ Optimize Your Life May 4, 2017, 4:40 am

    I think you are right that having those big projects is key. Everyone thinks that they will be happy when they have free time and are more relaxed, but we also need some sense of forward progress to keep us happy. If you are just laying around in retirement, that happiness will start to wear off and disappear.

    • retirebyforty May 4, 2017, 9:40 am

      Free time and relaxation are great when you’re on vacation, but it just doesn’t work in retirement. Forward progress is very important when you’re young. I think when we’re 65, we’ll be more ambivalent about forward progress. 🙂

  • Jay May 4, 2017, 4:51 am

    Thanks for sharing – I think this is hugely overlooked and the dream of just sitting around doing nothing sounds good in theory but won’t stand the test of time. Having big projects is a great idea to keep you focused on contributing in a positive way.

  • The Magic Bean Counter May 4, 2017, 5:06 am

    I like the idea of having a few long term projects to focus on in retirement. Thanks for sharing these tricks of the trade.

  • The Grounded Engineer May 4, 2017, 5:10 am

    Such an inspiring post, Joe! I see myself in a situation similar to yours. I’m 29 and I need to work at least another 8 years. Much of this hedges on when my wife will go back to work. We are planning to have one more child within the next year or two. Then my wife will likely stay home for another two years after that. The plan is to save all of her income when she goes back to work, which would be about 4 or 5 years worth of savings.

    • retirebyforty May 4, 2017, 9:41 am

      You’re doing so great. I wish I started the FI path way earlier than I did. It still turned out well, though. Good luck!

  • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance May 4, 2017, 6:20 am

    It’s great to hear that you’ve been enjoying early retirement so far. Looks like you have a great of great short-term and long-term projects to work on. Mr. RB40 Jr. is so lucky to have the full attention of one parent for the early years in his life. I’m sure he will greatly appreciate that.

    My husband and I are looking at daycare options for our baby. Although I want him to learn new things and interact with other kids, I’m also worried about his well-being when he’s not taken care of by family. But I guess sometimes we just need to not try to control everything.

    Look forward to more of your amazing posts!

    • retirebyforty May 4, 2017, 9:42 am

      We just didn’t like daycare because we didn’t spend any time with our kid. It was much better after I became a SAHD. I don’t think the kid really care one way or the other when he was young. Good luck finding a good and affordable daycare. I’m so glad we don’t have to deal with that anymore. 🙂

  • Dividend Growth Investor May 4, 2017, 6:20 am

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks for sharing your secrets for happy retirement. I like your way of approaching things in general – you liked your work, but when it became too stressful and full of BS it was not a good match for you. You are one of the people who retired to something meaningful – taking care of RB Jr. in his formative years. Plus, by having the side hustles like the blog and rentals, you had the opportunity to delay taking money from the nest egg. It is nice to see how you have been able to do something with your free time, and also have plans to explore new things in life.

    • retirebyforty May 4, 2017, 9:44 am

      That sums it up really well. 🙂
      Delay withdrawal is great for early retirees. I think it improve our chances of not running out of money greatly. It’s been really good so far.

  • Dads Dollars Debts May 4, 2017, 7:32 am

    Great to see how it has been for the past 5 years. I am trying to gain FI so that I can retire early, but more like 45 years old and spend some good time with my future 10 year old son.

    • retirebyforty May 4, 2017, 9:44 am

      45 is still very young. I’m almost there…

  • SMM May 4, 2017, 7:46 am

    Totally agree with the need to have projects. Even now, I try to find little projects around the house for improvements. I think this desire will only increasing in retirement because I will have so much more free time. Sometimes my wife gets annoyed because I can’t sit still, lol! And also because I don’t want to hire someone for a project, unless absolutely have to.

  • freebird May 4, 2017, 7:56 am

    True you can be bored and dissatisfied at work and get paid, but wouldn’t it be better to find work you enjoy — and get paid (or not)? I think that’s the real benefit to being in your financial position, you get to dictate the terms of engagement once the money doesn’t matter.

    A few years ago I had a brief attempt at early retirement, it lasted just a few weeks before I ran out of stuff to do during the day so I went back to work when my employer offered up some changes that I wanted. This was a situation I didn’t expect because I distinctly remember as a student how I was sure I would be happy drinking beer in front of the television all day. Well over the years I had lost interest in both beer and TV and my long time off didn’t bring it back.

    I hear you about the pain of taking on ‘leadership’ and ‘supervisory’ job titles– those involve a lot of personal interaction that I would rather not deal with. I stayed focused on the technical track and now work as a sort of consultant in my niche. So a word of advice to young engineers out there– know who you are before you accept a promotion and be prepared to turn it down if it doesn’t fit.

    As for differences between happy vs restless ERs, I read somewhere that a pretty strong predictor is what kind of relationship you had with your father when you were a child. If it was a happy one, ER will probably work very well.

    • retirebyforty May 4, 2017, 9:48 am

      Yes, you’re right. If you’re unhappy at work, then it’s probably best to find a new job or position. I think you made a great position for yourself. That’s very admirable.
      I still like beer, but I rarely drink now. It’s bad for the cholesterol…

      That’s really interesting about the predictor. I didn’t have a great relationship with my dad so it’s wrong for me. I don’t see the correlation.

  • Helen Wang May 4, 2017, 8:13 am

    Joe,

    It’s great to hear you have retired for 5 years and settled down very well. Congratulations!

    Having some projects going on after retirement is a very good idea. I have retired from the engineering profession for 4 years, and the last 4 years were the best part of my life so far. I have been studying Spanish, and wrote a book named “Dad’s Bicycle” talking about my early life in China. Anyone interested in China, please check the book out on Amazon.

    • retirebyforty May 4, 2017, 9:51 am

      Your book sounds interesting!
      It’s great to hear that the retirement years are the best of your life. Really nice. Are you studying Spanish for travel?

      • Helen Wang May 4, 2017, 10:19 am

        Joe,

        My purpose of studying Spanish is to be able to know the different culture, not much for travel. Hopefully one day I can watch the Spanish TV channel, read the Spanish books, and communicate to local people in Spanish fluently.

  • Roseanne May 4, 2017, 8:20 am

    Wow – isn’t a amazing that it has been five years of retirement already. You are rocking it, Joe. And passing on the good message to all your readers, inspiring us to keep on. ~smile~

  • FinancePatriot May 4, 2017, 9:18 am

    Congratulations Joe on your exodus from the work world. My wife did the same thing 5 years ago and says it’s a ton of work, so I don’t think she thinks she’s retired, but we all have our own terminology.

    In a few short months I plan to join my wife as an early retiree/joint stay at home parent. I can’t wait. I honestly think part of her boredom is she doesn’t have someone to do fun things with. When we aren’t around the kids, we go hiking and do fun things. I think, to an extent, we will continue to find fun things to do.

    I have followed a lot of early retiree blogs and I can’t recall one person saying they missed work, it was a mistake, or they wish they could go back. I am coming into early retirement in a dream situation. Work has become stressful, and today I just signed my severance agreement, which I asked for. When I retire, I will still get a full 3 months of pay plus benefits, as well as my second annual bonus of $13,500. After this is paid, i will qualify for six months of unemployment.

    It’s going to feel strange not to work this summer and still get pay and benefits like I am still working, but hey, somebody has to do it.

    • retirebyforty May 4, 2017, 9:54 am

      Great news! You’re getting out with a good package.
      Summer is a great time to retire. There are so many fun things to do. I retired in July and we had a blast that year. It’d be a lot tougher to retire into winter here in the Pacific Northwest.
      Good luck with co-retirement. Don’t plan on spending 100% of your time together. You’ll get on each other’s nerve. I’d limit it to 50% at most and do your own things. 🙂

  • Al May 4, 2017, 9:43 am

    Exellent article. Happy retirement is also time depend. If you are in your 40’s versus in your 50’s or 60’s, makes sense. Later early, before 65, might be slightly different.

    For us, is to do things we were not able to while raising kids. Travel, sky and sea diving, race car drives, Vegas and San Diego trips. For example, we are heading to Portugal and Spain later this month.

    • retirebyforty May 4, 2017, 8:38 pm

      I think you’re right about the timing. I’m sure we’ll slowdown a lot by the time we’re 65. Hopefully, we’ll get our travel bug out by then. Have fun in Europe!

  • WealthyDoc May 4, 2017, 11:33 am

    Love it!
    Yes, it is so important to retire TO something, not just retire FROM something. That often gets glossed over in traditional retirement planning.

  • Mr Crazy Kicks May 4, 2017, 11:58 am

    A lot of this resonates with me. After about a year now I’ve been loving not working. Though I have to admit, aside from the relaxing too much part, my days do look a lot like that imaginary retirement you described 🙂

    I really like what you said about having projects, and you hit on a few of my big ones. Lately I’ve been:
    * Blogging
    * Playing Guitar
    * Planning out trips for the year
    * Petitioning our local government to make our neighborhood more walkable
    * Getting the garden started

    Fun projects and goals are key to staying happy 🙂

    • retirebyforty May 4, 2017, 8:41 pm

      Wow, it’s been a year already? That was fast. 🙂
      Glad to hear you’re still enjoying it.

  • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life May 4, 2017, 1:03 pm

    All good advice!

    Aside from raising JuggerBaby and any other family we might add, I have so many projects that I’d like to start, I’ll have to pace myself if we ever manage early retirement. My favorite thing, though, will be that if I physically don’t feel up to it, I should be able to actually take care of my health first, finally!

    None of my retired friends have slowed down one bit from what I can see, they’re all still going strong and loving their massive projects. They keep whole communities functioning because they have the time and expertise to dedicate to running organizations for fun.

  • Stockbeard May 4, 2017, 1:54 pm

    “Not having to go to work is really nice and life is perfect for a while, but it will become normal at some point.”

    Ha, I’m already worried about that one actually… but I think all you need to make retirement exciting again is have lunch regularly with your friends who still work. This way you can internally giggle every time they complain about their stupid job 🙂

    • retirebyforty May 4, 2017, 8:42 pm

      That doesn’t really work for me because we don’t live near work anymore. 🙂

  • Ty Roberts May 4, 2017, 3:11 pm

    As one that’s seeking an early retirement, this is a fantastic post Joe. I see that you’re a proponent of a modified version of the 4% rule. Is that because you think 4% won’t last? Or are you just extra conservative and trying to play it safe? Good stuff as usual, Joe!

    • retirebyforty May 4, 2017, 8:43 pm

      I just think 3.5% is safer. 4% is still good, but you have to be more vigilant. Yes, I’m more conservative.

  • Mr. Tako May 4, 2017, 4:15 pm

    Completely agree with your assessment about staying busy and having some big long-term project Joe! I’m always either working on a long term project or modifying investments.

    Our two situations seem really similar at times!

  • Duncan's Dividends May 4, 2017, 4:18 pm

    I can’t believe it’s been five years already. I started following you right before you hit the mark and it inspired me to start my own journey. Much has changed for me and my net worth and I have your blog as a place to thank. Can’t wait for the day when I hit the publish on my secret to happy early retirement.

    • retirebyforty May 4, 2017, 8:44 pm

      Thanks for following along. It’s always great to hear that I made a positive impact. Good luck on your FI journey.

  • capitalcalc May 4, 2017, 6:10 pm

    Nice post and glad to hear that last five years have been great. We are also planning for an early retirement but bit nervous about health insurance once we retire.

    • retirebyforty May 4, 2017, 8:45 pm

      Healthcare is a big problem right now. There is so much uncertainty. We’ll all have to keep a close eye on it.

  • Mrs. Groovy May 4, 2017, 7:31 pm

    I’m very glad you are happy and that you’re determined to figure out a way for your wife to retire early.

    I’m still somewhat in the vacation stage of retirement with less than 7 months of under my belt. My project list includes blogging, learning Spanish, learning piano, buying land or a home, walking 2 miles every day and working out. Although I don’t know where the day goes I still can’t fool myself with my list. We do a lot of reading, watching Netflix and listening to Dave Ramsey at night. I just got the Stand Up app to make sure I get up on my feet every 40 minutes during the evening and a counter app to prove to myself I stand up more than 30 times a day. I do. Obviously health is important to me but I feel fitter than I was 2 decades ago.

    • retirebyforty May 4, 2017, 8:46 pm

      Wow, that’s a lot of projects. I’ll check your blog periodically to see how you’re doing with the projects. 🙂

  • Adriana @MoneyJourney May 5, 2017, 1:22 am

    The imaginary retirement schedule sounds great, for a couple of weeks. After which, I’m pretty sure I’d be bored out of my mind 😀

    I’m not even close to retirement, but I do like to daydream about it from time to time. Long term projects sound like the perfect plan, as long as they allow a flexible schedule 😀

  • Mr. All Things Money May 5, 2017, 8:42 am

    Congrats on your 5 years of early retirement 🙂

    For me, it’s been about 10 months since I retired early. Though, these 10 months flew by. I really like my super low stress life and enjoy spending time doing lots of productive and healthy activities. My health has improved a lot. BTW, I lost 25 lbs since retiring, mainly due to healthy diet and lots of exercise. I feel great!

    Anyway, keep up the good work with your blog, it’s probably the only blog I read nowadays.

  • Ten Factorial Rocks May 5, 2017, 10:58 pm

    Good post Joe. The real secret is to get a happiness return on your Time investment. That’s what I imagine my ER to become. I agree that being FI takes away most of the pressure, then its all about the other stuff. Strangely, only FI people who are careful with money are the ones who can truly say that “money doesn’t motivate me” in ER. Your metrics after ER change compared to Pre-FI days where maximizing money for time invested was a key priority then.

  • Your First Million May 6, 2017, 9:55 am

    I think you made some very valid points! I think that staying occupied, always striving towards a worthy goal and working on self improvement is the best way to stay happy for anyone. It’s just like Napoleon Hill stated in his amazing book ‘Think and Grow Rich’:

    “Happiness is found in doing, not merely possessing.”

  • Sam @ Financial Samurai May 7, 2017, 11:26 pm

    Those are good points. For me, it’s just having a purpose and taking care of family. These two things alone keep me busy for most of the day.

    With my rental turnover currently, I’ve got a purpose to fix it up and find new tenants! Fingers crossed. Gonna lower the rent to get a better selection to choose from.

    Sam

  • Felipe May 8, 2017, 7:08 am

    I’m 53 and have finally saved enough funds to quit but am working on the courage to quit. I’m not there yet but getting closer. I’ve realized I don’t hate what I do, sometimes I even enjoy it. But every industry, it seems, demands more and more. I just want to relax and know I can take a vacation without stress. I could do that up to about ten years ago. The advent of remote electronic leashes is what killed those trips. The expectation of constant connectivity is killing me. So….my current idea is work five months a year at the local ski area, then knowing I’ll have every summer off. The money would pay my increasing healthcare premiums, and stave off boredom when I have to be inside more due to the extreme cold. Every summer off would be such a dream, and the ski area would be closed. Though we did go check out Panama and that’s seriously on the table also. Boredom is my biggest fear of early retirement. I have no big passions anymore for leisure activities. Past volunteer work was good, but can consume you in time as much as a paying job.

    • retirebyforty May 8, 2017, 12:25 pm

      Working part time like that would be ideal. It might be harder to work in the ski area as you get older, though. I don’t know enough about that, but it seems like that would be easier for young people. Healthcare is a huge deal for early retirees. Good luck!

  • Done by Forty May 8, 2017, 11:11 pm

    I really like the approach you’re taking, Joe, and thanks for connecting this one to a recent post about some of the mental declines seen in early retirement. I especially like the idea of one or two big goals to keep you going: that’s surely something that mirrors the big projects you’ll typically have in a career. Mine will ironically be the same as yours: writing and fathering. (Is that a word?)

    Anyway, I’m very happy to get to read about the experiences from someone who has a couple years of early retirement under his belt. Thanks!

  • DivGuy May 10, 2017, 12:04 pm

    You are right! So right! We need to keep busy.
    I’ve seen a bit what my life could look like this traveling year. I’ve blogged a couple hours per week and spent lots of time with the family. Also, I spent a lot of time simply thinking about what I really wanted. To be honest, I just can’t wait to put more time in my projects and push them to where I want them to be. I’m ready to put in all the efforts needed for my sites.
    All this while being at home for the kids, work alongside with my wife and still be implicated at sports, kids school, travels, etc.
    To me, retirement shouldn’t exists. Day to day life should be what you expect from your retirement. And that shouldn’t be rocking a chair all day long! 😉 There’s so much more to get!
    Cheers,
    Mike

  • Cheryl Coleman May 19, 2017, 8:05 am

    Hey Joe! Great post as always – really enjoy reading up on your financial advice and how you made retiring early work so well for you.
    I was wondering if you ever considered Housesitting as a means for travel and income. It is a low-maintenance job and has the benefit of free accommodation as well as the opportunity to experience a different lifestyle in a new location. I recommend visiting a site like Housesitter.com to view those seeking housesitters.

    • retirebyforty May 19, 2017, 1:29 pm

      I would seriously consider it if I was single. It’s tough to make that work with a family. I might be able to convince Mrs. RB40 to do it, not sure though. It doesn’t sound like she would like it. It’d be perfect for me. 🙂

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