≡ Menu

Spring Fever Perception of Reality


Spring Fever

Wow, we just had 3 gloriously warm and sunny days in Portland. On Saturday, the temperature hit 77 degrees in the Rose City, breaking the record by 6 degrees. The average high temperature won’t get this high until July so you can imagine how unusual this is. We went out for a walk and a picnic lunch to make the best of a beautiful Saturday. It was great to see so many people out and about enjoying the beautiful day.

Long Dark Winter

The Pacific Northwest has a well deserved reputation for our long gloomy rainy season. Nine months of dark & dank winter seemed to stretch six ways to forever when I was working in a depressing grey cubicle. Walking into the building before dawn and leaving after the sunset really sucked. (After the clock moves backward in November, the sun rises at 7am and sets around 4:30pm.) I endured this for many months every year and I am so happy I don’t have to anymore.

Spending 8+ hours in a cubicle in the middle of a big building can really warp your perception of reality, especially if you don’t get any sunlight before and after work. Portland does get a rare winter sunny day once in a while, but for some reason, it’s never on the weekend. Luckily, this past winter has been a lot better for me. Our condo has a lot of windows and even gloomy days aren’t too bad. We also spend some time outdoors even when it’s sprinkling.

Same City Different Outlook

Portland is the same city with the same weather, but it’s different now that I’m not stuck in a cubicle. A change in perspective can make a huge difference in how you perceive your situation. Personal finance in particular can be perceived in so many different ways.

Examine Your Perception of Retirement

Last week, I asked if it’s possible to retire comfortably on $32,500 income. Many Yahoo! readers think that’s unimaginable and no one can possibly retire on such a poverty level budget. However, many RB40 readers felt that wasn’t too bad at all and in fact, many are already living within that income level. People will frame it differently depending on their location, health, and current budget. I’m quite certain that if you really had to make $32,000/year work, you would be able to do it.

Early retirement also requires a different perspective. When I first started working, I never imagined that I would quit my career before 40. My family never had much money when I was growing up and I thought I’d work until was old, so I could buy whatever I want. Strangely, I never spent much money even when I was making a good income (except for traveling and good food).  I guess saving money was more important to me.

How do you want to spend your life?

Spring Fever 2After many years of saving and investing, I realized that working in a job I didn’t like, even for more money, wasn’t how I want to spend my life. I could change companies, but I thought I’d try something radical instead. While leaving a good paying job during peak earning years isn’t a good financial move, for our family it was a great decision.

Our family is much happier even with less income. I’m much more relaxed and I’m spending a lot of quality time with Baby RB40. Mrs. RB40 was worried about our finances at the beginning, but it’s been almost a year and we are doing all right. Retiring early requires a different perspective and a lot of preparation. Here are some mitigating factors that helped us prepare for my early retirement.

  • Frugal living. Spending less money doesn’t mean you have less fun. The best things in life are free. Living within your mean is a good start, but living frugally below your means will get regular folks like you and me to early retirement.
  • Supportive spouse. Mrs. RB40 likes to work so she continues to do so. More importantly, she understands that working in a job I hated wasn’t good for our family. You have to work as a team to face these big challenges.
  • Multiple sources of income. Having income from peer to peer lending, rental properties, dividend stocks, and blogging/freelancing really helps. A little income goes a long way in retirement and I think working part time or being self employed post retirement is a great idea.
  • Post retirement plan. Transitioning to being a stay at home dad/blogger was quite easy for me. I am very busy every day and I don’t have any idle time at all. I would have a much more difficult transition if I didn’t have much to do. Anyone thinking about early retirement should figure out what they want to do when they don’t have to spend a lot of time working anymore.
  • Willingness to change. A lot of people are stuck in their ways and aren’t willing to change. Early retirement means you’ll have to be flexible and accept some changes. The whole idea of not working a regular job anymore can be quite shocking to many people. You just have to do what’s right for you.

Seeing things from a different perspective can be very difficult when you are used to one point of view. For 16 years, I thought Portland was a dark gloomy city for 9 months because that’s what I saw, but that’s not true. You might not think early retirement is possible, but maybe you just need to look at it differently. Retirement doesn’t mean you have to quit working completely. Working part time or changing fields are valid options if you’re not happy with your career. Even if you like your job and are happy with your situation, you may find some benefit to viewing life from a different perspective.

Spring fever hits pretty hard this year. It was so nice, I didn’t get much blogging done over the weekend at all. How about you? Is it getting nicer in your part of the world? 

Get update via email:
Sign up to receive new articles via email
We hate spam just as much as you
{ 35 comments… add one }
  • Mike Hunt April 1, 2013, 1:12 am

    It is great when everybody enjoys a lovely day after the change from the norm.

    It is like that in Thailand too- every day is so hot (lately it is well over 100 F every afternoon) so the few short weeks where the weather drops in the 70’s is like a paradise and you can see that people are in a better mood.


  • My Financial Independence Journey April 1, 2013, 2:38 am

    It’s finally starting to warm up here. Unfortunately the good days have all been on Monday through Friday. Never yet on a weekend. I’m going a bit stir crazy. I really want to get outside and talk a long walk. I think I only have to last a few more weeks and then we’ll start having some good Spring days.

    • retirebyforty April 1, 2013, 9:53 pm

      That’s how I felt when I was stuck in the office. Now that I’m out, I’m thinking I should have played hooky more often. 🙂

  • Brick by Brick Investing April 1, 2013, 6:45 am

    It has been hovering around the 40s-50s here, hopefully we can break the 60 degree barrier soon. I’ve had a job where it was dark when I went in and when I came out. There’s definitely a correlation between that and your mood. I was absolutely miserable and couldn’t figure out why until I googled it.

    • retirebyforty April 1, 2013, 9:54 pm

      Hope it warms up for you soon.

  • Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle April 1, 2013, 6:47 am

    I find my entire outlook on life changes if there is a hint of sunshine and I am not coming and going from work in the dark.

    I am attempting to adjust my idea of what life can be like living well on a lower income. I have been living on a lower income but I was frustrated and felt like I was always missing out on fun. Living on less in a positive way is a different mind set and sometimes I feel sorry for myself because I want stuff and and I can’t afford stuff.

    I am trying to see my pursuit of this new alternate lifestyle as an exciting challenge.

    These feelings of being a have not are much stronger in the winter and walking your dog on a warm spring day costs nothing and puts a smile on my face.

    • retirebyforty April 1, 2013, 9:58 pm

      The sunshine makes a huge difference for me as well. Good luck with your plan. I’m sure you can do it. You just need to get used to it. 🙂
      Portlanders love a warm spring day too. We all need to get out after being cooped up for so long.

  • Financial Samurai April 1, 2013, 7:02 am

    It’s felt like summer for the past 4 months here in SF. It’s been the driest winter on record.

    Consider moving to the SF Bay Area or Hawaii. You won’t ever experience the gloom. Trust me!

    • retirebyforty April 1, 2013, 9:58 pm

      Hawaii is on my short list, but not SF. California is way too busy for me. I like it a little more laid back.

  • SavvyFinancialLatina April 1, 2013, 8:16 am

    I am loving the warm weather. I actually get influenced by the gloomier weather. In the winter, I find myself with less motivation and energy. As soon as it starts warming up and staying lighter outside, my mood changes completely!

    • retirebyforty April 1, 2013, 9:59 pm

      The sunny days did a number on my productivity. I didn’t want to do anything but enjoy the nice warm days. 🙂

  • krantcents April 1, 2013, 8:46 am

    It is always sunny in southern California! Alright, 300 days anyway. For me, financial independence changed m outlook! I could do things I wanted to do versus what I had to do. It makes for a much happier person.

  • John S @ Frugal Rules April 1, 2013, 9:44 am

    We had mid 60’s over the weekend and then got an inch of snow this morning. Our weather is just nutty, but then again, what can I expect from living in the Midwest? I remember those days of going in when it was dark and leaving when it was dark. It did not help that I was miserable to boot. I am so glad I made the change when I did.

    • retirebyforty April 1, 2013, 10:01 pm

      Oh wow, that’s crazy. Working on our own time table sure is nice.

  • jim April 1, 2013, 10:02 am

    Its not the rain, its the lack of sun.

    I assume most people know it rains in the Northwest a lot. But thats not really the problem. The gloomy, lack of sunshine and gray sky is the bigger problem in my mind. I could deal with more rain if it was sunny all the time. It does that in Hawaii and nobody whines about the rain there. THe problem in the northwest is the month after month of cloudy gray gloomy skys and lack of sun.

    But you know I’ve lived in a place with traditional four season weather. 40 degrees and rainy is better in a lot of ways than 20 degrees and 2 feet of snow. You don’t have to shovel rain. Your pipes don’t freeze in 40 degrees. Your car doesn’t skid on ice and get you in an accident in the rain.

  • Well Heeled Blog April 1, 2013, 11:19 am

    The gloom really gets to me… I need the sun and warmth. That’s why I like living in a place with little snow, little rain, and days and days of sunshine. Even though it’s uncomfortable being hot, I’d almost rather be too hot than too cold.

  • Dona Collins April 1, 2013, 11:53 am

    I think anyone can live successfully on $32,000 -/+, but it depends on your mindset and lifestyle. If you always lived on that amount, it shouldn’t be too difficult to adjust. If you always live by pushing the limits of your income (or by going beyond your means), adjusting will be more difficult – if it’s even possible to overcome the debt hurdle you’re creating.

    I’m seriously considering my debt levels this year. I’m paying things down (mostly medical) and learning to save the excess, if I have any. Living a more frugal life is paramount to me now, as a freelancer. I’m 100% responsible for my future.

    • retirebyforty April 1, 2013, 10:06 pm

      Good luck paying down your debt. Hopefully, you are more healthy now.

  • Mike April 1, 2013, 12:59 pm

    It does take a lot of compromise though in order for the two of you to be able to work things out. You do have one thing right though-your health is more important than working at a job that you despise.

  • Kurt @ Money Counselor April 1, 2013, 1:20 pm

    Joe, it’s been spectacular here on Vancouver Island too. We’ve had about seven straight days of excellent weather, with each day just a bit better than the last. Seems it all led up to Easter Sunday–no clouds all day, gentle breeze, clear, and about 70F. It can’t last, but I’m spending at least half of every day outdoors to take advantage while I can!

    • retirebyforty April 1, 2013, 10:07 pm

      Beautiful! I think you get less rain than us right? That’s what I heard a while back. Enjoy the warm weather while you can.

  • Pretired Nick April 1, 2013, 2:24 pm

    We’re in the same boat up here in Seattle. Everyone goes bananas when the first sunny days hit after the long winter. I totally agree on the “going to work and coming home when it’s dark” thing. It’s what I miss least about working. Sooo depressing in the winter.

    • retirebyforty April 1, 2013, 10:12 pm

      It was a great stretch. Hopefully we’ll get more sunny days soon. 🙂

  • Great relation to retirement! As krantcents notes, it would be interesting to take a look at how people in sunnier climes operate.

  • Cassi April 1, 2013, 9:06 pm

    Let me start by saying that I live in the Southwest.

    I cannot IMAGINE a life where it were to rain so often, and a 76 degree day only occurred in July

    In July, I’m use to a 110 degree day as the norm, and a 120 degree day as a high. 76 degree days don’t process in my head.

    • retirebyforty April 1, 2013, 10:13 pm

      76 degrees is a perfect day for most folks up here. Anything over 80 and they’ll start complaining about the heat. 🙂

  • Tie the Money Knot April 1, 2013, 9:21 pm

    At one point in the past, having dealt with short-term unemployment due to layoffs, my perspective changed on daily life. In the sense that I noticed that there were actually people out there enjoying day-to-day life in one form or another without doing the 8-5 grind. I actually realized just how great warm summer days can be here in the midwest:)

    As for the weather, today it was in the upper 30’s here in the Chicago area. Yes, it was winter-style cold despite the calendar indicating spring. Last year we had some 70+ days by this time, and it was great to get the warm weather party started early! This year, it seems like very little has changed since Dec/Jan/Feb. I’m sure it will be great once things get much warmer all of a sudden.

    • retirebyforty April 1, 2013, 10:16 pm

      Oh man, that’s way too cold for Spring. It’s hard to see other point of view when you’re doing your own thing. I’m glad you had some time to see the other ways of living.

  • Do or Debt April 1, 2013, 11:20 pm

    The weather has been glorious! It has totally changed my mood. In regards to retiring with $32,000 per year, I will say this….people can do amazing things if they are forced to. If someone has to live off that amount, they will either learn to adapt or find a way to make more.

    • retirebyforty April 2, 2013, 10:30 pm

      Glad to hear you are feeling good. It’s so much nicer now that it’s getting warmer. $32,000 per year is plenty of money if you don’t have debt. 🙂

  • Little House April 2, 2013, 6:43 am

    I want to address the cubicle view point first – I wonder if offices arranged their workspace a little differently, more like cooperative group centers (or some other arrangement rather than individual, gray cubicles) if office workers in general would be happier. Just a thought.

    As for looking at things differently, I couldn’t agree more. I don’t intend to retire early (probably between 65 and 70), but if things don’t pan out, I’m willing to live differently. The more I do homework on little houses, the more I realize it’s a real possibility. My biggest goal is to be rent/mortgage free come 60 or 65 as that’s my biggest expense….for now.

    • jim April 2, 2013, 12:07 pm

      I think there is conflicting data on whether open work plans or cubicles are ‘better’. Cubicles offer some privacy and reduce the noise. Open plans are supposed to help productivity by increasing collaboration. I think it depends on the details. What kind of work are people doing? What kind of environment are they in exactly? A smallish office space with sales people in it would probably be OK with open plan, but a very large building with engineers designing widgets may favor cubicles.

  • Stephen at SE April 2, 2013, 10:18 am

    I like the simple change in perspective! I live in Athens, GA and we have pretty awesome weather at the moment. But I can attest to the sad feeling you get in the dead winter when you go to work before its light and go home after it is dark! That is a gloomy feeling. I think the other thing that I’m about to start trying is getting up a little earlier and doing my workout during the morning so the afternoons feel longer!

  • Suzanne @ Financial Advisor Coach April 2, 2013, 3:13 pm

    I love my work so I don’t think I would want to stop working in retirement. I’m not originally from the U.S. so I’m pretty sure I’d like to live in another country when I retire to experience another culture.

  • 101 Centavos April 2, 2013, 5:24 pm

    Perception is reality.
    If it looks gloomy, then you are.
    Glad to see you hit a sunny day on a weekend. This one’s is going to be tops. Planting potatoes in a new bed.

Leave a Comment