10 Years After Early Retirement

10 Years After Early Retirement FIRE

Oh wow, it’s been 10 years since I retired from my engineering career! I’m happy to report that I’m still retired and life is awesome. Some people said it can’t be done, but I’m doing it. Don’t listen to the critics. You have to live your own life and find your own path.

The past two years were a bit strange due to the pandemic. But we adjusted and the RB40 family is doing quite well. RB40Jr is attending 5th grade in person at school. He liked distance learning, but regular school is way better. Kids need to socialize and run around. Mrs. RB40 also worked from home for almost 2 years. She just started hybrid work. Now, she goes to the office a few days per week and grumbles a lot. She’ll take a sabbatical this summer then she’ll decide what to do afterward.*

As for me, I’m taking it easy this year because I want to travel more. I went to help my parents in Thailand for 3 months and we’ll travel this summer. I’m still working on this blog, but just 10-15 hours per week. This year, I’m not doing any side hustle or coaching for my son’s soccer team. Lastly, being a SAHD is very easy now. RB40Jr is 11 years old now. He doesn’t need as much attention as when he was young.

*Some commenters like to say I keep putting off Mrs. RB40’s early retirement. Well, it’s her decision. She’ll retire when she’s good and ready. I’m not sure why people think it’s up to me. She’s the boss, not me.

Early Retirement Recap

First, let’s do a quick recap.

Before ER – I worked in computer chip design for 16 years. In the beginning, engineering was great. I enjoyed learning and working on technical issues. Eventually, I became more senior and needed to take on more leadership roles. At that point, the career wasn’t a good fit for me anymore. Personally, I think every engineer should plan for early retirement.

Year 1 ER – I retired to become a SAHD/blogger in 2012 when our son was 18 months old. That first year was the toughest year for me. Being a SAHD to a toddler was a lot of work. At that age, they don’t listen at all and they constantly push boundaries.

Year 2 to 4 ER – Life became a bit easier once RB40Jr started preschool. I had more time to work on my blog and my health. It was a good balance. Life gradually improved as our son got older.

Year 5 and 6 ER – RB40Jr started kindergarten and life became awesome. I had a lot more time to myself and he made a lot of friends. It was a big turning point.

Year 7 ER – We had more challenges than usual and I was stressed out. My mom was diagnosed with dementia and relocated to Thailand. I couldn’t take care of her and my son at the same time. Eventually, she’ll need to go to a nursing home and it’ll be a lot more comfortable for her in Thailand.

Year 8 ER – This was a strange year. Life was great until the coronavirus pandemic hit. Our governor shut down nonessential businesses and closed all schools. We didn’t do much.

Year 9 ER – We stayed home and life slowed down to a crawl. We didn’t really mind it because we enjoy being home. Then, I went to see my mom in Thailand. Life was almost normal there at the time. There were only a few Covid cases so I had a nice break during the pandemic’s peak in the US. It was so nice that I had a hard time adjusting back to life back home.

Year 10 ER – The new normal is here. Things opened up and we’re spending more time outside our home. I went to see my mom in Thailand and enjoyed my time with her. Unfortunately, she lost her ability to walk recently and she will go to a nursing home in a few days. We’ll go back this summer so RB40Jr can see her. We’ll travel around Thailand and visit the Maldives for a week. 

Early Retirement is still awesome

love early retirement because I have autonomy. I don’t have a boss and I largely control my schedule. Of course, I have some “work” because I’m a stay-at-home dad. When he was little, RB40Jr took up all of my time and energy. However, the SAHD part became much easier as school, teachers, sports, and friends took over a large portion of his time. Being a SAHD is very easy these days because RB40Jr doesn’t need me as much as when he was little.

Also, I work about 10-15 hours per week on this blog. I still enjoy it, but I’m not as passionate about FIRE as when I first started blogging. After 12 years, there isn’t much new I can write on the topic. Blogging is still great, though. It keeps me occupied. I firmly believe that you need to keep busy after early retirement. If I don’t blog, I’d have too much time and get bored. However, I probably need to find a new passion project. Actually, it’s amazing I lasted this long with blogging. Usually, I lose interest in a hobby in just a few years. Oh well, I’ll figure out what to do next after we come back from traveling. First world problem, right?

Successful Early Retirement?

There are 3 indicators of successful retirement – health, wealth, and happiness. Let’s see how I’m doing in all these areas.

Healthier

Last year was a good year as far as health goes. My weight stayed around 130 pounds and I didn’t have any new health issues. Actually, I feel like I’m starting to get a bit bony. Maybe I’m starting to shrink as I age. The big 5-0 is coming up pretty soon. I’ll work out with weights more to increase my muscle mass.

Early retirement was good for me because I was stressed out all the time when I was an engineer. I had back pain, panic attacks, tinnitus, dizziness, depression, and more. It was bad. These days, I feel much healthier.

Wealthier

I think we are all going through a tough period right now. There are many problems in the world and the stock market hates uncertainties. Our net worth decreased a bit, but we are still comfortable financially. Our passive income streams are doing fine as well.

All in all, 2022 is a rough year for investors, but we are still much wealthier than before I retired. Of course, a lot of that is due to Mrs. RB40. She is still working. The real test will be when she retires. She isn’t sure when she will retire, though. It might be next year or she might wait until RB40Jr goes off to college. We’ll have to wait and see.

Happier

Last year, we got used to the pandemic. Covid became less of an issue because we got vaccinated. These days, life is almost like it was before. There are changes, but we could work with them. I’m just happy RB40Jr went back to school in person. There are some risks, but I’m not too worried. Covid isn’t as harmful to children as adults. Unfortunately, he just got a cough and a sore throat. He’ll have to stay home until these symptoms are gone. The school doesn’t want to take any chance. We’ll test in a couple of days and see. Hopefully, it isn’t Covid.  

Anyway, I am happy these days. I went to Thailand for 3 months to spend time with my mom. That wouldn’t have been possible if I was working. FIRE is really great.  

Overall, I’m very happy with life. I just wish my mom is healthier. But that’s the circle of life. It just reinforces the fact that we need to enjoy life while we can. You never know what will happen later.

happiness
Life’s been good to me.

Early Retirement Projects

The secret to early retirement is to have some goals. You have to stay somewhat busy so you don’t get bored. Early retirement doesn’t mean chilling at home every day. Most people won’t be happy with that. You need a few big projects to work on. Here are some of mine.

Fixing up the house

This one is on hold. We’ll be out of town often this year so it’s just maintenance for now. We’d like to remodel the kitchen and the basement at some point.

Blogging

I still spend 10-15 hours per week on blogging. These days, I’m not as passionate about FIRE so I write about other topics as well. When we travel later this summer, I’ll write more about traveling and the nomadic lifestyle.

Blogging is still fun, but I need to figure out my next big passion project.

Around the world trip

We wanted to take a year off to travel around the world, but that isn’t going to happen. Instead, Mrs. RB40 will take a short sabbatical and we’ll travel to Thailand and the Maldives. We’ll put off traveling around the world until RB40Jr goes off to college.

Some reasons.

  • Schooling – We decided that RB40Jr should attend the local Junior high school. He needs extra support and road schooling would be difficult. Actually, the really tough part would be skipping a grade and coming back.
  • Mrs. RB40’s work – She is taking a short sabbatical this summer. When she gets back she’ll figure out her next step.
  • Rental properties – We still have 2 rental units left. I was planning to sell the rental condo, but the tenant decided to stay. He’s trouble-free so I’m okay with it.
  • Solo travel – We decided to solo travel as needed. I might go to Thailand by myself more often. Mrs. RB40 will travel to CA and other locations by herself as well. We’ll travel together in the summer.
  • Pandemic – Entry requirements are still tough for many countries.

Keep at it

All in all, these last 10 years have been amazing. Life is so much better than when I was working full-time. I don’t regret retiring early at all. If I didn’t quit my engineering career, I wouldn’t be this happy or healthy. I might not even be wealthier. When you’re unhappy, you spend money to try to make life better. Who knows? I might have had a midlife crisis and gone off the rail if I was still stuck in the old gray cubicle. That’s the real key to FIRE. You make it your goal and go after it with everything you got. Life is short. Don’t spend it working in a job you dislike. Keep at it and good luck everyone!

Thanks again for following my early retirement adventure and good luck with yours! I really appreciate your support.

Sign up for a free account at Personal Capital to help manage your investments. I log in almost every day to check on my accounts and cash flow. It’s a great site for DIY investors.

Hell on earth.

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.
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33 thoughts on “10 Years After Early Retirement”

  1. Congrats Joe/RB40. Have enjoyed following you all these years. I failed at RE.. (went back to work after two years due to boredom and not successfully developing any meaningful hobbies). So I say well done! Not as easy as it looks from the outside..

    Reply
  2. 10 years – what a feat. Congrats. I’m also at a stage in a career where I need to take supervisory role, but don’t want to. I figure I’ll make some lateral moves for a few years before I make a call.

    Reply
  3. Congrats on 10 years! I’ve got my 10-year anniversary post queued to be written as well as I got my last paycheck in June 2012.

    I love your net worth chart and when you retired. What a great bull market we have. Maybe you can overlay a new chart to see what your net worth line would look life if you kept working?

    I feel blessed we’ve been able to have kids where we can spend lots of time taking care of them. They grow up so fast!

    Fun how we both have lasted so long. After my book comes out on July 19, 2022, I’m totally going to start taking it easy again in August. So tired! Back to early retirement life.

    Best,

    Sam

    Reply
    • Thank you! I went on a sabbatical in April 2012 and officially quit in July. It’s been a great 10 years.
      I’m not sure about the whatif net worth chart. There are just too many possibilities. I’d probably spend a lot more if I was still working.
      Hope you can relax a bit in the second half of 2022. You’ve earned it!

      Reply
  4. Thanks for providing that really thorough update Joe:) it’s cool to see what your 10 years post FI have been like, the good, the bad and the in between.
    It is so wonderful you get to spend more time with your mom & you are completely right, watching our loved ones struggle with illness provides even more reason to become FI.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the encouragement! The best thing about FI is you get to choose how to spend your time. That’s freedom.
      I’m glad I got to spend some time with my parents this year.

      Reply
  5. Congratulations on 10 years! I found your blog about 5 years ago and now use most of your financial ratios. Thanks for the enjoyable reads!

    Reply
  6. Great blog and we are so similar, I am also a software engineer going 22 years now, and my wife is working in the healthcare sector. We have two kids, 3 and 8 years old. Saving for early retirement.

    The biggest difference I think is that my wife doesn’t want to work if I don’t work, she wants to be a SAHM as much as I want to be a SAHD. How would that have worked out for your family, if your wife said the same? Could you have done it financially? How would your SAHD-life become with your wife at home “interfering” with your freedom? Let’s face it, if you are home with your wife, you need to talk to her about your plans, maybe she wants to join your excercise, or maybe she wants to go to supermarket and insists that you join her etc. For me personally, the real freedom is when I am home alone, and doesn’t have to answer to anyone. My wife on the other hand prefer that we do things together when we are at home together, but I guess we will have to find a balance. That was just an example, but life as a married couple can be challenging as you are supposed to do lots of stuff together. Aspecially for people like myself, that reload my energy when I am by myself (which is extremly rare with wife and 2 kids).

    Looking forward to early retirement so I can get started with all my other interesting projects!

    Reply
    • Honestly, it would have been tough if we both retired in 2012. Our net worth would be a lot smaller because we wouldn’t have been able to save much over the last 10 years. But now I think she can retire without worrying about finance. Our passive income is more solid. Our net worth is also much higher. We could sell some stocks or other assets if we need money.
      Fortunately, my wife likes to balance alone time with together time. She enjoys doing things by herself as well.

      Reply
  7. Congratulations! I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog and following your adventures. I hope to be leaving my large employer soon too, so I like the inspiration.

    Reply
  8. Big congratulations on the 10 years retirement. What an achievement to have life under your control. You should have a big anniversary cake to celebrate. You had a regimented schedule that kept you busy with the caveat of not having any deadlines and a manager watching over your work. I’m curious if you have any athletic hobby or non active ones to enjoy in your retirement while you are still very young. This can fill some time holes in your days.

    Reply
    • Thank you! I don’t have an athletic hobby. I try to work out about 4 times per week and that’s about it.
      In the summer, I usually go play baseball or tennis with my son.

      Reply
  9. I’m so happy to hear about you hitting a decade of early retirement. Even if you pivot a little bit with the blog, I’d love for you to keep it around. For me, your discussions of your life as a stay-at-home father have been really refreshing. You and Justin McCurry from RootofGood are my favorite stay-at-home father bloggers, and I’ve followed and read both of your blogs for years.

    You’ve already hit the point that David Brooks talks about in The Second Mountain. You’ve achieved what I would consider normal success. You have enough to live a comfortable lifestyle with your family. Now, you get to think about bigger picture questions. Health, wealth, and happiness count for a lot. It might be nice to have a guest blog post from your wife about where she would like to focus on key areas (not necessarily yours) during her upcoming sabbatical.

    Reply
    • Thank you for the encouragement! My wife isn’t too excited to write a guest post. Even a little section was too much work for her. She isn’t used to this style of writing. Hopefully, she can relax a bit this summer.

      Reply
  10. Wow, 10 years – congrats, Joe!!

    Even though it’s been a little over 3 years of early retirement for me, I can relate to a lot of what you’re saying – everything from the enjoying the engineering career for a while, to it tearing you apart over the years, to loving the early retirement life and raising a kid, and even losing a little interest in writing about FIRE all the time.

    Life is good and I’m glad to hear that yours is as well! Here’s to the next 10 years! 🙂

    Reply
  11. Congrats, glad things are working out for you, Joe!

    But is it really fair to call it “10 years after early retirement”?

    Isn’t it more like “10 years after switching careers to being a blogger”? It also helps to have a full-time working spouse with high income too boot the entire time.

    Reply
    • Being a blogger is as retired as I’ll ever get. So yes, it’s perfectly fair.
      Mrs. RB40 made about half what she is making now when I retired in 2012. She’s doing quite well.
      Thanks.

      Reply
  12. Good work on the 10 years of retirement!

    It made me do some of my own reflection because we have similar lifestyles of blogging and SAHD. By the definition of quitting my engineering job, I’m at 14 years of retirement. However, I’ve had some kind of side hustle (blogging, customer service gig, dog boarding), so it feels like I’m working as much as someone with a full-time job. Avoiding the alarm clock and daily siestas are nice though.

    Reply
  13. Congrats on 10 years Joe! It seems like you’re doing great! What a great role model for other engineers looking to retire early! You do an outstanding job on this blog!

    Keep it up!

    Reply
  14. Congratulations on enjoying 10 years of early retirement (really semi-retirement)!

    You say, “If I didn’t quit my engineering career, I wouldn’t be this happy or healthy. I might not even be wealthier.”

    As for me, if I didn’t quit my engineering career, I would be dead know from all the stress of a corporate job and what it entails. I know that I am happier, healthier, and wealthier because I left my engineering career in 1980 never to return again. Being self-employed was difficult at times but in the end it was well worth it. These words of wisdom apply:

    “We can create the ultimate job security by becoming less dependent on the organization for which we work and more dependent on our own resources.”
    — Bo Bennett

    “There is only one success — to be able to spend your life in your own way.”
    — Christopher Morley

    “It’s more satisfying to dig a ditch with friends than to design a skyscraper with a team of sociopaths.”
    — from Jessica Hagy

    “I’d rather live precariously in my own office than comfortably in somebody else’s.”
    — Peter Mayle

    Reply
    • Thank you! I’ll take semi-retirement!
      Engineering was stressful for me too. Some people enjoys that kind of environment, but it’s not for me.
      Self-employment is way better.

      Reply

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