3 Years After Early Retirement Update

3 years after early retirement

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.

Thanks again for following our early retirement adventure and good luck on your journey!


*See my guide – How to Start a Blog and Why You Should. Starting a blog changed my life. It provides some income after retirement and it’s a great way to build a community. Those are the two biggest problems after retirement. It’s a great way to use some of your free time.

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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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67 thoughts on “3 Years After Early Retirement Update”

  1. Hello,

    I have 26 years old and I have a plan to retire with 45 years old. It’s a long way, because, even though mechanical engineer, I earn less $ 1.200,00 for a month, in Brazil. Nevertheless, I save 50%.
    Beginning to follow your blog!
    Sorry for my bad english.


  2. I have recently made a decision with my husband to save up and invest so then we could retire in the next 10 – 12 years. I see that you’ve been saving for longer than that, but you also said that from the point of decision to ‘retire’ to actually quit your job, it was just 3 years. I am curious to know more about your net worth before you made the decision and how much you got by saving your whole salary for such a short period of time. I want such guidance because if I could I would try to retire even earlier! Thanks, Jen!

  3. Hi there, Joe,
    Great blog! It’s nice to find a fellow “voyager!” We started our gig in 2011, and have never looked back. But as I read through your posts, it seems we have had some very similar experiences…(well, almost, as our only child is a ‘fur-baby!) I’m looking forward to reading more of your older posts to discover even more similarities!

  4. Congrats on 3 years and boosting your net worth by 50% since that time. I just crossed my 3 year retirement anniversary on August 1 as well and I identified with your experience.

    Like you, the euphoria of early retirement has been replaced with the appreciation of it.

  5. Thank you so much for this perspective! I did an early retirement dry-run in April and it was a fantastic learning experience. If you are interested, I outlined what happened on my blog. Long story short though, after a month I realized that my health care expenses were much higher than anticipated, and I really wanted to give gifts to my family members and travel a bit. Money was too short after all. So I went back to work at a great work from home job with a lovely health care company. No commute. So… almost there, yes!

    • That’s a great transition. Good luck on your journey. Nothing is as useful as a dry-run. You can plan your budget and save, but nothing is like going through it.

  6. I retired 18 months ago from a career in Finance in the oil & gas sector in Houston after 32+ years with the same company. My update is very similar to yours, only no young children to chase. Rather than discuss the financial side of that decision (everyone’s situation is different), I will explain the rest of life in early retirement.

    I agree 1000% that you must have other interests. My wife and I are international travelers, so we have enjoyed several trips which required quite a bit of time to plan. I volunteered to join the Board of Directors as Treasurer for our condo association. You will be surprised how much time you can devote to that when you are not constrained by other demands on your time. I have learned a lot and been able to put my business background to good use. I have researched family genealogy for both sides of our family, again having the opportunity to dedicate much more time to this than you might think you would.

    I have made it a priority to stay connected, or re-connect, with family/friends/former colleagues. You reap what you so, although you have to understand that just because I have time does not automatically mean they will have time.

    My wife sold her business and is heavily involved in volunteering for an organization which she is incredibly passionate about. We do not miss the rigors of the daily workplace, traffic and juggling other daily responsibilities. We do the grocery shopping when no one is the store, we buy a whole lot less stuff than we used to, yet we feel liberated to go buy a new set of sheets when we want to rather than when we have to.

    In summary, I highly recommend that you focus on things that you find rewarding. Your attention will spike, then wane, so be prepared to move on to new things. Enjoy the freedom!!!! It is awesome….

  7. This is great motivation for me. I have been a nurse for 18 years but worked about 12 of them. Six years were spent being a stay at home mom to my now 2 teenage boys (yes! It gets easier, even in teen years!) and I loved it. I hate nursing due to extreme physical and mental stress but mostly just not being in control of my own life. I am on a quest to own several of my own businesses. I cannot retire because I’ve never stayed anywhere long enough to earn retirement. But I am determined to have enough passive income to exceed mine now so I can quit nursing for good. Enjoy your little guy, they grow up fast!

  8. The fact that you opted to forego your income for one whole year is really intriguing and vital at the same time as part of preparations prior to retirement. I think it enables one to adapt living in a very fixed budget and reduces the probability of lavish expenditure in the future.

  9. Thanks for sharing! People ask me all the time what I would be doing when I retire at 40 years old. “What will you do all day?” “You will get bored” “Haha you will not retire at 40, you have to get married, kids, house ect…”

    It is doable though! Thanks for the inspiration

  10. Great update and well written. I’ve been in the corporate world for 30 yrs now and when I read about sitting in rush hour traffic that really hit home (Seattle WA traffic for me). I was telling my boss the other day it’s starting to affect quality of life by “sitting on the freeway” vs being at the gym for anything else actually.

    It’s a tough sell since he lives in the mid-west where traffic is lighter from what I’ve seen when I’m at that site.

    Anyhoo—those thought on health and fitness were great to read. I’m not as young as you but coming up on the early retirement age (55) in about six months. The math could work out (pension + investments) but I still have a mortgage. Need to figure out a plan to hammer that down more (owe 140K, value is 470K). Paying extra prin each month.

    Nothing saying I couldn’t “retire” from corporate world and throttle back some and take on a PT consulting job closer to home where a commute would be much better. I don’t want to move–yet.

    Grateful to have a great job with good benefits but yes the daily grind is starting to beat me down. Again, nice update. Cheers.

    • Traffic in Seattle is as bad as LA. I would hate to commute there. Can you telecommute for a day or two? That would be a great option.
      Thanks for the encouragement and good luck!

      • I just asked the boss about telecommute and it might be a go. Two days a week would be the plan which would really help yes!

  11. Can’t believe it has already been 3 years since you announced your early retirement! But then again, I can’t believe our son is now 3 either. 🙂 Looks like you keep yourself pretty buys with the blog and staying on top of the family finance. That is certainly how I currently envision my first days in retirement. I still have between 7-12 years so who know, maybe I’ll find a new hobby from now until then.

    Take care, AFFJ

    • Life is really busy. Hopefully, I’ll get a breather when the kid goes to kindergarten. There are just so many things to do. Good luck!

  12. Hey Joe congrats on hitting the 3 years. It went fast, and Im still working in the same job, when I read your quitting post. Keep on posting and finding purposeful things to do, it comes across, like your having fun in this retired stage.

    • Thanks! It’s been fun for the most part. Life flies by when you have a little kid. Good luck on your journey as well.

  13. Joe,

    How quickly time flies when you are having fun… I still remember reading about how you retired three years ago as if it was yesterday. I am glad you are keeping busy with the kid, and the site. I hope you never have to work in a corporate job you hate ever again!

    Best Regards,

    Dividend Growth Investor

  14. Time goes by quick huh?

    I think it’s impressive the Mrs. is still willing to work until 2020 after seeing how much better your life is after retirement.

    With rigorous saving and side hustling for the next 5 years, there is NO DOUBT in my mind she can also retire early as well!

    • Time really flies. We’ll be 60 before we know it. Might as well spend the time the way we want rather than having someone else dictate your time. I don’t know if she will do much side hustling. I’ll encourage her to try some stuff, but it’s not her priority. We’ll see how it goes.

    • Congratulation to you as well. Nice job with the rentals. Will you get rid of them at some point to simplify your life?

  15. It’s nice to read this perspective on early retirement, after you have crossed that threshold 3 years ago. Your concerns about running out of money late in life are exactly the type I would have. However, while I’m not close to that stage, early retirement is something to look forward to big time! Well done…

    • Thanks! Time really flies. It’s amazing when you think about it. Our finance looks pretty good for now, but I will need to be vigilant to keep it on track.

      • I’m hoping it will calm down for a couple of years once he goes to kindergarten. I’m sure it will ramp up again as he gets to the dreaded teenage years…

  16. Good to read that after three years it still feels good!

    The dry run is an interesting approach. Not only does it give a great feeling knowing that it is possible, it also boost your nest egg big time.

    The part time self employment is the nr#1 item on my list to reach the full freedom status.

    The dynamic projection is also a method I use. It gave me my retirement date of 2029. Still far away, but there is now a date and that makes the dream become a plan

    • Yes, it gave our retirement fund a big boost. If you can do it for several years, then you can build a pretty substantial investment income.
      Good luck with self employment!

  17. Wow I feel like I was just reading about you wanting to retire early, can’t believe it’s been three years already. Congrats on a fantastic job!

  18. It’s cool to hear your stories from the frontlines of ER, and to read your analysis of the last three years. We’re still about 2.5 years away from pulling the ripcord, but love living vicariously through those who’ve done it. 🙂 It’s so easy to assume that everything will be perfect in ER, so it’s helpful to read your take. Good to know that the sparkles will wear off one day, and time will still fly by. All the more reason to make it happen as quickly as possible.

  19. Thanks for sharing your experiences with early retirement. I am only about a year away myself from achieving my dream to leave paid work.

    We lived for multiple years without needing my wife’s income for everyday expenses. We used that to continue to pay off our debt. By the end of this year we will test drive living only on our passive income. Once we see that working, we will pull the plug and leave our paid work hopefully for good!

    • Good luck on your early retirement journey. I’m sure you will enjoy it immensely. What do you plan to do after early retirement?

      • We plan on doing some serious traveling to get that bug out of our system. It will be a combination of RV’g and staying at places offered by people on AirBnB. We also have a ton of miles and points we can use for hotel stays and flights.

        I see us spending more time in the community and volunteering our time for special organizations and projects that are important to us.

  20. Thanks for sharing the inner workings of your early retiree life. It sounds like a big commitment with the kid, but with school just around the corner, won’t you soon be just swimming in free time?

    Any desire to outsource the management of RB40, and you can just do an article here and there?


    • He’ll be in preschool 3 days per week next year so that’s about perfect. Once he goes to school 5 days/week, then I’ll have more time to work on my blog. I’m so short on time right now so I don’t think I will have any problem filling it. I want to write for other sites more, spend more time on the back end, and publicize more. All these things take a lot of time.
      I want to outsource a few things, but I haven’t found the right VA yet.

  21. Nobody mentioned the great father and son picture?! Love that you two are dressed alike. Like father/like son. A chip off the old block! Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
    Ok, I’ll quit now.

  22. Glad to see you are thriving 3 years into the journey. I reference you, Root of Good, and Go Curry Cracker as examples of financial independent people that are doing very well since achieving early retirement. I hear you on the kid front. Our oldest just turned 3 and he can be crazy at times!

    • Thanks! Life is really good for the most part. Being a stay at home dad is a lot of fun punctuated by many losing my temper incidents. It’s a pretty crazy time right now, but we only have 14 years left. 🙂

  23. Great Post. Thanks for sharing your journey. Currently an Intel employee in Sacramento, and looking to do something similiar to your journey.

  24. Wow 3 years already? Very inspiring reading about your story and how you’ve handled your life after retirement. Interesting to note a 4 year old is harder to handle than a little toddler.

    • Time really flies. Yeah, it’s definitely harder for me because I’m not very patient. At this age, I think moms can handle the craziness better. Mrs. RB40 isn’t very patient either so he drives both of us crazy… Other moms seem to be much more patient.

  25. It takes courage to bail on a well paying corporate job and I agree with you that you don’t want to wake up at age 60 and wonder what happened. Stress will kill you and if your just killing time at work hanging on till the finish line my advice is to bail because you just might not make it and if you do you just might not recover from it. Bottom line don’t mess with your physical/mental health. Joe you mentioned that you were having a hard time establishing a work out routine and I’m facing the same challenge. If you find a solution please pass it along. As for me my son is getting married in Oct and I have set a goal of fitting into my old tuxedo. That means losing 38lbs by then which will be hard but at least I have a target to shoot for. Lastly, I have to take a stand and say I don’t agree with how we use the word retirement. Retire means to withdraw, pullback ie.rocking chair time. What you are doing is staying engaged, earning money from a blog, and continuing to grow so I would have a hard time describing you as retired. We really need a new word covering the period from when you leave your primary career and finally end up in a rocking chair a period as you said could last 50+ years. What both you and Ernie have done is designed a customized lifestyle that works outside the corporate word that maximizes your freedom, flexibility, creativity and personal satisfaction. Thanks for leading the way and showing that it can be done.

    • I don’t know if I would make it to 60 if I continued working in my old job. Being stressed out all the time is really bad for you.
      My problem with the workout schedule is that the kid’s schedule changes all the time. Once he gets into a stable routine of going to school full time, then I’m sure I can stabilize my routine as well. I recommend going 5 days per week after breakfast. If your schedule is light, then you should try it. Once you get into the habit, it should be pretty easy.
      Retirement is not quite the right word, but it’s what we have. Lifestyle design is too cumbersome. 🙂 Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  26. Reading through your blog, I’ve realized that I actually retired when I leave the corporate world six years ago and started working at home as a freelancer on almost anything (from writing to customer service to website designing). Although, I don’t have as much savings as you have, I’m able to enjoy being with my children, see them grow up, drive them to school and help them with their school work.

    Great blog!

    • Congratulation! It’s all in the mentality. I’m glad you can enjoy life without spending all your time in the grind of corporate life. It’s too bad more people don’t know about this option. Thanks!

  27. Hi Joe, my first job was at the company that Intel just acquired. The job I most recently had was at the just acquired company’s main competitor. Many of the execs at both companies were former Intel folks. I know how you feel about the corporate life. Glad to hear you’re living the dream! We’re probably in for a shaky ride with the stock market over the short term.

  28. I like the idea of the dry run. It basically forces you to really live off the money you earn through other sources than the paycheck and at the same time increases your net worth as there is more money left over to invest. So the phase of dry running doesn’t make you lose anything, but still offers a good proof of concept!

    • It was invaluable to go through the dry run. We didn’t spend a lot of money to begin with, but the dry run helped us cut out even more unnecessary expenses. Everyone should do this before committing to a big change.

  29. I am glad that you enjoying retirement. You list several advantages of retirement here on your blog.

    Two or three years ago, I started writing a book called “The Joy of Being Retired: 101 Reasons Why Retirement Rocks (and Work Sucks!)”. When I came up with the 101 reasons along with illustrations for each reason, I wondered whether I could come up with 365 reasons, one for every day of the year. I did come up with 365 and changed the title/subtitle to “The Joy of Being Retired: 365 Reasons Why Retirement Rocks (and Work Sucks!)”. Better still, I came up with “50 Bonus Reasons” which I added to the end of the book, for a total of 415 reasons and illustrations. For the record, I still haven’t published this book because I have been enjoying retirement too much and don’t need the extra money.

    • That sounds like a fun project. I’ll try to come up with more fun projects when I have more time. It’s a great luxury to not need extra money.

  30. We are approaching the 3 year point also. I really have no idea how I ever had time to go to an office

    The only thing I miss is my commute, riding a bike on the lake shore is a great way to start any day.

    Keep on living the dream!

    • It’s tough being with the kid all the time, but that’s a lot better than spending no time with him. That’s where all my time is going right now. I’m glad for it, though. Your commute sounds nice.

      • This is the most frustrating point of working while having a small child. I go to work everyday knowing that I am missing a large portion of my little girls life! What a horrible feeling! It is accentuated by the self awareness that pursuing FI/ER creates and knowing that, although you will have time later, you don’t have the time now. I am envious of what you and Jeremy have… I just wish I would have listened to my own advice I freely shared when I was in my early 20s… perhaps I would be almost there now! Less then 8 years (maybe as little as 3 with a little creativity/lifestyle hacking!).

    • Yeah, time really flies. You don’t think about it much when you’re young, but I don’t want to get old. Life is so much more fun when you’re young. Enjoy it while we can, right?


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