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50 Year Old Goal: Simplify My Life


Simplify my lifeGosh, I slept for 12 hours Friday night. I had a cold and went to bed at the same time as RB40Jr (8 pm) and didn’t get up until 8 am the next morning. I haven’t slept 12 hours for years. It’s too bad that I had to wait until I’m sick to catch up on my sleep. Life is still hectic even now that I don’t have a full time job anymore. I usually work on the blog until midnight and get about 7 hours of sleep on average. I take one or two nights off a week and I use that time to catch up on my books and shows. I just finished the first season of Last Kingdom, a BBC historical drama based Bernard Cornwell’s books (one of my favorite authors). If life was perfect, I’d have a little more leisure time and get 8 hours of sleep a night. Actually, life is much improved from just a few years ago. I did not have any leisure time at all when I was working full time, blogging on the side, and being dad to an infant son. Anyway, time flies and I’ll be 50 before I know it. I think I need to simplify my life so I’d have more time for leisure and self development before then.


Blogging takes up a significant chunk of my time. I spend about 4 hours every day working on Retire by 40. Writing, answering comments and emails, managing the blog, social media, and general goofing around on the internet all takes a lot of time. I enjoy blogging, but eventually I’d like to spend less time on it. I’ll probably cut the posting frequency down to once a week at some point. It would probably be a good idea to hire out some of the less enjoyable tasks as well.


Most of my investments don’t require a lot of time so that’s great. The exception is the rental properties. Next week, I’ll need to schedule a tree trimming so the maple will stop dropping a ton of leaves and pollen on the roof. I’m constantly dealing with various issues and I want to minimize that by the time I’m 50. Here are our investments.

  • Rental properties – I’ll have to get a good property manager or just sell them off.
  • Stocks in taxable account – Most of the money in our taxable account are invested in long term dividend growth stocks. There are just a few stocks that I need to sell off and move the money into solid dividend stocks.
  • P2P lending – P2P lending is mostly automated for me, but my auto-screening isn’t picking up enough new loans. I’m going to move this to a fully managed account and see how it goes.
  • 401k and Roth – These are all invested in low cost index funds. We only need to check and rebalance once a year.
  • Other P2P investments – I have about $1,000 at Kickfurther. Investors can fund small businesses and make a little money. This is like a hobby so I don’t mind spending a little time on the site. It’s interesting to see what kinds of products are being sold.


RB40Jr is growing up fast. He still demands a lot of time, but he can play with his toys with less supervision now. Once he learns how to read, he’ll be able to spend more time exploring books. He already likes looking through the picture books that Mrs. RB40 brings home from the library. This fall, he will start full time kindergarten (8am to 2pm) and that will give me a little more time to myself. I’m planning to exercise first thing in the morning and then go from there.

I’m not really sure what to expect 8 years from now. He’ll be 13 and I don’t know what kind of time commitment kids need at that age. When I was a kid, I didn’t need much supervised time at all. I read a lot and didn’t participate in team sports. My parents rarely had to drive me anywhere. Kids these days seem a lot busier. I guess we’ll see how it goes.

Mrs. RB40

Mrs. RB40 is very busy with work and errands, too. She plans to quit her job by 2020 and that will give us a little more time together. She has projects she wants to do so she will stay somewhat busy. I read that it’s not a good idea for couples to spend a lot more time together after retirement. A little more time together will be good for our relationship. We rarely do anything as a couple these days. The third wheel is always there.

Simplify My Life

So what would I do if I have more time?

  • Yoga, tai chi, and meditation – I haven’t practiced yoga and meditation for a few years and I miss it.
  • Spend more leisure time with the missus – We could go out more and explore the local sights.
  • Catch up on movies and books – I’m way behind on a ton of shows.
  • Take some classes at the local community college – I would love to take a photography class.
  • Play music more often – This is always on my to do list, but I rarely do it.
  • Do some good in the local communities – You need to help others if you want to live a meaningful life.
  • Start some new projects…
  • Maybe write a book

That’s it today. I have to go to bed early and try to get over this cold.

What would you do if you have more time? Are you trying to simplify your life too?

Image credit: CJ Johnson

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, the job became too stressful and Joe retired from his engineering career to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. Today, he blogs about financial independence, early retirement, investing, and living a frugal lifestyle.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is increasing his investment in real estate with CrowdStreet. He can invest in projects across the U.S. and diversify his real estate portfolio. There are many interesting projects available so sign up and check them out.

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help DIY investors analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.

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{ 47 comments… add one }
  • Julie and Will March 11, 2016, 11:33 am

    Our own 50 year old goal is to retire by then, so this is very timely.

    As for possessions piling up, it was an eye-opener to move out of the country for a year. We were relocated to England for work for one year, during which time the company paid for most of our goods and furnishings to be put in storage. When we came back to the U.S., we were appalled at how much stuff we had. We realized we had been using the basement and attic of our old house for storage. So we downsized to a condo, used a friend’s yard for a garage sale, and got rid of most things: second set of patio furniture, second set of dining set, etc.

    Now we are trying much harder to keep items to a minimum so that we can be much more nimble in retirement.

  • Joel March 9, 2016, 1:44 pm

    Joe, simplicity feels like a requirement to get out of the game early. I’m 42 and looking to be done in 10 years. I look around my house and wonder how I filled 2500 square feet with all that’s around me. We’re not big spenders, but it added up over the years. I cannot wait to get into a house half this size with less than half the stuff. Being in Illinois, we really need to leave the state to get to a lower cost of living, which is disruptive to the family today (middle and high school age kids, friends, etc). In the mean time, I’m buying rentals to create cash flow (purchasing rental #3 next week), but I find that it depletes my cash stash each time as I hate debt. I’ll be creating cash flow, but it feels like it moves the goal out further. I guess it doesn’t, but it’s hard on the brain…

    • retirebyforty March 10, 2016, 9:58 am

      Things definitely adds up. We moved from a 2,000 square foot home to a condo half that size. It was comfortably snug when we moved in, but now things are piling up. We didn’t buy much, but the place is jam packed. I wouldn’t want to move while my kids are in school either. Kids like stability. Good luck with your rentals. It will work out in the long run. Keep at it and good luck!

  • Dave @ Financial Slacker March 8, 2016, 11:41 am

    When I left my last corporate position last summer, I looked back over the prior 6 years and realized that other than working and family, I had very little to show for my time.

    That’s one of the reasons I started my site. I don’t want to look back in another 6 years and have the same question – what have I been doing with my time?

    It’s just so easy to fill up every waking moment with activity.

    Btw, my Fitbit indicates that I average 5.5 hrs of sleep no matter when I go to bed.

    • retirebyforty March 9, 2016, 10:51 am

      Work just take up so much of our time. I bet you have more time for other activities now. It sounds like the Fitbit isn’t very accurate. My Garmin Vivofit is spot on with the sleep tracking.

  • nicoleandmaggie March 8, 2016, 10:00 am

    Four hours a day sounds like a lot!

    I have noticed that a lot of the bigger sites have moved towards fewer updates and a front page that directs people towards previously published posts. I’m glad we haven’t monetized our site because making money on a site sounds like work.

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2016, 10:47 am

      Time flies when you’re on the computer. I should say that I’m on the computer about 4 hours a day. Not all of it is work.
      I prefer to blog 3x per week, but I probably will have to cut back at some point.

  • Joe,

    I turned 55 last month and have been working on simplifying my life as well. Our debt snowball and downsizing have consumed our lives the last 6 months. Fortunately we are past that. However as a result, my personal health has taken a hit due to the stress and energy taking on so many large tasks at a time. Throw in starting my own blog 10 months ago, and I have very little free time.

    This will be a pivotal year for us as we leave our employers, have the rental properties on auto pilot (as much as possible with property management), and we focus on our health and happiness. Would good is FIRE if you can’t have many years to enjoy the sacrifices we made in our lives to leave the rat race early?

    Take care,

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2016, 10:45 am

      I would try to relax a bit more. I was like you on my last year of working full time. At least the period of stress is finite. I hope you get out soon. Good luck!

  • Erik @ Hippies de Land Rover March 8, 2016, 4:04 am

    So good you’re already looking into your 50’s plan. I do agree that simplifying life would be great, life’s too short to run around like crazy. With so many interesting things and projects to do probably reducing the amount of time in front of the screen is not a bad idea!
    Best of luck Joe!


    • retirebyforty March 8, 2016, 10:44 am

      I’m on the computer much much less than when I was working full time. Hopefully, I can reduce that down even further in a few years. It’s much better to be active and do other real world activities.

  • The Personal Economist March 7, 2016, 9:50 pm

    My kids (now aged 6 and 7) read to themselves for quite long periods, even in the car without getting car sick so it is a nice break for us and we get to read the paper or read other blogs. I do try to limit my time my blog too. I’d like to learn how to play the piano. I try not to say ‘I don’t have time’ but more I am choosing to spend my time differently, some of it consciously, some not.

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2016, 10:43 am

      That’s great! We’re still trying to teach our kid to read. He knows all the sounds, but still haven’t been able to put the words together. Spending your time wisely is tough.

  • Jason Fieber March 7, 2016, 8:26 pm


    I hear you, bud!

    I’m sure I was spending more than four hours per day on Dividend Mantra there near the end. Writing alone is quite time consuming. But then you add in all the logistics of running a fairly large blog and it adds up real quick. I’m looking forward to starting a new platform later this year, but definitely not excited about the management duties. Will perhaps look to get some help there right from the start.

    Hope you’re able to simplify your life way before 50. Life’s too short to run around like crazy all the time. Some people love to be busy all the time, to the point where they’d just replace one time-consuming task that’s eliminated with another, new task. I guess I’m just different. I quite enjoy things like sleep, reading, and watching the waves come in down on Siesta Key. I don’t need to be constantly doing something intense.

    Best of luck, my friend!


    • retirebyforty March 8, 2016, 10:42 am

      I’m looking forward to your new platform. I miss Dividend Mantra. Yes, we’re trying to simplify our lives, but it’s tough. New things keep popping up. I like relaxing too and I’ll really be ready for it by the time I’m 50. Thanks!

  • Tissue King March 7, 2016, 6:43 pm

    It looks like you have a full time job, brother. I bet you didn’t think your retirement would be so busy.

    I’ve got one thing to say. If you love what you are doing then keep doing it. No matter how much time it takes.

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2016, 10:41 am

      Part time job. 🙂 I agree about keep doing what you love.

  • Financial Nirvana Mama March 7, 2016, 2:10 pm

    Ive accepted that life is not simple with twins, and all of the other things I’m working on and I want to accomplish.

    I am enjoying it – working on the blog, overseeing real estate, consulting full time, spending time exercising, and travelling occasionally. Delegating a ton and lower expectations for meals has simplified life:).

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2016, 10:40 am

      I think being busy suit certain people. I enjoy being less busy and will try to simplify my life. It’s great that you’re enjoying your busy life.

  • Our Next Life March 7, 2016, 10:10 am

    Oh how we WISH we could simplify our lives. In fact, they are fairly simple, in that we don’t take on very many things, but work is just such a time-suck. We’re in what we call our “end-stage careers” and we’re lucky if we can work only 12-hour days, especially with all the travel. So even though our lives are otherwise very simple, it’s hard to do even the basics with so little time leftover. We would LOVE to sleep more, love to get outside more, see our friends more — nothing crazy. BUT, this is not a complaint, because we’re a mere 22 months from retiring, and then we’ll have the time to take care of ourselves and each other, and to slow things down quite a lot. We can’t wait!

  • SavvyFinancialLatina March 7, 2016, 7:30 am

    I have been super busy lately. Between work and personal projects, I am running ragged. I don’t mind working on personal projects around the house. It’s fun. What makes it stressful is if life adds more things than I can manage happily. My mom asked me why I hadn’t called her this past weekend. I blew up saying mom, “I’m busy. Working on so many things and I couldn’t call you.” It’s hard for her to understand how busy I am since she doesn’t work and is at home most of the day. I know she’s bored but I also have limited time and can’t entertain her. Sigh…challenges.

    • SavvyFinancialLatina March 7, 2016, 7:47 am

      I need to learn how to handle stress in a better way.

    • retirebyforty March 7, 2016, 10:47 am

      That’s what I felt like when I was working full time. There was absolutely no time for anything extra. Now life is easier, but it could be better still. You might need to hire out some tasks. Good luck!

  • Mike Drak March 7, 2016, 7:19 am

    I’m in the process of creating a blog to help sell my book and create a Victory lap community but I’m very concerned investing too much of my time on social media. Everyone says I need a website/blog, twitter facebook, linkedin etc but it all seems a bit much. I thinking of just doing a weekly blog and just leave it at that. I’m concerned with over use of my iphone, internet, t.v. and will focus on reducing my time there. How many times do you need to check your stocks each day anyways?

    • retirebyforty March 7, 2016, 10:45 am

      The problem with social media is you won’t know which one will work for you. You have to try them all. After a while, you will see which few to focus on. A lot of work in the beginning. I would focus on the blog and maybe creating a forum first.
      Good luck!

  • Dividend Growth Investor March 7, 2016, 6:12 am

    Unfortunately, everything in life has a cost. If you simplify your life to the point where you no longer maintain this site, you will have 4 more hours per day. However, you will also miss out on the money you make online.

    I am curious, have you tracked the way you spend your time on this site? I have found that I waste time on Twitter, and it doesn’t really add much traffic anyways. Connecting with others is helpful, but then everyone else is doing that too, so I am not sure what the ROI on that activity is.

    By the way, when do you plan to simplify by? If 2020, then you have some time – but also remember that spending ALL the time with Mrs RB40 might not be optimal either. 😉

    • retirebyforty March 7, 2016, 10:44 am

      Ideally, I’d like to spend 2 hours a day on the site. I’m so inefficient these days.
      I haven’t track my time formally, but I think I spend time in this order.
      – writing
      – research/goofing off. There are just so much stuff on the internet and it’s so easy to get sidetracked.
      – answer comments
      – net work via visiting other blogs
      – go through emails, ignoring most of them
      – social media through out the day. Twitter on phone.

      Simplify life in 8 years, when I hit 50. I think Mrs. RB40 will be retired for a few years then and she’ll have her own projects. She’s always super busy.

  • MrFireStation March 7, 2016, 5:53 am

    We could all stand to simplify our lives, couldn’t we? Every now-and-then it’s good to look at what we spend our time & money on and make sure that we are focused on the things that make the most sense for us. Paradoxically, it’s hard to find the time to simplify – but it saves us time in the long run.

    Our experience with kids is that they take more, not less time the older they get. Our son is 18 now and his activities and needs became greater as he got older. Not until the last year or two did things start becoming easier. Until they reach driving age, their activities require a lot more involvement. Not just driving, but activities need parents to help provide leadership & support to the organization.

    We are early retiring at the end of the month (@ age 49) – looking forward to seeing how our time ‘works’ after the big day!

    • retirebyforty March 7, 2016, 10:40 am

      Ugh… Thanks for letting me know about the kids. Kids are high maintenance these days. Enjoy your retirement!

  • Maria March 7, 2016, 5:46 am

    Hi RB40,
    My simple life began January 2016 when I retire at 62 from my stressful job as a school principal. Why 62 you may ask – well because I enjoyed my stressful job and wanted my full pension.
    This is my simple life now.
    1. Sleep 8 or 9 hrs. – Delightful- makes me happy
    2. Get up pray and read
    3. Drink tons of water and eat a healthy breakfast
    4. Yoga class, Spinning class, Dance, Weights, or Walk on sunny days in FL- 5 days a week
    5. Eat a healthy lunch and nap maybe once a week- if I worked out for 90 mins
    6. Write in my gratitude journal, Crafts, Read, Write, Chores, Declutter, and Organize while streaming instrumental jazz music
    7. Cook gourmet/ organic dinner and make sure my fit
    8. Watch my shows or stream a good movie- never sit through anything not worth watching
    9. Side Hustle – babysitting my 2yr old grandson 2 or 3 times a week
    10. Would love to get paid to write articles for blogs as an additional side gig. Need to research !
    P.S. On weekends enjoy worshipping to give thanks, eating out, shopping at the farmers market and attending festivals or concerts! Love my simple layout life!

    • retirebyforty March 7, 2016, 10:39 am

      Congratulation and enjoy your retirement!
      8-9 hours sounds perfect. I’m very jealous of your #4. You’re living the good life.
      Thanks for sharing.

  • Justin @ Root of Good March 7, 2016, 5:46 am

    I vote simplify your life sooner rather than later! 🙂

    Take some time to relax and enjoy the life you’ve built.

    • retirebyforty March 7, 2016, 10:37 am

      You’re right! It just takes me a lot of time to do anything. It’s like steering a humongous cargo ship especially when I take the family into account. You’re doing it right.

  • Pennypincher March 7, 2016, 5:37 am

    Joe, at 13 yrs. old, kids do become more “low maintenance”. But then you are trying to help them discover some passions. So you’re driving them to banjo lessons and the astronomy club at school, etc. But, this is key,.. only things they really want to do and enjoy. The real break comes when they are able to drive themselves to their activities. Sweet freedom!
    When they finally leave home, it’s a bit sad, but then you realize, wow, life is good this way!

    • retirebyforty March 7, 2016, 10:36 am

      I want to sign him up for kung fu lessons, but I’m getting stiff resistance. He doesn’t want to try anything new. Maybe I’ll have to sign up for a class too. Time flies…

    • Mike March 7, 2016, 8:34 pm

      Agree, but the 2k in insurance premiums for a 16 year old boy isn’t fun. Glad I only have 3. Literally going to pay 7k a year in insurance for 3 boys 16-21 🙁

  • Stockbeard March 7, 2016, 3:39 am

    Hey Joe,
    I was like you as a kid, I was a very low overhead kid for my parents. As a matter of fact, I clearly remember all the “team sports” I would go to was stuff they made me do, for my own good. I hated it, and much more preferred spending time on my own or playing with the neighbors’s kids 😉

    • retirebyforty March 7, 2016, 10:35 am

      It looks like our kid doesn’t like team sports either. So far, he doesn’t play by the rules very well. He likes going by his own rules…

  • Michael @ Financially Alert March 7, 2016, 1:51 am

    Hi Joe,

    Hope you feel better soon!

    It’s always a challenge balancing family life with the blog. I try to keep my blogging after hours so I can stay present with my kids during the day. But, it’s also hard to grow the blog that way too.

    Anyhow, if I had more time to spare, I’d love to:

    Go fishing more
    Take some cooking classes
    Take an art/piano class
    Take a cruise to Alaska
    Volunteer more

    Truth is I probably have the time to do all of these now, I’m just not quite as efficient as I could be currently. 🙂

    • retirebyforty March 7, 2016, 10:34 am

      Blogging after hour is the way to go for busy people. 🙂
      I’d love to take some art classes as well. Not a big fan of cruises. I’m very inefficient these days, but I’m partly retired so that’s okay.

  • Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes March 7, 2016, 12:36 am

    Hi Joe,
    Like you, I spend quite a bit of time on my blog as well….4 hours a day sounds about right. So, I know what it’s like to not have leisure time (I have two little kids also)!

    If I had more leisure time, I would probably spend it on my various projects (like my blog), investment research, and exercising more.

    Mrs. Tako thinks we should buy a house without a lawn and a yard to help simplify things even further. She’s probably right.

    Maybe we’re stuck in the habit of keeping ourselves busy. No matter how much we simplify, we’ll just re-complicate it again. Something to think about.

    • amber tree March 7, 2016, 7:40 am

      You mention a topic I believe in: No matter what, we will always find ways to keep our selves busy! At least, that Is what I think is my case. I simplify one thing, just to head out and start another thing… restless by nature…

    • retirebyforty March 7, 2016, 10:32 am

      We live in a condo and it’s great to not have to deal with the yard work. The rental home we plan to move into doesn’t have much yard work either. There is no front lawn and the back yard is pretty bare. I think you’re right about re-complicating. I seem to have the knack for that.

  • Sam @ Financial Samurai March 7, 2016, 12:19 am

    I didn’t realize you spent 4 hours a day on the site Joe. Is it possible to outsource some of the tasks? Glad you got 12 hours of sleep. My body can’t sleep more than 6.5 hours. It’s usually up automatically 6 hours after I sleep, no matter when that it.

    I’m thinking of getting a pet again, but, I know it’s a lot of work. What to do. Simple life is nice.


    • retirebyforty March 7, 2016, 10:31 am

      The main problem is that it takes me so much time to write. I’ve outsourced a few things, but my freelancers kept leaving. It’s hard to find good helps that stick around. A pet is great, but may not be a good fit if you are out of town a lot.

      • Smart Money MD March 9, 2016, 6:57 pm

        Kids do consume a lot of your energy and time, especially if you have more than one. I’m assuming that Financial Samurai doesn’t have kids?

        Kids even in the 4-7 year range seem to have a crazy number of activities, especially if you live in an intense environment (read: SoCal or NYC). Karate, music lessions, soccer, baseball…you name it, and there are activities for your kids if you are willing to pay the tuition!

        • retirebyforty March 10, 2016, 9:59 am

          I think Sam is not married, but I’m not sure. Yeap, kids suck up all your time for sure. I’m signed him up for swimming lessons and will try martial art soon. That’s plenty of activity for a 5 year old…

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