9 Years After Early Retirement Update

Woohoo! I got my second Covid vaccine shot. Soon, we’ll be able to go out like in the good old days. Boy, it has been a strange year. Our son studied online and Mrs. RB40 worked from home the whole year. Our small home got quite cramped with everyone there 24/7. (We live in a duplex.) Fortunately, our tenant went to Europe for 9 months. We agreed on 50% off rent and the ability to use his living room as office space. It worked quite well.

Recently, our tenant came back so we have less space again. However, RB40Jr started going to school a few hours per day. Mrs. RB40 also goes to the office occasionally. In 2 weeks (after 2nd shot), she’ll be able to go out more and travel for work occasionally. Things are slowly going back to normal. Whew!

It’s been 9 years since I retired from my engineering career. This past year was the craziest retirement year so far. However, it was still way better than my last years at work. Back then, I was a miserable jerk. Even the worst year in retirement is better than work. Ha!

Early retirement really isn’t for everybody, but it is perfect for me. I love my life today. I have a lot of autonomy and I can do whatever I want. Strangely, a year of pandemic seems to bring this reality to many people. Workers got a taste of working from home and they loved it. Many older workers also plan to retire early. The pandemic showed us that life is short. You have to enjoy it while you can. If you don’t like your work, then it’s time to figure something out. Mrs. RB40 is one of those workers. Now, she’s ready to take a year off (2022) and see where to go from there.

Early Retirement Recap

First, let’s do a quick recap.

Before ER – I worked in chip design for 16 years. In the beginning, engineering was great and I enjoyed learning and working on the technical issues. Eventually, I became more senior and needed to take on more leadership roles. 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 very well 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 bit turning point.

Year 7 ER – We had more challenges than usual and I was stressed out. My mom was diagnosed with dementia and we moved her 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 peak of the pandemic in the US. It was so nice that I had a hard time adjusting back to life back home.

Early Retirement is still awesome

love early retirement because I have a lot of autonomy. I don’t have a boss and I largely control my schedule. Of course, I have “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 and teachers took over a large portion of his time.

2020 was a crazy year, though. I had to help with schooling and being a SAHD took up a lot of time. We got through it, though. Virtual schooling kept improving and it’s quite good now. RB40Jr doesn’t need a lot of supervision anymore. He can log on, join the meetings, chat tech support (his teacher), and do most of the online lessons by himself. Actually, he learned a ton about technology. It’s pretty amazing. Being a SAHD is easy again because he doesn’t need constant supervision anymore.

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 not good for me. My weight increased from 130 to 138 pounds. RB40Jr also got chubby. We were home all day and it was super easy to snack constantly. Mrs. RB40 took up baking during the pandemic so that didn’t help. We all gained weight.

Fortunately, I went to Thailand and quarantined for 14 days. They provided 3 meals per day and that was it. No snacks, junk food, or sugary drinks. The serving size was also much smaller than the US serving size. I got down to 132 pounds and kept it down since then. You could order extra food from room service, but I only took advantage of that a few times. I wanted to lose weight.

There is another piece of bad news. My blood pressure is high. My doctor put me on medication to control it. I guess that’s part of getting older. Other than that, I’m pretty healthy.

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 wasn’t good. Now, I feel much healthier.

*If you want to keep your weight down, try intermittent fasting. Here is how I do it. I only eat from noon until 8 pm on weekdays. This cuts down on the calories and I don’t miss breakfast much. Try intermittent fasting if you want to control your weight. It really works. If you can’t do it by yourself, I highly recommend Martin Dasko’s Intermittent Fasting Course. It was very helpful when I first started IF.

Wealthier

We are a lot more fortunate than many families. This pandemic didn’t affect our finance too much. Mrs. RB40 kept her job. My online income decreased about 20%, but we weren’t dependent on that so it wasn’t a big deal. The stock market crashed, but it came back like a hurricane. We stay invested and our net worth increased quite a bit. It’s pretty crazy how well investors did in 2020. Our passive income streams took a hit, but it’s recovering.

All in all, we are 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 stops working next year. You’ll have to wait and see if we can continue to grow our wealth after 2022.

Happier

Last year was stressful because of the pandemic. However, I was still happier than when I was an engineer. We stayed home and enjoyed ourselves for the most part. 2020 would have been a lot more difficult if I was single. I’d be so lonely if I had to go through 2020 by myself. Mrs. RB40 and RB40Jr enjoyed being home. They are homebodies and didn’t have any problem at all with the lockdown.

Another issue was my mom’s health. It was great to see her in Thailand, but it also made me realize that my dad needs more help. He tried hiring some helpers, but it never worked out. Next year, I plan to go stay for 3 months so I can help out more. In fact, I should do that every year. Why not?

Overall, I’m happy with life. I just hope school opens up like normal in the fall. That would be perfect.

Happiness

Early Retirement Projects

The last 9 years have been amazing, but life goes on. 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

house

This project is probably on most people’s lists. It is endless. This year I plan to build a covered pergola over the deck. This will provide shade and help channel the rain away from the house. That’s the main project this year. (We decided on doing just one big project per year. Otherwise, it’s just too much.) I also have a few other small projects like painting, replacing the hallway fixture, and power washing the deck. Someday, I’d like to live in a home that requires very little maintenance.

Blogging

Another project that keeps me busy is blogging. However, it has been difficult this year. I had a great time in Thailand and it was tough to get back into the routine. Writing became much more difficult than in previous years. I feel like my passion for FIRE is slowing seeping away. I’ll keep blogging this year and evaluate the situation again next year. We plan to take a year off to travel around the world so that might give me the jolt I need. I could write more about traveling and the nomadic lifestyle.

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

Around the world trip

We want to take a year off to travel around the world. Lots of people did it, why shouldn’t we? Even our neighbor lived in Sri Lanka for a year. Well, it’s daunting. We have our lives here and we’re not ready to let that go yet. However, this coronavirus pandemic helped push us along the way. Things that were daunting don’t seem that scary anymore.

  • Homeschooling – It’s hard, but we can do it.
  • Mrs. RB40’s work –Work is going well for her, but she is ready to take a year off to figure things out. If she doesn’t like early retirement, she can find a job afterward.
  • Rental properties – I’ll put our rental condo up for sale after the lease is up. We also have a renter at our duplex, but I don’t think it’s a big deal. He can keep an eye on our home while we’re gone.
  • Finance – Our passive income should be enough to fund a year off. One concern I had was renting out our home while we’re gone. Now, I don’t think we need to rent it out. Our housing cost is pretty low at $1,250/month. It’s low because we live in one unit of the duplex and rent out the other. We can carry that for a while.
  • Parents – My mom has dementia and she lives in Thailand with my dad. My dad is taking care of her, but he needs help. It’s stressful. I’ll spend a large portion of this trip in Thailand so I can help out. Mrs. RB40 can spend a similar amount of time with her parent.

Those were my main concerns and they are all surmountable. After RB40Jr finishes 5th grade in 2022, the stars will line up. We’ll take a year off to go travel. He can start the 7th grade when we get back. One fewer year of middle school isn’t going to hurt him.

Keep at it

All in all, these last 9 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 with the bigger paycheck. When you’re unhappy, you spend money to try to make life better. Who knows? I’d probably 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 have. 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 on 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.

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.

Disclosure: We may receive a referral fee if you sign up with a service through the links on this page.

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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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28 thoughts on “9 Years After Early Retirement Update”

  1. Hey Joe
    I noticed a funny pattern emerging in my working-colleagues. Many of them are now working harder, and wanting to buy bigger houses and fancier cars, more consumerism post pandemic. I thought everyone would become a little more frugal, or value their time/life a bit more, but it seems they’ve all gotten into a mindset now of getting a huge house and really working harder and earning more money.

    I’ve asked them, and it seems to be that they haven’t been able to do anything besides work (due to lockdowns), so they’re going to really put all their energy and time into working and earning money, money and more money. It’s like a revenge-work ethic, like flashing that you have a high-powered career when everyone is unemployed.

    Have you seen any such ambitions being vocalised in your network? I’m finding it quite strange.

    Reply
  2. Joe, congrats man! 9 years. Also the world trip sounds like a great adventure. My lady and I did an around the world trip just before having our kids and it was a total life changer for me. Also you mentioned being less motivated to write and I feel that. If the goal was to be FI and you are well past that, at what point does continuing to write about it become something that just holds you back? This is something that has been on my mind lately and Ive only been at it for about 2.5 yrs. Be well and thanks for the continued inspiration 🙂

    Reply
  3. Thanks for your honest and interesting 9-year update Joe. I’m a fairly regular reader from Sweden that early-retired from an engineering position in December 2019, much for the same reason as yours.

    2020 has been one mighty strange year and it is texts from the heart like yours that makes me accept and understand my own emotional ups-and-downs the last year.

    You are one of only a few FIRE bloggers that feel like a real genuine person, not a super-efficient real estate investor with ADHD or some digital nomad travelling the globe perpetually with travel hacking ninja level skills and an overflowing social media presence.

    Keep up the high quality blogging and all the best to you and your family!

    Reply
  4. Congratulations on the 9-year anniversary, Joe. I can’t imagine what life would be like once I retire for one year, let alone nine years. It must be really nice.

    I’m sure your net worth will keep climbing nicely even after your wife early retires with you.

    Reply
  5. yours looks like a great retirement to me, joe. well done. i agree that one larger home project a year is enough. you don’t want that stuff to take over your life or disrupt it too much.

    Reply
  6. Congratulations on 9 years of early retirement! It looks like by any measure (health, wealth, happiness) things are going well and you’re upcoming world trip will be something new and exciting to look forward to 🙂

    Reply
  7. Congrats on 9 years of early retirement – one more year till it’ll be a full decade!

    I noticed right away that I was pulled to see the happiness section more than anything. Obviously, the numbers are important but if you’re not happy while retired then it’s not really worth it. Unsurprised but glad to see that happiness has prevailed over the years!

    I’m only at a little over 2 years of being early retired but I just could never even imagine going back to a full-time job. I don’t miss it one iota. Being able to choose your days and spend real time with family makes it so worthwhile.

    Reply
  8. Congrats on 9 years and it’s fantastic to hear that you got your second shot! The US is so much ahead of us in terms of administrating vaccines. Hopefully we’ll have a more normalized summer/fall this year.

    Reply
  9. Congrats on 9 years! I like these bigger picture updates because sometimes life can get lost in the day-to-day errands. As you wrote, the house stuff never seems to get done. Our spring cleaning was a little delayed this year and we did a lot last week, but it is barely a dent.

    You’ve got me thinking about the travel around the world trip. I didn’t think it was possible because I don’t want the kids to miss a year of school. However, because they are good with homeschooling now maybe they can do some kind of learn-at-your-own-pace while traveling.

    Reply
    • I’m sick and tired of home maintenance. There are so many things to do and I can’t keep up.
      You can see how we do next year. Although, it’ll be more difficult with 2 kids. I’m sure it would be fine for one year.

      Reply
  10. Hi Joe,
    Congrats on the 9 year anniversary. About the blog, if it moves into more of a early retirement lifestyle direction then that would still be interesting in my opinion, and perhaps more interesting for you if your FIRE bug is starting to wane a little. Following year year of travels would be a good place to start.

    Reply
  11. Huge congrats Joe, 9 years and counting! And I recommend intermittent fasting too, I do it most every day.

    “Blogging is still fun, but I need to figure out my next big project.” I could have written these words myself 🙂

    Reply
  12. Congrats Joe! I have been following your journey for several years and benefitted greatly from the wisdom that you have shared. Thank you!

    All the best for the next 9 years!!!!

    Reply
  13. I am glad that you are enjoying your retirement now that you are into it for 9 years.

    I semi-retired when I was 42 and had a net worth of MINUS $30,000 (due to student loans). Many people said it was impossible but I proved them wrong. Now at 71, I am almost fully retired and enjoy it immensely although at times I feel that I should be a little more productive by writing more books.

    Here is one of my favorite quotes from a reader of one of my books:

    “If I’d known that retirement was going to be this good
    I’d have done it the day after I left school !!!”
    — Mickey White (who lives in the United Kingdom and
    wrote to yours truly about how much he enjoyed “How to Retire, Happy, Wild, and Free”.)

    Reply

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