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Early Retirement Myths Busted


Early Retirement Myths BustedOh man, I am worn out. This summer has been hectic for the RB40 household. We traveled to Hawaii, camped at the beach, and took a road trip to Boise. We also kept getting sick for some reason. It seems like we’ve been sick for over a month now. We all had a cold and it went round and round. Mrs. RB40 just got diagnosed with shingles and won’t recover completely for another few weeks! And this morning, RB40 Jr.’s back broke out in itchy hives. Oh no! We dodged a bullet on that one, though. The hives disappeared about an hour after I changed his shirt so maybe it was just a reaction of some kind. He got chickenpox vaccine, but there is still a small chance he can get it.

We also sold our rental home and 4 plex, acquired a duplex and convinced the renters to stay. Mrs. RB40 is in a 6 months special training course at work, so she has been incredibly busy interviewing leaders everywhere. There are a ton of fun events around town that we’ve been trying to attend. The best one was the $2 day at OMSI to see the dinosaur exhibit. That was pretty awesome. Anyway, it’s been crazy busy around here lately.

Early Retirement Myths

It’s been over two years since I quit my engineering career and things are going very well in general. We are happier and healthier (despite what you read in the first paragraph). Even our finance has improved over the last 2 years. Of course, everything isn’t as I envisioned, so today I thought I’d share my misconception about “early retirement.”

Wake up leisurely

One great thing about retirement and self employment is the ability to wake up at your own pace. In theory, you don’t ever have to hear the alarm clock again. You can wake up slowly, mentally gather yourself, and prepare for the day. You can sit down and have a good breakfast because you don’t have to get out the door into the rush hour traffic. That sounds great, but unfortunately leisurely mornings aren’t in the cards for the RB40 household.

At 4 am this morning, we woke up to a cry of, “My shorts are wet!” Oh no! I made sure he went to the potty before going to bed, didn’t I? This is unusual because he rarely wets his bed. Anyway, it wasn’t a huge amount so only his shorts are wet and just a little was on the sheet.  He probably went to the potty before going to bed, but just drank too much milk last night.  So while I took care of the sheets, Mrs. RB40 changed him, took him back to bed, and then he wanted to read a book on dinosaurs.

Before 7 am, he’s up and chatting. Luckily, grandma is here and they hung out, so we could get a few extra minutes in bed. Then it’s time to get up and have some leisurely breakfast. If by leisurely, you mean nagging Jr. to eat his cereal and chew every 2 minutes, then I guess we had a leisurely breakfast. It took about half an hour for him to finish his little bowl of cereals and then we’re off to prepare for preschool…

early retirement myths misconceptions busyLife in the slow lane

Life should slow down a bit when you don’t have a full time job, right? I was wrong about that, too. I thought I’d have time to do all the errands, write articles for my blog, read fun books, follow other blogs, and maybe even goof off a bit. The reality is that’s it impossible to do anything productive when Jr. is around. He just wants to play and he needs to interact with someone. Actually, he’s a lot better now and can play with his toys for about 10-15 minutes. When he was younger, he always wanted to play with another person.

He goes to preschool 2 days/week from 9 am to 1 pm so at least I have that time. Today, I’m calling his doctor (about the bumps), writing an article, catching up on emails and comments, meeting with the roofing company, and cramming a quick leftover lunch in there. Whew, where did the 3 hours go? Now I have 15 minutes to eat lunch before going to pick Jr. up from preschool.

The truth is when I was working, I used a lot of that time to run errands. I could catch up on the blogs whenever I had a few minutes of down time at work. I could drop by Home Depot on my way to work or during lunch. A lot of extra stuff got done during working hours. Now all those things need to be done with a tagalong.

A few more things

Passive income is not passive – passive income takes time and effort, too. Rental properties need attention. P2P lending doesn’t run very well on autopilot. Dividend stocks need to be checked on once in a while. Even cash isn’t really passive because I need to figure out how to invest the money. Passive income is awesome, but they’re not really passive.

More time for hobbies – I thought I’d be able to play my ukuleles more and perhaps take a photography class. Well, I do play more music than when I was working so that’s good. Junior is so disruptive, though. It’s hard to get in the flow when he’s running around swinging his toys.

Travel more – We traveled more this year and it was a lot of fun. However, I think we got really worn out from all the trips. It’s much easier to travel when you don’t have a rambunctious 3 year old around.

A lot of people pointed out that being a stay at home dad isn’t the same as being retired and I’ll have to agree now. Being a dad (mom) takes up a ton of time. Previously, work was the main time consumer in my life and I needed to work other things in. Now I spend most of my time being a dad and it’s difficult to find time to work. It’s like bizarro work…

early retirement busier than I thought

Jr. likes to help me cook.

I do enjoy spending time with my kid. It’s fun to run around the playground and take him to see various concerts around town. I just wish I had a little more time to work on the blog. I’m staying up past midnight every day and it’s wearing me down. Well, I’m sure once he learns how to read by himself, he’ll bury his nose in a book whenever we’re home. I’m really looking forward to that phase.

Anyway, early retirement is much busier than I imagined. It’s better to be busy than having a lot of idle time, though. It seems people get depressed with too much free time on their hands. I’m hoping life will calm down a bit as the kid gets older and I’ll have a little more time to be productive. Is that too much to hope for?

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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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{ 36 comments… add one }
  • mysticaltyger September 27, 2014, 2:20 pm

    Ooooh, I can soooo relate to being sick this summer. I’ve had strep throat since mid July. Thought it was a cold. Didn’t get my throat swabbed until early September and found out what it really was. It took 3 rounds of antibiotics to knock it out, but I think it’s finally gone!

  • Get Rich Brothers September 1, 2014, 9:57 pm

    I think you hit the nail on the head about Passive Income not being entirely passive. If you put it on autopilot for too long, you might come back to find some dividend cuts! As you said, parking cash in a savings account is one thing, but you should still be checking to see if you’re getting the best interest available at the bank you’re using.

    My brother is currently expecting a son and we’ve been discussing at length recently how that is going to change things in his life (free time will be MUCH harder to come by).

    Thanks for this timely piece.

    – Ryan from Get Rich Brothers

  • davidmichael August 25, 2014, 2:10 pm

    Joe…what I really like about your articles is they come from real life. Reminds me of what happens on the way to being a millionaire…Life happens! Some of us make it, some do not…but we all live this life in one form or another.

    Thanks to the shenanigans of Mickael Milkin and his junk bonds scandal in the late 1980’s, where we lost an important portion of our retirement funds (a $650,000 annuity in the largest insurance company in the state of California), we work seasonally at age 78 to bring extra funds for our retirement. This is an example of “life happens” to the best of intentions, no matter how hard one plans, scrapes and saves. Fortunately, we have never touched our savings and nest egg. As a result we have had a wonderful “after life” (after 65) by working occasionally on jobs we like for short periods of time.

    So it’s a tonic to read your blog and comments. I love the Dividend Paying Stocks, but I must say in the short term, the P2P Investments with Prosper have been incredible (12%).
    Thanks for your work and remember that as you hit the midnight oil to to write this blog, that you are making a difference for lots of readers out there. Hang in there and enjoy the moment. Your kiddo in a few years will be in college. My favorite ages for our kids were 7-13. After that, they are on their own pathway. Best to you and family.

  • Even Steven August 24, 2014, 2:09 pm

    I don’t think many of the problems listed are necessarily “early retirement” problems as they are being a stay at home dad. As long as you are happy in all of it is whats the most important.

    • retirebyforty August 24, 2014, 3:44 pm

      Yeah, being a stay at home dad is much busier than I imagined. It’s still a lot of fun, though. I’ll enjoy it for a few more years before my kid goes off to school full time.

  • Alexis August 22, 2014, 2:45 pm

    I think staying busy while being retired is great for you. You seem to be keeping busy and remaining active in your life even if you don’t have a 9-5 job. When I retire, I want to keep busy by not only traveling but taking up new hobbies as well.

  • No More Waffles August 22, 2014, 12:06 pm

    My grandparents always complain about how busy they are in retirement compared to when they were in the workforce. Seems like you’re enjoying the same “fate”. My mom stayed at home too and even though everyone thought she did nothing all day, her job of taking care for us was more than full-time!

    • retirebyforty August 24, 2014, 3:39 pm

      Retirement is busy, but I think that’s much better than having too much idle time. It’s a lot better than a job, that’s for sure.

  • Goldeneer August 22, 2014, 10:32 am

    My husband took his retirement at 31 to stay at home with our newborn daughter. It has been 1.5 years and it was much different than he had envisioned. Like you, he thought he would have a lot of time to spend on his hobbies. He only has time after we are all in bed for the night as he spends the majority of the day playing with her, feeding her, doing commissions and taking care of the house during her nap.

    He loves being a SAHD as it suits his personality. He describes it as “being better than having won the lottery”.

    The one thing that is missing from our fantastic life is that I now want to take my retirement within a year so that we can be at home together. We would have more time for our own hobbies if we take shift of being with our daughter and would greatly enjoy being together for the rest of the day. Since deciding that I want to join them, I have modified our plan to be able to stay at home in 1 year instead of 3 so that I can be semi-retired at 31 too. It will have to follow a tight budget so I may have to take up a short contract each year to pay for unplanned expenses.

    • retirebyforty August 22, 2014, 12:57 pm

      Good luck with your retirement! It’s really great that you’re planning for a better family life. Taking on contracts would be a great way to smooth things out financially. Pretty soon your daughter won’t be napping anymore and he’ll have even less time. That’s what happened this year for us. 🙂

  • Tawcan August 22, 2014, 10:19 am

    Joe your story have been very inspiring to me. I recently took a 2 week parental leave to spend more time with my son. During that 2 weeks I got a taste what early retirement might be like for me. I truly enjoyed that.

    Sure passive incomes aren’t truly passive but you only need to spend small amount of time to “work” on passive incomes compared to a full time job.

    • retirebyforty August 22, 2014, 12:55 pm

      I’m glad you could take some time off to spend with your son. It’s eye opening.

  • Kurt @ Money Counselor August 22, 2014, 9:19 am

    Love the get these updates on the challenges of Mr. Mom, etc. Don’t worry Joe–he’ll be in full time school soon. Until then, sounds to me like you’re doing a great job. Your personal life is on hold for a few years, but just look at the trade off!

    • retirebyforty August 22, 2014, 12:55 pm

      It’s fun in general, but I have to complain sometime. 🙂 I’m sure it will be much easier in a few years.

  • Justin August 22, 2014, 8:12 am

    Wow. Great summary of what early retirement is really like! I’m coming up on one year of early retirement in a few days, and I have the same feelings. I rarely get to sleep in with 3 kids (always school or camp or a 2 year old needing something). I’ve kept very busy with hobbies mostly like I expected.

    • retirebyforty August 22, 2014, 9:38 am

      I’m sure it’s been the busiest year of your life with 3 kids. How do you have time for hobbies?

  • Andrew August 22, 2014, 7:29 am

    I know how you feel…I’ve taken days off to take care of my 1 year old. I am more tired on those days than if I had gone to work. He also likes waking up at around 6am and throws a tantrum when I try to put him down for a nap. Like your other readers said…being a stay at home dad is different than being retired. Being a stay at home dad is a full time dad!

    • retirebyforty August 22, 2014, 9:36 am

      Man, why can’t kids sleep in a little longer. Being a full time dad is a lot more work than I thought.

  • Stefanie August 22, 2014, 7:22 am

    Yay for happier and healthier! I think having NOTHING to do would honestly be boring. Sounds like you have a good balance.

    • retirebyforty August 22, 2014, 9:35 am

      It’s not very balance right now because it’s too busy. Hopefully, some day I’ll have a little more leisure time for myself. 🙂

  • SavvyFinancialLatina August 22, 2014, 6:49 am

    Sounds like you are super busy! Hopefully once your kid goes to school longer things will become less hectic and you can spend more time on your hobbies.

    • retirebyforty August 22, 2014, 9:34 am

      I’m hoping things will slow down a bit in the Fall, but we’ll see. I don’t know if I’d ever be able to spend more time on my hobbies… Life is just too busy.

  • chad August 22, 2014, 5:19 am

    Good morning,
    Your life sounds a lot like mine some 14 years ago when I “retired” at 29 to be a stay home dad. At the time we had 3 kids, ages 6 months, 18 months, and 4. My wife and I were working all the time trying to raise kids with no family support(my parents and grandparents were deceased, and my wife’s father was sick so my mother in law was taking care of him). One evening my wife came home after a long day at work, I was already home after my long day, feeding two babies and bathing the oldest and she said to me ” You know if one of us stays home with the kids we do not have to earn the $1500.00 dollars in childcare that we pay every month, and I think you would do a great job with our kids.” That statement was the most liberating and sensible thing I had ever heard! At that time I was the Nursing Administrative Director of a post surgical rehab unit. The next day I went to work thinking about my wife’s statement from the night before. I worked approximately 45 minutes that morning and thought, “You know she’s right, it is ridiculous for me to be here working while someone else is raising my 3 kids.” I walked into my boss’s office and told her I was quitting that day, and needed to know where I could find a box to pack my things! In 15 minutes(after the nausea left me), I was on my way to the nursery where my children were staying to pick them up, cancel their daycare placement, and start my life as “Mr. Mom”. Man, these have been the BEST 14 years of my life, and the busiest, most trying 14 years of my life!
    I have been able to do things with my my kids that most parents only dream of, and most fathers never think they could be able to do. We have had play dates, colored ALOT, played tons of games in our local park, and even traveled a good bit.
    Retiring as young man has not been an easy road but one that I would never change. We learned to live well within our budget, as we are not rich, but comfortable and happy. Now my children are 19, 15, 14. All of them very different, but happy well rounded young people. Your hectic life will pay off in the end with children whom appreciate there father more than most, and hopefully they will be able to learn life skills that will carry them far in their own lives.
    Kudos to you for choosing to “retire” into father/mommyhood!
    Good luck, and have tons of fun.

    • retirebyforty August 22, 2014, 9:32 am

      Thanks for sharing your experience. It has to be very gratifying to see your kids grow up to be well rounded young adults. That’s what we want too. I can’t imagine how busy it’d be with 3 kids. I already have my hands full with just 1. What is your plan after they leave for college?

      • chad August 24, 2014, 4:24 am

        When the youngest(14) gets close to graduation age I plan to get certified as a TESOL (foreign English as second language) educator and we are going to gypsy our way around Central and South America and Asia.

        • retirebyforty August 24, 2014, 3:43 pm

          That’s a great plan. I want to try Peace Corp., but we’ll see if Mrs. RB40 is up for another round.

  • so August 22, 2014, 3:48 am

    This blog basically convinced me that early retirement / SAHD life is not for me. Based upon your posts, you seem like a generally unhappy and stressed out dude by nature (whether working or not, your tone doesn’t change much). You’ve talked me out of early retirement.

    It might be a productive investment for you to get some counseling to try and learn some stress management / time management techniques, b/c the kid is always going to be a source of major stress and there will never be enough hours in the day.

    • Pennypincher August 22, 2014, 5:12 am

      You always seem to sound pretty positive to me! So sorry to hear of Mrs. RB40’s shingles. She is quite young to have that. More relaxation (yoga!), less stress. And remember, Jr. will be in school for 8 hours, very soon. So keep enjoying this time w/him now like you seem to be! You do seem to enjoy your life.

      • Caren August 22, 2014, 5:24 am

        I agree with Pennypincher. I don’t think you sound overwhelmed, just venting like any SAHD with a 3 year old. But don’t worry, soon your adorable sidekick not only won’t need as much of your time, he won’t even want to be seen with you! Time flies….enjoy these special moments with him (love the picture of him helping you cook).

        As for Mrs. RB40, please caution her about stress. I got shingles at 43 due to stress and had ongoing symptoms for 6 months. It can and will come back if she stresses too much again.

        • retirebyforty August 22, 2014, 9:33 am

          Thanks! We’ll try to help Mrs. RB40 with her stress. We do need to vent in a while. It’s not all fun being a stay at home dad/mom. 🙂

      • retirebyforty August 22, 2014, 9:28 am

        Life is pretty good. Mrs. RB40 tends to stress out too much, though. It’s fun hanging out with the kid, but it’d be nice to have a little time to work on my blog too. You’re right about the kid going off to school. It’ll be nice to have more time to myself.

    • retirebyforty August 22, 2014, 9:26 am

      I do need help with time management. I’m a lot stressed out in general, but some days are just harder than others. Modern life is just too busy.

      • Mrs. RB40 August 23, 2014, 9:39 am

        Thanks Pennypincher and Caren! I think this week was just more difficult than usual. With me out of commission unexpectedly (I had just kicked a long-standing cold, and now this happens?!), it makes things harder for Joe. I understand his need to vent. As for me, I thought I was managing the stress, but things seemed to pile on all at once. Though I can’t do a lot physically at present, my mind still works so I can still contribute by planning or writing. Thankfully, this weekend will be an unscheduled, relatively relaxing one, catching up on projects at home (which I will do slowly so as not to overexert myself) and having some much needed family time.

    • Carla December 25, 2015, 12:16 pm

      I don’t think its early retirement, its having children. Though not having children isn’t in the cards for me for various reasons, this post is a reminder for me not to make that a goal.

  • Petra August 22, 2014, 12:27 am

    It sounds like junior is the main cause of the fact that you can’t sleep in and are so busy. Of course, most of it you enjoy and you love the little bugger, so it’s OK. But if you retire early without having little kids in the house, things should be a bit easier…

    • retirebyforty August 22, 2014, 9:24 am

      You got it! 🙂 I’m pretty sure it’ll get better in a couple of years once he goes off to kindergarten.

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