Too Much Time After Retirement?

One question people often wonder about retirement is – what would I do with all the extra time? Work takes up 50-70 hours per week, including the commute. That’s a significant chunk of time to repurpose. Some of us look forward to having more time to work on our hobbies, hang out with loved ones, travel, and more. But just as many have no idea how they would fill those empty hours. They think they’ll be bored so they put off retirement and continue to work.  However, there is no need to be afraid. Research shows that you’ll be happier when you have more time to do what you want. This might be the main reason why retirees are generally happier than workers.

Time affluence

Have you heard of the term – time affluence? We all know what affluence means. It’s income and wealth. If you earn over $200,000 per year or your net worth exceeds $1,000,000, then you’re one of the affluent people in the US. Actually, I kinda stole that qualification from being an accredited investor. You need to be one to invest in private funds, such as Real Estate Crowdfunding. Affluent people have special privileges like that.

Anyway, time affluence means you have plenty of time to do what you want. That’s one thing retirees have a lot more of than workers. When I was working, I never had time to do anything. I was always rushing to put one fire out after another. In contrast, I’m a lot more relaxed these days. I can get things done at my own pace without someone hanging over my shoulder. Retirees don’t have to deal with work and they enjoy life more as a result.

Of course, you need to be healthy and financially secure as well. If you have a lot of time and no money, you probably won’t be able to do everything you want to. Same with health.

More time after FIRE

I retired from my engineering career in 2012. Not having to work freed up a ton of time. However, most of that time was taken up by our son, RB40Jr. He was just 18 months old when I retired. Being a SAHD was very time-consuming. However, I enjoyed being a SAHD much more than being an engineer, so it worked out well. I wanted to be a dad and help raise our son. At that point, I didn’t want to be an engineer anymore.

After a few years, RB40Jr grew up and went to school. That was a big turning point. Once he started kindergarten, I had a lot more time to do what I wanted. I could work on my blog and various other chores at my pace. These days, I am much happier than when I was an engineer. We can see that from my happiness log. Generally, I’m quite happy unless there is a big negative event in my life. Before FIRE, I was a miserable corporate drone. I never want to live that kind of existence again.  

These days, I work on my blog, side hustle, fix up the house, look for a good project to invest in, read, watch TV, hike, and basically enjoy life. Also, I plan to live in Thailand 3 months/year from now on. My parents need help and I’m the only one available. All these are things I want to do.

More Time = More Happiness

I gave up a lot of income by retiring early. Most of us think we’ll be happier if we have more money, but that isn’t necessarily true. Time is much more valuable than money once you’re financially secure. Now, we have enough passive income to cover our cost of living so we don’t need to work so much. It’s wonderful to have more time.

In conclusion, don’t worry about having too much time after retirement. When you’re working, just focus on shoring up your finance and staying healthy. Once you’re retired, you’ll have plenty of time to figure out how to be happy.

What do you think? Do you have enough time to do everything you want? Are you time affluence?

Image credit: Jon Tyson

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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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29 thoughts on “Too Much Time After Retirement?”

  1. It’s a weird circumstance to retire early. To do so you had to trade time and experiences earlier in life for money- which later can be used to buy more future time and experiences. What got you there is so different then what you do when you are there.
    Filling the time in with new family commitments seems to make sense. And I’m sure the problem solving and planning skills that got you to retirement do translate into other aspects of life.
    It is a weird feeling though

  2. After being early retired for over 2½ years, I still feel like there’s not enough time in the day. That said, there are so many new things that I’m doing and want to do. Plus, I spend a ton of time hanging out with the family.

    My thinking is that everything will change over the next couple of years as our daughter hits her teenage years. I’m sure she’ll not want to hang out with dear-old-dad much after that and that’ll free up some time.

    Regardless, I love every minute of this freedom to choose each and every day! 🙂

  3. I’m not retired yet, but in my engineering job there’s currently a lull, so I realistically only work 2-3 hours a week. That said though, I don’t think I have time “affluence” — most of my time is personal time but I always find something to get into. Whether it’s e-commerce or learning about NFTs or starting a blog or working out, there’ll always be something very interesting to fill the time.

    I feel like if you’re “bored” at retirement that’s not due to the lack of a job, but the lack of skill to engage with everything that life has to offer.

  4. My former boss just became voluntarily unemployed after 17 years of working and she will be the richest person ever in terms of time. I enjoy her… I hope to be in her place relatively soon but I know it’s not an easy possibility.

    Time is what everyone strives to have more of!

  5. Things keep evolving when you retire – if you can go with the flow.

    . Before I retired I was supposed to receive a very generous indexed pension fund. One day the company got sold. Instead of pension I got a lump sum settlement. Knowing nothing about investing, I gave the money to a “professional” who assured me the mutual funds would give me a generous income when I retired. All I had to do was sell off 4% of the fund each year to live on.

    Four years later after the fund had lost $300,000 I took back what was left and became a self-directed investor. Since I had a background in building commercial risk scoring software, i made the assumption that stocks were just another form of commercial risk. I built a program to help me pick financially strong companies paying high dividends. Four years later, I retired at 60 with enough dividend income coming in to live on.

    I had always wanted to write novels but had never had the time. I now had the time. I sat down an wrote my first novel, “Duel”, then my second novel “Using Drought USA” and a third “Beware the Abandoned”.

    About this time an 80 year old woman who had helped me in a community project asked me for help. Her investment portfolio had lost several hundred thousand dollars. She knew nothing about investing. I spent months showing her how to invest the way I did using my scoring software. Soon she had doubled her income and was recovering much of what she had lost. She then said, “there many people like me out there who are afraid of outliving our investments. You are a writer. You need to write a book that will help these people”.

    I then wrote a book called “Income and Wealth from Self-Directed Investing” . Soon hundreds of people around the world had read the book”. Several wrote and asked why I had used Canadian stocks in the charts instead of US stocks. This made me curious as to what I would find if I wrote an investment book on stocks traded on the NYSE and the NASDAQ. I wrote that book. It was called “Safer Better Dividend Investing”. For both books I supplied the stock scoring software to any reader who asked for it

    An interest in investing took over my life and I now saw how I could make the building of financially strong high dividend stock portfolios even easier for people. This week I will be launching a new investment book for Canadians with a second book scheduled for Americans by year end..

    As I said things evolve. Once you are retired paths entice you to follow them. The paths will find you if you let them. All I had hoped for was a comfortable income. Not only has my income constantly increased but I now have far more disposable cash than I had as a Vice President in a fortune 500 company. My portfolio has grown by more than 300%. .My net worth is 5 times greater than when I retired.

    So much for cashing in 4% of your mutual fund every year to live on.

  6. I am seventy years old, retired for six years. I would have retired much sooner If knew what I know now. I am very busy playing Pickleball, lawn bowling and volunteer for the club. I tried to learn guitar and piano. My fingers cramped up. I would have been able to play guitar and piano if I have started in my fifty’s. I would rather able to do both than have more money. I am Chinese, was taught to work hard. Fortunately I am still able to do lots of stuffs. Thank God for everything.

    • I wonder whether it would help with the guitar or piano to take it slow. Perhaps have a teacher too, in case you are holding your hands in the wrong position and that is causing some of the problems.

      I guess it’s true that it would be easier if you were younger – your muscles, tendons and joints can take more abuse when young. But given that there are a lot of people who enjoy playing the piano or guitar into their nineties, I think you could do it too, but maybe start slower.

  7. Good article. An often overlooked part of retirement planning is the time aspect. Part of the money-side planning should be a clear vision of how you will spend your time. This can have quite an affect on how you spend your money. The nice thing is that you can try out retirement while on a staycation…practice your typical retirement day for a week. How well does it work for you? Another thing to consider is to start making your days and weekends look more like your retirement vision while you are still employed. If your retirement time is what you would choose to do if you didn’t need the money from a job, why not start doing some of that now? This works better, perhaps, outside of a FIRE context (no SAHD, but rather empty nesting in the latter part of a longer career path/timeframe).

    • I think it’s hard to plan for after retirement. Things that sound like fun might not be right. It’s good to plan a bit, then just jump into it. Most people can figure out what to do with extra time when they have it.

  8. Lazy Man makes a good point about Parkinson’s Law: something for early retirees (and everyone else) to consider. Sometimes, giving people a lot of time doesn’t necessarily lead to a more effective outcome as tasks expands to fit the space & time allowed them.

    That said, who said we have to be efficient? As your post notes, maybe we should just aim for something approaching fulfillment and, if we’re lucky, happiness.

  9. I think the perspective of those of you who are “retired” with kids at home is a little skewed. My wife left the work force to raise our three kids. That was trading a paid job for a non-paid one, it was in no way retirement. I always felt she worked harder at home than I did at work. Being a stay at home parent is a full time job.

    • Three kids sound more difficult. We have just one and when school starts, I’ll have a lot more time to myself.
      It’s not like a full-time job at this point. More like an easy part-time gig.

  10. A fear of being “bored” seems to be part of the problem. My childhood was full of extracurricular activities in the 80s and 90s; that seems to have only gotten worse since (in the Before Times, at least). The entire economic system is predicated on maximizing productivity and appearing busy. Here in DC especially, so many seem to be Type-A career-treadmill crazies

    Creativity and fulfillment can be at least as gratifying when they spring from letting thoughts wander rather than chasing the next prearranged dopamine hit, right?

  11. You can make more money but you can never make more time making the latter far more valuable.

    There is also a premium curve regarding time. Your body deteriorates as you get older so even if you happen to live a long life there is limited time where you can actually go out and do things you really want to (ie very rare for anyone to be able to physically do strenuous recreational activities when you see in your 70s so these things can only be accomplished in your prime of life)

    • My parents are in their 70s and they have some health issues. They can’t travel that much anymore and spend a lot of time on health care. It’s sad, but true. Enjoy the fun activities while you’re young and healthy. Don’t put it off too long.

  12. Parkinson’s law says that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion” and I feel like that applies to early retirement. Except in this case it doesn’t have to be “work”, but any real activity. I like grocery shopping, so I can do it more leisurely.

    That said, there can be times of depression where I’ve lost my sense of purpose. There are always little projects around the house to do, but 95% of the time, I don’t want to do them. I got more happiness from building a search engine that literally millions of people used every day. That was before the tech burnout though.

    I still don’t have enough time to do everything that I want to do, but I also find that I’m not very efficient with the time I do have.

    • I think you’re right. When you have more time, you find things to do.
      You’re right about efficiency as well. I do things at a lot more relaxing pace now.
      It’s a lot less stressful.

  13. There is and will never be such as thing as too much time. Time is the one non-renewable resource that we all will run out of. I could have 48 hour days and still not run out of cool things to do. The idea of being “bored in retirement” is a thing that only lazy or uninteresting people have to worry about

  14. What extra time? I’m still waiting to see some of that extra time. Everyone thinks they’d be bored to death in retirement, but you’d be amazed how life seems to fill the time vacuum.

    For me, it’s my kids. Being a SAHD takes a ton of time. So much so that I barely have time for myself anymore. COVID-19 probably had something to do with that too, but kids take a lot of time.

    Not that it’s a bad thing. Some day I’ll look back on all the time I got to spend with them, and I’ll be happy that’s where I spend my time.


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