Reflecting on the first 26 days of early retirement

As many of my blog and social media followers know, July 5th was my last day of full time employment.  I am officially retired.  How do I feel so far?  If I had to pick just one word to describe it, rested is the word I would use.  For some reason, I just wasn’t getting as much sleep when I had to wake up at 7 am each day and be at work after 8 am.  Now if I wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble getting back to sleep, I am simply able to just sleep in and gain my sleep back on the other end.  Thanks early retirement.

My first three weeks  (a road trip to Wisconsin, camping and Bond Falls Michigan)

My wife and I have family in Wisconsin, so I planned my last day of work (7/5) to exactly line up with her planned trip there starting July 6th.  This worked out very well, but also made for a whirlwind romance of sorts.  In past years, I simply had too much work to do, and not enough PTO, to join her on this trip.

On July 6th, we drove from Tennessee all the way up to Wisconsin.  After a few days visiting a zoo and a municipal amusement park, we drove even further into Northern Wisconsin to spend 7 nights camping in a National Forest.  Although camping was a lot of work, the weather was sunny and pleasant and the days were very long.  We were very happy to have our kids spend a considerable amount of time with their cousins who still live up there and went camping with us.  Until we drove back to Tennessee, I honestly felt like I was on one long vacation, but one where I didn’t have to check email and worry about the shit pile of work waiting for me when I came back to the office.

My 6-year-old son and I, enjoying go karts at a WI amusement park
Taking a silly picture of my son in Door County, WI
Bond Falls, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This is definitely worth seeing if you are anywhere near here.

For the first three weeks, mostly due to our out-of-town trip, I felt like I was on a lengthy vacation (and we were).

A different perspective on weekdays 

In the past, I simply viewed the week as the days I would work.  If I had to leave my office, it was to eat or run a very quick errand.  Now that I retired, it’s amazing how great it is to go out and do things without crowds of employed people to compete with.  Movie theaters, amusement parks, coffee shops, etc. are low traffic areas to enjoy during the week.  When the weather is good, it’s great to walk/jog outside as well.  My father in law got a great deal on a weekday movie, Dunkirk, for $5 on a Tuesday morning.  It’s a great movie if you haven’t seen it yet and one I recommend.

A different perspective on vacations and trips

On my last trip, I would check work email during vacations, and worry about work I had left undone or about work piling up for me when I returned.  For the first time in years, I didn’t worry at all about work after leaving home for our trip.  Of course, there was plenty of back to school work waiting for us when we got home, but it wasn’t overwhelming.  With two of us now at home, there is more splitting of tasks that done as well as more family time to be enjoyed.

Family time at Bond Falls in Michigan

How to avoid being bored, or is boredom worth worrying about?

I sincerely empathize with people who gain all their self-worth through their jobs.  Early (or any) retirement could potentially be a nightmare for them.  The question becomes, what is the means to the end?  Is it worth working 50-60 hours per week to purchase a new BMW that you are rarely in?  Is it worth giving up seeing your kids at school events in order to, once per year, take a boat out in the Caribbean Sea?  Are you really being selfless, making so much money so your spouse and kids can purchase things instead of seeing you?  I am sure that many sincerely think they are doing their families a favor.

I am not one to get bored easily.  If I have extra time, I simply fill it with TV, going on walks or a jog, hiking or running errands.  For me, this blog is an outlet to also share my thoughts about early retirement planning.  With two kids in the house, it seems there is always plenty to do.  So far, I rarely have been bored.  I am not sure how I will feel in a year or so, but for now, I am rolling on rest and finding sufficient ways to fill my time.  Come August 10th, the kids will be back in school and our lives will change again.  As humans, we were designed to adapt and I look forward to enjoying life with my spouse together as we have not been able to do in the past.  There are many day trips we’d like to take, such as hikes and restaurants we’d like to check out, that we haven’t been doing as much due to work commitments.

Will I ever work again?  Does it really matter?

Maybe.  I would never say never to anything, but it seems if I do work again it would have to be part-time or seasonal work.  Perhaps I will sign up for Uber Eats or Postmates, but as of now I have no such plans to do so.  We will plan more trips, do more travel hacking, and write about early retirement finance topics such as our draw down strategy.

The Future

While I am not positive what our future will bring, I really look forward to the future ahead of us.  We will travel a lot more, see a lot of places we haven’t seen, and spend plenty of time with our young children.  We will still have responsibilities, but the work related stress is gone.  I don’t miss it.

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21 comments

  1. Congrats on your freedom and wise expenditure of time on your family! I have a deep desire to emulate your financial freedom, but am not quite ready yet, professionally and financially. As long as it’s about the thrill of the chase and helping people I’m down for the cause. I hope it doesn’t devolve into “well, I want a better car for my minions.”

    Glad you haven’t forgotten the blogging community. I was starting to panick we were left behind like your former co workers! Do you find it difficult to keep up with them now you do not share the workplace link?

    1. I have to admit, my work friendships were superficial, so I don’t keep up with them. My wife and kids are at home so I have a social outlet. I like to blog but it was tough being on vacation as I slacked off a bit.

      I actually advise if you like your job to stay at it for a while. I was starting to dislike mine, so I knew it was time to leave. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Congrats on the early retirement!! I’m very envious! 😉

    It sounds like you’re enjoying things so far and having a great time. I hope you continue to post as it’s great to hear from guys like yourself that have gotten past the 9-5. I look forward to gaining some insight about the good as well as any bad points as time goes on.

    — Jim

  3. Congratulations on putting the RE in your FIRE!

    Vacations sounds like a more relaxing time when it’s not time limited and interrupted by thoughts of work, emails from work, etc… That’s some beatiful country up there. I was standing in front of Bond Falls just last summer.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

  4. Congratulations! I checked a few times after the 5th to see if you had an update and nada! Glad I checked again. I’m super jealous that you can vacation without harassing phone calls and emails. I’m a Realtor, so when I go on vacation, all it means is I can’t show homes. I still have to bring my fire-fighting gear so to speak. Lady Celt hates that.

    Hopefully I can hang my cleats up in 20 years. I don’t think I’ll be able to do so though. The thought of spending time with family sounds great, but I really enjoy working. Hopefully I don’t feel the same later.

  5. Congrats to you (and your wife) on the early retirement! Your vacation sounds wonderful. Especially the part on not worrying about what’s waiting for you at the office upon a return. Best of luck to the kids going back to school next week.

  6. Congrats! Sounds awesome and I am glad your kids are young so that you can enjoy the time with them. Honestly, that is my biggest motivator for retiring early…spending time with the kids.

    Where in Tennessee are you living? I grew up in Franklin and the folks still live in Nashville. I am there a few times a year. While Cali, our current home, is nice, I sure miss the South.

  7. Very envious of you. No doubt, it took years of hard work and planning. I am probably abou 7 years from an ideal exit time, unless the markets keep going like they have been, which I doubt. With your experience as a CPA, I am betting you find some work, on your terms, that will be rewarding and supplement your retirement. It will be interesting to see what you do over the next year beyond enjoying FIRE, which you earned.

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