Ahh, so you've finally retired! Congratulations! Or you're thinking about retiring. What can you do with your new found time to make the most of life? Good…
You work with your work colleagues because you need to. They work with you because they need to. Regardless of whether you work in the public or private sector, sometimes your colleagues can be absolutely lovely. Sometimes they can be toxic and you can’t stand them. But most of the time they’re something in between: you get along. You tolerate them, but you wouldn’t go out for drinks on a weekend with them. Which is why enforced workplace socialisation is such a horrible experience.
I’ve said before that things will go wrong in early retirement. The goal is an improved life, not delusions of a perfect life. So this situation wasn’t a case of “learning” anything new. But having now experienced a bad holiday, it reinforced my suspicions. You need to expect that bad, annoying or tiresome things will happen in retirement. But even if you planned meticulously, sometimes it just won’t work out. Events like these don’t care if you’ve retired early or not. They’ll happen regardless
Our bad recent holiday experience provides validation for the benefits of early retirement. The funny thing is that when we retire our holidays will have somewhat ‘less meaning’. Having a holiday date set in your calendar is one of the few things a worker has to cheer themselves up with. And having that experience be a let-down is doubly disappointing when you build it up so much in anticipation.
After writing down this bucket list, something really powerful struck me. Now I don’t know if we’ll actually achieve all 202 things on our combined bucket lists – I certainly hope so. But what really struck me was that this is realistically possible. A few more years of work will enable a huge amount of these opportunities and experiences to occur. Now I’ve got our bucket lists to fall back on and remind me about what our work is enabling.
I wrote my own bucket list of 101 things I wanted to see and experience over what will hopefully be a long life. This isn’t everything I’d want to see, do, or accomplish. But I hope it’s a nice cross-section of what I want life to be over the coming decades. However, I also found it a valuable exercise in thinking about what’s most dear to me, what I value, and what I’d want if my life was cut short and I only had a limited time to do the things that would make the most of it.
I don’t want my house get damaged or destroyed, to be in a car crash, or get badly sick. But I’ll be bloody glad I have insurance if or when one of those things do happen. So why do some people LeanFIRE as soon as they hit a minimum number, when it’s the early retirement equivalent of not having insurance? However, unlike an insurance policy that only pays you if a bad thing happens, having a larger FIRE number allows you to enjoy the benefits all the time – as well as providing a vital buffer.
For us, we don’t just want freedom of time by not needing to work in early retirement. We want financial freedom of choice by also being able to go where we want and do what we want. But aside from being able to afford medical costs, there’s not much point in having a lot of money if you can’t really do anything with it because your body is an unhealthy mess. So we’re trying to be proactive with our health; engage in some preventative health actions.
Technically each and every insurance payment I’ve ever make is completely lost money … until the last one I make before something does happen. But retiring early with as slim a safety net as possible just puts all of the hard work that came before it at risk. However, unlike an insurance policy that only pays you if a bad thing happens, having a larger FIRE number allows you to enjoy the benefits all the time – as well as providing a vital buffer.
Early retirement isn't free: you need to work for it. Health isn't free: you need to work for it. But they're both worth their weight in gold, so make them happen. We're trying to improve our health today so we can make the most of early retirement in the future. Better diets, medical checks, and being more active. Here's why we're trying to improve our health before we retire early.
Why do some people LeanFIRE as soon as they hit a minimum number, when it’s the early retirement equivalent of not having insurance? Okay, I fully understand the lure of quitting work as soon as possible, and even the health benefits if you hate your job. Some sites say you only need x25 of your annual expenses invested to retire. Cool. But retiring early with as slim a safety net as possible just puts all of the hard work that came before it at risk.
When I look at young people now, I don’t envy them at all. The situation with house prices makes it difficult to get your foot in the door. But I faced a similar situation, and overcame it by lowering my expectations. I bought just about the cheapest house I could afford. In the early days I did what I had to. I worked and saved for that house. I worked to renovate on weeknights and weekends after work, and sold it for profit. Then I did it all over again to continue building my net worth.
By our calculations, we now have enough in assets to secure the passive income we need to fund our early retirement in a few years’ time. That’s a huge milestone! Woohoo! If FIRE is a house, this is like completing the foundations and the walls. However, reaching this moment right now is an adjustment in our outlook, but I’m not sure how big of an adjustment it’ll be.
It feels very odd to think that after nearly two decades we’ve just hit the end of our time actively buying assets. Buying assets – property and shares – has been our sole financial purpose for a number of years now. But that has now ended. We’ve reached the end of the accumulation road for our income producing assets. We made our last share purchase! By our calculations, we now have enough in assets to secure the passive income we need to fund our early retirement in a few years’ time.
Now obviously the particular order of things during our week is contingent on when we can actually do things. Social tennis might be on a Thursday instead of Wednesday, etc. But that’s the incredible thing about retirement. You can shuffle things around as you want. You don’t have 9 to 5, Monday to Friday roadblock of work in your way. So I don’t expect my week to look exactly like what I just outlined above. But I do hope that I get to do all of those activities, about as often as I indicated.
Drum roll: we have switched to a nine-day working fortnight. We’ve talked before about being cautious about working part-time hours but being expected to deliver full time outputs. Well, this way we’re still putting in full time hours for minimal sacrifice. Basically it’s one extra hour a day of work, with one day a fortnight off in return while keeping our pay the same. We’re still doing the same full-time work hours. The total work hours before retirement is the same.
We’ve spoken before about how you need purpose in retirement. Not just something to fill your time, but something that makes you want to get out of bed; something that brings you happiness. What that purpose is exactly will differ from person to person. But when my wife Ellie and I retire, we want to have fun, be healthy, and do some good in the community. Today’s post is about what I’d like to do with my time during an ordinary week when we retire.
We’ve set ourselves a pretty strict ground rule for our one extra day a fortnight off, because for as long as we’re working our free time is still scarce. Basically, this is a day of doing. It’s not a day for catching up on sleep. It’s not a day for lounging about, watching TV, or sitting on a computer. Neither is it a day for chores and housework. And there is absolutely no work work involved. Work mobiles stay at home. Laptops remain firmly closed.
Our blog readers aren't shy to ask questions! We've got five more questions from you to put us through the ringer in our latest reader Q&A. - Do you track every last cent in your budget? - Did you have any real life role models to inspire your FIRE planning decisions? - Most people do monthly net worth/spending updates? Why don't you? - Saw your post on saving for a new car down the track. Would you consider a used car as well? - What's your FIREcalc number? How low would you be willing to go?