A lot of you have been following FIRE (financial independence, retire early) blogs as you continue down your own path toward financial freedom. And the numbers to reach FI (financial independence) are important, but what about the early retirement side of things?
Some of you will continue to work and just want FI to ensure a secure retirement. If you love what you do, that’s the best scenario you can have. Congratulations!
But others of you want to get out of the workforce to gain more freedom. You want the flexibility to have the choice of what you’ll do every day. That could be anything from just spending more time with your kids all the way up to learning a new field so you can start a completely different career.
We talk quite a bit in the community about the importance of not just retiring from something but retiring to something.
And that’s 100% true. If you don’t have a passion to fill your heart, what’s the point of early retirement? You’ll be bored before you know it.
The idea of some well-earned rest sounds wonderful (sipping piña colada on the beach, anyone?!). But for 99% of us, that would get old after a couple of weeks… ok fine, maybe a month!
I’ve been very lucky that I already have somewhat of an idea of how I want to fill my early retirement. I started this blog in 2015 with the purpose to not only document my journey and help us learn together but also to have something established to retire to down the line.
Fortunately, it’s worked out well. I retired from my job at the end of 2018 and I still love doing this. I get to share some of the strategies I’ve learned and continue to learn with you as well. And somehow I even make a little money doing it.
Not only that, but I have a list of fun projects I plan to work on as we continue down this road. I’ve discussed some of my thoughts on this previously, but as a recap, here are just a few of the things I’m looking forward to:
- Making this site a little “prettier” and fixing a bunch of things (I’ve got a huge list built up!)
- Writing books – perhaps a children’s book and maybe a personal finance book (though the Choose FI book would be hard to compete with!)
- Learn a programming language and design an Android app (yeah, I’ve been sitting on an idea for years!)
- Taking martial arts training
In the meantime, I’ve already started getting back into racquetball. I was ecstatic that the place we’re living right now has a court and I’m teaching Lisa and Faith how to play…
In the small amount of stuff we brought here to Panama (just two suitcases each), I still found room for a couple of racquets, racquetballs, and some safety eyewear. Then we found a used racquet in great condition here at a big garage sale to give us a total of three… bonus!
It’s been fun and I enjoy watching them both learning but I do want a little more competition. So far, I haven’t found anyone here to play against. Lucky for me though, Steve (formerly from Think Save Retire) and Courtney (both from AStreamin Life) will be coming here in the spring to visit. As if that won’t be awesome enough, there’s this bit of texting fun…
Is it a privilege of early retirement folks to plan a racquetball get-together in Panama?
Some of the general goodness early retirement provides
Early retirement has given us time and flexibility, plain and simple. It’s allowed us to move to Panama to live on an adventure that most people will never get the chance to experience.
It’s given us the ability to enjoy more time together as a family. We now spend almost every waking moment together (though we sometimes bail and hang out in different rooms just to have some time apart!). But how unbelievable is it that we get to see our daughter growing up, help her learn (homeschooling and otherwise), and be such a big part of her life and memories?
And we have the freedom of choice. Early retirement has given us the ability to decide our days. With the exception of Faith’s homeschooling (though we do slide that around sometimes), we now decide what we’re going to do each and every day. It’s a liberating feeling of power and I love it.
Most days I’m working on something for at least some of the day. Generally, it’s related to this blog because I still enjoy doing it. But other times, it might be organizing and editing photos, learning Spanish, or trying to optimize our finances a little more.
But sometimes I just don’t. I’ve had a couple of days where I’ve just been lazy and spend time watching old Xena episodes (I mean, she is a warrior princess after all!). You’d think there’d be more of those days, but I still feel guilty if I’m not doing anything! So, for me, a couple of days of doing nothing is a win for sure!
Um, it might be possible that the theme from Xena is the ringtone on my phone but you can’t prove it. My notifications sound for new text messages might also be the whistle from the Hunger Games. Apparently, I enjoy shows with women kicking ass but didn’t realize it until now. Strange… on with the post!
It’s not like my whole day is busy working on projects. The rest of the time is spent together as a family having other fun. Here are some of the routine things we’re busy with:
- Walking to town to go shopping and just explore
- Hiking different trails
- Swimming at the pool
- Playing racquetball
- Going out to eat (we’re still too cheap to do this one often enough though! I’ve heard there are 75 to 85 restaurants in this small town so we need to get a move on!)
- Horseback riding (ok, this is Faith, but we all go there together)
- Playing the Wii
- Playing cards (rummy, anyone?!)
- Watching TV or movies
That doesn’t even count the one-offs like the whale watching we did a couple of months ago. Nor does it our plans for a couple of weekend beach getaways, a cruise in December, and the trip we want to make to an animal sanctuary. And that’s just getting the ball rolling!
In other words, we’re keeping plenty busy in early retirement with leisure activities as well!
One of my favorite parts of early retirement
Although I’m loving my early retirement and all the freedom it provides, there’s one thing that has surprisingly become one of my favorite parts.
Simply put, it’s a feeling of closure.
I’m a Type A personality – I’m very organized, task and detail-oriented, and I love me some list-making! I hate having loose ends – it drives me bananas.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that when I have a few things to do, I “wrongly” focus on knocking off the easiest things first instead of the more urgent. Then I drive myself insane to try to get the more urgent ones on the list done as well.
It might sound illogical and I know that. But for me, that cost seemed worth it because I would feel a psychological sense of satisfaction having less on my list. The more items I can eliminate from my to-do lists the better.
Regardless of my backward way of generally handling lists, I’m also not stupid enough to think that I’ll always get everything done. And so, like many of you, I’ve had items upon items that have built up on my lists to get to “someday.”
Well, guess what – early retirement is filling in that gap of “someday” for me. I knew that I’d be able to start working on these things once I had more time and I now do.
Initially, I went into a slump because I wanted to just get everything done as soon as I retired from my W-2 career and it didn’t happen (shocker!). It took me a while to realize that I now have all the time in the world and need to balance work and play. And by play, I mean spending time with my family – after all, that was the biggest reason for reaching FIRE in the first place.
But now that we’re here in Panama and have settled in, my time is finally freeing up. Yes, we’re doing more “playing” than we’ve ever done, but it now gives me the time to start getting caught up on all those little things that have piled up over the years.
As I’ve been working through things, I’ve gotten a number so many things scratched off my lists that have just lingered there for years.
The feeling is so wonderful. Other words that come to mind:
- Weight lifted
- Stress relief
- Sense of accomplishment
- Lightening up the load
- Tying up loose ends
- Sense of relief
I’m not sure if this is something that Type B personalities can relate to or not, but it just feels wonderful.
My wife, Lisa, has been more than accommodating in giving me time to focus on knocking things out. However, she’ll tell you flat-out that she doesn’t personally understand the burden I have on these kinds of things (she’s a Type B).
A few examples of closure
I’ll give you a handful of items (minor and major) that are helping ease my mind…
The dreaded email inbox – I reached zero inboxes in both my work and personal accounts at the same time probably twice in my life. It was a great feeling, but unfortunately, it’s not a done and move on type of scenario. The emails just build right back up… bastards!!
But now, I can focus on one less account and I love it! I don’t have a zero inbox all the time, but when I do, it’s a great feeling.
Bookmarks – I have a very organized bookmark system that’s been carried over since probably Internet Explorer 4! It’s crazy to see that I now have 15,529 bookmarks in Chrome (wow!), but they’re all cataloged nicely into 10 folders with a hierarchy of subfolders from there.
As part of my system, if there’s something I want to just bookmark now for review later, I just put it in the root. It’s like my staging area. Then once I get a chance to review them, I either delete them or move them into a subfolder for the long haul. Yeah, yeah, I know – I have problems!
Anyway, I’ve been happily catching up and whittling down those extraneous bookmarks… awesome!! More closure!
Route to Retire – This is my baby and I feel like she’s been a little neglected over the years. I haven’t missed a weekly post ever and I still respond to every comment, but I want to spend more time. I have a new logo as of this year (thanks to my cousin!), but the site as a whole needs some help. Maybe a new theme, fix and update several pages, and a lot of other fun planned.
Early retirement has given me time to work on this stuff and it just feels fantastic. I’m not going to rush to try to get everything done at once, but you’ll notice changes slowly but surely.
Develop an app – I’ve had an idea for an app that’s been on my plate for a few years now. I can’t reveal what it is yet because I can’t have you stealing my idea!I’ve dabbled with programming over the years, but my only formal learning was Visual Basic 6 back in college at Kent State University back in the ’90s.
So obviously, I’ve got some catching up to do. That means I need to learn a new language (I’m looking at Kotlin) and that’s going to take some time. I haven’t done too much yet, but I’ve installed Android Studio and hope to start learning soon.
These are just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on and on with all the things I want to get done. Some of these are old items that I’m trying to get fixed or completed while some are brand new projects.
Those that say you’re busier in retirement aren’t joking around!
The more I’m able to knock out those lingering items, the more I’m able to focus on new projects and that’s the sweet spot.
The feeling of closure has been absolutely wonderful and is one of the best parts of early retirement. But the beautiful part is that closure is really just letting you know that you’re ready to move on. And that’s what I’m super excited about.
Being able to try new endeavors is what makes life great. You only have a short amount of time on earth and I want to try my hand at everything that interests me.
You only live life once – make it a good one!!!
Would you agree that closure is one of the best facets of early retirement? If not, what comes to mind?
Thanks for reading!!