Retirement Problems: My 2 Biggest Fears Since Retiring

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Retirement Problems: My 2 Biggest Fears Since RetiringHaving retirement problems when you’re early retired can sometimes sound petty.  It’s like winning the lottery and then complaining about the amount you have to pay in taxes.

So, don’t get me wrong – I’m having the time of my life since I left my job in 2018.  Gaining freedom and more time are two facets of life that only a small percentage of people can fully realize and I’m loving every minute of it.

We’ve been enjoying time together as vagabonds over this past month playing at Kelleys Island, Great Wolf Lodge, Cedar Point, and more.  When this post comes out, we’ll be on vacation in South Carolina… yeah, just what we need, another vacation!

And all of this doesn’t even come close to the adventure we’re about to have when we move to Panama in August.  To think that our path of selling all our stuff (including our home!) and moving to another country for the hell of it is actually coming to fruition is crazy.

Who does that?!!

That said, there is some downtime to our fun.  Not much for sure lately, but there’s still some downtime.

That time usually comes at night when my mind starts to wander… to the point where I sometimes can’t sleep at night.  I’ll toss and turn just thinking… too much.

It doesn’t happen as much as it did when I was working, but it does happen.

So what kind of retirement problems are on my mind?  What the heck could possibly be weighing on my mind during one of the best times of our lives?

I hope you’re wondering because that’s what we’re going to be talking about today!

Sure there’s the regular day-to-day stuff that we all have to deal with (bad news – that stuff doesn’t stop when you leave your job).  But two concerns stand out as a bigger weight on my shoulders.


Retirement Problems – Fear #1: Overspending

Wait, what???!!!

Money?!  You’ve been preparing for this for years before you quit your job, Jim!  In fact, you wrote several times about how you’re not worried about running out of money in your early retirement!

It’s true.  And I am confident that we’ll just be fine money-wise in the long run.

In actuality, it’s been a little surreal so far.  When I left my job at the end of the year, our net worth was $1,098,482.91 on January 1.  Now, according to the awesome (and free!) Empower (formerly Personal Capital), a quick glance shows us…

Retirement Problems: My 2 Biggest Fears Since Retiring - Net Worth

I haven’t worked in over six months, we’ve continued to spend, and our net worth has grown another $170k+ regardless.  Believe it or not, it’s the highest it’s ever been.  Granted, that can turn on a dime.  If the market goes down, so does our net worth.

But that’s life.  I’m confident that in the long run, we’ll be fine.  We’ve run the numbers every which way and I feel good about our game plan and not continuing onward with my career.

However, what we’re doing overall is so new to us.  We’ve now switched over to the spending phase of our lives.  Maybe we’ll make some money doing different projects over time (including this blog), but for the time being, we have to get used to doing exactly the opposite of what we’ve been focused on for so long.

We have no real jobs to bring in any W2 income and there’s no more socking away 60% of that money for our future.

It’s weird not seeing a regular paycheck and it’s strange seeing the balance go down in our checking account.

And that’s one of the things that keeps me up sometimes.  It’s not a fear of running out of money, but rather trying to get used to the idea that it’s Ok to spend it now.

My wife, Lisa, isn’t a numbers person.  She’s definitely naturally frugal like me, but she doesn’t care about the numbers.  So the pressure’s all on me (and my financial advisor) saying that our plan should work.

So, now here I am watching our short-term money from our checking account gradually start to dwindle.  Even though our net worth is growing, our year of cash is slowly going down.

And that’s Ok – that’s what it’s supposed to do.  In fact, we’ll probably spend far less than we budgeted out for the year.  And then we’ll sell some of our bond funds to refill the cash bucket for next year.

But for some reason, it’s still difficult to realize that for as naturally frugal as we are, spending small amounts of money here or there isn’t going to hurt us.

We spent a lot of time going out with friends and family over the past couple of months.  Everyone wanted to say goodbye before we head to Panama.  That’s a good thing, but in my head, I’m still counting the small dollars every night and not looking at the big picture.

We’re fine.  Like I said, we’ll likely spend a lot less than we even budgeted for this year.  So it’s definitely not something to lump into real retirement problems, just a mental hurdle I think about and need to get past.


Retirement Problems – Fear #2: Rolling through the motions

Believe it or not, money isn’t the biggest of my fears.  It’s the lack of needing to make more of it that concerns me.

Regardless of the sometimes prevalent fallacy that money is evil, it can actually be a great motivator.  It can be the kick in the butt that many of us need to get off those rumps and be the foundation for innovation.

And for me not having that motivator, I get a little nervous that I’ll become stale or stuck in life.

So sometimes I find myself questioning if I’m just going through the motions of my day.

I’ve already talked about how I’m struggling to be lazy sometimes, but my real concern is exactly the opposite.  I don’t want to waste time.  I don’t want to be a beach bum or even “just” a stay-at-home-dad.

I want to be a stay-at-home-dad AND more.  I want to try new hobbies, create and develop new things, and help people all over the world.  In a word, I want my life to be meaningful.

Early retirement puts me in a unique position where I can actually make these things happen.  I now have more time to hinder life passing me by and the need for money to cover our daily expenses in life is already covered.

So whenever I catch myself rolling through days of monotony, it eats away at me.  It can even depress me a little.

When I waste a day on the phone changing insurance companies for our policies or blow hours of a day sorting through a mistake a utility company makes, it bothers me.

In essence, anytime I’m working on something trivial that wastes my time, it’s like a huge slap in the face.  Not because I’m above any of these things, but because it gets in the way of the limited time I have to pursue my dreams.

Silly, right?

You know what’s even sillier – I’ve only been retired for less than 7 months!!  It’s not like years have gone by and I’m looking back at my life realizing that I wasted so much time.

And more importantly, our adventure hasn’t even really begun yet.  We’re moving to Panama in another month!

So much of our time hasn’t been wasted at all – it’s been spent preparing to move out of the country, which is not as easy as packing up and going, by the way.

When I take a step back and look at the big picture, I know that I’m not stuck running through the motions.  However, my eagerness to get to my new creative endeavors tends to disagree.


Not so critical

In all reality, these aren’t major retirement problems.  Life has been really good for us and I feel blessed to be in the position we are.

I do tend to overthink small details because I want to ensure the best for myself and for my family.  But, I think it’s important to share the different thoughts running through my mind as we go through this journey to open up your mind as well.

It’s probably a good thing that I question myself.  My overthinking is bad in that it wastes time in and of itself.  But it’s positive because it helps me to stop and question different areas of my life.  It also keeps me from becoming stagnant in my pursuits.

The moment that you become content is the moment that life will pass you by.

So even though these problems weighing on my mind lately may not seem too scary, I do believe they help me keep myself in check.  These thoughts that keep me up at night are what helps us stay on the right track and make the most of our lives.


Think these things occasionally weighing on my mind are petty or sensible?  Let me know below.


Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

You know you wanna share this!!

14 thoughts on “Retirement Problems: My 2 Biggest Fears Since Retiring”

  1. Fatfire by working a few extra years and fear#1 goes away. That extra cushion makes all the difference in a good night sleep.

    FIRING without that cushion can make for many sleepless nights and Retirement a fantasy. Reality can become an endless hassling for side hustles and/or hope for continual income from blogging. It may or may not, just be prepared for more sleepless nights.

    Finding a way to help others goes a long way to adding “meaning to life”. We need to feel useful or at least not feel useless. You are not a beach bum type so you will be ok.

    1. Thanks, Mel, but you might have misunderstood the money point – I’m not concerned about running out of money. I’m struggling to get used to actually spending money now instead of saving. That would likely be the case no matter how much we had saved up. It’s not the amount of money that’s the problem for me, but rather the mindset of changing pace on what we’ve been doing our whole life up until this point.

      Definitely agree with your point about helping others to add meaning to life. I have some thoughts already in mind that I’ll probably be posting about in the near future.

    1. Yeah, I’m thinking we should be Ok, just a big adjustment to get used to first. Hopefully, I’ll stumble into something I enjoy like you did with your logos. That’s a great position to be in, Dave!

  2. Richard Engelhardt

    Ok – a fear of having to watch every penny come in and go out is natural at this point since you are dealing with an unknown – -that is – how to alter your spending habits to fit your current lifestyle.
    The first weekend I was retired, I was on and Craig’s List searching for a part time job….seriously… Thank God I never found one! I did find a few head hunters that desperatly wantd me as a SQL DBA – – but – I vowed to put that life behind me. Still – the lure of a 6 figure income for doing something I still loved tugged at me pretty hard ;). I decided to just follow my heart and accept the fact that I was now master of my own time & go with that. Now, 9 years into my third career (I call the real estate & retirement my thrid career), I don’t spend like a drunken sailor ,,,but,, I don’t watch every penny either. 🙂 As far as leaving an impact goes – – you said it yourself – you spent the last month saying good-bye to people! (not that I’m one to know anything about that since in my eyes, if I were alone in the universe I;d consider it “crowded” 😀 )

  3. Those are big problems. I’ve been retired for 7 years, but we aren’t in the spending down mode yet. My wife still works and I have some income from blogging. Once she retires, then we might need to spend down more. I think it’ll be a difficult transition.
    As for the 2nd point, that’s hard too. I’ve got my routine down and it’s not too meaningful. It’s just life. I don’t feel too much pressure to do something about it. Maybe later when I’m not busy with our son and blogging. 🙂

  4. First, don’t knock worrying. I know it is useful because nothing I worry about ever happens.

    The idea of spending after saving is definitely a challenge. Small taste of that this summer in our house – as we turned off automated saving to help with cash flow and actually cashed a fund due to wedding expenses, significant house repairs, and to pay for two trips in the next 12 months. I haven’t seen outflows like that since, well, forever. Even though expenses were (mostly) anticipated, it is still challenging to see the credit card payments! I consider it all a part of test driving our retirement. If we can pass through this, we can confidently meet future spending binges. I think.

    1. As you say that, I’m putting myself in your shoes and would be thinking the same way. Even though it was expected, it would still make me cringe a little bit seeing the money go out. It’s not that you can’t afford it, but it’s just not fun seeing money disappear!

  5. Fear #2 – Finding purpose/meaning – I feel like that’s a common and real fear that’s not unique to FIRE. However, FIRE does probably make it harder to hide from when you can’t use “working for others” as an excuse. I definitely haven’t figured it out but I did just finish reading a good book by David Brooks called “The Second Mountain” that provides some good insights. When you do have it all figured out, please do share your secrets. 🙂 Mr. Brooks suggests stuff like relationships, making promises & commitments, move past the personal goals and listen to others on how you can help them achieve their goals and build relationships along the way.

  6. I’m not surprised that you spent more in your early days of retirement b/c you have more time. My husband and I left the traditional corporate grind in stages, and I was first so didn’t feel much of a change. But when my husband did it in 2017, yes, our schedule felt different, and our spending has changed over the last few years b/c we travel much more. But we’re getting into a groove. Of course, our youngest enters college this fall (cue giant sucking sound of tuition money leaving our bank account!) so there’s also spending going on.

    1. Haha, I’m picturing a giant vacuum sucking all the money out of the vault right now! I can definitely believe that it took a while to get to a more consistent way of spending when the schedule changes so much. I imagine we’ll get ours figured out by the end of this year, but who knows?! 🙂

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