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Having 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
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…
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.
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!!