Life After FIRE – Six Months In

Recently it occurred to me that I was closing in on six months since I left work and started my early retirement which honestly hit me with a bit of shock. Six months?!?! Really?!?! Already!

Perhaps why it snuck up on me is rather simple: I haven’t been remotely bored and I have to be honest that I haven’t been that busy either.  At least in my head I don’t think of myself as ‘busy’.

What I define as ‘busy’ was that frantic pace that used to be my life versus now where I move a much slower pace  and where I am calm and relaxed (most of the time). Previously at work there was this low level stress that didn’t seem like much at the time, but now I really notice the lack of it.

I think I under estimated this entire concept of detoxing from work after you retire. I thought because I wasn’t highly stressed from my job or I wasn’t ill from my work that I won’t need much time for detoxing but I was wrong. Instead of stress or sickness, I was very infected from work on having a certain level of productivity in my life.  During my career it went like this: I had to do this project at work, then do this home repair project on the weekend, and then see these friends because it has been like six months since we saw them.  And then repeat that almost every day. I had a standard in my head of what being productive meant and I didn’t realize how high it was until after I left my old job. So during the first few months of my early retirement I was concerned about my lack of accomplishments. What was I getting done with all my new found time? To be honest it wasn’t much in least in the terms I would have previously measured it.

I would have previously ticked off what I did in the last six months along the lines of:

  • Finished a first draft of a novel
  • Started editing a second novel
  • Got this website back up and running (with help from friends)
  • Read 45 books
  • Watched over 15 seasons of TV shows
  • Completed a online course on working at libraries
  • Volunteered once a week at my sons’ school library
  • Took a beer appreciation class and joined a beer club to learn more about brewing beer
  • Brewed 24 L of beer and 86 bottles of wine
  • Dusted off a very old hobby and started playing D&D again with a group for the first time in twenty years

The issue I think was I was so used to thinking in numeric terms that I failed to realize my biggest accomplishment during this six months of early retirement was adjusting to an entirely new lifestyle and changing my definition of ‘busy’.

There really is no road map for what to do once you leave work. Your time is now effectively entirely under your control and that level of choice is nearly overwhelming at the start. So I rather glad I had previously developed a ‘want to do’ list with things for me to do with my time after leaving work. Some were very easy items like take a walk around the park one day while others took a week or more such as taking a online course. The point was to get out of my usual life and specifically do things that I had dreamed of with my time.

Yet now I don’t recall the last time I looked at that list. It has literally been months. It is less important to me now as I have a bit of a rough routine to my week that I’m enjoying. But that list was useful as I continue to enjoy some of those little things that I can do now with my time. For example, a particular favourite item is going out for fast food breakfast. I can usually pick up a breakfast for less than $10 for me (and with a coupon my wife as well) and I like to do it perhaps once a month or so. The novelty of the experience is simple: I NEVER got to that during my working career and I really do enjoy the occasional breakfast out.

Now with this new lifestyle I am comfortable with who I am and I have this nice calm state and I finally feel ready to take on some more projects. I had previously avoided taking on too much for a while to let myself adjust to my new definition of being productive. But now I feel ready to outline a schedule on when to publish my first novel. I also want to do planning for some other big items around the house like the kitchen renovation and getting a plan together for adding a front patio to the house.

I’ve learned the world won’t end if I decide to be lazy once in a while and even for months at a time if I want. And in the end I learned that a good life isn’t measured in items done off of your to do list but rather in the content feeling of completing things that matter to you. Regardless of how minor or silly those items appear to others. This is your life so remember to live it for you and not what others think. I am an early retiree and now I’m okay with being that.

Career Lessons

So I was thinking back about my old engineer career the other day.  I didn’t mind what I did for a living but it was time to move on to try other things.  But as I looked back on my career and I came up with some lessons that hopefully can help someone else in their career.

In no particular order:

  1. Asking for forgiveness is easier than asking permission, but it only really works on the minor things.  So try to be reasonable.
  2. Don’t be afraid to use your sick time.  I used to come in sick for the early part of my career and all I did was get no work done and then infect everyone else.
  3. Do good work, complete your work on time and be nice to work with.  Honestly if you can do that you are further ahead of most people.
  4. Own your successes and your mistakes.  It doesn’t get easier to admit when you screw up so get used to doing it earlier in your career.  And come with a plan on how to fix your mistakes.
  5. Good enough works sometimes.  For everyday items do good enough and save your energy for the key items your senior management really care about.
  6. Never depend on a raise or bonus.  It should accelerate your plans, not be your plan.
  7. The best way to a higher salary is usually a new job.  I got more raises moving jobs that I ever did just staying put.
  8. Always leave slack when estimating the amount of time you need to complete your work.  More often than not you will need it and if you don’t you just finished your work earlier.
  9. Know what you want or need in a job and try to maximize those and minimize what you hate doing.  For example, I hated repetitive work but loved getting new projects.
  10. People won’t recall your work, but they will remember how you made them feel.  So be nice as a default.
  11. When in doubt: speak up.  Ask the obvious or hard questions since most people have trouble doing that.  Senior leadership doesn’t know everything, contrary to popular belief, so ask.
  12. Time off is more rare than a raise, so when in doubt take the time off over money.
  13. If you can’t get all your work done in a day, it isn’t your fault.  It is often a resource problem, so doing overtime consistently will not fix it.  So avoid doing overtime on a consistent basis, but it is okay for that last push to finish a project.
  14. Take every dime of money you can for matched savings programs.  It will add up over the years.
  15. Social interactions make the world spin in business. So dear engineers get used to doing some small talk before diving into the agenda of your meeting.  I know it feels odd but when you really need someones help they are WAY more willing to give it if they like you.

So what lessons did you learn from your career?  Please add to the list with a comment below.

Feb 2018 – Net Worth

February’s update and we are now back on track for these posts.

Welcome to my net worth posts where I try to prove to myself and you that I wasn’t crazy for leaving work in the fall of 2017 to start my early retirement.   A few important notes:  we are mortgage free and our goal is have our income/investment gains exceed our spending on a 12 month rolling average (please note this metric is still under development).



RRSP $64,010
LIRA $17,420
TFSA $92,420
Pension $171,630
Wife’s RRSP $91,480
Wife’s TFSA $88,060
Wife’s Taxable $46,190
High Interest Savings Account $39,220

Investment Net Worth $610,460 ($8,850 decrease over last month from investments)

Home Equity

Estimate $395,000


To keep things simple I’m only going to track what income comes into our main ‘house’ chequing account.  I won’t be tracking my wife’s or my businesses income as those don’t really matter until the money moves over to the ‘house’ account. Also I won’t track investment gains since that is covered above.

  • Interest Income: $30
  • Wife’s Monthly Payment to House: $550
  • Child Tax: $310
  • Total Income: $890


Last Month $1570

Wow, that was a really low spending month which even included a trip to Saskatoon to visit some friends.  Also keep in mind we had a roof shingles replaced in 2017 which accounts for a lot of annual spending below.

Trailing Last 12 Month Average $3894 (or $46,738 for the last 12 months)


Net Worth ~$1,005,460

Feb Investment Gains & Income/Spending Ratio = (-8890+890)/1570 = -5.1 (Target 1 or higher)

Sept to Feb Invest Gain & Income/Spending Ratio = (14557+7870)/17527 = 1.3

Just a note on the multiple month ratio I stripped out all income related to my old job from the early months to provide a more realistic picture for retirement.


So that is what a stock market correction feels like in retirement?  Mmm, well on the one hand it did suck to see almost $9k in investments vanish the good news is the long term plan is still fine.  Why? I don’t need to take any money out during the drop so it really just is a paper loss and not an issue for the moment.  This is also reflected in the results of the monthly ratio being horrible but the six month ratio is still fine.

So repeat after me: don’t panic!

Any questions?

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A blog about early retirement and happiness