I’m Retired Now

This is a guest post by Robert, who lives in Calgary and works as a financial adviser retired at 34. He is married, has three kids.  Robert and his wife then plan to return to school and become teachers, eventually living and working overseas.

I never really planned to retire at age 34. When I first thought about retiring young from my career, with the idea of moving my family overseas, I was thinking of age 42. As a financial advisor, owning my practice, that should have been easily possible, especially given that my family doesn’t spend a lot from month to month. I was fortunate to profit from the real estate market in Calgary, increasing around 80% in the five years after I bought a house. But my business colleague, when he heard of my plans to leave, offered to buy my business much earlier. That really moved up my schedule, possibly a little more than was comfortable. I have enough investment income to cover my expenses, but I really would have liked to spend a year doing a “dry run”, watching whether our spending will fluctuate or not and finding out how stable the investment income is.

I still get asked to help out at work two or three times a month. While I didn’t mind the commute while I was working, now I wonder how I could stand spending almost three hours a day on public transit. I got more reading done then, compared to now. And I don’t take a lot of time to read at home, because we still have young kids. So being retired feels a lot more like being a stay-at-home dad, half the time, anyway. My wife loves the change. She now gets to spend some time each day on things that she wants to accomplish for herself, and I get to spend more time with the kids. I get outside a lot more, playing at the playground or biking or doing yard work. Over the summer, that will be a great benefit, but I’m not looking forward to six months of dark, cold winter.

I spend more time on the things that are meaningful to me. I spend more time researching my investments and planning my trades. I spend more time reading and thinking about public education and the way our education system in Calgary is working. And I’m able to attend more community events, getting to know the people who live in our neighbourhood. But there is a drawback to trying to accomplish a lot during the day. By trying to juggle the needs of the kids, my wife, the car and activities that we have planned, I sometimes get to the end of the day with the feeling that I haven’t accomplished any of my projects I had planned to do.

I feel like I’m more relaxed. I don’t have nearly as much pressure of trying to balance my schedule between work, commuting and meeting the needs of myself and my family. I’ve even been able to grab an afternoon nap, on occasion. Being more relaxed translates into more patient interactions with my kids and a better relationship with my wife. But I also find it easy to lose track of the date. Especially now that the kids aren’t in school, there’s hardly a difference between a Monday, a Wednesday and a Saturday. For now, that’s not so bad, but I can certainly imagine it dragging on if the weather isn’t so nice.

It’s a good thing we don’t go shopping as recreation. We now have an income that doesn’t allow for much variation. On the other hand, we have quite a pool of capital. In my case, I could dip into it and be okay, since I plan to return to work in a couple years. I originally planned to return to university for a teaching degree as soon as I stopped working. But because I was pushed out of my business earlier than planned (but after the registration deadline), I have a year off. I don’t worry too much about my retirement income, knowing I can replace it by working later, but it gives me new appreciation for elderly people who have to live on a tight budget, knowing there’s almost no wiggle room and that something like a major car repair could derail their entire plan.

Being retired certainly has benefits, but it also has challenges that I didn’t anticipate. What do you look forward to about retiring early? What benefits do you have from continuing to work?


12 thoughts on “I’m Retired Now”

  1. Good job…butttttttt
    How on earth can you say you are retired when you plan on returning to work??
    When we retire there will be no more working….that is what i thought retirement was….
    have fun

  2. MiddleAway, moving to Asia will not be pushed up. In order to get a teaching certificate, I have to apply in January to start university classes in September (2012). So I will actually end up with a little over a year off. But I’m sure I can fill it with lots of meaningful activities.

    Lanie, I see exactly what you mean about not “really” being retired. I guess I could call my year off a sabbatical, but the difference is that I never need to return to work. The reason I will choose to work (at a private school) is to get the benefit of free tuition for my kids. Plus, education is an endeavour where I would choose to spend my time, even if I weren’t being paid.

  3. I’m with Lanie on this one…I don’t really consider this scenario to be “retirement, though I am very envious of someone who can take such a break in the midst of their earning years.

  4. Keep in mind the possible confusion resulting from different perceptions of “retirement”.

    Some, particularly older generations, boomers and older, see it as “being put out to pasture”.

    For the younger generation it tends to mean “no longer working in your career and having enough means to do what you want to, including work”. It’s a word which is turning fuzzy in its definition.

    For instance, neither of those two groups will consider someone who changes career but still need to work “retired”.

  5. Jacob, I understand what you mean. When talking with friends or acquaintances, I still haven’t found a comfortable answer to: “So, what do you do?”

    I guess I see the question of whether or not I need to work differently from you. I never need to work to support my current lifestyle in my current location. But to live overseas, I need to work to qualify for a long-term stay visa, health insurance and tuition to an English school, things that are not necessary at home, I need to work. So maybe I’m conditionally retired.

  6. Robert, congrats on your “sorta” retirement. It is still good to get out of the rat race, even if it may be only temporary.

    When I ERed in 2008 at age 45, I relished more than anything else losing my awful commute. Unlike you, I have been able to read more, not less, since I stopped working. Reading on the trains tended to put me to sleep after 10 or 15 minutes. Now, like I did earlier today at my co-op’s poolside, I read for nearly 2 hours.

    When I ERed, I had absolutely NO interest in ever working again on any kind of regular basis. I have earned maybe $200 since I ERed doing a few odd but simple things such as helping a couple in my building get spyware off their PC and driving a friend to the airport. But that’s it.

    Being ERed and childfree means I have the total freedom to come and go as I please, accountable to nobody as the money comes in without doing anything and less of it goes out also without doing much of anything. Same for me. 🙂

  7. Hey, thanks for replying to my note….
    what will i do when i no longer need to work….ummm, not work….just kidding
    sleep in or not, go to the gym, long walks with the dog, last minute travel, road trips, maybe some cooking classes to learn exotic cooking (did a great one last time in Mexico…that was fun…street food), grow exotic plants in my new greenhouse….the list is long and fun

    1.5 years…..

  8. I also thought I would never EVER work again once I retired 3 years ago. I had a life like lanie describes, exercise, blogging, reading, gardening and travel. But I took up on an offer to do some part-time consulting for someone I really like. I won’t do it forever, but it has been nice for me to get out of the house one day a week and talk to some other human beings. I don’t need the money to live, so I still feel retired. Now that I’ve been at the retirement thing for going on 4 years, I can see a great argument for cycling in and out of some type of work (maybe next time it will be volunteer) throughout my retirement. 50 years is a long time (should I be lucky enough to live into my 90’s!)

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