Life After FIRE – One Year Review – Part I

Okay, let’s get the big thing out of the way. I’m so in love with my early retirement I can’t even see going back to full time work. I just enjoy this new lifestyle too much.  I will stand by my previous thought I won’t mind part time hours up to half time or so.  Just so far nothing as worked out along those lines.

So what are the positives of this new lifestyle?  Well it’s a long list but I enjoy the following the most:

  • That I no longer wake up to an alarm like 99% of the time (I did use it a few times to get up early for something and I didn’t want to oversleep).
  • I get to do things when I want to do them.  So if I’m tired I do less and when I’m in a grove I get more done.  This is so different from my old day job and I seriously enjoy this more than I thought.  The ability to adjust my day based  on how I’m doing is literally priceless to me.
  • I almost never feel stressed out anymore.  I, of course, still feel some stress but it really isn’t even in the ballpark of my life (which wasn’t really that stressful to begin with).  I honestly feel like hippie some days as I look at other stressed out people and resist the urge to tell them to just chill out a bit
  • I get to follow my curiosity where ever it goes.  So if I develop an interest in a new book series I can borrow them all from the library and read them.  Or research an term I found in a book or even watch YouTube videos to learn a new hobby.

Yet I should caution that not everything is positive.  I still have a problem in early retirement: I still have too much to do. What the @$%#? Yes, I know. You may hate me for a moment. The issue remains the same as before I retired. I have a lot of interests and things I want to try which is more than the time I have available. The side effect of this is that I’ve never been bored remotely even once during the last year. Yet I feel much better now as I don’t feel I’m squeezing in life at the seams but rather living it to its potential each day.

Part of that come from the fact I can now do things at my own pace as I mentioned above. I feel like for the first time that I’m not really ignoring parts of my life. I get to them all eventually it often take me weeks to cycle through all my interests. Part of it is that I choose to leave time for those quiet moments in life. If I’m out for a walk and something catches my eye I can stop and have a look. Or I can make sure to spend some time each day reading and not feel guilty over it.

Yet one lesson I have learned in the last year is how easily it is for time to go by without you realizing it. In the beginning I gave myself permission to do not much, yet over time I wanted to accomplish something. I wanted to create and work towards something big. Of course, what that is can be anything and it various from person to person but we all need ‘work‘ on something we find meaningful. I think this is so overlooked by many retirees regardless of age. You don’t stop wanting to achieve things because you left work. That desire is still there and needs to be fed with something. Of course what you find meaningful is highly subjective. I’m fairly sure some people would consider me making little trees for my kid’s D&D game a massive waste of time but I like the challenge of learning new skills, being a bit artistic and having a tangible product of the end of my time.  It means something to me and that is all that matters.

With that in mind perhaps my only regret in the last year was how little time I focused on my writing. I enjoy writing but I was still wasn’t doing it every day for most of the last year. I didn’t find a good rhythm for doing it until summer where I made it more of a habit and started writing my next non-fiction book which is the sequel to Free at 45 (I’m got a first draft of five chapters so far).

Which brings me to my next point. I’ve added some extra structure to my days during the summer. Not a lot more but just a bit more. Why? I found I was avoiding things too much which didn’t really need to be delayed like writing my latest book. So now I give myself permission to be lazier on the weekends and then write out a to do list for each week. I also include certain habits that I want to do in that list.  So going for a run three times a week is on it and writing at least a page per day on my book on average and drafting at least one blog post a week.  You might wonder why a ‘to do’ list.   Well I always liked using them at work previously and they do help me to make sure I don’t forget to do something.  But really the structure can be just about anything you want to help you get things accomplished.

Perhaps one item that seems a little silly but never the less I’m proud of my ability to bask in those little quiet moments in life a bit more. I can pause on a walk and just marvel at the light coming through the trees and not feel guilty for taking time. Life really does now move at a slower more sane pace for me and I don’t ever want to give that up now.

I also don’t regret leaving when I did. I could have saved more money prior to leaving and have additional savings to pay for some things that have come up over the last year but I really don’t regret it. Why? I don’t mind limits from the money. It keeps me in check for determining my priorities and not buying too much stuff that I won’t get around to using. Having too much cash I think would make me more prone to impulse buying or getting too much of a backlog of things to do. Which I know I can happen to me..see exhibit A: my video game collection is a bit too big and I have almost 100 games on my GOG.com account and I’ve barely finished like 11 of them. So to deal with that I’ve just banned myself from buying new games for this year. Or exhibit B: my Netflix to watch list still hasn’t gone down that much either in the last year.

Tomorrow I’ll look at the money side of the early retirement in a bit more detail. In the mean time, did you have any particular questions about my first year of early retirement?  Please ask away in the comments.

Unloading the Back End

So in the interest of full public disclosure you can no longer read every post I’ve ever written on this blog.  Why? Because I just deleted about 330 old posts from 2006 to 2008 period which sounds like a lot but to be honest we were closing in to 2000 posts on this blog and over 12,000 comments.

You might be wondering why I did that?  Short answer, the blog is almost 12 years old and the overall database to run it was approaching one GB in size.  My web host company was sending me notices that I’m going to run out of memory soon and rather than upgrade my memory for the blog I decided to review some of the older posts and I realized a lot of them were no longer relevant or even useful.

For example, do you care about my commentary on the 2007 Federal budget? Or that post I did about going on vacation in 2008? Or those admin posts about changing domains? Or what I was reading for other blog posts back in 2006?  Well I don’t so I deleted them.

However I did leave some of my favorite posts and of course all my net worth and retirement calculations series.  So the core of what I did in those early years is still there for your reading pleasure…just be aware that some of those older cross links might no longer work.

Thanks dear readers, I really do appreciate you all.  I will return later this week to my first year of retirement series.

Aug 2018 – Net Worth

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 by 102% on a 12 month rolling average (the extra 2% is a buffer for inflation).

Investments

Accounts

RRSP $66,190
LIRA $18,050
TFSA $96,510
Pension $174,450
Wife’s RRSP $94,580
Wife’s TFSA $90,790
Wife’s Taxable $45,770
High Interest Savings Account $33,510

Investment Net Worth $619,850 ($2320 increase over last month from investments)

Home Equity

Estimate $395,000

Income

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.

  • Wife’s Monthly Payment to House: $550
  • Child Tax: $341
  • Interest $30
  • Tim’s Payment to House:$142
  • Kid Cell Phone Payment: $55
  • Total Income: $1118

I owed the house a few business expenses that I had paid for in cash previously so I wrote a cheque for that.  And our oldest son got his own cell phone this month and he paid us for half of it.

Spending

Last Month $1105

Well I wanted to balance things out and we more than did it last month.  The above total also includes spending $176 to buy a cell phone for my oldest son and setup his minutes and data for it.  Going forward we agreed to pay his base plan for texting but he is responsible to pay for any additional minutes or data costs after his initial top up is used. The monthly spending also includes spending $100 on a new deep fryer after my old one broke.

Results

Net Worth ~$1,014,850

This Month Investment Gains & Income/Spending Ratio = (2320+1118)/1105 = 3.11 (Target 1.02 or higher)

Sept to July Invest Gain & Income/Spending Ratio = (19989+18652)/35814 =1.08 (Target 1.02 or higher)

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.

Commentary:

Well I expected our situation to improve through August but honestly I wasn’t expected that much of an improvement. So overall we exceed our ratio goal of 1.02 with a 1.08 or putting it another way we have investment gains and income of 108% of our spending during the last year.   So our net worth went up even without me working in the last year.

What is particularly interesting about the result is our investments only gained 3.24% which is a noticeably lower than my longer term average I modeled my retirement at which is 4.5%.  And our spending was a bit higher than I initially had put in the model.  I had expected to spend around $32K plus vacation or roughly $33K when we in fact spent $35.8K (I touched on why that occurred during July’s net worth post).  So we earned less and spent more and still made our overall target.  I’ll discuss the numbers in more detail on a post next month as I have a series planned to discuss my one year of early retirement that I hit next month.

Any questions?

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