The beginning

We call this the beginning as it’s the very start of a new life.  Not a new adventure as some might call it but rather a new way of going about things.  Of course there will be new things to explore and new things to discover but mostly this will be about having the time and the space to do things without pressure and (some of the time at least) without being measured, monitored or performance rated.  We may have a plan but it will be loose and largely flexible and if we find there are things we don’t like or don’t want to do anymore then we simply won’t do them.

It’s a big step and one not to be taken lightly but as retirement is squishy blog post points out, our definition of retirement is changing.  The days when 40 years in the factory were followed by a gold watch and a career in Crown Green bowls are gone.  We are the middle generation which still wrestles with the transition but not only will our children (and our children’s children) need to become more comfortable with flexible and contract working they (meaning millennials) are demanding change.  Their focus is more serial gratification where periods of working are followed by extended periods of leisure.

So in retirement we will initially continue with 12 months of (very) part time work and, well, who knows after that.  We remain open to opportunities.  After all with half (I hope) a lifetime of skills accumulated, it would be a shame indeed if there were no way in which that experience could be shared.  What’s critical though is that retirement means a reset of priorities or rather a reset as to who sets those priorities.  We’re on the cusp of a new era and who knows where that will take us.

Let’s come back to early retirement.  I’ve worked in an industry where early retirement is not uncommon and contractually I’ve had a retirement age of 62 beyond which I assume it’s deemed that senility will have set in and I would no longer be capable of making sensible judgements.  On top of that there has been an optional early retirement age of 56, which is the corporate mandated jump off point for those assumed to be completely burned by a high pressure job.  I reached that point around 7 years ago (at age 46) and wished I had thought about it earlier.  We’ll come back to the psychology in my second post but for now let’s say that I have created a new retirement category called early, early retirement whereby I’m now stepping down at age 52 and two-thirds.

During those seven years I have read a lot and planned a lot.  I have become good friends with the concept of FIRE and intimately familiar with the concept of safe withdrawal rates.  But before you switch off, let’s not overcomplicate ER.  Financially at least the concept of ER is quite straightforward as most personal finance blogs will tell you it’s about savings rate (being the amount of your earnings you can stash away) and controlling your expenses.  Once you’ve understood both of those theory would say that based on historical experience you essentially need to stash away 25 times your regular expenses and you are golden.  Of course it’s a gross over simplification (and one we will explore in later posts) but if life teaches you anything it’s that people crave simplicity (after all why else would they buy grated cheese or pre-peeled potatoes).  But what all those finance blogs fail to focus on is the third (and mostly ignored) element of ER.  Earning more money.  Why is that?  Who knows but maybe in the quest for simplicity because it’s telling someone that if they forgo their daily latte it will bring forward their early retirement date by three months is easier than extoling the black arts of personal development, improvement and risk taking.

I digress.

We’ve done our time and done the math and for us now is the right time financially, physically and emotionally to retire.  We’ve a lot to talk about on the blog.  We’ll be talking about investments and investment strategies but we’ll also be talking about knowing when it’s the right time to go and getting your head in the right place.  But for now let’s take a breath and enjoy the moment as we look forward to a fun-filled future.

So you’ve done the math, the sums add and so it’s right to push the button.  Right?  Well, maybe not.  Let’s skip the topic of obligations to dependents for now and let’s talk briefly about uncertainty. Uncertainty doesn’t just cover the fact that you might get hit by a falling tree (you might but the chances are quite slim) but it considers the topic that all the early retirement simulators are based on a sequence of historical returns.  But what if those sequences are not repeated?  We’ll be discussing that and much more.  Stay tuned.

12 thoughts on “The beginning

  1. Looking forward to following the journey. Have 19-23 months myself to carry on preparing. Money is one concern but so is having a challenge and missing the social side of work. I need to start thinking about that as much as finances 😀 Have you got a Facebook page ?

    1. Thanks Chris – I’ll be covering some of those topics in future posts as they were also concerns of mine. Link to facebook is on the home page and I’ll start populating soon.

  2. Good luck with your new life and the blog! I “retired” when I turned fifty, or thought I had, only to discover I wasn’t ready for it on a number of levels. I blogged about this – still do! – and continue to struggle with it. To quote The Clash, now that I’m back working, “Should I stay or should I go now?” In the end though, I try hard not to forget just how lucky I am to have the choice.

    1. We had a similar situation (or rather I did) that for a number of years we were desperate to move to Australia. We did it but then realized once we were there it wasn’t for us so we moved back! A very expensive experience. My point is, you never know until you get there (physically or metaphorically) what it will be like.

      1. I need to hear about this Australia detour. I might have the chance to ‘do an Aussie’ just for the experience but am not too familiar with the financial implications.

        1. Wow – that deserves a blog post in its own right! It was expensive for us as we thought we were moving for good so we bought a house, moved all our stuff etc. So getting out again was expensive. Overall, if you are going East Coast then Australia is not a cheap place to live and certainly more expensive than the UK. West Coast is cheaper (but very remote!) and has been experienced house price declines due to the problems in the mining industry. BUT I love Australia and if I had the chance to go at a relatively young age I would jump at the chance – its a great experience.

  3. Hello! I’ve been following your journey on Early-retirement wannabe and I’m really looking forward to this blog! I’m like you were at the beginning. 46 now, hoping to give up at 52. The next 6 years will make all the difference in terms of saving hard while spending less – trouble is in my heart I’m already feeling pretty burnt out and instead want to travel / sail the world.

    However, instead, I pushed for the promotion I probably didn’t really want because I worked out it meant I could retire at 52 instead of 55, and so now I am just gritting my teeth and getting on with it. I’m hoping your blog will give me the inspiration to keep following the plan, while remembering to still live now rather than wish away the next 6 years of my life….

    1. Welcome on board!
      Having a plan and an ambition is half the battle. Get a spreadsheet up and running and plan some milestones along the way, which should help keep you motivated and of course…..keep reading!

  4. I have also been following the early retirement wannabe thread for some time and feel a ‘spiritual bond’ as we also ‘retired’ at the same time as you official as of yesterday – almost 55 (me) and almost (56) hubby. Both teachers in a boarding school and to be honest, the 15 to 16 hour days are not as doable as they were in my yoof 😁 we intend to continue part time – he will do 3 days and I will do 2 plus, we are considering a middle age gap year doing a ski season so I am about to start an NVQ in cooking and food prep one day per week. On summer hols now and also about to cruise but doing the significantly warmer Spanish, French and Italian Rivieras. So thank you for your thread on MSE and I look forward to reading all about your retirement.

    1. Congratulations and well done!

      We are also looking forward to our first ski season (definitely a topic for some blog posts). Our home in Austria is on the edge of a very big ski area and I managed just under 50 days last year, which kind of begs the question why I am not a better skier ;-). One thing I have learnt is that we will do most of our skiing in the off-season and probably head off to sunnier climes in the busy season (Feb).

  5. Looking forward to more! We’re about ready too, at least for my husband. We’re so unsure about what our expenses might be in retirement (we plan to move to Canada) that I’ll continue working for a while.

    1. What’s in Canada that’s calling you there?

      I did three “OMYs” 🙂 and I think its important for your retirement that you go in feeling comfortable.

      Good luck!

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