What do I think about early retirement seven months after leaving my corporate job? What have I been up to in the past few months? What’s next on the horizon?
Staying Put for a Month
October and early November are incredible stretches of weather where we picked to live. The ocean stayed warm until right before Halloween, the beaches cleared out from tourists, and the temperatures were pretty good. The best part has been the cooler water temperatures improving the already solid fishing around here. We’ve been able to time the wind, tide, and sunrise, but also had some success off the beach and bank fishing one of the tidal creeks. Personal bests were set for a few different types of fish.
We hosted some friends in town for a weekend and family for another stretch. It was yet another month where I could confidently say it was nice choosing where we live. Is this going to be the final place? I still don’t know yet. We recently experienced our first coastal nor’easter and that was outright brutal. Pouring rain, forty six degrees, and strong winds for three plus days was brutal. I think I’d take a nice snow then some crisp sunny days afterwards instead of this. Does this mean I’m officially an old soul and need a place in Florida in the winter or somewhere else? Is Hawaii still in our long term future? Maybe I just have the personality of a grumpy 60 year old? Hopefully this was just a short stretch and the 60s and sunshine holds true for this winter, but that was a shock to the system.
Then what about housing? I think more and more about getting back into home ownership (even though our experience has been bad). The current economic environment may be lower rates for longer and owning a home is similar to carrying our bond portfolio. Its also tempting because now that we’ve been here for five months, we’ve pinpointed the location we want to live in and can cut down our driving while improving the lifestyle. We aren’t there yet in committing to this location, but when we are the slow grueling process of finding what we want/where we want it at the right price begins. The choice will be between 1) Buying exactly what we want or 2) Buying something that has decent rental potential. No rush on either.
Do I Need the Red Pill (yet)?
I put together this longer post parting ways with my professional identity and giving up the desire for my boss’s job, but I’ve occasionally had moments where I missed parts of the job: Coaching people, landing a big deal, or carrying around my title and corporate budget. I recently saw a deal in my consulting gig and had a momentary thought when I said “that would be a fun little company to go and run”. I got over that thought quickly, but there are a couple of things I miss about the having the career.
What there’s no desire for? Basically everything else, commuting, office politics, annual training, and giving up forty to fifty hours a week of my time for money I don’t need. I’d rather let my weekly schedule by dictated by picking ideal fishing conditions instead of an employer. I’ll slowly figure out some outlets for the things I used to enjoy. Another financially independent person once said to me “The game of business is now just a sport and money is the scorecard”. In keeping with the sports analogy, I’ve played 16 years as a professional and any additional time in the sport is going to be as a skilled amateur or sideline observer.
Holidays and Travel
We’re just over seven weeks away from our first big trip after retiring early. In between there we’ll take two trips home for the holidays, have some college football games we might go to, and could squeeze out a trip somewhere in December. There’s some work I need to put into planning out our travel for 2020 and we’d love some suggestions in to see in the Western US.
The company I used to work for is going through a gigantic merger. This has led to a number of conversations between me and former coworkers. Some people were displaced from their current jobs without severance and others had that option. Other people had the career ladder ripped out from under them wish bosses changing and departments reorganized. All of these folks work professional jobs making an above average income. There are two qualities I’m observing that directly relate to how much stress this merger is causing them: How good is their professional network and how close are they to financial independence? People who don’t have either seem completely stressed out while people who have one or both are far more relaxed.
One lesson I’ll share from this for other corporate warriors: Be careful where you take a relocation to. Three people I’ve talked to are located in a smaller metropolitan area and there’s no way to replicate their income based on their skill set outside of hanging on with the current employer. Others who live in larger cities aren’t faced with the same level of stress because there are more employment opportunities.
Easing the Scarcity Mindset
There’s been a noticeable difference in the past month on my frugality (I guess we politely call this a “scarcity mindset”. Our portfolio is up 10% or so above our financial independence number, we have a hedged portfolio with over 35% bonds and treasuries to protect on the downside, and still have a little bit of extra money is coming in. Realistically our disposable income is as high as last year. In 2018 we had a bunch of our savings automated, a sizable mortgage, and home maintenance expenses. Now we have none of those three things and more time to be conscious of our expenses. Its a good lesson in asking “what could go right” vs. “what could go wrong” when considering leaving a career.
The market & economy may not always be this good, but its awesome to go to the gym or go fishing ion a weekday and still end up with a higher net worth every month than when I was stressing away at the corporate job in a city we didn’t enjoy.
I may or may not continue these updates as the months go on. Financial independence and the subsequent ability to leave my corporate job has been a lifelong goal that’s come true. However it was still a major life change that came with its own set of challenges, primarily reprogramming fifteen or more years of habits. There’s very little we’d change in the process, but its been a lot of change to take in all at once. This thread from a fellow 2019 early retiree says it as well as I can:
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