I went from working to retirement on your own terms, it was planned out and satisfying. I wasn’t really as prepared as I thought about being retired, but even with our money problems I didn’t regret stopping work.
It took me some time to adjust to the public face of early retirement. I was in my mid 30’s and could spend a lot of time with my family. Shopping, walking our dog, attending school events and after school activities were part of my normal week now. In my neighborhood it was rare to see couples my age together during work hours. When talking to people I would mention I worked from home. This prevented the assumption I was unemployed, which to me seemed worse than being retired. Saying I was retired when in my 30’s felt wrong for some reason. Only my close friends and family knew, and there were mixed reactions there. Some liked the idea, but it felt like there was an expectation I’d return to work eventually.
In my private life I had a great time. I spent a lot of it working on product ideas and learning about things I found interesting. I never missed working for someone else, because our investments were generating money and we felt rich and free.
Then things started going wrong, and the shock of our financial problems hit. When the shock wore off these three options stood out.
- Do nothing.
- Get a job.
- Create a job.
Doing nothing was the hope and pray strategy. As a kid that did seem to work sometimes. As an adult with dependents I had to do something, so that left options 2 and 3.
Getting a job seemed like the best thing to do, but it felt lousy after spending nearly two years being free from work. I could barely remember my working life after being retired for two years. Besides the lack of free time, the negatives of working felt as distant as the positives.
I wouldn’t necessarily need to go back to IT. Anything that interested me, covered family expenses, and didn’t need a lot of retraining and qualifications would be fine. I kind of liked the idea of working in a coffee shop or stacking shelves.
Creating a job mean working for myself, and seemed like the riskiest option. I had always regretted not starting a business when I graduated university. Now, I was nearing 40 and thought my window to start a business would close soon. If I committed to this option, and didn’t start making decent money in a few years, our financial situation would be much worse. Professionally, I would also start running out of employment options in IT, if I hadn’t already.
At my lowest point I really struggled with the last two options. A job felt secure, would make our savings last longer, and possibly even add to them. Creating a job, meant creating an income, possibly for life, with the flexibility to enjoy family time and traveling.
I eventually came up with a compromise. I would take a few years, and do whatever I could to build a business to support my family. Deciding that made me nervous, but excited at the same time. I hadn’t had a task this challenging since I was in University and trying to make money while studying. Our savings would take a big hit, but hopefully it would be worth it.
I started searching for jobs online, then give up, then looked again a few hours later. During this time I wondered what would happen when I was 50, or 60, or even 70? Finding a job now and working for another 10 years might work, but I’d probably have the same money problems later in life. I wondered where I would I work then?
Joe retired in his mid-thirties to spend more time with his young family. He started this blog to share his story, help others plan their path to retirement, and enjoy retired life.
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