Time to actually retire, what do I do now?

After the sale of our property, I started preparing for retirement when the money was safely in our bank account. It took about 6 months to get everything ready. There were several things I needed to do before actually quitting my job:

  1. Find a place to live.
  2. Start earning passive income
  3. Set up a business
  4. Try retired life

We planned to rent a place, because we hadn’t found another one to buy yet. The property market was overheated, so we thought the prices might fall in one or two years. I knew thought renting would be tough without a job, so we had to do this before I retired. Finding a decent place was harder than we expected, the good properties didn’t allow dogs, or were priced way out of our budget. Our rental applications were rejected for a lot of properties, despite having a good income and employment history. We were becoming desperate, then somehow my wife found a place that accepted pets, wasn’t too expensive, and clean.

I wasn’t ready to invest our money, so bank term deposits became our best option at that time. Our savings needed to start making more money, without risking it, or we would start spending it after my last pay check was cashed. It took several days off work to visit banks, complete piles of paperwork, and lockout money away. There were a mixture of accounts, paying interest monthly or yearly, which would cover our expenses for the next few years.

After retiring I found out the world was built around the concept of adults being either employed and unemployed. I had unexpectedly fallen into the unemployed category. Saying I was retired might have been more acceptable if I were older than my mid 30s. Mentioning retirement usually required an explanation about our financial status, otherwise I was treated like I’d lost my job. I imagined people thinking I spent the day laying around smoking and drinking. I soon learnt to say I was in IT, and worked from home.

I’d always planned to make something and invest through my own business when I retired. I had lawyers and accountants I’d used on other projects, so they formed a proper legal entity for me pretty quickly. This also had the benefit of giving me a job as a company director, which sounded better than “retired”.

I could have gone with the “entrepreneur” job title, but it was too hard to spell, and I never said it very convincingly. It felt like I was calling myself an actor, who really I worked at a coffee shop hoping for a big break. No disrespect, I’m sure there are entrepreneurs and aspiring actors working their asses off to be the next Bill Gates or Ben Stiller. I just wasn’t sure I could pull off the “entrepreneur” title without first building a successful business.   

My naive idea of retired life was having lots of free time. I didn’t know if I was ready for that, so I used my vacation time to create long weekends, or take mid week breaks from work. These were my mini-retirements, to try out retirement, and spend as if I was retired already. During the week I watched my son’s tennis practice, spent time shopping with my wife, or running errands. Calling customer service became surprisingly easy, because most people were busy at work, and I had the whole day free. On long weekends I could just relax, or work on business ideas, which were flooding into my head.

I really enjoyed those mini retirements, and work started feeling less important. I was usually tired and grumpy at home after work, now I was so relaxed that my son enjoyed spending time with me. I could watch him play with his friends after school, which was a side of him I’d never seen in person before. My son was happy, so my wife was happy, and our home was a fun place to be.

Once all the preparation steps were finished I was ready to quit. I didn’t hate my job, my boss was ok, and the money was pretty good. If I wasn’t so bored I could have lasted another 3 – 5 years, but the family time I’d gain by retiring early made it easy to choose retirement. Being able to do whatever I wanted, at a time that suited me, cemented the decision to stop working completely. A few months later, during a six week holiday overseas, I knew it had been the right decision for me, and our family.

Actually quitting my job was mentally a lot harder than I expected. I’d seen a few movies where long-term prisoners were afraid to be released from prison. Before I resigned, I felt that fear each day while walking to work. The plan had been to tell my boss on a specific date that I was leaving the company, but I started getting nervous as the date got closer. It would be the first time I was leaving a job without having another one lined up. Having a good income, which was stable, and being at a big company felt like a good reason to delay retirement. Fortunately, my son’s school break was coming up, and airline tickets for our planned holiday went on sale. Resigning right away meant we could book the discounted tickets, and head overseas for the holiday during the school break. I quit the very next day.

Two years later I barely remembered the daily grind of a day job. During my working life, the years flew buy in months and years. In retired life I felt each day, because I had 24 hours to play with, and could spend as I liked.

Time to actually retire, what do I do now?

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.

Please consider sharing this story with your network. Joe relies on referrals to share these stories with readers just like you.

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