I have a friend that’s the laziest person you’d ever meet. His weekends consist of watching TV, writing lists of things to do (and not doing them), more TV …oh and he likes to drink (a lot). He’s one year away from retirement without a plan. Needless to say, this has disaster written all of it. Knowing what to do in early retirement is as important as having the money to retire. Before I started my current mind-numbing office job, I took a 7-month break from work which turned out to be a good early retirement baptism. Looking back, after about 5 months I became bored and was keen to start a new job again. I failed to have much of a plan and time just drifted past. This was a good learning experience which has made me (hopefully) better prepared.
Why are you retiring early?
There are loads of blogs and books about the “how” of retiring early but less on the “why”. Answering this question should give you a goal. My response simply boils down to “being happier”. I’m sure this is most people’s goal. Who doesn’t want to be happier? With a clear goal, it’s a simple case of defining how to accomplish it or in business-speak “the strategy”. If I was to elaborate slightly on the “how” and “why”, then I’d say: I want to grow, both physically and mentally. Spending 5/7th of my life stuck inside an office makes me regress as a person.
“Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.”William Butler Yeats
I remember reading somewhere that by gaining more interests, you as a person become more interesting. This sounds logical, conversely, if your only interests were binge-watching Netflix and aimlessly scrolling social media then you wouldn’t be much fun to be around. Life is richer with hobbies, it took me a while to have this realisation. It wasn’t until moving to Prague for work in 2010 that I started to look into taking up new hobbies to fill the void created by fewer friends and a very short daily commute. I took up Muay Thai, Freediving and Yoga which have been assets ever since. Spending time on new experiences and existing interests is what I plan to do more of after quitting my day job. This year I’ve dabbled with Stand Up Paddleboarding, diving (not scuba but from a diving board) and surfing. Surfing feels like a great way to spend time, I’m sort of pleased that I’m no good as it’s a fun project to work on!
The definition of retirement is ceasing to work and on that basis, I don’t plan on retiring. I plan to escape the daily grind / get out of the rat race. I want to stop doing work I don’t enjoy. It’s possible to quit sooner by doing some sort of part-time gig and the healthier income buffer can be used for travel. Another benefit of doing some work is to continue making a state pension contribution. The minimum annual income requirement in the UK for this is £6,032, so this is my income target and no more. As much as I dislike my current office job, I do enjoy the camaraderie so there’s bound to be social benefits too.
A typical week
Outside of sleeping, the above chart shows a rough estimate of how I’d plan to spend time in a typical week. These are all things I currently do, so I’d just do more of them. Needless to say, I’d be more money conscious so some activities will take longer because of this; I currently travel to the gym using public transport but to save money I’d cycle or walk. One of my biggest outgoings is food (around £400 per month), so I plan to cook more and travel to food places (markets, shops etc) to source the best deals. “New experiences” is all about doing something new, whether that be visiting a museum, cooking a meal, a gym class or experimenting with roasting coffee beans …all the things there’s no time for currently when visiting the office 5 days a week.
I plan to travel more, at the least, it would be nice to avoid the bleak UK winter months! I find travelling more enjoyable when there’s a purpose and recently stayed on a Muay Thai camp in Thailand and tried a surf camp in Portugal. Not only is the learning aspect enjoyable but it’s also sociable. In an effort to reduce travel costs I’d like to try holiday home swapping, after some preliminary research it looks like Homelink are the longest established and most trustworthy but if you’ve swapped your home before then I’d love to hear your advice!
It’s what you do that matters, not what you have: https://lifeafterthedailygrind.com/its-what-you-do-that-matters-not-what-you-have/
Learning to surf in The Algarve: https://lifeafterthedailygrind.com/learning-to-surf-in-the-algarve/
Quitting my job to travel: https://lifeafterthedailygrind.com/quitting-job-to-travel/
Thanks for reading, maybe some ideas for you/maybe not. It would be great to hear what your plans are or what you’re currently doing in retirement in the comments section below.