It’s been a while since I last published a post as I took my family on a much needed beach holiday. A beach holiday in Kent can be surprisingly cost effective and great value for money, provided the weather plays ball. Perhaps a topic for a future post…
Back to the topic at hand however. Two weeks of allowing myself some time to relax and put some of the everyday stressful thoughts and responsibilities aside for a little while allowed me some space for a reality check. For a few weeks before the holiday I was living high on the excitement of getting myself into a position to retire early, but I needed to return to the drawing board to redefine a few concepts for myself. Firstly, what does retiring early mean to me? What would it look like and what would I be doing during my “early retirement”? And the family, how do I want them to live and what will they do? What would life look like? Secondly, due to some less responsible and some downright stupid decisions in my twenties and thirties, I am already behind the curve of where I should be to retire at 65, forget about retiring earlier than that. As a result, I first need to do some serious catching up before I can even consider early retirement. And what is early these days anyway? My dad, a baby boomer, is already past 65 and is still working. My retirement fund broker doesn’t seem to even consider the possibility that I’ll be retiring before 70, not because I started late, but simply because I’m expected to live so far past 65 that it doesn’t seem sensible or financially possible to retire that early. Early? Yes, by the time I get to 65, retiring then will be seen as retiring early. So what is it exactly that I’m trying to achieve with FIRE? Let’s try figure it out…
What would early retirement look like?
In short, it depends. I can think of a lot of “better” ways to spend my time daily than I am now, for sure, but most would require either an insatiable source of funds, or an ongoing source of income that still frees up enough of my time to spend doing things I’d rather be doing during working hours than I am currently. So what would I want to spend my time doing rather than working my arse off to help my boss pay off his mortgage? And I’m trying to be realistic here. Sure I’d like to go surfing in Hawaii, scuba diving in the Maldives, climbing in the Himalayas and constantly chase adventure after adventure. But most adventure junkies who could afford to do that end up not doing it full time. Why not? For one, it must be very unsettling for a young family to be constantly jetting around the world chasing dad’s adventures. So I’ve got to find a relatively stable life where I could still chase an adventure or two or three a year, while giving my family the grounding of a life rooted in one familiar place. Phew, that takes some financial pressure off. Sure, some FIRE bloggers don’t seem to be able to blog fast enough to keep up with their travels, but I think my life is currently in a place that demands a more stable existence, for now anyway.
I don’t work crazy long hours, but it just feels like there are never enough hours in a day. A typical week day looks as follows: I’m up at 6am, I help get the kids ready for school and sometimes walk them to school so my wife can get to the office early enough to get back for school pickups, then I’m off to work and back home around 7pm. We normally start getting the kids ready for bed as soon as I get home, so not really much quality time with them during the week! Bed time is finished around 8 or 8:30, but if we run late it easily goes past 9. Then someone has to tidy the house, do the washing, do general admin and planning and get everything ready for the next day to be the same chasing your tail from 6am. And I haven’t even had a minute to spend with my wife by this time. Then we wonder why almost half of marriages end up as another statistic. By the time we crash exhausted and grumpy well after 11pm, no one feels like picking up a guitar, or going for a run or a swim, reading a book, or any of the other hobbies we’ve neglected or forgotten about for years. And the 2 or 3 glasses of wine have long since stopped being for enjoyment and started being the crutch that props you up until you can allow yourself to get some sleep to do it all again tomorrow. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned any of those ideas I’ve been mulling over in my head to start generating a small side income to take some of the financial pressure off, but I just never seem to have time to sit down and start getting it going. I wonder why?
I definitely need to spend more quality waking hours with my family, that’s priority number one! I also need to have time for those hobbies and ideas, and the groundhog days have to come to an end.
I don’t particularly want to stop working entirely, because I enjoy what I do, and so does my wife. It seems a half-day would probably be ideal, so income-wise, our FIRE fund will need to supplement the other half, plus some extra for chasing those adventures. Seems we’re getting somewhere now.
When do I want FIRE?
So, 65 will be early by the time I get there, but I probably won’t be able to play a pickup basketball game at that age, and I probably won’t feel like jetting around to those exotic scuba destinations. And god help me if I still need to to school runs. That probably leaves me with about a decade to get to a place where I’m still young enough to enjoy some of the lifestyle activities I’d like to enjoy now. The reality is I waited too long and I have to make due without some of the things I’d have liked to do daily at my current age. This is the price you pay for not getting going early enough, but all is not lost. I hopefully don’t have to wait until I need to take my mobility scooter on my scuba trips. The details of how I plan to do this will have to wait for a dedicated post, but for now I have to believe it’s possible!
I once worked with a guy who got fed up with the London rat race and left the country. He’s fortunate enough to be able to run an SEO business remotely, so he now posts pictures on Facebook of the view from his office window looking out onto a Thai beach. Wouldn’t that be nice FIRE?
What is your FIRE? What does retirement mean to you? Everyone has to answer this for themselves, whether it’s early retirement or not. And everyone has to work out for themselves how they are going to get there. It’s scary how many people don’t have the first clue of how they’re going to get to retirement, and they don’t even know what they’d like it to look like…