Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

87 Comments

  1. Awesome post! Thanks so much for bringing together all these different points of view and experiences in retirement. As an aspiring early retiree, posts like these give me lots to think about!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks, JW! You and Lucy of all people got this early retirement thing covered. I’m sure you’ll fill your time when you bow out of the traditional work force.

  2. Mrs. Groovy

    Thank you very much, Christian. And I’m so glad to hear that you were inspired by Joe’s blog!

    Annual leave. You mean that time that’s supposed to be your vacation time, that you lose if you don’t use, but when you do take it your employer expects you to work? And what about thinking of all the emails and calls you’ll return to even if you manage to get some real time off. It’s hard putting that out of your mind.

    I’m finding that setting and sticking to a light schedule helps keep my mental state in check. Please keep me posted on how it’s going for you.

    • Christian

      Great, I will! Annual leave is holiday leave, and generally the only time I could take a holiday was at the end of biz trips. To be able to string a few days together of personal time…. let alone a few weeks together…. is an amazing feeling!

  3. Christian

    Hi Mrs Groovy, I love this blog and particularly this story. I retired at 43, 2 weeks ago.

    I chanced upon FI , 12 months ago, after stumbling upon Joe Udo’s blog.

    I live in Asia and love the fact I now have the time to explore. It sure beats pleading for an annual leave day at the end of a business trip, to see the local sights, when in reality you are still connected at the hip and expected to attend to work emails and calls.

    The above comment from Jason Buckley really resonates. I am finding FI to indeed be a real mental challenge. Outside of the FI community online, I don’t know anyone who has “retired” early.

    It is somehow difficult to slip out of the work conditioning. I am writing down my goals where I can look at them daily, to help re-wire my thoughts accordingly.

    Regards,
    Christian

  4. This is a good compilation, Mrs. Groovy. It’s important to keep the journey real for many FIRE aspirants so this kind of list is really useful. As you probably know, I am FI but choosing not to RE yet, as long as the job remains intellectually stimulating. Our stories probably aren’t as media-worthy in the PF blogosphere but I am sure there are many like me. Stress levels at work post FI take a serious nosedive, even steeper than the S&P 500 index did in late 2008! 😊

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks, TFR! I hear you. If work is stimulating and your stress level is minimal, why not keep at it as long as it suits your lifestyle.

      I’m happy you think the information here is useful. I was hoping that many would find key takeaways in these real-life glimpses.

  5. Excellent post Mrs Groovy

    5 and a half years in, we’re still enjoying it. Especially if the sun’s out, and we stretch out with a book, or have a walk.
    This last six months though, I gave myself a little bit of a kick. It struck me, I had a potential thirty years to go, so I thought I would try a few new things. I started blogging and I have just opened a Folksy shop (UK equivalent of Etsy) to see if there is a market for my metal work. The difference is though that any deadlines I have are self-imposed, not enforced.
    I have also picked up both Spanish and French on Duolingo (62% on Spanish and 63% on French) so quite a bit to go!

    To be honest I haven’t really found a downside. We are as sociable as we want to be, we save 50% of our income, so we’re likely to be OK financially. We do our best to stay healthy.

    I loved Billy and Akaisha’s ordering technique. Our equivalent was drawing fish and chicken in a restaurant one day!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks, Erith. It’s very encouraging to hear you say that after 5 1/2 years you haven’t found a down side.

      That’s very interesting about the Folksy shop. How do I find a link to it?

      If I had to draw my food order in a restaurant I would starve!

      • Well our drawing left a little to be desired, but we supplemented it a bit with hand signals… Got the most gorgeous food!

        My Folksy shop is https://folksy.com/shops/CrackingGems

        I have a long way to go, but I have time on my hands. It doesn’t need to be profitable next week!
        In the UK we have to get larger silver items hallmarked before we can sell them, so I have about 10 ready to go for marking next week. I have enough for daily updates for the next month or so. I have been advised that it is better adding one thing every day rather than lots on the same day, so I hope the ‘slower’ approach works!

  6. We hit FI at 43, and have spent the last 18 months travelling Europe and North Africa. We’d already spent 2 years on the road before going back to work at 41.

    Being FI is a real mental challenge. Despite all the research and spreadsheets, 40 years of ‘you must work’ conditioning are hard to push aside. Despite the fact we’ve consistently saved and invested each month SINCE FI, it feels unreal and I worry what we’ve done isn’t really possible!

    Another area I struggle with is the fact I personally know very few people who have hit FI, and I find myself feeling alone, stood apart from almost everyone in society.

    By far the best thing for me is the space to think. I can ponder all kinds of questions at my leisure, sat in some pretty incredible places while I do, the Sahara, the Arctic, the Alps. The more I think about the idea of FI in particular, the more obvious it seems the right thing to do.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      I can understand it being weird for you, Jason. We don’t know many others who’ve pulled off early retirement but at least we’re within the general vicinity of retirement age. With Mr. Groovy’s previous government job it’s not uncommon for folks to retire after 20 (or 30) years of service.

      Your adventures sound fantastic! I took a glance at your website but want to spend some time there learning about your travels.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Mr. G uses Duolingo and he’s on a 502 consecutive day streak! Together we use an online course we bought from Rocket Spanish.

      Please don’t tell me you watch La Familia P Luche! Mr. G made me sit through a few episodes and I thought I’d pull my hair (pelo) out!

  7. Thanks! a lot of great points, in particular the lows, in order to know what to expect. I think it’s often too easy to imagine all problems will go away with early retirement. It helps to set expectations right!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thank you, Stockbeard. Although it’s pretty awesome when you no longer have to work, life doesn’t suddenly become perfect.

  8. This was very insightful. Usually when people talk about early retirement, it’s all sunshine and rainbows. It was helpful to hear about some of the struggles real early retirees have had.

    Would you considers writing about your own highs and lows, maybe this fall around the one year anniversary of your retirement? I’m curious to hear your thoughts after a year has gone by. Or maybe even make it an annual post so we can see how your lives and thoughts/emotions have changed over time?

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thank you, Kate. Hopefully we can learn from the lows and be a little better prepared for potential challenges as we go into retirement.

      And thanks for the suggestion. I definitely will consider writing about my highs and lows after a year of retirement.

  9. I love Billy and Akaisha’s food ordering technique! I’ll have to keep that in mind for my own travels, because I spent years learning German and Spanish and fail miserably at trying to recall a word of either!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Maybe the FI community can become famous for inventing a universal pantomime for “stir fry”. Luckily there’s Google translate! Thanks for commenting IV.

  10. Great post Mrs. G! I loved that Joe was so open about his parenting challenges. I also connected with Mr. 1500 and his “to-do” list on days off. I am fearing I’ll be just like that in retirement too. It’s great to read about others’ and their experiences!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks, Vicki! Can’t wait to see how you adjust to your freedom! Perhaps the reason so many resonate with Mr. 1500’s ambitious to-do list is that we set the bar high for ourselves. That’s not a trait that automatically turns off when you stop working.

  11. Very inspirational! I’m winding down a luxurious week off (spring break) from my teaching job. I would have no problem filling early retirement days with long walks, birding, gardening and cooking. I will continue to dream, and hopefully save enough to make it happen. Thanks for sharing these interviews!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      This week the park where we take our daily walks was buzzing with spring break activity! Normally during the week it’s just us and the grounds crew. Your time off sounds awesome! Thanks for commenting Mrs. FF. Keep plugging away at the saving and you’ll make it happen.

  12. Health & Wealth

    I loved seeing all the different perspective and some discussion about the lows. Mostly, I think of all the activities and interests I have that I’ll have time to engage in. Piano is one of them! I have a piano in my apartment that I haven’t played in forever (partly b/c it needs to be tuned, partly b/c I feel a bit shy playing in an apartment setting – I used to be a home owner, and partly b/c of lack of time!). So glad you’re taking lessons.

    However, although I dream about all the things I will do when retired, I also worry that I’ll just lay on the couch all day and do nothing!! Probably because I’m dealing with health-related fatigue issues now so every day is a struggle – but I’m working on trying to fix those (I’ve got plenty of time to do so before FI) and hope that once I am not working, I’ll have more energy. I also worry that as a single woman I will suffer from some social isolation. I recently moved from a more social work atmosphere to a less social one and I feel the difference, although I tell myself that will make it all the easier when I do leave as I won’t feel like I’m leaving friends behind. And I have some great non-work friends, but they’re already so bids (lots of them with kids now) that it’s hard to see them. And I’m not sure how comfortable I’ll be traveling alone – not out of fear particularly but b/c I’m an introvert so it wouldn’t come easy to me to make friends on the road. But, I figure these are all things to work into a long-term plan. And I’ll probably do some type of work to keep myself busy – maybe a blog, maybe try my hand (like everyone else it seems!) at writing a book.

    In any event, after that long-winded comment, thanks for all the different perspectives in this post. It was great!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I can relate to your worrying about laying on the couch all day. I wasn’t kidding about the daily naps I was taking (nothing like cuddling up with Groovy Cat in the middle of a “work” day) but I did outgrow the need.

      I’m sorry to hear about your issues with fatigue. You might check out Claudia and Garrett’s Two Cup House website because I know Garrett battled some issues with chronic fatigue and he was able to get it under control.

      I can also relate to your concern about social isolation, as a woman. I lived in the midst of NYC and still felt that isolation when I didn’t work full time. One of the ways I battled that was joining a hiking club where I could meet up with a group for day trips.

      • Health & Wealth

        Thanks for the advice! I’ll check out the Two Cups blog and I do occasionally do a hike on meetup, so I’ll have to look into doing that more often!

  13. A nice set of stories of people that went FI (I dislike the word Early retirement)
    It kinda reassures me that there are also lows in FI. Otherwise, life would be flat and boring, even when the flat line is actually at a high. You could get used to it…

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks, ATL! You’re not the only one who dislikes the term. As for the lows, I think no matter where you are in life there will always be challenges. Although it’s interesting to see the ones that are specific to people who stop working full time (notice I didn’t use the R word).

      • I think that we, as an online community, need to discover and introduce an alternative term for ‘retire early’. It’s not the ‘early’ bit that’s the problem, it’s the R word that seems to have so many negative or misconstrued connotations about it.

        Truth be told, I doubt that there are many ‘early retirees’ (please excuse all of the quote marks-I feel like Dr Evil here) who have actually taken the traditional step of ‘retirement’ (there I go again).

        We are all engaged in other activities, some making a side income and some not, but I don’t recall anyone playing golf every day or taking up line dancing, or any other activity that’s associated with our more aged retirees.

        So, lets come up with the alternative, new, improved term for those who become financially independent, and………..have given up work in the traditional sense.

        I’m putting it out there for suggestions.

        • Mrs. Groovy

          Yes, that dang “R” word is a real problem for some people. I don’t have an issue with it but I understand why others do.

          I think many folks are like you and feel they’d “go mad” if they didn’t find something work-related, or at least constructive, to do with their free time. There’s no line dancing or golf in our future but we may hit a few tennis balls.

        • I don’t know who first coined it, but I’ve found “rewirement” sprinkled around the Internet. I like the connotation of stopping, but changing.

          • Mrs. Groovy

            Rewirement! Very interesting. Although, I’m picturing Gilda Radner trying to say retirement and it coming out as rewirement.

  14. I definitely haven’t experienced early retirement, but as teachers, I feel like I get a little window of it. The first 2 weeks of summer are spent recovering from the school year, and the last 2 weeks is spent preparing for the upcoming school year. We don’t worry about money, because we save the whole year preparing for the summer without paychecks.
    I occasionally do some small construction jobs for friends and family.
    There is about a 4 week window of low stress and calmness in July that is the greatest feeling. We spend tons of time at the beach, walking, and cooking.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Your summers sound great, Mr. JS. I wonder if you get a belly ache right before school starts up again, like the one I used to get at the end of the summer (and Sunday nights during the school year). Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I really appreciate it.

  15. What a fun post! It’s really interesting to hear everyone else’s take on early retirement. Thanks for including us 🙂

    I also might have to join Mr Groovy and his mission of trash elimination. Our neighborhood and local park could really use some cleaning up!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thank you Mr. CK — you helped make it fun!

      When we first relocated we often commented on how clean the streets and roads were down here. Sadly, it’s starting to change. But never fear, Mr. Groovy is here. (You’re probably too young to know the line from the TV show “Lost in Space” that Mr. Smith always said – “Never fear, Smith is here!)

  16. Way cool! And how funny, we just got back from 5 hours at the city nature preserve I mentioned in my little “interview” excerpt you printed. Even posted a foot-dangling-over-whitewater-in-creek pic to my twitter feed.

    What a beautiful day today here in North Carolina!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Funny, I was thinking this morning you were probably out hiking at the preserve. Yes, the weather has been great here in North Cackalacky!

      Thanks so much for being a part of this post, Justin.

  17. GREAT article and a really interesting point to explore. I think what worries me the most about early retirement is Maarten van Lier predicament. I’m sad to hear about his son’s health challenges, and while I don’t have kids of my own to worry about, health issues are something that we all face at some point.

    What struck me even more about his story was that he mentioned the issue of not being able to “afford” certain things, even tho he has a considerable amount of savings. For those of us who started out dirt poor, that’s a scary place to go back to. Even though I now consider myself a minimalist, I still never want to feel like there’s something I might want but can’t afford. It feels very restrictive.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      First time comment on FiG I think? Welcome, Caren!

      Yes, Type 1 diabetes is no walk in the park. Our niece is in her 20s and was diagnosed with it when she was around 12. Even though she’s married and no longer living at home, it’s always a concern for everyone (although she married a doctor, so she’s in good hands).

      Yes, Maarten’s situation is sobering. I think he has a good handle on it though, and a great attitude. Check out his site as he’s written about it. I don’t want to put words in his mouth but I think it’s more about conserving his money than being restrictive when he says he “can’t afford” something. He’s just keeping his priorities straight.

      Thanks for stopping by, Caren!

  18. Wow, great piece. I feel like in the company of great men and women.

    I’m about to hop on a plane to Europe. Unfortunately for sad reasons but, one thing I don’t have to worry about is finding the funding to get there when I have too.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thank you Maarten. You fit right in and I’m so glad you participated.

      I’m sorry to hear about the reason for your trip to Europe. I can only imagine. Stay well and thanks again.

  19. So not entirely the same thing but my wife stopped working in November to be a stay at home mom and be with the kids. This past week that all ended. It wasn’t a money decision though. It was she needed a purpose or drive. As such she signed up for contract work with her former employer. 10 hours a week. Not far off the side hustle comments above, it truly is hard to turn off what you’ve built completely. But its 10 hours a week at her pace and its not about the money she can choose to do what makes her feel good rather then what pays the bills. Thats truly a major improvement.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      That sounds like the best of both worlds, FTF. Contract employment puts her entirely on a different level where, like Tommy said, she has more power. I’m happy for her that she found a way to find purpose without all the strings attached.

      Thanks for commenting! I hope your wife continues to find her work enjoyable.

  20. Great post! Priceless feedback from credible people.

    My takeaway: Retirement does not equal “do nothing.” I have three friends that retired early and all returned to at least PT work within six months. Need a plan and meaningful activities/work.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks WLM. I was so glad they all agreed to participate. Priceless feedback, indeed! Good takeaway. One definitely needs a plan and something to retire to.

  21. Great post! There are definitely both upsides and downsides to retirement, even early retirement, and you’ve done a beautiful job highlighting them here. Sometimes I take my (regular) retirement highs for granted, and seeing a list like this helps me to remember all the things I get to enjoy. Plus I think it’s very helpful to those still working to see a bit of the lows as well. Good luck on your piano lessons and I hope your study of Spanish goes a bit more consistently than mine.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thank you, Gary! I’m glad these words help remind you of the little things you get to enjoy. Every day during our walk I take notice of the trees, the sky and the fresh air. I never want to take a day for granted – or the fact that I get to do whatever I want each day.

      We’ll see how the lessons go. Adios for now!

  22. I left the corporate world at 39 with enough financial flexibility to not have anything lined up and just explore. Last year, at 42, I hit the financial freedom point where rental income covers all my basic living expenses. I like to work part time… only 2-3 days a week. I find that this is the sweet spot for me between full time work and full time retirement. I struggle with the ‘what is your purpose’ question, so working a couple of days a week helps me with that. Also, working part time allows me to practice generous giving, which is awesome.

    I don’t particularly like the word retire. But I agree with some of these guys about the concept that work is sooooooo different when it is part time and optional. So, I have redefined FIRE for myself to better suit my personality: Freedom, Intellect, Resourcefulness, Enough.

  23. Way to go on picking up trash, Mr. Groovy! I heartily approve. 🙂 And thanks for doing this roundup. I love how people list things like family, travel, experiences, and exploring the outdoors. FIRE isn’t a solution for life’s problems, but it finally gives us time to do the things that are important.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks so much Mrs. PP. You’re exactly right. Not needing to work affords us the time to spend on the things that really matter to us.

  24. We are living now in a semi-retirement, with 2 small business that take up about 2 hours a day and allow us to earn enough for a decent lifestyle. Don’t know if we’ll retire completely though, since our work is really not that difficult and still very enjoyable.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      That’s awesome, Ramona. If I had work I enjoyed spending time on for two hours a day, I’d be reluctant to give it up as well.

      Thank you for reading and commenting!

  25. I’m curious whether the trash in our neighborhood comes mostly from littering of from wind when the cans are out on collection day. I’m sure that your neighbors will be very grateful for your efforts.

    As for retirement challenges, this really has been enlightening. I share some of Mr. 1500’s day-off ambition with lengthy to-do lists, though working part time has allowed me to get used to it slowly and make new friends before leaving all my coworkers behind.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      When it’s windy on trash day, you can see the entire route the garbage trucks take around our subdivision by how much crap they leave in their wake.

      I’m glad that easing into the retirement experience by doing part-time work is a good method for you. As for being too ambitious, Mr. G and I have gotten pretty good at taming the ambition beast. Just yesterday he declared it a “veg-out” day.

      Thanks for stopping by! Congratulations again on your blogiversary! Coincidentally, today is our 15th wedding anniversary.

  26. It’s important to highlight both the highs and lows. Sometimes, it seems we see the “Facebook version” of early retirement almost exclusively.

    The fact is, there will be challenges, and early retirement is not for everybody. I’ve got a guest post scheduled from a “failed early retiree” who felt lost once he left his career behind (temporarily).

    Thank you to everyone who participated!

    Best,
    -PoF

    • Totally agree with PoF, looking at both sides of th coin is necessary in all ventures, especially one as big as Early Retirement.

      While I’ve been a FI seeker for years, I’ve been hesitant to add the RE part of the equation. I find myself asking the same questions you posed at the outset and am muddling my way towards an answer. Hopefully by the time I hit FI, I’ll be closer to knowing what I want life to look like.

      Great post, thanks for putting the work into this one!

      • Mrs. Groovy

        Thanks for reading and commenting, MSF! Knowing what you want life to look like is key before adding the RE part. I hope the ideas shared here rounded out the picture a little bit.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      I agree PoF. We see a multitude of posts on the joys of early retirement but people seldom discuss the downside. I look forward to your upcoming article (and I’ll watch for it in email since since I’m on your list!). Thanks for commenting.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Rise and grind! I love the things you come out with in your comments. Thank you, Erik.

      Deciding on when to take the leap is also such an individual thing. We could have done it a year earlier but psychologically, we wanted the steady “mail box money” from Mr. G’s small pension. I think you have to decide how much is enough and whether you need to make it totally last through your lifetime — or whether you can do something else to earn money should you need to after you stop working.

  27. I’m pretty sure I would have no time filling my day. When I was “funemployed” it gave me so much freedom to move slowly through my day and work on projects I loved. Of course I was burning through money and didn’t have enough saved for early retirement,” so that enjoyment came to a screeching halt, but now I’m working on the money part and looking forward to the day I can dedicate my time to passion projects again! Great article!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      I love that term, “funemployed”! Very clever, Tonya!

      Burning through money is definitely a concern for us too. We’re monitoring our spending and investments closely and so far we’re on track. But it’s very early in the game.

      Thanks for your comment! I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  28. Terrific roundup!

    Joe’s downsides really resonated with me. There are times I feel like I get too much time with Little Bit, and there are times I feel like I lack the social interactions that work brings (and being able to relate to those who are working in careers.) Volunteering helps with that, but only so much. Health care costs (and the associated stress of related uncertainty) are another downside.

    On the other hand, I love that I get so much time with my kid, the freedom to travel or hang out during the week (especially when she’s out of school) and ability to have time with the hubby during the week.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      I can understand the pluses and minuses of having the time with Little Bit. But from what you discuss in your posts, the plus side wins.

      I worry about healthcare more than Mr. G. He tends to think like a 20-year old (in that he thinks he’s invincible). I’m very much aware that things, both with insurance and our health, can change quickly.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Emily.

  29. Mrs. G, what a fantastic post. I too would like to thank all the bloggers that contributed to it. Appreciate the inspiration and realism they provided.

    Kudos to you on the piano lessons, to Mr. G, on his volunteer trash duties, and you both on the Spanish studies. I hope you find a nice property soon!

    Thanks for this nice read today, I took away something from each entry.

  30. It’s interesting to see the challenges/upsides of others. It’s something I have been thinking about a lot lately because we are coming up on 18 months away from the 9-5. The cons are much different than what I would have imagined. Like I get really frustrated that we STILL don’t have enough time for all the stuff we want to do. I had just imagined that if we got rid of 45 hour work weeks, then we would have endless free time to do whatever we wanted. Um, no. Our plate is already full and it’s a constant struggle with us wanting to add more things but there just isn’t the space for everything. It’s kind of like “first world problems” of early retirement but it’s a conversation that happens at least once a month in the Montana house. =(

    • Mrs. Groovy

      I think there’s a kind of “retirement creep” in that the more time you have, the more things you have to do. Mr. G and I often say “How did we fit this in when we were working?” and we’re still occasionally missing our Spanish lesson, or veering from our cleaning schedule.

      Thanks for stopping by Ms. M. Just wait, 18 months is going to go by in a snap!

  31. Awesome sample of some great experiences. This is a lot to digest! Really a post for the ages.

    I hope to remain productive at a high level, but I’ve always been more productive when I’m busy. Arhh.

    Really a post for the ages!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      “A post for the ages”. Wow, thank you Ian! I agree it’s a lot to digest. Each blogger has a bit of a different take on early retirement.