What Will I Do With Myself In Retirement

On the wall by my refrigerator hangs this chalkboard. It shows the number of months remaining before Mrs. Groovy and I assert complete control over our time. Come the end of 2016, we will ditch our jobs and join the ranks of the retired class.

FreedomCountdown

Having an extra forty to fifty hours a week to do whatever I want presents an interesting conundrum. What will I do with this opportunity? Will I squander it? Will I become a teat-sucking layabout? Or will I do something worthwhile with this bounty of time? Will I help others? Will I seek adventure?

After some careful consideration, and after surviving Mrs. Groovy’s veto powers, here are four things I plan to do in retirement.

Pick up litter

When I was the foreman of a road maintenance crew on Long Island, my crew and I would police the commons once a week. My crew hated it. Picking up litter for them was embarrassing. And, truth be told, I understood their misgivings. It’s hard to feel good about yourself when your peers are driving by in BMWs and you’re picking up discarded beer cans and used condoms.

But picking up litter never bothered me. I wanted to be proud of the neighborhood I worked in. I didn’t want anyone to think it was inhabited by a bunch of slobs. Litter, however, broadcasts a disturbing message—it says in effect, “The people who live here don’t care. If you want to sh*t on them. Feel free.” So for me, picking up litter was a no-brainer. It was one of the few times during my government career I actually felt like a true public servant. It was also great exercise. And it gave me time to think great thoughts.

So one of the things I would like to do in retirement is pick up litter. Not exactly a lofty goal. But I don’t aim to do it full time. Just once or twice a week for a handful of hours. And, as I pointed out above, it will provide three distinct benefits: It will show motorists and passersby that at least one person in the neighborhood cares; it will provide terrific exercise; and it will give me an opportunity to think up great blog posts.

Bake bread for the needy

I’m fascinated with wood-burning, outdoor pizza ovens. I think this is partly so because I’ve always toiled in the service economy. I never went to work and created a physical object with my own two hands. Right now, my job is to make and manage databases. And I love doing it. But what exactly are databases? Glorified spreadsheets? Zeroes and ones resting snugly on my company’s servers?  Well, whatever they are, I can’t pick them up and show them to my buddies. And this gnaws at my spirit. Something inside me yearns to build or make something that people can touch and appreciate.

A wood-burning, outdoor pizza oven is something physical, something real. And I won’t have to battle the zoning board or the EPA if I decide to build one in my backyard. So when I retire, I’m going to build one and learn how to bake bread and make pizza. And then when I entertain family and friends at my home, I’ll serve them bread or pizza that I made in an oven I built.

I also want to do something kind for the less fortunate. And I’m tired of writing checks, of giving money to others and hoping some good comes of it. No, I’m done with outsourcing my charity. I want to get off my arse and help the unfortunate myself. So my goal is to supply at least one homeless shelter or soup kitchen with bread at least once a week.

woodburningoven

Blog about financial independence and freedom

I, of course, also want to continuing blogging in retirement. But here’s an important question I have asked myself on a number of occasions: what exactly am I contributing to the conversation?

The unflattering reality is that when it comes to financial independence (FI), the answer is not much. The giants of the FI blogosphere, from Michael Kitces to Mr. Money Mustache, provide all the information and encouragement you need to get your financial act together. Even less renowned bloggers (sorry guys) such as Jim Wang at Wallet Hacks, Steve at Think $ave Retire, J. Money at Budgets Are $exy, and Penny at She Picks Up Pennies are much better sources of FI wisdom than I. But I will share my thoughts and experiences nonetheless. Not to break any new ground, mind you, but to affirm the teachings of the FI blogosphere—to do my share for the cause, so to speak. After all, if the FI blogosphere wants to attract more people to its cult, it probably needs as many bloggers as possible extolling the virtues of thrift, compound interest, and FU money.

I do think, however, I have something to contribute when it comes to freedom. Financial independence is an important and worthwhile goal for every American. But its ultimate value hinges on the state of our civil liberties. Consider, for example, a financially independent black man in Montgomery, Alabama, during the 1950s. Sure, it’s great he’s not dependent on work. But he can’t sit in the front of a bus or vote. Now, granted, this is a particularly grievous example of government run amok, and thankfully this type of tyranny no longer exists in America. But I think it drives home my point: financial independence without freedom is a hollow blessing at best.

Look, I get why the FI blogosphere ignores government spending and regulation. Fixing someone’s net worth is a hell of a lot easier than fixing the government. But it just kills me that the government can tax us up the ying-yang and protect crony businesses from competition and our only rational response to this infamy is to shrug. Well, screw that. Achieving FI is hard enough without the government mucking things up. So as long as the government engages in plunder, and as long as Mrs. Groovy allows me, I’m going to tilt at windmills. That will be my contribution. I will post about the ways the government frustrates our ability to achieve financial independence, and I will post about the ways we can mitigate or circumvent those efforts. (To get an idea of how I plan to approach the politics of financial independence, check out this post.)

Visit all 50 states

As of today, Mrs. Groovy and I have visited 27 states. We would like to visit the remaining 23. I don’t know how our quest to visit all 50 states began, but I’m glad it did. I’ve always thought America was a kick-ass country, and no destination in my travels, whether it was in the Deep South, the Yankee Northeast, or the breathtaking expanses of the Mountain States, has given me reason to think otherwise. I was blessed to be born in America, and I want to see as much of it as I can before I die.

Final Thoughts

So this is how I plan to use a big chunk of my free time in retirement. What do you think? Are these pursuits lame? Groovy? What do you want to do once you have obtained financial independence? I would love to hear your plans. And, hey, my plans aren’t written in stone. If I find one of your pursuits intriguing, and it passes the Mrs. Groovy veto, I might join you.

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18 Comments

  1. The beauty of blogging is that your mission isn’t to teach this or that, it’s to share your experiences and that will do the teaching for you. Your unique circumstances, how you respond to them and overcome challenges, are valuable to someone who is in a similar situation. Don’t discount that. 🙂

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Jim. I never looked at blogging in that light. In my mind, experiences were there to backup the teaching, not be the teaching. But now you got me thinking. Thanks for your insights. Really appreciate it.

  2. I love the idea of making your own wood burning pizza oven! It would be an interesting project and a great entertainment option. I’m excited to read about your experiences once you get to early retirement. Hearing stories about how people did it and how they are taking advantage of it is incredibly motivating! I looking forward to reading more about it!

    • Mr. Groovy

      The research I did on the ovens yielded quite a few results, including kits for building them, and YouTube video instructions. I look forward to having a project that will be both fun and practical. Thanks for your interest, Thias.

  3. I’ve read this post a half dozen times and finally got around to commenting! I love that your plans are both lofty and simple. Sometimes I think I find more delight in smaller, simple moments than anything else. I can’t wait to hear about your journey!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Penny. Thanks for your kind thoughts. And I agree wholeheartedly with your take on smaller, simpler moments. A big Saturday night for Mrs. Groovy and me is going to the DQ for a Blizzard. Lame? Yes. But it makes us happy. And the way we figure it, if you can find beauty in the mundane, you got life licked. Hopefully this attitude will serve us well in retirement.

  4. Fun and interesting goals. My wife and I are just ahead of you in 2016. Our plan is April Fool’s Day (which seems an appropriate day to quit the rat race). Getting to all 50 states is on our list too. I’ve written a few posts about it. I am at 48 of 50 right now.

    • Mr. Groovy

      48 states? I’m so jealous! I’ll check out your posts. It will be hilarious if you ditch the job on April Fool’s Day and your employer thinks you’re joking.

  5. I Will Retire By 40

    My in-laws have a wood burning oven. You’ll love it! Great for pizzas and flatbreads, of course, but also roasting vegetables and you’ll have to make a brick chicken. Looks like the countdown is coming to an end so you’ll have plenty of time to experiment. Congrats and enjoy!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Kyle. I love it! Before I build my wood-burning oven, I’ll have to pick your brain for some pointers. Definitely looking forward to the adventure. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the encouragement.

  6. Jorgemagnifico

    I’d like to start out my retirement by living like my dog and cat, sleep when I’m tired and play when I’m rested. If that means sleeping all day an running around all night, so be it.

  7. My neighbor’s just had their retirement party catered by a mobile pizza oven. Everyone was raving about the idea. A Wandering Fire from WI was the Co. Thought you should know all your options for pizza ovens.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! Love it. Went to the Wandering Fire site. Great idea. I think I’d go for the Johnny Quest pizza. And I also checked out the happenings in St. Croix. Man, what a beautiful place. Thanks for stopping by, AmosLa. You definitely gave me food for thought (no pun intended).

  8. Great post, did you retire ahead of schedule? I see you said it would be all wrapped up by the end of 2016. I keep thinking when i retire it will be nice to do things whenever I want. This scares me though and I start thinking maybe I should schedule 1 hour a day for reading, 1 hour for cooking etc. Are you finding something similar?

    • Mr. Groovy

      We thought it would be the end of the year but we ran the numbers and figured we could do it starting in October. So Mrs. Groovy and I decided to pull the trigger then. It’s a great idea to schedule time for important tasks or goals. Otherwise the day can easily get away from you. I’ve been keeping up with my “Miracle Morning” and I get up most days at 5:30 am. I knock out Spanish, cleaning, and working out by 8 am. Thanks for stopping by.

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