If you’d like to be considered for an interview, drop me a note and we can chat about specifics.
Today’s interview is with a long-time friend I met through blogging back when I was just starting out. Through the years we have developed a meaningful friendship which I treasure. He’s an accomplished businessman, is recently retired, and has a unique perspective and story that I think you will really enjoy.
My questions are in bold italics and his responses follow in black.
Let’s get started…
Hello there! I’ve previously contributed to ESI on several posts in the past. I’m now what you would refer to as a newly early retired person, one who is just slipping into this and finding my way given my unique situation.
Hopefully this interview can be of some assistance to others who are in a similar situation. I suspect that just writing through this will be helpful for me in my own journey. With that, let’s begin.
Note that this interview was written up in January 2020.
How old are you (and spouse if applicable, plus how long you’ve been married)?
I’m 46 and my wife just turned 40 a few weeks ago. We’ve been married for 12 ½ years.
It’s been a great and supportive marriage where we make space for each other to develop and try new things, while still having the glue of the relationship to stay close to each other.
Do you have kids / family (if so, how old are they)?
We have a daughter who is 6 ½ and a 6 month old son.
It is a blessing to have a second child as we tried for quite some time without success. It’s nice to be an older parent and it does keep us on our toes.
What area of the country do you live in (and urban or rural)?
Although I’m a US Citizen, my wife is not and we live overseas in Southeast Asia in a large city – a very urban environment.
Is there anything else we should know about you?
I did an interview before under Millionaire #30 two years ago so that is some more reference to my background.
I’ve known ESI Money for many years and followed him on his earlier website – we have been in touch for nearly 14 years and it’s been a very rewarding experience, as I’ve not only contributed but learned a lot and it has helped me on my own financial independence and early retirement journey.
How do you define retirement?
I define retirement as practicing doing what you want to do with your time, and not having to be committed to full time employment to provide for you and your family.
Many people believe that if you have to work for money you are no longer retired. However I don’t necessarily agree with this.
I believe that you can be retired and remain useful to other people and continue to provide goods and services to others. Often this will result in getting paid.
This is doubly true for those who are retired early, they will invariably be doing something that will give them some form of payment, even if this is comparatively small.
Continuing to be useful to others during retirement is beneficial both to yourself as well as to society. There have been many studies that have identified being part of a community and remaining productive as being beneficial to health and mental capability.
So a healthy retirement is an active one, so this definition is likely different to the traditional viewpoint of retirement where one is doing nothing but leisure.
How long have you been retired?
I have been out of full time work for 9 months now, and have been doing some part time consulting work since then.
However the commitment isn’t that much, less than 20 hours a week generally speaking so it is quite manageable.
Is your spouse also retired?
My spouse does not work for an employer and has not done so for the past 7 years.
However she is a full time mother to a 6 month old son and a 6 year old daughter. That is actually tougher than a full time job.
Because we have young children, we are not able to do much traveling since we are not sleeping much in the night and need to maintain a routine for the kids. It will be easier to have more flexibility when the children are older.
What was your career and income before retirement?
I started my career as an engineer and progressed up into management after a few short years.
During the past five years I was an executive working in administration for a large hospital system.
Prior to that I ran a manufacturing business and worked for a medical device manufacturer.
Over the past 12+ years I typically earned in the range of $250K – $400K, per year in employment income. Often this was dependent on the level of bonuses paid during a given year.
Why did you retire?
This is a great question.
Two years ago I was forced out of my job in hospital administration during a restructure. I was very close to the previous corporate CEO and when he retired, there was a big shift out of the people who worked with him in the following 12 months, including me.
I got a job in the Middle East in the UAE working for a US based healthcare provider in a very senior position and I accepted it. That job turned out to be a disaster, as the financial backers decided to nationalize the position (fill it with a local person) immediately after I joined.
I worked with them for just under a year and it was extremely stressful, given that I moved my family out there for that job.
Following the end of that job I found another one relatively quickly but that also deteriorated quickly as they were losing money and were changing people rapidly.
My wife became pregnant with our second child and it was clear that it made more sense to have the delivery in her home country in Southeast Asia so we made plans to move back in June, a month before the baby was born.
A third company hired me as their Chief Marketing Officer, for a hospital that was really struggling and trying to grow. I told them I could work there 2 weeks a month and be there continuously but would need to spend the rest of the time back with my family and would do this for half pay and they accepted this arrangement.
I only worked for them for 2 months before they decided that they didn’t want to continue this arrangement. They were losing money and trying to expand with investor funds that were being withheld. I still haven’t been paid for my second month of working with them and am trying to get this paid without success.
So overall, it is pretty safe to say that the last 2 years of my career has been very different than my previous 21 years. It has really been a disaster and has made me re-think my previous accomplishments and question this as being due to luck or circumstances versus my own innate talents – so it was a huge hit to my self-confidence.
Given this, it seemed like a good time to move into retirement and explore this aspect of life since money wasn’t the main constraint to living well.
That being said, I am presently doing some part time consulting (even since retiring) for a US firm that is looking to expand a diagnostic device to detect specific types of cancer, into Southeast Asia. I am in a sales and business development role with them and have been doing this for the past few months.
It pays much lower than my previous work at $4K per month but it gives me a challenge and I don’t need to be in an office but can work from home a couple hours a week. It also may not last for very long, since the product they are focusing on is in a niche space and will take some time to get traction, and they may not have the appetite to see this through.
PREPARATION FOR RETIREMENT
When did you first start thinking seriously about retirement and when did that turn into a decision to do it?
I had been thinking about a path to early retirement since the end of 2013, when I started to take steps to build passive income streams with after tax funds.
The goal was to be able to use the income being generated from investments for living expenses.
What were the major steps you took from deciding to retire to developing a plan to do so?
I seriously started this by investing in individual dividend paying stocks that had a track record of growing their dividends over a long period of time.
That led me to become a stronger investor and I used the next several years to continue researching and adding individual stocks into the portfolio based on when they were trading at attractive valuations.
The combination of reinvesting dividends, adding fresh capital from savings and dividend growth has led to a major increases in cash flow coming from the portfolio and that should be sufficient to fund our lifestyle with a margin of safety.
I also had rented out a property that we once lived in but have recently sold this.
What did your pre-retirement financials look like?
Before going into semi-retirement our net worth was approximately $4.5 million dollars (and this number has since grown to $5.1 million dollars with the big run up in the stock market the last 8 months).
We had our primary residence and a rental property as well as a large after tax portfolio of stocks and a smaller rollover IRA and Roth IRA, this is broken out as follows:
- Property: $800K estimation (primary residence $500K, rental property $300K)
- Stocks: After tax portfolio of $3.1M, Rollover + Roth IRA of $300K
- Cash on hand: $300K in checking and short term fixed deposits
I was born and raised in the USA but moved overseas 14 years ago and had spent the majority of my career working outside the USA so stopped contributing to employer based 401k plans and social security for a good part of my career.
I had a very high savings rate and have these after-tax funds available to use for investments and for living at an age below traditional retirement. So accessing these funds is not a problem.
I’m imposing discipline on our household finances to make sure that we are spending less than the annual dividend income that is received. This surplus will be used for reinvestments as well as for a margin of safety should we need to spend more than what we have done in the past.
What was your overall financial plan for retirement?
I looked at tracking our annual expenditures and then working to ensure the income streams from investments exceed these expenditures.
Our costs are driven primarily from education costs for our daughter attending international school – that alone is consuming 30-40% of our household budget.
Did you make any specific moves to prepare your finances for retirement?
Yes, I ended up raising a substantial sum of cash by selling our investment property.
We had a long term tenant who left and the rental market is facing oversupply of properties relative to the number of renters and rental prices are falling dramatically. We received an acceptable offer and decided to sell. That alone raised several years of expenditures in cash and alleviated some pressure of otherwise being overinvested in the market without having much cash on hand.
I’ve always wanted to have surplus cash available so not to be in a position of having to sell assets during a down market and being forced to lock in losses during times of low valuation in the market.
I strongly recommend having a healthy level of cash on hand when entering retirement.
Who helped you develop this plan?
I had been following many blogs in the personal finance community (ESI Money, Physician on FIRE, Mr. Free at 33, Mr. Tako Escapes, The Conservative Income Investor, etc – thanks, guys!) and had a good sense of the math behind this to make early retirement possible.
I’ve also read a few books on this but they also reinforced the same logic and math that support this.
As someone who was an expat living overseas, I had to tweak this to my own situation and was able to do this without difficulty. It really isn’t that hard, and if you are already building passive income streams a few years before pulling the trigger and quitting, you can tangibly see these results and it gives you confidence to not have to go back to full time work.
What plans did you make in advance to leave your job?
Although I didn’t make any specific plans to leave a job, I really think having a plan in place gave me more confidence and steadiness in the face of an uncertain employment situation.
Part of me believes that this resulted in me throwing off a vibe that the job wasn’t critical to making ends meet and that I could walk away without facing hardship. Many employers are threatened by this, as some would prefer employees that really need the money and don’t have the option to not work.
So this is something to watch for as you get closer to being able to retire.
What were your pre-retirement concerns (financial or non-financial)?
This is a great question.
Financial concerns: I wanted to make sure we had enough of a margin of safety to cover us financially under different scenarios of either living back in the USA or overseas.
Specifically we needed to have enough cash flow coming in each year to pay for both of our children’s education. Our daughter is currently in a private international school and the annual fees are quite high. We also have a baby son, and will need to budget for his education also.
Non-Financial: This is the bigger area of concern for multiple reasons. One of the largest reasons is that in our family we were brought up to think that our earning power is a reflection of our self-worth.
This attitude came primarily from my parents and their ancestors. They are immigrants from Asia and this thinking is deeply ingrained in the family. As the oldest, a lot of this mentality has rubbed off on me.
There is a logical sense to this as well, given that the market values skills based on the need and scarcity of talent available so it sets up a reinforcement of this principle.
Taking early retirement and refocusing on different projects that don’t necessarily earn the most money career-wise will take a shift in mindset. It’s one where I’m also being cautious as I haven’t advertised to my family and friends that I’m retiring early. Instead, I’m telling those around me that I’m consulting and many are wishing that I find success in getting a full-time job.
I’m also aware that the longer I’m out of full time work, the harder it will be to get back into a career if I do want to go back later for some reason.
I’ve also found that I need to re-cultivate discipline in my daily routine. With having a baby around and being at home, I find my days face multiple interruptions after taking my daughter to school – I’m jumping in to help whenever the baby cries and often end up losing my flow and being very unproductive during the day. That can be somewhat frustrating and I’m trying to maintain some discipline to block out chunks of time in the early morning or late in the night when everyone has gone to sleep.
I also need to learn how to slow down after being on with a career and different side-hustles. I still feel some level of anxiousness about trying to work on more projects and to make the most of all of this time that is available.
I’ve also found that time goes by very quickly and I can get into a routine of being too comfortable and relaxed. When working I haven’t been a big napper but in semi-retirement I find that I’m going to bed later and getting up early but then also taking naps in the afternoon, sometimes with the baby. I wonder if that is the most productive use of my time.
My wife also is supportive of me retiring early but as she is not working either looks to me to make sure that the finances of the house are strong enough to cover our needs and the education of the children. While she is good at exercising frugality, she does want to spend on the children. There needs to be some more time for us to settle into this routine.
When I go to drop my six year old daughter off at school, I take her on my mountain bike that has a child seat installed on the back. There are a few other parents who bike their kids to school but most of them run their own business.
In social circles if people ask me about my occupation I tell them that I’m a consultant. It is a change in ego to being a high level executive with the perks of being connected and with a given circle of colleagues and friends. Sometimes it feels lonely to be retired early as you are definitely outside the norms of society and while that is okay for me, it does feel strange when I am in settings around my daughter’s school.
I would add that we are only one of two families out who are not working and are sending their kids to private school. Many families are either prominent locals who run very successful businesses or expats under an international company or embassy where the employer is paying for the school fees as they would likely not be able to afford it otherwise.
So my advice here would be not to underestimate the non-financial aspects of retiring early. You can plan for them but actually experiencing them will have a different set of feelings and challenges than you may be able to imagine in advance.
How did you handle deciding on and paying for healthcare?
Here in Southeast Asia we self-insure meaning that we don’t have insurance and pay as we go with cash when we need healthcare.
There are many hospitals to choose from at different price points and the access and quality of care is high.
To put it in perspective, my son was born at one of the best hospitals in the country, where our daughter was born 6 years ago, and by the same obstetrician. The cost for the 4 night stay in the hospital in a private suite room with all charges associated with the delivery by C-Section was $4,500, and this was paid for out of pocket.
Typically our annual healthcare costs have been under $3,000 per year.
How did you tell your family and friends of your plans?
Another good question.
We didn’t actually advertise our plans ahead of time but just settled into it. This has created some cognitive dissonance as some members of the family are wishing for me to get another job and are sometimes expressing concern. At that point I tell them that I am exploring partial retirement combined with some consulting work.
One of my relatives gets it but others don’t fully understand it since in their mind I’m too young to be following this path. Most of my friends are supportive about my situation. One or two are mildly jealous but in a lighthearted way.
THE ACT OF RETIRING
How did you ultimately retire?
I have taken a more unusual approach in that my retirement just slowly materialized into being and it is something that I’m settling into, like slowly sinking into a hot Jacuzzi. This has made the entry into retirement feel more flexible and less of a distinct chapter change in my life.
I’ve heard that it takes as long as a year to settle into a new routine so we are going through that at present.
What went well?
Having this feeling of flexibility and the time to be there to help with my newborn son has been a real blessing and a phase of life that I wouldn’t have been happy missing by working and being away from the family.
Being able to free up cash by selling a residence also went well and helped to alleviate the near term needs of cash flow.
What didn’t go so well?
The cognitive dissonance of family members not fully being aware of the change taking place in my own life.
I’ve also had some second thoughts on a fear of missing out, that I should be using these prime years to hustle more in a corporate environment, simply because that is what I was doing for the prior 23 years and it has just become a habit.
How did you ultimately find the courage to do it?
This is a great question.
I think that my circumstances also helped me along to find this path and to make it feel more natural rather than me forcing this change.
To put it another way, if I was still in a high powered corporate job and managing things smoothly, I wouldn’t be early retired. I’d be continuing to go for it and stick it out indefinitely.
One thing about me is that I’m not a quitter and am very stubborn in the face of a goal, so even in the most arduous and trying of circumstances I will keep plowing ahead. So in that sense it was quite fortunate I had this disruption in my career that enabled the opportunity to retire early.
How was the adjustment, especially the first few months after retirement?
The initial few weeks was a big relief, with having so much free time.
However a lot of this time was unstructured and I began to feel after a while that I was being unproductive and falling into a rut. As I started to develop a new routine and take on a mixture of work related and passion projects this process became easier.
I did maintain an exercise routine of working out as soon as I got up in the morning but I started to find that I would stay up later at night and while I would get up early, I would then nap in the afternoon. This led to lower productivity overall and so now I only tend to nap if there is not much else going on.
Otherwise I can easily remain busy through the day.
How is retirement life now? What do you like about it and what do you dislike?
After a few months it becomes easier as you start to find a new routine. Retiring early also opens you up to be able to take on larger strategic projects where income is less of a consideration.
For example, I’m looking to build up a personal coaching business that may not pay well but can very much positively impact people’s lives. That is very gratifying and I would never have that opportunity when working.
Many people suggest that being retired is much better than working. However for me I do feel that my level of happiness is generally the same. The main benefit is there is a lot less rushing in the mornings to get to work and push through the day. I don’t miss that part of working at all.
What do you do with your time? What does an average day look like?
I’m still fairly busy. An average day has me getting up closer to 6 am instead of much earlier.
I help change the baby and take my daughter to school. Her school is a mile and a half away from our house in a city environment. I have a mountain bike with a child seat mounted on a frame extension so I take her to school every day at 7:30 am. I’m usually wearing exercise clothes and sometimes it feels strange interacting with the other parents who are often wearing a button down shirt and a tie.
After coming back home I usually get a workout in and then am on the computer for the rest of the morning. I listen to a few podcasts and keep up with several blogs. I also like to research investment ideas with dividend paying companies and look to find companies that are trading at an attractive valuation as I look to re-invest a portion of my income continually.
Lunch is spent at home and by late afternoon I go to pick up my daughter. I try and run any errands during off-peak hours so it is faster and less congested. During evening time I help to put my baby son to bed and then read to my daughter and tell her a story. The late evenings are spent reading online and playing video games. It’s not a bad way to live.
We haven’t been able to travel much since the baby requires so much work. Since he was born we took a weekend trip to a seaside resort. It was fun but the routine was a lot like staying at home since we were following the rhythms of the baby. It was a laid back trip.
Looking back, what would you have done differently?
I wish I had learned how to properly invest and value companies earlier. It would have been great to begin investing with a robust system in place at the age of 20 instead of age 40, and I would have benefited from such a long road of compounding and would have been able to retire earlier.
That being said, I have no regrets and am very grateful for having lived this live. It’s been a wonderful experience and what might have been just doesn’t seem that important.
Was there any emotional impact from leaving the workforce?
Yes, there was.
I mentioned this briefly before but seeing other people in the workforce there is sometimes a feeling of losing my confidence from what I was doing at work.
I had a lot of fun being in leadership positions and felt that I was very effective during much of my career. It was great to have professional work based relationships as we were striving towards a common goal and trying to solve difficult problems that would come up. It was also nice to receive compensation for these efforts and created a feeling of positive reinforcement.
Looking back, it is easy to remember the fonder aspects of working and to downplay the negative ones but the reality was there was an even mixture of both on a daily basis.
What surprises (financial or non-financial, good or bad) have you had since retiring and how have you handled them?
Shortly after stopping full time work, we had several expenses that all hit within a few months.
We moved back to Southeast Asia into our old residence. We had to buy some new furniture. Our son was born so we had to pay for the delivery. And we didn’t have a car when we moved back so ended up buying a new Honda 7-seater to hold our growing family. I also became a permanent resident here and had to pay the associated fees to my lawyer and to the government office.
Lastly our six year old daughter started school out here and there were many fees to pay: a refundable deposit as part of the campus development fee, a one-time registration and enrollment fee and the first year of tuition.
The sum total of these expenses were substantial – it was approximately $100K USD and consumed the cash buffer that I had set aside.
Spending this heavily after being a saver was an abrupt change and it felt quite uncomfortable. I got into the scarcity mentality pretty quickly. Luckily we were able to sell our rental property and used that cash as a new financial buffer for us.
Our expenses have also normalized somewhat since these few months and ongoing tuition will be the main large expenditure going forward.
Our dividend income continues to increase each year and this number grows well above inflation. I’m currently reinvesting these dividends (this is in an after tax account) until we need the cash for our living expenses and then will divert it accordingly. The dividends received in each year should be comfortably above our normalized level of spending.
The small amounts of income that are coming in from different consulting projects are able to go much further than previously imagined since we have sources of passive income that covers our general spending. This can be used for surplus savings and investments as well as some nice splurges.
Another surprise is that retiring and helping take care of a baby doesn’t feel like retiring to a lifestyle of relaxation. In a way it’s harder than having a normal full time job as the routine is pretty disruptive and more about the needs and demands of the baby.
As my wife is the primary caregiver for the baby (she is nursing him throughout the day), I am not always on call but do help whenever I can. I’ve also become more involved in my daughter’s school and have been an active parent in the school community.
In short, there have been some unexpected surprises but they are all manageable as long as you have an attitude of patience and willingness to change.
What are your future plans?
I am taking a few months to ease into the retirement lifestyle, or at least the semi-retired lifestyle. I am balancing spending more time with family and looking after the children plus taking a few part time projects.
I find that having no work to do or projects to work on gets boring very fast. There is a great social aspect towards solving problems with other people and having some freedom from being financially dependent on a job allows for a more calm approach to problem solving, and often produces better solutions.
I would like to start a new business on an idea that I have patented on a system that helps people lose weight, shed body fat and remove toxins. I don’t know if it will be successful in scaling this up or not but for those who I’ve been able to coach, about 60 people thus far, they have seen life changing results so that is a good motivation to continue to pursue this.
This would be an endeavor that I wouldn’t be able to consider if I needed to maintain a career for a strong income as this project will be producing little to no income at least at the start.
How has your financial plan performed compared to what you had estimated before retirement?
I used dividend growth investing as a primary vehicle to fund my retirement.
I actually calculated a spreadsheet back in 2015 to estimate dividend income for the next 10+ years. Although I got behind the plan in the years 2016 and 2017, I’m now caught up to being slightly ahead of where the plan projected income to be.
We ended up selling a rental property as the market got very soft, it would require some renovation to be more attractive and that isn’t worth having a renter use it. It would be a very poor ROI. So we found a buyer and did the transaction. Having this money freed up provides a nice cushion to act as a buffer against unexpected expenses or to put to use if there are compelling investment opportunities that arise.
Can you give us some insights into your post-retirement spending and income? How much do you spend annually and on what? And where does the income to pay for your spending come from?
Spending: 2019 was a very high spending year as we did a move, had a child, bought a car, enrolled my daughter in international school and I became a permanent resident. Looking ahead, our normal spending would be in the range of approximately $100K per year and this is with a margin of safety.
Our core expenses are:
- One daughter in international school that amounts to close to $30K per year.
- Once our son becomes old enough to go to school (in the next 3 years) this expense will likely double.
- Housing costs (we own our place but there are annual fees to be paid plus utilities, internet, etc) – this amounts to about $15K per year.
- Food costs (groceries and eating out): approximately $15K per year.
- Mobile phone, computer, devices and gadgets: approximately $5K per year.
- My wife’s mother is an assisted living home that we pay for and we give some money to her aunt too, this amounts to $18K per year.
- Estimated medical costs: $5K per year, no insurance premiums. We pay out of pocket and use cash or a credit card.
- Transportation costs: we own our car outright but would budget $3K a year for this.
- Discretionary travel costs: we do many mini trips and one or two big trips (international across the world) per year so are budgeting a healthy $15K a year for this.
With a family of four it’s easy to spend more than you would think. This is also something we can cut back on if really needed.
This totals just over $100K but we have budgeted a bit generously in all categories so we should come under this on average.
On the income side, we have the following:
- Dividend income from after tax portfolios: $124K in 2019, this should be approximately $140K in 2020
- I have another $10K a year of dividends in tax advantaged accounts but this won’t be touched until after age 70 and hopefully this can grow nicely in the next 24 years between now and then.
- Consulting income in 2019 was close to $80K but that involved attempting a few full time jobs that didn’t work out. In 2020 this will likely be much lower at $40K or so. Since we have a bit of a margin of safety that should be fine.
- I have invested in a start-up company 6 years ago and they are looking to have an exit this year through a sale of the company. They have engaged an investment banker and are actively shopping the company. If this comes to pass, it has the potential for a large payout depending on how much the acquirer values the business. If this does happen, I will invest the majority of funds into individual stocks after researching them, and will take 10-20% to fund my own business idea.
How are you handling Social Security, required minimum distributions, tax issues and the like?
My current plan is not to take social security or dip into 401k investments until I’m over 70 years old. If the laws change to further increase the age, I’ll have to reconsider my plan again in the future.
I’ve been focusing on maintaining my health through diet and exercise and hopefully will live to be over 80 years old. At that point taking social security late is worth the additional income that would be received. Also it looks like I don’t need the income so can wait.
My social security payouts are likely to be very low, under $1K a month, since when working overseas and paying local taxes, my income wasn’t subject to social security and therefore not counted. So this would be a small slice of retirement income and would just serve as a small kicker to our after-tax investments.
Did you return to paid work? Why or why not?
As someone who has been able to retire early, it is nonsensical to assume that I would never earn anything further in paid income due to my efforts. I have a lot of passions to keep learning about new things and adding value for others is bound to result in some sort of payment at times.
The key benefit is that I don’t have to worry about earning the highest income possible, a strategy I took while I was in my traditional career working years. This more casual approach to work makes it more fun versus my previous career where I was facing almost constant work and stress, and that often led to burn-out.
Did you find it hard going from being a saver to a spender?
Definitely I found this to be a big challenge.
When I first hit early retirement the high expenditures created a wave of panic. I wasn’t used to spending such a high percentage of my income after saving more than 50% of my income for the past 20 years.
It takes time to get comfortable to a new equilibrium. I’m slowly getting there but it will take a few more months to feel out a lifestyle that serves as a “new normal”. This is something that I think future retirees need to think about and give thought to. Experiencing it is different than thinking about it so people need to be ready to experience those emotions when they are felt.
Looking back, what do you wish you knew in advance?
I wish I gave more thought to how the race towards retirement is so different to the feeling after retirement.
I can give the analogy to when a family is pregnant with their first child the focus is on getting through the labor and the delivery. It is almost looked like as the marathon that ends when the child is born. Well as anyone who is a parent knows, the marathon only begins when the baby is born. It is almost like the pregnancy and labor is like packing your shoes and clothes to get ready for the marathon.
Early retirement is a lot like this. It is like a new beginning when it starts, not an end.
You will need to reinvent yourself and it will feel unfamiliar and at times, scary. There is tremendous joy to be had but also much time for reflection, second-guessing and for doubts to creep up.
Since you are piloting your own life and how you spend your time (since your employer demanding 8-10 hours a day of your time isn’t there) there is a big responsibility to do it well. If you are unhappy with your situation (and no one is happy 100% of the time every day), you have yourself to blame, generally speaking and that can be very tough mentally to those who are not used this.
What advice do you have for those wanting to retire?
Spend the early part of your career maximizing your savings and then spend some time researching and experimenting with an investment strategy that works for you.
Investment in assets should be providing you with positive cash flow and ideally you will want to be continuously investing during your life, even during retirement – although the rate of investing will likely slow down.
Many people like myself put way too much focus on the financial part of retiring early when in reality the lifestyle component of this is a much bigger issue to tackle. The way you live your life pre-retirement and post-retirement will likely be very different but not in the ways you would ordinarily think about.
I was actually quite happy and satisfied at work for much of the day, my only gripe was being constantly overbooked and having to rush to complete many tasks and be at work early each morning. That and always having a full load of projects and fires to put out.
It is fun to be productive at times but sometimes it weighs on you and it is hard to relax when you are spending time with family. Ultimately it is about balance. Retirement without any work or projects to do can be very boring.
My own personality is that I can push myself very hard but not all the time. There are days when I’m scattered and unproductive and having a good boss to keep you focused is very helpful during these times. If you are also a person like this then you should give this some thought as you plan for your own retirement, early or not.
Overall though, I have no regrets. I’m extremely fortunate to be able to retire, even partially retire before the age of 50, with two young children at home. I’m looking forward to the next phases of life and will try my best to give back in as many aspects as I can.