It’s now been THREE YEARS since I’ve been retired!
This milestone is a great time to do a bit of reflecting, so here are some thoughts on retirement overall…
First, I’m so glad I did it when I did. If circumstances had worked out differently, I might be still working.
Second, I wish I had done it earlier. My biggest FI mistake was not retiring sooner.
Finally, I am completely LOVING it! I don’t have that “Christmas morning” feeling any longer, things have stabilized and become more normal over time, but I am so thankful that I am not working. I have way more than enough to do (as you’ll see below) and I fill my time with lots of fun things. I want to make the most of my reverse dog years in retirement. 😉
That’s the overview, now let’s get into specifics. Here’s what’s happened since my last update three months ago…
- The winter just kept going this year. We had a huge snowstorm the third week in May (yes, you read that correctly) that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Oh yeah, then we had several cold (50 degree highs) days in June. We now most certainly want to get out of Colorado for at least part of each winter. We have decided not to move but instead will look to spend 1-3 months in a warmer climate during winter. We’re headed to this place in October to check out several locations along the Florida Gulf Coast. Not sure yet what the winter holds as we may not find something in Florida in time to reserve it for January/February, so it might be back to Grand Cayman in early 2020.
- Since we’re going to stay in our current house, we’ve also decide to upgrade it a bit. My wife, daughter, and a friend have started work on our main floor (to update it a bit — rugs, decorations, new blinds, new curtains, etc.) But it’s taking some time as we have a lot of other things going on (see below). After this we’ll tackle our upstairs which may require a bit more work and cost (perhaps new flooring as well as some paint and decorating touches.) After that, we’ll address the finished basement and perhaps some landscaping. We figured it was time to upgrade now rather than do it when we decided to move — at least this way we can enjoy it instead of fixing it up for somebody else.
- The sale of Rockstar Finance sale has been a godsend. Even though managing it was only a couple hours a day, it was a couple hours EVERY day, and something I HAD to work on — a fixed commitment. I much prefer the flexibility to do what I want when I want. Since I don’t have that commitment any longer, I am pretty free. Overall, I’m feeling very relaxed these days. It’s amazing what an extra two hours a day can do for you. One sad thing, it looks like Rockstar Finance has been abandoned by the new owner. I’m sad (and perplexed) to see that happen as it was a great site.
- One of the things I did with my new free time was re-do the rocked area in our back yard which was growing up with weeds. We removed the rock, put down weed barrier, then moved nine tons (yes, NINE TONS) of new rock from our street where they dumped it to our back yard. All the work was done by my son, my wife, and me over a loooooong couple of days. It was brutal and I’m so glad it’s over. If anything like this needs done again, we’re hiring it out! (My wife was the one who thought “We can do it ourselves” but now she thinks differently.) 😉
- I’ve started a terrarium hobby. Yep, you read that correctly. I ran into this video which made me think of the small terrarium I loved as a kid. I studied up on it, got the materials, and have made two so far. One is a basic jar I got at Hobby Lobby but the other is a 10-gallon fish tank with various plants I purchased from Amazon. So far, the small jar plants haven’t done well but the fish tank ones look good, so time will tell. Not sure how many more I’ll do — time will tell there too.
- On July 5 my wife and I joined a group of fellow money nerds on a hike of Seven Bridges. The group was a combination of people here for Camp FI (including some bloggers), some locals, and a few members of the Choose FI Colorado Springs Facebook group. It was a great day and a very enjoyable hike. And we talked a lot less about money than you might imagine. 😉 Afterwards we went for lunch at Ivywild School, an old schoolhouse that’s been converted into shops and restaurants. It was a great day.
Family and Friends
- The big news in this section is that my daughter got married on July 13 (she got engaged at Easter so it was a rush to put it all together). She married her boyfriend of several years in the Garden of the Gods. His mom did the ceremony (she is the children’s pastor at our former church in Oklahoma) and afterwards we went to a reception nearby. I’ll write a separate post about it, including how we handled the finances and what my daughter and son-in-law decided to do with their wedding money. Stay tuned.
- The married couple stayed around a week after marrying here, then loaded up all my daughter’s stuff and drove to Kentucky where he is stationed with the army. They already have a house and two cats, so things are progressing quickly. My daughter has created a job for herself by working for a variety of websites (including ESI Money) doing social media, editing, and a few other tasks so her job transferred easily with her. She likes the time and freedom it allows and I’m not sure she’ll ever have a “regular” job. One thing not-so-pleasant: I introduced her to estimated quarterly tax payments which was a welcome-to-adulthood moment. 😉
- As you might imagine, we got to see my mom and dad at the wedding. The rest of the party were friends and the groom’s relatives, about 30 people in all. Yes, a small wedding as they chose to have it that way and keep most of the wedding money we gave them for an extended trip.
- My wife completed a conference (May) and a kids’ event at church (June) in addition to her regular duties. She loves working there (part-time) and would do it for free if they’d let her. Ha!
- My son was all set to work at a local kids’ camp this summer when something better came along. He now works at the Broadmoor, a very nice, upscale hotel and recreation complex in Colorado Springs. He also took a side job as a soccer coach for two 11-year-old club teams. And he did a video for me on The Six Top Millionaire Tips on How to Grow Your Income. We may have some more coming as well.
- My mom and dad are moving (still slowly) towards leaving Iowa this summer/fall to full-time RV. They are just about to put their home on the market, but they’ve been “just about” to do it for a year now, so we’ll see. They plan to drive down to Florida and vacation with us there in October.
- My wife’s oldest sister visited us for a week in June. Her husband was doing some work in Denver so she came with him and my wife drove up to get her. They had lots of fun and freed me up to do whatever I wanted! When her husband came to pick her up we had a GREAT conversation about retirement. He’s hoping to retire in December and as you might imagine, I raved about it. Sounds like they are pretty well prepared for it, though it’s hard to be sure without digging into numbers.
- My wife went to Pittsburgh at the end of July for her sister’s birthday. Her other sister was there as well and the three of them had a great time together.
- I had an interesting money conversation with a lady about my age after a pickleball game. She asked what I did for a living, I said I was retired, she said I was too young, I said I was 55, she said I looked like I was 40 — the same conversation I have over and over with different people. She asked how I was able to retire — if I had been in the military (which I get a lot too). I said no, that I was in business, to which she replied, “Oh, so you made some good decisions. Good for you!” She was happy for me but also had that “wish I could do it too” sort of look. Five minutes later I saw her in the parking lot driving out in her Porsche Cayenne S (which starts at $66k) and I had a good guess as to why she couldn’t retire.
- My brother-in-law who lived in Erie, PA (the last of my wife’s siblings to live in her hometown) sold his home and moved to Florida. He’s had enough of 200 inches per year of snow! We hope to see him and his wife in October.
- One guy in our neighborhood I wrote about in Save and Make Money by Getting Rid of Stuff has upped his stuff level quite significantly. His garage is full of junk so he has to park the family’s cars in the driveway or on the street. But then a storage container was dropped into the driveway containing stuff from his wife’s mother who passed away several years ago (her house recently sold). Not having room to store all this stuff, he built a shed in the back yard to hold some of it. That wasn’t enough space so he also rented a storage facility to hold the rest of it — and needed to rent a U-Haul (of course) to get it there. Ugh. When will the madness end?
- I’m still working out six times per week (three cardio and three weights). I also am averaging just over 20k steps per day, so I’m moving a lot. One reason for this is…
- I’ve been playing a TON of pickleball this summer. My wife and I bought paddles and balls from Amazon in April, tried it out, and loved it. We then joined the Pikes Peak Pickleball Association and have been playing at various times with other members. I play more than my wife, generally going to the park near our house every weekday at this point and playing from 8 am until noon or so. It’s a big group and we all play, then move off for others to play, play again, move off, etc., so it’s not like I’m playing four hours straight. That said, it is a good workout and a ton of fun. We’ve met some great friends through it already and it seems like we’re always meeting more.
- One of those friends got me to play my first pickleball tournament at the end of July. He’s a few years younger than I am (he’s 52), so we had to play down to his age level (which moved us from my level of 55+ to his of 19-54.) In addition, since the tournament was full by the time we met, it was filled at the level we wanted (3.5 rating). So we played up at the 4.0 level. Let’s just say it was a learning experience. Ha! We did win two games (of seven) and almost won a third (lost 11-10) so it was a decent showing. And of course we had fun — so much so that we’ll be playing another tournament at 3.5 next weekend.
- I’ve also started eating a bit differently. I do intermittent fasting on the 16/8 plan, which means I don’t eat anything for 16 hours each day and focus all my eating in eight hours. I also do mostly proteins and vegetables, though I do allow more carbs than I probably will in the winter since I’ve been so active.
- The combination of the exercise and eating right has allowed me to lose weight. I’m now at the lowest level I’ve been in decades — probably similar to what I weighed in college (I have always been on the “thin” side generally, but I had put on a few pounds over the years). I feel great and am loving my slimmed down tone.
- I’ve been working a lot on ESI Money (see below) and it’s been challenging my mind (a good thing). I also do three chess puzzles a day plus a “hard” Sudoku a few times a week. Gotta keep the mind working as much as the body!
- Movie day on Tuesdays (discount day) is still going strong. Since my last update we’ve seen Brightburn, Rocketman, John Wick 3, Godzilla, Dark Phoenix, Men in Black, Toy Story 4, Yesterday, Spider-Man, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I’m still getting my Starbucks coffee on most visits which my wife reminds me totally negates the movie discount. Ha!
- On June 9 I took my daughter to see Les Miserables, our favorite musical. It was good (since the story/music is amazing) but the performances were probably the worst of the four times I’ve seen it. But it was great to be with her and I wanted to pack in all the time I could before she was married and off.
- As I mentioned in my last update, I did re-play the Spider-Man video game — twice. The second time I played at a higher level and didn’t die all the way through, so I think I mastered it. LOL! It’s such an awesome game! In addition, I got Red Dead Redemption 2 for Father’s Day and am working my way through it. I’m your huckleberry!!!
- Now that I have extra time in my day I’m also reading much more. Books I’ve read in the past three months include Choose FI, Work Less, Live More, Winning at Retirement, The Old Money Book, Quit Like a Millionaire, The Total Money Makeover, Home Sweet Anywhere, and The Body in Question (heard about on NPR’s Fresh Air podcast). I’ll be covering some of these in future posts.
- We are still watching some TV but have been so busy that it’s dropped off a lot. We finished the season of When Calls the Heart, are now working our way through America’s Got Talent. We supplement these with Hallmark movies, some island house hunting shows, and This Old House.
- Things are rocking on the net worth front! The combination of the Rockstar Finance sale, a hot stock market, and income higher than expenses has our net worth well over $4 million. It’s still hard to believe we’re up $900k since I retired.
- I mentioned in an earlier post that I’m investing with a friend who is buying rental places. He pays 10% and so far I have $125k there spread over four different properties (I added another $65k in July). I have $75k more ready to allocate if he buys additional places.
- The sale of Rockstar Finance has also left me time to focus more on ESI Money. As a result, traffic has been up and so has revenue! I’m also working on a few things behind the scenes that will help with both. I have added three new e-series to the site: “30 Days to Great Finances”, “The 52 Best Ways to Save Money”, and “Creating a Great Retirement” plus am still offering the real estate course from Chad Carson. If you want to subscribe to any or all of them (it’s free) you can do so here. I have plans to add new series every couple of months or so, so stay tuned.
- People are loving my millionaire and retirement interviews. If you want to be interviewed for either of them, drop me an email and I’ll give you details. I especially need retirement interviewees. The Millionaire Interviews are booked way out but my next Retirement Interview isn’t until late September. So if you’re retired and are willing to tell your story, let me know.
- I got some good comments about the credit cards I recommended in my annual update, so I wanted to share a few more winners with you. Here’s a list of the best cash back credit cards, one for the best travel rewards cards, and an overall list of the best rewards cards. My personal favorite remains the Fidelity Rewards Visa which pays 2% cash back on everything. I’m still rocking that card and will be well over $1,000 earned myself this year thanks in large part to it.
- We moved almost $80k into our donor advised fund with the intention of distributing up to $100k this year. I’ve already sent out $35k and am working on a much bigger project for the fall that will involve ESI Money readers. For long-time readers you might remember I used to do a giving effort every November and December. I’m thinking of doing something similar this year. So keep some of your charitable giving handy for then if you want to challenge me in giving away a bigger sum.
- We are oh-so-close to completing the update of our wills. I’ll be writing about it sometime but the hardest parts have been: 1) deciding how to distribute everything and 2) finding a trustee to watch/mange the money as it gets distributed to our kids.
- I’m down to $9k at Lending Club and $5k at Prosper. It’s taking me forever to get rid of everything I bought.
- I’m preparing for FinCon in early September. It’s in Washington, DC, a city I love to visit. Plus I’m flying first class there as part of my new plan to enjoy life even more. I’ll share the details on this spending increase in a future post.
I’m adding this as a new section — highlights of articles I’ve found interesting but aren’t enough to write a full post about. Here are my selections this time:
- Seven friends pool money, buy mansion to retire in together — A couple things about this are interesting to me. First, that the friends see this as a way of both funding retirement and staying together. Wonder if this could be a trend we see over in the US some day. Second, the place looks amazing (watch the video). They certainly didn’t skimp on the remodeling expenses.
- Employees Who Stay In Companies Longer Than Two Years Get Paid 50% Less — A strong case for changing employers more often. Summary: “Staying employed at the same company for over two years on average is going to make you earn less over your lifetime by about 50% or more. As an individual, you’re a CEO of one, and you have a duty to maximize your profits. Why are people who jump ship rewarded, when loyal employees are punished for their dedication? The answer is simple. Recessions allow businesses to freeze their payroll and decrease salaries of the newly hired based on “market trends.” These reactions to the recession are understandable, but the problem is that these reactions were meant to be “temporary.” Instead they have become the “norm” in the marketplace. More importantly, we have all become used to hearing about “3% raises” and we’ve accepted it as the new “norm.” “
- Time Allocations and Self-Reported Happiness of Retirees: An Exploratory Study — Summary: “Findings indicate that retirees prefer active activities such as socializing, walking, or exercising, as well as those that require human capital, such as working or volunteering, compared to passive activities, such as staying at home and watching television. The need to engage in active activities increased with age, while the desire for passive activities decreased with age. However, most retirees spent more time on passive activities, which contributed to a decrease in overall happiness. There appeared to be a gap between how retirees would like to spend their time and what they actually do in retirement. This gap indicates an area that could lead to a reduction in happiness during retirement.”
- All Time Greatest Airplane Seat — This is an old video but I love this sort of thing. Who knew this type of luxury even existed? Here’s another, similar video if you want more. And another. It’s great to live vicariously through videos like this.
So, that’s my retirement life lately.
Any thoughts or questions?