The following article is a guest post contributed by Simon from Financial Expert
Simon is someone I met on the social media and have chatted with him a few times.
We have similar goals in mind with regards to the concept of financial independence and it is probably the reason why we quickly clicked when we talk to one another.
This is his story about how he achieved financial independence at the age of 29 and the lessons he is sharing with us on his temporary retirement.
Emotions were running high when I returned to my apartment on the last Friday of May this year. I had given my farewells to work colleagues and had left the office after working there for ten years.
My mind raced between all the new potential uses of my time, and the loose ends I might have accidentally left at work. Like Britain attempting to leave the EU, it was certainly a challenge to untangle ten years of projects and responsibilities.
By the end of the evening, my mind had calmed and I was able to focus on the key headline that frame that day – I had retired at the age of 29!
Well… for now, at least. I enjoy my work and intend to return to it after a long summer and some travelling in autumn.
In this post, I would like to share some insights from my experiences from the first three months, as my lifestyle now resembles early retirement.
Nothing Lasts Forever
They say that nothing lasts forever, and this certainly applies to a retirement lifestyle. In a dream retirement scenario, we might picture ourselves enjoying a new hobby, or attending a one-off event that we’ve never had the opportunity to attend.
What I’ve discovered is how shallow that image can be. It is fairer to label it a retirement ‘snapshot’ rather than a vision of what retirement is like to live through. Real retirement is an evolving beast that doesn’t hold still.
Despite being only three months into my break, I’m spending my days in a very different way to my first month.
The takeaway here is that I appreciate that having an idyllic picture in mind might provide some motivation. But as you actually begin to approach retirement, you should begin planning for a much deeper, and fleshed-out lifestyle that will continue to enrich you over the longer term.
Routine Is Everything
In education, teachers run schools with military precision.
At work, our managers monitor the amount of time we spend sitting down in the cubicle.
In retirement, by contrast, all of this structure falls away.
While we may have shown great discipline to wake up early and be a punctual employee, this doesn’t mean we can call upon such discipline when all incentives are stripped out.
I encourage you to reflect on this.
As a thought experiment, consider the following: How do your habits change at the weekend when none of the usual pressures exists? Do you still wake early and make the most of your day, or do you lie-in and waste many hours in bed? If you lie-in at a weekend, what exactly prevents you from waking at 10am every day of your retirement?
I have found that establishing a formal wake-up time for each day has helped enormously to instil a sense of purpose and structure to my day.
In fact, I consistently wake up much earlier now than I did at work. By 9am each morning, I have usually achieved something that gives me a sense of accomplishment, such as a gym workout and a cooked breakfast. I feel proud when I consider that I wouldn’t have even arrived at the office by 8:30am under my old routine.
Socializing Requires More Proactivity & Creativity
When you are successful in retiring early, you will have beaten most of your peers to the goal.
While you now have unlimited spare time – your friends’ jobs still chain them to a desk or a work shift pattern. Therefore your opportunities may still be constricted by the demands of work, indirectly, because of your circle of friends in the society.
One solution to avoid this problem is to be more creative with the time you have.
As I live in a city, I saw an opportunity in the often-wasted lunch break.
After spending the morning preparing an elaborate dish, I invite over friends to join me for a quick, home-cooked lunch. We get the chance to catch-up and at the same time, enrich their working day and give them a true break from their work.
You could say this shares the benefits of retirement with those who haven’t quite made it there yet!
It Takes Time To Orientate To A Time-Rich, Money-Poor Mindset
Three months into my break, I still found myself making decisions with the assumption that time is still a very scarce resource.
The most dramatic example of this was choosing how to sell my car recently.
As a worker, I had never considered selling my car privately.
I did not want to spend the precious few free hours of my week performing the necessary duties. These include hosting viewers, haggling on price with time-wasters and nervously taking the passenger seat during test drives.
Therefore, when I began the process of selling my car this month, I automatically began requesting quotes from car-buying services and dealerships, who all offered prices in the region of £21,000 – £23,000.
Within this mindset, I thought I was chasing a great deal by twisting the arm of a buyer to add another £500 to their offer.
However, when I researched more widely, I saw that other sellers had listed similar vehicles on Auto Trader for £30,000. This caused a total rethink of my strategy. The decision became hinged on the following question:
“Is the amount of time I would need to spend to sell my car privately (e.g. 50 hours) worth £7,000? £140 per hour?”
Getting to early retirement is a long journey filled with many lessons learnt, but getting to adjust to early retirement lifestyle is in itself a huge lessons to be learnt.
At the end of the day, life is filled with so much learning journey that we just have to try, adjust and see if it shaped us for the better.
Thanks for reading.