Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
My first year of ER - a retrospective (long post!)
Old 01-02-2014, 04:35 PM   #1
Dryer sheet aficionado
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 27
My first year of ER - a retrospective (long post!)

Hi everyone, I’ve been a member of this forum for 15 months or so, and rarely post, but read daily. I have found the knowledge and wisdom of this community to be invaluable as I made my final decision to ER on January 1 of last year (2013).

In the spirit of giving back to the group I thought I’d share my own experience with my first year of retirement: the good, the bad, the expected, the unexpected, etc. I have enjoyed, and found extremely useful, similar posts from others in the past. So I thought I’d share a somewhat detailed blow-by-blow of the first year of my journey, in the hope that others might find this of some value to them. Apologies in advance for the long post.

By way of background, I retired just after turning 57, after a career in IT and consulting, last 13 years of which were at a Megacorp. I am now 58, wife is 54 and has been a stay at home Mom for last 21 years. One child, 21, senior in college. Like many/most on this board, I self-manage our investment portfolio. For context, our projected budget/spend level was approx $75K for 2013 (child’s last year in college) and this would eventually drop to approx $65K a year.

The good, the “as planned” things, what worked well, other positives:

As the saying goes, in ER every day is Saturday ! Every night is Friday night! No more Sunday afternoon blues thinking of work the next day… All of this is true, and the feeling is wonderful, priceless.

I am much less stressed, and sleep better (and yes, I take occasional naps). I also stay up later, and wake up later. (I’m turning back into a teenager).

Like many, I was concerned about whether I would have enough to keep me busy. But the flywheel does naturally slow down a bit...and this is OK! I have kept myself busy with home DIY renovation, personal finance, some volunteer work, and other social activities. In general, this has not been a problem for me.

Since I have more time, I just take things more slowly - e.g. drive more slowly, etc. I suppose I‘m morphing into senior citizen :-) I’ve become less tolerant of others rushing around so much. Maybe that last part is not a good thing :-)

Increased variety of exercise - I have always been a regular, avid exerciser, but am also trying new things like hiking 1 day a week. But see below about what has not worked out so well in this area.

I do not miss prior career / megacorp at all. Not. One. Single. Bit. I was clearly ready, done.
Took me about 5 minutes to not care about prior job/megacorp after turning in my ID.
Truth be told, I was burned out and my BS bucket had overflowed 3-4 years before I ERed, but I felt it necessary to continue to grind it out to get to the financial “number”.

You really do, and can, spend less in retirement. Example: We don’t buy books anymore - get them from library. I have more time to be frugal - search out better prices negotiate better deals, etc.

Seeing the monthly/quarterly dividends and interest payments post to my accounts is SWEET. I think of the stocks, funds, etc. that I own as my employees, working for me… and generating income. Very sweet and comforting to see the fruits of many years of work and savings now “paying me back”.

The Bad, or unexpected, or things that did not go as planned:

From a financial planning perspective, health care was my big miss this year. I had budgeted the $15K premiums for my COBRA HDHP with HSA from megacorp, and had additionally budgeted $3-4K to cover out of pocket costs since we have a $5K deductible. Well wife ended up having two foot surgeries, and son had knee surgery…..so to make a long story short, we ended up spending the full $5K of the deductible plus another $7-8K in other costs due to coinsurance and non-covered costs. So in short we ended up spending about $10K more than I had budgeted for health care. Obviously this was a big blow to the budget/plan. Lesson learned: I have upped my budgeted amount for OOP health care costs for 2014 to be $10K. (not including the premiums).

Another completely unexpected health care expense was that my wife’s primary care doctor went to a concierge model - resulting in an additional $1600 a year of unplanned for expense (wife insists on staying with this doctor).

DIY home renovation costs more than I expected. I had budgeted for $1500 and have spent over double that amount. This is addictive stuff.

Physical aches and pains: probably due more to age than ER, I am beginning to experience ongoing aches and pains I did not have before (e.g. joint pain). For example, I can only run one day a week now, and have to use an exercise bike on other days. Plus things take much longer to heal. This was not in The ER Plan, as I had intended to do even more exercise in ER than I had done prior to ER. But my body is saying, "not so fast"… This is for sure disappointing to someone like me who has been very religious about exercise during their entire adult life and was planning on doing even more.

I do occasionally get bored in evenings or when I don’t have a couple of things to do each day that get me out of house. Not a big problem, I just need to add a couple more things to the dance card.

Being home with spouse all day was something I was used to, as I worked from home when not on business trips. However now this is a everyday thing, and yes, this is proving to be a challenge. As mentioned above, I recognize that I am going to need to find more reasons to get out of the house, especially in the evenings.

I am starting to sense my own mortality much more than I ever did. Definite feeling of being in the “last phase” of life. I’m not one who fears death but I can mentally hear the clock ticking now. This can result in feeling a bit melancholy at times.

Travel - I was a very, very frequent flier pre-ER, but now hardly at all. I find I miss just “going somewhere”, though I do not miss the logistical parts of flying at all (getting to airport, TSA, waiting around, delays, cramped seats, etc.) I would have liked to travel more than we did this year though, but the budgeted amount got spent by Summer.

I still have an occasional nagging fear that I forgot something, that some black swan event could wipe out a big chunk of the nest egg, to force me to have to go back to work…. Now being a good INTJ, I have all sorts of backup plans, contingencies, in place, but nonetheless that nagging feeling is still there. To be honest it’s not as bad as I thought it would be, but it’s still there.

Also on the financial front, watching wild daily swings in the investment portfolio value was expected but is still concerning - one day it was down over $25K. But I’m a fairly disciplined, buy and hold guy, so that helps weather the ups and downs. But I need to to stay away from financial sites though as it makes you want to trade.

We often hear that when we retire we can “follow our passion”. I certainly have hobbies and interests, but I haven’t found this big new “passion” yet. I've got several “projects” to keep me relatively busy, but not any overarching driving thing….not yet.


Well I could go on forever, but those are my main Year 1 observations. In short I am very, very glad I pulled the plug when I did, as on balance the last year has been great. My advice to those who have sufficient financial resources to ER but are still fearful is “Do it !!!”. You won’t regret it.

Hope that helps, and Happy New Year to all.

Larry
__________________

__________________
LarryG is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 01-02-2014, 04:59 PM   #2
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Hartford
Posts: 103
Hi Larry,

Thank you so much for posting. We are about 4-6 years away from ER, so it's very helpful to hear about life after ER. We're both impatient to start our new lives but we want to build up our assets more and pay expenses out of salaries for a while yet.

My biggest concern about ER is walking away from the mental stimulation I get from work, including travel around the world, negotiating contracts, arguing with my bosses, etc. But as I said above, I'm also very impatient to start the new life. So it's a dilemma right now. Any advice on how to handle the years before and what it's like just after is very much appreciated.

I also will be physically active after ER, like you, but do feel my body getting more like a used car rather than a new one. So I commiserate with you on this.

Best wishes to you, and to all the people who contribute to this board. What a wonderful group! Frugal, but enjoying life.

Cheers,

Bruce
__________________

__________________
ImThinkin2019 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2014, 05:03 PM   #3
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 119
Great post LarryG.

I can resonate with much of this. I too left mega corp this year at age 57 (wife 55). Main difference is I have 2 kids, last one graduated collage on the day I retired; so two are now gainfully employed and out of the house.

Again, I can relate to much of the emotions you are going through e.g. afternoon/evening boredom, aches and pains, searching for reasons to leave the house, etc.

Thanks for sharing.

Bob
__________________
SoReady is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2014, 05:06 PM   #4
Dryer sheet wannabe
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 18
Looks like you are doing well. Great job!
__________________
onebigdummy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2014, 05:14 PM   #5
Full time employment: Posting here.
Tailgate's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Texas
Posts: 881
thanks for your post! It's great to hear anecdotal stories, especially for someone who is technically on day 2 of retirement. If I could just shake this damn flu-crud stuff, I'd feel fully retired..

I do have a to-do list started.. lots of mundane things like 'buy more tube socks' and 'get my concealed carry permit', but I like the new list so much more than the my list from a few weeks ago which included 'budget 4% increase in net operating profit' and 'submit 2 million in capex requests by end of week'.

Good luck with year 2.. and I'm with you on the getting older/slower thing. When I turned 50 I woke up and one of my body parts hurt.. since then it just moves to a different location everyday
__________________
Tailgate is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2014, 05:32 PM   #6
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
robnplunder's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Bay Area
Posts: 2,124
Thanks for the post.

( I plan to work 2 more years with mega-tech-corp before RE but still wonder if I am pulling the trigger too soon (I am 52 years old now). Articles like this helps assess my situation better. )
__________________
Pura Vida
robnplunder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2014, 05:43 PM   #7
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Colorado Mountains
Posts: 2,143
Quote:
Originally Posted by LarryG View Post
Being home with spouse all day was something I was used to, as I worked from home when not on business trips. However now this is a everyday thing, and yes, this is proving to be a challenge. As mentioned above, I recognize that I am going to need to find more reasons to get out of the house, especially in the evenings.
Count your blessings Larry. IMHO it sure beats the alternative.
__________________
Hermit is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2014, 06:20 PM   #8
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
walkinwood's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Denver
Posts: 2,676
Thanks for sharing. I am in my 6th year of ER and a lot of what you say rings true to me. I find that I now have to ramp up my exercise activity very slowly or else something or the other starts hurting. It helps to be consistent, but I'm finding it harder to do that in the winter.

The only thing I miss about being a frequent air-traveler is having to stand in lines when we fly.
__________________
walkinwood is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2014, 06:32 PM   #9
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 11,018
Great post Larry! I am also a 1 year veteran of ER. I enjoy the freedom to live an unstructured life and do not miss work at all. I am pleased and somewhat surprised that I have developed a whole new circle of friends. It definitely helps that my portfolio is doing well, because I have spent more on travel than I planned to. I am definitely conscious that I am getting older every day, but you know what, that's OK. I haven't really followed through on my vague goals of getting healthier, except for eating better, but perhaps this year I will start getting more exercise.
__________________
Meadbh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2014, 06:37 PM   #10
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
sengsational's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 3,837
Thanks for the write-up! I'm just over a year behind you and we have a lot in common...IT, work from home for megacorp, 21 year stay at home DW, kid graduating college. So hearing your story takes the edge off my jitters a bit...I just hope my health expenses follow my plan (ACA subsidized plan with high deductable), so hopefully the feet an knees of the family will hold together, hehe.
__________________
sengsational is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2014, 07:35 PM   #11
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 3,870
Nice post, Larry. As someone just starting my 6th year of ER (like walkinwood), I found this paragraph much to my liking (see my sig line):

"Seeing the monthly/quarterly dividends and interest payments post to my accounts is SWEET. I think of the stocks, funds, etc. that I own as my employees, working for me… and generating income. Very sweet and comforting to see the fruits of many years of work and savings now 'paying me back'."

I also grew tired of travel because it was the commute which burnt me out.
__________________
Retired in late 2008 at age 45. Cashed in company stock, bought a lot of shares in a big bond fund and am living nicely off its dividends. IRA, SS, and a pension await me at age 60 and later. No kids, no debts.

"I want my money working for me instead of me working for my money!"
scrabbler1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2014, 08:45 PM   #12
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 420
Great post - we had way more than usual with the medical $ this past yr. (I retired 2/12 and DW 3/13) Both were unusual in their own ways and we both are or in the DW case be 100% but it did catch us by surprise.
I too never found that great passion either but have no problem finding things to do that I like.
No regrets- love being retired.
__________________
SJ1_ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2014, 08:53 PM   #13
Full time employment: Posting here.
Calico's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 924
Quote:
Originally Posted by LarryG View Post
Physical aches and pains: probably due more to age than ER, I am beginning to experience ongoing aches and pains I did not have before (e.g. joint pain). For example, I can only run one day a week now, and have to use an exercise bike on other days. Plus things take much longer to heal. This was not in The ER Plan, as I had intended to do even more exercise in ER than I had done prior to ER. But my body is saying, "not so fast"… This is for sure disappointing to someone like me who has been very religious about exercise during their entire adult life and was planning on doing even more. Larry
Do you enjoy swimming? My aunt has painful joints, and she finds that swimming in a heated pool is excellent exercise which does not put stress on her joints. Just a thought. YMMV

Thanks for your informative post, and happy new year to you too!
__________________
Calico is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2014, 09:24 PM   #14
Dryer sheet aficionado
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Calico View Post
Do you enjoy swimming? My aunt has painful joints, and she finds that swimming in a heated pool is excellent exercise which does not put stress on her joints. Just a thought. YMMV!
Thanks for the good suggestion Calico. Unfortunately while I can swim, I've never liked it. Just not a pool person. I will, however, do it if the day comes when I can't run or even ride a stationary bike. Hopefully that won't be for a good long time
__________________
LarryG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2014, 10:55 PM   #15
Full time employment: Posting here.
Calico's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 924
Quote:
Originally Posted by LarryG View Post

Thanks for the good suggestion Calico. Unfortunately while I can swim, I've never liked it. Just not a pool person. I will, however, do it if the day comes when I can't run or even ride a stationary bike. Hopefully that won't be for a good long time
Pools are not for everyone, that's for sure. Here's hoping you can run and bike for many years to come.
__________________
"Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed, Let it be that great strong land of love, Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme, That any man be crushed by one above." - Langston Hughes
Calico is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-03-2014, 10:07 AM   #16
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 925
Larry,

Congratulations on a what sounds like a very successful first year of ER; and, thank you very much for posting this. I really enjoy reading the reflective accounts of both good and bad(ish) bits about retiring, especially when they relate directly to my situation.

I am currently a very frequent flier with a career in IT and consulting; although, I am starting to scale back a bit. I often wonder if I will miss the going somewhere different thing after ER. I get that now if I spend more than a couple of weeks at home.

While I did make a real effort (in my mind at least) to ER at the end of last year, I received an offer that I could not refuse for 2014. So, at least OMY before my own ER unless something unforeseen occurs. Hopefully this will pad my account enough to travel whenever I get the itch.

I really do not think I will miss my old office life for more than five minutes once I finally do walk away; but, I cannot help worrying that I may be wrong about this as well as worrying about the black swan events forcing me out of retirement (likely with greatly reduced compensation after being out of the game for a while).

More time for outdoor activity including more variety of exercise is definitely one driving force for my ER desire, as is my own sense of mortality. (I want more time outside with less time in conference rooms and small regional jet seats before I pass.)

Thanks again for posting.
__________________
If there's one thing in my life that's missing; It's the time I spend alone
Sailing on the cool and bright clear waters; There's lots of those friendly people
Showin me ways to go; And I never want to lose your inspiration
CoolChange is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-03-2014, 10:20 AM   #17
Recycles dryer sheets
JBmadera's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Green Valley
Posts: 241
what a neat post, thank you!

similar basics here (thankfully DD graduated from college in june), so if you figure out how to get more comfortable at home with DW please pass on suggestions. still struggling with that one now that I'm never on the road.

cheers
__________________
JBmadera is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-03-2014, 10:36 AM   #18
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 270
8 months into my ER and I see a lot of common experiences that you have gone thru. I wish I would have spend more time defining what my post ER life would be like. I spend all my time making sure I had my financial house in order. I thought the post ER life would just happen and not be a struggle. I underestimated the change from going from a very structured life to a unstructured (freedom) life. I do not regret leaving my MegaCorp at all and I look at redefining my new life as a work in progress.

Thanks for the post, it was very interesting...
__________________
bradaz2488 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-03-2014, 11:08 AM   #19
Dryer sheet aficionado
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by CoolChange View Post
Larry,

I am currently a very frequent flier with a career in IT and consulting; although, I am starting to scale back a bit. I often wonder if I will miss the going somewhere different thing after ER. I get that now if I spend more than a couple of weeks at home.
Hi CoolChange, I was very concerned about this as well. That aspect of travel was one of the very few things I still enjoyed about my job the last 3-4 years of work. In fact I even enjoyed my almost weekly trip to my client in Bentonville, AK for several months during my last year. (You can all probably figure out who that client was ).

So this year I am trying to scratch that itch a bit more with some kind of trip every 6-8 weeks, even if that involves driving as opposed to flying. For example next month I am driving up to visit my son at his out of state college. Then in March I'm driving to visit my sister on the Gulf coast for a few days. So my change for this year will be to try and travel "somewhere" consistently at least every several weeks. I'm hoping that that will scratch the itch sufficiently.

Good luck on what is (hopefully) your last year !
__________________
LarryG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-03-2014, 11:17 AM   #20
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Live And Learn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Tampa Bay Area
Posts: 1,689
Thank you for posting this. I am 61 Mondays away from ER and I loved your post. Your unexpected medical expenses makes me glad I have included enough in my ER budget to cover an unsubsidized ACA plan plus the full OOP maximum.

I was off work for 2 weeks and found myself in a "nothing to do" dilemma for a couple of hours. It really made me wonder if I would be bored during retirement; as your post suggests I am going to try create a "dance card" that will get me out of the house a couple of days a week, most likely a PT j*b.
__________________

__________________
"For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." ~
Hebrews 12:11

ER'd in June 2015 at age 52. Initial WR 3%. 50/40/10 (Equity/Bond/Short Term) AA.
Live And Learn is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:42 AM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.