So how did this early retirement lark work out in the end

It’s coming up to about nine months since I retired about eight years early from work – that’s eight years than the normal retirement age for The Firm. Truth be told, I retired for negative reasons rather than positive, but I’m not going to go on about those particularly. Because people just don’t bang the drum for the positive things that happen when you are retired. Like everybody else, I assumed it was all about the money. That’s everybody’s greatest fear. What you don’t hear about is the multiplicity of little things that all add up to a far better experience of life.

I caution that to make these work for you, you must eliminate debt, and that means all debt. Yes, your mortgage too[ref]an exception can be made for this if you are saving tax-free in a pension with the aim of using the 25% pension commencement lump sum to pay off the mortgage in full on retirement. In my view this isn’t the clear-cut win for early retirees who will defer their pension for 5 years or more, but IFAs seem to recommend it for many people.[/ref], and that means doing without a lot of consumables while working, and probably having a reasonable amount of luck at times. You don’t borrow money from a bank, you borrow it from your future self, and if your future self will have less income than your current self, it makes no sense to be in debt.

So what does life retired look like? It’s all about owning your own time. It was given you as your birthright but was taken away from you early in life. Somebody said to me that time is the ultimate consumer good. He has a point, though I had to live it to know it, and also to have enough time to crawl from the wreckage of my curtailed career.

Owning your own time is delightful – you have the choice of what to do and when to do it. Before retiring it pays to prepare your human setting too, who will you know and spend time with, and that’s worth giving some thought to that before you retire. It’s particularly important for early retirees because a lot of their existing friends and acquaintances will still be working, some people I knew who retired even earlier than I did felt lonely, particularly those that retired in their mid forties, and I learned from their experiences – these were typically single guys, it took me longer than for them. Give thought to how you will maintain and develop your human connections, because as you get older it is Who is in your life that matters, not so much What is in your life.

The upside – my skin looks better and younger, the bags under the eyes fade, I slowly lose some of the weight that accumulated over my years behind a desk and in the lab. I walk more and bike more. I hear the birdsong, if there’s a good blackbird I will sit and listen to him for a while. I sit down for meals at a table rather than scoffing overpriced sarnies at my desk, I have more time to spend with the people I care about, I can read books, I can build things, learn how do use woodworking tools better, enjoy the company of people more, listen to people better, learn more, play more.

I watch less TV than I did while working. I tolerate no ads – I use ad-block plus on the Internet and less TV cans that at source, on the occasions I do watch TV I use a PVR and fast forward over the ads. If I have a requirement that may need buying something I use google – I buy things on my own terms, not because somebody is creating a desire in my head for shit I don’t need. I don’t buy anything on impulse, I wait at least a couple of days to see if the want is really a want. But if it is, and it fits my values, I buy it. If an offer has gone and I need to pay 10% more, so be it, that’s the price of living on my own terms and agenda. I don’t piss about with low-rent stuff like quidco and cashback, I have three credit cards but if I use them I pay them off in full. I’ll never get another credit card because I have no wage income, just investment income so I presumably look like a deadbeat living under railway arches on a credit check. Do I care? No – if the existing cards kick me off then I’ll pay by debit card or by cash, because I Don’t. Borrow. Money. ever since discharging my mortgage.

I can’t recommend early retirement enough. But you do need to be prepared to make the ‘sacrifice’ of living on less. I surrendered eight years of income when I retired, if you add all that up it’s a lot of money. I was happy to pay the opportunity cost, because that’s also eight years of life I’ll never live again. For me that was the right call – indeed perhaps I should have looked ahead and done it earlier.

Early retirement means I have less Stuff in my life. But I have more joy. Early retirees needs to speak up for it, because where are the ads on TV for Earn Less and Buy Less but Live More? We in Britain are so much richer now than we were thirty years ago, when I started my working life, I heard an estimation on the radio we have about twice as much disposable income as people had then. Stuff rather than Time seems to have got the thick end of our extra income. I am in my early fifties – the London I grew up in used coal fires and many houses had no central heating, some still had outside toilets. Cold and damp and the associated aches and pains were prevalent in the adults, so when I hear the Joseph Roundtree Foundation talk in terms of needing Sky TV to take an active part in society I wonder if perspective hasn’t been lost. We really have so much now. Ivan Illich called it out well in Tools for Conviviality in 1972. We are so much richer now than we were then, but are we any wealthier, I wonder? You are wealthy when more money wouldn’t massively change where you live, and how you live…

For each of us the sands are running through the hourglass, one day at a time. Making the call on as to where you place the balance between More Stuff and More Life is one of those things that is Important but not Urgent, so it always goes to the back of the to-do list. It’s worth dusting that question off and taking the time out to work through the options. You can measure more Stuff, and you can measure More Money. You can’t measure More Life. And I’ll stick my neck out and say Tom Peters was absolutely full of shit when he said you get what you measure. It works a peach in business, maybe. But in Life, it causes you to prioritise the measurable, the ‘how big is my…’ insert KPI here. And yet, when people look back on their life at the end of it, it is often the immeasurables – seeing their children grow up, and who they spent time with – or didn’t’ spend enough time with. The days are long, but the years are short. Though it’s schmaltzy in a uniquely American way, Gretchen Rubin nailed it. Don’t forget to live in the moment, because those moments are precious and they are running out.

My eventual projected annual expenditure is about a fifth of what I was being paid at The Firm, and I have a better quality of life – because I determine what a day looks like. There are other things that are odd about being retired. I have deliberately and intentionally avoided the whole work issue. I toyed with claiming JSA but figured a) I’m not looking for work and b) the stress of wanting to lamp some pipsqueak in the Jobcentre wasn’t worth the Β£1500 that six month’s contributions based JSA is worth, particularly as I’d have to pay tax on it.

Managing personal finances after work is enormously different to when you are working. While working, my income was single valued and knowable. Now, it comes from multiple volatile and erratic streams. I have the ISA income, which I reinvest. A similar sized lump of non-ISA shareholdings, that I have to capital gains spring and shift to the ISA over the years. And then cash holdings. These are horrendously different from what they were when I was working. What you must not do, when you retire early is to look at these accounts, and go Wow, I am rich. It is the lottery winner’s curse – most people have been used to a regular income and virtually zero savings all their working lives. So suddenly when it’s all savings and no income they see Big Numbers in their bank accounts and think they are rich, and lose their heads.

They’re not rich. Capital is worth about 5% as income, so divide all those numbers mentally by 20, high-roller. So unless you have half a million in the bank, then you aren’t even going to be living on the UK average wage. I don’t have anywhere near that much in the bank, BTW, though I don’t have the parasitic housing costs most people have because I paid down my mortgage. And if you do have half a million pounds in the bank then you need to remember what happened to the good people of Cyprus recently, and make sure you don’t have it all in one place, because you will probably be called upon to help with the national debt at some stage.

When I left work, I started to see those big numbers, and it is hard to explain just how scary and unreal they seem. I froze, and tried to keep the headline networth figure from falling. I’ve never worried about networth before, indeed there is no figure for house networth in my accounts, whereas this evanescent figure seems to be all that my fellow-Brits seem to concern themselves with. Maintaining networth was not the design aim of the plan, but there is a visceral aspect to money. All of a sudden I see strange numbers, and the power is cut, there is not steady income. The analytical solution I had designed over the preceding years was correct, but I found it hard to live it at first, to surrender a little bit of networth each month, in a long glide path for about three years. Even at the planned rate of descent, I would have half the nominal value of the capital, though more would be in ISAs by then.

I consider myself a reasonably hardened investor. I flew into the 2009 storm, in both AVCs and ISA savings. I’ve seen individual stocks plunge by over half, and recover, first on a total return basis and then on a nominal basis. But I quailed when faced with living a plan I had designed and was going slightly better than planned, because it was so alien to my experience of handling money. Don’t underestimate that effect of losing an income, even if you amass large amounts of capital compared to your mortgage-paying wage-slave life. Perhaps I was overly irrational etc, but I believe that it is not possible to be successful and totally rational about money. It is crystallised human work, a claim on other people’s effort. I must be involved to animate the plan and couple intention with action. And it still took me months to overcome the resistance to doing what I had planned myself πŸ˜‰

I recently discovered I have been working without knowing about it, fortunately in time to stop getting paid before the tax year ends πŸ˜‰ In times gone by I was interested in sound recording, and made a few field recordings which I added to a microstock agency. I’m not talented enough as a photographer or a recordist to make headway in that sort of this as Ermine photography. But microstock works for me – I don’t have to deal with people or rights and all that, the agency sorts that for me. The downside, of course, is you expect to make the price of a couple of pints of beer on it, or maybe a decent meal out.

I haven’t bothered to track any of this for a while. It appears that these firms are making me significant money, and I also have a few website estates that bring in a fair amount of Adsense revenue (this isn’t one of them πŸ˜‰ ). I have told all these guys to hold payment till mid April to forestall creeping over the personal allowance this year. It is, however, very sobering to find that this stuff, which I had forgotten about, is actually making me about the same amount of income as my ISA, which has received by far the greatest part of my attention. My field recording equipment lies on a shelf covered in dust now, because the river of creativity dried for a few years as I focused all energy on getting out of The Firm.

I had a strange experience a fewΒ  weeks ago, I travelled to London to listen to a concert by a singer whose records once kept the thin thread of the young ermine’s fire alive through a long night until the break of dawn during a difficult time at university.Β The past is a foreign country – thirty years ago there were no mobile phones, indeed without phones at all in the typical sort of crummy bedsits I rented them. If you passed midnight then you had to reach the break of day before assistance could be raised if you couldn’t haul your ass up the stairs and into the cold city night with no Tube service.

As I heard the song once again it resonated across the years and changed something. In reminding me of that turning point it invoked another and the dead hand that jammed the creative centre unblocked, and the spark flickered into life once again.

For several years I fell back and fell back, trying to save enough money to derisk the financial issues. I had saved enough money – I still have no pension income, and my run rate is a little bit lower than originally designed. But I also focused a lot of effort on trying to understand the financial conundrum of how to make money out of money. That was reasonable, because towards the end of working for the Firm, the flame of creativity flickered and failed. The accumulated financial capital was all the resources I could count on, because my human capital had fallen to zero – without the creative spark I could not drive things forward. I would look at code and it would all swim before my eyes and have no relation to other bits, my photographs were technically okay but pedestrian. I would hear things that once meant something to me and they did not lift my spirits. It was too easy for projects to end up as half a page of scribbled lines or half a circuit board and nothing else. I’m not going to sell my time to another employer – I am too old to be employed at a level that would meet what I would charge for my time. That means I would have to create value, and doing that without a creative spark just doesn’t happen.

However, when I discover that two lots of legacy activities are now passively earning me more return than my multi-year and reasonably well performing ISA is then it begs the question on whether I have the focus right for the me now as opposed to the me 12 months ago. Money is not the only way to buy passive income, and the tragedy is you can only buy about Β£500 worth p.a. of tax-free income in an ISA every year. And obviously it costs you 10 grand a go, though this is ideally not a sunk cost. I can probably beat that income without breaking a sweat with a bit of improvement ot the website and some recordings. I could blow the dust of my Sound Devices 702 field recorder and Sennheiser microphones and get out in the field are record interesting sounds. I think people use the sounds in video games, I haven’t played video games since the 1980s but I got a book out of the library to see how people master audio for games when I discovered this.

I don’t miss work. One little bit. I don’t miss the Calvinist sense of purpose or all that sort of garbage. I have no time for the ‘find the work you love’ brigade. I’m with the Mexican fisherman. That isn’t to say that I spend my days lying in bed – the world has plenty of wrinkles enough to keep an inquisitive Ermine’s mind entertained.

There is the lovely story of the flight of the sparrow through the mead hall by the Venerable Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People

the present life of man upon earth, O King, seems to me in comparison with that time which is unknown to us like the swift flight of a sparrow through mead-hall where you sit at supper in winter, with your Ealdormen and thanes, while the fire blazes in the midst and the hall is warmed, but the wintry storms of rain or snow are raging abroad.

The sparrow, flying in at one door and immediately out at another, whilst he is within, is safe from the wintry tempest, but after a short space of fair weather, he immediately vanishes out of your sight, passing from winter to winter again. So this life of man appears for a little while, but of what is to follow or what went before we know nothing at all. If, therefore, this new doctrine tells us something more certain, it seems justly to be followed in our kingdom.

Work is somehow like an inverse of that – the young sparrow starts in childhood from the warmth of the mead hall, then enters the life of work, where he battles the wintry storms of other people having control of his time and purpose, until perhaps later on he re-enters the warmth of the mead hall, in control of his own resources and destiny, perhaps for the first time.

I didn’t particularly dislike work for the vast majority of my working life. But work isn’t what life is about. It’s a means to an end. It’s far too easy to lose sight of that, on the long journey through the wintry tunnel of work, and it’s too easy to build must-haves into life to compensate for the long winter. But the tragedy is that these must-haves – the extra house square-footage, the chichi holidays and city breaks, they all add up. And so you can find that your winter holds no spring, and the sparrow must fly onwards till he falls out of the sky.

Work. It’s overrated compared to Life IMO… Each to their own, but I hear a lot of grumbling about work. And for sure, I’ve done my fair share of grumbling too, but at least in the end I took the fight to the enemy. It’s not all all about the money. It’s also about the time. You can save money, sort of. You can spend less of it. But you can’t save time – try spending less than seven days over the next week. That’s why you need to think about living in the moment. The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, moves on…



33 thoughts on “So how did this early retirement lark work out in the end”

  1. Seriously good post! So, I just stepped out into the void – yesterday was the last day of my career, as I ‘retired’ 10 years early.

    My employer was a force for good, and my job was worthwhile, but I was just totally burned out and fed up trying to fits bits of life in around the edge of all-consuming 24/7 job angst.

    I’ll still be doing some work – but at home, for the odd day, and entirely on my own terms.

    I still can’t quite believe I did it, and I suspect it will take a while before it sinks in that the pressure is, truly, off for good. Perhaps then, my back and neck muscles will unknot for the first time in a couple of decades!

    You are right; the effort needed to get everything paid off and to sock away a decent bit for the future is significant but well worth it, and we’ll never get this time again.

    I’m so very glad I didn’t get diverted from my chosen course by the sirens of materialism…



  2. Great post. Really get a sense of the true feeling of what it is like setting sail into the unknown after so long in a pretty respectable job. One of the biggest fears I have is the month end bank account refill (aka regular salary) it’s comforting to see that is normal. You are one of the first FI bloggers to be so apparently honest about life after making the leap. Keep up the great writing, it’s inspirational stuff.


  3. Echoing the above, excellent post!

    I recognised some of the points from good advice you’ve previously offered over in the MSE forums. This full version is very inspiring though, being someone that’s looking to get out of the rat race earlier and make the most of what time we have on this rock.



  4. A lot resonates with me here. Since retiring, I’ve been doing some unpaid academic research, which I love, and also some paid tutoring which has also been really enjoyable.

    I do have the luxury of a pension, but I still spend quite a lot of time mulling over financial matters, trying to boost future investment income and playing with spreadsheets. I keep telling myself that I should not be doing this so much, but I probably have to confess that I am a nerd at heart.

    I’ve started running and not only boosted my fitness but got more involved in community stuff (yes, that is possible, even in the metropolis).

    On the other hand, there is some grit in the oyster. I have not turned my home into the house beautiful. Minor DIY projects and maintenance have been undertaken, but not with the enthusiasm that I thought I would have. Occasionally, time has hung heavy, and knowing that the window sills need painting (again) does not prevent displacement activity. Nor have I kept up my blog –it seems to have fulfilled its purpose for me; so, congratulations to you, ermine, for hanging in there and keeping up the quality.

    My main problem is guilt. Mostly I really enjoy my time now, but Mrs. G is now mightily pissed off The Man. She still likes the plan, though: keep earning and saving for another 3 years, see the kids through Uni, then relax. But it’s tough when your partner is waving at you from the sunny uplands.


  5. I retired 33 years ago aged 33. Since then I have sometimes been busy, sometimes not, but always by choice. You are right about time, it is a real currency that doesn’t exist for most in work.

    But spare a moment for the great majority who by working conventionally, make it possible for us to spend our special currency pleasurably.


  6. Hi Ermine

    “I can’t recommend early retirement enough.” I’m glad it continues to be a positive experience for you. If the market continues to perform to it’s average and I can hold onto my job I’m about 2.5 years away from joining you.

    I’ll be early forties and so even younger than the mid forties people you mentioned. I’m very conscious of the points you raised, particularly around friends being in work while you’re not. That said even in my current life because I’m on a very different lifestyle path, much like yourself, which includes frugality and opting out of consumerism I’m already seeing some of this effect. This means I’m already having to find new friends who share similar goals.



  7. Great article as always Ermine.

    You didn’t mention how Mrs Ermine is enjoying having you round more (or not?). I loved her post last year (or the year before?).

    Also, what other web projects have you got going? Can you show us?


  8. Great post which I found interesting and reassuring as I am in the process of walking away from the wreckage of a career cut short in the last two months and now facing many of the problems you have faced and dealt with over the last couple of years.


  9. Fantastic post.

    If you could go back and give yourself some advice in your 30’s. Is there anything you would have done differently or started sooner?


  10. @Jane – fantastic news, and congratulations on your first day of freedom!

    @DJS Thanks. That change from a regular salary shouldn’t be underestimated, but it can be done. I think it’s nuts that people go on a cruise/roundthe world tour/buy a sportscar as soon as they get any lump sum. So much changes over that time and it takes a few months to assimilate. After then is the time to get the sportscar – once you’ve had time to digest the change. I found that hardest of all, and Mrs E did help steady this transition.

    @SG I guess DIY palls, even if you have enough time πŸ˜‰ Interesting that you feel mulling investment matters is worth the extra. It’s one of those things where some effort gets me a long way, but it isn’t scalable for me – more effort doesn’t show me greater insight. And I’m not sure for me it’s worth spending more time on it – in some ways an easier passive income win can be had elsewhere for me.

    Three years eh, that’s tough, though it’s better than 5 I guess πŸ˜‰

    @Trevor, that’s an impressive early retirement! The currency of time seems surprisingly little discussed in the pros of early retirement. It came as a surprise to me. In theory I guess many of the advantages could be had by working part-time, say a three day week. I’ve never tried that, only ever worked f/t.

    @RIT – definitely a positive experience, and if you can do it younger then you’ll make even more of it, good luck on your flight path!

    @teamdave I did some work on aerial calculations and the like, which seems to work for people. Mrs E is battling the weather and the growing season is getting in full swing now, I’ll pass the request on πŸ˜‰

    @CEB Sorry to hear that – but hold steady, and take the time out to really know where you stand. And good luck!

    @tricky – for me, the #1 thing would have been don’t be a mug and buy a house at the wrong time in the cycle. Buying an overpriced house in 1989 was the #1 finacial mistake of my life and effectivley wiped two whole years of pre-tax final salary from my networth. I was lucky in being able to sweat out the long negative equity period because I had a stable job. Yes, I came back from most of that in the following ten years with this house – once you’ve owned a house for twenty odd years then you are integrating a lot of market insanity which buys you out of the cost of the mistake. But if you start on the wrong foot you take a hell of a hit early on in your working life, where money is particularly short. It’s a dangerous and volatile market, but you only hear from the people who did well, most of the time.

    I was lucky with pensions, too. I didn’t have to think about it, The Firm sorted that out for me.

    I got the other things that I’d say to my younger self from my parents. Basically, don’t borrow money, son. Avoid that, with the possible exception of a mortgage, and you are far more than half-way there. It still holds now, perhaps even more so.

    I actually think mose of the win in personal finance is avoiding the car crashes, it’s not particularly being a better investor.

    @Jan – glad you liked it πŸ™‚


  11. Ermine- Really enjoyable read. Thank you. Congratulations- I think your creative sap is rising. I believe most people do their best ‘work’ after they retire from the rat race.
    @SG- don’t worry- I still haven’t decorated the bedroom I said I was going to after I ‘retired’ six years ago!
    As to guilt about Mrs SG still working-use your creativity to give her one nice surprise a day!
    @Jane – congratulations. Monday mornings will never be the same again. Hoorah!


  12. Thanks for sharing this, Ermine. I’m a (very) long way from retirement but it’s great to have this kind of post to keep referring back to for motivation.

    I’m hoping that buying my first house in 2006 turns out to be as good a move in the long run as buying at 1989 prices…

    I was interested to read (in the post you’ve linked to) about how HP and renting household goods and furniture was common in the 1960s. Then something occurred to me – 2 year phone contracts that come with a ‘free’ iPhone are surely a modern version of the same thing, but with the APR very well hidden.


  13. @Romany – Thanks. I hope you’re right on the best ‘work’ πŸ˜‰

    @BeatTheSeasons integrated over a 20-year period even I could turn a nominal profit on housing. The key issue is not losing the house, even if it’s underwater. If that had happened to me, my bad investment would have been marked to market and I would have had to pay rent on top. A house is one of the few investments that pays a dividend in kind – it stops you paying rent πŸ˜‰

    I overpaid the mortgage to discharge that NE in lumps. It would probably have been wiser to build up (cash) ISA holdings to be able to ride out any long periods of unemployment.

    Negative equity is not a problem as long as you don’t have to move and can afford to pay the instalments. In general, in the UK, in 10-20 years you will win out regardless of when you buy; it’s the same as being in any market with a long term upswing trend, presumably reflecting the slow aggregation of wealth in society. If you can avoid being bounced out in the downswings you will see sunlight at the end. That is a persepective I found uniquely hard to see five years after I had bought, but it was actually true nevertheless. Your future is good, hang in there πŸ˜‰

    Re the iPhone – the unique advantage of HP, compared to the credit agreements/contracts we have now, is if you lost your job or became unable to pay, the men with thick necks would come round to get the stuff back. I believe as long as it was still in working order, that was it – hand it back and you didn’t owe any more. That probably doesn’t hold with the iPhone – hand it back in six months and they’ll still chase you for the rest of the contract period 😦


  14. “But you can’t save time – try spending less than seven days over the next week.”

    Excellent post and I loved the line above. It’s good to hear that you are appreciating your early retirement. I’m working towards a similar goal – retirement in my early fifties. I’m earning close to sod all at the moment, but I do have nearly a decade to go and the low income is good training.


  15. As usual great post. I’m glad you left Tools for Conviviality. Need to read it again. I am still struggling to get free. Change in job only re-complicated time, so much so I am losing life. Time to look for a new job. Such is life. Five years and I’m half ways out. God Help Me!


  16. Super post, enjoyed it all especially the stuff up top about happiness. Great quote about the relativity of days and years…

    Now, I’ve said it before…

    … and I’ll say it again (unless you tell me to shut up πŸ˜‰ ) I read this and I think you really are well placed and perhaps constructively advised to do some proper side income generation, as a project.

    You’re practically saying so yourself towards the end here…

    So much of what you enjoy about early retirement (not all of it but much of it) is about freedom and Man-swerving that you can still enjoy whilst earning. Bar an 18 month experiment that ended a couple of years ago I’ve not had an office, a commute, or a boss for 15 years. I’ve had clients, but in my experience that’s very different (not least because there’s always several of them, which changes the entire power dynamic).

    I may not have absolute freedom to do what I like from week to week (in theory I do but in practice I have good long term retainers) but I have absolute freedom day to day to to as I like when I like, provided I serve up my wares on time.

    Your 5% rule works the other way, too, making just Β£100 a week hustled on the side worth the equivalent of 100k of capital.

    There’s absolutely a point of diminishing returns with money and happiness/life opportunities, but with respect I doubt you’ve hit it yet from what you’ve written?

    My theory:it’s not either/or, even for you. πŸ™‚


  17. @Monevator I have to hat tip Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project for the ‘days are long but the years are short’ My first reaction was ‘sentimental twaddle’, followed about five seconds later by ‘damn, she’s got it’ πŸ˜‰

    Work, eh, I still think it’s overrated πŸ˜‰ I took the battle to consumerism and won, to a large extent. People find it hard to motivate me with money, because what would I spend it on? It is the inner world that I am looking at at the moment. I am poor but wealthy – it’s a very unusual combination in a Western consumer society. At the moment, more money wouldn’t change much that I do, which was a good definition of wealthy. A Premier League footballer is far richer than I am, but is he more wealthy? There’s always another WAG, another yacht, always more money would change his life.

    I’m not saying more money wouldn’t change my life ever, but at the moment I’d just save it, because it is simplicity and self-knowledge that is my focus at the moment.

    > I have absolute freedom day to day to to as I like when I like, provided I serve up my wares on time.

    Curiously, this is another reason why people find it hard to motivate me with money – because I hate any sort of commitment to deliver. It’s clearly an echo of some of the issues from The Firm and may weaken in time. I’ve turned down some paid work because of that, and I’ve done other jobs for nothing, because then nobody has a hold on me.

    It is probable that I have a far lower work ethic than many in the PF community. This strikes me when I look at DW, you and Mr Money Mustache. I did well enough at work because I aimed to render value, in an Ayn Randian way, but the deep passion for work and the satisfaction it gives you all is either lost in the mists of time for me or I never had it.


  18. Fair enough, but I think you clearly are interested in money — you right a blog all about it? πŸ™‚ I guess it’s closer to saying you’re not interested in material goods, as you say. You like money because it buys you freedom.

    However you don’t like money enough that it deprives you of freedom (i.e. you don’t want to have to work for it, when you could be doing something else, now you have enough to live on).

    I guess if you could find an income source that didn’t deprive you of freedom, you’d be sorted and it’d be a win-win! πŸ™‚ Maybe recording those bird songs…

    Personally I think the hunt is worth it. You’ll be retired a long time. I’m only talking about 4-5 hours a week, and it’d massively increase all your buffers. But I don’t want to over-preach.


  19. Just stumbled accross this and read with interest as I am soon to retire. Not as early as you did (will be just 58) and it is driven by redundancy. Am getting fed up now with everyone asking me “but what will you do all day?”. What is this obsession with “doing”. Well I will decide each morning what I will do – if it’s nice I will garden, or walk, or visit frinds. If weather is bad I will bake, or read, or daydream. I will also see my family more instead of having to cram everything into the weekends. Bring it on!


  20. @Monevator I hadn’t quite realised that. I’m so surrounded by consumerism that I’d always associated it with Stuff even if I did otherwise πŸ˜‰

    There is a long process of recovery from some of the issues. I may feel differently about work and money in the future. Though once you’ve bought the freedom of 24 hours out of your day, there isn’t the opportunity for more. I’d do it if I could πŸ˜‰

    @aileen the world offers more than enough interest and opportunity – indeed it offers even more to those who have more time. You will love it. And probably have less time to watch TV but more time to be yourself πŸ˜‰


  21. @Ermine,

    I’ve seen your posts elsewhere but this is the first time I’ve looked at your blog.

    A fascinating post. I thought I’d coined the phrase about ‘work being an over-rated experience’ but obviously have either re-invented the wheel or forgotten encountering it elsewhere. I also remember pubs have signs reading ‘If work were such a good thing, the rich would keep it for themselves’.

    I retired almost 10 years ago at the age of 53 and was lucky enough to have 2 final salary pensions which I chose to draw immediately despite the penalties. I’d maxed out on AVCs for 10 previously because I figured that the 40% tax relief was too good to miss and there were fairly generous terms for lobbing the proceeds into the company pension pots.

    I treasure the passing time and enjoy simple pursuits, cultivating old friends and spending time with people I like, often arguing but not in an aggressive, personal way but about genuine differences of opinion.

    You struck so many chords. I still have Ivan Illich’s ‘Tools for conviviality’ sitting on my shelf. Another early influence, whose politics you won’t like and I don’t buy into, was Herbert Marcuse, who coined the phrase ‘consumer fetishism’. Unlike many of my friends, I’ve never felt the need the flaunt the latest gizmo and that has probably helped me achieve FI – a phrase which I’ve only encountered within the last six months.

    One change since I retired relates to travel. I used to go on far-flung holidays ranging from Bolivia to Bhutan which I thoroughly enjoyed but which also satisfied a need to get as far away from work as possible in every sense. Since retiring, although I can still afford to do it and my partner would be happy to let me, the need has somehow gone and I’m content with more local travel which, preferably, does not involve flying.

    I recognise that I have (and had) much less of a work ethic than most people and that society as we currently know it couldn’t function if everyone was like me. But we’re all different so why should we be pushed into the same pigeon holes? I’ve just had an old friend whom I met into 1971 visiting who has always enjoyed his work, is still working past his 65th birthday despite having benefited big-time from the ‘ovarian lottery’ and Gordon Brown’s changes to inheritance tax reliefs on inherited residential property.

    I also recognise that I was lucky to be able to acquire qualifications and skills which enabled me to hold on relatively good (private sector) jobs which enabled early retirement. Being born in 1950, receiving a generous grant, graduating debt-free, benefiting from MIRAS, house price inflation and wage inflation, defined benefit pension schemes all helped too. Makes me feel pretty guilty when I look at young people today.

    Anyway, I’m dyspraxic and the world’s worst typist so it has taken a long time for me to set down a few ill-chosen words. But many thanks for an enjoyable, reflective read.


  22. @GOP perhaps I got the phrase from one of your comments elsewhere πŸ˜‰

    Thaks for introducing me to Marcuse, while I may not agree with his conclusions, I think his description of consumerism hits the nail on the head – the indentification of Self with one’s Stuff was pithily put!

    I’m encouraged by your travel observation. I had a dreadful experience in a crowded Stansted in 2004 and only ever travelled by plane for work since then. Although some of the absence was due to saving money, I don’t feel I miss flying that much, but like you seem to indicate I have a hankering for travelling at a slower pace, overland, to take in more but cover less ground.

    As you say, we’re all different. Many in the PF community seem quite driven with a strong work ethic. There is another way, and it’s good to celebrate the difference!


  23. Great post!! Been a while since I visited your site, visited it quite a lot in the run up to my early retirement at age 56 back in September 2010. So it will be 3 years out of the dump this September – not missed the place for a nanosecond and I have thoroughly enjoyed every day out of the place πŸ™‚ I am not looking for – I can barely say the word – “work” – as I run the New Forest Observatory which is where where I can now turn my hobby into my full-time job, which for me at least is great. I bought everything I needed for my new lifestyle before quitting the day job and losing the steady income – so my study, workshop and observatories were fully kitted out just waiting for me to get on with the real “work” once I had retired. I paid off the mortgage some 7 years before the retirement so I didn’t have that as an issue. One unexpected expenditure was putting down the deposit on my son’s 2 bedroom flat last year(very nice place actually, wouldn’t mind it myself). Well Β£35,000 is far better placed in a flat than sitting in a Bank account earning nothing and I am very pleased with the investment. I closed my Santander accounts as the ISA and the “Saver” weren’t making anything worth a light. When I spoke to the Santander agent and told him my reasons for shutting up shop he agreed and said I would be better of playing the horses!! A few months after retiring I got a free week in a luxury hotel in Tenerife for being a photography judge – had a great time of course – unfortunately no free holidays since then (but I’m working on it). One of my high-speed photographs is in this year’s Royal Photographic Society’s Science Exhibition, and I got a runner up last year in the World Sony Photographic Contest – so the photography side of things is slowly coming together.
    Off to Avebury and Stonehenge tomorrow with a friend from 40 years ago who still has a day job to worry about. I can go where I want, when I want to do what I want – what more do I need?? I actually don’t need anything else :):)


  24. @Paul Glad you liked it – we don’t have enough tales from the other side of the event horizon in the PF community! It gets better, too. I am planning a two-year update sometime around June.


  25. My four penneth worth.
    After dreaming of early retirement for many years I was given the opportunity of voluntary redundancy along with my pension back in August of 2016 at the age of 57. I haven’t looked back…….honest! The following only really looks at the perspective from anyone fifty plus and I have no idea about how you go about retiring any earlier. Retirement at around say the forty mark, seems the ultimate challenge in today’s economic environment. But are you retiring for the right reasons and are you kidding yourself that you can afford to?
    1. As said in all early retirement forums. Make sure the mortgage is paid off.
    2. Make sure you have a regular income like a pension or a secure investment ( the latter I don’t think is as easy these days) preferably with a few quid in the bank for a rainy day.
    3. Make sure you have a plan with what you are going to do with your time. The first few Monday mornings not having to press the off on the alarm button will be a novelty, but soon wears off.
    4. Unless your retirement plan has a massive income, be prepared to downsize your ideas about how you are going spend your time. You may have been able to afford a couple of holidays abroad, that new car and the Sky Sports package when you worked, but will you be able to on a retirement income. There are so many cheaper alternatives in life, but may require a radical change in your thinking. As are many on here, we are not very good consumers and in being so are only honorary members of the capitalist system. Or so we like to think?
    5. Make sure your partner is in sync (as in the last one above) with your thinking. Having known someone who was going to retire at fifty and then found out that his then younger wife wanted a baby which scuppered his plan. They are now divorced and he is still paying for it. No retirement in the near future for him.
    6. If your healthy and active and can retire in your fifties, then do it and stay healthy as long as you can. From fifty onwards, your risk of diabetes, heart failure, cancer and all other ailments start to increase alarmingly. These are the best last years of your life! Retiring at seventy and discovering you can’t walk up Ben Nevis due to bad knees or that piano you were going to learn is a no no due to arthritic fingers is the way to the path of regret.
    7. Keep your friends and make new ones. Unless you’re a hermit of course.
    8. Be careful what you wish for. Some people think retirement is the perfect utopia. It is dam good, I admit, but can contain some rather unexpected twists? No life is perfect….even a retired one.
    9. Lastly and most importantly. Don’t die before you retire! I have known a good few people who were in touching distance of retirement and unexpectedly (some expectantly due to long term bad health) dropped dead!

    All the above are pretty obvious and come from a someone who is single with no kids. So for me this has been a lot easier transition then perhaps for most who dream of giving up the rat race. But I still think they are pretty relevant for most anyone retiring in their fifties. Good luck and enjoy your freedom!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice one – that looks pretty good. The only one I’d question is pay off your mortgage. There’s a strong case to pay that into your SIPP, hold it as cash if you want, and take the 20/40% bung, pay the capital off with the lump sum from your PCLS. That way you get to pay your mortgage off from pre-tax earnings. I did pay off my mortgage before retiring, it wasn’t my smartest move. What you need is a cast-iron plan to have the money, but because of the 55 cutoff for drawing a pension, early 50s retirees take an income suckout in the early part. While interest rates are modest, using a pension and paying down post 55 helps with the cash flow.

      A new baby is an epic fail for early retirement πŸ˜‰

      I didn’t understand buying a new car when I was working, never mind retired. Though I could if I wanted to, I just don’t get the rush.

      Health is always the big one. Look after yourself in body and soul…


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