Hello and welcome to Retire Early Helen
Hi, I’m Helen. I retired at 49, and had my dream come true. Do you want to retire early?
Ten years ago, I was often questioning myself: Is it even possible to retire early? Do I really have to work till the age of 70? How can I get to the point, when I don’t have to worry about the long commute, endless tasks and stressful deadlines, so I can do whatever I want to enjoy my life? It has been a long journey to me. We’ll chat later how I made it, and how you can do it as well if you want to.
Who is Helen?
I was born in China, and lived there for many years. I studied electrical and computer engineering in the college, and was an IT engineer for 25 years starting in mid 80s. I moved to US (this wonderful country) in mid 90s. Currently my husband and I are living in central Ohio. The kids are all grown up. We both love Ohio, and don’t plan to move anymore.
Did Helen really retire early?
Yes. In the early 2013, I decided to quit the engineering career and try something totally new: becoming a financial adviser. In my friends’ eyes, I was nuts. Giving up the decent paycheck and steady job, and pursuing the uncertainty, I did seem crazy.
Don’t take me wrong, engineering is a great profession. I don’t have any regret being an IT engineer. It is very challenging, and is exciting once a while. The pay and benefits are great. But after 25 years in the same field, I asked myself: “if I were dying tomorrow, would I regret having stayed in the same profession all my life?” The answer is yes, absolutely. Here we go, I needed a change.
I studied the big books about those exams required for a financial advisor, like stocks, mutual funds, insurance, and other fun stuff. Then I got a job of being a personal banker. My plan was to get more experience on sales and customer services first.
Working at a bank branch office, it was really cool to me. I called it “the liberation from my cubicle culture”. Do you like sitting in cubicles? I was tired of cubicles. For years, those cubicle walls seemed so cold and isolating to me. At first, the bank branch was inside a grocery store. Customers came in shopping. They either waved at us or simply stopped at our counter talking to us, with big smiles. I really enjoyed it.
As time goes on, I realized my strength on customer services, and my weakness on sales. I can fix things, but I can’t sell stuff! Bothering people on those cold calls and doing sales pitch, that’s not part of who I am. If I’m not willing to recommend one product to my friends or relatives, it means the product is not good, right? How can I recommend the same product to the customers? This pretty much ended my dream of becoming a financial advisor.
In the spring of 2015, I told myself: “Okay, I tried another profession, liked it, but don’t want to do it any longer. It’s the time to retire, and enjoy my life.” The day I quit was a beautiful day. When I walked out of the office, it was just the time of sunset. The bank branch was located close to the airport. One Southwest airplane was hovering around the super blue sky to prepare for landing. The scene was mesmerizing. Coming home, I saw the daffodils in my yard just started blooming. I had a walk in the neighborhood, and felt the fresh air and freedom.
My life has been happier and healthier. Finally I got time to learn Spanish, enjoy music, play some musical instrument, read, write, and do a lot of things I didn’t have time to do earlier. Believe it or not, I love watching football games.
Another blog web site? You are kidding me!
Aren’t there enough retirement blogs over there? Even a 5-year old knows avoiding the busy street. This is what I have been thinking since I retired.
I was wrong. Lately I read more blogs about early retirement, and also paid attentions to the readers’ Comments. It always fascinates me how each reader thinks in a unique way. The discussions bring life into the blog, and I really like it. This is why my blog was born: sharing ideas and having great conversations with you on what matters to us – retirement, family, money, emotions, and life.
I hope to see you on this blog often. Please check the Contact page, and I would be very happy to hear from you.
Take a look at my eBook, a mini-memoir on Amazon: “DAD’S BICYCLE: Journey of A Chinese Family”.