An early retiree’s rhapsody

This is a collection of my random thoughts as an early retiree.

As the weather is getting nicer, it’s more tempting for me to get out of the house, and do something: go fishing, smell the roses, see the concerts and air show, and witness the hot balloons festival.  Blogging is pushed to the back burner.

In central Ohio, winter is a better time to sit down inside the house.  With a cup of hot water, I could focus on a serious topic, and let the thought flow and fly in the Microsoft Word.

Okay, back to the topic.  3 years ago, I retired at the age of 49.

Looking back, do I ever regret about retiring early?

So far, the answer is no.

If things were to start all over again, would I do the same?

Yes, I think so.

What do I miss the most about the job?

Probably it’s the paychecks and benefits as an engineer.

At that time, after maxing out the 401K and paying the living expenses, there was still decent amount of money left each month.  I kept investing to the low cost index mutual funds.  It was sweet to see the investment grow over time.

But, the paychecks did come with a big price: long hours, and lots of stress.  If I were offered a job with a similar or better pay today, would I take it?  I don’t know.  Probably not, unless the job is very exciting, and the boss and the team are super great.  I guess I’m doomed.

What do I like the most about early retirement life?

There are tons of things I like.  At the very top, it’s the gained freedom, which is priceless.

How wonderful it is to run the day in my terms!  Nobody can tell me what I should or shouldn’t do.  One day, if the weather is great, I could hit the freeway, and drive anywhere.

Bye bye, the Sunday blue.  It was real while I was working.  It started right after lunch.  Oh, no!  My to-do list emerged like a ghost: grocery shopping, laundry, and cooking not only for Sunday dinner, but also the packed lunch for Monday.  Exhaustion wrapped up my weekend, sadly.

Then the Monday came.  It’s always the toughest working day to me.  Einstein’s theory of relativity is correct.  The 8 working hours on Monday seemed like years.  Sometimes, it reminded me of the song by Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett: “It’s five o’ clock somewhere”.

After retirement, I started enjoying Mondays again.  It’s the first day of the week, and gives me hope.  My favorite hosts for the local classical music station come back, and I’m happy about that.

My seasonal allergy has become less annoying after retirement.  It usually lasts 5 to 6 weeks in April and May.  Now I can take any day as a sick day (no approval or concerns involved), and just rest if needed.

Still remember the old work days, in a big conference room, my allergy was so bad that I had to bring a box of facial tissues like a crying baby.  It would be even worse if I had to do a presentation, as the unexpected sneeze was so embarrassing.

A couple of weeks ago, I switched the cable company.  Do you still use the cable TV?  I use it mainly for sports.  I love watching the football of my alma mater team, the home team Ohio State, and many more (but, not the Cleveland Browns).

Anyway, when making the appointment with the cable company, I told them I was available anytime.  How nice.  Do you remember the episode in Seinfeld, about the cable guy chasing Kramer?  No more chasing after retirement.

Does early retirement make me feel guilty?

Yes, sometimes.

That’s one of challenges of retiring early.  Many of my friends are still working.  I’m not sure if they all enjoy working, or keep working as a necessity or for a purpose.

I feel guilty sometimes, when seeing the people still working with big smiles, in the ages from 50s to even 80s.

It’s normal to retire at the normal age.  In US, the earliest age to claim Social Security is 62, and many retire at 65 or 67.  In China, women usually retire at 55 (60 for men), when they get pension.

In my case, there are at least 10 years left before I can dip the Social Security.  Early retirement is abnormal, and could be frowned upon by friends and families.

Though I don’t care how others judge me.  But, sometimes I do ask myself:  should I do more about my life?

What about getting a PhD on sociology, or behavioral economics?  Those subjects sound much more interesting than engineering to me.

Getting a PhD is a lot of hard work, and takes a long time.  The questions are:  is it worth the effort?  What am I going to do after getting the PhD?  Do I want to get a job then?

After all, job is a job.  Many times, it won’t be fun.  A PhD won’t change it.  If not for a job, what’s the point of getting a PhD?  Just to have the title Dr. on my tomb headstone?  I won’t be able to see it anyway.

Wrap up the rhapsody:

That’s enough mumbo jumbo about my early retirement life.

Birds are singing, and flowers are blooming.  It’s a beautiful season.  Enjoy the barbecue, tree shades, breeze, blue sky, green grass, and any outdoor fun with families and friends.

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12 Responses

  1. Joe says:

    Nice rambling. That’s my experience too. Except the guilt. I don’t feel guilty at all. People make their own choices. All my coworkers could have done the same thing I did. Why feel guilty about it? 🙂
    It’s a long weekend and that’s still good. Everyone is home and relaxing. It’ll be an unproductive day for me, but that’s good once in a while.
    Have a great Monday. 😉

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Joe, that’s good you don’t feel guilty at all. In some way, I still feel restless, and have some sort of ambition I have not tried yet, though I’m not exactly sure what that ambition is. It should be something I’m very passionate about. I get paid for something I really enjoy doing. I guess, I got enough time to figure this out, hehe.

      Long weekend is great. Have fun!

  2. Caroline says:

    Funny about the PhD because every so often I think I may want to go get my MBA. I always wanted to do it but never had the right opportunity (time , work, money). Then I wonder what the point would be ! Or sometimes I want to get into sociology or international development and picture myself travelling the world working for humanitarian associations…but would I really do it?
    Nice rambling Helen, enjoy the outdoors…I am 🙂

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Caroline, thank you. We are lucky living in the countries where we can dream big, and do whatever we love to. Going back to school to get a degree is definitely appealing. The combo of traveling the world and working should be a lot of fun. Sometimes, I dream about joining the Peace Corps. Have a great week!

      • Caroline says:

        I will . Thanks:)
        Btw, I shared your post on twitter and Ted really liked it and said he was going to feature it in his newsletter. Ted at, just in case you get some traffic from there. Cheers

  3. Interesting thoughts Helen. I have a similar range of emotions and experiences. We are pretty similar demographically speaking. “5 years a ago I retired at the age of 48″…”from long hours and lots of stress” Tom

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Tom, I’m glad to hear, you know what I’m babbling about. We retired early, but not too early, which is good. Retiring from the regular job is cool. It opens a whole new world of possibilities. Keep dreaming, exploring and adventuring, while we still can.

  4. GYM says:

    Don’t feel guilty! You earned it and deserve your early retirement and freedom! Besides, some people are still working because they enjoy the socialization and not necessarily because they need to. I have a friend who has a full pension 3 years ago but she’s still working because she likes the social interaction.

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi GYM, I’ll try, thanks. That’s right, I knew some who worked to their 80s. Money definitely was not an issue. They liked what they did, and/or enjoyed the interactions with people. Mentally they were still very sharp. Good for them.

  5. @Helen: Your retirement life really sounds amazing! Now, I am really looking forward to it myself…hopefully it comes soon 🙂
    FYI: I really enjoyed your “Why rush, slow down” article and mentioned it on my weekend wrap-up here:


    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Thank you, Enoch. Retirement life is good. I’m sure you’ll get there soon.

      I appreciate the mention. Mortgage rate is a great topic. House is the big asset for many households, and the mortgage rates affect the family finance directly.

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