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?
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.