It never gets old
During the time I’ve been off, we’ve even been able to take 2 short Caribbean vacations during that time.
Whether or not this is temporary, or just a peek into pre-retirement for me, I have a much better idea of how retirement will look when it finally does become permanent.
- The altered pace of everyday life, when dealing with others. Monday thru Friday is a much less crowded time to do everything. Instead of battling everyone else for, lunch, brunch, movies, shopping or anything else.
- Preparing to go away is much less stressful
- Annoying things that aren’t on a perfect schedule, like mass transit or Doctor appointments are a breeze.
- Investment decisions are less stressful.
For years, while I was working full time, I would glance out the bus window along the water. I’d watch the mid-morning joggers finishing their runs, and wonder. “why are they not rushing to the office like me?”
I know there are several FIRE bloggers out there who have touched on these life changes, but it’s still therapeutic to make your own observations. Let’s touch on each of these areas.
Daily flow of humans
First, the regular schedule of people is no longer a crush. I often keep a very weird schedule. Sometimes getting up at 3 am and getting some things done and returning to bed at 6 am for a couple more hours of sleep. For the most part, I time the start of my day with the open of the stock market at 9:30 am and monitor the action for the first half hour to an hour.
When working for someone else, I would always feel guilty about spending any longer than a couple minutes on financial websites. I also remember rushing in the shower every morning to get out the door so I could factor in subway delays. All of that is gone.
Now I schedule things just before lunch and give myself a reasonable 90 minutes to arrive. Yesterday my bus was stuck in construction traffic and I just calmly continued watching my episode of the Biggest loser streaming on the MTA’s wifi.
I specifically remember in the past, how stressed out I would get, when I would arrive at the Doctor’s office at lunch hour and they wouldn’t take me at my scheduled time. I remember rushing back all hurried and sweaty. What’s the point of taking care of your health if you’re going to drop in an open manhole cover if you’re not paying attention on your return trip. (a little Mr. Magoo humor nugget…)
Last week, we were going to be going away on vacation for a week. I paid all credit card bills in advance and made sure the card companies knew we were traveling. I then removed my smattering of eBay listings. While we did still forget something for the trip, it was much less stressful than I’ve ever remembered before.
Zig when people zag
In addition to those things, regular events that are crushed on the weekend, are easily accessible during the week. My sister came up for a visit 2 weeks ago on Saturday morning. I was considering taking her to see an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum about David Bowie but ran into “SOLD OUT” for the entire weekend. I’m probably going to see it, by myself, on any day I chose, during the week, next week.
Since I’ve been taking this time off to re-tool and take a break, I’ve become a much more conservative investor. Mostly out of necessity and fear. For me, that’s a good thing. I’ve been playing cowboy a little bit, since the dot com days and needed to reign that in a bit. Starting this blog was a big part of being smarter about investing.
That involves simply taking less risk, by limiting the percentage of our portfolios we hold in a single stock.
When you only have a single income to fund any new money in your investments, you tend to be a bit more cautious.
This has also helped me become less frustrated.
In the past, I would be frustrated when swings in the market would more than offset any gain I made in salary increases.
My focus has brought me back to one of the core tenets of investing: “Promise of the safety of principal”.
I’ll take it. I don’t care, especially at these market levels. We still hold a diverse portfolio, just not as diverse as in the past.
Don’t wait too long
At the end of the day, it’s really amazing to have an opportunity to have a sabbatical and get your life curated in a way that you think is meaningful. I think it’s helped me preserve relationships that were deteriorating and it’s helped set me up for further success in the near future.
Don’t overlook some of the hidden benefits of time off if you’re considering it.