Day in the life of a “zombie retiree”

Early retirement

Do you even retire?

In truth, I don’t consider myself an early retiree for a number of reasons.  However, I have been observing how I spend my time during the last 4 years and I thought this topic might relate to those who are either taking some time off by choice or if you’re on furlough or unemployment.


Life before taking a break

When working full time, we always sought balance. However, it’s not that we failed at “balance”, there just never felt like there was enough time.  Looking back, now I ask:  “To do what?”

We would rush around and get out the door, to get our jobs done.  After that was done, in the time off, just like everyone else, the bulk of the time is either spent sleeping, or “maintaining your life”.

That includes the basics of shopping, cleaning, paying bills, cooking and doing laundry.  I’m not going to lie, my wife probably does about 60% to 70% of these things. Are there other things peppered in here? Brunch with friends, a family party, the four day weekend away. Of course there are other things, but the bulk of the time is either sleeping or maintaining. You get the idea. (I can’t imagine what it’s like with kids)

Even when I was working a full time job, I’d always try to convince my wife to “let go” of some of the things that I consider “chores”.  I’d try to order the occasional Amazon grocery delivery.  NOT good enough for her.  Don’t like their meats or produce or whatever.

Maybe have a “laundry service”?  Nope.  Won’t be clean enough. “That’s why I switched to black boxers baby!”

Cleaning service?  Nope.  That’s how she gets her “exercise”. 

You get the picture here? A lot is probably NOT going to change without protracted negotiation.  Work on that, fellas.

The one area that I’ve made inroads is “cooking”, or to be more specific, less of it. My wife knows her way around a kitchen.  She’s been doing it, since she was a young adult and forced into it to support her little sister, while her Mom worked minimum wage jobs.

Being waited on, by eating meals out, a few times per week is something my wife doesn’t mind spending a little money on.    Great. Works for me.

But with all this said, what does that make a “typical day” look like?

Work expands to fill the day

I’d love to say “I’m structured”, and I probably am, more than many people, but not MOST people and not religiously.

If that sounds like you, you need to focus on finding something you WANT to focus on.

Here’s a break down of a typical day for me:

Wake up at 6 or 7am and check Twitter and major financial accounts.

Screw around with trading ideas and research for 30 mins and watch financial news.

Somewhere between 8 and 10:30am I get showered and ready for the day.

Soon after, my main thought is  “What’s for lunch today?”

Do a run to Rite Aid or Walgreens to “cherry pick” sale items or buy some random cream or ointment.

About 3 days a week, this will be followed up with a walk to the grocery store for essentials, or dinner items.

Lunch spot or lunch at home

Get a good walk in, about 8K steps total. (usually revolving around lunch)

Settle back in at home base between 2pm and 3pm.

Piddle with the stock market to see how the day is wrapping up and make any last hour moves.

(the first hour and the last hour of the stock market being open is a continual area of focus for me.  I don’t day trade, but I do make decisions based on movements…occasionally.

(NOTE:  if you’re highly focused on your investments like that…on days the market is closed, during the week…there will be a gap and you will be Jonesing for the market to be open)

4pm or 5pm, usually figure out if there is going to be some evening wine involved or be kind to my body and not do that.


Circling back to the point of “work expands to fill the time allowed for completion”,  in reality, what has happened is that the 8 hours that used to be spent at a “job”, have melted into the “sleeping and maintenance” category.  Some of that is great for convenience, but in building self-worth and life satisfaction its not “moving the ball forward.”


Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked on a number of different projects during my “time off”.   Big IKEA kitchen install,  organizing my media collection,  tagging a comprehensive digital photo collection… lots of stuff.  However, I haven’t integrated something “over arching” that might help replace my “loss of identity”.  (other than this amazing blog of course 🙂 )


While I made a personal choice to “take a break” from full time work, and my wife was still employed full time (until the pandemic hit) I still, never fully got used to the idea of NOT working a 9 to 5 job.

That might be where you are right now.

Also, I’ve had an opportunity how my wife’s schedule has evolved during the time she’s been on “furlough” since the pandemic started, and without sounding “judgy”:  “She aint exactly knocking the cover off the ball.”  I only offer this to add to the canon of information I’ve been collecting on “What works, what doesn’t, and It is what it is.”  

In reality, I don’t know if I’ve EVER going to get my wife to relinquish the “other half” of her identity, which is cleaning, shopping, etc.  That takes JUST as much effort as “finding your why”.  (as I skip in a field of daisies) 


No real advice

I don’t really have any “magic bullet” advice here for you.  Sorry.

There are a TON of resources and advice that will tell you… “HAVE A PLAN”.   I really think that is easier said than done.  I think the following is true:

  1. People’s identity is tied to their job, much more than they might like to admit
  2. Changing gears after losing that is harder than it seems.
  3. You need to keep hammering away at finding something that works for YOU!
  4. Try to avoid going down rabbit holes and wasting time.
  5. Just pick something and do it, even if you fail at it, you’ll learn something from it.

These are scary times for everyone, but I think particularly those in the 50+ category who are staring down an uncertain future.

Snap out of it, or you’ll be hypnotized by daytime TV with a strange craving for a brain. Or maybe you were never gonna do it anyway.








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  1. Jim, I really enjoyed this post, and I love your blog! You keep it real. I just recently wrote about my ideal day of retirement and it looks very similar to your day. I completely agree that many Americans in particular associate their identity with their jobs. Instead, we should see ourselves as good husbands, lovers, friends, uncles, parents, etc. instead of workers. I’m a big proponent of trying new things and failing. Failing is inevitable if you want to be successful. Keep up the great work

    1. Thanks for the comment! I actually think I’m starting to emerge from a long “fog” and get a bit more focused. I have lot of new topical ideas and many more things to fail at!

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