Author Topic: Rethinking Early Retirement  (Read 3647 times)

Dr. Pepper

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Rethinking Early Retirement
« on: August 05, 2018, 12:36:12 PM »
Recently got back from a deployment to Afghanistan with the Army, 5 months. I had almost an unlimited amount of free time. Free food, no taxes on my income for the most part (deployment perk). Free Wifi in many places. Free gym, no housing expenses, no expenses at all. In fact I spent a total of 300 dollars in the 5 months I was there on random snacks etc, while getting paid close to 17k a month. I had very few possessions there, I had to be able to carry everything I owned from place to place.  It would seem this would be the ultimate mustachian scenario, from exercise, to savings to personal fitness, to stocisim etc. In fact if I volunteered for more deployments, which I could easily do since my job is in high demand right now I could probably retire just off the savings alone in 5 yrs or so. But the weird thing is, I really came to hate it after 2 months or so. All the stuff that previously gave me pleasure reading, running, video games, puzzles etc... got really boring and lost all fun. The experience in my mind was like a mini retirement, and I really could not stand it, because without the contrast between work and fun all the fun stuff lost meaning and pleasure. It really made me rethink early retirement to the point that I'm not sure it's what I want at all. Has anyone else had an experience of forced retirement like this and decided it wasn't for them?

onlykelsey

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2018, 12:41:31 PM »
I've never had an experience that long, but I've had similar experiences.  For me the key is having a project.  Between my current and previous job, I learned how to cut through drywall, rewire a fixture, and patch it back up, for example.  Volunteering with a charity worked in the past, as well.  I think most of the hobbies you list really work only as destressers or mind numbers, and not so much as activities, if that makes sense.

DreamFIRE

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2018, 12:52:16 PM »
I wouldn't want to retire if it meant I would be spending retirement reading, running, video games, and puzzles.  Come up with some different hobbies, activities, entertainment, etc.

wordnerd

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2018, 12:53:02 PM »
Sounds like you had time but not the freedom to build the life you want. Prisons also have lots of free time, free housing, and a gym but most happy early retirees wouldn't volunteer for prison. Early retirement may not be for you, but I wouldn't let this single experience convince you of that.

Catbert

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2018, 01:23:46 PM »
Unless you plan to retire to an Afghan Army base, I don't retirement would be the same as deployment.  <wink>

Zola.

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2018, 09:32:11 AM »
Recently got back from a deployment to Afghanistan with the Army, 5 months. I had almost an unlimited amount of free time. Free food, no taxes on my income for the most part (deployment perk). Free Wifi in many places. Free gym, no housing expenses, no expenses at all. In fact I spent a total of 300 dollars in the 5 months I was there on random snacks etc, while getting paid close to 17k a month. I had very few possessions there, I had to be able to carry everything I owned from place to place.  It would seem this would be the ultimate mustachian scenario, from exercise, to savings to personal fitness, to stocisim etc. In fact if I volunteered for more deployments, which I could easily do since my job is in high demand right now I could probably retire just off the savings alone in 5 yrs or so. But the weird thing is, I really came to hate it after 2 months or so. All the stuff that previously gave me pleasure reading, running, video games, puzzles etc... got really boring and lost all fun. The experience in my mind was like a mini retirement, and I really could not stand it, because without the contrast between work and fun all the fun stuff lost meaning and pleasure. It really made me rethink early retirement to the point that I'm not sure it's what I want at all. Has anyone else had an experience of forced retirement like this and decided it wasn't for them?

Sounds like you didn't have anything to do?  No work or combatting?

mathlete

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2018, 09:39:20 AM »
You probably won't early retire in Afghanistan with limited options of things to do and needing to be at the ready at all times.

But I think it's good to reevaluate ER from time to time. If find work that gives you structure and stimulation, then there's no reason to leave it just because you can.

Mississippi Mudstache

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2018, 09:46:03 AM »
I get it. I wouldn't want to exist under the circumstances you describe indefinitely. My life is made meaningful by the people I care about and the projects I undertake. I always make time for the people I care about, which means that the opportunity to take on difficult, rewarding projects falls by the wayside while I'm working. I have ideas that I wish to pursue that absolutely gnaw at me, and I would go crazy if all I could do was eat, read, and exercise. Luckily, that's not remotely what my retirement will look like (nor is it how I spend my limited free time while I'm working).

Lnspilot

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2018, 04:46:11 PM »
I spent four years deployed in Afghanistan and I wouldn't take it back for anything. Great experience. However, after job burn out I quit and have been testing out "retirement" for just over a year now.

I definitely "retired from something" without "retiring to something". I thought it would be fine, but those folks are right: You need to retire to something so that there's a reason to get up in the morning. The first 6-9 months not working was awesome and much different than deployment though; everything is a luxury, from the craft beers, the amazing restaurants and food (no dfac please!!!), and seeing your friends on the trail or whatever. But, after a while the need of purpose grows strong and it's hard to quiet.

For me, I'm considering going back to work (deploy) while I've got skin in the game in order to grow the stash and ponder my future.

RE isn't a deployment, but it can feel like it if you don't have a purpose.

katsiki

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2018, 05:25:36 PM »
Thank you for your service.  I can't relate to your experience at all unfortunately. 

Maybe one of these folks could help: @spartana @Nords


Nords

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2018, 05:39:13 PM »
Maybe one of these folks could help: @spartana @Nords
Thanks, Katsiki!

Recently got back from a deployment to Afghanistan with the Army, 5 months. I had almost an unlimited amount of free time. Free food, no taxes on my income for the most part (deployment perk). Free Wifi in many places. Free gym, no housing expenses, no expenses at all. In fact I spent a total of 300 dollars in the 5 months I was there on random snacks etc, while getting paid close to 17k a month. I had very few possessions there, I had to be able to carry everything I owned from place to place.  It would seem this would be the ultimate mustachian scenario, from exercise, to savings to personal fitness, to stocisim etc. In fact if I volunteered for more deployments, which I could easily do since my job is in high demand right now I could probably retire just off the savings alone in 5 yrs or so. But the weird thing is, I really came to hate it after 2 months or so. All the stuff that previously gave me pleasure reading, running, video games, puzzles etc... got really boring and lost all fun. The experience in my mind was like a mini retirement, and I really could not stand it, because without the contrast between work and fun all the fun stuff lost meaning and pleasure. It really made me rethink early retirement to the point that I'm not sure it's what I want at all. Has anyone else had an experience of forced retirement like this and decided it wasn't for them?
Dr. P, Iíve done my share of Western Pacific deployments under the ďfree all expenses paidĒ plan offered by the U.S. Navyís submarine force.

I would not compare your Afghanistan experience to a mini-retirement.  I think 30-60 days of leave is a better proxy for testing out your ability to be responsible for your own entertainment.  You might decide that youíre the kind of person who wants to travel, or start your own business, or have more variety in their entertainment options.  The issue with your Afghan deployment is that you really werenít in control of your time or your mobility, and I think a lot of people would chafe under that type of lockdown.

Before you discourage yourself any further, Iíd suggest cruising through Ernie Zelinskiís exercise with the Get-A-Life Tree mind map.  Itís been around for a while (with that snarky name) but itís a very valuable thought experiment:
http://bestretirementquotes.blogspot.com/2009/10/get-life-tree-great-retirement-planning.html

EnjoyIt

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2018, 07:19:59 PM »
I think there is significant value in what you say.  One of the great things about a day off is it being such a stark difference to a workday. By experiencing work you value the day off so much more. 

I had 6 weeks off 9 years ago when between jobs and honesty started to get a little bored just sitting around surfing the web and playing video games. I was excited to get back to work back then. This year I had 4 weeks off and loved every minute of it because I had fun stuff to do the entire time and really hated the idea of coming back to work so soon. 

Sounds like right now you have nothing to retire to which means you probably shouldn't retire just yet.  One day you may find yourself saying that work is starting to get in the way of you enjoying your life and you will know it is time to move on.

EngineeringFI

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2018, 07:32:26 PM »
I think progress is a big key to happiness. You have to be progressing towards something like achieving a new goal, mastering a skill, exploring new places, etc. Ever notice how MMM ends up building things when he's on vacation? A routine can be very good if it is helping you to progress towards that goal, but if it's just mindless repetition without progression then I completely agree it sounds awful.

I'm actually amazed you made it 2 months before you hated it!

alex753

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2018, 08:13:55 AM »
I have pretty much the exact same interests, and feel they would make for an awesome retirement.

Maybe working part time would be a good approach to keeping the relative pleasure alive. 

Also, it seems studying and applying more stoicism could help you cope with lack of working and appreciate a life of leisure. 

Malkynn

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2018, 08:44:14 AM »
Everyone has different goals and different needs.
Absence of a job wonít make anyone happy in and of itself. It may remove the biggest barrier to happiness, but it wonít create happiness.

Itís the same way that leaving a bad relationship is a huge relief, but it doesnít exactly leave you a happy person. It just makes you someone who is no longer in a miserable relationship.

Mustachianism isnít about not working, itís about building a life that doesnít revolve around spending and needing to work to keep up with the spending. That means wildly different things to different people.

For me, I couldnít care less about FIRE. Iím not waiting for some arbitrary savings goal to start living my best life. Work is part of my best life and by keeping my spending low, I have ultimate flexibility in working only how I want to.

Others donít have that flexibility in their work and feel the need to be fully FIRE before building their best life. Theyíre willing to make that trade off for security.

FIRE as a top priority may or may not be for you, but thatís okay, itís not really the point anyway. Itís just one option that some people choose in crafting their best lives.

Remember: the alternative to your day job isnít doing nothing, itís doing whatever you want.

MrFancypants

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #15 on: August 09, 2018, 12:56:12 AM »
Years ago before I hit military retirement I made some decisions with my finances based on the simple idea that the more money I had the more freedom I could afford. I liked to describe the idea to friends at work as ďF U money.Ē  Because at the very least I wanted the freedom to walk out of any professional environment I hated being in and not have to worry about paying the bills.

Maybe you never ďretireĒ in the traditional sense of the word where you hang out on a boat and play shuffleboard or something. Maybe later on in life you realize that you miss the experience of living in a remote area with little more than what you can carry on you. Being ďretiredĒ to you might mean having the freedom to go live among the tree people in Wyoming.

sol

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #16 on: August 09, 2018, 01:04:05 AM »
I spent three months at a deep field camp in Antarctica (multiple times!) with virtually nothing to do.  Work a shift, then unlimited free time until your next shift.  No tv, no internet, no radio, no trees or rocks or topography, almost no other people.  Just barren flat whiteness for a thousand miles in every direction.

I was looking forward to it, at first.  My life had been so crazy hectic for so long, before that, that I welcomed the change of pace.  No obligations, no stress, all the sleep you want, I thought it would be great.  It was not great.  I did get to read lots of books, but I found myself becoming obsessive about inane things in order to provide structure to my daily routine.  I was fanatical about keeping a journal, and reading books on a specific schedule, and practicing specific skills every day.

I learned that I need to participate in something in order to be happy.  Like I just need other people around to interact with, like to be part of a community.  I needed variety in my experiences, and without any natural obligations I felt compelled to create my own.  Fortunately, I was pretty successful at creating my own.

So I don't fear early retirement.  I'll find a way to keep busy, and I suspect you could too.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2018, 01:07:15 AM by sol »

Schaefer Light

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #17 on: August 09, 2018, 06:08:46 AM »
Remember: the alternative to your day job isnít doing nothing, itís doing whatever you want.
I think this is the key point.  I also don't think we always need to be working towards some goal.  That's just a vicious cycle, in my opinion.  You reach one goal and you're happy for about a week before moving on to the next one.

https://gist.github.com/rsms/3564654

DS

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #18 on: August 09, 2018, 09:44:15 AM »
Remember: the alternative to your day job isnít doing nothing, itís doing whatever you want.
I think this is the key point.  I also don't think we always need to be working towards some goal.  That's just a vicious cycle, in my opinion.  You reach one goal and you're happy for about a week before moving on to the next one.

https://gist.github.com/rsms/3564654

Quote from: Osho
Look at rich people: their life is absolutely poor, because they are wasting it transforming it into bank balances, changing their life into money, into big houses, big cars. Their whole effort is that life has to be changed for some things. When they die you can count their things. Buddha became a beggar. He was born a king, he became a beggar. Why? Just to live richly... because he came to understand that there are two ways to live: one is to die richly, the other is to live richly.

Thanks for sharing!


wbranch

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #19 on: August 09, 2018, 11:06:29 AM »
Remember: the alternative to your day job isnít doing nothing, itís doing whatever you want.
I think this is the key point.  I also don't think we always need to be working towards some goal.  That's just a vicious cycle, in my opinion.  You reach one goal and you're happy for about a week before moving on to the next one.

https://gist.github.com/rsms/3564654

Quote from: Osho
Look at rich people: their life is absolutely poor, because they are wasting it transforming it into bank balances, changing their life into money, into big houses, big cars. Their whole effort is that life has to be changed for some things. When they die you can count their things. Buddha became a beggar. He was born a king, he became a beggar. Why? Just to live richly... because he came to understand that there are two ways to live: one is to die richly, the other is to live richly.

Thanks for sharing!

Osho had 93 rolls royces. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajneesh

I guess he was mustachian since his followers were paying for them?

swampwiz

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #20 on: August 09, 2018, 04:48:34 PM »
Now I have never served in the military, but I could only imagine that I would get burned out pretty quickly always thinking that there are folks I encounter at my job that want to kill me.

swampwiz

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #21 on: August 09, 2018, 04:52:48 PM »
I spent three months at a deep field camp in Antarctica (multiple times!) with virtually nothing to do.  Work a shift, then unlimited free time until your next shift.  No tv, no internet, no radio, no trees or rocks or topography, almost no other people.  Just barren flat whiteness for a thousand miles in every direction.

I understand that the stargazing is amazing there, although for it to be dark enough for that, it needs to be winter!  Also, at the South Pole base camp, I understand that craft brewing is really big.

jpdx

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #22 on: August 09, 2018, 11:50:46 PM »
@sol I would love to hear more about your time living in Antarctica. I saw a documentary about a small village of people who live there through the winter and it sounds similar to what you describe. Perhaps in another thread if that's more appropriate.

OP: When you read or play games, are consuming something that someone else created. It's passive, not active. You will need to find creative projects to keep you busy in retirement -- fix up a house, build robots, run a nonprofit, whatever interests you.

sol

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #23 on: August 10, 2018, 12:14:26 AM »
@sol I would love to hear more about your time living in Antarctica.

I've talked about it at some length in previous threads, if you dig deep enough.  As it turns out, there are a handful of forum mustachians who have spent time there.

I went roughly 20 years ago, when I was young and unencumbered by responsibilities.  I imagined it was more like going prison than entering early retirement, just due to the isolation and limited recreational opportunities.  You could drink yourself to death, or sex yourself to death, or find some other way to occupy your time.  Not everyone adapted well.

But my early retirement isn't like that at all.  Here I have a family, and friends, and a variety of organizations that want more of my time than I can currently give them.  I have a list of projects around the house that should keep me busy for years to come.  When I was young and frantically busy all the time, I thought a prison sentence sounded kind of attractive.  I was so tired of living on the edge of sanity, barely holding it all together, that the notion of a few months in the middle of nowhere with limited responsibilities seemed very attractive.  Now that I'm older and feel like I have a better handle on my life, I'm actively looking for ways to stay busy, ways to be stimulated, ways to learn and grow.  My nine to five no longer provides that, so it's off to ER I go.

And if by some chance I find that my retired life is insufficiently challenging, or insufficiently busy, I'm not stuck there.  Retirement is not a one way street.  Just because I gave up one cushy job doesn't mean I can't find another job in the future, cushy or otherwise, if that's what I decide I want.  But it has to be a want, not just a default setting of "I guess I'm supposed to sit in this cubicle until I'm old and gray because I can't think of anything better to do with my life."  I can think of hundred better things to do with my life, without even trying very hard.  Staying the course in a soul-crushing dead-end job is the worst kind of personal death I can imagine, for a middle-aged person who is not yet literally dead.  Don't give up on yourself just yet.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2018, 12:15:58 AM by sol »

Malkynn

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Re: Rethinking Early Retirement
« Reply #24 on: August 10, 2018, 03:23:12 AM »
And if by some chance I find that my retired life is insufficiently challenging, or insufficiently busy, I'm not stuck there.  Retirement is not a one way street.  Just because I gave up one cushy job doesn't mean I can't find another job in the future, cushy or otherwise, if that's what I decide I want.  But it has to be a want, not just a default setting of "I guess I'm supposed to sit in this cubicle until I'm old and gray because I can't think of anything better to do with my life."  I can think of hundred better things to do with my life, without even trying very hard.  Staying the course in a soul-crushing dead-end job is the worst kind of personal death I can imagine, for a middle-aged person who is not yet literally dead.  Don't give up on yourself just yet.

Damn Sol, well said.