Author Topic: Could you share your experiences retiring early with no children?  (Read 7474 times)

Dr. Doom

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Hey everyone,

I'm super interested in how folks are actually doing after leaving full time employment.   Specifically folks with no kids who are not starting a business or engaged in some similar high-intensity entrepreneurial endeavor.   What did you find yourself engaged with?  How's it generally going, how long have you been out of work, how do you feel about drawing money out of your accounts, have you been able to do the things you "couldn't do" while working, etc.  Has retiring early met your expectations?  Why or why not?  Regrets?  The more sharing the better!  I apologize if this has been covered somewhere already.  I've searched forums and it seems like the number one reason people want to RE is related to their younglings.  (Which is great!  I just don't have that specific driver.  I'm in the camp who just doesn't feel the need to work all of the time and craves more balance in life.)

I suppose it might help to give a little more info.  I'm 36, I have the FI in FIRE licked, and lately I've been spending most of my planning time figuring out what I'll be doing after I stop working my regular job.  It's something I've been looking forward to for a long time.  (I still am, of course, this part hasn't changed a bit.  Even though my job is nearly always tolerable, I just don't love it.)  The whole thing feels pretty surreal and I alternate between feeling giddy and then pulling back, telling myself to keep working for a while as I firm up some plans for what I'll be doing next.  Another way to describe the situation is that I'm transitioning from thinking about how to achieve FI  (check!) to thinking about the RE side of the coin.  Note that I don't really think of it as RE, more just having the opportunity to spend my energy in different ways.  It's not my goal to eat all day and watch soaps ala Peggy Bundy.  I spend some time exercising every day, and I love to cook, read, and play guitar so those activities will eat a bunch of hours in a satisfying, productive, healthy way/  I tell myself I'll volunteer, that I'll pick up new interests, etc, but I'm a little concerned that without a really strong external driver, I'll just do nothing and after a while my hobbies won't be enough.  I'm probably being ridiculous, but these thoughts continue to nag at me anyways. 

I think that part of my doubts come from the fact that I'm pretty young to be doing this and everyone in my circle has a full time job.   My SO will likely leave her own employment around the same time as myself, we're in the same boat together, which is good -- I'm sure we'll do some activities together, hiking, some traveling, spending more time with her family.  (BTW, we're also not having kids for medical as well as personal preference reasons, so this isn't something that's going to change at some point in the future, unless we both a) have a big attitude shift and b) try to adopt)

As a bonus question, I'm a little nervous about talking to my parents about this life change.  They have little to no indication of my net worth and they don't know this is coming.   I think they'll be baffled and will likely think that what I'm doing is somehow irresponsible, immature, or just plain wack-a-doodle.  Any suggestions here? I also really don't want to start going into the nitty gritty of our finances with them.  I'm sure they'll start asking all of the usual questions.  Just thinking about getting into it makes me exhausted and defensive.




Moomingirl

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Re: Could you share your experiences retiring early with no children?
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2013, 05:58:54 PM »
Hi Q-Train,

I am jumping in here a bit early, as I haven't actually retired yet, but I am very interested to see what everyone else comes up with. I don't have kids either, and people ask me what I am going to do with my time all day.  I am going to be quitting my job early next year. I am not actually FI quite yet, but I am horribly burnt out and I need a break. Luckily my hubby is awesome, and I have seen him through a few tough times, so now it is my turn. I plan to take a few months off, and then maybe look for some part time work to boost us to full FI. Hubby is planning on working a couple more years though, so this is not critical.

In the meantime, I plan to:
Take my dog for long walks. Garden. Read. Study. Cook.Practice my languages. Volunteer with Pets as Therapy. Spend time writing to friends. Spend time visiting family. Travel. Dance. Do Art. Meditate. Finish writing my book.

Currently work interferes with me doing these things as much as I would like.

I do understand where you are coming from. Apparently some people who do RE struggle with a loss of identity / goals. I think the key is to have a plan of what you want to do and achieve, rather than turning into someone who loses whole weeks doing nothing (unless that is your plan of course).  :-D

Regarding your parents - can you just tell them you have a nest egg saved up, and you have decided to take a break from work. That might worry them less than the "I'm retiring and never going back to work again" approach. Then your 'break from work' can just increase indefinitely.

I look forward to seeing what everyone else posts, and hearing how you get on.

ender

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Re: Could you share your experiences retiring early with no children?
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2013, 10:41:02 PM »
Spend a week and track all your time and see where it goes.

Most of the folks here who are highly motivated seem to have tons of "I am SO EXCITED TO DO" types of things for FIRE situations. Reading your post, I... feel you are in a "I guess I could quit working but, meh" situation.

If I was in your position I'd spend some time finding things I really enjoy doing in my current free time so I know what sorts of things I will be passionate about when I finally pull the trigger and quit.

aj_yooper

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Re: Could you share your experiences retiring early with no children?
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2013, 03:33:52 AM »
Congratulations on your hard work and achievement! 

I have been retired for 2 years and our son is an adult so we have some similarities.

For us, retirement is the best!  We set the expectations and activities.  Big or small, it is all good!  For the first two years, I exercised a lot, gardened, traveled, read, volunteered some, and enjoyed our family and friends more.  Nobody called me to go back to work (some head scratching) so I guess that means it was good all around.  Travel was becoming a job so we are reducing that this year.  Now, I am focusing on finishing up projects at home (minor construction projects, deferred maintenance, organizing things and our space), volunteering more, being more social and involved with my extended family, and talking with my wife about plans for the next 5 years or so.  For us, retirement evolves.  We will probably downsize our house and are figuring what our next adventure will be.  If you don't like your current retirement plan, you can hit reset.  I did re-invent myself at work several times, but it is more fun when you do it in retirement.  I also worked in a job where I had frequent longer breaks so I think that helped me understand how to become retired.

Best wishes.

chasesfish

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Re: Could you share your experiences retiring early with no children?
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2013, 05:33:42 AM »
I have this discussion all the time with a couple of my coworkers that are also very cheap and do well, however the three of them either have or are expecting kid and it'll extend their FI calculations.

I've got another 4-5 years to work because I'm very conservative on the SWR rates and know I can't come near reproducing my income if I quit.  The wife however is going to take her trial run starting in Feb.

Dr. Doom

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Re: Could you share your experiences retiring early with no children?
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2013, 11:36:49 AM »

In the meantime, I plan to:
Take my dog for long walks. Garden. Read. Study. Cook.Practice my languages. Volunteer with Pets as Therapy. Spend time writing to friends. Spend time visiting family. Travel. Dance. Do Art. Meditate. Finish writing my book.

..

I do understand where you are coming from. Apparently some people who do RE struggle with a loss of identity / goals. I think the key is to have a plan of what you want to do and achieve...


So yes, I think you are pretty close to my position here.   Even though I'm in software engineering, and use my rational left-brain for just about everything work related, I lean toward having an artsy-ish personality type.  So I enjoy drawing, reading (mostly fiction, unless I need to learn a new life skill) and music.  I become very discouraged when I start on something new and then work gets in the way.  (This is especially true for painting for some reason...  the urge to complete a specific piece goes away after about two days, so I have to crank it out while it's hot.  I basically never have two consecutive days without anything to do, being an adult with a single family home, an SO, and lots of family visits, so this muscle goes unused for long stretches)   Anyways, it's nice to hear from someone else that has some of the same ideas and goals.

It's cool that you mentioned spending more time with your dog.  When my SO asks what I'm going to be doing, one of my first responses is "Get a puppy."  Of course, the followup comment to that is "you don't need to RE to get a puppy."  But, in fact, under our current life-model, I do, because we both work 50+ hours a week and we don't want to get a dog when it's going to be lonely and anxious all of the time.  I think that's sort of cruel.



Regarding your parents - can you just tell them you have a nest egg saved up, and you have decided to take a break from work. That might worry them less than the "I'm retiring and never going back to work again" approach. Then your 'break from work' can just increase indefinitely.


I've decided to -- believe it or not -- not tell them.  I realize that this sounds like a plotline in a bad sitcom episode but, after some thought about my parents' core personalities, I can't imagine getting into it.  Even telling them I'm on sabbatical won't fly.  My mom has her own financial difficulties (66, on SS, barely gets by) and isn't above resenting her own son for failing to provide handouts.  And my Dad is a military-type guy who believes in the value of work for the sake of work, but not art or leisure for the sake of art or leisure.  It'll just result in harsh judgements and endless arguments.  So as far as they're going to know, I'm still in software.




Dr. Doom

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Re: Could you share your experiences retiring early with no children?
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2013, 11:55:49 AM »

For us, retirement is the best!  We set the expectations and activities.  Big or small, it is all good!  For the first two years, I exercised a lot, gardened, traveled, read, volunteered some, and enjoyed our family and friends more.


It sure sounds like there are no regrets, and you are able to use the time you've earned to engage in a variety of interesting and fun activities. 

Funny you mention family and friends.  I've come to think that my mandatory visits with various family members will become more pleasurable without a job.  I currently get a little irritated that I "have" to see family on most weekends because I have this sense that they're eating into my (scarce) free time.  But if I have enough time already, maybe I'll appreciate the hours spent with them more?  Maybe even look forward to it?

Then again, some of the visits are with in-laws, so I suspect that's too much to hope for ;)


Posthumane

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Re: Could you share your experiences retiring early with no children?
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2013, 12:03:37 PM »

I've decided to -- believe it or not -- not tell them.  I realize that this sounds like a plotline in a bad sitcom episode but, after some thought about my parents' core personalities, I can't imagine getting into it.  Even telling them I'm on sabbatical won't fly.  My mom has her own financial difficulties (66, on SS, barely gets by) and isn't above resenting her own son for failing to provide handouts.  And my Dad is a military-type guy who believes in the value of work for the sake of work, but not art or leisure for the sake of art or leisure.  It'll just result in harsh judgements and endless arguments.  So as far as they're going to know, I'm still in software.

I think not telling them might be the best thing if they don't already know about your plans and your financial situation. However, you might need to find creative ways to not tell them if they start noticing that you have a lot more free time than before. One excuse you could use is to tell people that you are now working independently, and the contracts have been a bit slow lately.

Personally, I'm not close to FI yet, but I think once I get there I might struggle with the same thought process as you. Luckily I currently have way more hobbies than I have time for, including building things (like a car at the moment), cycling (want to get into touring when I have more time), sailing (would love to do a long cruise eventually), hiking, etc. I think when I do get to the point where I can leave work I will try to identify as more of a renaissance man if people ask. After all, did Da Vinci have a day job?
« Last Edit: December 30, 2013, 12:06:52 PM by Posthumane »

vern

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Re: Could you share your experiences retiring early with no children?
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2013, 11:44:31 PM »
I'm a little early too.  I'll be retiring next month with no kids.

After a year or two of slow travelling, I expect to fall into a pattern of reading, hiking, XC skiing, biking, chess study, running, language study, salmon fishing, and eating good food.  We'll see how it goes.
 

steveo

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Re: Could you share your experiences retiring early with no children?
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2013, 12:55:38 AM »
After a year or two of slow travelling, I expect to fall into a pattern of reading, hiking, XC skiing, biking, chess study, running, language study, salmon fishing, and eating good food.  We'll see how it goes.

I'm 40 with 3 kids - the oldest is 12 and the youngest is 3. This is what I intend to do when I retire. Maybe not the XC skiing or the running but the rest of it sounds good.

azure975

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Re: Could you share your experiences retiring early with no children?
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2015, 11:03:04 PM »
This is an old thread, but I'm new here so hopefully I can revive it. I'm in the same situation--childfree and hoping to ER in under 10 years. However, my main goal in ER is because I dislike the corporate world, so I want to retire from something as opposed to retiring to something. I do have interests and hobbies as well as pets but I am hoping to find something more purposeful--hopefully volunteering. Would like to hear others' experiences. Thanks!

chasesfish

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Re: Could you share your experiences retiring early with no children?
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2015, 06:36:24 AM »
I also want to see what Dr. Doom came up with....

I was in a similar position when I replied to Dr. Doom and I got offered a promotion in October and have a new job that I'm having an enormous amount of fun with.   I get to build/fix a business unit and spend an enormous amount of time training people.

I've always had an early retirement goal, but MMM helped me cut what that target number was way down and then I realized I wasn't really working for financial reasons anymore. (the FI).   

 

former player

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Re: Could you share your experiences retiring early with no children?
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2015, 09:11:14 AM »
I retired single and childless at 50, four years ago.

What do I find myself engaged with?
I'm slowly renovating my house.  I got a dog (first time I've had one: like you, I thought it wrong to have one while I worked), a farm collie that likes/needs long walks in the countryside (once a week I join in with a local walking group).  I'm an elected parish councillor, which is formally just one or two meetings a month but which in practice takes up more time with volunteering (anyone for digging mud out of the village pond in the rain in December?) and looking at local properties in order to decide planning applications.  I also volunteer for local environmental charities, and that has led to other opportunities (I've been invited to an interesting conference next month).     I have some caring responsibilities for a 97 year old aunt.  At the start I did some consulting work, but I've dropped out of that as I don't need the money or the hassle.

How's it generally going@ Regrets?
Wouldn't change it for anything.   I'm not at anyone else's beck and call and never want to be again, so zero interest in ever going back to having a job.

how do you feel about drawing money out of your accounts,
Doesn't apply, as I'm living off a pension (indexed linked) and a rental property.

have you been able to do the things you "couldn't do" while working, etc.
The dog.  Living in a rural setting (I had a specialised job which was tied to London).  Local councillor (When working I was in a "politically restricted" government job).

Has retiring early met your expectations?  Why or why not?
Yes, pretty much.  The one thing I was not expecting was to become a carer for elderly family members (one now dead, one still around).  But as the one now dead frequently said "what a blessing that you have retired and can do this".

I tell myself I'll volunteer, that I'll pick up new interests, etc, but I'm a little concerned that without a really strong external driver, I'll just do nothing and after a while my hobbies won't be enough.  I'm probably being ridiculous, but these thoughts continue to nag at me anyways.
I'm pretty introverted, plus I moved 250 miles to retire (albeit to a place where I already had quite a few connections).  I have found that activities and friendships have pretty much come to me: being an active, healthy, educated person not tied to a job and the need to earn money seems to make one a valuable person in one's community, and being involved in one thing can lead to others - for instance, volunteering for a local environmental charity led to me being asked to stand for the council.  Quite a lot of my friends are older than me (partly the demographics of my area), but not all, and since when did being older make someone a less valuable or entertaining companion?

The other thing is that working not only took up a lot of time, it took a lot of mental and emotional energy as well, and I didn't do as much in the way of leisure activities as I might have done because of that.  Now I have extra energy as well as time, so nothing that I want to do is off limits.

I'm a little nervous about talking to my parents about this life change.  They have little to no indication of my net worth and they don't know this is coming.   I think they'll be baffled and will likely think that what I'm doing is somehow irresponsible, immature, or just plain wack-a-doodle.  Any suggestions here?
Retiring was a big decision but not one I felt depended on anyone else's views but mine.  It was met with approval all round: my mother didn't need or want my money and was clear that as long as I thought I could afford to retire it was a great idea.

I also really don't want to start going into the nitty gritty of our finances with them.  I'm sure they'll start asking all of the usual questions.  Just thinking about getting into it makes me exhausted and defensive.
I'd suggest that you don't tell your parents you have investments.  Instead, tell them you have a pension that is enough for you to take now and which will last as long as you need as long as you are careful with it.  Repeat as often as you need to, adding that if necessary you can probably do some consulting work if you need to but that you would rather not.  That should be enough to reassure them.

Dr. Doom

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Re: Could you share your experiences retiring early with no children?
« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2015, 04:05:22 PM »
..

Thanks for the response on this, formerplayer, it's absolutely inspiring.  My mother is getting older and already needs more care as well - I expect to continue to be slotted into that role, and it's something I'd be glad to do.

I'm glad that telling your parents went well, too.  My mom is a bit of a problem, though - she's a spendthrift and we've had monetary conflicts in the past, by which I mean:  she expects me to give her money and doesn't let it go when I say "no."  It took a long time for me to get her to stop asking and if I bring up that I'm so-called 'retired' I think there's a good chance it'll rekindle the arguments.   I'm pretty sure I'm just going to continue to not tell her.  The story might be something that evolves as the years go by. 

>>since when did being older make someone a less valuable or entertaining companion?

Since never. I loved this point.

Re: How I'm feeling.  I'm still more or less retiring FROM something but I'm now confident I'll work most of the other half out post ER.  That being said, a few pieces have clicked: the last year I've found blogging to be a pretty terrific pasttime, so there's that in the TO column.  I've also found that a charity I support is looking for irregular website support and dev, perhaps 15 hours a month, extremely low stress.  Two awesome things right there.  I don't really want more than that on my agenda right away and feel no compelling reason to overload myself immediately following my exit from my industry.  I'm going to take it slow at first.

I've also read a lot of books about early retirees since posting this thread 14 months ago.  They all say the same thing:  6 months.  After 6 months you'll either be happy in retirement or you won't.  They also say if you're the type of person who has a lot of interests and likes exploring (I am) that you shouldn't have much to worry about.  Try a lot of stuff, some things will click, some won't. 

Reading dozens of positive stories about people making the jump has made me very confident I'll be fine.  Also, being more actively plugged into the forums has helped as well, just knowing that there's this community around to bounce ideas off of if I hit a snag. 

Last note: Still pretty sure we're going to get a dog :)