10 Years After Early Retirement
Oh wow, it’s been 10 years since I retired from my engineering career! I’m happy to report that I’m still retired and life is awesome. Some people said it can’t be done, but I’m doing it. Don’t listen to the critics. You have to live your own life and find your own path.
The past two years were a bit strange due to the pandemic. But we adjusted and the RB40 family is doing quite well. RB40Jr is attending 5th grade in person at school. He liked distance learning, but regular school is way better. Kids need to socialize and run around. Mrs. RB40 also worked from home for almost 2 years. She just started hybrid work. Now, she goes to the office a few days per week and grumbles a lot. She’ll take a sabbatical this summer then she’ll decide what to do afterward.*
As for me, I’m taking it easy this year because I want to travel more. I went to help my parents in Thailand for 3 months and we’ll travel this summer. I’m still working on this blog, but just 10-15 hours per week. This year, I’m not doing any side hustle or coaching for my son’s soccer team. Lastly, being a SAHD is very easy now. RB40Jr is 11 years old now. He doesn’t need as much attention as when he was young.
*Some commenters like to say I keep putting off Mrs. RB40’s early retirement. Well, it’s her decision. She’ll retire when she’s good and ready. I’m not sure why people think it’s up to me. She’s the boss, not me.
Early Retirement Recap
First, let’s do a quick recap.
Before ER – I worked in computer chip design for 16 years. In the beginning, engineering was great. I enjoyed learning and working on technical issues. Eventually, I became more senior and needed to take on more leadership roles. At that point, the career wasn’t a good fit for me anymore. Personally, I think every engineer should plan for early retirement.
Year 1 ER – I retired to become a SAHD/blogger in 2012 when our son was 18 months old. That first year was the toughest year for me. Being a SAHD to a toddler was a lot of work. At that age, they don’t listen at all and they constantly push boundaries.
Year 2 to 4 ER – Life became a bit easier once RB40Jr started preschool. I had more time to work on my blog and my health. It was a good balance. Life gradually improved as our son got older.
Year 5 and 6 ER – RB40Jr started kindergarten and life became awesome. I had a lot more time to myself and he made a lot of friends. It was a big turning point.
Year 7 ER – We had more challenges than usual and I was stressed out. My mom was diagnosed with dementia and relocated to Thailand. I couldn’t take care of her and my son at the same time. Eventually, she’ll need to go to a nursing home and it’ll be a lot more comfortable for her in Thailand.
Year 8 ER – This was a strange year. Life was great until the coronavirus pandemic hit. Our governor shut down nonessential businesses and closed all schools. We didn’t do much.
Year 9 ER – We stayed home and life slowed down to a crawl. We didn’t really mind it because we enjoy being home. Then, I went to see my mom in Thailand. Life was almost normal there at the time. There were only a few Covid cases so I had a nice break during the pandemic’s peak in the US. It was so nice that I had a hard time adjusting back to life back home.
Year 10 ER – The new normal is here. Things opened up and we’re spending more time outside our home. I went to see my mom in Thailand and enjoyed my time with her. Unfortunately, she lost her ability to walk recently and she will go to a nursing home in a few days. We’ll go back this summer so RB40Jr can see her. We’ll travel around Thailand and visit the Maldives for a week.
Early Retirement is still awesome
I love early retirement because I have autonomy. I don’t have a boss and I largely control my schedule. Of course, I have some “work” because I’m a stay-at-home dad. When he was little, RB40Jr took up all of my time and energy. However, the SAHD part became much easier as school, teachers, sports, and friends took over a large portion of his time. Being a SAHD is very easy these days because RB40Jr doesn’t need me as much as when he was little.
Also, I work about 10-15 hours per week on this blog. I still enjoy it, but I’m not as passionate about FIRE as when I first started blogging. After 12 years, there isn’t much new I can write on the topic. Blogging is still great, though. It keeps me occupied. I firmly believe that you need to keep busy after early retirement. If I don’t blog, I’d have too much time and get bored. However, I probably need to find a new passion project. Actually, it’s amazing I lasted this long with blogging. Usually, I lose interest in a hobby in just a few years. Oh well, I’ll figure out what to do next after we come back from traveling. First world problem, right?
Successful Early Retirement?
There are 3 indicators of successful retirement – health, wealth, and happiness. Let’s see how I’m doing in all these areas.
Last year was a good year as far as health goes. My weight stayed around 130 pounds and I didn’t have any new health issues. Actually, I feel like I’m starting to get a bit bony. Maybe I’m starting to shrink as I age. The big 5-0 is coming up pretty soon. I’ll work out with weights more to increase my muscle mass.
Early retirement was good for me because I was stressed out all the time when I was an engineer. I had back pain, panic attacks, tinnitus, dizziness, depression, and more. It was bad. These days, I feel much healthier.
I think we are all going through a tough period right now. There are many problems in the world and the stock market hates uncertainties. Our net worth decreased a bit, but we are still comfortable financially. Our passive income streams are doing fine as well.
All in all, 2022 is a rough year for investors, but we are still much wealthier than before I retired. Of course, a lot of that is due to Mrs. RB40. She is still working. The real test will be when she retires. She isn’t sure when she will retire, though. It might be next year or she might wait until RB40Jr goes off to college. We’ll have to wait and see.
Last year, we got used to the pandemic. Covid became less of an issue because we got vaccinated. These days, life is almost like it was before. There are changes, but we could work with them. I’m just happy RB40Jr went back to school in person. There are some risks, but I’m not too worried. Covid isn’t as harmful to children as adults. Unfortunately, he just got a cough and a sore throat. He’ll have to stay home until these symptoms are gone. The school doesn’t want to take any chance. We’ll test in a couple of days and see. Hopefully, it isn’t Covid.
Anyway, I am happy these days. I went to Thailand for 3 months to spend time with my mom. That wouldn’t have been possible if I was working. FIRE is really great.
Overall, I’m very happy with life. I just wish my mom is healthier. But that’s the circle of life. It just reinforces the fact that we need to enjoy life while we can. You never know what will happen later.
Early Retirement Projects
The secret to early retirement is to have some goals. You have to stay somewhat busy so you don’t get bored. Early retirement doesn’t mean chilling at home every day. Most people won’t be happy with that. You need a few big projects to work on. Here are some of mine.
Fixing up the house
This one is on hold. We’ll be out of town often this year so it’s just maintenance for now. We’d like to remodel the kitchen and the basement at some point.
I still spend 10-15 hours per week on blogging. These days, I’m not as passionate about FIRE so I write about other topics as well. When we travel later this summer, I’ll write more about traveling and the nomadic lifestyle.
Blogging is still fun, but I need to figure out my next big passion project.
Around the world trip
We wanted to take a year off to travel around the world, but that isn’t going to happen. Instead, Mrs. RB40 will take a short sabbatical and we’ll travel to Thailand and the Maldives. We’ll put off traveling around the world until RB40Jr goes off to college.
- Schooling – We decided that RB40Jr should attend the local Junior high school. He needs extra support and road schooling would be difficult. Actually, the really tough part would be skipping a grade and coming back.
- Mrs. RB40’s work – She is taking a short sabbatical this summer. When she gets back she’ll figure out her next step.
- Rental properties – We still have 2 rental units left. I was planning to sell the rental condo, but the tenant decided to stay. He’s trouble-free so I’m okay with it.
- Solo travel – We decided to solo travel as needed. I might go to Thailand by myself more often. Mrs. RB40 will travel to CA and other locations by herself as well. We’ll travel together in the summer.
- Pandemic – Entry requirements are still tough for many countries.
Keep at it
All in all, these last 10 years have been amazing. Life is so much better than when I was working full-time. I don’t regret retiring early at all. If I didn’t quit my engineering career, I wouldn’t be this happy or healthy. I might not even be wealthier. When you’re unhappy, you spend money to try to make life better. Who knows? I might have had a midlife crisis and gone off the rail if I was still stuck in the old gray cubicle. That’s the real key to FIRE. You make it your goal and go after it with everything you got. Life is short. Don’t spend it working in a job you dislike. Keep at it and good luck everyone!
Thanks again for following my early retirement adventure and good luck with yours! I really appreciate your support.
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