The Longer In Early Retirement, The Easier It Gets
When I was first contemplating retiring young, the idea of funding my lifestyle over decades was of high concern. A lot has happened and changed over the nearly 13 years on this early retirement ride. Even in this high inflationary period, I do believe that the longer in early retirement, the easier it gets. Not that it was all that hard in the beginning. It’s just more comfortable and enjoyable with less worry, more coasting along.
It Has Only Got Easier The Longer I’ve Lived Early Retirement Freedom
Of course, a major retiree worry is burning through our money before we leave the planet. As the years have stacked up, there have been a lot of ups and downs in our portfolio. We never started with hitting the magical million dollar number to begin with. What we did was maintain a reasonably frugal lifestyle while still being able to travel as much as we wanted to, help our kids and grandkids out when necessary, and have a blast doing it. As time passes, the easier it gets.
The Easier It Gets Financially
We used to feel like we had to watch it like a hawk. Now it’s pretty much on autopilot. Our frugalish lifestyle and spending habits have stuck. There is little yearly budget deviation except for the occasional emergency or small planned indulgence.
When the first of the year healthcare or other insurance/tax cycles cause big increases, we make necessary adjustments without worrying about things as much as we used to do early on.
Since retiring over a decade ago, we’ve seen how over a 12 month period it all smooths out in the end. Even when there were some high monthly hits that were encountered.
Adapting To Rising Healthcare Costs
We were lucky. The first few years of early retirement only brought small yearly increases. It then went obscene and it was a huge pain in the assets. Over time we’ve been able to take it in stride. We still get ticked off, but with every year that passes we get closer to Medicare eligibility. We just automatically assume we will be adjusting the budget in spending and income to cover it with a lot less worry until age 65.
Riding Out Market Swings
There are some things we just can’t control, even with a well diversified portfolio. Market volatility swings can cause a lot of early retiree sweating. It was something that caught my attention in the early years causing some worst case worrying.
The longer I’ve been doing this early retirement thing and living off of my portfolio, the easier it gets to just roll with it and trust the plan. I do check balances and run numbers when it has taken negative hits like it has of late.
A quick run of the FIREcalc retirement calculator using the new lower portfolio total along with any new income requirements and Social Security data is all it takes to remove any concerns. Well, including Social Security and you know…… that growing older reduced years circling the sun thing. It’s a simple equation:
Social Security income coming in sooner
+ Less years left to fund
= Enough even with a reduced portfolio number to cover current market loss in the overall retirement funding calculation.
If the calculated success percentage came up poorly, I would calmly do what we now have a history of doing, make necessary adjustments.
Aging Closer to Medicare and Social Security
As mentioned above, I do use our Social Security figures as part of our overall retirement planning. That and the big reduction in health insurance costs that Medicare will provide us. We will finally reap the promised benefit from paying into our nation’s retirement system for our entire working lives. The longer in early retirement, the closer we inch to retirement portfolio funding assistance. Ya, ya, I know there is talk among certain politicians that some people of politics are looking to kill it. If they do then I suppose this country will be dealing with an even bigger and more dangerous problem than any retirement budget adjustments or income shortcomings I will have.
The Easier It Gets Non Financially
What Work Identity?
Early in retirement, I did everything I could to prepare for leaving my career title behind. Even so, there were still some mental adjustments that took time to work through. The longer in early retirement, the easier it was to put it all in the past. In fact, I have trouble remembering many names of those I worked with over the 31 years of that career. It all seems like a previous life that matters about as much as if not less than my highschool portion of life.
Having A Better Social Life
The first issue I recognized as a big hole in my early retirement was my social life. It took no time to realize almost all of my social circle revolved around work. I had to make a concentrated effort to grow my social life in the first months and years of retirement. My social life is now broadly community and hobby based. I have only one person that I’m still in regular contact with from my first long-held career, and that is just fine.
Wanting Less Because I’ve Already Scratched My Itches
There was a lot of daydreaming about what early retirement would be like and what I wanted to do before pulling the trigger. Once I retired at the age of 51 I was still full of the same high energy and production based conditioning I had when I was a career engineer. I enjoyed down time to the fullest and entered into paid gigs of interest and passions. I see now that some of that was also driven by another necessary transition- trying to get over myself and invisibility. Scratching these itches were both necessary and extremely rewarding in many ways.
A lot has changed over the 12+ years in early retirement. I scratched all my itches, transitioned away from work identity, grew my social circle, learned to fully trust my savvy personal finance skills/plan, and have relaxed over time into a comfortable energy level of retirement living.
I still pursue new passions and ideas that I have interest in, but I’ve learned that I have nothing to prove to anyone, not even myself.
Time, experience, and maturity has made me a better early retiree and made early retirement easier to enjoy to the fullest.