Some comments on my recent post mentioned that maybe what I really needed was a career change rather than a mini retirement. I don’t necessarily disagree with this, but the lack of work is not really an issue in my day-to-day happiness. I would definitely prefer not to work….of course I don’t have enough $$$ to last the rest of my life, so at some point I will need to work. I definitely do, however, feel like I have a social duty to be productive and not be lazy.
I definitely do have some psychological barriers with an early retirement though. Personally knowing people who have medical issues that would never allow them to retire early makes me feel pretty crummy about my own early retirement prospects. Mostly because if I chose to retire early today, it would be entirely a decision for leisure and self indulgence rather than something more noble, such as spending more time with dependent children or taking care of an ailing parent, or curing cancer or whatever the hell most early retirees do with their time. Financial independence is a lifestyle choice that enables one to make the decision to be a dual stay at home household, and for that reason, I think everybody really should pursue it, because why not? How can you end up worse off by being financially secure?
Here’s the problem with the nomadic life for me. It’s sort of at odds with what an ideal permanent early retirement vision looks like. This is more of a gap year experience type of life choice, where I’ve specifically earmarked time for travel.
And I love that I have the opportunity to do it. But the time and $$ I spend on traveling diverts me from other long term life goals. Being fiscally conservative, if I spend $6,000 today to for the awesome experience of traveling the ocean for two months on a cargo freighter, it’d be great, but that’s $6k that I have to replace with some form of work in the future. The working more part doesn’t sound very fun. Even though I rationally know it’s inevitable.
I’m learning that feeling like I’m part of a community is something that I’d very much like to experience. So, I’ve targeted a career path that allows me to feel part of a work family and less of an office drone. We’ll have to see how that goes if I do get the privilege of being hired on that very different career path.
I haven’t really felt part of a community in the seven years since college. When I was working, I spent my most productive hours at work. And I spent many hours not at work thinking about work. I’ve “retired” from my previous career and company and I still think about work. Work can very easily consume you even when you’re not there.
It’s definitely interesting to learn that my ideal early retirement vision is not a nomadic life, but a more stationary life, perhaps with shorter bursts of travel contained within. I thought I was being so clever about doing travel during a time where I don’t have to simultaneously pay rent…but there’s a lot to be said about having a home to go back to and not the feelings of the mysterious unknown future.
My ideal early retirement might include the likes of going back to using my actual degree and playing percussion in a local volunteer orchestra or guitar in a local jazz orchestra. And perhaps being on the board of directors f0r an orchestra. I can’t commit to either of those things while I’m traveling and didn’t want to commit the time to such things while I was working. Of course, these aren’t life goals that need to happen in the next year or the next 5 years. I’m still on track to hit FI in roughly may 2025, right around my 40th birthday.
One of the things about travel, what I’ve enjoyed about travel in the past, was the people that I traveled with. Driving around by myself is missing that key component of getting to know other travelers and exploring with them. I’m very independent at home, I’m finding that being super independent as a traveler isn’t something that I particularly enjoy. But, there’s not really an easy solution to that.
Staying here in ABQ is a nice deviation from the perpetual nomadicism, but it’s still a very temporary feeling. Today, I got to watch the sunset over the mountains in the distance from the couch in my trailer, it was a pretty awesome moment. And not something I could have experienced if I was working in an office in Southern California. And, of course, it had no monetary cost.
Tomorrow, I plan to go to a UNM Lobos baseball game in the afternoon, I couldn’t do that if I was working in SoCal (or working in NM). It’s fantastic to be able to have those life experiences “off schedule”. I love being able to do things during the hours when people are working because there are less crowds and less traffic. It doesn’t do much for the loneliness factor though.
Funnily enough, there’s a 25 year old woman from Houston doing an optometry externship also staying at this AirBNB, and she’d love to do some exploring with me…but she has to go to work during the week. And they aren’t even paying her to be a full time worker. It’s such a blessing that i can just do whatever and not limit my ABQ exploration time to the weekends like she is doing. That’s awesome for me.
I guess I have the age-old conundrum: My friends can’t afford to travel with me, so I can either go by myself, or I can just not go. For the longest time, the choice was to not go. I think that shifting the mindset to early retirement as a single person would be really challenging for me because I would have to make extra effort for that external human connection. If you have a spouse, at least there’s someone else around some of the time.
Eventually, I decided to stop waiting around for other people to travel with. Unfortunately, this travel experience might not be as much of a success as the other travel adventures on a social level, but the road trip is still very young!
I definitely think that psychologically, a permanent retirement would be a lot easier on me to adapt to. There would be less thought to the financial ramifications of the decision to retire and the associated spending decisions, because I would know that I have enough and wouldn’t be wondering when I might be going back to add to my stash.
2017 has pretty much been an epic fail in “not thinking about money”. Though my portfolio balance is coincidentally much higher than i anticipated. Knowing that I don’t have enough to never work again under reasonable circumstances, though, that’s going to be in the back of my mind and with some of my frugal tendencies, it’s become a bit of challenge to part with $$. And that’s unfortunate.
So, in summary, my problem with traveling isn’t necessarily that I’m not working and that somehow working would make me a happier person, and my problem with my previous job wasn’t necessarily that I hated working, and thought that not working would make me happier. I just didn’t particularly enjoy living in the location that my job was in. Though I am realizing that I definitely took a few things for granted. And, with traveling, this maybe just isn’t the perfectly optimized way for me to travel. But that’s okay, I’m making the best of it and still having more fun than working.
I’ll definitely need to figure out a way to explore different locales that doesn’t leave me exhausted from going too fast, but also doesn’t leave me feeling bored from going too slow. Unfortunately, you can’t choose your early retirement destination from reading web descriptions.
Also of note, The DAF that is invested in Fidelity’s Total Stock Market Fund is still crushing it. I put $17k in November and it’s still worth over $17,700 today. I decided to distribute another grant. Love free $$$ for charity.