Last year, I sold my financial advising firm and walked away from a 24 year career at age 48. I was actually “done” about a year earlier but I needed time to get my affairs in order. As a retirement planning expert, I knew what to expect and what I needed to have in place in order to pull this off. Guess what I didn’t have? A huge pile of money.
I define my retirement as “I work when I want, how I want, and from where I want”. Since I had not done long term preparation to retire myself early I was not naive enough to think I could sell my business and walk away and never work again. But I’ll be damned if it wasn’t time to get free. One popular comment I get is “You must have inherited money.” That would be very nice, but I didn’t. “You must have sold your business for a mint.” Again, that would have been nice, but you’d be quite surprised just how little a financial firm will sell for.
There is a stretch of time from my official retirement to when some of my retirement funds kick in, so I need to bridge that gap while still enjoying my early retirement freedom. The fact is that my plan includes various projects mostly surrounding the release of my book “Retire Early… What are you waiting for?” in September. Some days I work three hours, some days I work five hours, and some days I work zero hours.
Clearly, my plan centers around doing what I want. Right now, I’m in Montreal on a Dad-Daughter road trip with my daughter Kate before she heads off to the University of Kentucky this fall. She just graduated and I couldn’t be prouder. I would have never been able to do this trip if I still had my advising business. (Plus, this gives me 40 hours in the car to tell her what not to do in college.)
Although never officially diagnosed, I’m pretty sure I have a raging case of ADD. I’ve always enjoyed a good cheeseburger especially if it has bacon on it. Wait…What? Okay back on topic. An average day in the life of a 49 year old retiree.
On an average day, I get up about 6:45am and go to the gym for 45-60 minutes. They call it the “freshman 15” when you go to college and gain a few pounds. Well, I gained the “corporate 50” due to stress and just not being mindful of what I ate. So, I’m getting those extra pounds off.
During the rest of the day I’m working on the finishing touches to the book and the companion workbook. I’ll write a blog here and there, usually about once a week (like this one!) My life partner Deb has her own business so I have some fun here and there helping her out when she makes me. There is always something to do. I often mix in a few cigars throughout the day and catchup with my kids.
Whatever I’m doing, I’m doing it because I want to.
I’ll get out most days and run errands. I’m generally the youngest person by 20 years waiting to be called to get my hair cut. I’m able to buy groceries, get an oil change, and go to the post office all while missing the afternoon rush. My yard work is done before Friday so that I have the weekend free for my friends and family that do work the 9-5. It’s a great feeling not having to rush out the door to be at the office by 9am. My commute now is down a flight of stairs.
Most of us who have retired early view the corporate 9-5 job as getting in the way of what we really want to accomplish and that’s being free and taking control of our lives. You see, even those who love their career and are successful struggle with lack of free time and “mental space”. I enjoy helping people, writing, traveling, and working on projects that feed my passion so that’s what I’ll do going forward. Pretty simple approach, actually.
I don’t know anyone who has retired early to be able to wake up late, watch Price is Right every morning, do nothing, and enjoyed it. The novelty wears off fast. Retiring early is about taking control of your life. It’s not going home and sitting on your ass all day and rotting away. It’s about freedom and will always be about freedom. In fact, the book could have very easily been called “Freedom… What are you waiting for?”
So, I ask again…what are you waiting for?
Live free my friends.