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Different Pages - retire early discussions with your partner

This blog post is more tricky to write than the ones that I have done so far. As I've said before, when I was thinking about whether to stop work / retire early (whatever it's called), I struggled to find the information I wanted to help me with my decision, hence my blog is to share my experience and perhaps help others in a similar situation.

I'm still very happy with my decision. I've not been bored, I'm not at all stressed, I happily end any discussions on job opportunities before they start, so what is it that makes this blog post more difficult? It's because, for the first time, I'm writing about something in my retire early journey that is not panning out quite as expected.

I thought that the timing had been good. I finished my last work role in December, our daughter had already left home and in her final year of university, with our son going the following September. It would therefore just be Sally and me, empty nesters, entering this new phase in our lives, so many options of things to do...bucket list here we come!

But it's working out a little differently. While I'm still thinking about the things we can do, Sally is not. She's a few years younger than me, found her teaching career more recently, and isn't quite ready to move on. And therein lies the difficulty. Last year we were on the same page, both in jobs, waiting for the weekends, holidays etc, but this year the pages that we are on are a bit different.

This throws up a couple of things for us:

  1. For me, plans that I thought Sally and I would make together, and do this and next year, have to be put on hold. It's not that I will become bored, but I figured we had the chance to do exciting things now. I'd got myself at least partly in the mindset for this (not easy for an accountant!), but instead we are taking a time out from making these plans.

  2. For Sally, she's still working, so things haven't changed from her point of view - to some extent she can say, it's OK for David not to work, but why should that change things for her? The fact is that me not working means that we have less money each month in the budget, it's a simple consequence of the decision to retire early. In a nutshell, a part of Sally struggles to see why she should be more careful with money when she's still working.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a big problem. Yes, it changes things a bit, but that's mostly just timing, and we'll work out some compromises along the way. We of course did talk things through a lot before the retire early decision, but in hindsight we clearly didn't cover everything in as much detail as I thought, or perhaps some thoughts have just changed a bit.

So what's the point of my rambling? I'm highlighting this experience so that others can decide if there are lessons to learn for their own discussions and decisions. From my point of view, it seems to say that we should have delved deeper into the early retirement conversations that we had - I thought we had done so at the time, but hindsight tells me that it would have been helpful to have dived a bit deeper in our discussions. Having said that, I don't think that it would have changed the retire early decision, but it could have given us a better understanding of what the next year or two would be, so that we better understood what the pages would look like from the outset. No big deal, life would be boring if everything went to plan!

By the way, I'm writing this blog from Berlin and two weeks ago I was in Prague - both for running events. I've really enjoyed these trips, I might have done one, but wouldn't have done them both if I hadn't retired early. In the next week I'll write a post about my visit to Germany (assuming that I survive the 73km run that I have to do tomorrow!). What could have added to the trips? would have been great if Sally and I could have spent time exploring some of Europe together in between my runs, but this is always something that we can do at another time instead.


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