How the other half lives - my wife's view of my early retirement
I've retired early. It's great. I can stay in bed late if I want, I don't have stress, no deadlines, no boss, hey, I can do what I want. Not bad, huh?
My wife Sally, well she still works. Her alarm sounds at 5:45am, she works extra in the evening, has deadlines, a boss, and the rest. She can't complain because it's her own fault, it's her choice to work.
Oh, Sally gets a pay check at the end of each month. Yeah, I don't get one of those. Other than that minor detail, it all seems pretty balanced to me, absolute bliss by my reckoning.
So getting towards the end of my first year of early retirement, I wonder what Sally thinks. Does she agree with my "absolute bliss" thinking, or does she have some different views? Let's find out.
By the way, I promised Sally that I wouldn't use this picture. I can't remember how I tricked her into pulling a face with a camera present, but I suspect I'll be in trouble and I'm going to pay for it!
So, Sally, what did you think when David told you he planned to quit his job and retire early? Did you think he was crazy?
Sally: I didn't think he was crazy, but I was a bit surprised that he actually went through with it, because he's said he's wanted to retire since he was about 25. I did think that he’d get bored pretty quickly and end up falling in to another job similar to the one he had, but he hasn't done so yet.
Were you concerned?
Sally: Not really. I assumed that David had worked out that we could afford it. Although I work, I did wonder whether he would be around too much, always under my feet as it were? I worried that he may turn into a nag bag; because he would be doing the housework, would he moan at me putting my bags down as I walked in the door and that kind of thing?
Have your thoughts stayed the same, or have they changed over the year?
Sally: They've changed a bit. Since David started setting budgets it has made me question whether we really do have enough money for David to retire early. I'm still not sure if we have. He seems to keep himself very busy and I think that if we got into a situation where he needed to get a job he would now struggle to find the time.
Has David being early retired changed your life, and if it has, in what way?
Sally: We've downsized from a 3 bedroom town house to a 2 bedroom apartment, perhaps because our son went to university but it is also to do with the budget. David does moan a bit when I work late, which he didn't used to as he probably worked late also. A little thing that has changed is David’s ideas on socialising, he’s gone back to the mindset we had when the children were small and we used to entertain people at home, or go to their houses. We’ve done it a couple of times lately and it beats paying extortionate prices in overcrowded places.
Do you see it changing your life much in the next few years?
Sally: Now that David isn't earning, Dubai is too expensive to live in on only my salary. That means we're going to leave Dubai and the friends that we have here, so that's a big change coming up, and I'm not sure that I'm happy about it. At this time, we don't know what our plan is once we have finished travelling. We are buying a small apartment in the French Alps, it's tiny and in a ski resort, so I don't think we'll live there permanently but use it frequently and rent it out to get an income when we're not using it.
What's the money situation like? I mean, you're earning and David isn't. Does that make a difference?
Sally: A huge difference! We only get one paycheck and it’s the smaller of the two! David asks me what I've spent a lot more now, which he tells me is because he needs to put the costs into the right boxes for his monthly costs post on the blog. It’s a good thing I suppose because before I wouldn’t even have been able to say how much a pint of milk cost, but it’s a bit annoying and I did wonder at the start whether he was going to turn into a control freak with nothing better to do with his time! Other than that, David always dealt with the money, so I guess it's OK and assume that he has worked it out that we do have enough, otherwise he wouldn’t have retired with Sam starting university.
Do you think that David's view of life has changed since he retired early? In what way?
Sally: He's more laid back for sure, and far less stressed. Longer term; as he has retired he has felt the need to create some sort of ‘Bucket List’. He has developed the need to have something to ‘do’. He writes down everything he does during the day (I wonder if this is to show me he doesn’t sit around all day) and is planning our future ‘Travels’, making sure he researches all the different places we plan to visit and the accommodation/hostels! He refers to our travels frequently so I think it’s just his way of reminding me that I’m not signing up for another year of work in Dubai!
And what about David and money? Any change there since the big early retirement?
Sally: Yes. He's not mean with his money, but because he is budgeting and managing the costs, it does sometimes come across that way. He has spent money travelling to do some international running events in the Czech Republic and in Germany, which he didn't used to do. On the other hand he did spend time doing price checks in different supermarkets to make sure he’s getting best value with the grocery shopping. Overall, he will buy something if he wants it, but he now puts more thought into deciding whether he really does want it or not.
Has David changed since retiring early, and in what way?
Sally: Just more laid back. He was under a lot of pressure and stress when he was at work but it wasn’t really noticeable until he left. He is more conscious of time and that he is using his wisely, which is ironic as he has more of it since he retired early! Other than that it’s just his desire to travel and see the world.
Would you say David's a bit lazy now?
Sally: No. He still gets up early each day, even though he could stay in bed longer, and he still waits for me to come home from work before going out running or cycling with his friends - why does he do that?! He keeps himself busy during the day seeing his friends, doing chores, researching and writing his blog posts etc.
Are you more or less stressed now that David has retired early?
Sally: I'm no different, not any more or less stressed. I am still working so there will be more stressy times, like at the moment we are having our school inspection which is quite stressful, but I really like my weekends and being able to chill out and relax.
What do you think David does to fill his time? Do you think this is time well spent, and do you think he's actually a bit bored, or will soon be bored?
Sally: He writes lots of lists. He also does his blog of course, and reads other blogs and does some research for his own ideas. He meets his friends for coffee, and does his chores. I suppose it's time well spent. I don't think he's bored at the moment, but I think he may get bored in the future, although I don't know how long that will take.
Don't you fancy taking early retirement as well?
Sally: Not really. But I'll soon be taking a year off as David wants to travel, so maybe I will change my mind after that, who knows? At the moment, I plan to go back to work after travelling. I'm 5 years younger than David and I also started my career later so I don't feel like I'm done with it yet. I enjoy my job and would ideally retire later after I get to the point that I’ve had enough. We’ll see, after a year off I might have a totally different outlook.
Now that David has more time, does he do more of the chores around the home?
Sally: Yes. He does the washing, ironing, cleaning, shopping and quite a bit of the cooking. He moans about the cooking sometimes (but when I said this, he was surprised and said he didn't realise that).
What do you think of David's blog? Is it something that you would read, or do you think he's wasting his time?
Sally: I do read it. The money part isn't so interesting to me though, just because it's not my thing. I don't think it's a waste of time, as he enjoys it. He likes reading other peoples’ Blog Posts too and will comment on them. He likes getting comments on his blog posts and will spend time writing a good answer to any comments. It also keeps him busy which is a good thing as he is productive with his time. I also think the reason he is writing the posts is good, and he probably wouldn’t have even thought of doing it had he found more information when he was looking into his own early retirement decision.
David keeps writing about his plan to go travelling. What do you think of that idea?
Sally: I don't think it's a bad idea, although I wouldn't have chosen to do it right now, as I'm still in the middle of my career. I'm quite nervous about the "backpacking" talk from David. I would prefer it to be more organised and booked, and a bit more upmarket than David seems to be planning. I do wonder how anyone goes travelling for 3-4 months with just a tiny backpack – they must stink! I also worry that after a year out of work I would have lost touch with teaching and find it hard to get a job, things change all the time and as I get older I think I'm less flexible and don’t enjoy change. This is a massive change.
Would you prefer it if David hadn't retired
Sally: No. I think it has done him the world of good.
Is it true that David would consider coming out of retirement if he was offered the role of James Bond?
Sally: Definitely, yes! He does like a good double entendre. He also believes James Bond is real. And David does look good in a suit, but seems to wear shorts and a T-shirt most of the time now!
Do you think that David has become even more dashingly handsome since he retired early?
Sally: Even more? Where did you get these questions from? For work David was always clean shaven but when he was on vacation he didn’t shave (unless he was going to see his Nana). He seems to have kept that same principle in early retirement so now he's got a beard. I don't mind it. But, as we live in a hot country, I do wonder what he’d look like if he shaved - a tanned forehead and a really white chin, that would look weird!
So these are some of Sally's views on my early retirement and any effects that it has had on her. I must admit that I thought she was going to have some tougher comments on a few things, the budgeting and the travel plans to name a couple.
Although some of this may be a bit lighthearted, I think that this is a serious and important topic. It can be quite challenging if partners have different views or timescales on early retirement, or indeed retirement at any age. For Sally and myself, although it doesn't seem to be a big problem, we are each having to compromise on what we would be doing now or next year, because of our different views and different stages in our lives. I'm staying in Dubai for an extra year, which isn't really my preference (I'm ready to move on), and next year Sally is giving up her job to take a year out to accommodate my travel plans.
I may go through the same questions and answer them from my perspective, to see where my views differ from Sally's. I'm also keeping a diary for October to record the main things that I do each day, so perhaps these two things can be combined into one post in early November. It might be basic stuff, but it was this kind of thing that I was trying to read up on when I was considering my own retire early decision.
I wrote another shorter post on this back in May, which you can read here if you wish.
Oh, and if you don't hear from me again, it will be because Sally is even more unhappy with the picture than I thought!