Only a few words from me (David) today, which are to introduce Sally's first blog post.
There are plenty of blogs written by fans of FIRE being read by people who are fans of FIRE. But there's a less catered for group, a life partner who doesn't necessarily share the FIRE dream, or is simply happy with life as it is or was. A half that wonders "if it isn't broken, why fix it?".
That description fits my other half, Sally. She was comfortable in her life, liked her job, her friends, where she lived, our income, and didn't feel a need to try something new. My early retirement ideas didn't necessarily fit with her life or plans.
Sally writing a blog post is a small example. She wouldn't be doing this if I hadn't retired early - it's me who's persuaded her to give it a go and she's quite nervous about it.
Other than this introduction, my only role for this post is to keep my hands off it. The thoughts, words and editing are all from Sally - probably the reason the grammar and punctuation is better than normal.
Hopefully, looking at FIRE from a different angle will be interesting. Maybe show it to your partner, wife, husband, boyfriend or girlfriend, the one who might not be quite so besotted by FIRE as you are i.e. the person like Sally.
I'd like to persuade Sally to write more posts and showing some love via a comment might help. That's more than enough from me, let's see what Sally has to say this week.
It's hard to get away from the subject of early retirement, I live with him! He is very organised in his time but has lots of time to think about things… which creates lots of questions!
When David retired young, 3 years ago, I told him that I wanted to continue working. Although we are financially stable, I enjoyed my job and I am also 5 years his junior. After negotiations on when to leave Dubai, I continued to work for another year whilst David organised our travels, clearly indicating that he had no intentions of staying in Dubai longer than the year we had agreed on. Just subtle signs like flights being booked, travel itinerary being dinner conversation, our furniture being sold…
When we left Dubai it was common knowledge to our friends and family that I would have a short career break and then return to work, as during conversation this was relayed as what I wanted. To be fair, when David asked if I still wanted to work, I said yes. I did want to work, I wanted to carry on doing my job, I enjoyed my job, I didn’t want to leave.
We left Dubai in June 2018 and travelled for 4 months. I enjoyed every country we visited on our travels, but what would I have done differently? Obviously you live and learn but a chunk of 4 months away was too long for me. Some places we only stayed one night, others three, I got to a stage where if I woke up in the night I had to remember where the toilet was in the dark, never mind remembering what country I was in. A few months after our travels, when people asked me questions about different countries we’d visited, they had all merged in to one in my mind.
When we received the keys to our French apartment in mid-December 2018, we got to choose furniture and personalise it, make it a home. After renting for the last 3 years in Dubai (due to selling our house), and living out of a backpack in hostels on our travels, it was nice to have our own place again. Being retired, David was keen to remain flexible, and added to the fact that I don’t speak French so cannot teach in any of the local schools, when David asked me if I wanted to return to work after my year off, I said no.
Questions… this led to more questions about what I wanted to do. David wanted to know if I had a plan, but re-iterated that he wanted to remain flexible. This makes teaching quite difficult as you are working 3 terms a year and tied to school holidays. We had the conversation about working in England and perhaps going on supply lists for different schools in an attempt to remain flexible, but I think neither of us really wanted to make the final decision to go back, so that fizzled out.
Meanwhile, in France we have made a good group of friends, although they are seasonal; when the Ski season (winter) finishes, people disappear, as with the biking/hiking season (summer). Morzine becomes very quiet, bars and restaurants work on a rota, and non-essential shops close down and clear their shelves. Should we be doing the same?
Travels in 2019 were cut a little shorter for me but the compromise was that once I came home after visiting Los Angeles and Costa Rica (6 weeks travels), our daughter joined David in Columbia for a month before he had a final 2 weeks back in America. He got his chunk of travel and I was happy, back in the comfort of my home after enjoying 6 weeks away.
So, after all of this rambling on, the question still remains… Do I consider myself to be retired? The answer has to be No! I know people have their own idea of what the word retirement means to them, but to me it sounds so final. Finished. Done. Not in the sense of age, but in the sense of the situation you are in. I can’t imagine never teaching again as it’s something that I really enjoyed, and although it’s a hard slog, I always had a tremendous sense of achievement at the end of each year when assessment results came in. I also worked with a fantastic group of people who, no matter what, supported each other when times were tough. I started in the school when it opened on 17th September 2005, as did my 2 children. When I left, not only was I the longest standing member of staff, I was also the oldest member of the Primary teaching team, so people asked me for information about the school’s brief history, or strategies that had been used in the school and changed for some reason. My opinion seemed to be sought after and appreciated. Talking to friends who teach in England, this could be a hard situation to come by if we returned!
So, what could I do with my time? I have considered the possibility of doing online tutoring, I’m just not sure what it would entail or the technical side of set-up, but it’s an option. I also love craft activities, so another thought is up-cycling items of unwanted pieces of small furniture, breathing new life into them and attempting to sell them on the internet. Again, it’s getting started, but also having space to store things, but still an idea.
I have also enjoyed the flexibility of not working. Being able to get in the car and drive to see my daughter in Zurich for a couple of nights, or getting on a plane, that only takes and hour, to visit my son or my sisters and dad. If I were at work in a school, these trips would be restricted to designated holidays, and less easily done on the spur of the moment.
With all that said, David and I have both worked hard over the years to get to the position we are in, where either of us can decide to retire before retirement age, so there’s absolutely no reason why David shouldn’t have. We’re just at different stages of what we want to do, work wise, but neither of us are adverse to compromise, as long as it’s a two way thing!!
It's David again, remember to leave a comment if you have any questions for Sally or suggestions for topics that may be interesting for the non FIRE person (that's Sally, in case you hadn't realised🤣) to write about.
This is the second post this week, normally there's only do one, so don't forget to look at my other post Snapshot of early retirement life in today's Covid-19 world if you've not already done so.