Back in 2019, I wrote about some of my early retirement numbers. I had fun writing that post, so thought I'd do something similar for the stand out dates leading up to my early retirement and then to the present day. The beginning seems a good place to start:
1969 is my beginning, the year I was born. It's kind of important to me, but better known by most for Neil Armstrong's "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" during the first moon landing. 1969 means that I'm now 51 which I don't like the sound of - I retired when I was 47, only four years difference, but forty something sounds heaps younger.
1982, picked at random to represent my childhood. I was a well behaved kid, not the smartest but far from being the most stupid, kind of middle of the road. I guess our family was middle class, but without much spare money - family cars were neither new nor fashionable, hand-me-down clothes were normal and our annual holiday was camping. I had to earn my pocket money (paper-round, supermarket shelf stacking and babysitting) and I was taught how to behave and expected to do so. It was a good upbringing and I've tried to do similar with our kids, although I'm sure they've had it easier, but isn't that what every generation says?
FIRE gamechanger event: My parents taught me the value of hard work and to always do my best. I'm not stupid (no comments on this please🤣), but it's working hard and being dependable and flexible that contributed most to my career/earnings and to accumulating enough money to retire early.
1987 I got my first job. I was 18 years old, with no clue what I wanted to do or if I'd even be good at anything. Going to university didn't enter my mind, I'm not sure why. I saw a job advert, an accounts clerk for a fire extinguisher manufacturer, applied, and got it.
FIRE gamechanger event: My employer sent me to college one day a week to get my professional accounting qualifications. Without them, I'm sure my career and earnings would have looked a lot different, and I suspect I wouldn't have been able to retire at 47.
1990 is when I joined the company with whom, a few years later, I would move into an overseas role. Living in different countries has been an experience I'm lucky to have had - I've seen different countries and cultures, met fantastic people and been paid well while doing it. Other than my birth country, I've lived in Jamaica, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa and France, for a total of 20 years or two thirds of my adult life.
1993 was the year that I met Sally. That means we've now been together for 28 years👫, she must think she's won the lottery🤣. This was also the year that we went to Jamaica for my first overseas role.
1995 and 1998 were when our kids were born. It changes lots of things and costs lots of money, but they're worth it...most of the time!
2005 was when I took a job in Dubai. The timing was good, just before a boom period meaning my earnings increased significantly over the following years. We'd been in the UK for a few years before this but decided that we liked the overseas life better.
FIRE gamechanger event: Taking the job in Dubai transformed our finances. I joined a company where I could earn a meaningful bonus, a construction boom meant salaries were rising quickly and there's no taxation.
2012 was when I started running shortly after Jubil asked why I had become fat. Brave, because I could have fired him🤣 but instead I figured that he was right, losing the weight was the better option. Running turned into a hobby that's kept me fit, introduced me to many wonderful people and given me some adventures/stories that I can, and do, bore people with, like this one, or this one, or this one, or this one🤣
2014 was when we sold our house in Dubai which was important for two reasons. Having made a good gain on the sale, it was probably the first time that I thought we maybe had enough money i.e. we could survive if we weren't earning. The second thing is that it kicked off our downsizing journey, we went progressively from a five bedroom house to the 2 bedroom 61m² (650ft²) that we have now. In the interests of full disclosure, since the end of last year we have two homes, the apartment in France and a house in the UK - I'm not yet convinced this make sense, it seems wasteful, but Sally likes it.
2016 was the year I retired early at 47. It started horribly at work which made me ask if "I really needed to put up with this $#*&". I was surprised that the answer was no, and within a short time I decided to quit and retire early. I didn't even think about looking for another job, I just wanted out. I did sleep on it for a few months before handing in my notice in March with my final work day on 30 June 2016. My only regret is that I agreed to an additional six months as a consultant, so I kept working part time until the end of the year, but my heart wasn't in it.
FIRE gamechanger event: Circumstances at work triggered my early retirement decision. I possibly wouldn't have considered this option otherwise. I wonder how many other people continue doing things simply because they don't think of the alternatives or because they seem scary? That could have been me in other circumstances.
2017 was when we became empty nesters, when our youngest went off to university. It's also when full time early retirement began. I honestly haven't once regretted my decision. Since then, I've travelled for four months to Asia and Australia, three months to California, Costa Rica and Colombia, been able to see our kids more (they're in different countries), moved to France and done my first ski seasons, met new friends, cycled over the Alps, run all my personal best times, started my blog, and tried to come up with a variety of ideas and plans that make Sally roll her eyes in exasperation. Or sometimes I simply stare at the view, smile and think how lucky I am. And feeling stressed, that's something that doesn't seem to exist anymore.
2018 is when the cats left home, they went to live with our daughter in Zurich, after all, we got the cats because of her. This gave us the freedom to plan some of the longer travels that I had on my early retirement to do list.
2019 the cats returned - I'm not sure how that happened! We love them, but they do make planning things more complicated.
2020 is when Covid changed what we were allowed/could do. Into lockdown, out, then back in again, ever changing rules as to what we can and can't do. In some ways, I feel my first years of early retirement have given me some tools to navigate through the restrictions, to find things to do and keep active. Plus I'm thankful I'm not in a business trying to plot a route through the pandemic.
2021 onwards are the most important years. I'm happy with life up to now, but even if I wasn't, there's nothing I can do to change the past. But I can choose what life looks from now on. After an exciting (at least for me) first three years of early retirement, 2020 was a bust when we had to spend the majority of time at home and scrap any plans that we might have had. There's a risk that such inertia could be carried forward to find myself coasting through the next few years, which I'm determined to avoid. What 2020 has done, is remind us that we can't always take next year for granted, so while I'm not going to claim to be the most exciting person (remember, I was an accountant!), I do want to make sure I'm doing things that excite and stretch me. It's time to get my to do list out, and when I look at something and say "I'm not sure", try to come down on the side of doing it.