Updated: Sep 26, 2020
Last week I wrote a start here post, an introduction to me and my blog. Yes, it would have been sensible to do it back in 2017 when I started my blog but, as the saying goes, better late than never.
Now I'm figuring there's perhaps a few more things to add. With a feeling of déjà vu, yes, it would have made sense to include in last week's post, here's some more introduction to me and my iretiredyoung blog:
I'm from the UK, went to school but not to college/university and started work when I was 18.
I'm married, have two grown up kids, and I retired early in 2016 when I had just turned 47. I don't know if it's an interesting fact or not, but I've spent some time living in Jamaica, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, South Africa and France, as well as my native United Kingdom.
A quick thought on Financial Independence & Retiring Early
I like FIRE, after all, that's what I've done. But what I really like about financial independence is that it gives us choices, of which early retirement is just one. It should really be called something like FIGC (Financial Independence Get Choices), but unfortunately that just sounds a bit rubbish - it's not going to catch on!
My route to financial independence
My motivation: It had nothing to do with early retirement! It was financial security that I focused on, to ensure that my family was provided for. By happy coincidence, the steps that I took in pursuit of family financial security also moved me towards financial independence.
My earnings: I focused on my job, finding that hard work and being dependable could convert to promotions and pay rises. I started off earning minimum wage as an accounts clerk and worked my way up to finance director. My other big win was that 20 of my working years were as an international expat - it paid better and had lower taxation, both of which made a big difference to our finances.
I didn't have any side hustles.
Saving: I believe that tracking our costs each month automatically resulted in increased savings. The other big thing is that we avoided debt.
Investing: I made lots of mistakes, bad investments, procrastination etc but still made it to FI. The mistakes have made us relatively cautious, but we're fairly happy with our portfolio of rental properties and low cost ETF investments.
Keeping a balance: I believe that life can't just be earning, saving and investing and that we need to allow time and money to live life and have adventures and treats.
And then I retired...early
I handed my resignation letter to my employer in February 2016 and officially left on 30 June 2016. But then I made a mistake by returning in a part time consulting role for the remainder of 2016. It didn't work for me, my heart wasn't in it and I regretted it. Although I didn't like it, I wonder if the part time nature (2-3 days a week) of the consultancy was a useful aid in my transition from full time work to full time early retirement.
Full time early retirement started in January 2017.
My early retirement decision & plan
Deciding whether or not to retire early was incredibly difficult. There were too many unknowns about what I'd do and whether the finances would work.
In hindsight, my early retirement planning whiteboard looked a bit rubbish, but it actually worked. It contained enough to get me going and I now realise that I didn't need to have everything figured out on day one.
What's early retirement like?
For me, it's life with a lot less stress and a lot more choice.
Our current plan is to spend winter and summer in the French Alps and spring and autumn in the UK. I would also like to spend between two or three months a year exploring new locations (our cats make that difficult right now).
I keep myself busy with fitness activities, friends, coffee, my blog, travel, household chores and admin tasks. I'm aware that my job gave me more than just a salary, and I take care to carry some of those other beneficial aspects into my early retirement life. I also like routine and think it's been a big help in my early retirement.
Where am I now?
Today I'm in France, but within the next week or two I'll be heading to the UK to start our new plan of alternating between the UK and France - swapping every three months. I think there are pros and cons about that plan, so it will be interesting to see how it goes. If it doesn't work, we'll change it.
As to early retirement, I have zero regrets. I don't miss work, I definitely don't miss the pressure and the stress that came with it, and I'm loving the new things that I'm doing (travelling, my blog, skiing etc) as well as the mindset change that has come with early retirement.
That said, I put effort into making sure my early retirement is good - I don't laze about, I make plans and set targets, and I keep a routine...mostly. I'm convinced these things have made a big difference in making my early retirement a success so far.
There will be some more of what I'm doing now, some new and different things and most likely some things I just haven't even dreamed of yet.
The first new thing is starting to live alternate three months between UK and France, so we'll see how that goes. I want to get back into travelling some more, although Coronavirus means that's currently not an option, and I also haven't figured out how to do it while we have two cats. I have my camper conversion idea too.
The one thing I have no plans for is going back to work. I'm grateful that I had a mostly enjoyable career, but I'm happy to have moved on to a different phase of life. So, in terms of my FIGC - Financial Independence Get Choices, it turns out that the Retiring Early choice is still suiting me very well.