One thing we know is that early retirement gives us freedom. Once the chain to the workplace is broken, maybe we'll use our new freedom to travel, get to those projects we never had time for, or maybe even move to that dream location. I've done, am doing or have plans for a version of all of these - no wonder I keep saying that life's good.
But early retirement freedoms don't have to be such big ideas. In So, How's Retirement Going?, She's FIRE'd tells us of some of the new freedoms she's enjoying, little things like not being in a hurry and being able to putter around the garden in her jammies with a cup of coffee. Who'd have thought these are the things that dreams are made of?
But I totally get it. I love having the time to think about things, how simple is that? Sally's not so happy with my thinking though, she says it only leads to more of my stupid ideas! Hey Sally, only some of them are stupid!😂
Of course, the new freedoms that She's FIRE'd is enjoying aren't weird. Probably weird is the wrong word for mine too, but they're notable for being seemingly insignificant and not what I expected when I started my early retirement. FIRE is more than just not having to go to work, and it's surprising how much pleasure comes from the little things, even if some of them seem a little weird. Anyway, here are four examples of slightly weird things that I'm currently enjoying in my early retirement freedom:
I'm not washing my hair
Not long ago, I'd have said this was gross - who'd do that? Recently I've found the answer is me! I'm not exactly sure why, most likely I read about it somewhere, or saw it on YouTube (probably #vanlife), and thought, hey, why not give it a go - I didn't rebel when I was young so maybe this is my version of rebelling while being slightly less young. I tell people it's a mini social experiment, whatever that means. Anyway, it turns out it works, maybe my hair got a bit greasy for the first few days or a week, then it kind of sorted itself out.
This is a recent thing, I washed my hair with shampoo in the middle of March, then again in mid April, but not in the three months since. I still rinse it well with water everyday when I shower - I'm not trying to be completely disgusting! Anyway, it seems OK to me, and I haven't noticed anyone recoil in horror when I've met them. I'm not saying I'll do this for ever, but I'll keep with the experiment for a while yet.
Could I have done this before I retired, when I was still working? For sure. Would I have? No way! I wasn't going to risk turning up at work with the suggestion of even slightly greasy looking hair. I think this counts as a slightly weird early retirement freedom.
I'm not drinking alcohol
Is this another of my social experiments? Back in August last year, we went out with some friends for chat and a couple of beers. I had a long run planned the next day and wanted a clear head.
We tried the local brew which is a bit stronger than the average beer, and maybe there were four or five beers instead of two. And a headache in the morning. I forced myself to do my run, but it wasn't fun. Why didn't I just stick to two beers as planned? It wasn't like our friends were boring or bad company that necessitated an extra beer or three to get through the evening. In fact, the opposite, they're highly entertaining, no beers required to be amused by them.
So I applied my extra early retirement thinking time to the question - why do we sometimes drink too much or, in fact, why do we drink at all? Hmm, good question, it's actually difficult to come up with a sensible answer to that. Time indeed for another social experiment. So I decided to not drink alcohol for a while, the three months of our travels to Costa Rica, Colombia and California seemed a good time to try it, and it was pretty easy. Once back from travelling, I returned to enjoy a beer or two because it was Christmas (Christmas = beer, does that make any sense either?), but after six weeks I decided to go alcohol free again, that was five months ago.
I'm not saying this is a forever decision, probably it isn't, perhaps I'll change my mind in a month, six months, a year, or never. As for now, I'm happy with what I'm doing with no headaches! Weird? Probably not, but I'm suspecting it's not that common.
I watch less television
This seems counter intuitive - with more free time, I might have expected TV watching to increase.
The starting point was cost. Once retired, I had time to look at our costs to see if we were spending money unnecessarily. It turns out we were, by significantly reducing the number of channels we cut our annual cable/internet bill by £972 ($1,372 using exchange rates at the time). Better than the savings, having cut a load of channels it stopped me watching programmes just because they were there.
I still watch TV, but less of it, and mostly YouTube these days. I search for topics I'm interested in, rather than watching something simply because I've had a hard day at work and can't be bothered to do anything else. Maybe less TV isn't such a weird new thing in early retirement, but I think it's a good one.
I've gone veggie
I was trying not to include this because I know my daughter is going to say "there goes Dad, banging on about being a veggie again". Unfortunately for her, it's my blog, so I can write what I want🤣
The start for this was my friend lending me a book, Eat & Run by Scott Jurek. I then read a bit more, watched some Netflix documentaries while I did the ironing (I've since found that ironing is almost always unnecessary), and decided to try out being a vegetarian.
Two and a half years later, I'm still happy with my choice. I see this one lasting.
So four seemingly unconnected things that I'm now doing, or in some cases, am no longer doing. A bit of an eclectic and possibly slightly weird mix. A common theme is that I'm enjoying getting the chance to do all of them (OK, maybe that's an exaggeration for the hair washing one - don't forget, I do give my hair a good water workout, just without shampoo, so not totally ughhh). Are they freedoms?, maybe, but for sure they have come about because early retirement has somehow given me the freedom to try them - I'm sure that if I was still working my corporate job I wouldn't be doing them.
As She's FIRE'd is discovering, much of FIRE is about the little things and for me, these four slightly weird things are a positive part of the equation. I wonder what unexpected or slightly weird things others are finding with their early retirement freedom?