another big thanks to all of you who responded to our reader survey. (it’s still open if you want to weigh in!) we’re humbled by all the love and positivity, and will absolutely be writing a bunch of posts based on suggestions you shared with us!
while the interesting start to the year from a market perspective is making us think that we’re most likely staying in our jobs through 2017, we’re remaining focused on our goal of leveling up our savings this year. there’s no downside to doing this — worst case, we work as long as we’ve been planning for a while, but either retire with more dollars than we’d hoped, or — if we get a real bear market — then maybe we end up with the amount we’d originally hoped for, but with that amount comprised of more shares, which is better for long-term growth potential anyway. and if the markets explode this year and we get extra large year-end bonuses, then maybe this is still our last year of work after all. stay tuned!
so whether our first year of early retirement is 2018 (what we’ve been planning since before we started the blog) or 2017 (what we thought for five seconds might be workable as of the end of last year, before the markets went all bajiggity), we’ve had that mythical first year of freedom on our minds in a big way lately. like any aspiring early retirees worth our salt, we spend lots of time thinking about everything we want to do when we have more time on our hands, but we’ve been getting more specific, and thinking about the things we’ll do as we adjust to our post-work era, and some of the big life goals that we want to tackle right away. and we’ve thought, too, about how we can live our life’s purpose that we mapped out right away in our first year, and not think of that as something we’ll do “later.” (honestly, we’ve spent our whole lives thinking of so many of our big goals as coming later, so it could be hard to adjust just to that change! being able to say “let’s do this now!” will feel so novel.)
here’s our evolving vision for our first year of retirement:
the basics: protecting our health
catch up on sleep — it’s sad that we have to list this one, we know. but it’s true. work and work travel are not good for getting all the winks each night, and we’re 110 percent sure that we’re going to collapse into retirement with a pretty major sleep deficit. priority number one in retirement is to banish the alarm clock from our room… except on powder days.
explore opportunities to hustle for produce — one of the wacky but awesome things about mountain towns is the widespread openness to trading for goods and services instead of exchanging cash. we know of people who work at the farmers market one day a week in exchange for a csa share, or who do some work on a farm for their produce box. we want to see if we could get in on one of those deals! we spend way too much on groceries because we prioritize buying fresh, local, organic produce, and if we could get that price down while also getting some fresh air and interacting with people, that would be a very good thing.
improve our fitness — like with sleep, work these past few years has not been kind to our fitness. we’re still relatively active, but we intend to do better. we want to be able to take on some big, demanding mountain climbs and extended hikes, and since we aren’t getting any younger, we don’t want to put that stuff off too long. so boosting our fitness is not just a health imperative, it’s also key to being able to do what we really want to do in early retirement!
purpose category: adventure
fly on miles while we still have status — we’re hoarding airline miles and hotel points at breakneck speed right now, but we recently realized that these miles will have maximum value to us sooner rather than later. that’s for two main reasons: 1. because the airlines have been known to devalue miles periodically, and another devaluation could happen at any time, and 2. because the airlines make it much easier and cheaper to redeem your miles when you have some level of fancypants status, and same goes for the hotels and their points. since we expect to have some status in our first year of retirement, earned during our last year of work, we want to take several trips booked on miles in year one so that we can actually redeem our miles. where will we go? we can’t wait to decide!
enjoy the “staycation” — when we’re not traveling, we can’t wait to feel like real locals in our mountain town. we’ve lived here four years so far, but managed to move in right around the time when my travel picked up in frequency and mr. onl’s work increased in pressure. so while we love living where we do, we also feel like we miss a lot. we die just a little bit every time we hear that our friends are skipping out of work for a powder day on a weekday. we wish. but once we retire, we hope to skip the weekends entirely and only ski on the weekdays. and now i’m going to totally contradict myself and say that we’re also looking forward to acting like non-locals. locals go with the flow and do whatever seems good each day, but our long-term goal is to get to know all the local trails, peaks and streams, and that’s not going to happen by accident. if we were vacationing in our area, we would make an itinerary: this hike today, this crag the next, this bike ride the day after, and this paddle the day after that. if we treat our extended staycation as a real vacation, and actually plan some of these activities out, we feel like we’ll cover more ground and really get to know the area more than we will if we just keep repeating our favorite spots.
purpose category: service
increase our board service — one of my retirement goals is to do continual service on the board of directors for nonprofits that i care about. mr. onl is already on the board of a local nonprofit, and there’s one in particular that i have my eye on. but we’re not looking only at local orgs, and may try to pursue some more prominent ones over time, after we build up those chops. but all of that will kick off (for me at least) in year one.
volunteer more — mr. onl does a lot of work for the nonprofit he’s on the board of, and i do some volunteering for a local conservation group, and help organize the signature fundraiser for our local animal shelter. we’re proud of that stuff, but will do more. we also just want to be able to say “yes” to things. walking more dogs at the shelter, serving the less fortunate on thanksgiving, participating in a river clean-up, handing out water at the triathlon.
purpose category: creativity
take the camera — everywhere we travel, whether around the world or around our backyard, we’re going to take the camera. the real camera. not just our phones. and we’ll try to give ourselves time to craft the shots we wish we could get now, but don’t have the patience to capture, waiting for the right light or the right moment instead of grabbing the easy snapshot.
join a writers group — after calculating the number of words i’ve written here in the last year, it really hit home that writing in retirement is not some unrealistic pipe dream. i’m already doing it! heck, i’m doing it despite having very little time to do it, so surely i can devote real time to writing in retirement and get better at the craft of it. but, i will benefit from the insights and critiques of others, so i’m going to join a writers group to hone my skills. i’d love to take some classes, too, but will start with the group.
and there you have it! that’s our plan for year one. our five-year plan is something we’re thinking about, too, and will share in the near future — but it’s going to be a lot longer! it’s possible our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. :-)
do you have a broader vision of early retirement, or do you tend to think like us in terms of things you’ll do in year one, the first five years, the next decade, etc.? if so, have you thought about what you want to take on in your first year of financial independence? we’d love to know how you guys think about this question… and we’d love to hear some of the awesome things you’ve done (if you’re retired) or plan to do in that transition year. please share!