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“Won’t You Be Bored?” and Other Questions You Hear on the Road to Early Retirement

We’re lucky to have the full support of both of our families in our early retirement planning. We’ve heard other bloggers say that their loved ones aren’t fully on board, or they intuit that they won’t be and so don’t even tell them. For those of you in that position, we hope you won’t give up on people coming around, because we’ve found there’s tremendous joy in being “out” about our plans, at least with our families and a select group of friends, and with just random people we meet on planes, at the dentist, you name it.

One of the funny things that happens, though, when you’re open about this stuff, is you get some questions that might seem ridiculous on their face, especially from people who haven’t yet had their minds blown by how achievable some form of early retirement is for plenty of folks, or who have never allowed themselves to dream about a life without the necessity of work. Or maybe they truly love working. Either way, the questions can feel like they come from left field, because they come from such a drastically different perspective than ours.

The question that I’m sure plenty of you have also gotten is, “But won’t you be bored?” which seems to come most from people who don’t know us directly, like if our parents tell someone they meet about our plans. Sure, we could dismiss that question out of hand, or even counter with my favorite retort to bored campers when I was a camp counselor back in the day: “Only the boring are bored!” But in our classic overthinking style, we believe it’s worth digging into these questions, and asking ourselves if there might be some legitimate caution worth considering and planning around, instead of just rolling our eyes and telling ourselves, “Clearly they don’t get it.” Maybe they don’t, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a point — these things don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

So let’s do it. Let’s dig in.

OurNextLife.com // Won't You Be Bored? and other questions we hear on the road to Early Retirement

Won’t You Be Bored?

Let’s take the biggest one head on. Boredom. It is irrefutably true that plenty of people, especially those who retire at a more traditional age, have trouble filling their time once work is out of the picture, and they end up spending their days in front of the TV or, worse, parked in front of a slot machine. Could we end up this way?

We certainly don’t think so, because we’ve always had more interests than time (probably why people who know us never ask us this question), and because we have a strong sense of purpose for our lives. We’ve also heard from other early retirees that they still feel super busy now, even without work eating up a big chunk of their time.

But, even if we’re not technically bored, could we still end up spending too much time on the couch? Absolutely. We’re anticipating needing to catch up on sleep for quite some time after we retire, and it’s easy to see how that could be a slippery slope to couchdom if we’re not careful.

So in our case we’re worried less about a traditional definition of boredom, which we feel relatively immune to, just because we are rarely bored in life. But we are a smidge more worried about frittering away our time without doing anything productive, active or meaningful. How we’re planning to counter that: scheduling things that drive motivation. We have to get out and hike if we have a big mountain climb scheduled, and we have to brush up on our Spanish if we have a flight to South America booked (or maybe we’re climbing a big mountain in South America – then we have to do both!).

We’ll also keep using the power of streaks to keep this blog going, and to get other good habits in place. And we’ll stay aware. Maybe our approach will have to evolve, and we’ll end up doing something like making a plan to do one productive thing each day, or create timelines for ourselves to finish creative projects. This is something we know we need to keep an eye on.

Won’t You Miss Working?

This question is the easiest to dismiss, because we definitely won’t miss all the meetings, the office politics, the wacky client demands, the 5 a.m. flights, the limited vacation time. But there’s a nugget behind this question that’s worth thinking about: Won’t we miss feeling productive? And if our plan was to sit in a La-Z-Boy and become connoisseurs of the Price is Right (is that still on?), then YES, we would miss feeling productive.

But our definition of early retirement doesn’t include never being productive again. The definition of work will just change dramatically. “Work” will become writing for pleasure, volunteering on boards and coaching nonprofits to improve their effectiveness, helping out our friends with their small businesses, maybe taking a job with ski patrol in exchange for free skiing. And all of the non-work productive stuff: making all of our food from scratch, doing all of our home and car maintenance ourselves, gardening as much as our high altitude climate will allow.

Early retirement doesn’t mean never contributing anything to society ever again, and for that we’re glad. We plan to get more useful to society in retirement, and have a hard time imagining that we’ll miss “work” in a traditional sense.

What About Social Interactions?

This is a biggie, and one we’re thinking a lot about for a future post. While it’s definitely a blessing that we’ve both been able to stay with our companies for more than a decade, that could make it a bigger shock when we leave our jobs, since we’ve become friends with a huge number of our coworkers over the years. We definitely think about how much tougher it will be to maintain those relationships once we’re not naturally talking all the time, like we do now at work.

And outside of work, we’re not sure that we’ll see our friends all that much more. Sure, we’ll stop traveling for work, which should make it easier to get together during the week, but our friends will still be working. They won’t magically have time to hang out with us during the day, or for those who live far away, they won’t all of a sudden be able to come visit us more, just because we have more free time.

Making new friends with free time that matches ours is something high on our to do list in retirement, and we’re definitely realistic that that could mean befriending a lot more people who are of traditional retirement age. Where we live, people stay super active until their extremely advanced years, so chances are the “old fogies” we befriend will still beat our slow butts up the mountain!

Won’t You Miss Feeling Important?

We’d be lying if we pretended that we don’t have egos. We do. Like most normal people, we like having them stroked. And for the past 15+ years, most of that stroking has come at work. (Hey, Personal Economist — that’s now stokin‘, streakin‘ and strokin’!)

We’re less worried about our titles, because we can sort of take those with us. If we feel the need we can always say, “I’m a former fancy pants title at such-and-such impressive employer, but I’m retired now.” Not that we’re guessing we’ll drop that info too often. It’s more the day-to-day stuff — no more gold stars or public recognition for good work, no more feeling like the go-to people on certain issues, not getting to ride in the front of the plane anymore. It’s definitely going to be an adjustment, and we’d be fools to pretend otherwise.

But we’re hopeful that this is something we can counter by not defining ourselves solely by our work. We consider it a massive blessing that our local friends don’t even really know what we do for work — it’s just not what mountain town friends care about. We all know that we moved here to be in a beautiful place and spend our time outdoors, not because we’re trying to advance our careers. (More likely, we’ve all committed some level of career suicide in moving here.)

Instead our friends know that I prefer my road bike and Mr. ONL prefers his mountain bike. That he’s the guy you call when you want to do a quick early morning backcountry ski lap. That I’m who you call when you want to take the dogs on a long hike. That we love every kind of trivia game and torture ourselves with hard puzzles. That we’ll happily go along to see just about any kind of live music (just no death metal, please). That we’re good listeners and loyal friends. And those are all identities that we’re happy to be defined by, even if they don’t come with gold stars or fancy airline status.

What If You Run Out of Money?

Answering “We won’t” isn’t good enough for this question. Not one of us, not Warren Buffett himself, can see the future and guarantee that our best-laid plans and oodles of contingencies will guarantee that we’ll never run out of money. We still might. Of course we’ll all try mighty hard not to run out, but we’re lying to ourselves if we pretend we can control every eventuality.

Instead of debating that question, we think about the other side of the coin: Is it better to keep working forever because you’re afraid your savings might not last you long enough? Either way, you’re taking a risk: either you risk running out of money, or you risk spending all of your good years working. We’ve done our due diligence in building a financial plan that we think has a very good chance of withstanding the long haul, but beyond that, we’d rather take the risk that we run out of money but at least maximized our enjoyment in life. We’re comfortable with the poison we’ve picked, but others might reasonably choose a different path.

What Other Questions Have You Heard?

What questions do you hear when you tell people you’re following a nontraditional financial path? How do you answer any of the questions we’ve heard a lot? Lay it on us in the comments!

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107 replies »

  1. I’d expect the running out of money question a lot, or people would be thinking it and want to ask it. But I like the way you flipped the question around. You could always push of retirement 5 more years, make hundreds of thousands more money and live all that much more comfortably and have less worry about running out… But five more years sounds dreadful when you can comfortably pull the trigger now!

    All good questions to think about before heading into retirement. Thanks for the post.

    The Green Swan

    • We do tend to calibrate our answer to that question because we wouldn’t want to inadvertently suggest to someone who hasn’t done their due diligence on financial planning that they can just retire and figure out the money later. So we stress that we’ve built a plan that we believe is solid and will sustain us even in bad market conditions, but that yeah, we don’t want to work forever out of fear of something catastrophic happening. The more likely catastrophe is that we waste our lives at work!

  2. Great post! The question about running out of money comes up for us. I say we can always get jobs at Home Depot and Bed Bath &Beyond if we need extra money. That was our backup plan when we relocated not knowing if we’d be able to get full time jobs. The funniest question, or rather the question that’s asked in the funniest manner is the stuttered “You mean…you’ll just – STOP…working???” It’s as if people have a switch. On, is work and off, is stop work. They can’t concieve of not working. So I just say “yes, we’ll stop working”. If the person recovers beyond that to ask more questions, I’ll discuss the plans we’ve made. But no one, not even our families, know about the blog, so we don’t talk about that – yet.

    • I love it, no one – absolutely no one knows about our blog (apart from a handful of readers ;-)) and it’s going to stay that way for a loooong time!

      • FIRE plans and blog are two different things! We have friends and family who know the plan, but only like 1 friend and zero family know about the blog! :-D

    • Same here on the blog — we haven’t shared it beyond just one friend! And yeah, some of the questions ARE funny, like they come from a place of “does not compute.” Hahaha. I think we would always have been in awe of anyone retiring early, even before we understood the math behind it, but evidently some people are just wired differently!

  3. Fantastic, thanks so much for writing this!
    I recently ‘came out’ to my parents and brother on a trip back to the UK. My parents were surprisingly relaxed about the whole idea. Their first questions were about the kids, and if they would be OK (moving, new schools etc). Very valid questions as this has been, and continues to be one of the major considerations in our decision making. My brothers first question was – wait for it – “won’t you be bored?” My instant answer was “I don’t need to work to not be bored”. He considered it for a while and applied it to his own job (which is fascinating and new and amazing) and decided that he would probably miss working. This was a brief conversation, and I’d love to hear his thoughts now he’s had the time to mull it over.

    • Congrats on telling your family about your plan! And if your brother thinks you might be bored, that probably means he’s one of the lucky few who truly loves working — good for him! But he should recognize that that doesn’t apply to most of us! :-)

  4. I appreciate you delving into these answers instead of dismissing the questions. One I’ve heard is like the last one, “What if the stock market crashes?” I’d answer similarly to your last answer–it’s not likely, but we recognize there are no guarantees. Continuing to work in fear of this wouldn’t solve much. I always see returning to work after retiring early as a possibility–a last resort, not part of the plan, but certainly possible if needed.

    • I think the answers to the “what if you run out of money?” or “what if the market crashes?” questions are really just: “Shouldn’t you let fear dictate how you lead your life?” in a different form. Because we can never plan for everything, and there’s always a chance things will go off the rails. But do we want to live our lives in constant fear and never follow our dreams because of that? Or accept some risk and move on?

  5. I think finding time to occupy my time cheaply would be my biggest concern, even doing DIY projects cost money. I guess I better start thinking about that.

    The work one is kind off funny, I don’t think I would ever ask someone “won’t you miss work” more thank likely I would ask “how are you able to never work again”

    I am with ya on the social interactions, we have some pretty good work friends – part of the reason I have never looked to leave my current company

    • I think if you don’t have a clear vision for what you want to do in retirement, then it’s okay to work a bit longer. Wait until you know your “why” and feel super excited about it — and then thinking of things to occupy your time won’t even be an issue. And yeah, leaving the work friends is going to be tough for us, too! I don’t think there’s anyway around that, but bracing for it in advance is how we hope to ease the transition slightly.

  6. I don’t think I’ve been bored since I was about 11. There’s so much to see and do and the only thing holding us back from it all is limited Time.

    Early retirement will finally allow me to read all those books I’ve been meaning to read. To visit the places we’ve wanted to see, without being in a rush to see it all in 7 days. To relax and not worry about all the things I could / should be getting done with my limited free time. Can’t wait!

    • Couldn’t agree more re: boredom. That is just something I can’t even relate to! Our early retirement itinerary is similar — books, travel, relaxation… plus a hefty dose of outdoor adventure!

  7. Quick answers from our experience after 4 weeks in early retirement: 1) you won’t be bored – at all; 2) you won’t miss the work; 3) social interaction is the only piece of MegaCorp that leaves a hole; 4) retiring early brings its own status – better than a fancy title; 5) running out of money is a remote risk and probably out of your control. In this last point, if you’ve done your homework and tested against a range of historical results, you’ve done what you can. A global collapse, WWIII, or unprecedented catastrophic event cannot be controlled and everyone will be scrambling in that case!

    • I’m glad to get your validation from actually living in early retirement! We have always expected that the social piece would be the biggest shock, and so we’re trying to think about that early, figure out other ways to get the social interaction we need and to stay in touch with our colleagues we care most about. And yeah, if something catastrophic happens that makes the global financial system collapse, then we’ll probably have bigger worries anyway!

  8. I don’t miss the work…I miss the stimulating conversations that occur when you’re debating strategy. I found that saying “I’m a retired xyz” got old fast. I needed a new identity, which is a work-in-progress.

    I miss the people a lot. It’s been hard to fill the interaction piece…you are right in that friends still work and don’t have the free time you do…to play with you. Finding others who share my interests and have similar freedom of time continues to be a work-in-progress.

    • We’re definitely thinking about how to deal with all the challenges you raised! I do think we’ll miss some of the stimulating work conversations, as you do, and will just miss the people generally! We genuinely like most of the people we work with, and some of them have been friends longer than our non-work friends. So it will be a long process to replace all of that, I’m sure!

  9. I’ve heard the “won’t you be bored” so much that I’m bored… :) In the case of the one person I’ve let in on our ER plans at my current company, her reply was simply, “That’s cool, I know another couple that did that. They love it!!” Occasionally she’ll ask if we’ve found a town yet, but that’s about it.

    When I’ve alluded to retiring early (like early 50’s to not freak anyone out) and brought the conversation up here with people, most reply with the bored comment, and when I counter with, “Don’t you have at least 3 things you’d rather be doing than sitting in the office today, right now, this week?” they think about it and you can see their brain figure out, “Oohhh… Yeah, I guess I do.”

    I also like the repsonse of, “You can’t do that, 401k’s only let you tap into them at 60! What do you do about money until then?!” That’s when I talk about how our 401k’s are fine, so we’ve been investing more in funds we can access outside of them to bridge that gap. That brings up more interesting conversations in itself.

    As far as social interactions, I’m going to hope for some parental interactions with our kids and whatever they’re involved in. I’ll also get into some local clubs for stuff I’m interested in (home brewing, tennis, fishing, gardening , woodworking, Trout Unlimited if nearby, Hiking/Trail clubs, or other places to volunteer). We found that was a good way to make friends when we moved to LA.

    • I think you’re right that kids will bring some level of automatic social interaction. We don’t have that, so I hadn’t thought about it! And all of your ideas for clubs to join are great, too.

      I think it’s awesome how freely you give out financial planning advice at work, under the guise of retiring “early” around 50. Haha. And yeah, people are so stuck on “traditional” retirement, and thinking that you can only retire once your 401k says you can!

  10. Like you I would never be board and would probably still be working, just on the the things I’m most passionate about (and whether I got paid or not!). It’s funny no one I’ve had the discussion with has ever said that. Almost all thought the idea was pretty awesome, however, they were not willing to make the sacrifice to do what it takes to get to that point.

    • Similar for us — we don’t really hear the “won’t you be bored?” Q to our faces. We’ve mostly heard it indirectly, or we’ve heard other bloggers say they got that question. But people who know us know we’re too big of busy bodies to get bored. :-)

  11. If you’re bored, you’re doing it wrong. Even on a tight budget, you can write, you can walk, you can garden, you can get to know your neighbors and surroundings, you can volunteer…the list is endless! You don’t have to fly to Europe or sail around the world in retirement. Mr. AR and I frequently find ourselves as overbooked in retirement as we were when we both worked, and frankly we can’t stand it. We’re reworking our schedule to provide more “free” time, so being bored is not an issue. Running out of money? Not something I contemplate happening, but honestly, even if that possibility loomed, the circumstances would be the same whether we were working or not (stock market crash, major change in medical insurance, whatever it would be). Wouldn’t I rather have had the pleasure of not working for a while before the catastrophe hit? And if I had to take a job this late in life, and all that was available was a minimum wage retail job, I would make the best of it and move on. Life is finite. You can worry and fret and “what if” yourself to death if you choose to, but why would you? Retirement will definitely throw you a few curve balls, but while you’re fielding them you’ll be free of the constraints of working for someone else, you’ll have as much time to deal with them as you see fit, and you’ll ultimately find a solution. We’ve dealt with a few major changes, and a lot of minor ones, to our retirement plans, and we’ve come out just fine. I wouldn’t change a thing, and I wouldn’t trade any problem in retirement for going back to work (this is coming from a type A personality, perfectionist, going to work until I die person). At the end of the day, there is just no substitute for owning your own time. Mr. AR and I frequently sit out on our deck, overlooking the lake watching the boats while enjoying a cup of coffee, and comment that whether we accomplish what we set out to do that day or not, at least it’s our decision! There’s nothing better than that. Alfred E. Newman had it right: “What, me worry?”

    • Well said! “If you’re bored, you’re doing it wrong.” I think that goes for all of life, not just retirement! There are certainly people who are just bored by nature, but that’s their own deal. I think your point is a great one, too, that there will always be curve balls. There will always be challenges. But that fact alone shouldn’t scare you into wasting your whole life at work. Trust your future self to figure that stuff out, and don’t spend all your time worrying about every possible eventuality.

  12. It’s funny, I have an upcoming post that is very, very similar to this one about some of the things that people who probably will never retire (early) say. The “Won’t you be bored” question is probably the most common, and then answer that I WANT to give is this:

    “I don’t define myself by my job”.

    Which is the absolute truth, but it comes across as incredibly accusatory, setting the other person on the defensive. I like to avoid conflict any time that I can, so I provide the more fluffy answer about spending more time exploring my creative side with photography and videography, hiking, volunteering, etc.

    Or the people who say that they don’t want to retire because they like their job – the insinuation being that unless you hate your job, why would *anyone* actually want to retire and control their own lives, which I find perplexing. In other words, “Why would you do that to yourself unless you hate your job”?

    I enjoy answering the “What if you run out of money?” question, because the answer is so very simple:

    “We’ll find work somewhere, accumulate a little more cash, and try it again”.

    I mean…what else could anyone do if they run out of money (leeching off of government programs aside, of course)? We don’t need our same jobs back. In fact, we wouldn’t WANT our same jobs back. This is what we are trying our best to escape from. The last thing we’d do is return to them.

    • I find the “But I like my job!” response to be exceedingly rare, and find that virtually every road warrior biz traveler I meet immediately says some variation of “Wow! I wish I could do that!” Of course I explain to them that they can, but my bigger takeaway is that no one working a mega grind of a job “loves” it, and everyone wants off the hamster wheel. In the rare instances when I meet a “But I love my job!” type, I just say, “Good for you! I’m sure you know how rare you are!” :-)

  13. I think in my 20s and 30s I couldn’t imagine it, but I had very little outside of work going on in my life. But when my Mom retired at 60, I saw how very rewarding her life was: volunteering, crafting, traveling and hanging out with other active retirees. She joined several groups (book club, quilt guild, hiking group, birthday club) and had a blast. Now I’m trying very hard to cultivate that out of work identity and no, I don’t think I’d be bored or isolated at all.

    • That’s so great you got a first-hand example of how to do retirement right from you mom — and even better that her example changed your trajectory! Having a strong identity outside of work is always a good thing!

  14. Just found your blog! I think it is awesome what you guys are planning on doing and you won’t be bored at all! There is so much to do and see, right? :) Looking forward to reading more about your plans :)

    • Welcome, Mackenzie! We agree with you — if anything we’ll still be overwhelmed by how much we want to do, and how little time there is to do it all! :-)

  15. I always have to clarify that early retirement means having enough money to do what we really want to do without fear. That will probably mean self-employment. That mostly gets people to stop asking dumb questions. :) Even if it isn’t self-employment, I haven’t found myself strong enough to answer the tough questions as you have! I skirt.

    • I think skirting is perfectly acceptable, especially in real life! We mostly give short answers then, especially with strangers. Or refer people to books. But here we can do the deep dive stuff! :-)

      • With strangers I usually say something like “did you know you only need like 25x your income to be considered retired?” and then go from there. Sometimes they’re like “oh, is that all? That seems doable. Most of the time they say “yeah, but who could actually save that much!?” And then I usually say: “Yeah…”

      • I definitely try to commiserate with people on that stuff, but I do also engage even if they do the “yeah but who could save that much?” response. We used to be big spenders, and have reformed our ways, so I’ll often just talk about little realizations we had, and how much reversing some of those bad habits helps us save. I’m under no illusions — I know few of these people are likely to get inspired and pursue ER, but even if I can maybe help them see that they don’t have to go on mindlessly spending all of their money forever, then it’s a win!

  16. I don’t really get bored. I’m usually quite easily entertained. I also have more hobbies than I have time for. I’ll actually be able to give each of them a few hours a week. You definitely don’t seem like the type of people that will get bored though, so I find it funny you’d get asked that!

    • Ha ha. We don’t seem to get asked that directly, for the reason you said. People who know us know that we don’t get bored! We get the Q indirectly, though. I’m sure we’ll be like you even in retirement, and still not have enough time for all of our hobbies!

      • I genuinely wonder how so many people seem to not get bored! I feel like I’m bored alllllll the time. I’ll throw myself into a new hobby or whatever, but it’s always a temporary fix and never enough to fill up all of my non-working hours (not to mention all my boredom hours at the office. – ;-) )

        The closest probably came when I was doing fitness boot camp 4 nights a week, eating dinner later and having less down time in between coming home and going to bed….I guess I find it incredibly challenging to stay busy. I suppose I am naturally a lazy person. A lot of time gets spent (wasted?) on the internet.

      • This feels like one of those things that’s just in people’s wiring, so not sure I can give any useful advice. I’m one of those down-the-rabbit-hole people, where once I have an idea, then I pursue it relentlessly, or if I have a question, I don’t just shrug and say, “Oh well.” I look it up, then maybe find other info that’s interesting to look up, or find a book on it and start reading. And planning — I’m always planning something… some adventure, trip or scheme. So with all of that, there’s definitely not enough time in any day. But I doubt if that’s helpful since none of that is stuff I’ve cultivated, it’s just how I’ve always been!

      • I can definitely relate to a lot of that, and I’m the same way, when I’m on a mission, I am a man who cannot be stoppped, but I guess I have less things that I get curious about? i can definitely go down the rabbit hole on Wikipedia etc, but I think a lot of that is more to kill time than out of genuine curiosity. I think I like the IDEA of having more flexibility in life and not being confined to the rigidity of a 9-5, but I don’t know that my life would be that much different after some initial extended travel or what have you.

      • Mr. ONL suggests physical pursuits… training for big races, climbs, bike rides, etc. He thinks starting to train for marathons was a big turning point in his life. :-)

      • I’m with you on this, but I feel just as “bored” (I prefer “under-stimulated”) at work as I do otherwise. I don’t consider working longer than financially necessary a solution or even a viable alternative to figuring out how to deal with boredom. Most jobs are not continually challenging or energizing anyway. I’m constantly planning, setting goals, making lists, streaming podcasts, reading, writing, exercising, multi-tasking…I think when I retire my ability to slow down mentally and physically will ironically help me eliminate my constant cycle of being either overwhelmed or completely bored/wiped out.

      • I think this is my new main response when people ask the bored question: “We’re bored working! We’re willing to bet we’ll be less bored when we have control over our own days!” :-) And I think you’re totally right — retiring WILL let you slow down and break the cycle!

  17. We’ve encountered this sentiment ourselves and truly can’t understand why these people believe that they will be bored if they don’t work. After all, we have the entire world as our playground! Do these people really believe that life begins and ends with a 9-5 job? This is crazy! We only have so many hours to live and there is no guarantee on how many this will be for any of us! – Mrs. FE

    • I’m sure there are people who genuinely like their jobs, or who genuinely like working. It just sounds like most of us are not those people! :-)

  18. Some very good questions and ready to sue answers. This will come in handy.
    For now, our plan is only known via our blog name. And my mother knows about it. she does not ask questions for now. I think she is in phase 1: denial. This works best with me when I come with a less conventional idea…
    I also mentioned it once to a sales guy of a financial institution…no reaction when I told about my plan. Maybe we do not look wealthy enough…!

    • I bet your mom is in denial only because your exit date isn’t right around the corner. It will certainly feel more real for her once it’s only a year or two off. And who knows why you got that reaction! I sometimes think I get blank stares because people aren’t used to a woman being able to talk confidently about finance, or maybe it’s because we also don’t “look rich” or maybe the person just isn’t feeling well that day and so gives an odd reaction! :-)

  19. I’ve accidentally mentioned this possibility to people offline while drinking. (Oops!) It has been received that it just makes no sense financially: where would the money come from? Is the general question I’ve seen. Or I’ve accidentally told people who are already in their thirties that I plan to retire in my thirties which then just seems impossible to them. My mom thinks it’s great though and she was one of the first people who recommended it to me as an idea :)

    My boyfriend is slowly starting to realize just how much we can save in a year and not think I’m as crazy any more, but he likes his job far more than I do and simply doesn’t see himself wanting to leave it. He does like the flexibility that having a stash affords him though and is a saver naturally so just because he’s not striving for early retirement doesn’t mean he won’t get there!

    • I’m not surprised at all that you’ve gotten an incredulous response when you’ve let slip your plans. Sometimes I’m actually surprised at how few people question the validity of our plans when we share them! :-) Just shows that everyone reacts differently.

      How awesome that your mom introduced the idea of ER to you in the first place! And that your BF is starting to come around, even if just on knowing how much it’s possible to save. It took us a few years to get there — I’m sure he’ll be on board before long. :-)

  20. If daily your entertainment means are sitting in front of the TV or computer and watch tons of videos/shows/movies, yes you’ll get bore out of your mind when you’re in retirement. You’ll probably die within the first few years of retirement because of boredom.

    On the other hand, if you keep learning and keep your busy during retirement, you’ll never get bored.

    • Or maybe if you love TV and video games THAT MUCH, you’ll just be super happy that you can spend all your time staring at screens. :-D Haha. That sounds pretty hellish to me — retiring is about getting away from all the electronics and mind-numbing stuff.

  21. None of our family or friends know our plan, but I would bet a lot of money the first question will be “what will you do for health insurance?!” Wait until we tell them we’ve heard there is great dental work in Thailand!

  22. My father believes I will be bored. He keeps encouraging me to find work in retirement. I might, but I really like the option of not HAVING to! This is true freedom, flexibility and choice.

    • Completely agree with you! Plus, I didn’t write this in the post, but is being bored once in a while really so terrible? Certainly lots of the greatest minds in history have been sparked by boredom, leading to them figuring out some of our great challenges. I often think that kids today are too scheduled, and would benefit from having some time to get bored. That would force them to start thinking harder and figuring things out for themselves!

  23. I think the ones I heard which took me off guard were from my parents:
    “be careful with your stock, General Motors employees all thought they were set for retirement until they weren’t” –> My dad incorrectly assuming all my money is somewhat in my company’s stock

    “my brother worked from home for a while too, it was difficult for the kids to understand daddy was busy. It’s tough” –> My mother assuming I still plan to “work” in a regular way… She gets a point that it might be tough to be productive at the hours of the day of my choosing, but still.

    In other words, the questions from my parents showed me they weren’t really able to grasp the idea of early retirement and proper financial planning.

    • Their points are good ones, they just don’t apply to you. :-) It does feel like a hard thing for a lot of people to grasp, especially after living their whole life without the Idea as a possibility.

  24. I am miles and miles away from early retirement, so I don’t really get asked any questions about my “non-traditional” path (since I’m really still on the traditional path… I’m just aware of the possibilities…) but even still I love to think of all the things I could do if I had more spare time… I do enjoy my job for the most part, and I have to admit I often label myself based on my job, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to have the freedom of more spare time to pursue my other interests… I would definitely not be bored if I were to retire early!

    • I am positive you would not be bored! And don’t feel bad… We defined ourselves by our careers for a long time before we got focused on early retirement. :-)

  25. I’m not worried about boredom. I intend to use financial freedom to focus on the work that fulfills me. My business will still exist, but I will take more clients that cannot pay. I will continue serving on boards in my community. I will continue learning new things. I will continue being me. I just won’t have to spend the majority of my time working for others. ~ZJ

    • I know what you mean — boredom is actually a bit hard for us even to fathom! But it sounds like you have lots you’ll do post-FI, which is awesome!

  26. This might be a long comment as I plan to tackle each question (if someone were asking me)

    -As someone who was unemployed (involuntarily) for four months last year, I can say that I definitely was NOT bored that I wasn’t working. There was so much to do around the house and with Addie that I felt I was busier than when I had an actual job!

    -Won’t You Miss Working? – Seeing as most people I know don’t particularly love their jobs, I find this question silly. Getting up and sleeping early, not enough vacation time, working for the weekends – that’s how most people view work. Why would anyone miss that?

    -What About Social Interactions – I’m a bit antisocial so I don’t think I’d miss this too much, but I think in the grand scheme of things, your coworkers are just that – people you work with. While it’s fun having watercooler talks, ultimately work relationships are temporary. Out of all the jobs I’ve left, I only still keep in contact with a handful of people.

    -Won’t You Miss Feeling Important – I’m a father. There’s nothing more important than that.

    -What if You Run Out of Money? – then I’ll go back and get a job.

    When I talk about early retirement I’ll mention you, MMM, or Go Curry Cracker. People find ways to poke holes into why something like that won’t work for me or them. Even without knowing any of your stories. It’s frustrating hearing these responses and I’m not even in the FIRE camp yet! I want to one day join your ranks and prove them wrong! :)

    • I feel like you have first-hand (mini) FIRE experience, and you prove that there’s no time to get bored! We think we will miss work friends, but we know we’re rare in having been in our jobs for so long. And, yeah, missing work?! Seriously?! ;-)

  27. Great post. Love that you are now: stokin‘, streakin‘ and strokin.
    Personally I wouldn’t ask any questions except how long will your money last. Knowing your plan, you guys have this one covered too!

  28. When I first started on the path to FI, I planned on being bored… that’s what I wanted – to be a bum. However, over the past few years, I’ve realized that I do want to keep productive, keep up on my site, and find something to make a difference in the world. The “Your Money or Your Life” book you recommended to me made that even more clear.

    I’m super excited for you guys and I know you’ll never be bored – you guys are great planners and sound like you have all your ducks in a row on this!!

    — Jim

    • So glad you got a lot out of YMOYL! Your evolution is so interesting, and ours is similar. Being bums used to sound great, but we now realize there’s so much we want to do!

  29. I actually do worry a little about being bored but that is partly because our plan doesn’t include fully leaving the work force. Although I would love to do some full time travel via RV my husband plans on working his side business so this isn’t likely to happen. His business will keep him busy for about 6+ months out of the year meaning we should have freedom to travel and explore for part of the year but we will be home based for the rest of the time. I do help with his business a little but I wonder if I will be bored and feel that lack of productivity when he has things on his plate. I hope that my blog will give me some purpose and once I am retired I would have more time to write. As we still have a few years to go I guess I have time to figure this stuff out.

    • I bet you’ll end up finding tons of things you want to do while you’re home… Blogging, volunteering, getting involved in local causes. Things that are invisible to you now will appear like magic. :-)

  30. Despite being nowhere close to financial freedom, I liked this post. I just started working part time, taking a pay cut and stepping down from a supervisory role at my retail employer so that I could stay home during week days with my 7-month-old. That’s not retirement, but Amen! to not defining yourself by your job. I think people think retail workers are idiots (or at least treat them as such) and I struggle with my own sense of lacking an illustrious career, etc. But then I think about actually having to spend days at an office or wherever and I would much rather be home.

    • That’s so great that you’re prioritizing family time! It’s so easy to define yourself with your job, and I applaud you for finding a different path. (And one of the smartest people I’ve ever known worked retail for years!) Sure, an illustrious career sounds nice, but it comes with plenty of its own pitfalls and stressors — I think it’s super smart that you’re prioritizing the right things in life. :-)

  31. When I first started taking summers off, I found myself bored and even depressed at times. I knew I was glad to take time off, but I hadn’t developed some hobbies I have now that I love to do. Since I’ve had lots of practice taking time off, I have learned how to pace my day and what I like to do when (ex: workout sometime before noon, reading and nap afternoon) so I’m much better prepared. You guys will be traveling, right, so some of your days will be “practicing” what you know how to do–take a vacation.

    I also wanted to mention that I once heard a definition of boredom as the lack of being inspired. I really like that definition for a few reasons. 1) it has an ending–I know I won’t be uninspired forever, 2) I can accept feeling uninspired at times and 3) I know what to do when I’m bored–something that inspires me!

  32. ONL, I haven’t been here for a while, but wow, your blog has blown up! :)
    The missing work thing I can *kind of* understand. Life isn’t overly exciting (for me) if I’m on a permanent vacation with no structure – that can even be stressful. But all that means is finding meaningful structure which doesn’t always have to look like a 9-5 office gig.

    • It’s a little crazy, right?!! :-) Still the same blog, but having more people comment definitely amps up our motivation to keep going! And your point about structure — YES! I actually wonder if some of the people who think they’d miss work actually just need structure. So insightful! And as you say, you can get structure through other means, not only through work. (Personally, I can’t wait to ditch the structure!) :-)

  33. Most people say, “What would you do all day?” Not sure why they think work is the only thing that could occupy our time. I can think of a thousand other things to do besides sit in a cube for 9 hours/day.

    In all seriousness, I’m planning to spend a decent amount of time with/caring for my parents, assuming they’re still around. By then they’ll be in their early 80’s. I saw how much time my dad had to devote to my grandparents, even though they were in a nursing home. Someone still needs to sign papers, work with the staff, etc. With my brother living out of state, I’ll likely be the one to take care of all that. Besides, I want to be able to spend as much time with them as possible. My parents are awesome so I’d probably visit every day. Even now, I only live 6 miles away from them.

    They would never want me to plan my future around them so they don’t know that part of the reason I want to “retire” early is to be available to help them. Of course I’d also be filling my time with travel, volunteering, etc. so it’s not entirely for them but definitely an additional benefit.

    • I love that you’re so focused on spending time with your parents! I know you’ll never regret taking that time to spend with them. It’s similar for both of us – spending time with families and parents before they’re gone is a huge priority for our retirement! My dad especially is not able to travel much on his own anymore, but I know there are still lots of places I can take him. I’m already planning the trips in my head. :-)

  34. I think the question I would ask myself if I were considering early retirement is, “Don’t you think you would eventually and inevitably, despite your very best intentions, end up spending most of your time watching TV?” And the answer (for me), unfortunately, would be “Yes, most likely.”

    I’m definitely not suggesting that this would be the case for you or for anyone else, but I know myself well enough to know that when faced with a large chunk of free time and no externally imposed responsibilities, I am unlikely to voluntarily engage in challenging or productive activities. I’m not trying to be down on myself; I’m just thinking about how I’ve acted in the past when I’ve had stretches of free time.

    I suppose it’s all about knowing yourself and knowing what type of lifestyle makes you tick. For me it’s helpful and healthy to have externally imposed structure. Whereas for you guys it sounds like externally imposed structure is weighing you down and you’d be better off having the latitude to create your own structure. It also just occurred to me that retiring early with a partner would probably be super different than retiring early on one’s own, so that’s probably a major factor here too. In any case, I’m impressed with all of your plans and goals for the years after 2017! :)

    • I like the term externally-imposed structure! I agree that some people, like me, need structure. I find I can create it so it feels externally-imposed by putting things on my calander – dates with myself to do things on my possibilities list!

      • I love that you both know this about yourselves! That’s great, and you can plan accordingly. I’m curious to see how we’ll evolve over time — the happiest times in my life have all been the least structured, but those times were also in small doses. Once I have the big dose, it could be that I crave structure after all. I’m definitely open to that happening, but I also know what I’m craving now. :-)

    • I think it’s important to know your own tendencies and plan accordingly, but I also think it’s super hard to know what your “natural state” tendencies are when most of us have never actually lived in a natural state. There are too many time pressures, too many stressors, and so maybe your watching TV on the couch in the past was what you needed to do to property decompress from life/work/school stress. And maybe if you had time to fully decompress from all of that, you would find that you’re actually more intrinsically motivated than you think to go out and do the things you dream about. Or not. But I am sure hoping to find the answer for us, and we’re totally game to shape our day-to-day life around whatever we learn about ourselves. If we need more structure, we’ll create it. And if we do well without structure, then hooray. Like everything about our early retirement, we don’t presume to know the answers, never having done this before. :-) Instead, we’ll just try to pay attention and make the best choices with the info we learn.

      • It’s funny, I’m just realizing that the blog post I’m currently working on is about how productivity is overrated and I need more rest. Lol. I feel like I should make an attempt to get my story straight. Ah well. :)

      • Haha — sort of like me writing posts about being generous and paying your fair share and then writing about how we can mooch off the federal government as effectively as possible? ;-)

  35. Being deliberate with your time, with your money, and with your energy. The FIRE community has helped me refine this concept and apply it. Figure out what you enjoy, and then make decisions that 1) cut out distractions and 2) increase your capability to do what you want/enjoy. The lack of an individual purpose makes planning and working toward goals nearly impossible. You along with many FIRE folks have spent a lot of time defining the goal along with the plan to reach it. You know what you are working towards and anxious to get there. I am not worried with you being bored or uninspired.

    I do wonder what I will be wanting 10 years into FI. After I have skied 100 day seasons for several years, climbed most of the mountains within several hour drive of home, hiked, biked and backpacked the trails nearby, worked with many of the non-profit orgizations in town, and traveled quite a bit. Not worried just curious where my life will take me.

    Here is an example of how I tackled social interaction when not working. When I was a ski bum I was searching out folks to ski with during the week. I joined a program the ski hill offered that lasted several weeks and was led by an advanced instructor (cost about $20 a session). For several hours on Wednesday, there were about 8 of us that would ski new terrain, work on a particular skill, or just enjoy the powder for a couple of hours. I was the young one, and half many of their ages. It was a lot of fun and I made several friends that I skied with the rest of the season. Some of the seasoned (>70 yr olds) would ski every day of the season from opening to midday, have a cup of soup and a beer then head home. I thought it was great schedule for someone of that age. I would often join them for several runs in the morning. They were excellent skiers too, often not more than 1 or 2 turns behind me on some gnarly terrain.

    I also found that the chair lift was a great place to meet and network in town. I handed out more business cards while I was looking for work on the chair lift than I did networking in town. Of course sharing the lifts is easier when one is skiing solo. It was fun to meet new people in the community. Sometimes the relationship lasted the lift ride, a couple of runs or longer.

    My parents retired a couple of years ago and they are busier now than when they were working. They are in better health too, which is reassuring. Their time is split between “productive to society” activities such as mediating, volunteering at middle school and church, etc. and “individually rewarding” activities such as photography, French language lessons, swimming, walking, socializing with friends and visiting family. It did take them about 6 months to figure out their new lives. One thing I noticed was that they need activities that allow them to be independent for a portion of their day, which they have figured out.

    • Haha — yeah, we’re not too worried about being bored either! But that doesn’t mean we don’t get the question sometimes, mostly from people who don’t know us very well. :-)

      How cool that you did that ski clinic and met people through it. And you’re so right about the chair lift — we meet awesome people on those rare weekdays we’re able to ski now, but we’re still stuck in the weekend warrior routine, which means that we mostly find people on the chairs to live elsewhere (and, often, to look down on us for living where we do — hilarious!).

      It is SO AWESOME to hear that your parents are living such a rad retirement, and getting out there to do so many different things. It’s impressive that it *only* took them 6 months to figure it out. And good to know that they do some things together and some separately. We are thinking through how that will play out for us, but it’s definitely on our minds!

  36. I would be more worried about over booking yourself, because the to-do-list is so long and we want to spend every minute doing something “meaningful”… I think there rather need to be strategies how to avoid that :P