It’s time to revisit the to do list of things we need to be sure to take care of before we retire early. But first, let’s talk some numbers. Here goes:
Six. Twenty-one. Sixty-four.
- Six weeks until we share with you guys who we are, where we live and what we do for work (what the survey says you care most about).
- Twenty-one work days until I give notice. (Fewer for Mr. ONL.)
- Sixty-four fully employed work days to go. Ever. Ever.
The milestones are coming up quickly, and for the first time, we feel ready for them. Or, like, as ready as you can possibly feel for something that you can probably never actually be ready for. You know, like most big things in adult life.
This whole early retirement journey has been a vastly different emotional experience than we had expected, and we recognize that things could still change ten more times before we actually wrap up work in a few short months. (Talk to me again when I hop on the plane to go give notice.) But at this moment, we feel like we’ve got this.
BUT. Given that it’s kind of do-or-die time, we’d love your help to make sure we’re thinking of everything before we unplug from those sweet, sweet regular paychecks. Let’s take a closer look!
Pre-Early Retirement To Do List Items Completed!
We’ve gotten a lot of stuff done these past several months outside of work, some of which we didn’t include on this list because it’s just always on our to do list in the mountains (rake up pine needles and trim vegetation for fire safety, stack wood for winter, endless pest control, etc.). But as for those tasks we need to get done before the year’s up — or at least we feel like we do — here’s what we’ve already checked off:
Lock down our retirement timeline — This is all set! We’re giving notice in just a few weeks, and calling December 15 our last day of work. :::jazz hands and shoulder shimmies:::
Cram on health care — We’ve been health care machines the past few months, and have observed some things that would be shocking if we didn’t already know that’s how it goes, like when a lab billed our insurance $1300 for blood work, but then insurance paid $60 and everybody called it good. Or the $10 x-rays that a self-insured person would have paid $250 for. If you’re ever thinking about going the self-insured route and just paying the tax penalty for not buying insurance, come talk to me, and I can give you plenty more examples.
Choose next year’s health care — Insurers have had to set rates for next year, so even if Congress acts on the Affordable Care Act this year (looking less and less likely), it won’t change anything for 2018. The national and state health care exchanges will be sharing 2018 rates ahead of open enrollment, which starts in November (and ends early this year, on December 15 — don’t miss out), but we have a pretty good ballpark estimate based on 2017 rates and the increases for next year that have been announced. The expected income we enter will be affected by whether Mr. ONL’s employer asks to keep him on in a part-time capacity next year, but we’ve done the math on the numbers that would make the increased health care cost worthwhile. So now we’re just waiting to do the actual sign-up.
Load up on vet care — The hounds are all tuned up with sparklingly fresh breath (not really — but their teeth are clean!) and clean bills of health. And fortunately we live in a place where we don’t have to give them flea, tick or heartworm meds very often, so the recurring cost is really just food. And they’re little, so don’t eat much of it. Or at least they don’t when it’s up to us.
Top up the cash accounts — I know we’ll get a slap on the wrist from some of you for this, but given how overheated the markets are feeling right now, we’ve slow-played some of our index fund investing in recent months, and have used some of that money to top up our cash accounts. We now have two years of “ideal conditions living expenses” set aside, which could be stretched into three years or more if the markets nosedive. And we might keep diverting some of our would-be fund purchases into cash for the rest of the year (don’t worry — not all of it) so that we have a stock purchase fund in place to buy bargain shares whenever the next big correction comes. Of course, if we do that and stocks rally for another year or two, we’ll feel pretty dumb, so that part’s still TBD.
Explore a HELOC — Here’s how this conversation went: Me: “Do you want to see about getting a home equity line before we lose our W-2 income, like lots of people on the blog have told us we should?” Mr. ONL: “Ummm, not really. We have lots of other back-up options if we need liquidity.” Me: “Great. Then it’s settled.” (We love you guys and value your advice, but just feel icky about this one. I am not going to try to rationalize it at all, because it’s just based on us hating debt, and not being able to stomach even the possibility of taking on new home debt after we worked our butts off to pay off the house.)
Review our insurance — We’ve gone through every insurance policy we have, which turns out is kind of a high number, and made sure we’re happy with the coverages, deductibles and premiums. And we’ve made sure that we’re well covered on hazards specific to our area, which is something everyone should take a look at. Just look at all the folks impacted by Hurricane Harvey who didn’t have flood insurance. Don’t be that tragedy.
Buy a computer and new camera — With so many creative projects on the horizon, we new we needed better tools. Or, in my case, with no computer but my work computer, tools at all.
Buy ski passes for next year — We went back and forth a bunch of times on whether we wanted the flexibility of an unrestricted pass or the much lower price of the super restricted midweek pass, and ultimately bought our first ever, dirtbag-approved midweek passes. Wohoo!
Plan our first big trip — I’m calling this one completed even though it’s in the works. We’ll share more details on next year’s travel plans soon!
Decide on an RV — Our big decision is… no RV for now. We know the one that’s our favorite of available models, but we’re not in any hurry to buy another depreciating asset. And, we love car camping. So we’re just going to punt this decision for a year or two or three.
Plan the big unveiling — This is completely silly, but I don’t care. We’re going to have some fun with the big unmasking, and had a little DIY photo shoot this past weekend to introduce you to us and the place we call home. The photos are looking good, and the stoke is high!
Still On the Pre-Early Retirement To Do List
Decide on a cell phone plan and a phone for me — I will admit that I have had my head in the sand on this one, because I am not ready to face giving up my work-paid iPhone. Make fun of me all you want, but I love it. I know there are some affordable plans out there that let you use an iPhone, but the ones I’ve seen either require buying an iPhone for full price or they limit the functionality of the phone, which seems to defeat the purpose. (Do you know of an alternative that is the thing I’m looking for? Please share!) Mr. ONL is still on an expensive Verizon plan with his Galaxy S4, because laziness, so we will definitely take care of this. Just not until I write a tragic chick flick about being forced to part with my iPhone, ending with a gut-wrenching scene in the rain where enemy soldier capture and imprison my phone, while I can only watch helplessly. I’ll never forget you, iPhone.
Lock down our withdrawal strategy — On a less melodramatic note, we’re close to having certainty on how we’ll sell shares next year, assuming the markets aren’t in a total sell-off, in which case we’ll sit tight with our cash cushion. But we wouldn’t say we have this one completely wrapped up.
Register our business entity — Stupid public disclosure laws. We can’t register stuff unless we want our names on it, and since we aren’t quite ready to have our names on things associated with the blog, we’re sitting tight on this one. But as soon as the reveal is over, we’ll have a flurry of paperwork submitted, and then we’ll tell you all about which business structure we chose and why.
Decide whether to keep a landline phone — This is a new item on the list. We currently have two cable landlines because we both work from home and have found VoIP and Skype to be less reliable than we’d like. We’d always planned to get rid of the phones when we quit and go cell-only, but we recently had a fire scare that we only knew about because of reverse 911 on our landlines. So now we’re reconsidering for safety reasons, and we’ll try to see if we can get a deal from the cable company if we threaten to switch.
Buy a new-used mountain bike for Mr. ONL — The one big ticket item on Mr. ONL’s pre-retirement wish list is a better mountain bike. Mountain bikes are freaking expensive, so I resisted this one for a long time, but realized it’s something Mr. ONL truly loves doing, and the one he has doesn’t have enough travel for the big stuff he wants to jump off of. I’d rather him be safe, so I’m fully onboard with this spendy purchase before we quit.
What Else Should Be On Our List?
We’d love your help, you guys. What are we forgetting? What would we be wise to explore? What would you be doing if you were on our timeline? If you are on our timeline, what are you doing that isn’t on our list? We’re in the home stretch, and are about to see our budget constraints shrink a lot. So we’re super grateful for any input in the comments to make sure we (and others reading this!) have a good, complete to do list before we wave sayonara to our careers.