A day in the life of an early retiree

Published January 16, 2017   Posted in How to Think

It hasn’t even been a month yet since I called it quits from full-time work and became an early retiree, but inquiring minds want to know (seriously, I’ve been asked incessantly): What does my day look like now that I’m not working full-time?

I’ll be perfectly frank: It flat kicks ass. Here’s a quick snapshot:

The morning

Remembering Fridays at the office…

Each day begins with a wide open schedule. No mandatory life-draining social obligations (otherwise known as “conference calls”), no checking work email for anything semi-important that came in overnight, no more sighing as I slowly let myself slip into work mode whispering under my breath, “another day, another dollar“.

At the moment, I still wake up at 5am with my wife because she likes to get to work early (her retirement date is the end of March). Basically, it’s the butt-crack of dawn, but it’s all good. I tend to do my best work in the morning anyway.

I crawl out of bed, throw on a jacket (and some pants!) and take our dogs out for a quick pee. Exciting, I know!

Then, I generally make myself a cup of coffee using our Aeropress as the wife gets ready to leave for work. Hair, teeth, bag lunch…the normal stuff. It takes her about 15 minutes. She’s also nice enough to make me a bowl of oat meal that I heat up and eat after the gym. Sweet gal!

At around 5:20am, I sit down at my computer and put in some work on my passion projects:

  • ThinkSaveRetire.com – Responding to comments, writing new posts, screwing around on Twitter and keeping up to date with Buffer.
  • Working with J$ at Rockstar – I decided to get involved in some projects that J$ over at Rockstar Finance is putting together; this is seriously awesome stuff for personal finance bloggers, so I’m honored that I could get involved! In short, I’m writing lots of code, but it’s development that I enjoy.
  • Videography – I maintain two separate YouTube channels (A Streamin Life and Think Save Retire). Video editing takes a ton of time, but I generally enjoy the process.

Around 7am I take a break and head to the gym. I put myself through a pretty serious resistance training program to keep myself fit and not looking like a fatty. I thoroughly enjoy my time at the gym. I get into this zen state where I can tune out the rest of the world and completely focus on working out. It’s one of my favorite times of the day, and it makes me feel so much better the rest of the day.

After the gym, I’ll down that bowl of oat meal and continue working on my passion projects. If I’m looking for a little variety, I’ll choose something other than what I was engaged with earlier that morning. I base this entirely on how I feel at the time. Sometimes, the Honey Do list gets addressed around here.

It all depends on how I feel and what I want to tackle. And, that’s the best part of early retirement: The freedom to set your own damn schedule. No bosses to answer to. No daily conference calls that you gotta be around for. In a given week, the things that need to get done WILL get done. Their order of completion is entirely up to me.

The afternoon

Patti and Penny looking outside the door of the Airstream

After lunch, I generally like to take a quick nap after walking the dogs again. These naps completely rejuvenate me during the day, almost like a mini rebirth. Sometimes I will take a walk around the KOA before the nap, just to get an additional bit of exercise along with soaking up absolutely free vitamin D provided by bright and [usually] sunny Tucson, AZ days.

Then, it’s free-freaking-game. If I have more “work” to do with one of my passion projects, I’ll re-engage. If I’d rather watch some YouTube instead, I’ll do that. I may continue to chip away at the Honey Do list.

For example, going to the grocery store for our week’s supply of food so my wife doesn’t have to stop on her way home. Figuring out the generator that we want, buying it and learning how to use it. Cleaning up around the Airstream, performing small repairs and generally keeping a neat and tidy place. More or less, some of my time – as a free man, is focused on making it easier on the wife who still works. The fewer chores that she has to do around the house, the better.

…aaaaaand then another nap, perhaps. And more YouTube. Or another round of video editing when the sun is high in the sky and our solar panels are throwing a ton of energy into our battery bank.

The evening

The wife gets home around 4:30, and this part of the day hasn’t changed much since retirement. We’ll begin dinner around 5 or 5:30pm and finish up by 6:30 or, for some of our more involved meals, closer to 7. During dinner, we usually stream shows like House Hunters, Fixer Upper, Property Brothers or some other similar program. During football season, don’t be surprised to find us streaming a game.

By 8pm, we’re beat and stare longingly at the sheets, which are only a few short steps away in our little 200 square foot Airstream. We’ll walk the dogs one last time, maybe catch another YouTube video or two, then head off to bed for some reading time before lights out.

Is it weird being a “house husband”?

The wife and I in Sayulita, Mexico

I would be remiss if I didn’t address the elephant in the room. I’m retired from full-time work. My wife still works. Traditionally, the roles work in reverse, but not in our household at the moment. Is it weird being home while my wife is working?

For me? No. For her? No, not really. It helps that I worked from home to finish out my working career, largely engaged in a low-stress but high paying job. My wife has always had the tougher job. Over the months of me being home during the day, I think this final swing into official retirement for me is old hat for her. She’s used to me being home during the day.

If anything, she now has a much better chance of getting me to actually do things around here. I no longer have an excuse. I can’t play the “I’m too busy” card if she wants me to do something around the house. Basically, I’m her bitch when she’s at work. She knows I’m retired. While I’m never bored, my ability to set my own schedule and choose how I spend my time is something that makes her absence during the day easier to handle. More gets done, and I’m happy to do those things.

Hint: If she wants something done, she ignores it until she gets to work, then asks me to do it…right, honey? I hope you aren’t reading this…and if you are, totally kidding!  😉

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Comments

63 responses to “A day in the life of an early retiree”

  1. This sounds like a perfect existence to me. I love it all – right down to the airstream part. Of course I told you that before. Unfortunately, with a 7-yr old in school, we won’t be selling the homestead and living in a travel trailer anytime soon *sigh*. I’d even settle for a sit-in-one-place trailer, but my husband and daughter don’t even like that idea. Blah. Oh well, at least our house is small and easy to maintain. At any rate, sounds like you have a fairly easy life with tons of flexibility. What a dream come true. Except YOU’RE the one who made that dream your reality. Congratulations! You deserve every day of this new life.

    Mrs. Mad Money Monster

    • Steve says:

      Thanks so much! Things are going pretty darn well right now – no doubt. The No Kids thing for us has definitely helped, but I know people who do travel with little ones. It is definitely a different lifestyle, but it can work. 🙂

  2. Adam says:

    For some reason I thought you were both retired… Just wondering why you didn’t keep going til March and finish together? Pad out the stash a little more.
    It does sound like you’re enjoying yourself though 😃

    • Steve says:

      The main reason why I chose to call it quits early was because I derived no satisfaction out of my job. My wife, on the other hand, generally likes her job and is doing her boss a favor by sticking around longer. Also, this gives me some time to address some of my passion projects / side hustles before we officially set sail, which will help us put some things in place while we are stationary and have dependable Internet.

  3. Interesting. I’ll be curious to see how it changes once she retires. For example Going for a hike midday sounds appealing. My wife’s now a stay at home mom. Obviously not quite the same thing since kids are like a full time job. However she does some freelance work early before kids wake up and makes my lunch before heading out to workout at the Y with our younger child. After the gym she usually knocks out a honey do list while the child naps. Your day sounds similar sans the kids story time at the library.

    • Steve says:

      Things will definitely change a ton from her perspective. For me, there won’t be the gym, but we definitely will try our best to replace that gym time with hiking, biking and other physical activities to stay active and healthy. It’ll be fun to learn how to live the best in our new lifestyle.

  4. Apathy Ends says:

    Double naps – that sounds amazing.

    Glad to hear the first few weeks are going well – march will come quick and your wife can join you.

    Used a Champion generator over the weekend ice fishing, performed well in sub 0 weather for 3 days – they are way cheaper than Honda but I’m not sure how durable they are. Might be worth looking at some reviews.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Apathy. I’m not familiar with Champion generators, but we just got our Honda 2000. One of my tasks this week is to get some fuel into it and learn how to use it. It should be the perfect size for what we need it for. Hopefully, anyway. 🙂

  5. Ah that’s the life, Steve. What I’m more interested and looking forward to hear about is the day in life of you both, as the traveling duo! That’ll be when the real fun begins!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Green Swan. I will be sure to write another post once we are both retired about how our day looks. You’re right, that’ll be when the real fun begins. 🙂

  6. Roadrunner says:

    This is how life should be. I guess many people envy this lifestyle, but it doesn’t come from nowhere. You have worked and saved hard enough in the past to enjoy it. For me it’s still a long way to go, but it’s always encouraging to read stories of other people who have already made it.

    • Steve says:

      I completely agree, Roadrunner – this is how life *should* be. The accumulation phase of my life has concluded. Now, it’s time to shift my focus to enjoying life the best I can. 🙂

  7. Sounds like everything is going great for you and you’re keeping yourself busy!

    Will the schedule change once your wife retires? Maybe there will be more picnic and lunch dates. 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Yup, I am definitely keeping myself plenty busy. The schedule might change a little, but the major areas will stay the same. Hiking instead of the gym, but I’ll still spend time pursuing my passion projects and side hustles. And yes, many more lunch dates!

  8. Ahhh, I like the sound of no life-draining conference calls at 8 am. 🙂 Man, you get up pretty early! I think I’d sleep in until 6 am or 7 am during early retirement. I’ve been waking up at 5 am for the past few weeks and I just don’t think it’s for me; I’ve been exhausted. But to each his own!

    If Mr. Picky Pincher were retired before me, I would toooootally ask him to do things around the house and run errands. I had to do this while I had two paid weeks off of work. Our lives ran soooo much more smoothly since most of our to-dos were accomplished before the hubby got home. We had time to relax and focus on long-term projects. It was nice. 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Hehe, thanks Mrs. Picky Pincher. Yeah, 5am is definitely early…especially after the holiday break where my wife and I got up around 7am every day. And yeah, I don’t have a problem with doing things around the house. Luckily, it’s only 200 square feet, so things don’t take very long to do around here! 🙂

  9. Sounds like how my days would be. Only difference is I’m not a fan of working out in the morning so that would have to be shifted a little. Glad you’re enjoying your new path!

  10. Welcome to the house husband club Steve!

    I find that I’m not taking on a lot more of the cooking and cleaning tasks, but it’s not bad. Those only take a few hours of my day.

    In general, if it helps out the misses, then life is better for everybody!

  11. Thanks for the peak inside. Sounds amazing. Naps, workouts, passion projects, not bad. 🙂 I’m sure the dogs are enjoying all the extra Steve time too.

    • Steve says:

      Ha! I think they are – they get fed and walked more anyway. They are sleeping on the couch next to me at the moment, so they seem pretty content with this new schedule of mine. 🙂

  12. Joe says:

    Steve, You’re living the life! Enjoy it. 🙂
    I think it’s awesome that you’re working with J$ on a project. That’s a great way to spend your time.
    What’s your plan on kids? None?

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Joe! Regarding kids – no way. They aren’t for us. We’re gonna stick with dogs for now, which are perfect little companions for us while we are living a life on the road. 🙂

  13. Sounds very similar to my schedule.

    At first – right after I sold me last company and “retired” – I had a lot of problems just keeping myself busy. I went from non-stop high-energy (and stress) to tons of free time and no stress. It took me a few months of adjusting to get into a groove. Glad you were able to get into the groove so quickly!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Brad – you bring up a good point. Freedom does take some getting used to. You gotta be disciplined enough not to just become a giant sloth after retiring (at any age). Sometimes, people can’t handle the freedom, but I definitely can. And it sounds like you can too. When freedom is put to good use, it’s life-changing!

  14. Sounds like some amazing days! And love that you don’t have to “fit” everything in on the weekend. Enjoying watching your evolution into retirement. We have so many projects that I can’t wait to get to – that I can’t ever imagine being bored!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Vicki – they are amazing days. Yeah, spreading things out in the week has definitely been a stress relief for both of us. We don’t feel like the weekends are the only two days where we gotta get *everything* done. It’s definitely nice. And from what I know of you, Vicki, I definitely don’t think that you’d let yourself get bored. You can handle the freedom! 🙂

  15. That rocks and exactly what I was hoping you would say! Man, we’re so jealous, but we’ll get there too. Our day will be very similar to yours and ha! I also use an Aeropress. It’s amazing for fresh coffee even when we’re traveling. Glad to hear it’s as good as we’re thinking it will be. 🙂 Have fun!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks SS! Yes, you will get there, and you’ll probably feel the same sense of freedom that I am. And high five to using an Aeropress. It’s so easy and compact – and requires ZERO electricity! 🙂

  16. Mrs. BITA says:

    Two naps a day! Passion project coding! Writing! I am such an ugly shade of green right now. But underneath that moss coloured exterior I am happy for you. I’m glad that retirement is working out well thus far. You are living the life.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks, Mrs. BITA! Retirement is working out very well so far. Getting things done. Having fun. Catching up on sleep. Can’t complain about anything right now!

  17. Sounds wonderful! We just got to Tucson around a week ago and this is the best RV spot in the winter time – so I’m sure your days are great!

    My husband is a house husband and it’s best for the both of us. Makes both of our lives easier!

  18. Sounds like a damn good life. What do you do with the airstream when you fly out of the country? Can you park that bad boy at the airport? Also, what kind of dogs do you have? The one on the right looks like our boxer girl.

    • Steve says:

      We aren’t yet sure what our best option will be once we pursue more international travel. We’ll have to consider our options when the time comes. There are storage services, but those typically aren’t cheap either.

      And you’re right about the larger dog – she is a white boxer, and we think mixed with American Bulldog. The other is a poodle mixed with something that we’re not too sure about. They are both rescues. 🙂

  19. It sounds great, and I’m sure it’ll be even better when you’re both fully free from corporate obligations. And great job, contributing over at Rockstar. Excited to see what you’re working on!

  20. Mrs. COD says:

    Love it! Keep savoring those days doing it your own way! We love the RV-type of living idea; perhaps someday we’ll give it a go! Just heard somebody pulling the old “early retirement would be so boring” line… You’re fighting that stereotype! I’m sure having plenty of passion projects makes it the best! Only the boring are bored, right?

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Mrs. COD – if you have nothing in which to occupy your life, I’m sure early retirement would be boring. But like many of us, my JOB was not my life. And I’m so thankful for that. There’s so much more to life than sitting in traffic and commuting to a JOB, baby! 🙂

  21. FIscovery says:

    The thing for me is choice – you have a choice each day, it’s the lack of choice I feel is what gets most folks in that work funk – – it’s not that we don’t want to work, it’s the lack of being in control of what it is you do on any given day – IMO, choice is the root of happiness. Enjoy the ride that so many of us want to get on!

  22. Chris says:

    That sounds like a pretty good life to say the least. I had two naps today, but it’s because it was a day off for weather issues and a head cold. I would not be getting up so early if I was in your shoes, though. I’m an night owl, but realize that other people are not. Congrats on hanging up on full-time work.

  23. Two naps in one day is quite an innovation! We’ve been early retired for 9 months now and still VERY MUCH enjoying the freedom and autonomy that you are also experiencing. Today we went skiing – tomorrow we leave for Mexico!

    • Steve says:

      Nice! Definitely looks like you’re doing this whole “early retirement” thing right. I love going to Mexico. Everything is much, much cheaper down there! 🙂

  24. Thanks for the snapshot of a “Day in the Life”
    This is what things will look like for the wife and I this year other than the Airstream. I will leave work to focus on my hopeful up and coming projects as well as support her at the store. I will keep keeping tabs on any efficiencies or feedback you provide and your insight will be very helpful I am certain.

  25. Thanks for this post. I was interested to read it as I retired the same week as you and my partner is carrying on working until late March this year so some similarities. Of course, you are way younger! But here in the UK people are amazed we can retire in our 50s. What I have loved in my first few weeks is having time to help working friends out. I helped one with an IT problem last week and another with interview practice yesterday and I visit an elderly neighbour to keep her company and help with shopping regularly. It is great to be able to say yes to friends and not feel that I should be doing something else. I don’t get up anywhere near as early as you but I am my most productive in the mornings and try and have the discipline to work on my travel writing then. But then on a sunny day I will just go out for a walk because working at the laptop is a waste of the sunshine and I can – we don’t get that much sunshine in a UK winter so its great to be able to get out and enjoy it.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for your comment, Carol! It’s so nice having the freedom to do those things that you never could before, isn’t it? Life gets so much more fulfilling. More productive.

  26. Tucker says:

    This is so great! Honestly, every single person who has asked me why the heck I’d want to retire early usually goes off on how bored they would be. Inevitably, when I delve a bit deeper I realize they probably will be bored! Usually the naysayers have little-or-no interests outside work/time/tv/sleep – rinse, repeat. They haven’t kept up on their friendships, they’ve let their interests go, they basically just are people who work all week and spend money on the weekends. Having huge swaths of time – as a retired person does – probably fills them with anxiety because they realize that they have nothing else to fill up their days.

    Meanwhile, I dream about all the time I could throw into my passion projects: I could practice harp more often, write more, ski more, volunteer more, visit more friends. I think my list is actually endless! So the idea of early retirement fills me with excitement, not dread! In fact, I often wonder if some of the “poo poohing” of FIRE has to do with the fact that these people truly can’t imagine how they’d fill their days if they weren’t commuting or spending a fortune to accumulate crap.

    • Steve says:

      “Usually the naysayers have little-or-no interests outside work/time/tv/sleep – rinse, repeat.” – Wow, that’s incredibly well-written and sharply to the point. And I agree, sadly. If work is the only thing keeping you “not bored”…to me, that’s a concern. There should be more to life than your JOB. Well said, Tucker!

  27. Ashley says:

    Thanks for sharing this Steve. Working on passion projects, walking the dogs, hitting the gym & a few naps thrown in sounds like the perfect day to me. We have a boxer/pit bull mix who is full of energy & so much fun. Spending more time with him & our foster GSD would be awesome.

    It’s stories like this that confirm that we are on the right path.

    Congrats on building an awesome life of freedom!!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for your comment, Ashley, and I appreciate your kind words. We think there may be a little Pit in our boxer as well, but we aren’t sure. She has the Pit eyes in some ways.

      And yes, you are definitely on the right path! 🙂

  28. Sarah says:

    I realize you were trying to be funny, but please reconsider the phrase “not looking like a fatty.” There are people of all sizes working towards good health, and we should respect each other.

  29. Jef says:

    Man that sounds very chilled and the “life” so to speak.. It seems like you’ve settled straight into the early retirement lifestyle?

    Which I’m sure is to do with having a clear purpose and vision on what living life on your terms looks like!

    Keep up the great work Steve and be nice to the honey bee 😉 haha!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Jef – I have definitely settled right in. No real adjustment period for me because I worked from home for a couple years right before retirement. Made the transition pretty darn easy. 🙂

  30. Thai Shares says:

    Make sure you put some thought into when your wife does retire and then also occupies your daytime space. Of course it is trite to observe that your current routine will change dramatically…you know that already I am sure…however there will be habits that you currently have, that may no longer work in a shared (work/not work) space.

  31. MrsWoW says:

    Man, what a life! Thanks for sharing. Question though: did you go through a “shock” period immediately after retiring? I’m guessing the transition was fairly easy since you were already working from home, but I’m curious to know how you felt during the first couple of days, before you established a routine. I’m still working away over here, so retirement is still in the “one day” category.

    • Steve says:

      Nope, no shock period. It’s probably because I saw it coming for SO long that it really didn’t mess with me too much. I was definitely excited to finally be retired, but no…no shock.

  32. HBFI says:

    I have to say, I struggle to read these kind of posts from folks already post-FIRE. It’s awesome to hear your experience, but forces me to fight that itch to accelerate the trigger pull even more than I’ve already planned. Nevertheless, great post! Really enjoy tracking your experience.

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