Wow, two years into early retirement. What have I accomplished? Everything and nothing.
When I entered early retirement by ditching the working world, I was still focused on keeping busy. Productivity, accountability, setting goals. All stuff you have to do when you’re on an annual performance review cycle. I shared my early retirement to do list in my “First Month of Early Retirement” post almost two years ago:
- Ebay a bunch of stuff
- Learn a foreign language or 3
- Investigate starting a blog and/or a Youtube channel
- Get more exercise
- Cook even more than I already have been, and perfect some new dishes
- Hang out with more people more often
- Play more video games
- Read more books
I’ve completed all of these action items (except that Youtube channel!), so I get a gold star for entering early retirement correctly, right?
That list is a pretty good summary of typical things I’ve done these last two years. I pulled together a weekly schedule that shows how I routinely spend my time, although I don’t strictly follow any schedule day to day. That weekly schedule includes blogging, reading, playing video games, socializing, and spending time with the kids plus a little housework that has to get done.
It took about six months before I really got into the early retirement groove and started relaxing. I ditched any notion of having to accomplish something concrete in early retirement. So far, I’m doing a great job of “doing nothing”.
Retiring early to travel the world
On top of all these routine pastimes that keep me busy and entertained on a daily basis, I’ve also fulfilled another early retirement goal by taking a few major trips abroad. Last year we set out on a five week road trip from North Carolina to Canada. It turns out that traveling with a two year old can be exhausting, so we returned home about half way through the trip.
Here’s a summary of the blog posts from the Canada trip:
- Part 1 – From Raleigh to Philadelphia
- Part 2 – A few days in New York City
- Part 3 – Settling into our apartment in Montreal
- Part 4 – Sights of Montreal
- Part 5 – Quebec City, Canada
- Part 6 – Trip Wrap Up
- Part 7 – Our Bad Experience With AirBnB Rental Had A Happy Ending
A year later, a year wiser, and with a toddler a year older, we set out on another grand adventure. This year we spent seven weeks in Mexico. Join us on the journey:
- The cost of seven weeks in Mexico – the planned trip budget
- Safety and Security in Mexico
- What Will We Miss About Home While On The Road
- The Start Of Our Adventures in Mexico
- Exploring Guanajuato, Mexico
- Retiring Abroad – Could We Do It?
- Eating Our Way Across Mexico – Oh so much delicious food
- The Gear Post: What We Packed For A Seven Week Trip With Kids – Wildly popular post shared all over social media
- July 2015 Financial Update – Includes a full trip cost breakdown and shows how we only spent $4,450 (60% of our budget!) for seven weeks of vacation
Now that we’re official battle-hardened family travel veterans, we can share a few things we learned about traveling with young children:
- Slow travel is the name of the game. Take it slow and easy.
- Plan plenty of “do nothing” days in between the more hectic days of touring, sightseeing, and traveling between cities.
- If the kids want to take a detour, go for it.
- Take breaks for water and snacks frequently.
- Remember the reason you took the trip – relaxation and fun for the whole family
Keeping finances on track
After two years, we are $235,000 wealthier than when I left my job. Around $120,000 of that net worth boost came from Mrs. Root of Good’s salary since she continued working even after we reached financial independence (more on that decision below).
The other $100,000+ of net worth growth came from investment gains in excess of our annual spending. In other words, even if Mrs. RoG didn’t work at all these past two years, we would still be $100,000 richer today than when I quit working. That’s the true test of how well our early retirement financial plan worked these past two years.
As I write this, we just suffered through one of the worst weeks in recent stock market history. Our net worth dropped almost $100,000 over the past two weeks. Are we worried? Not yet. I don’t think we will run out of money in early retirement, so these fluctuations, while volatile, aren’t that scary.
We’ve managed our expenses incredibly well. Better than I ever expected. For the first seven months of 2015, for example, we only spent $14,883 which is $4,000 under budget compared to where we should be based on our $32,400 early retirement annual budget. And that’s after spending almost $4,500 on a seven week vacation in Mexico!
In 2014, we came in just $2,400 over budget in spite of spending $8,700 on major renovations to our house including new siding, new windows, and a major roof repair. We’ll undoubtedly have repairs to our home and auto over the next several decades of early retirement, but those repairs won’t typically be as expensive as the 2014 repair bill.
Something surprising happened after I retired. I used to check our finances and investments almost daily. Knowing how we were doing kept me motivated toward our early retirement goal. Every $10,000 or $100,000 of growth meant we were getting closer to the goal.
Now that I’m retired and the victory flag is firmly planted, I let the investments do their job of growing long term and don’t routinely check the account balances. Curiosity still gets the better of me occasionally and I’ll log in to Personal Capital to see where the totals are. But I rarely make any changes to our portfolio.
In almost eight months of 2015, for example, I sold one investment to fund our mortgage pay off and I rebalanced the portfolio once near the beginning of the year to get us back to our asset allocation.
I figured I would worry about finances more in early retirement, when the opposite actually happened. Maybe it’s because the net worth keeps growing? I might feel different if we were sitting on a few hundred thousand dollars less than what I started with two years ago.
One thing is certain – I don’t miss work. From September through May, I still have to wake up with an alarm clock so I can walk the kids to school, but I don’t mind that at all. I’m working for me and my family and not for The Man.
But if I ever do get bored, I can always polish the resume and dust off my interviewing attire. Boredom = unlikely.
Mrs. RoG still works full time right now. The plan was for her to work “a few more months” after I quit working. Then she received another month block of vacation time. Then it was bonus season. And she got a raise. Then she negotiated an additional five weeks paid time off on top of her regular vacation time and holidays. After working four day weeks and burning up most of her vacation days last fall, her tentative plans to walk away from work fell through again.
Eventually it was the start of a new year and with that another month allotment of vacation time. Then bonus and raise time again. As if her employer wasn’t generous enough, she requested and received a paid three month sabbatical for May-August of this year. We traveled the world and Mrs. RoG learned to swim. Very successful sabbatical if you ask me!
Today we arrive back at the crossroad where “quitting work” intersects “easy money and lots of time off”. It’s not an easy choice to walk away from great benefits and pay at a job that has flexible hours, allows telecommuting, and comes with mostly reasonable coworkers and managers and a 40 hour work week.
When is Mrs. RoG going to quit for real? In “a few more months”.
In the meantime, I’m holding down the fort at home until she hangs it up for good. A combination of stay at home dad, travel agent, chef, handyman, and chauffeur. Which is probably how I’ll spend the next decade even if Mrs. RoG quits tomorrow.
I wish I could tell you what I’ll be up to in five or ten years, but I can’t realistically forecast that beyond a year or two out. In two years, our youngest child will be in kindergarten, our oldest two kids will be in middle school. Mrs. RoG will almost definitely be done working. We’ll probably go on at least one extended international trip in the next two years (Germany? Spain? Argentina?) and a few smaller vacations. If I had to guess, we’ll still be living in our same house in Raleigh.
What do you envision for your first two years of early retirement or regular retirement?
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