Notes From the First Week of Freedom

I announced that I was done with formal work last Friday. I sent my laptop back on Monday of this week. I’m not at all sorry to see it go. It was a piece of crap that caused endless frustration. Good riddance!

I felt sorry for the technician who has to deal with this pile of junk, so I included some awesome dinosaur stickers:

But we have real business to get to. Since this blog is supposed to be about early retirement, I need to tell you how it’s going. I took notes all week. Here is what I found interesting.

 

Random Notes from the First Week of Freedom

Oh yes, there were celebratory drinks. Too many celebratory drinks…

My mind doesn’t grasp it: I keep saying things like this:

I’ll get to it after work tomorrow.

A moment later, I catch myself. It’s like when the year changes over, but you keep forgetting and writing the past year (it usually takes me until March to get it right consistently). (Mrs. 1500 note: On Sunday night, I started to ask him what he had planned at work the next week. This is going to take me a while, too.)

 

No adjustment needed: Some folks told me that it would take me a while to adjust. However, this was a non-issue. I rolled right into my new life and didn’t look back.

I’ve been planning my departure since late 2012, so I have no excuse to not be ready to go. I fully admit that I needed that time to get comfortable with the idea. If financial conditions were the same but I had been fired, I would have been distraught.

The hardest part of leaving were the emotions. The money is easy.

 

I wake up even earlier: When I worked, I’d usually wake up around 6am. Now, it’s closer to 5. I always beat the Sun. I think this is because I value my time more now that it’s all my own. And if there is anything I don’t like to waste, it’s time*.

Awake well before the Sun

The dinosaurs have no interest in getting up early:

It’s 10am! Get out of bed lazysauruses!

 

New ideas: My mind now has the bandwidth to think. I came up with a couple new business ideas on Monday. I reserved two new URLs this week. Internet, here I come!

 

Sometimes it’s a little better to travel than to arrive. –Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Life is good: When I was still working, I considered the possibility that life after formal work would be a letdown. It’s only been a week, but I’m enjoying myself greatly. My routine changes every day, but it looks something like this:

  • 5am: Work on blog stuff and other random loose ends like bills and email
  • 6am: Breakfast and getting the girls ready for school
  • 7am: Run Club! This is a school sponsored activity where we run for 30 minutes before school
  • 8am: Work on the blog or other random stuff
  • 11am: Exercise
  • 1-3pm: More work
  • 3pm: Pick up children. From then on, it’s homework, dinner, a family walk, board games, getting ready for bed
  • 8pm: Reading before bed
  • 9pm: Lights out

 

I’ll miss investing big money: I really enjoyed getting a big paycheck and investing it. Since the Mrs. is still working and this blog makes money, we still have a surplus, but nothing like before.

 

Passive Income helps me sleep better at night: I’ve mentioned our hard money loans in passing (more on this next week!). We’re bringing in about $3,000 per month in income from these. Coincidentally, this is the amount of money we need to get by. While the income is in a pre-tax account, it feels good that we’re balancing out our spending.

 

Meaningful work is the key to life: A couple people let me know that they’d ‘never retire because they love work.’ I love work too. If I didn’t have this blog and other projects to pursue, I never would have left. I didn’t leave formal work to live a life of leisure. I quit to pursue my own work. Huge difference.

And I’ll never stop working. Before the Internet Retirement Police call me out, keep in mind that I’m working for personal growth, not for money. If I work on a passion project that happens to make money, I’ll take it though.

 

What the hell day is it? I’m absent minded. I never know where my wallet or phone are. I go through sunglasses and baseball caps at a furious pace. When I had a job, sometimes I’d lose track of what day of the week it is. Now, that problem is exacerbated. No more regular meetings. No more deadlines.

Is it Monday or Thursday or Friday? Hell if I know. I’m going to find a cheaper version of this and buy it:

First Week of Freedom

Friday

  • Cleaned out the garage. For the first time in 4 years, we can fit both of our vehicles
  • Biked a bunch of errands including a stop at school to have lunch with older daughter
  • Played Nintendo (shout out to Zelda!)
  • Walked downtown and had beers and burritos with the wife

Bonus points if you can find my childhood robot

Saturday

  • Cleaned up the yard and house
  • Had a party with some friends in the afternoon

Sunday

  • Took care of some errands and planted new grass
  • Ran 3.5 miles
  • Finished a post for my side hustle, InvestmentZen

Monday

  • My elbow hasn’t been quite the same since I fell on it back in December. I had it x-rayed and the doctor told me that I probably ruptured my bursa sack. According to her, this is no big deal. Time to start hardcore workouts again.
  • I HATE going to the post office, but I had to mail back my work laptop today. It’s filled with lines and angry people. Even the automated postage machine had a line. Grrrrrr. This was the low point of my week. First world problems indeed.
  • Finalized travel plans! At the end of May, we’re going to the Midwest where we’ll spend time in the Twin Cities for Memorial Day weekend. After that, we head north to visit a friend followed by a stay in northern Michigan. We’ll spend time in Madison, Wisconsin before heading back home.

Tuesday

  • I got back to work on a web app that I’m working on with a friend.
  • Fixed my bikes for spring. I had a couple flat tires and a brake that needed adjustment.
  • Met up with another retired friend: Life is much more enjoyable when you have like-minded people around you. I’m thankful for this.
  • P90X workout.

Wednesday

  • More work on the web app
  • Costco supply run for party tomorrow

Thursday (today)

  • The Physician on Fire comes into town today. We may visit some local watering holes before having a get-together with local friends. Mrs. 1500 is whipping up fish tacos for the festivities. Life is good.

 

*Mrs. 1500 note: On Sunday night, my parents left after a 10-day visit that coincided with Mr. 1500’s last day. We haven’t had a ton of time to talk, and after they left, I asked him how he was doing, mentally, with the whole “leaving work” thing. He said, “Oh, I feel GREAT about that!”

He struggles with “doing nothing” though. I think he feels like if he isn’t doing something, he’s wasting his time. I’ll keep you updated if he figures this part out.

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63 Responses to Notes From the First Week of Freedom

  1. Brian says:

    Looks like a great mix of Carl time/family time/ and meaningful work. Other than the post office trip, the first week sounds pretty good! Enjoy the POF visit.
    Brian recently posted…Financial Education – School or Parent -Which is a Young Person’s Best Bet?My Profile

  2. My favorite line of the article was “I think this is because I value my time more now that it’s all my own.” On the weekends I feel like I always am more productive than during the week because I own that time and want to maximize it as well. I can’t even imagine being retired and filling my days with whatever I want. I definitely wouldn’t mind playing a couple of hours of Zelda 🙂 Thanks for the fun recap of your week!!
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…How to Diversify Your Portfolio ProperlyMy Profile

  3. Mr. SSC says:

    It sounds like a great way to spend your time, especially now that it’s yours. I could see a similar schedule happening for me when the time comes.

    Looking forward to reading more about your non-work adventures and the new internet sites. 🙂
    Mr. SSC recently posted…Phase 1 of the Lifestyle Change Begins: We’re Buying Some Land!My Profile

  4. “He struggles with “doing nothing” though. I think he feels like if he isn’t doing something, he’s wasting his time. I’ll keep you updated if he figures this part out.”

    I think this will be an interesting thing to watch for. I’m sure there is plenty of work and plenty of errands for the first few weeks or months. What happens after? Will you settle into a more relaxed pace? Or will you find more projects to fill your time?

    I honestly don’t know which I would do. I’d like to think relaxed pace, but I probably would find more to do.
    Matt @ Optimize Your Life recently posted…You Do Have TimeMy Profile

  5. Certainly sounds like you are off and running in your early retirement. Its great to have a plan and then to see it through. Well Done sir!

  6. Mrs PoP says:

    Sounds absolutely lovely. Glad you’re enjoying every day (if not every minute – Thank you post office!). =)
    Mrs PoP recently posted…Happy National High Five Day!My Profile

  7. I think I would be the opposite for some reason: “The hardest part of leaving were the emotions. The money is easy.” I think probably having some sort of passive income when I’m “retired” would make me breathe easier. I remember when I was “unemployed” for a brief period of time, and all I thought was, “how did I ever work full time? I’m getting so much done!” 🙂 Sounds kind of the same as you!

  8. Money Beagle says:

    Glad you’re enjoying your time. What a fun post to read. Have a great weekend!
    Money Beagle recently posted…Breaking Down Our Madeira Beach VacationMy Profile

  9. Steve from Arkansas says:

    Congratulations on your first week! I had to smile because I just finished my first year of early retirement. Lots of what you wrote resonated. One thing that is working for me are four side gigs I started setting up before I retired. My career was intense, 700 employees under me, $100 million operating budget to manage, real fires and explosions, always on call. But I am an adrenaline junky so usually I loved it. I knew retirement had to impose demands on me or I’d get bored. I work about three days a week, play hard(tennis, distance running, fishing, hiking, off roading, etc.) three days a week and chill one day. After a year in still loving it!

    • Whoah, your job sounds like it could be on a TV show! And yeah, sounds like fun too.

      It’s wonderful to hear of other success stories and I look forward to playing hard soon too.

  10. Hey yeah Mr. 1500! I remember when I “retired” from being a bond trader at 25 and just turned in my notice without a plan except to go to Europe. A year after I did that, I founded a startup and now I’m back to “work.” I can tell you I don’t even feel like I’m working most of the time. Work is what you have to do. Passion is what you want to do

  11. It is admirable that you are keeping a good time-table of what you are doing, and when you are doing it. Of course, with little kids at home, that probably is the way to go..

    When I semi-retired 7 – 8 years ago, I did not keep good track of time. I would find something of interest, and lose myself in it for hours at a time.. Those were some of the most productive hours of my life, the benefits of which still accrue to me today.

    The worst productive times of my life? When I had to track time in 6 minute increments, and allocate it over one of the 200 billing codes.
    Dividend Growth Investor recently posted…Rent Versus Buy – How to decide which one is best for you?My Profile

    • “The worst productive times of my life? When I had to track time in 6 minute increments, and allocate it over one of the 200 billing codes.”

      That would be torture.

  12. Woohoo! Sounds amazing to me, Mr. 1500. 🙂 I particularly enjoy that you’re keeping up with the goal of adding more dinosaurs to your post. And what the hell is a bursa sack? Gonna have to Google that one–but I’m happy to hear it’s nothing serious!

    I’m transitioning to a new job in May and I purposely gave myself a week off in between jobs. I’m so giddy to have all that time to do things I want to do! Hopefully I can recharge and do a few fun passion projects before getting back to the grind. Since I’m a contractor I haven’t really had a week off work in a long time, so this is a refreshing move. 🙂
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…How to Pay Down Tough Student Loan DebtMy Profile

  13. Sounds awesome! Swing by and say hi on your way home from Madison! I have no plans to go anywhere so I’ll be around. (Plus you can see my awesome tastic new rental house!) Congratulations again!
    Gwen @ Fiery Millennials recently posted…Early Retirement: Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but…My Profile

  14. Glad you’re getting on quite nicely! Don’t work too hard. Enjoy some leisure time!
    Fervent Finance recently posted…Slowing Things DownMy Profile

  15. Fran Bach says:

    Caught myself laughing outloud on your dinosaur comment.
    Awesome schedule. The curve ball for me is that your’re getting up earlier. That’s a very interesting side reaction. Love the perspective of working now for your personal growth instead of money.
    Thanks for being the point man for now. I’ll catch up soon. But first, I’m doubling back to help a few others along.

  16. Kyle says:

    Sounds like an adjustment week, glad it’s going well :D.
    I have a meeting tonight about getting ready for our 2nd annual beer festival in East Troy, May 27th. Sounds like you’ll still be busy around that time.
    Keep telling me how great retirement is, It will help motivate me. Up to about 75k saved, may be close to $90k by the end of the year. decent pace.

  17. Thanks a lot Mr.1500 for writing this post. It is really important and motivates even more. And totally agree with you that early retirement is not about not working, it’s more about doing what you love, and what’s really important.

  18. Mrs. BITA says:

    Colour me green. Well, apart from the bit where you spent your first retired day cleaning out the garage. That is insanity.
    Mrs. BITA recently posted…Your Life: Off the Shelf or Made to Order?My Profile

  19. Jerry says:

    I find it interesting that you wake up earlier. I do the same thing when I am on an extended vacation 92-3 weeks)

  20. Melissa says:

    That sounds pretty darn amazing if you ask me! I hope to get to that one day soon. We’re working on it!

  21. Love the dinosaur stickers with the laptop – I’m sure they loved getting that back!

    That’s interesting that you’re now waking up earlier. I like the idea – just something that I wasn’t expecting to hear.

    I’m very similar to you (at least according to Mrs. 1500’s note). Even right now, if I’m not doing something productive, I feel like it’s wasted time and it bothers me. I’ll be curious to see how that plays out for you in retirement.

    Sounds like a great first week of freedom!

    — Jim
    Jim @ Route To Retire recently posted…My Funding Strategy for Investment AccountsMy Profile

  22. You can’t miss the big money investing b/c it’s only been a week! Gotta revisit this a month from now my man!

    Sam
    Financial Samurai recently posted…Landscaping As An Investment: Focus On Aesthetics And FunctionalityMy Profile

  23. Miles says:

    No Extravagant Stories from Thursday (4/20)? Esp being in the CO area w/ your buddy, PhysicianOnFire 😉

  24. Joe says:

    That’s an awesome first week of ER. A lot more fun than I had. (Our kid was 18 month old when I left…)
    Great job with getting up early. I work on my blog at night and that’s probably not the best way to go. I’m just not getting enough sleep.
    Enjoy!

  25. Nice quote you included: Sometimes it’s a little better to travel than to arrive. I read this book awhile back, but I should re-read.

    Kind of like happiness or self-actualization, there really is no destination that we ‘arrive’ at, it is just a constant journey of experiences, setbacks, adjustments and experimenting.
    Primal Prosperity recently posted…Why You Need a Balance Sheet for Your SoulMy Profile

    • “there really is no destination that we ‘arrive’ at”

      Yep. I think about this all the time. Destinations are silly. Constant improvement is the goal.

  26. Jason says:

    Sounds like a great first week. I look forward to hearing what those future endeavors are.

  27. It’s appears your side endeavors are already expanding to fill the available time. That seems to be a common theme for early retirees. Now conversely I write this comment to you while sitting in O’Hare airport on the way back from a 4 day business trip to China. It’s enough to make me reconsider a target date of fifty five.

  28. What a great week! Especially that last day — thank you kindly for allowing me to crash the party. You’ve got great friends. And kids. And wife.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

  29. Cleaning & organizing, side hustles and beer, sounds like a fantastic first week! I like the fact you are getting up earlier now to focus on the things you want to and enjoy. Look forward to reading about week 2.
    FIbythecommonguy recently posted…Taking Lunch to WorkMy Profile

  30. It sounds glorious (minus the post office). I’m interested to see a few months/a year down the line if you would say to wait until you hit your big number before quitting to work on your own projects or if you think people should take the leap sooner than complete financial independence. Also, I’m with the dinosaurs. I like a 10am rise time. Otherwise, I’m an afternoon napper. 🙂

  31. Sounds like a great first week. Let us know if you need any suggestions while in the Twin Cities…Lots of great Breweries, Restaurants and Bike trails.

    • Sure, let me have it! Do y’all currently reside there?

      • Yeah we live just west of downtown Minneapolis. Surly’s brew hall is a great place to visit on a nice day. (probably our most popular micro brew) Good patio, great food and they always have a new beer to try…also Kid friendly. Not sure what part of the Twin Cities you are staying in but Surly is only a couple blocks from a light rail station by the U of MN campus.

  32. Congrats on retiring. You’ve sacrificed and worked really hard to make this happen. One thing you mentioned resonated a lot with me. It’s that you wake-up earlier now. I often notice that I wake up really early on weekends or when I’m going to be doing something that brings me joy. But on on workdays getting out of bed seems almost impossible. I cannot wait to wake-up early, happy, and with my own agenda.

    Thanks for sharing your story.
    Investment Hunting recently posted…Should You Do Real Estate Investment With A Partner?My Profile

    • “But on on workdays getting out of bed seems almost impossible. I cannot wait to wake-up early, happy, and with my own agenda.”

      Yeah, this is a good indicator that you have a lively and worthwhile life outside of work. Lots don’t, so good for you!

  33. Brother, you are preaching to the choir.

    I have usually the same response to getting up. I get up earlier without an alarm set than I did when I was forcing myself to be up ‘early for work’. Now that I’m almost 5 years in, I do sometimes now sleep in though. This happens most often when it is cold outside and the sheets are toasty or after I had a good workout the previous day and take some time with laying down stretches (like a lazy cat) for about an hour or so. Feels good.
    Financial Velociraptor recently posted…Friday Expiries: NAP, AFSI, SHOPMy Profile

  34. Amber tree says:

    That is a great week! I like that you are well prepared and thus do noit fall into a blck hole.

    Over the summer, I have a 5 eek holiday (unpaid) I better start to plan some activities before all that time goes to waste on random stuff. I especially need to make sure I get the best out of the time with the kids.

  35. Congratulations. That sounds like an awesome first week. I’m sure the IT guy is proudly wearing those stickers. A great send off for returning your work computer.

    Love the daily schedule. Looking forward to seeing what else you have up your sleeve in early retirement.

    Bert

  36. Mr. Tako says:

    Looks like you’re off to a great start Mr. 1500! That’s a great week!

    I think I’ll stick with the dinosaurs though….5am is for the birds!

    Nice to have that passive income isn’t it?

  37. LadyFIRE says:

    Checkout all those bikes! You might actually be beating me and Mr. FIRE on the Bikes Per Person index 😀

    It’s amazing how similar your ‘retirement’ (so far) looks to a ‘working week’ – there’s a lot of Work in that first week. Which is not a retirement police comment 🙂 Just noticing that a week well-spent on items of choice looks like a ‘working’ week, if only workplaces A. matched our passions and B. let us out regularly for beers and burritos 😉
    LadyFIRE recently posted…Money quotes you missed in pop cultureMy Profile

  38. Playing Zelda definitely counts as doing something productive 🙂

    I never had a NES but had the SNES version, it is one of the best games of all time IMO.

    Also I’ve recently gotten into watching Final Fantasy 7 streams on youtube (uber geeky or what!), did you ever play any of those?

    Loved hearing about your week, and glad to see you are getting an early night as well as the early mornings, was worried a bit when I heard the 5am, sleep deprivation is not good for longevity and we all want you to have a long and healthy “retirement” (sorry to use that word) of course!

  39. Amy says:

    BIG Congrats to you!!!!! Welcome to the rest of your life. 🙂

    I can SO relate to never knowing what day it is. It will only get worse when the girls are on summer break. Enjoy it but know that others will have lost your mind. I’m okay with that.

  40. great post – very interesting. do you find yourself working out more now that you are retired or less?

  41. OnlyKetchup says:

    Can you explain the comment that if it wasn’t for the blog and other projects, you would have kept working at your job forever?

    Not trying to be the Internet police, but ~1500 days ago you wanted nothing to do with your job. What changed to make you feel differently now?

    • Hey OK-

      Yep, you’re completely right. When I started the blog, I was hell bent on quitting my job, but had never considered what I was going to. Retiring to nothing is a recipe for disaster. Meaningful, gratifying work is the key to life and I’m glad I found it.

      • OnlyKetchup says:

        I guess where I was going was that it seems you were able to find some contentment/pleasure in your work for pay job. At least to the point where you would not have been miserable continuing longer if needed. Seems like you had a mindset shift somewhere along the way, maybe it was solely due to the fact that you no longer needed the job…

        • Well, what happened was the incredible stress that triggered my journey in the first place went away, but I wasn’t in love with the job either. I wouldn’t have been miserable staying on, but I’m much happier now pursuing my passion projects, even if the money is far, far less.

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