The First Week of FIRE

It now occurs to me that I’ve already now been done work for over a week and I have to admit it doesn’t feel like it has been that long.  So while I obviously can’t know much this early into my journey on the other side of FIRE (financial independence retire early) I thought I would share a few of the items that I’ve noticed.

  1. Poor Sleep – I’ve been sleeping a lot worse than I normally have (my normal is fall into bed and be out cold for 8 hours).  Initially I thought perhaps it was me feeling a bit lost in this new life of mine, but then when I paid a bit more attention to when it was occurring I figured it out.  I am sleeping poorly for the last hour of my sleep right before my wife’s alarm goes off during the week (remember she still runs a daycare in the house).  Ah, then I understood.  My body is used to being awake for that hour as I used to get up a full hour before my wife so my internal clock is off a little bit.  I suspect this will sort it self out over time.
  2. Event Based Time – I also have realized that even in my first week I’m looking at clocks a LOT less than I used to.  So much that one day I realized I wasn’t sure what day of the week it was.  Instead I have shifted back to event based time.  As kids before we can read a clock we understand the flow of time as a series of events.  First we get up, get dressed and then have breakfast.  We know lunch comes after breakfast.  So for me now I know because the kids have swimming lessons, it is Wednesday.  Otherwise I won’t really pay attention as much.
  3. Gotta be Productive – I felt odd for most of this first week and I had a hard time figuring out why.  Then it hit me: I had no metric of being productive anymore. After a several decades in the corporate work world I have a habit to feel productive in a given day and while I have a to do list and want to do list they weren’t really cutting it as I sometimes did something off them and other times I didn’t.   So I’m trying to decide if this is just a temporary adjustment or do I need a bit more structure to my days going forward.  For the moment I’ve parked the idea and I’ll wait and see.
  4. Going by Feel – Something else I’ve noticed that I’m enjoying is I ride my energy levels a lot more now.  So when I feel energetic I go do something off my to do list, when I feel lazy or tired I read a book or watch a movie.  The point is now I’m not chained by a work day so I basically I do things when I feel like it and I’m enjoying that freedom.  So one rainy day my wife and I did a series of errands in the morning and then got back and sat down with a book  and a warm drink for most of the afternoon.
  5. Off Peak Life – Perhaps one of oddest discoveries of my new life is how utter great life is doing errands when everyone else is at work.  I mean my wife and I took our time on our errands by browsing in a few stores  this week during the day and we still got everything done in like half the time.  Why? I don’t think I waited in a line anywhere for more than a few seconds.
  6. What is stress again? – Another item I’ve noticed is this:  I didn’t realize how much stress in my life was a result of my job until I stopped going there and have significantly reduced my time even thinking about my old job.  I mean I wake up relaxed and have this wonderful low level calm most of the time.

Well that’s my initial items I’ve noticed so far, beyond the obvious it’s nice to have the time to read a book, play a video game, do some research for a novel I want to write and fix a few minor items around the house. I have utterly no problem filling my days.  The freedom is wonderful but the degree of choice can be almost overwhelming at times so I’m rather glad I wrote out a few items I wanted to do to narrow the field a bit to start.

Any questions?

Cell Phone Shopping

I’ve been blessed or cursed depending with your point of view with a work issued cell phone now for the last several years which they allow me to also use as my personal cell.  This eliminated the need to carry two phones around and also meant I haven’t paid a personal cell phone bill in years.  After leaving  my current employer it was time to get a new personal cell phone.  Someone well timed my wife also needs an upgrade to hers as well.

It’s amazing to me that most people tend to go about getting a new cell phone with one simple question: do you prefer Android or Apple?  Well somewhat crude it does tend to start you down one path or the other.  In my case I’ve actually used both over the years and I have to admit I’m an Android fan.  Why?  Mainly because I like the greater degree of control that Android OS offers, but also the fact I personal feel the price of an Apple phone isn’t worth it for the features and performance it offers. After all a iPhone retails for over $900 each $1300 each for the newest model. My wife also agrees which makes this first decision easy: Android it is.

Now with that done the next question to address if what do you need your phone for?  For me and my wife that is mainly texting, with a not too many calls and not a lot of data usage. In addition, this is a bit more complicated because of two other reasons.  First since my old phone is used for work and personal it means I only have a rough idea of what I would use a personal phone for since the usage was all mixed together.  The second is we are planning on cancelling on landline soon and transferring those calls to my wife’s phone which means we aren’t entire sure what she is going to need for calls.  So in the end after looking around at various plans and providers we decided to go prepaid and skip a contract for the moment. After we get a better idea of our usage we might consider a contract in the future but for now we want to go as low cost as possible and some flexibility on usage.  In the end, I found a prepaid option with Koodo that has good network coverage in our province (my wife was previous with Rogers which coverage sucks for most rural locations near us so we removed them from the list of options) and also has a basic plan with unlimited texting (and texting photos) for $15/month per phone.  The bad news was that didn’t include any calling minutes or data, but with their prepaid plan you could buy boosters for talking minutes and data usage that don’t expire.  Thus we can buy some boosters to start with and see how we actually use our phones for over a while and then decide to shift to contract or other option in the future.  So in a word: flexibility.

So skipping the contract on a new phone then has the implication of we aren’t likely to get a phone for free or discounted.  So now we need to buy new phones out right for each of us.  I decided that my previously issued work iPhone 5s was fine so for my usage so I used that as a template for specs when looking for a new phones for us to buy.  I also decided early on I wanted to avoid Samsung as a manufacture for our new phones.  Why? Well that is because we have several Samsung tablets in our house for the last few years and it drives me a bit nuts that the customized android OS uses so much bloody memory.  I mean that thing has so much bloatware on it you end up spending more time managing memory issues than anything else.  So after looking around for options that will work with Koodo’s network we decided on the LG K4 2017 for both of us should meet our needs.  Then after shopping around I found them for $100 each over at Best Buy’s website (which was $20 less than Koodo’s site).  So with free shipping the new phones arrived at our house a few days later.  The bonus I wasn’t expecting with the phones were they already included SIM cards for Koodo so that saved us another $20 each and they offer when you active your phone you get a $20 credit on your account.  So adding that together we saved like $60 for each phone.  Nice way to start.

Then we setup the accounts online and picked out a boosters to start with which is where we learned we qualified for a few other goodies like an extra 100 anytime call minutes for registering a credit card to our account and when you sign up for auto payments your account get credited back 10%.  Then we added in some boosters to get us started.  I picked up 100 anytime call minutes and 1 GB of data to start, while my wife picked up 500 anytime call minutes and 1 GB data to start (keep in mind she is replacing our landline so we expect her to get more calls).  So all in we spent another $85 for our first month of texts and all the boosters.  After this our monthly cost will be $30/month for both phones (keeping in mind we get 10% of that back as a credit on the accounts).  This is actually close to our current costs as my wife’s text plan was only $5/month and we spend $20/month on the landline.

Now we just have to sit back and see how long our minutes and data take us to use up.  I’m guessing a fairly long while as we actually keep our data off entirely when we are at home.  Instead we use the existing WiFi in the house.  Even when I leave the house I actually keep the data off until I need it for something.  I personally don’t care to be notified when every email arrives or when someone ‘likes’ a post of mine on Facebook so it stays off most of the time (beside I disable most notifications on my phone anyway).

So that is our initial plan for our new cells phones for a total start up cost of just over $300 and around $30/month operating costs to start with.  Not too bad.

The Last Day of Work

Yesterday was my last day of work and it was a very good day.

It all started off nicely with a spring in my step and a smile on my face as I slipped on my retirement ring for the first time prior to leaving to work.  This was the last time I was going to my job downtown.  No more alarms, no more delays from construction on my route and no more worries about being late.  And when I get into the car to drive I have to smile as the song comes onto the radio “Goodbye” by Glenn Morrison which seems like a perfect sound track to this day.

Upon getting downtown and into my office building I get a coffee and chat with a few of the co-workers.  We speculate that I’m the front of series of changes over the next five years at work as several of the older workers are planning retirements in the next few years. I realize that I won’t even recognize the staff in this place in a few years anyway.

Then I sit down to my computer and finish the final purge of data.  I go in a delete every bookmark I ever had, my phone has every personal app I ever installed deleted, and I delete anything remotely personally off my hard drive from vacation pictures used as backgrounds to old expense forms.  I then pack up the last few items left on my desk (which is about three things since I have been slowly taking things home now for two weeks). Then I sit down and read some fun stuff on the internet since I really have nothing left to do at this point.  I’m waiting for my very last meeting with my boss at 9am.

I also take a moment to check into with myself.  How do I feel?

Fear or doubt? Nope, that happened back when I gave notice.

Regret? Not a trace of that.

Excitement? Honestly a bit, but not too much.

In the end more than anything else I feel impatient.  I’ve been waiting for this day for about 11 years now and I just want to get the last few items over with so I can move on and start my new lifestyle.  There is no more delays, no more second guessing, I’ve quit this job and career for better or worse and I just want get the rest of these final items done with so I can get the hell out of here.

The meeting with my boss finally comes and we walk down a floor to a meeting room and do my final performance review.  I’m nice and fake interest in the entire procedure, but honestly I’m thinking ‘why are we even bothering with this?’  My rating is literally irrelevant at this point since it won’t change anything.  I could get the maximum rating or the bottom rating and not one thing would change. I’m leaving and I don’t qualify for any bonus money or a raise anymore. Then finally we submit that form and we hit the good part of the day were we discuss the final few items that I need to deal with before I leave.

The issue is this is my last day in the office, but I’m officially on vacation for the next six weeks.  So I’m still an employee with a paycheque and benefits even if I’m not in the office.  I have previously discussed this situation with my boss and said under no uncertain terms would I be coming back to finish up any paperwork after my vacation ends.  So I ask how he wants to collect my last few items like my parking pass, employee ID and work cell phone.  He agrees to me leaving it all in an envelop on his desk once I’m done.  I also mention that I have a bit of vacation left so I will be leaving early, so I get the usual reminder to enter it the system before I leave.  Then we have one last short discussion regarding expectations while I’m on vacation.  I point out I expect that I expect people to try to resolve issues on their own before contacting me for help and I won’t be sitting beside the phone or email.  I do check my email daily so we agree to that being a reasonable timeline. I’m on vacation and it isn’t my fault that they still don’t have approval to fill my position (don’t you just love the fact it’s been six weeks and they still don’t have that done) so I haven’t even met my replacement to train him (or her).  Instead I’ve leaving behind 200 pages of documentation on how to do my job and they will have to sort it out.

Then my boss informs me that he got me a goodbye gift which catches me a little off guard.  I have honestly expected nothing from this company so the gesture is nice as he picked out two bottles of wine and says “At least you can enjoy a drink without having to make it first.”  I smile, as it shows that he actually paid attention to our casual conversations over the years and he knows I will actually enjoy this gift.  I thank him and I really mean it as I shake his hand for the last time.

Then the goodbyes start with the rest of the office.  One co-worker buys me a coffee before I leave which is appreciated.  Then I tour around the office shaking hands and saying goodbye to those that I will miss the most and I skip the rest.  I’m not making a big deal out this day more than it already is.  After all I have most of their well wishes already in a card I got the day before at my goodbye lunch which honestly impressed me as they got almost the entire department to sign it despite the fact we are spread out over the entire province in various locations. Then with a few final goodbyes I grab my bag and drop the envelope of final items on my boss’s desk (he is gone at meeting) and the door closes behind me with a click as the electronic lock engages.  There is no going back now.

Then on the elevator going down my face breaks into a grin.  I’m out. I’m free of this place.  The air is cool outside but I don’t feel it.  I take the long route to my car because I can and I head home to have lunch with my family.

The rest of the day passes quickly.  I cook my pepper steak for supper and open one of the gift wines from work to drink.  Then afterwards I break open my 18 year old scotch.  It’s ridiculously smooth as I drink my glass and relax in my chair.

Then I check in again.  How do I feel?  It honestly hasn’t fully hit me yet.  I’m done but it doesn’t seem real.  I suspect the full impact will kick in next Monday when I don’t have to go to work anymore but for now I’m relaxed and looking forward to next week and filling up those extra 40 hours.  This is going to be fun.

A blog about early retirement and happiness