This is a guest post by Robert, who lives in Calgary and
works as a financial adviser retired at 34. He is married, has three kids. Robert and his wife then plan to return to school and become teachers, eventually living and working overseas.
I never really planned to retire at age 34. When I first thought about retiring young from my career, with the idea of moving my family overseas, I was thinking of age 42. As a financial advisor, owning my practice, that should have been easily possible, especially given that my family doesn’t spend a lot from month to month. I was fortunate to profit from the real estate market in Calgary, increasing around 80% in the five years after I bought a house. But my business colleague, when he heard of my plans to leave, offered to buy my business much earlier. That really moved up my schedule, possibly a little more than was comfortable. I have enough investment income to cover my expenses, but I really would have liked to spend a year doing a “dry run”, watching whether our spending will fluctuate or not and finding out how stable the investment income is.
I still get asked to help out at work two or three times a month. While I didn’t mind the commute while I was working, now I wonder how I could stand spending almost three hours a day on public transit. I got more reading done then, compared to now. And I don’t take a lot of time to read at home, because we still have young kids. So being retired feels a lot more like being a stay-at-home dad, half the time, anyway. My wife loves the change. She now gets to spend some time each day on things that she wants to accomplish for herself, and I get to spend more time with the kids. I get outside a lot more, playing at the playground or biking or doing yard work. Over the summer, that will be a great benefit, but I’m not looking forward to six months of dark, cold winter.
I spend more time on the things that are meaningful to me. I spend more time researching my investments and planning my trades. I spend more time reading and thinking about public education and the way our education system in Calgary is working. And I’m able to attend more community events, getting to know the people who live in our neighbourhood. But there is a drawback to trying to accomplish a lot during the day. By trying to juggle the needs of the kids, my wife, the car and activities that we have planned, I sometimes get to the end of the day with the feeling that I haven’t accomplished any of my projects I had planned to do.
I feel like I’m more relaxed. I don’t have nearly as much pressure of trying to balance my schedule between work, commuting and meeting the needs of myself and my family. I’ve even been able to grab an afternoon nap, on occasion. Being more relaxed translates into more patient interactions with my kids and a better relationship with my wife. But I also find it easy to lose track of the date. Especially now that the kids aren’t in school, there’s hardly a difference between a Monday, a Wednesday and a Saturday. For now, that’s not so bad, but I can certainly imagine it dragging on if the weather isn’t so nice.
It’s a good thing we don’t go shopping as recreation. We now have an income that doesn’t allow for much variation. On the other hand, we have quite a pool of capital. In my case, I could dip into it and be okay, since I plan to return to work in a couple years. I originally planned to return to university for a teaching degree as soon as I stopped working. But because I was pushed out of my business earlier than planned (but after the registration deadline), I have a year off. I don’t worry too much about my retirement income, knowing I can replace it by working later, but it gives me new appreciation for elderly people who have to live on a tight budget, knowing there’s almost no wiggle room and that something like a major car repair could derail their entire plan.
Being retired certainly has benefits, but it also has challenges that I didn’t anticipate. What do you look forward to about retiring early? What benefits do you have from continuing to work?