Transitioning into Retirement: How My Life Has Changed.

With a net worth sitting around the $2.1M mark, with no mortgage and debt, my wife and I should consider ourselves financially independent. I know a lot of people who would, given my financial situation, retire – so, once in a while I ask myself, why am I still working?

There’s a few considerations why and I guess it all goes down into timing. While my wife retired 2 years ago at 55, I still have 2 good years before I get to 55. I guess financially, it would be great to give our financial portfolio 2 more years of possible growth. But regardless of whether the market will cooperate or not, we decided that we will live with what we have at the end of 2 years.

Right now, I call this pre-retirement phase, ‘Transitioning’. Not there yet, but I know it’s coming. With that at the back of my mind, here are some changes that I notice for me personally:

WORK LIFE

  • I now work because I want to, NOT because I have to. That’s because I no longer fear losing my home. 
  • I can afford to work on non-profit causes that make an impact on society – and giving meaning to my job.
  • I no longer care about office politics. While there is actually less of that in a non-profit organization. I actually really don’t care.
  • I have better relationship with co-workers. This is because I don’t have a personal agenda coming to work everyday. I can be as genuine as I would like. I care, because I really care.
  • I no longer care for titles, high salaries. I am now a witness to the reality that these do not define who we are as a person.
  • I now desire to work very close to home, regardless of the pay. Working a few blocks away, I find that my days are longer.
  • I have less stress because I do not have to rush going to work. I do not have to compete with anybody, nor do I have to prove anything to anybody.

HOME LIFE

  • I have a much better relationship with my wife. Less stress does wonders. I can focus on my wife’s needs more; and have more time to be with her and take care of her. As an added bonus, I have the luxury of coming home for lunch.
  • I have more quality time to spend with our grand kids. Less stress and less time commuting does wonders.

HEALTH

  • With the extra time each day, my wife and I find time to walk. I have also restarted running 5K on a regular basis.
  • I find that less stress helps with cravings. I now focus on a lean diet and I no longer over indulge in food.
  • In less than a 8 months, I lost 30 lbs. And because of this, my wardrobe expanded due to the fact that my old clothes started to fit me again.

SPENDING

  • I have taught myself to buy only the basics, and be happy with what I have.
  • I remain not having a desire to eat-out – and over the years have expanded by cooking regimen but still focused on my favorite cuisines.
  • I no longer have any desire to purchase trending electronic appliances such as home-theatre system
  • I continue to challenge myself in finding the cheapest way of getting the same result. For example, when people want to lose weight, they purchase a gym-membership. To achieve the same result, I simply run around the block.
  • I remain a couponer, to save money whenever I can.

FASHION

  • I no longer shop for business apparel. Whatever business clothes I have, will have to live it out its final 2 years. Thankfully, my transition-to-retirement job allows for business casual, casual, and jeans — my colleagues do not believe in power business attires and neither does the Executive Director. Lucky me. I get to wear relaxed clothing in my final work years.
  • I started looking for breathable, quick-drying, moisture-wicking clothing. These are perfect for future and long-term travel. However, I limit purchases to a pair of each kind (short-sleeve shirts, zip-pants, sweaters, etc.). My footwear of choice are hiking shoes that are breathable and waterproof.

LIFFESTYLE

  • I am now leaning towards a minimalist lifestyle.
  • I am also leaning towards a condominium lifestyle.
  • I have begun to discern a life that is deliberate and intentional.

Finally, at this phase in our lives, we would like to remove any attachment to things that do not matter, do not serve any purpose, nor provide any value. There is nothing we would love more than to devote our lives to things that matter – and focus in living a meaningful life.

 

Working around Limitations: The Road to Weatlth

This is one rule that worked for me: Know your limitations. Embrace it – then work around it..

Sure, we could listen to the advise of career gurus that always say: push beyond your limits, work on these areas, achieve the impossible, rise up to challenges. These are good things, sometimes they do work, but not all the time. 

But when you have reached your limit and you have taken it as far as you can go, consider working around it.

I am certified introvert, and no matter how I try, I could never be comfortable speaking to a large crowd. I could, but it will just stress me out to no end. I could try and ‘compete’ with colleagues who talk better than I do – even if their work sucks. But in the end, we know who is going to get the promotion – and its not going to be the quiet guy.

So while you see your colleagues buy the fancy cars, big mansions, and luxury vacations, try not to focus on those. Instead, focus on what you have. In my case, I have one thing other people did not have – patience. 

No, its not the patience that’s waiting an eternity for a promotion. That’s stupidity. So, while my colleagues reap the rewards of their ‘success’ in the short term, I focused on the long term.

I knew that with my ‘lack of communication skills’, there will come a time when my luck will run out – and I know it will come earlier than most people. So, I set a target for age 55 or earlier. And that goal was financial independence. It was the the hope of freedom – from stress and helplessness in the midst of office politics. My someday.

I had 20 years to work it out. But I have the patience. High-yield investments require long term commitment. And that’s just fine with me.

I sought out a financial advisor who can work with me to achieve my financial goals. Now, I am 2 years away from my 55th birthday – but already I have achieved my targets.

I still plan to work 2 more years. But having no mortage, no debt and a 7-figure retirement fund, I have placed myself in a position where I would enjoy working.

In the meantime, those successful colleagues would still be working to pay off those luxuries they have taken. Some if them admittedly plan to work until their 70’s in order to sustain their lifestyle. That’s the reality with upgraded lifestyles, it also comes with neglected mortgages, upgraded costs in interest financing, and over-extended career life. 

Is it really worth it?