Waiting for Early Retirement

Here at AWP, we’re working our way toward FIRE – Financial Independence, Retire Early.

We have been on this journey for a couple of years now and have under six to go (maybe). But in those remaining six years, the thing we will be doing most is waiting.

If you want to achieve FIRE, you definitely need to get the basics right and put a few things into place. You’ll need to spend less than you earn, invest the remaining money and find efficiencies where you can.

But once you’ve done all of these things, the only thing left to do is wait.

And this can be the hardest part. It can be frustrating to wait, and it can seem so incredibly slow when you’re so focussed on the end goal. We have struggled with this ourselves, so have tried to come up with a few ways that will make the waiting game just a little bit easier.

Set yourself mini goals and milestones

This is a big one for us and it has worked spectacularly. We temporarily put this on hold while we paid for the wedding and the honeymoon, but prior to that, it was working great.

We save the majority of our money into our mortgage offset account. We decided to have a little celebration every time we saved an extra $10 000 in there. So each time we reached that round number (eg. $20 000), we celebrated with a little treat.

For us, this chosen treat was ice cream from Cold Rock. It only cost about $12 for us both, but we thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s also not something we did any other time, so it felt like a real treat. We’re looking forward to refocusing on our savings goals in 2018 and enjoying more Cold Rock!

Only update your spreadsheet monthly

This was (and still is) a really hard one for me. I keep our main spreadsheet on my work computer as I have two screens so find it a lot easier to manipulate. Last year, I was in a fairly quiet job, so I often found time to look at my spreadsheet a few times a day.

This was bad. Nothing changed day to day, but I would constantly be in there, trying to manipulate the numbers to bring early retirement forward. When I couldn’t, I would get frustrated and despondent and Poopsie would usually hear all about it.

Stay out of your spreadsheet as much as possible. Set a calendar reminder once a month to go in there and check everything, updating it with your savings rate.

Fortunately for me, I’m in a much busier job this year so I will be forced to check my spreadsheet less often!

Pursue other interests

If FIRE is your only interest, you’re not doing yourself any favours.

I would definitely say that personal finance is one of my hobbies. I enjoy learning about it, reading about it and even now, writing about it. But it’s important to have other interests.

For starters, other interests will make you a better, more well rounded individual. But also, they will help distract you on this journey. If you’re only concentrating on financial independence, you’re going to find that clock ticking ever so slowly.

This year, I hope to learn to play the piano and Poopsie wants to continue to improve on the guitar. There will be an initial outlay to purchase a keyboard or piano, but after that, I hope to have hours of distraction on my hands.

Start a blog (seriously!)

I have found this blog invaluable on our early retirement journey. It has allowed me to get my thoughts down and work through a variety of scenarios.

Additionally, it has helped foster a wonderful financial community for me. I have learned so much from my fellow bloggers, from readers of the blog and from followers on Twitter.

If you’re interested in writing at all, I really encourage you to start a blog and start building up those fantastic reltionships.

Do not put off living

There have been a couple of points along our journey where Poopsie and I have been laser focussed on frugality. As a result, we didn’t do anything or go anywhere during those periods in order to save every last cent.

They were miserable times, and they were in no way sustainable. You cannot put your entire life on hold while you strive toward FIRE. None of us know how long our lives will last, and we need to make the most of every day.

Sure, you might work a little longer than you absolutely had to but remember, it’s about the journey, not the destination. Make sure you enjoy the journey, even if that means you reach the destination a little slower.

Those are our best tips for surviving this waiting game. We’d love to hear your best tips in the comments section below!

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4 Responses to Waiting for Early Retirement

  1. Steveark says:

    I think that is great advice. Life is about the trip and not just the destination. Plus I think for many people learning to enjoy life is pretty important while you are working full time at a JOB. If you get that down then it is pretty easy to carry it forward into however you design your second life. At least it has worked that way for me. Plus, good or bad, those few years you have left are going to fly by your head like telephone poles past a Ferrari.

  2. You are spot on with this post! You absolutely must enjoy the journey while you prepare for early retirement. You have all of the pieces in place from the financial perspective. You’ve found out that skimping too much makes you miserable. Hubs and I realized quite quickly that the quality of our lives INCREASED when we had less! We found more inexpensive things to do together, and our focus switched from belongings and money to the QUALITY of our lives together. Now that we are fully into the voyage, we are having more fun than ever before! My best advice for you both is to find things that you love doing and go for it!

  3. Miss Balance says:

    Great post! Life is absolutely for living and not waiting years for a time when it will be ‘better’
    While extreme frugality may work for some, you’ve tried it and decided it isn’t for you (me either!) but at least you know that and can happily move along knowing you are happy to wait a little longer for that retirement date in order to live the life you love now.

  4. Mrs. ETT says:

    I can’t express how much we’ve been feeling like this at the moment, especially as we’ve still got 20 years to go. Sometimes it seems so far away it’s almost as if there’s no point. I have to keep reminding my current-self how much my future-self will thank me when the time comes.

    We are going to implement your idea of a reward. There’s always this underlying current of “how do we spend less?” I used brainpower last weekend figuring out it was better value to buy frozen meat pies for lunch than $4 worth of hot chips (Yes, I was eating junk, and it was totally worth it – I went the meat pies.) When it came up in conversation, someone took a subtle dig. From the outside, even I can see that it appears ridiculous, so a positive experience to balance should help.

    Another thing that helps me is:

    1/ Reading stories of people who have retired early. This is regular, motivating proof that we aren’t living a fantasy, that one day we will be there too. Although I do feel jealous sometimes

    2/ Imagining (OK, daydreaming) about what I could be doing right now if I wasn’t at work. I don’t dislike my job; it’s only a couple of minutes here or there, but it’s motivating!

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