Pros and Cons of early retirement after achieving FIRE (financial independence retire early): A recent early retiree’s observations

Sunset at Atlantic Beach, North Carolina 

I have been retired since August 2020.  My wife, myself and our Pomeranian dog have been traveling since we sold our home around that time.  We retired early to accomplish two main goals.  One was to spend more time with each other (including our Pomeranian), while the other was to spend time with our family (parents, siblings, nieces and nephews).

So far we are successful doing both of these.  We’re not sure where we will be traveling to next, but it’s been fun so far since retiring.  

In this post, I would like to share my thoughts and observations on the pros and cons of early retirement.  

Pros of early retirement:

  • Have plenty of time:  Time used to be something I never had enough of.  Sunday evenings would be spent getting ready for the coming work week.  This meant getting lunch and snacks ready.  Monday mornings in particular, were hectic.  I needed to get up at 6:40 am to get ready for work, then be out of home by 8:15 am.  Work from 9 am to 6 pm then come home by 6:30 pm.  Repeat the cycle until Friday.  It always seemed weekends were too short.  I didn’t do much housework or chores, but it always seemed to be Sunday in a flash!  I’m sure everyone can relate...Now I have plenty of time.  
  • Not having a full time job:  Not having a full time job frees up my schedule pretty much from Mondays to Fridays.  I don’t need to get up at a set time, I don’t have to be at work for about 10 hours on work weeks, and I don’t have to be STRESSED OUT!  
  • Stress from work:  Did I mention I don’t have to go to work or think about work?  By not working, the stress that comes from work itself, and the stress you get thinking about work, are all gone.  The last few years at work were more stressful than I can remember.  It wasn’t just the daily grind of, the stress of work, but also my brain would be constantly be thinking about work.  If I had a rough day, my mind would not shut down when trying to sleep.  It would keep me up on Friday nights as my mind had a hard time shutting things down...Usually I would sleep better on Saturday nights.  This wore me out.  When I was younger, I didn’t understand what insomnia was.  By the time I turned 40 years of age, I understood... I understood why people took sleeping pills...
  • Spend time with my wife and our dog:  This was one of the goals of our early retirement.  We always felt we were running out of time.  To do things together, to travel together, and to make memories together.  When I was working, time always seemed to be too short.  I didn’t want to look back when we were older and say we should’ve, we could’ve done better, making memories together.  My need to straighten out my finances clicked when I turned 35 years of age.  Something clicked when I turned 40 (mid life crisis?).  I no longer felt we had infinite amount of time remaining together.  It’s funny how you start getting more philosophical about life as you get older...We understood life is short and we wanted to make the best of it.
  • Spend time with our parents and family:  This was our other goal in early retirement.  During my working years, I would spend few days each year, usually during the holidays.  Although I did see our parents more often when compared to my friends, we knew they weren’t going to be here forever.  We made a conscious effort to spend more time with our parents and family once we retired.  We rarely got to spend time with our siblings, but we’re doing that now as well.  I don’t want to have any regrets later on in life...
  • Travel more:  Like most people, our vacation would be one week.  We would usually spend the other vacation week on doing chores or visiting our family.  We always wondered what it would be like to not worry about time constraints when traveling.  Early retirement is making this possible.  We’re currently doing slow travel.  We usually stay at least a month at a place.  We take our time to explore the area, which would not have been possible in a typical one week vacation.  
  • Doing things I wanted to do:  I always wanted to travel more, to explore different places, and write about it.  Things like lack of time, lack of energy, and lack of motivation, kept me from doing these things while working.  Now I can do these things.  I started this blog, I have a YouTube channel, and I’m traveling more.  It’s been a fun early retirement so far.  I’m so grateful!
Cons of early retirement:
  • Both you and your partner will need to communicate even more:  While staying at our parents’ places, we realized my wife was getting stressed out worrying about meal preparation.  We chatted, then decided I would help out with this task.  You have to listen to each other MORE, now that you have more time on your hands.  When both of us were working, we would typically spend around 4-5 hours together on work days (2 hours in the morning and 3 hours after work).  Now both of us are spending every hour together!  This can wear out couples, unless there’s constant communication.  Google ‘gray divorce’ to see examples!  
  • We don’t have a permanent place of our own:  This does not bother me much, but it still bothers Mrs. Wandering Money Pig somewhat.  Living a transient / digital nomad lifestyle can wear out some people.  Needing to carry our belongings for month long (or longer) trips can be stressful, especially that first day getting to the place, then lugging all the belongings up to our rental.  Luckily, Mrs. WMP is starting to enjoy this lifestyle more.  She certainly enjoyed the second long term rental at Atlantic Beach compared to the first rental at Ocean City.  I’m hoping things get better incrementally...

Key takeaways:

The accumulation phase, where you’re putting away money towards your retirement, gives you a purpose.  It’s fun, once you start seeing your retirement account snowball.  It keeps you motivated to keep reaching for that goal of early retirement and financial independence.

Once you reach this goal, it’s vitally important to figure out what you want to do AFTER retirement.  Plan for this phase BEFORE you get there!

Without having a purpose, early retirement may not be what you’ve imagined.  Besides figuring out what to do, have a plan in place to deal with the struggles that will surely come post retirement.  Always communicate with your significant other during these times.

Remember, life will still be a series of valleys and peaks, even after your retirement.  It may be easier financially speaking, but the rest of your life will still be the same.  You’ll still have to deal with relationship issues, like with your family and your significant other.  You’ll still have to deal with arguments over your monthly budget.  

Early retirement will not FIX these issues.  Set your expectations to align with what’s reasonable in your situation.  If you weren’t a jet setting couple traveling the world before retirement, don’t expect this to change just because you’re now retired.  Simply put, be yourself and live how YOU normally live.

This is always a good idea in most situations!

I wish you best of luck in your path to your financial independence!

Thank you all for reading!


Jake

Wandering Money Pig 


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Please check out our YouTube channel ‘Wandering Money Pig’ showcasing our travels and our Pomeranian dog! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3kl9f4W9sfNG5h1l-x6nHw


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