2019 Early Retirement Reflections

It has been 6 months since we officially quit our W2 employment, called ourselves “retired” and moved out of the city. We are financially prepared and has been very conservative with our estimates. I’m not worried about the financial aspects going into retirement, but I was / am worried about the emotional toll that it could bring, mainly the boredom and the feeling of being unproductive. During the last 6 months, here are some things I learned about myself.

Giving up control

We decided to add an addition to our family post retirement. I am on a category of a high risk pregnancy, given that our first son was born at 28 weeks. For some reason, I thought that this pregnancy will be easier. I will have the benefit of all the medications and preventative measures that are available to have an easy pregnancy. I pictured myself doing yoga while pregnant. Well, I was wrong. This pregnancy is hard. From the very beginning, I felt so tired. At 22 weeks, I was advised by my doctor to take it easy and was put on modified bed rest. Our plans obviously changed. My husband stepped up and did everything to run the house, while also being the primary care taker of me and our toddler. I tried to help out as much as I can, but I was paranoid on every contraction that I felt during the second trimester. It was such a relief when I completed my 28 weeks of pregnancy, knowing that a good prognosis is on our side if I give birth. I have to be very flexible and gave up control. There are certain things that I wish I could do, but I listen to my body instead. I nap when I needed to nap. I stopped any activity that caused contraction. I stayed still. So in the last 6 months, I didn’t really do anything “productive”. I had a plan to carved out some time start a business, be engaged in my son’s school, get to know our neighbors and be active in the FIRE community. None of it happened. My husband was doing really well hitting the gym everyday, but that stopped when he has to take on all the work here at home, taking care of me and our son.

Psychological effect of “lack of income”

As I mentioned before, we were very conservative on our estimates when we retired. Our paid off house and a rental condo was not even part of our “portfolio” when we calculated our need for the retirement fund. I know this, but it still stings knowing that I don’t have any money “coming” in. Our portfolio grew even more, thanks to the market, but our “cash” is decreasing. We expected this, obviously. There are certain things that helped, like the higher than expected dividend income that we received this year. It also helped that we have a pretty good cash buffer and the fact that we are actually spending less than I expected. After this 6 months, I’m more relax. I even shelled out $900+ for a new iPhone 11.

We really don’t need a lot

My husband and I have some discussions regarding things that we will do if we really have a LOT of money. I’m talking about hundreds of millions here. I’m still not sure if I like living the suburbs so my thought is to go back to the city, buy and live in the house overlooking the water. I then gave some real thoughts about it. We’ve been somewhat there. We lived in a neighborhood surrounded by million dollar homes. Our son attended his first toddler class in this neighborhood. We attended a fundraising event that auctioned an “art” made by a toddler for thousands of dollars. It’s insane! We have a fairly high income and can definitely be part of the crowd, but it is not “us”. After 6 months of tracking our expenses post retirement, I can tell that we are definitely not part of that crowd and I’m happy with that.

I started this new year turning a year older this January. I’m not sure how this will unfold. I do know that flexibility is the key on sustaining this early retirement lifestyle while parenting our two toddler. I’ll still have goals, but I will just be ok if majority of it never happened. That is the beauty of retiring early, having that flexibility to stop when needed.

EARLY RETIREMENT SPENDING – DECEMBER 2019

December is quite the opposite of November in terms of our spending. If November is low, December is high and the highest since we retired. This is expected because of the holidays.

In December 2019, we spent $8,748.80

Gifts

It is the holidays and the highest line items we have is our holiday gifts specifically for my family. It is a tradition in our family for the kids to give parents cash during Christmas, once the kids are independent, have a job and out of the family house. My older sister and I have been doing this since we graduated from college and start earning real money. I’ve increased the amount significantly since we had MBP. My parents have done so much to help us without expecting in return. Since we have some surplus, it just make sense to me to give some to them.

Health Insurance and Medical Expenses

Next line item is health insurance and medical expenses. This is the last month that we are paying COBRA and I expect this line item to go down considerably this year. We paid some drugs and doctor’s fee as part of our deductible. The good news is the I hit my out of pocket expense and was able to get a Willow pump fully covered by my insurance. I don’t think they fully covered this kind of pump since it is considered out of network, bus since I hit my out of pocket, they fully covered. I have to pay for the accessories, but the pump alone cost $464.2

iPhone 11 and a King Mattress

After contemplating for many months (even years) to upgrade my phone, I finally gave in and bought a new iPhone 11. I’ve had my iPhone 6 for 4 years. The memory doesn’t have enough capacity to hold the OS upgrades, my videos and my pictures. I use my phone as a camera to take pictures and video of MBP and I’m happy with this upgrade, considering that I use it everyday.

Another purchase this month is a king size mattress. We actually purchased one in Costco back in August but ended up returning it because it caused some back pain. I need a softer mattress to provide support as I am a side sleeper. I gambled and bought a Serta mattress online. It was on sale as part of the cyber monday. It’s been good so far and I’m planning to keep it.

A new Christmas Tree, Christmas Cards and Other Items

I also bought a new, unlit Christmas Tree. We donated my old 6.5 ft, pre-lit Christmas Tree that I got in 2009 for $25 at Walmart when we moved to this house. I’ve been telling myself that I want a new one since the old one really doesn’t have any leaves and just look sad. Considering that I bought it for so cheap, I can’t really expect anything more. The tree cost $168.94 on Amazon. My mom gave me all her red ornaments. She has a different theme every year and has been collecting ornaments since I can remember. I even got some ornaments that was from Manila. I still need to buy some lights for next year.

My Mom’s Christmas Tree

I also sent out 19 Christmas Cards on December 26th. I was late, I know, but I can’t get a good photo of the family. We finally got one from the actual Christmas Day. I went to Canva and design a card and printed 20 in FedEx. It actually cost more to print it than to order the cards online, but I want it to go out that day and not wait for shipping, so I suck it up. My husband got the envelopes and the stamps and the card went out that day. I’ll try not to procrastinate next year.

Our other items includes annual car registration for my 2011 Volkswagen Jetta, LED lights and about a dozen plain T-shirts for my husband.

And here’s our expenses for December 2019

DescriptionAmountComments
Christmas Gifts 2,211.26
Health Insurance 1,387.24 Last month under Cobra
Electronics & Software934.47iPhone
Furnishings849.96Matress
Groceries668.05
529 College Fund400.00
Pharmacy356.66Co pay for my progesterone shots
Doctor262.48Co pay for my husband's Dr's appointment
Utilities259.46This includes water, sewer, electric and gas
Shopping251.37A new 7.5 ft unlit Christmas tree and miscelaneous items from Amazon.
Restaurants163.16
Auto & Transport126.25Car registration for my 2010 Volkswagen Jetta
Household Supplies117.33We bought some 2 prong LED lights, wok and other items
Gym115.00Our last month of Y membership. We don't go enough to warrant paying for the monthly fee
Gift100.00Family birthday gifts
Gas & Fuel72.49
Clothing69.95About a dozen colored t-shirts for my husband from Hanes
Pet Food & Supplies68.81
HOA Dues68.25
Garbage61.75This should probably be included in the utilities above
Internet49.95
Baby Supplies46.44Bottles for my new pump
Christmas Cards30.17I printed about 20 christmas cards at Fedex
Lotion21.99
Fast Food18.97
Mobile Phone16.71
Christmas Shopping15.63
Library Fees5.00I put some money to print out items in the library.
Grand Total 8,748.80