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Joe’s 11th Annual Early Retirement Update

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Hey everyone. It’s time for my 11th annual early retirement update! Wow, I can’t believe it has been that long since I left my engineering career. Early retirement has been great. I have no regrets at all. This past year has been more challenging than usual, but I still love early retirement. It would have been a lot more stressful if I was still working. That’s for sure. Ok, let’s do a quick recap then I’ll share what happened.

Early Retirement Recap

Before ER – I worked in computer chip design for 16 years. In the beginning, engineering was great. I enjoyed learning and working on technical issues. Eventually, I became a senior engineer and needed to take on more leadership roles. The career was no longer a good fit for me and my health suffered. Personally, I think every engineer should plan for early retirement.

Year 1 ER – I retired to become a SAHD/blogger in 2012 when our son was 18 months old. That first year was the toughest year for me. Being a SAHD to a toddler was a ton of work. At that age, they don’t listen at all and constantly push boundaries.

Year 2 to 4 ER – Life became a bit easier once RB40Jr started preschool. I had more time to work on my blog and my health. It was a good balance. Life gradually improved as our son got older.

Year 5 and 6 ER – RB40Jr started kindergarten and life became awesome. I had a lot more time to myself and he made a lot of friends. It was a big turning point.

Year 7 ER – We had more challenges than usual and I was stressed out. My mom was diagnosed with dementia and relocated to Thailand. I couldn’t take care of her and my son at the same time. Eventually, she would need to go to a nursing home. It’d be a lot more comfortable for her in Thailand.

Year 8 ER – This was a strange year. Life was great until the coronavirus pandemic hit. Our governor shut down nonessential businesses and closed all schools. We didn’t do much.

Year 9 ER – We stayed home and life slowed down to a crawl. We didn’t mind it because we enjoy being home. I went to see my mom in Thailand. Life was almost normal there at the time. There were only a few Covid cases so I had a nice break during the peak of the pandemic in the US. It was so nice that I had a hard time adjusting to life back home.

Year 10 ER – The new normal arrived. Everything opened up and we spent more time outside our home. I went to see my mom in Thailand and enjoyed my time with her. Unfortunately, she lost her ability to walk that year. My dad continued to care for her, but it was getting too difficult for him.

Year 11 ER – Mrs. RB40 took a sabbatical. We traveled for 3 months. RB40Jr started middle school. Mrs. RB40’s dad had a fall and was hospitalized. I went to spend 3 more months with my mom. The blog lost momentum. My mom passed away. It was a tough year for me.

Family Life

Yikes. The 11th year was pretty hectic.

First of all, RB40Jr started middle school. It was tough for him because he was so familiar with his old elementary school and the staff. The new school was very different. The kids were way bigger and he didn’t know any teachers. Also, the middle schools were in the news pretty often this year. Some kids misbehaved and caused all kinds of havoc. He got through it, but it wasn’t a pleasant year. His grades weren’t that great either. He’ll need to improve next year. We’ll pay closer attention to his homework.

Mrs. RB40 had a nice year. She took a sabbatical and we traveled to California, Thailand, and the Maldives. We had a great time. I encouraged her to retire early afterward, but she decided to go back to work. She just isn’t ready to retire yet. Work is fulfilling and she is a crucial member of her team. They appreciate her. If you are doing well at work, then keep at it. Don’t retire just because you can. She plans to work until our son graduates. Then we’ll move to California to be closer to her parents. Her dad is okay now, but he will need more help in the future.

As for me, I had a difficult year. Traveling was a lot of fun, but I also spent a lot of time away from my family. I went back to Thailand again at the end of 2022. My mom got pneumonia and was hospitalized. She never recovered fully. Her dementia continued to worsen as well. It was difficult to see my mom in that condition, but I’m glad I spent time with her. She passed away a month after I came home. It was rough and I’m still processing it. Life is short. You have to enjoy it while you can.

Early Retirement is still awesome

I had a tough year, but it would have been more stressful if I was working full-time. I didn’t have to worry about work when I was spending time with my mom. That’s exactly why I love early retirement. I have the autonomy to do whatever I want.

Early retirement is still awesome, but the next few years will be a transitional period for me. Since I retired from my engineering career, I spent most of my time blogging and being a stay-at-home dad. However, RB40Jr is growing up and the blog is in decline. In 6 years, RB40Jr will go off to college. Blogging probably will be dead by that point too. I need to reinvent myself before then.  

Successful Early Retirement?

All right, let’s wrap it up with an evaluation. There are 3 indicators of successful retirement – health, wealth, and happiness. Let’s see how I’m doing in all these areas.

Healthier?

Last year wasn’t a great year for health. I walked a lot in Thailand, but I’m much less active at home. My blood pressure is also higher. I need to exercise more and eat healthier.

All the ups and downs also affected my mental health. I’ve been thinking about death, legacy, and all that stuff. Do I have only 25 years left? That’s not a lot of time. It’s a bit depressing.

Wealthier

The past year has been surprisingly good for investors. The economy kept rolling and the stock market had huge gains. Our net worth is almost back to its all-time high now. This is a big improvement. I’m feeling good about our finances at the moment. Our passive income streams are doing fine as well.

Happier

Right now, I’m a bit unstable emotionally. We had a lot of ups and downs this past year. I guess that’s life. But we had more bad news than usual so it wasn’t the best year for me. The weather is nicer now, though. We have a few upcoming road trips this summer. That should cheer me up. I’m getting back up to my baseline happiness.

Keep at it

All in all, the last 11 years have been amazing. Life is so much better than when I was working full-time. I don’t regret retiring early at all. If I didn’t quit my engineering career, I would be less healthy and more miserable. I might not even be wealthier. When you’re unhappy, you spend money to feel better. Who knows? I might have had a midlife crisis and gone off the deep end if I was still stuck in the old gray cubicle. That’s the real key to FIRE. You make it your goal and go after it with everything you got. Life is short. Don’t spend it doing something you dislike. Keep at it and good luck everyone!

Thanks again for following my early retirement adventure and good luck with yours! I appreciate your support over the last 13 years. I’ll keep blogging as long as I can.

Sign up for a free account at Personal Capital to help manage your investments. I log in almost every day to check on my accounts and cash flow. It’s a great site for DIY investors.

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.

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