It hasn’t even been a month yet since I called it quits from full-time work and became an early retiree, but inquiring minds want to know (seriously, I’ve been asked incessantly): What does my day look like now that I’m not working full-time?
I’ll be perfectly frank: It flat kicks ass. Here’s a quick snapshot:
Each day begins with a wide open schedule. No mandatory life-draining social obligations (otherwise known as “conference calls”), no checking work email for anything semi-important that came in overnight, no more sighing as I slowly let myself slip into work mode whispering under my breath, “another day, another dollar“.
At the moment, I still wake up at 5am with my wife because she likes to get to work early (her retirement date is the end of March). Basically, it’s the butt-crack of dawn, but it’s all good. I tend to do my best work in the morning anyway.
I crawl out of bed, throw on a jacket (and some pants!) and take our dogs out for a quick pee. Exciting, I know!
Then, I generally make myself a cup of coffee using our Aeropress as the wife gets ready to leave for work. Hair, teeth, bag lunch…the normal stuff. It takes her about 15 minutes. She’s also nice enough to make me a bowl of oat meal that I heat up and eat after the gym. Sweet gal!
At around 5:20am, I sit down at my computer and put in some work on my passion projects:
- ThinkSaveRetire.com – Responding to comments, writing new posts, screwing around on Twitter and keeping up to date with Buffer.
- Working with Rockstar – I manage operations over at Rockstar Finance, the largest personal finance curation website on the Internet; this is seriously awesome stuff for personal finance bloggers, so I’m honored that I could get involved! In short, I’m writing lots of code, but it’s development that I enjoy.
- Videography – I maintain two separate YouTube channels (A Streamin Life and Think Save Retire). Video editing takes a ton of time, but I generally enjoy the process.
Around 7am I take a break and head to the gym. I put myself through a pretty serious resistance training program to keep myself fit and not looking like a fatty. I thoroughly enjoy my time at the gym. I get into this zen state where I can tune out the rest of the world and completely focus on working out. It’s one of my favorite times of the day, and it makes me feel so much better the rest of the day.
After the gym, I’ll down that bowl of oatmeal and continue working on my passion projects. If I’m looking for a little variety, I’ll choose something other than what I was engaged with earlier that morning. I base this entirely on how I feel at the time. Sometimes, the Honey Do list gets addressed around here.
It all depends on how I feel and what I want to tackle. And, that’s the best part of early retirement: The freedom to set your own damn schedule. No bosses to answer to. No daily conference calls that you gotta be around for. In a given week, the things that need to get done WILL get done. Their order of completion is entirely up to me.
After lunch, I generally like to take a quick nap after walking the dogs again. These naps completely rejuvenate me during the day, almost like a mini-rebirth. Sometimes I will take a walk around the KOA before the nap, just to get an additional bit of exercise along with soaking up absolutely free vitamin D provided by bright and [usually] sunny Tucson, AZ days.
Then, it’s free-freaking-game. If I have more “work” to do with one of my passion projects, I’ll re-engage. If I’d rather watch some YouTube instead, I’ll do that. I may continue to chip away at the Honey Do list.
For example, going to the grocery store for our week’s supply of food so my wife doesn’t have to stop on her way home. Figuring out the generator that we want, buying it and learning how to use it. Cleaning up around the Airstream, performing small repairs and generally keeping a neat and tidy place. More or less, some of my time – as a free man, is focused on making it easier on the wife who still works. The fewer chores that she has to do around the house, the better.
…aaaaaand then another nap, perhaps. And more YouTube. Or another round of video editing when the sun is high in the sky and our solar panels are throwing a ton of energy into our battery bank.
The wife gets home around 4:30, and this part of the day hasn’t changed much since retirement. We’ll begin dinner around 5 or 5:30pm and finish up by 6:30 or, for some of our more involved meals, closer to 7. During dinner, we usually stream shows like House Hunters, Fixer Upper, Property Brothers or some other similar program. During football season, don’t be surprised to find us streaming a game.
By 8pm, we’re beat and stare longingly at the sheets, which are only a few short steps away in our little 200 square foot Airstream. We’ll walk the dogs one last time, maybe catch another YouTube video or two, then head off to bed for some reading time before lights out.
Is it weird being a “house husband”?
I would be remiss if I didn’t address the elephant in the room. I’m retired from full-time work. My wife still works. Traditionally, the roles work in reverse, but not in our household at the moment. Is it weird being home while my wife is working?
For me? No. For her? No, not really. It helps that I worked from home to finish out my working career, largely engaged in a low-stress but high paying job. My wife has always had the tougher job. Over the months of me being home during the day, I think this final swing into official retirement for me is old hat for her. She’s used to me being home during the day.
If anything, she now has a much better chance of getting me to actually do things around here. I no longer have an excuse. I can’t play the “I’m too busy” card if she wants me to do something around the house. Basically, I’m her bitch when she’s at work. She knows I’m retired. While I’m never bored, my ability to set my own schedule and choose how I spend my time is something that makes her absence during the day easier to handle. More gets done, and I’m happy to do those things.
Hint: If she wants something done, she ignores it until she gets to work, then asks me to do it…right, honey? I hope you aren’t reading this…and if you are, totally kidding! 😉
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.