6 Months Post-Retirement

I stopped working to earn an income since the beginning of 2020. How does it feel now, after 6 months away from the workplace and in retirement?

Frankly, it feels great.

Starting out

The first few months were rough as I wrestled with doubt that taking a break was the right thing to do. I worried if I’ll ever be employed again, and if I was condemning myself to a lower salary and dimmer career prospects. I never had a gap in employment before, and I didn’t know what to do with myself.

I was also trying out a new treatment, which had serious side effects. I had headaches and my insomnia worsened. I had doubts it would work, and thought about quitting it early.

Finally, I had the great misfortune to stop working just a couple of months before the greatest stock market crash in decades. I watched in horror as my portfolio dropped over 30%, leaving me scrambling to add funds so to avoid a margin call.

The Shift

But slowly, things began to improve.

I came around to the idea that I was more than my job. I had value beyond that. I become comfortable with my schedule of going to the gym in the morning, writing in the afternoon, and family time in the evenings.

Flexible time also means more time. I don’t commute and can go to markets or run errands during non-peak times. This saves me at least an hour a day.

I started writing, which has been cathartic. It helps me to process my own life, and perhaps even produce better investment results. I’ve received many positive comments, far more than what I receive in the working world. I’ll hit 50,000 views in a few days, not too bad for a 4-month-old blog. I’m grateful to everyone who stops by to read and comment.

My health also improved. Often, I couldn’t sleep well due to stress. I struggled to fall asleep and found myself waking up involuntarily. I averaged about 5 hours of sleep a day and had to stumble through it somehow. Now, I can sleep for 7 hours, and just feel a whole lot better. The treatment I was on worked, and it is a lot cheaper and easier to take than what I was doing before.

A huge plus for me is the increase of time I spend with my kid. I used to feel guilty about leaving in the mornings, and would rush back to pick him up. With more free time, I don’t feel as much pressure. I can spend as much time with him as I want and I enjoy it more.

All this led to an improvement in my disposition. I had a lot of frustrations, and it spilled out in uncharacteristic ways. I lost my temper more in 2 years than I did all my life before. But now, I learnt to chill out and things don’t bother me as much now. It feels closer to my authentic self.

The funny thing is that my money situation improved while I wasn’t working. The market rallied strongly, and I made more in investing than in employment. I don’t expect the situation to last, but I’ll enjoy it for now.

I spend considerably less now too. I previously spent with abandon and would just buy stupid stuff like $500 headphones or $100 meals. I felt like I had money to burn since I had a salary along with $800,000 in the bank. Looking back now, I realised my net-worth didn’t move at all despite a salary, because of wild spending. I’ve since stopped buying stupid stuff and I’m actually happier for it.

The biggest thing that causes me to grin is that I can say I’m financially independent and can walk away. I don’t need to put on a certain face every day, or worry about how my bosses perceive me. It feels like I’m free.

Looking forward

New possibilities have appeared. I was trapped in a certain mode of thinking for a while. I couldn’t see anything else, like reading a book pressed to my nose. But with perspective and distance, I can see clearly. I have choices, and I don’t need to be forced into anything. I can still offer a lot to any employer, and it will only get better.

I want my health to continue to improve and add more good years in my life. This blog will eventually grow into a solid body of work, something I can look back and say it contributed greatly to the investment and insurance blogosphere.

I can look forward to the next 6 months and have hope.

Haven’t felt that way for a long time.

25 comments

  1. it is a nice feeling to do what you feel like and not be constrained by the working boundaries.
    just curious, if you dont mind sharing, what is the avg monthly income vs household expenses, that allows this “retirement” lifestyle?
    how are you planning to maintain this monthly income ?

    1. Thanks for commenting. I get over $4,000 a month from investments, which exceed my household expenses of about $4,000. It should be pretty stable and its a conservative estimate. It’s good enough for a middle-class lifestyle in a 4-room flat

  2. Hey FI35,

    I just want to say that your blog always brings a refreshing perspective, especially given your well .. unique circumstances under which you FI-ed from.

    Happy to know that things are going OK for you and you are being very positive mentally. Gambatte!

    1. Yup she is working. We have enough for the both of us, and I keep trying to persuade her to run away to Bali with me. But she is not keen and still likes to work

      1. Thank you for your reply, bro FI35,… Would it have been more risky if your wife is not working and were to be dependant on your passive income too ? Having a working is a big safety net,… at least to me,… I know, because I earn for everybody in my family,…

      2. Yes, always better to have more income. It will be riskier if my wife stops working too. But I’m not leeching on my wife and I’m still paying for the majority of household expenses. When she does choose to retire together, the passive income will be even more as we can rent out our place and move somewhere cheaper.

        I admire people like you who carry their whole family. It’s not easy, and you probably don’t get much time for yourself. Salute bro

      3. Replying to your latter reply,.. in fact, I do have a lot of time for myself,.. if not, I wouldn’t have been able to learn investments on my own,… and built a portfolio beyond the job that I currently hold. How I managed to do this is because my wife give me a lot of time, her parents stay with us and the grandparents help to take care of our children all these years.

        I spend time with the children too, but if there is work to do,… my wife and the inlaws will understand and give me space. I guess this is one advantage of having the inlaws stay with you. .. but of course, I have to be able to ‘pay’ for everything.

        I have no plans to retire,… I enjoy my work very much,.. and I have a chance to choose what case I intend to take up and what case not to handle. But that’s me,…

      4. I’m envious of you man. Good family, work you like, and steady portfolio. Hope things stay the same and your health is good. All the best

  3. Happy to hear that. Donโ€™t worry about reemployment if u would like at a later stage, because your skills will not disappear or become obsolete because u are not employed. I personally took a 15 months sabbatical, it was a good checkpoint and test run on retirement. I realized one need not a lot monetarIly, what I lost as an income I gain as a person โ€“ spending time with my family, able to read, explore my interest and take a short course I want. Enjoy the present ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi, yeah we needn’t fear taking a break. Just a very Singaporean thing to keep working non-stop. Glad to hear of someone else having a successful sabbatical, it gives me encouragement.

  4. Hi, I have been following your blog for quite some time, and big big thank you for all the sharing! I hope life will be kinder to you and your family for many many more years to come.

    Can I ask if you are covered under the HPS and if yes, did you managed to make a claim for it?

    1. Hi, thanks for the kind thoughts. I was denied the Home Protection Scheme (HPS) as my diagnosis was before getting the keys to my flat. Anyway, I won’t be able to claim for it unless I’m dead haha. Cannot claim for critical illness

      1. Need to be dead too for DPS to kick in. I won’t be able to confirm with you if I succeeded for that claim

  5. You forgot about the TI/TPD part, although I think stage 3 is a borderline case as the insurance normally have a waiting period, can find out more if you are interested. My dad was diagnosed with last stage cancer with only months left, and we managed to make a claim under TPD for the DPS with the social worker’s advice. We received the sum of money before he passed away, hopefully it offers him some comfort knowing that he has left a 5 digit figure to tide us through, as he has no savings and was the sole breadwinner.

    The insurance part was very difficult for me, as I was not too sure what insurances did he have, I wanted to claim Eldershield for the family, but I was unable to confirm whether he was covered under it, and when I called in, they were not allowed to tell me whether my dad was covered, unless my dad called in by himself, which was tough.

    1. Sorry to hear about your father.. My dad passed away too about 5 years ago. Hope you managed to spend enough time with him.

      I’m not terminal just yet, hence I can’t claim for the TI part. Only can do that if doc certifies there is less than one year to live.

      I don’t know your dad’s circumstances, but I feel its unlikely that Eldershield can be claimed at this point. The basic plan is based on a person living with a disability, and there no death benefit

      Thanks for commenting and take care

  6. My dad passed away 5 years ago too, in march. I read the article on your conflict with your father, hopefully you have found your peace especially when we became father too. Every father wishes to be their children hero, regardless of how badly they fared outside.
    I was spending more time with him than ever, bringing him to and fro the hospital as my younger siblings was in Uni and Ns respectively. Juggling between my new role as a father to my baby back then, taking care of all his appt and all the administrative stuffs while living apart , managing the older generation conflicts between my mum and my father side, and also managing my own bad temper and ego, I was pretty burnt out towards the end, I took more rest in the last few weeks, wished I had spent more time with him in the last few weeks or days, but I tried my best.

    Eventually we found out he was not covered under Eldershield, luckily still on DPS.

    Insurance is too important to ignore, hopefully more people after reading your blog will start taking positive action!

    1. You did the right thing. Family and your health are more important than earning money. Thanks for your encouragement too. I hope at least one person has been influenced by now. thanks again!

  7. Hi there,

    I’ve been following your blog for a while and just wanted to say thanks for sharing! You give a very different perspective compared to the other bloggers out there striving for FI. Your thoughts are sanguine and refreshing to read about.

    I wish you and your family well for many years to come, keep writing!

    DT

  8. Don’t worry about having a gap in your career.
    I also took a career gap for year when I had to take care of my mum. Like you, I also debated whether doing so would make me unemployable. However when I look back on that period, there wasn’t anything at all that I regret about that decision. One soon realizes that employers view employees as being dispensable anyway so why sacrifice one’s family life for the sake of work? You probably also would not want to work for a company that does not consider people simply because they had a career gap, especially for a very valid reason like yours.

    Also since you are earning enough to cover expenses, perhaps the next job to take, once you feel you are ready to work, would be one you are really interested in and won’t make you feel like it is actually work. Never mind if the pay is lower than your last. Peace of mind can’t easily be bought.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I’ll be mulling about choices over the next 6 months, I’ll keep your advice on what is the best role to take next. Thanks!

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