That’s right, I’m 45 and June 18th will mark the second anniversary of retirement. 2 years into retirement and the funny thing is, this never started out to be retirement. I figured I would take some time off and figure out what’s next.
Why retire at 45?
For, as much as my job had brought me, in experience, joy and money, in the end stress was starting to physically affect me. After 20 years of Business Rules Management technology it was time for a break. It was maybe 2 weeks into my break that my neighbor came to me and said “So I hear your retired”. Turns out his mother knows my mother-in-law’s sister and she had interpreted my break as retirement at the brother-in-law’s pool party the week before (jeez, small world). I guess that was the first time I didn’t rebuttal with “it isn’t retirement, I’m just…” and instead just went with it.
It’s been 2 years now and a lot has happened. I wrote a book, started a blog, built a 3D printer, built an egg-bot (don’t ask, just google) joined the local Makerspace and most importantly, I got to relax and do a lot of fishing (Golf was never my thing).
Want to know the best part about leaving my job? Sounds silly but: Not having to enter my weekly time-sheet and expense report. For the 15 years I worked at the same company, there were a lots challenges, lots of good times and excitement, great people but every week, without exception, there was the time and expense sheet. You spend your week working at the biggest banks of the world for about $200 to $400 an hour and on Friday’s you find yourself taping 3 dollar receipts to a piece of paper, to be stored for an indeterminate time frame.
Do I miss my work? Yes and no, I certainly miss the good people I got to work with over the years. I miss working in exciting places. In the last few months I was working on Time Square with the big screens
outside my office. I’ve worked next door to the white house at 1750 Pennsylvania Avenue and I worked a stones throw from London Bridge during one of my rare international gigs. I don’t miss working for big banks, big insurance, and big pharma. That’s basically what I did, I built systems for very wealthy companies enabling them to be a little wealthier often at the expense of my fellow consumer. In principal nothing wrong with that (at least not in business) but it doesn’t bring a warm and fuzzy feeling at the end of the day.
What does bring warm and fuzzy feeling is my comforter in the morning in which I can keep turning as there is no place I need to be. No where urgent at least. I really enjoy starting every day anew figuring out what it is I’ll do that day.
Has it been all fun and games these last two years? No, absolutely not. Before I delve into that, I’d like to take a step back and tell you why I built the nest-egg I have. When I came to the US, I quickly realized there was no social catch net in case of illness and retirement. I saw how easy it was to go broke with a single illness. I acted on that fear and built a catch net for myself and my family. I worked my ass off to become independent from “the system”, financially free. With great success I might add.
It seems that in the process I may have tempted the nest-egg-gods since they struck back with a vengeance. Not against me but for some reason all at my son. In 2015 our youngest (5 at the time) broke his elbow in such a manor that extensive surgery was required price-tag over $20,000 and our personal deductible $12,700.
We prepared for that, right? So, all bills were paid the time they were due and no bankruptcy for us. Our son was left with a serious scar which he proudly shows off every opportunity he gets.
and the Ugly
Shit happens, and you move on. Well not quite. For those of you who follow this blog you know, 2016 got worse. Not financially but medically things just got worse. Our same son was recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. As parents you are never ready for that. Our son now has to prick himself 6 times a day (at least) to test his blood, he needs to inject insulin (two kinds) several times a day and this possibly, for the rest of his life. No 6 year old should be put through this and yet unfortunately many are.
All that independence I worked so hard for is now out the window. We are now forever dependent on the same big pharma I used to work for to provide us with the exorbitantly expensive insulin (and all the fancy peripherals they come with). We’re now dependent on same the big insurance companies I used to work for to help out financially. We now lay awake at night worrying Affordable Healthcare gets killed and insurance can again deny us based on pre-existing conditions.
So here we are. We’re still doing okay and although I had planned for the possibility of expensive illnesses, I never imagined, an illness that would last a lifetime and certainly never, it would strike one of my children (for those of you planning your own retirement, keep this in mind).
What’s next? who knows, I don’t think I want to go back working for big business. I may have to go back to work though. With these new medical expenses our budget is stretched to (if not over) the max.
Diabetes has seen some tremendous strides in technology in the last few years and lots of it is on the software front. Maybe some of my 20 years of software and business expertise can be applied to this field. Wouldn’t that be something? Actually working on something worthwhile. I’ll keep you posted on that one.
Do I regret retiring 2 years ago? Absolutely not. Do I think retiring at 45 is a bit extreme? Yes but hey, old compared to some of my associate aspiring financial bloggers.
I can’t control the uncontrollable. As much as I would like to trade places with my son and take on this nasty disease, I can’t. Retirement has however, allowed me to be there with him every step of the way. I can attend all of his doctors visits. I was there yesterday when he got his trial CGM installed. I can be there to play with him and comfort him whenever he needs me to. All things that would have been much harder had I still worked.
Will I never work again? I don’t think so. to me retirement is not, never having to work again but instead, having the choice to work and to choose the work you want.
I think I’ll choose to work again and I hope this time I will choose the work I want to do.
Good luck reaching your financial goals