2 years into retirement, what’s next? 14

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.

The Good

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

office view

view from our meeting room on Time Square

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.

The Bad

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)My deductible is what__ 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.

What’s next?

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.

No regrets

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. 1-2016-06-17 13.58.11I 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

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About Maarten van Lier

Maarten came to this country with a suitcase and a diploma. He created a financial plan and goal to become a millionaire in 10 years. He successfully turned his financial goals into reality, wrote a book about it and now blogs actively in hope of inspiring other to do the same.

14 thoughts on “2 years into retirement, what’s next?

  • James

    Love reading your story, my friend; the good and the bad and everything in between. As I prepare for my own retirement, your insights provide great food for thought and will certainly help in making a better transition into the next phase of life.

  • Brian

    A great story. Sorry to see you found out the hard way: Medical coverage in the US is still a joke, even with the affordable care act. It is a shame one of the greatest countries in the world is so dysfunctional in this area.
    I too just left programming in my late 40’s but sadly, I still have little options but to work. I am becoming a Technical Business Analyst starting on July 5th. I am hopeful I can get my ducks in a row as you did and start deciding when and where I will work if I so choose. I wish you and your family good health and also good luck figuring all this out.

    • Maarten van Lier Post author

      Thank you, I kind of knew early on it was bad here. That really was the reason for our financial rise. Coming from the Netherlands, the health system here is definitely an “eye opener”. As long as there is this much money to be made, I fear the worst.

  • Vicki@Make Smarter Decisions

    It’s kind of scary how quick an illness can really affect you financially and it is terrific that you are able to be there with him as he learns to manage his diabetes. I agree with you about work. It is hard to believe I won’t do anything else, but time will tell. It is fun to think about all the possibilities!

    • Maarten van Lier Post author

      Thank you, Yes illness has a way to mess up anyone’s finances, no matter how good they think their insurance is. We prepared and will cope. I’m indeed pretty happy I can be around to be with, learn with and learn from him.

  • Mr. Groovy

    Hey, Maarten. I always thought you were a cool dude. And this post only solidified that assessment. Health care is seriously f**ked up in this country. And I have absolutely no faith that our politicians can make it any better. My niece has type 1 diabetes as well. She’s 24 and married now and doing well. But her life is not without challenges. Perhaps in the not too-distant future, one of these biotech companies will be able to 3D print a human pancreas. (I hear there’s a company called Organovo working on printing human livers.) Thanks for sharing your trials and tribulations in retirement. Very inspirational.

    P.S. Your son strikes me as a pretty cool dude as well. Anyone who loves scars is alright by me.

    • Maarten van Lier Post author

      Thx, there is definitely a lot in the works when it comes to type 1. A lot of it relates to managing the disease. Me thinks there is too much money to be made for a cure anytime soon. Then again America isn’t the only country doing research. I keep hoping. Our son is pretty cool, thx.

  • Alan

    As someone near 55 and retiring I really like reading your story. I wish you good luck in the future. I will tell you from what I see medical problems are almost always unexpected and you never think they will happen until they do. They also occur more as you get older. The US healthcare system is actually better than it used to be but it’s far from great. That is my one biggest fear in retirement.

    • Maarten van Lier Post author

      Thank you, so true. This currently relates to our son but you are right, most people facing retirement need to take good care of themselves.

      As for the US health care system all I can say is that the service and the quality is great. The pricing is shameful. Nowhere else in the developed world do you see price-gouging as over here.

      I’ve written before about some the Health care elsewhere. http://millionin10.com/cost-of-healthcare-elsewhere-seen-firsthand/ I wrote that in 2015, since then my father has spend some 6 weeks in hospitals and never has seen a single bill. Him and my mother get twice daily visits from nurses (at home) and again won’t pay a penny.

      I had to laugh when one of my cousins in the Netherlands complained about her universal $350 deductible.

  • ZJ Thorne

    I’m sorry for your son, but glad to hear that you can be with him through this. I appreciate the glimpse into what early retirement can be like and what sort of unexpected curveballs can come your way.

    • Maarten van Lier Post author

      Thank you, being there is important. Financial freedom/early retirement does come with its own head-aches (first world problems) but it certainly beats the daily grind I stepped away from.

  • Mrs. Groovy

    I’ve come back to this post to view how you feel two years into retirement. Mr. Groovy and I don’t have much to go on, one month into retirement.

    You sure got the wind knocked out of you a few times in life. I admire your strength in dealing with all of it.

    I can’t see the Republicans doing anything to screw up care for pre-existing conditions, especially with minors, even if they do repeal and replace. I just hope they can put a stop to the whole healthcare thing imploding.

    • Maarten van Lier Post author

      Thx and welcome to FIRE. I honestly don’t know where things will go with healthcare. It looks like we’re good again for one more year. I guess that is what it will be for the years to come: take it one year at a time.

      The sad thing is that in our case we’ve now exchanged an insecure job market to an insecure healthcare environment. I think I preferred the first.

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