Some of you are likely wondering, “what does financial independence look like?”
“What the hell do you do all day?”, is another common question.
And it’s completely understandable. For people who’ve spent every week, year after year, consumed by work, it starts to destroy their imagination.
It’s like living in a kind of bubble, where you get only a day or two each week to spend as you see fit. Given long enough, you end up thinking in very limited terms, unable to imagine what life is like any other way.
What Financial Independence Looks Like For Us…
An important thing I realised is, I really enjoy structure. So this year, I’ve really been trying to plan my days better.
It’s more enjoyable and feels better to have a plan of what I’m going to do. Completing things without getting distracted or lazy is another matter!
I’ll just warn you, some might find our lives incredibly boring. There’s certainly no champagne fountains or exotic travelling going on right now.
Just a satisfyingly simple life we’ve settled into, which allows us to spend our time doing the things most important to us.
It’ll be different for everyone of course. But here’s what early retirement looks like in our case…
Exercise & Outside Time
This is really important to us.
One of the major reasons for wanting our time back was to live a healthier lifestyle. And it was a big factor in choosing the house we moved to.
Almost every morning, we go for a nice walk through the reserve and our dog can have a run. We stop to look at the lake for a little while and watch the birdlife.
This is probably the best way to start the day. So refreshing and guaranteed to put you in a good mood!
Usually when we come home from our walk, the dog is all revved up so he wants to play some more! So we’ll play with him for a while until he (or us!) gets tired 🙂
Anytime we’re both outside doing something, he thinks it’s playtime lol. So he’ll bring us toy after toy and bark, regardless of whether we’re busy or not!
When we were working, it felt horrible leaving him at home alone for 10 hours. Having only an hour or so each day to spare made us feel pretty selfish for having a dog in the first place.
We have a home gym setup (squat rack and bench) with barbell and plenty of plates. This allows us to benefit from some strenuous lifting sessions a few times per week, from the convenience of our home.
It also saves us a ton on gym membership, cuts out driving and saves time (future post coming).
In the evenings around 4:30 – 5:30, we head out for a bike ride through a bushland/forest area of the reserve. Usually there’s a number of kangaroos in there, so we’ll often stop and watch them for a while, which always puts a smile on our face. Then we’ll head home and start preparing dinner.
One day during the week, we’ll ride up to the shops to get a few things from Aldi, and some fruit & veg from the Asian shop there.
Sometimes we’ll take a leisurely ride around Lake Joondalup which might take a couple of hours. Such a beautiful place to soak up nature – I really love it.
We have an expanding veggie patch which Mrs Strong Money takes care of and nurtures during the day. Each day she’s always checking plants for pests, trimming, feeding and weeding. Or she’s planting something new.
Sometimes, I even help! But admittedly, most of the time you could say I’m…supervising?
Spending time in the garden is something I’d like to do more of. And I’ve been making an effort to get out and help (or hinder) more often.
The most exciting part is probably harvesting produce to add to our meals 🙂
Again, this comes back to our love of nature and wanting to make that a bigger part of our life each day. Hard to do when you’re working full-time!
Productive Time / Work
Most of us will admit the best days are when we feel like we accomplished something. I definitely under-appreciated this aspect about retiring.
Most likely, you’ll want to work on something new, whether you expect to or not. Even if you have no idea right now what it might be, it’s almost certain to be the case. This seems super common with people after reaching FI.
Almost every day, I spend time replying to comments and emails from readers. While I don’t write every day (I probably should), I’m always thinking about new ideas of things to write about or how to write it.
I also write a few investment articles each week for The Motley Fool Australia, a share investing website. So that takes up a bit of my time each week too. It’ll be no surprise to readers that I mostly write about dividend-paying shares. Some of you discovered this secret a while ago!
Then there’s blog posts of course, which usually take me 2 days to complete. Not all day obviously, but a good number of hours in total.
Maybe I’m the slowest blogger in the world. But I just can’t sit down and bang out a dazzlingly good post in an hour or two, like some can!
I tend to ‘work’ on the investment stuff earlier in the week and on my blog later in the week.
As I said, Mrs Strong Money spends much of her days in the garden. But she also now works 2 days per week (Thursdays and Fridays). She’s still enjoying it, which is the main thing. Unfortunately, this is a terrible violation of the rules according to the Early Retirement Police 😉
Learning & Entertainment
One frustration of being at work was not having enough time to read. With that barrier removed, I’ve been able to read all I want. And it’s possibly turned against me!
I get sucked into reading too many things, including investment reports, articles and blogs. It’s super interesting, but it tends to turn into a lot of time spent, for not a lot gained. Now I try to tell myself it’s really half entertainment, half learning.
A couple of hours each day is always spent reading, which feels about right for me. Any more and it feels like wasting time, any less and I miss it.
We both kick back and watch a bit of TV at night, while I tend to read a bit at the same time. If nothing good is on, I might listen to a podcast.
You might remember, one of my goals for 2018 was to read more books. That habit is improving, but it’s not perfect!
Back in our working lives, I was on night-shift half the time, so we’d only see each other for a short time each day – sometimes not at all.
Now we get to spend a lot more time together each day which is really nice.
And while it’s fun for us not having to work, it’s easy to forget that everybody else is still busy. So sometimes it’s tricky to catch up with friends when both parties are free!
Earlier this week I caught up with a mate for a few hours and Mrs Strong Money had lunch with her Auntie.
Then on Wednesday, we went to Hillary’s Boat Harbour while the weather was nice. We used Ola* for the first time and the trip was basically free. We had coffee and cake, walked around chatting for a while, then had a bite to eat.
On the social front, maybe as this community builds, we can have a Perth FI meetup of sorts? Let me know if you’re from Perth, I’d be interested to know how many of us there are!
Relaxation & Sleep
We are human at the end of the day. So we enjoy some relaxation time whenever we feel the need. Whether it’s sitting in the garden with a drink, or out the back with a coffee, the extra time to chill out is always nice.
Also, getting plenty of sleep is never an issue. Looking back, I can see how bad lack of sleep is!
Food Prep, Cooking & Eating
Because health is important to us, we spend time preparing and eating yummy food. Not only is this an important part of a solid grocery strategy, but it’s an enjoyable way to spend our time.
What does financial independence look like? Well, that’s how it looks for us! After reaching FI in 2017, this is how we’re spending most of our time.
It really is the weekend that never ends. But one where you’ll also have plenty of productive energy to work on things too.
Don’t make the assumption I did, and think you’ll be happy lounging around for the rest of your days. It ain’t gonna happen!
It’s not at all strange that we’re both doing some ‘work’. Actually, that’s the point. You can design your entire lifestyle from scratch and allocate your time in the most effective way for you.
Our best days tend to include a bit of each category. Sometimes we can’t fit everything in, so we have to dial it down a notch!
As always, it’s a learning curve, and we adjust things as we go.
For us, it’s a very enjoyable and fulfilling lifestyle, despite the decided lack of Mercedes-driving and cocktail-glass-clunking, while also being void of corporate prestige or high social status!
So have a think about your life after financial independence, and what your ideal days will look like. Write a list of the things you want to do, learn, and try.
Then, get back to working on your financial strength and building that income stream!