Next week marks our 1 year anniversary to tendering our resignations and the start of our NINKER (No Income No Kids Earlier Retirement) journey. Whilst we both handed in our resignations the same week Derek was finished up almost immediately in a very ungrateful for your 3am starts and 10pm finishes, 7 days a week for 14 years service while I had a 3 month handover period and a very lovely departure and presentation/party even getting the Rolex in thanks.
This milestone however started me thinking of the various changes we have been through over the last 12 months, the emotional changes, the physical changes, the financial changes and of course the mental changes. While we holiday, while out walking on the beaches , picnicking or at cooking schools etc, we seem to come across a lot of early retirees like us - not the aged 65 plusers, but the 50 somethings who have gone we want to make that change, cross that line and take some chances, however most of us when we have our 10 mins of conversation talk a lot about the changes NINKERING and early retirement brings.
This started me thinking about the various changes our NINKERING early retirement journey has taken us though.
So 12 months ago I was feeling somewhat scared to tender my resignation after 9 years of service, friendships and the change it would bring to my life- for those who know me I am not afraid of change in fact I have always tried to embrace it have always tried to push both family and colleagues to change - after all if we never changed we would never achieve and to quote Price Prichett - "Change always comes bearing gifts" is something I have always truly believed in. Nevertheless you still get that sinking feeling when resigning, never quite sure how it will be taken so this time last year I was feeling scared, apprehensive and of course a little giddy.
In the first few months of NINKERING you can't help but want to start with a bang, and show the world and all the doubting Thomas's exactly the freedom you are experiencing - you wake up in these first few months ready to go where you have never gone before either via travel, learning, doing nothing - but it seems like everyone generally wants to travel without being time bound, without thinking about work (alas technology has robbed us in the last 10 years of ever getting away from work) and of course without thinking about going back. You feel foot loose and fancy free and you don't really think too much about finances etc at this point, its about doing and going for it. You feel alive and free, you feel a sense of satisfaction with your choice and of course you just have a general feeling of happiness.
Once the initial euphoria rubs off and you get into the head space well this is life now as a retiree, I can begin to slow it down a little I don't have to be globe trotting everyday and of course for most of us we can't afford to, so after about 3 months you sort of start going back to some basics and begin to look at your finances. Everyone I speak to seems to have the 3 month time bomb or bugger me moment when you look at what you spent in the last few months and come to that realization that there is no money or not much money coming in anymore and think to yourself " how do we sustain this?" At this point you change again and tend to get a little scabby and start looking at the things you can do that don't cost anything, you start looking at your bills and shopping habits (no more I will get that just in case, or I love that dress must have it) and get frugal - again this is what we experienced and what others have suggested was about their time line (obviously it may be less or more). Its a bit like a period of morning I suppose as you grieve for a steady income and at times you feel a little sad as you wonder how do I keep this going for longer - can I keep this going for longer. Its also about the time people start calling you wanting to know if you are ready to go back to work, offering jobs etc - its seems like the 3 month time period is what people think will bring you back to reality and maybe in our new fast paced world long service leave should be shortened from 10 years to 7 or 8 years so that people can get that break that is needed. At this point you feel financially you probably should, but you don't feel emotionally its right - so its a time where you have mixed feelings - financially probably should, emotionally probably shouldn't. Some people do go back at about this time because they can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. Don't worry though this period only lasts a short while 2-3 months maybe.
Of course this period doesn't last forever because after being scabby you go was this what it was about, and of course the answer here is NO, so at about 6 months or so you work out the balance. You begin to think about downsizing some assets ie house, boat etc to cash up a bit more, up-sizing others ie: for us we up-sized the car so that road travel would be more comfortable and really started to think of things you wanted to achieve, places you want to go to and begin to start thinking outside the box - finding that fine balance between feeling more comfortable about your lot, what you have and that I can do this - as long as we don't do that. You start to look for the best value you can get from things and just like a corporate balance sheet you learn how to blend in the important elements into your plan.
So we are now getting in the groove of retirement - some days well we don't do much, other days we don't stop. We have learnt to be comfortable with what we have and we have become better at stretching our dollar further (that will be another blog) - become better hagglers, better at waiting and being more patient for that travel deal, learning to live on less when we need to so we have more when we want it. We have begun new thought journeys for the long term and changing the status quo slightly to ensure we continue to mix it up and continue NINKERING and early retirement longer.
Getting into the groove takes a little time no matter what you do, and retiring is no different you will go through change no doubt about that. You will have ups and downs, and then you will find that happy medium that place where you feel the mix is right for long term enjoyment.
My thought to leave you on is: "the thing about plans is everyone has one until they take the first punch".