My Third Year in Early Retirement

I can hardly believe it, but the end of June 2020 marked my third year in early retirement! I enjoyed writing about my experiences at the end of my first and second year, so I am continuing the tradition. It’s a great way for me to wrap up the year and celebrate and reflect on everything that’s happened.

Working with the Younger Generation

Though I’m happy to be early retired, I miss interacting with the younger generation. But I don’t see myself returning to work full-time. I don’t want to deal with all the paperwork and politics that can come with full-time teaching. I decided to look for short term work or volunteer engagements where I could have fun with children.

  • I taught at a 5 day summer creative writing camp and had a great time working with second and third graders on poetry! This earned me about $1,500.
  • I volunteered at a week long sleepaway camp. I was the adult chaperone for my group of 26 twelve year olds. The counselors did most of the work, but I still had fun with my group.
  • I returned to my previous employer as a contract writing teacher and worked on the following projects: 1) guiding kids through an art museum and inspiring them to write, using the art as prompts 2) writing commercial scripts with second graders 3) encouraging middle schoolers to write about their culture during an online Zoom writing workshop.

What’s great about this work is there were only one or two days per week for a specific time frame, and I still had plenty of free time during the week. I worked a total of 13 days from December-March, and did 3 online projects for them April-May and made about $2,000. This work stopped once the schools shut down, and this organization is struggling financially. I doubt that I will be doing any work with them for the rest of this year.

  • I volunteered to interview high school seniors that were applying to my university. It was so inspiring to hear about their interests and achievements. It gave me so much hope for the next generation.
  • I volunteered for 5 day virtual camp for children with cancer. I’m so glad that this organization was able to pull off the virtual camp. I had fun doing yoga, origami, and science experiments with the kids.

Changes for the Dragons

I’m happy to report that while we’ve had some tiffs, we’ve settled into a nice rhythm. Observing his approach to early retirement has taught me some new things about him, myself, and our relationship.

Dragon Guy is very good at making lists, creating schedules, and sticking to them.  While I’m a fairly self-reliant person, I’ve realized I’m better at reaching my goals when I have an outside influence (such as Dragon Guy’s) keeping me accountable. I’m appreciating Dragon Guy in a new way and grateful we made the transition into our early retirements in a relatively smooth manner.

  • We are hoping to start a healthy habits program for cancer survivors and caregivers. Since the pandemic started, we’ve been working on our website and other marketing materials as well as getting our name out there on social media. We hope to launch our website soon and start cold calling.

Returning to Other Work?

During December 2019, I applied for a couple of jobs that seemed interesting to me.

One job was for reading college applications at a local university. I interviewed but was rejected.

I also applied to be a Census worker. I was accepted, but ultimately decided not to take the job because of the pandemic. They have continued to call me to see if I’m interested, so it sounds like they are still needing Census workers.

When the pandemic started, my contract teaching jobs stopped. The organization is experiencing funding issues, and I’m not sure whether any more opportunities will be forthcoming.

I’ve often felt, since we are pretty much “stuck” at home and unable to volunteer in person, that perhaps I should apply for paid jobs. I searched and found some interesting online teaching jobs and projects, but ultimately decided that I wanted more freedom in my schedule.

My wanting to apply for jobs made me realize I wanted to be “doing more,” so in July I applied for some virtual volunteer opportunities.

Trips

Due to the pandemic, we had to cancel two international trips in Q2, 2020 to Taiwan and South Korea, and to Malta, Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia.  That was a slight bummer, but I’m grateful for all the traveling we did before March 2020.

  • Washington DC — visited friends/family and attended FinCon2019! It was a huge event and such a blast to meet FIRE bloggers in person.
  • CampFI — an intimate setting to meet like minded FIRE people!
  • New Zealand — celebrated Dragon Guy’s early retirement with a month long trip!
  • San Antonio — visited family and also the Natural Bridge Caverns, which we loved.
  • A couple of trips to visit my sister-in-law’s family and parents-in-law.

Blog News

  • Our trip to FinCon19 was so inspiring! Besides all the great people we met, there were so many wonderful ideas! I saw the conference as an opportunity for me to learn about podcasting, Instagramming, creating videos, public speaking, and book publishing. I don’t see doing any of those things in relation to this blog, but learning about new things is always important, and perhaps I’ll use those skills for our healthy habits website.
  • I’ve been writing less individual posts on our blog–I’ve been focused more on writing for the healthy habits website, and I only have so much writing mojo. Dragon Guy’s writing more posts because he’s retired now, and I enjoy being his editor. I’m co-authoring a lot of posts with Dragon Guy these days, which is a great bonding experience for me.
  • We were guests on two podcasts with some amazing hosts: Jonathan from Joney Talks! and Claire and Ted Carr and Roy Weinberg from Later2Fire. I did my first solo podcast interview with Becky Blake from Find Your Freedom Podcast! All these hosts are amazing–please give them a follow if you haven’t already. I also did a solo interview on The $76k Project on the blog’sFinances after 40 series.”
  • It’s been amazing to be part of the personal finance community. I never thought I’d make friends over the internet, and it’s because of YOU that this lockdown has been tolerable. Thanks for your emails, online chats, and tweets! Let’s keep each other’s spirits up during this pandemic. Feel free to drop us a line anytime.

Other News

  • I joined a volunteer program and worked half day projects at a homeless shelter, food distribution program, home rebuilding project, and emergency anthrax drill (which was 5 minutes long and sounds more exciting than it actually was). I thought there would be leadership training in this program, but there wasn’t, so I was slightly bummed about this. I did meet new people and learn about important organizations in my community, and that part was great!
  • We hosted an improv workshop in February 2020 and hosted other improv actors. The workshops were inspiring for me and a great reminder of the importance of story.
  • Since the pandemic began, my improv theater troupe has taken rehearsals onto Zoom! It’s been fun and at times stressful to have to reinvent improv forms to accommodate being online. Fortunately, I’ve been able to attend improv workshops and watch other performances, which has helped our transition.
  • I started Father-Daughter Time in 2020. Dad comes over once a week, and we work on my garden. His family were farmers, and he has so much knowledge about plants. I never truly appreciated this about him growing up and am glad I have this opportunity now.
  • I helped edit my cousin’s cookbook. He’s hoping to provide it as a freebie to the people who sign up for his mailing list. This experience was a great way for me to connect with my cousin, and it was inspiring to see how passionate he is about cooking.
  • I was thrilled to go to a virtual screening of the movie that I acted in! I was cast in a supporting role in May 2019, and it was so much fun to see how the movie came together.

FINAL THOUGHTS

All three years of my retirement have had different “flavors.” My first year, I seem very carefree and ecstatic about my newfound freedom. My second year seems to be about finding a new rhythm through new activities and friendships. This third year seems to be about finding meaningful work (paid or volunteer) while maintaining freedom and flexibility.

Looking back on this third year, I’m happy to see all the different activities I participated in. It reminds me that there’s always opportunities for new experiences in my early retirement.  I feel a little more focused this year, and I think it’s because of Dragon Guy’s influence.

The last three months of my third year was spent social distancing. I’m grateful that so far Dragon Guy and I and everyone in our immediate family have been healthy. With everything that’s happened during Q2 of 2020, it’s reminded me that while there are a lot of unknowns, some of the most important things to remember is to have empathy, kindness, and compassion for others.

To my fellow personal finance bloggers and readers, I hope all of you continue to stay healthy and safe. Please feel free to drop us a line at any time. Let’s be here for each other. 

 

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