I still dunno what I want to do

But I know what I don't want

Recently I wrote about how I got here without knowing what it was I wanted to do.

That was a prelude to the other half of the equation; I may not know what I want, but I do know what I don’t want.

At this moment in my life, I don’t to work. At all. I want to have the luxury to be able to lie in, to read a book, to stay up late hacking on some code or whatever…

I find myself resenting having to get up to work. And I had a fantasy of deleting work apps off my phone and how happy that made me.

So I quit. I’ve not just quit this job, I’ve quit the whole concept of work. I’ve taken early retirement.

So how can I afford to do this, at the age of 55?

I got lucky

Obviously a young white boy in England, even from a working class background, in the 1980s had benefits, including a world class free education; I got to go to Oxford! The first of my family to ever get to University. And that led to sponsorship and paid summer work, and my first job and…

Being smart helped, of course. Not falling into the wrong crowd. Having parents who both worked and were able to support me during my education and were happy with me being at home. Selling my UK house and transferring the money to the US at a peak pound/dollar rate meaning I was able to pay off my US mortgage.

Yeah, I got lucky.

Frugal. And FIRE.

In other respects I’ve been planning this for a couple of decades or more. I’m not sure when I first thought about retiring at 55; moving to America definitely put those plans on hold ‘cos I didn’t know if this was going to be permanent or temporary (fortunately the relationship with my darling Lady is still going strong, so it became permanent!).

But I’ve always spent less than I earned. I lived with my parents until I was 30, so was able to save up a good percentage of the purchase price of my house (smaller mortgage, easier to pay off sooner). When my salary increased above inflation (promotion, new job, whatever) my outgoings didn’t really go up to match.

Heh, I even remember as a kid when we went on holiday to the Isle of Wight, I’d saved up my pocket money so I had 20p per night to spend on sweets and stuff… and I would buy a 5p bag of gobstoppers. At the end of the two weeks I had enough money to buy stuff at the camp gift store.

So I haven’t bought fancy cars, I don’t buy expensive whiskey, I count every penny, almost literally! I wrote programs to track all my expenditure and could tell you, to the penny, where everything went. I still use those programs today! I would agonize over every “luxury” expenditure (where luxury might have been $50 or less).

Today, at age 55, I earn really good money. But my total outgoings were the third lowest in any year in over a decade. One of my programs shows yearly outgoings by category over the past 12 years; last year was a lot less than 2011, despite things going up (eg property taxes, house insurance).

It definitely helps to have paid off the mortgage and not to have a wife or kids; those three things can really increase costs. As a result, I’ve been saving a lot.

Apparently this is now known as FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early). I didn’t quite do Lean FIRE, but not too far short!

I’ve written more programs and tried to have been conservative in my estimates (higher than average inflation, lower levels of investment returns, higher amounts of tax… and high levels of medical expenses). I estimate my savings should last at least 45 years, possibly 55 years or more. And that doesn’t take into account what I’ll get on that sad day when my Mum passes on.

The future

I now feel confident enough that I can afford to live without any new income, and that resentment I feel each morning doesn’t have to be put up with. So why suffer it?

As for what I’m going to do… “I dunno”. Story of my life.

I’m not a big one for travel. I’m also not a sun lover (indeed me and the Sun don’t get along; it gave me skin cancer!). So I don’t expect to do much of that.

I have a backlog of techie things I’d like to do; incomplete projects, unwritten code, stuff like that. Both retro computing (my BBC Micro) and modern.

Maybe I’ll actually do some NYC tourism; I’ve lived here for over 20 years and not really done the tourist thing!

Or maybe I’ll just laze around and re-read the 1400+ SciFi books I have on my shelves, re-watch the 3500+ DVDs (movies and TV shows), learn how to play video games (beyond Backgammon).

And maybe… maybe I’ll get bored. If I do then perhaps I’ll dip my toe back into the workforce; consulting, perhaps?

Last day at work

I’ve given a couple of months notice; I expect my last day to be May 31st.

The first thing I’ll do, after that, is turn off the alarm and have a lie in.