Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

A challenge or three adds spice to retirement!

Cover of novel.

Retirement certainly has its perks! I spent most of yesterday devouring this book. Last year my oldest son gave me Richard Osman’s first novel, The Thursday Murder Club for Christmas and I absolutely loved it. It’s so warm and funny and the writing is absolutely wonderful. That wry British humour with such wonderfully fresh and quirky characters. It’s truly one of those books that you read and never forget.

So when the sequel was released I was onto it! As part of my ‘earn my rates back by reading’ challenge, (more on this later), I put a hold on it at my local library. I was number 15 in the queue. I resigned myself to waiting until the new year to get my hands on it, but to my surprise, it was suddenly my turn. I’m not sure if it was because Melbourne was still in lockdown so people had more time on their hands to read, or if it was so good that people were galloping through it.

Anyway, now I’m sure it was the second one. I read it all in a day. Once I started, I didn’t want to leave this world that Richard Osman created. These two books have the same heart-warming feeling that the tv show Ted Lasso has, only with more corpses scattered around. Both The Thursday Murder Club and The Man Who Died Twice. are Thumping Good Reads – it’s not often I find myself Laughing Out Loud when reading, but this one got me waking up the little woofs a few times. 🙂

Actually, this reading challenge I’ve set up for myself has opened up a lot of really good books that I probably wouldn’t have stumbled across before. The local council has access to a lot more library books than the secondary school library that I was using before, with many more librarians who are happy to recommend things. According to my Goodreads page, I’ve just finished my 111th book for the year, and I have 2 more on the go.

If you glance across at the ‘Retirement Reading Quest’ on the right-hand side of this blog, you’ll see that I’ve reached roughly the same target that I had at the beginning of the 2021 challenge this year.

Basically, my council rates for 2021 were $1,800. I decided to ‘earn’ back that money by borrowing books from my local library and keeping a tally of how much money these books were worth. It helps that I’m a fast reader who likes a challenge and, now that I’ve retired, have the time to indulge myself in this. By August I’d reached the target. That’s when my rates bill for 2022 came in…

Of course, the bill was higher. $2,100, plus a little over $100 for dog registrations. I decided to keep the challenge rolling on, plus kick in the dog rego as well – why not? A stretch target is a good target – within reason.

So 2 months on, I’ve already knocked over the extra $300, so I’m on track to successfully knock over 2022’s rates challenge. I’ve slowed down with the library borrowing though. I have a teetering pile of books beside my bed that I absolutely have to tackle – there are books in there that I’ve wanted to read all year but haven’t, due to the challenge.

Tomorrow at 6PM retail shops open up again in Melbourne. The longest lockdown in the world is finally coming to a close. I want to go to Bunnings and get some terracotta pots and some flowers for the front verandah for my other challenge – Operation Beautify, which I wrote about a couple of posts ago. I also have to quickly decide where I’m going to go for October’s Little Adventure – I’m definitely running out of month for this one!

I’m really enjoying chipping away at these self-set challenges. In retirement, especially if you couple it with being in lockdown, it’s all too easy for the days to slip steadily past without you really noticing. Having these defined targets in a few different areas means that I can still get that feeling of achievement when completing a task that I used to get from finishing things a work. For example, I used to feel a huge sense of achievement (and relief) when I finished marking a pile of essays or grammar tests. It was DONE!!! Now, I get the same feeling when I come back from a Little Adventure, or I finish another book and change my figures on the table on this blog.

And honestly, the quality of my life is so much better. Marking grammar tests (ugh) and essays (yuck) compared to exploring new places, making my home even prettier or reading a fabulous novel?

There’s no comparison, yet I still get the lovely feeling of being productive that I enjoy so much.

Dad Jokes of the day:

An opinion without 3.14 is an onion.
You'll understand.
Visual joke. Sorry.


  1. Budget Life List

    I like your retirement challenges and make a good point about setting goals even after leaving the work space. Your challenges are way more fun!

  2. CiCi

    Thank you for this recommendation. I read The Lost Man after reading your review and loved it. So did my spouse. (Went on to read multiple other books by the same author.) Looking forward to this one.


    A U.S. English Teacher a Few Years Behind You in Retirement

    • FrogdancerJones

      Read these Osman books in order. You’ll SO enjoy them.
      I’m almost envious that you’ll be encountering them for the first time…

  3. Loretta

    HAHAHA Love the Pi joke!
    And The Thursday Murder Club was one of my favourite reads last year too. Am now 4th in line at the Library for #2 but will probably end up buying both to reread.
    Love reading about your retirement adventures. Life is good with the right attitude, isn’t it?

  4. sandyg61

    Your reading challenge has got me started as well. I’m certainly not as fast as you but I’ve managed four books in October so that’s a good start. I love my challenges as well.

    • FrogdancerJones

      They make the days pass by with a pinch of excitement. 🙂

  5. Amy

    Thanks for the post. Can I ask which council area you live in, to have such low rates? I’ve heard Whitehorse has some of the cheapest rates, but suspect from your previous posts that you’re in Kingston.

    • FrogdancerJones

      Yes, in Kingston.
      Are my rates low? They seem annoyingly high to me! If they were much more expensive I’d have to spend my whole life reading books… unless the price of books went up as well.

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