Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Financial independence equals freedom.

View of the bay.

A couple of days ago I went into the city to see ‘Come From Away’ with the year 9 and 10 Drama classes from work. They had an extra ticket and the year 10 class has quite a few of my drama kids from last year and they asked if I could go with them. Isn’t that great?

I went into town by train. The last time I travelled by public transport was over 2 years ago. My Myki had expired! I was finally able to use the new train station – it’s a skyrail so when you get up to the platforms you have a lovely view of the bay. It was a beautiful autumn morning when I was up there. I’m not so sure how glorious a view it’ll be in mid-winter with icy winds coming in straight from Antarctica!

I hopped onto the last carriage and nearly everyone was wearing masks except for a group of 3 people at the other end. Of course, they were speaking VERY LOUDLY. For the first time in my life, I prayed for ticket inspectors to come onto the train to give these people a fine. Unbelievable.

My plan for the day was to meet the kids outside the theatre, see the play and then ride home with them. They were about an hour ahead of me.

Street corner.
Corner of Flinders and Swanston streets, under the clocks.

I haven’t been to the city for well over a year. I decided to get off the train at Flinders street station and walk up to the Comedy Theatre, just to see the place again. There were quite a few people around but nothing like the crowded streets that were the norm pre-covid.

It was nice to walk and hear the ‘ding’ and rumble of the trams as they went by. There are some sounds that you never think of, but when you hear them again they’re oh so familiar. It’s the sound of Melbourne.

Comedy Theatre, Melbourne.
The Comedy Theatre.

It was unexpectedly heartwarming to see the kids’ faces light up when they saw me.I knew about 1/3 of them and, much as I hate to admit it, it was really nice to see them again. Then, before I knew it, I was helping to get them all organised, stopping them from clumping together on the footpath and blocking others’ way through and then going in first and directing them as to which staircase to go through.

Lucy, their new teacher, brought up the rear and laughed. “Seems like I’ve got you working! You were meant to be here just to enjoy yourself!”

“It’s like riding a bike,” I said. Teacher mode was switched ON.

After the play was over we walked back through the city and jumped on a train home. I was expecting to have the usual deluge of private school kids cluttering up the train but surprisingly, that didn’t happen. Maybe they’re all being driven to and from school now?

Lucy and I talked about work, the Theatre Studies curriculum and general life stuff all the way home. At *** station they all got off. I fished around in my bag for my book and peacefully read all the way home.

When the train was entering my station, I got up, looked out of the window and saw the brilliant blue of the sea and sky, with a red paraglider floating happily above. It looked magnificent. I can hardly believe that I live here.

As I was walking home, I was thinking about happy I am with the timing of my decision to retire. See my friends at work on Friday and then going on an excursion with the kids today truly made me remember the good things I loved about my job. And I did love it. I certainly didn’t leave because I was miserable – I left because I wanted more control over my time.

I enjoyed talking ‘teacher talk’ with everyone at work and with Lucy on the train coming home and, of course, seeing the kids and bantering with them was great… yet I’m loving the freedom that comes with being financially independent. As I’m writing this, it’s 8:50 AM. I’m on the couch with 2 snoring cavaliers lying firmly against me on either side. At school, the bell has just rung for the start of period 1 and every class is starting their 5 minutes of mindfulness before the day’s work commences.

I’d be handing out colouring-in sheets to 28 kids in a room upstairs in A block and 28 kids would be bent over their desks, silently colouring before the lesson’s work begins. My day would be ahead of me, dissected into 48 minute chunks of time with all of the lessons planned in advance, with all classes at that year level doing the same work – all in rooms crowded with desks and chairs. I’d be dressed in ‘appropriate’ teacher/office wear while every kid would be wearing the school uniform.

It’s a beautiful day today. I can hear the birds singing outside. When I press ‘publish’ on this post I’ll stand up and Poppy will immediately jump down with me, ready for the next ‘adventure.’ Scout and Jeff will stay where they are, waiting to see if it’s worth their while to move. I’m having a friend from work over for dinner tonight. That’s my only scheduled thing.

The little woofs will drag me out on a walk.

I have to water the gardens.

Other than that, my day is my own.

I wonder if I’ll ever take this pure and utter freedom for granted?


  1. Budget Life List

    It’s like watching a commercial for FIRE…… Do you want freedom? Want to break away from work? Just sign here and you’ll have the rest of your life to figure it out…..

    Side note, I’m half way through, Queen’s Gambit. I had no idea chess could be so intense. But, I’ve never played either so should I be surprised? ?‍♀️

    • FrogdancerJones

      That book has made me want to pick up Chess again.
      My grandfather taught me when I was a kid.

  2. Sandra G

    Sometimes I wonder if we could be twins in many aspects of our retirement. It sure is great.

  3. Lucinda

    And the play/musical? Was it good?

    Thought about a few block temp contracts or a couple of days a week casual? Get the engagement with kids with no responsibility!

    • FrogdancerJones

      I was hoping no-one would ask about the actual play…

      Look, it was ok. The kids absolutely loved it – for most of the year 9s it was their first experience of a stage show. I thought it was pleasant enough, but the story wasn’t enough to fill 2 hours.

      I’ve got my name down for CRT at school, but I haven’t been called yet. To be honest, I’m ok with that. I’m still enjoying the freedom too much! There are always schools closer to home if I find I miss the banter.

  4. Steveark

    Yeah, while I did some consulting this week today looks like just tennis and taking the boat to my friend’s private lake and catching some fish, both activities with my wife who is a killer tennis player and bass catcher. The next two days I’ll drive halfway across the state to play some team tennis matches. I also have a couple of board meetings to chair, one for our local college and one for a charitable foundation. Then we’ll drive 400 miles to the site of my wife’s next marathon, she may just qualify for Boston this time. We’ll also make time to cook some gourmet meals together,
    run with our group of fellow runners and maybe I’ll touch up and finish my latest blog post. Just a pretty typical week of only doing things we choose to do.

    • FrogdancerJones

      Isn’t it funny how some people ask how you’ll fill the days in retirement?
      I think that I was born to be retired!!!

  5. Helen Kuriata

    Ha! I saw the play as well and totally agree that it was just OK, when you’ve seen so many other amazing plays in your life!

  6. chasingfiredownunder

    Love that you’re enjoying your retirement so much! I’m honestly feeling so jealous – I haven’t had a break in over 12 months and we’re about to head into a vaccination blitz!

    • FrogdancerJones

      Enjoy. I’m having such a stress-free life long may it last!

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