Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

I feel in my waters that it’s time to pivot.

Pulp fiction meme

Whenever anyone talks about the risks/benefits of early retirement, the one thing they bring up, almost without fail, is that if conditions change, you should consider going back to work if you need a few extra dollars. Even in my early(ish) retirement, especially being a teacher, I knew I always had that option tucked away.

September last year the VIT registration fees came up. It was the expensive one because it included the working with children police check thing. I paid it, more as insurance than anything else. I had no intention of going back to work… but you never know. As my friend Blogless Sandy said, “You may as well pay it. You’ll kick yourself if you wanted to work and couldn’t do it.”

Then in 2022, things shifted slightly in the Jones household, as well as in the wider world. Let’s go through them one at a time.

Man on an elliptical.


As you know, around a month ago Tom30 abruptly moved back in. There was a fairly tumultuous week of driving back and forth from Ormond to The Best House in Melbourne, getting all of his belongings out. After 7 years away, that guy had a lot of things, including a huge elliptical machine. There’s no denying that it adds a certain something to the decor in the Man Cave.

Anytime a new person moves in, the household dynamic changes. Tom30 is a communicative person who gets excited about what he’s interested in. As Ryan27 said a couple of days ago, “I kind of admire how Tom30 gets so enthused about things. I wish I could have such a simple life!”

It’s true. I’ve learned so much about the worlds of wrestling and gaming – he plays different games to Ryan27 – and I would have learned a lot about American politics, except I’ve put a ban on discussing this. It’s a good thing I did this – it’s saved a lot of bickering.

Tom30 works from home 2 days a week. He likes to have wrestling vids, sporting shows and angry American men podcasts playing while he works. So there’s a different vibe here 4 days a week.

Ok, so that’s a bit of a whinge. Honestly, I’m happy he’s back because it’s allowed us to reconnect again. There’s no better way to deepen a relationship than to share the same house with someone. It’s coming up to a month and the new Jones household is settling into the new normal.


Having another adult in the house raises the expenses. Now before everyone goes crazy —- YES. I’m charging both boys board. They pay me $50/week each.

My choice is to put that money aside for them and let it build up in a bank account. Tom30 is saving for a house deposit and Ryan27 will no doubt be doing that too one day. I can’t be the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ like so many people can. I can’t merrily hand over thousands of dollars to help get a deposit together for my 4 kids. I figure the least I can do is to feed and house them when they’re under my roof, then hand their board money back when they need it. (Tom30 has no idea that this is going to happen, by the way.)

So that’s all warm and fuzzy and lovely, but when prices suddenly rise, due to Putin, the pandemic and the floods, then that’s something that as a good FIRE person, I have to take note of. I can’t see prices subsiding any time soon.

I could choose to take their board money and use it for bills, or I could choose to pivot. (There’s that word again...)

Some sort of financial chart.


Ever since I learned about Sequence of Returns Risk, I’ve kept it in the back of my mind as something to watch out for in the first 5 years of retirement. I took the above chart from this article, which explains it in a bit more detail, but the chart gives a good TL;DR summary.

At the moment the market is a bit panicky and has slipped a bit. I’m not breaking out the cat food tins for dinner any time soon, but it’s something that I’m keeping an eye on. The share market has been rising steadily for the last 10 years or so. It can’t last forever, so retiring at this stage, I knew I’d need to keep in touch with what was going on.

We can prepare for many things when we retire, but we have absolutely no control over Sequence of Returns Risk. The market is going to do what the market is going to do, regardless of who is retiring when. I’ve set up my finances to mitigate against this by having several layers of investments, so intellectually I know that I’ll be alright.

But Past Frogdancer Jones would like to feel as secure as she can get.

One of the best ways to insulate my investments from being tapped too harshly, too early in a market downturn is to have a bit of extra income sliding in.

Can’t hurt and it might help!

Kath Day-Knght.

For a few weeks now, I’ve had a niggling feeling that it mightn’t be such a bad thing if I earned a little money on the side. Maybe that was why I took so long to make a decision about tutoring because it felt wrong to be knocking back income – but I’ve learned that if I ignore that niggling feeling I do so at my peril.

I definitely didn’t want to do tutoring, as I wrote “When you’re happily retired and you get offered a job”, but CRT (Casual Relief Teaching) is a different kettle of fish. Basically, a CRT supervises classes when the regular teacher is absent. You unlock the door, let them in, mark the roll, direct them to Compass where their work is set, then for the rest of the lesson you keep them quiet and on-task.

Basically, for a CRT, a boring day is a good day. When I first started working again when Evan25 was Evan5 and he’d started primary school, I did CRT work for a year. When you’re VERY VERY INTERESTED in what’s happening in the classroom, it’s either really good or really bad…

Last week I went into my old school and put my name down for CRT work. I could have gone to schools closer to me, but I know my way around the Main campus and I know that the kids are lovely, which makes a huge difference to a CRT’s day. A feral class is absolute misery for 48 minutes. It’ll also be nice to see people on staff and have quick catch-ups.

The catch-ups will have to be quick. Schools get their money’s worth when they hire a CRT – you work all 6 periods and do 2 yard duties. I’d better wear comfy shoes!

The daily pay rate isn’t bad – just over $380 – but as an early(ish) retiree the flexibility is what is really appealing to me. I have the freedom to say ‘No’ if I’ve planned something on a day that work is offered. Tutoring doesn’t offer that luxury.

Yesterday I was offered 2 days’ work – tomorrow and Thursday – so it’s Game ON!

Speaking of games, you know how I like to gamify my spending and paying for my rates. Of course, I’ve drawn up a list of things that the CRT days will ‘pay’ for.


I’ve put asterisks beside the things I’ve already bought. Once I knock them over, then I can start chipping away at the big expenses. Woo babayyyy – I like a list and I like to see progress. If anything will keep me motivated; this is it!

Of course, if I decide that I hate it and it’s sucking the joy out of my retirement life, I can always stop. That’s the good thing about being financially independent.

I’m fully aware that the feeling in my waters about the benefits of having a bit of money coming in is definitely because of the struggle I had when the boys and I were newly single. It took nearly two DECADES for us to recover from the financial aftershocks of the divorce. I love the freedom of being the only captain driving the financial ship, but it comes with the downside of being wholly responsible for navigating it safely through choppy economic waters. I don’t have the luxury of knowing that I’ll be able to nestle into a partner’s super fund in my old age.

So I figure that a few days’ work here and there that will help Past Frogdancer Jones sleep better at night isn’t too high a price to pay. I’m glad I chose to work in a field that can offer such flexible options for people who want to work in a different way than the typical full-time allotment… and who knows?

I might actually like it…

… and if I don’t, I’m not locked in.

Dad joke of the day:

How do you catch a cat?

With a MEOWS trap.


  1. Jeff

    $50/week board?? That’s 1970’s rates Frogdancer!! Add an extra zero!!

  2. Latestarterfire

    I would have charged $100 – boys are big eaters, haha!

    Ah, the beauty of FI is having options & flexibility ?? – looking forward to your progress reports

    • FrogdancerJones

      I’ll probably write a post on Friday about what it feels to go back to work after 15 months of glorious freedom.

  3. Maureen

    1) Perfect illustration of the power of FI – all the options, pivots, and flexes are yours to do or do not.
    2) WOW, do Aussies pay well! Even with the exchange rate, that is at least double what subs get here in the US.
    3) May we never lose the scrappiness learned in those first post divorce years living so close to the bone. The lessons are priceless.
    4) Maybe add earbuds to your list (for Tom) so you don’t have to listen to angry American men!

    • FrogdancerJones

      Haha! When it gets too much I ask him to wear headphones.

  4. freddy smidlap

    that’s not a bad daily rate at all when you can say “no” any time you like. it’s good to keep open your options. that’s why i’m still working at a low impact job.

    • FrogdancerJones

      I was talking to a friend yesterday who is on a ‘gap’ year, yet still works CRT. She loves the flexibility.

  5. CiCi

    Maybe you can schedule those substitute days (what we call relief teachers in the US) when Tom30 is working from home … 😉

    • Frogdancer Jones

      The irony is that he’s in the office both days I’m working this week.

  6. sandyg61

    Yes that return to work you know can be comforting but I’m glad that after three months I had done enough to break the habit that was forming again. Saying yes to extra hours to help the team etc. My work was dealing with client emails all day so different to your CRT and it became quite taxing.
    PS board here was set at 10%.

  7. Josie

    Wow, your CRT rate is amazing compared to the US.
    When my oldest graduated college 3 years ago, I charged her US$700 a month for room and board. Much less than having an apartment, and making sure she was accounting for future housing in her spending. My older siblings paid $50/week 50 years ago!

    • FrogdancerJones

      Maybe I’m writing from the past and time-travelling to post things on my blogs???

    • Baz

      Yep, I was paying $50 a week for board once I got my first job 36 years ago (that included food etc)

      • FrogdancerJones

        38 years ago I was paying $50 rent and $15 kitty in my second share house!

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