Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Now I’m thinking about Opportunity Cost.

Hey girl, you look good when you pay your blls

Of course, as soon as I wrote a post about possibly going part-time at work, I immediately started to think about the Opportunity Cost of the 20K/year I’d be missing out on if I dropped a day. There’s also the extra year or two I’d probably be adding to my work life.

So what’s Opportunity Cost?

Opportunity cost of not studying

Opportunity cost is usually talked about in economics, but it basically applies in every area of life. It refers to all the choices and directions that you choose to give up when you make a decision to do/spend something.

For example, I chose to keep 50K from the money I received when I sold my original house to use for landscaping. That money could have been spent on more investments to bring me more income in the future. (At 7% interest, I’m missing out on an extra $3,500/year.) It could have bought me 3 or 4 trips to Europe. It could have paid for a new ensuite, shiny new kitchen appliances and a new car.

But instead, by using that money to pay for wicking vegetable garden beds, brick paving and an automatic watering system attached to my water tank, I’ve turned away from those other alternatives. This is the opportunity cost of my decision.

The opportunity cost of talking to me
(“Fallacy of composition’ means the error of assuming that what is true of a member of a group is true for the group as a whole.

What could I do with the 20K that I’d be giving up if I only taught 4 days a week? There’s no doubt that my work/life balance would be far better if I worked fewer hours. But there are items on my ‘to do’ list that I could quickly knock off if I gritted my teeth and worked full-time for another year.

Below is a list of things that I want to put into place before I leave work. I’ve already achieved the major one, which was the landscaping job. However, there are a few more things I want to get done.

Opportunity cost of being good at your job.
  • I have an ensuite – the first one I’ve ever had. I never realised how much I love having one, but it’s not really suitable for old people. It has a shower over a bath. I’m definitely not a bath person, but even if I was, the main bathroom has one. I can visualise Old Lady Frogdancer trying to get herself in or out of the bath a couple of decades from now, slipping and breaking a hip. An ensuite renovation would probably be around the 20K mark, wouldn’t it?
  • I want to get the inside and outside of my house freshly painted. This isn’t a huge priority, because I’m pretty sure the house was painted just before I bought it 3 years ago. But they painted everything the same colour and used the same paint for everything. This means that the window ledges, skirting boards and doors are all in matt paint, not gloss. This makes them much harder to keep clean.
No opportunity cost to saving money right now!
  • I still need to get the verandah roof put on at the back part of the house. When that’s done I’ll have an outdoor room, looking out towards the veggie garden. I’ll get an old couch and a table, and I’ll loll on the couch and read a book out there in the shade, drinking a glass or two of shiraz while watching my organic food grow. 20K would more than pay for that, wouldn’t it?.
  • Does anyone know if a Tesla battery can be connected to existing solar panels? This house came with an impressive array of solar panels, but ever since I found out from a friend that not only does she have zero bills for electricity since installing panels and a battery, she’s getting money paid to her by the electricity company for the power they’ve passed back to the grid! In around 6 months they’ve received nearly 1K in payments! That sounds very enticing for someone who intends to be a crazy dog lady in retirement. Those dogs need to be fed.
I need a part-time job that pays 20K a week.
  • Speaking of dogs, my dogs bark every time another dog walks past. I know that they’re only doing their jobs, but it gets a bit annoying. I’m thinking I might replace the open-view fence with a more solid one, to stop the dogs from having so much fun. I’d have lots of change from 20K if I started with this one!
  • Another thing that will need to be replaced is the ultra-cheap oven and cooktop that the previous owners put into the kitchen when they were selling. They’re stainless steel, so they look ok, but the oven is terrible. I’d like to get an induction cooktop, so I could put the thermomixes on it, under the fan, and there’d be no chance of them melting. I’d also like to get a better quality oven.
  • I’d also like to put some money aside for things like a car upgrade down the track… expenses that I know will be coming one day, but don’t have to be catered for just yet. There may even be weddings for the boys in the future, though they’re fairly unattractive so maybe this won’t happen…

There’s no denying that my work-life balance would be improved if I went part-time. There’s also no denying that, if I want to get these things knocked off my ‘To Do’ list, I’ll be increasing my work life by another one or two years. Still, as an extroverted introvert, that mightn’t be a bad thing.

When I’m at home, I’m very solitary and I love it. But when I’m at work, I’m surrounded by people and all that goes with it. This morning, I walked into The Danger Zone, (our section of the staff room) and it was filled with people wearing party hats, balloons on the ground and a couple of toddlers blowing bubbles. Someone’s mum was coming to pick up the grandkids and it was her 70th birthday.

Five minutes ago I was holding a baby who had come in with her Dad, who is taking paternity leave for a year. Last year he and his husband went to the US, organised a surrogate and now this little girl is a much-loved and doted upon Aussie.

Last year my year 7 English class threw me a surprise birthday party, while back in 2015 my Theatre Studies class threw a surprise dinner party to farewell me when I took a term off to go to Europe. These things are very special.

The Opportunity Cost of working full-time and leaving work earlier may be the loss of the human interaction I’m so used to. This is without taking into account the day-to-day laughs and general interaction with the students.

If I go part-time then the Opportunity Cost is the money and the continued lack of freedom to have total control over how I spend my time.

I guess I just have to work out which is the most valuable to me going forward…


  1. Snoskred

    I think 20K might be on the higher side for a small-ish ensuite. Unless you are tiling with actual gold. 🙂

    A full bathroom maybe I could see it, but not an ensuite. Especially if you are leaving the things in the same place and not needing to have plumbing moved. But you know, why not get a quote or few and find out for sure?

    AND LOL re unattractive sons. I have seen photos, they are gorgeous! 😉

    • FrogdancerJones

      Your taste in men seems to be sadly lacking!

  2. gofi

    Part times the way to go, FJ. Easier transition, some deadlines, and half the opportunity cost. May be work some place else – at a discount. Who wouldn’t hire you?

    • FrogdancerJones

      Who indeed? They’d have to be mad not to!!!!
      heh heh

  3. freddy smidlap

    i think part of it is to determine how you would spend the extra day off each week. i know that if i had an extra day right now i wouldn’t do much with it over and above what i can do on a 5 day week as constituted.

    that’s a long list of wanted improvements/purchases. you might be working awhile!

    • FrogdancerJones

      I like the idea of paying for the things now while I have the income. The Future Frogdancer won’t have to bankroll them. She can play with the dogs and go travelling.

  4. Cath

    I don’t know how your school system works, but could you try reducing your work for a year or even a term to see how it felt, both economically and energy-wise? Alternately, could you plan to go to part-time in 1-2 years so you have something to look forward to, while chipping away at some of the things on your list? Exciting!

    • FrogdancerJones

      I can always go back to full-time work if I want to.
      I just found out it’ll cost 20K to get a couple of Tesla power walls…

  5. Chris

    Paralysis by analysis has kept me going full time the last year and a bit. The extra money coming in while I decide is buying future me freedom. There’s no wrong answer here… but there’s definitely a right one. Compare this week with next and I reckon you’ll have your answer

    • FrogdancerJones

      Hmmm… the next 2 weeks are school holidays so something dreadful would have to take place for me to think that going to work was better!!

      • Chris

        Yeah, my point exactly!

  6. Michelle @ FrugalityandFreedom

    Dilemmas! Now I’m ten months into it, I’m getting super-conscious of the opportunity cost of my taking this year off to travel around USA. There’s plenty I could have done with the $ from an extra year’s salary, not even thinking about the financial return I could have earned if I simply invested this year’s money. While I’ve loved the feeling of freedom and getting to know better what I’d like to build into an ongoing early retirement lifestyle, the sting of what I’ve been giving up rears its head every so often, so I feel you!

    PS. Thanks for introducing me to the concept of the Fallacy of Composition! I’d never heard that expressed before. Good one.

    • FrogdancerJones

      I think travel is a little different. You’ve had the most amazing experience that you’ll remember forever. It’s like my 9 week UK and Europe trip – I still think about things I did nearly every day since.
      And hey – I had 10 YEARS off work when I was raising the boys as pre-schoolers! You’re 1 year is peanuts compared to that!

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