Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

One year of early(ish) retirement.

As of midday today, I’ve been retired for fully twelve months.

I thought I might write about what it’s been like so far.

Hmmm… where to start?

It’s safe to say that the thing I was most worried about going into retirement hasn’t come to pass. At work, especially in classes, I was extroverted and cracked jokes and generally soaked up all of the human interaction. At home? I’m an antisocial hermit. I was concerned that I’d start to miss expressing my extroverted self after a while and that maybe I’d begin to get bored with my own company. I didn’t THINK I would, but that’s why they call things in life ‘surprises’.

In fact, the opposite has happened. I haven’t missed work at all. Which in itself was a bit of a surprise, because I loved being in the classroom, but it is what it is.

Every morning I’m glad that I don’t wake to an alarm clock. Jeffrey licking himself is almost as bad, but he tends to wait for a more civilised hour to start. I’ve discovered that I really enjoy a slow pace to the start of each morning. Get up, brew a coffee in the Aeropress, let the dogs out, then we all end up on the couch. I sip my coffee with the laptop on my lap, the dogs go back to sleep and it’s calm and peaceful. After a while we all have breakfast, (wild excitement from Poppy), and then the day will start to take shape.

One of the things that I’ve enjoyed the most is the different way my days are organised now. Instead of having structure thrust upon me by the demands of the school’s timetable and the bells, I now have total control over how my hours are spent. I’m in a wonderful space in my life where my kids are grown and I don’t have grandchildren yet, so there is no time needed to set aside to run around after miniature people. That’s hugely freeing. I can do whatever I want.

I plan to enjoy this ‘selfish’ stage while it lasts. Many people retire when grandchildren are on their way so they can help with childcare, but my boys are very ugly so there are no children on the horizon as yet.

This is the time for me! Not many people get a chance to live for themselves, so I’m not going to waste it.

Reading meme

The days tend to be dominated by one activity. If I’m making a quilt, then that’s it for the whole afternoon. If I start a book; then I READ THE BOOK. I’m on my 126th book for 2021 and I’ve discovered some cracking reads. If I’m gardening, then I spent HOURS in the garden. It’s a good thing because I can spread myself around different activities and I don’t get bored.

Doesn’t really matter what it is I’m doing, I’m as happy as a clam because I’m undertaking what I’m in the zone for that day. This is why hosting Christmas this year is slightly annoying. I have a quilt for David28 that I want to get finished, but there’s cleaning and organising to do. So far, I haven’t really been in the zone for any of that, but this week that’ll have to change. My life is so hard…

The real luxury is when I strike a day that I don’t really feel like doing much of anything at all. My early retirement was full of these days. After a couple of months I texted a friend who’d retired a year before me and asked, “When does the need for having a nap every day stop???”

She replied, “Why does it have to?”

Yes, the first few months of retirement coincided with summer, so it was easy to just relax and let my body dictate what it needed. What it needed was lots of reading and lots of sleeeep. One good thing about this was that it really turno-charged my Earn Back My Rates By Reading challenge! You can check how I’m going by looking at the sidebar. By August I’d reached the target for 2021, so, not wanting to let the grass grow under my feet, I started on 2022. I made it harder by adding in the dog rates as well.

After a while the need to be almost constantly horizontal receded and I started doing more things. I whisked myself away on a trip along the Great Ocean Road over to Adelaide in between lockdowns, where I met up with Jenna’s family, an old school friend I hadn’t seen in 40 years and a blogreader in Warrnambool. Hi Loretta!!

If covid hadn’t lingered I’d be in Antarctica right now dancing with penguins, but I was lucky enough to be able to get it postponed to December next year (at this year’s prices, baby!) I’m planning to see Easter Island on the same trip, seeing as I’ll be in the neighborhood. Until then, I’ll be staying close to home, with only a couple of short trips – I was about to say “planned” but I haven’t planned a thing. But I’m sure something’ll pop up.

I bought quite a few permanent plants and fixtures for the garden, seeing as I was stuck at home during lockdowns, so I’m hoping that costs here will start to go down now that most spots are filled. Columnar apples don’t come cheap! I spent a fortune at Spotlight on expensive things like quilt batting at 40% off ( I bought in bulk) so I should be able to entertain myself nicely next year pretty cheaply. I want to put most of my money into my trip. If apple trees are expensive – penguins are worse!

Though having said that, I’ve put in an enquiry for an artist to paint a mural on the back of the house. He does incredible work and it would look AMAZING. Anyway, we’ll see what happens with that. It’s only money, right?

The biggest change I’ve noticed is that I used to be in a constant state of awareness that things Had To Get Done whenever I had a spare minute. Sometimes I’d ignore it, but in general, I had a list in my head and I was always conscious that time shouldn’t be wasted.

Now? The list is still there, but my version of a productive day has loosened. It used to be that when I crossed multiples off my list – I felt productive. Now it’s enough when only one or two get done. The amount of extra time you have at your disposal when work isn’t sucking up most of the week is incredible. So it’s no longer a logistical nightmare if I don’t tick 47 items from my list in a weekend. If I don’t get to a few tasks; there’s always tomorrow.

Something inside me that I didn’t realise was tightly wound has eased up.

At the moment I still have one adult son living with me, though I fully expect this to change over the next year or so. Then, for the first time n my life, I’ll be living alone. (Unless you count the Little Woofs, that is.) Ryan26 and I give each other our space, both being introverts. I’ve discovered that, for the moment at least, I have enough social contact by having a phone conversation every day with someone, as well as interacting with people online. Usually, at around 5 PM, I’ll finish off whatever I’m doing and then I’ll pour a drink and pick up the phone.

Maybe when Ryan26 moves out I’ll find that this isn’t enough, but for the moment I’m happy. It’ll be easy enough to look around and find places where I can meet like-minded people.

Managing my money without the constant top-up of a wage coming in has been an adjustment. It hasn’t been a year of ‘normal’ spending, as I used my long service leave to renovate my ensuite and the other bathroom at the beginning of the year. The share market has been kind this year, so a mixture of harvesting dividends and using a touch of savings has been the way I decided to go. Every 6 months I plan to balance up everything and pull out what I’ll need for the following 6 months, with a view to harvesting divvies if the market is going well, or using savings if it’s dropped like a stone. I have 2 years before I can access superannuation without paying tax, so I’m happy to let that burble away in the background.

Now to address the question that gets asked most often when I go and visit my friends at work – Do I get bored?

Are you kidding me? Why would I get bored when I can do whatever I want and have my time totally free to indulge myself? There was a time a few weeks ago when I put my back out REALLY badly – Jeff was limping so I was getting him out of the car at the vet’s when I twisted something. Even with having a remedial masseuse on the premises, it took over a week for it to heal. I NEARLY got bored one day… but then I realised I could walk around and read a book standing up, so all was fine. Phew!

My days have a basic rhythm to them. Mornings are chill until around 9 or 10 AM. I read, write or just scroll through social media. Then I get on with the day. I do whatever I’m in the zone that ay to do. I never have the tv on during the day… but most nights I’m bingeing a series on Netflix, Stan or AppleTV. Most days the little woofs have a walk; I’ll chat with people on the phone before dinner and really, that’s it.

It may sound dull when I write it like that, but when every day is spent doing something that I’ve CHOSEN to do for that day, then it’s the opposite of boring. Now that we’re out of lockdowns and life is getting back to normal, I’ll be out and about more. In the last 2 weeks, I’ve been to the theatre 5 times, so that’s not a bad start.

The foundations that I laid over the last few years are starting to bear fruit. Literally, if you count planting all those fruit trees! My veggie garden is doing really well, while the front yard is looking far prettier with the flowers and hanging baskets I’ve planted. The major renovations that I wanted to do to the house have all been done (touch wood), while now there’s pretty much only painting to be done. I still haven’t painted my ensuite – I know that once I do I’ll have to go through the whole house room by room to paint and I’m not ready to do that yet!

My trip to Antarctica is the next international holiday I have planned. My overall plan was to have one major overseas trip each year. I’m thinking 2023 will more than likely be the UK again, but who knows? I wasn’t planning on visiting North Korea, but when the opportunity arises who in their right mind would say no? So I’ll be keeping my options open.

The biggest surprise of this whole year was just how little I missed work. I really thought I’d have pangs of missing it, but not a jot. I’ve been lucky to have seen the school musical and I was able to use up a spare ticket on a Drama excursion to see ‘Come From Away’, and once a term or so I’d pop into the staffroom at lunchtime to catch up. It’s been lovely to see the kids and my friends, but do I wish myself back?

Not on your life!!



  1. Lisa

    What a fabulous update. I’m so glad your first year of retirement has gone so well and that life on the daily is just pure relaxation and joy.

  2. Nic@fireforlife

    What a lovely post. I really look forward to reading them each week. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed your first year of retirement. Your garden looks like a beautiful place to zone out.
    Thank you for your entertaining writing this year. Merry Christmas and looking forward to your adventures next year.

    • FrogdancerJones

      Wow, what a lovely thing to read at the end of the day. We’ve just come back from seeing Jenna’s play. This comment caps off a lovely evening. 🙂

  3. Maureen

    What a great post! Retirement seems to suit you well. I have a hard time fielding the “Do you miss teaching?” question tactfully. Two years out and it seems like a distant memory.

    • FrogdancerJones

      Just laugh in their faces when they ask and say… “Why would I miss confiscating mobile phones?”

  4. Sandra

    Earlyish retirement suits you. I too, am grateful for earlyish retirement and the time this year it has allowed for me to spend with family when needed. I couldn’t imagine mixing working life with the weeks of hospital visits and now being able to help my parents at home. I didn’t get the freedom you speak of as my granddaughter arrived on the fourth day of retirement but I wouldn’t swap that either. Life is what you make it!!

    • FrogdancerJones

      You sound busy with family but that’s better than the alternative… not having any family…

  5. Kathy Aylward

    Your long term goal of saving for early retirement and planting your garden and getting your big ticket renovations done has allowed your retirement to be just as you’d planned. It simply sounds wonderful. Have a great Christmas. We are very nervous in Brisbane now the borders have opened and already one friend got the alert to say she had been at a shopping centre were a case tested positive. She is of course negative however we just hope none of our family get one of those in the next week leading up to Christmas. We have lived very well without Covid here and now we are going to go backwards with all the interstate visitors coming. Even though they have to test negative 72 hrs before they arrive it’s being brought into the State. Here’s to everyone being able to celebrate Christmas together. Have a good week.

    • FrogdancerJones

      It’s funny. I was so careful and shunned going anywhere where there were lots of people when covid hit. Now – when my son and his GF had plays on, I went (masked) to the CBD and Prahran to see them.
      After a while we have to take all precautions but still do the things that are important to us.
      Though having said that, if I get covid, I’ll be pissed off!

  6. Latestarterfire

    What a wonderful start to your retirement 🙂

    I am of course reading with envy, haha! Thanks for the clear path you’ve set for the rest of us late starters. I know if I just continue setting the foundations, as you say, I too will be able to retire earlyish and wake up without an alarm clock and just do a ‘job’ for the whole day instead of going from one to another like a headless chook.

    Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas!

    • FrogdancerJones

      I know you’re already having a great Christmas with your London family here.
      Keep staying the course – it’s worth it!

  7. Wendy

    Thank you for sharing your insight to your first year. I am 56 and in the wind down to retirement stage and I have some of the same questions. Will I get bored. Will I lose my identity. Will I kill my husband and end up in prison…. (he has leukemia and already home full time) This post helps me see that it is possible to make the transition and be satisfied.

    • FrogdancerJones

      My cousin, my best friend and I are all retired. None of us would willingly go back to work. You’ll love it. (And the other 2 have husbands.)

  8. steveark

    We’ve been retired 6 years almost and its very individualistic. We are mid sixties and like active outdoor pursuits. A typical day will have us up to run at 4:50 AM, followed by a couple of hours of tennis around noon and then a couple of hours of pickleball at 5PM. In the cracks between events I chair a college board and a nonprofit board, mentor university engineering students and am helping recruit a major employer to town. Plus blogging of course. In the evening I’m a streamer as well, plus every other week we trade cooking/shopping/clean up chores to the other. My week to cook coming up so I’ve got to figure that out plus both boards meet and I had to cancel a bird watching trip tomorrow because of the economic development work. And kids coming in for Christmas this week as well. But its the pace we enjoy, and there are still a few days where I do absolutely nothing and enjoy that too. Your life sounds peaceful and happy to me, I think you’ve done year one exceedingly well. And the future is an unwritten book for both of us.

    • FrogdancerJones

      I have no idea what pickleball is. I don’t think it’s a thing here. I watched a 1 minute video and it looks like it’d be fun.
      You sound like you and your wife have got this stage of your lives down to a fine art. 🙂

  9. Flirby

    What a lovely read, I’m glad you’ve found retirement so blissful. I love that you’ve taken our lockdowns in your stride and made the best of things in finding a new rhythm to life.

    I retired at the end of September, at 50 yo and I’m still in the sleeping in phase. I miss some of the people but not the actual work or 70 hr weeks. I worked for a US tech firm and best of all, no December year end for me this year for the first time in 21 years! Woohooo!

    • FrogdancerJones

      50??? So young…
      Good on you. Enjoy the sleep; it’s clear our bodies need it. You’ll love the next stage you’re entering into – enjoy, my lovely!!!

  10. Josie

    I was stunned to realize you have been retired a year! I have been reading your posts this year religiously as I will retire in April. I definitely plan to use your Little Adventure idea – I thought that was a brilliant way not to get into too deep a rut! Thank you for showing the way to a great retirement.

    • FrogdancerJones

      Aww, thanks! You’ll love the freedom of retirement – not long to go now!

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