Financial-Independence-Retire-Early(er). Achieved the first two letters of FIRE, now onto the rest!

Retirement- 108 days to go…

Countdown on the beginning of old films.
Not long to go now…

As of today, I have 108 days to go until I finish work for good.

Yes, I’m retiring.

My friend Scott suggested that I look at working days left, to make it seem even more delicious. Just counted it up. 47 working days to go.

On December 18 2020, Frogdancer Jones will be walking out of the classroom forever to go and live her best life. I’ll be 57 years old, exactly 10 years younger than the ‘traditional’ retirement age of 67 in Australia.

omg. I’ve bought back 10 years of my life.

I’m awash with excitement, anticipation and the tiniest dollop of trepidation. Its a big step, after all.

As you’re reeling back in shock, I hear you ask, “But how can this BE?”

Settle in. Here’s how it all happened:

Kid doing a fist bump.

In August an email went out to all of the staff, asking for our plans for next year. Did we intend to stay at the school, which subjects and year levels would we prefer to teach, would we be intending to take any time off etc. Without really thinking about it, I replied that I’d be working for another year at 3 days/week, just like this year.

In other words, force of habit. Inertia.

A week later, I mentioned to a friend, (let’s just call him ‘the Mayor’), that I’d signed on for another year. It was a conversation over Facebook. His reply?

“Another year. I’m a little surprised. I’ve noted your Covid-related comments and we certainly won’t have dealt with this by next year.”

Now the Mayor is the total opposite to me when it comes to a relationship with Maths. He loves analysing spreadsheets and company financials and everything like that. After my geoarbitrage deal finalised and I had the money from my house sale in my hands, he devised a spreadsheet projecting how my current investments could perform. I was so appreciative – it was a huge favour for him to do for me. So he knows my financial situation.

At the time that he drew up the spreadsheet, he said to me, “You know, you could retire now if you wanted.”

“NO WAY!!” I said. “I just don’t feel safe. “

He chuckled. “You can; you just don’t realise it yet.”

In the intervening years, I worked at making The Best House in Melbourne even BETTER – for Future Frogdancer Jones in retirement. I liked the idea of getting all of the expensive jobs over with while I still had a wage coming in. My post called ‘Why owning a home trumps renting‘ lists all the things I’ve put into this place, plus a few more that I’m thinking of.

After the Mayor’s remark about my Covid-related comments, I started thinking. Was it possible that I could actually retire?

I brought out the old spreadsheets and looked at them, comparing the projected figures with the real ones. I brought up my annual expenses chart, subtracting the costs of all the projects around the house that I’d been doing. I looked at how much I was spending to feed, house, clothe and shelter myself and the two boys I have still living with me.

That figure came in at just over 30K/year. Those meagre years have left their mark – I don’t waste any money on anything that I don’t value. My pleasures are either hellishly expensive (*cough cough Travel*) or are as close to being free that it doesn’t matter.

Hmmmm.

I contacted the Mayor again. Long story short, he’s preparing a document for me to take to a financial planner outlining everything to do with my finances, future plans and goals – all of that stuff.

Turns out I’m going to be fine.

But the clock was ticking at school. Kids were making their subject selections for next year and staffing decisions were being made. I didn’t want to jerk the admin around – getting my job at that school was the single biggest reason that I was able to dig the boys and I out of poverty. I owe the school a lot.

So, once I sat with the decision to leave for a few days and I still felt comfortable with it, I rang my boss.

“OH NO!!” was her reaction. But when we talked about the hows and whys of why I was leaving, there was nothing much else for her to say. She’s not stupid – she knew I’d made my mind up.

So why am I leaving? It’s not simply fear of getting Covid.

F U money.

FU money is a big part of it. After surviving the years at home with pre-school boys when we had hardly two cents to rub together, I’ve been hard at work ever since to do my best to ensure that we were never in that position again.

I’ve reached the position where I feel I have enough.

Enough.

I still love being in the classroom. The kids I teach are lovely and they’re so funny! It’s a rare day when I haven’t had a good laugh in class. I like the idea of going out while I’m still having fun – it’s much better than being ‘that teacher’ – the one who’s hanging on grimly to the job because s/he can’t afford to leave.

What’s getting me down is the insidious increase of admin. As one colleague said to me recently, “Honestly Frogdancer, it feels more and more that we’re becoming data collectors instead of educators.” We’re expected to measure kids’ performances all the time, with results put on tables and studies and projections – maybe the Maths/Science people like it but for me ? For me it’s sucking the soul and the fun from the job.

If I still had a mortgage to pay or debts to get rid of, I’d be staying. If I didn’t have enough to support myself on in retirement, I’d be staying. As I said, I don’t hate everything about the job. Most days are very pleasant days.

But there’s enough on the dark side to make me feel that now is the time for me to leave.

Fortunate Frogdancer strikes again! Going part-time this year, then having to spend months at home on lockdown has shown me that I have plenty of interests to fill my days. As long as the world contains books, the internet, Netflix and the dogs, there’ll never be an excuse to be bored. Spring has begun and soon I’ll be out planting seeds and designing my front yard. Yesterday I ordered $400 worth of fruit trees to plant there. There’ll be fruit to pick, cook and eat for decades to come.

I can’t see overseas travel being a thing for the next couple of years at least, but that won’t stop me planning for my trips back to the UK and Europe when things settle down. After all, I haven’t been to Windsor Castle to see Henry VIII’s tomb yet! Of course, there’ll be domestic travel as our internal borders open back up, so I’ll be well-placed to take advantage of that. (And I won’t have to wait for the school holidays when prices go up and everything is crowded!!)

Yes, it’s a big change. In one way I’ve moved quickly but in another way – I’ve been writing about retirement and financial independence for as long as this blog has been around, and I’ve been thinking and planning for it well before then! This decision has been years in the making.

I’m looking forward to what the next stage in my life will bring.

Squirrel looking triumphant.
December 18 – Future Frogdancer.

34 Comments

  1. Aussie HIFIRE

    Congratulations on your impending retirement Frogdancer! No doubt it’ll be emotional walking out of the classroom for the last time, but on to doing what you want when you want!

    It’s interesting that you say that teaching is more like being a data collector, because I feel that in my eldest’s first year of school that we’ve received very little data at all about how he’s going, and certainly nothing quantifiable. No grades, a little bit of a progress report but nothing say how that compares to where he should be or where other kids in his grades are at. So from my perspective whatever data collecting is being done sure isn’t making it’s way to the parents.

    • FrogdancerJones

      I’m in secondary teaching, so maybe it’s different. This year has been a little strange with so much remote learning, so maybe your child’s school has pumped the brakes a bit, in order not to overwhelm the kids and their families.

  2. Cath

    I’m very happy for you – congratulations!

  3. Karen

    Frogdancer! Congratulations on making the decision, I am in complete agreement with you–you’ve done the work to be prepared financially, your passion for other projects clearly shows you are ready.

    I always fear that I will be one of those teachers that hang on because of money insecurity, my husband tells me no, I’ve done my absolute best saving, investing and being solvent. We do have enough if I really want to go. Knowing that helps me face this challenging school year in the U.S. There are so many, so many challenges ahead, I am not retiring today(!) but have left that option open.

    I rang up an old teaching colleague of mine who has been retired for 4 years to check in and ask how it felt, how badly does she miss it? Her reply, the first year is the hardest, she experienced some second guessing and regret and then other passion projects began lighting the way. I have a feeling you will never stop being a teacher, mentor, consultant and inspiration.
    So embrace the days you teach these remaining months, reflect on all you gave and all you received from those wonderful students. Congratulations.

    • FrogdancerJones

      If I was teaching in the US, my decision would have been so much easier – I wouldn’t feel safe going back into the classroom.
      I hope that you stay safe and have fun with the kids in your new school year.

  4. Shaun

    This is teh best post I have read from any one in a while.

    I can sense a whole bunchof emotions in your words and it just makes me feel good for you and the world in general.

    Well done – you deserve this!

    S

    • FrogdancerJones

      Thanks Shaun.
      Soon it’ll be you.

  5. Latestarterfire

    OMG, congratulations, Frogdancer! I’m so excited for you!!!

    You have worked so hard over the years to achieve this milestone, and as you wrote, 10 years ahead of traditional retirement age. Well done, you πŸ™‚ All those sacrifices, savings, delayed gratification, the courage and audacity to sell your home and geoarbitrage – it’s all worth it.

    And now onto doing what you truly love … I’m very happy for you – you so deserve this!

    • FrogdancerJones

      You won’t be far behind me.
      πŸ™‚

  6. Maureen

    So happy for you! I have been reading your blog for about 6 months (pandemic!) and when you said you were signing on for another year, I was surprised too. But I do know the treasure that financial security is, and figured you weren’t feeling that quite yet. I know you abhor maths, but the numbers can bring comfort and security as well (when they are big enough)! I’m looking forward to reading about your last 108 days and the freedom that comes after.

    • FrogdancerJones

      There’s no turning back now, covid or no covid!
      I’m looking forward to spending my days exactly as I want – so different to the scheduled life that a teacher leads.

  7. Kay

    Thrilled for you!! I love how you have designed your life and house and garden to enrich your retired life.. So much to learn…

  8. Ed

    Congratulations on the big decision! The power of having options. I chuckled when I read the part about expensive…we’re the same – travel is our big budget leak. You’ll be fine, and it sounds like you’ve got a great life ahead. Enjoy it – you’ve earned it!

    • FrogdancerJones

      Thanks Ed.
      One day this will be you and your wife!
      πŸ™‚

  9. heather

    Hello! I just found your blog; what a day to read your most recent post: congratulations! Serendipity inspired me to comment:
    1. I too had been planning to hang on to my job for one more year, but
    2. I recently decided December 18 will be my last day, and
    3. I’ll also be 10 years younger than the “normal” retirement age where I live.
    Cheers to us! πŸ˜€

  10. Kathy Aylward

    Congratulations on your decision and we were born in the same year!!….as you say you have been planning for this for years and having been at home for most of the year pottering around your home, making quilts, baking sourdough and teaching the kids from home it’s given you a great insight into being at home retired. How very exciting for you and part of the reason why work can be enjoyable is the social side of things so perhaps you might start up or join a book club, quilting group where you can do some sewing and chat once restrictions are eased of course. You deserve everything you have worked for and an amazing role model to those kids of yours. Congrats.

    • FrogdancerJones

      Once I get sick of the peace and quiet I’ll be looking for groups to join.
      Just don’t know how long I’ll be luxuriating in the silence first!

  11. Girt

    Wow FDJ! I’m so happy for you . You are such an inspiration and retiring with confidence and positivity is a new level of inspo.

    • FrogdancerJones

      Thanks Girt.
      I hope you and your family are coping ok with lockdown.
      Not long to go now before things start to loosen up a little (hopefully.)

  12. Jane in London

    Congratulations!πŸ™‚ what an exciting time for you. I retired three years ago, age 60 – which was 7 years ‘early’ – having ramped down to part-time work 4 years before that.

    It sounds like you’re mentally and physically prepared for the change, and I’ve no doubt it will go well. I can honestly say I have not missed work, even though I found it very satisfying at the time. Nothing beats having complete agency over your time!

    I am grateful every day for the financial choices I made (I discovered the idea of FIRE in my 40s) which have given me this freedom. I’m sure you feel just the same. Good for you!

    Jane in London

    • FrogdancerJones

      I love this sentence – “Nothing beats having complete agency over your time!”
      I’m looking forward to this.

  13. chasingfiredownunder

    Awesome! So happy for you! Especially love the perspective of counting up that you just have “47 working days to go!” You’ve certainly earned it after all these years.

    • FrogdancerJones

      I have a feeling those 47 days are going to slide by very quickly.

  14. Bev

    I’d be interested in how your plans include coping with net energy decline and climate change, not to mention financial collapse.

    • FrogdancerJones

      What could possibly go wrong??? LOL.
      My feeling is that we’ll all be dealing with those things – they’re not going to single me out as the only person going through them!
      I live near public transport, I have no debt, I have a garden and my needs are pretty few. I have a feeling I might survive better than most…

  15. Andrew

    I don’t think I have ever been to this other blog of yours before.
    I retired last year at the age of 62, which is five years short of receiving a government pension. I only have myself to support but I was so worried about the loss of income. One year later, I am doing ok and have a just adequate superannuation income. There was even money for holidays before we couldn’t have them any more.
    Fear not girlfriend. Your wants are modest and you live frugally. You will be fine.

    PS. I miss my workmates but little else about my job of 40 years.

    • FrogdancerJones

      Yes, I wonder about how I’ll go with the drop in social contact. But then again, I haven’t missed it terribly much during lockdown, so I think I’ll be fine.
      People. Who needs ’em??? LOL

  16. Lucinda Sans (POALB)

    Agency over your own time! Yep thats what I want. Time to potter. Especially in the garden. Can’t wait to hear about your fruit trees! Time to read and do bush walks around Sydney and go to the gym (don’t really like that but love that it has made me stronger and so I can garden without putting my back out) and do some language study.

    You’ve been so focused and consistent. Well done. I may try for 6 years earlier than normal retirement.

    • FrogdancerJones

      Nice. 6 years bought back. That’ll be fantastic.

  17. Flirby

    Awesome news … I still think a lot about your post about blogless Sandy and summoning the courage to do the same, but am not quite there mentally yet. But I read this and feel a little envious even though this could also be my reality.

    • FrogdancerJones

      For me, I had the niggling fear that giving up work would be too isolating, given that I’m single.
      2 lockdowns have shown me that I’ll be pretty happy pottering around here – there’s always something to do.

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