Life Update – July 2021

We had a big change at the Exacting House this month. Rom retired from his job! He had been increasingly unhappy there and knew he wouldn’t stay another 8 years to age 65. He saved half his take-home pay “FIRE-style” for the past 5 years. His savings will pay all his expenses and a “personal allowance” until his various pensions become available. It’s possible Rom will look for supplementary income, but it isn’t strictly required. He much preferred his 10+ years of self-employment to working for a corporation. The firm put the minimum amount of money into HR and infrastructure, in order to maximize profits. Eventually he felt he was doing the workload of 3 people. They were OK with letting him walk, rather than change working conditions for staff. Capitalism at its finest!

I bet many of you are thinking it won’t be long until I throw in the towel because I’ll want to be home too. No, my timeline for retirement is the same as before, 3 to 5 years. My financial considerations include my earliest civil service pension date, the earliest date I would want or need to take CPP, when to start drawing on RRSP and LIRA funds, investment returns, and the availability of supplementary health insurance. I appreciate having a salary and continuing savings for a few more years. Besides the financial aspect, I like my work and feel I can contribute there. It’s my career and a source of self-worth, not just a job. I’m not being exploited!

That would only change if I had an irreversible change in health, or if I had to assume full-time care of a loved one. I know these things happen, given the experiences of so many of my peers.

Our lifestyle won’t change in the near future. Neither of us has or had many work-related expenses. You might remember that Rom and I contribute equally to household expenses and keep the rest of our money completely separate.

That has helped us make our independent work/retirement decisions, knowing the other is completely OK. For example, I didn’t have to reduce my spending to fund Rom’s early retirement, and our monthly household budget includes an amount for any big home maintenance projects that come up. If we had planned a shared retirement date in a few years’ time and he opted out of that plan to retire early, it might have messed up my retirement too (for example, if one of our retirements had been dependent on the other making spousal RRSPs). Not a typical scenario but it worked out great for us. You might say we were on parallel journeys.

Rom had developed dangerously high blood pressure in his last few months of work. He got that under control and he spent his first month of retirement at home relaxing. I have no concerns about him being at home every day; he is fully able to occupy himself! I have enjoyed seeing him become himself again and the return of his sense of humour. I don’t mind if he gloats a bit on sunny days 😊

In other health news, we’ve both had our two Covid shots and Link has had their first.  I’m really excited to know we are unlikely to be hospitalized or die from Covid, yay! Even before the Delta variant showed up, people in our province got lax and we had a big uptick in cases, leading to another lockdown from April 26 to June 16. That seems to have done the trick and we’re now gradually loosening restrictions. Our family had a Fathers’ Day barbecue and a campfire after not being able to meet as a group for 8 weeks, so we are thankful for everyone’s good behaviour.

You will have read or heard about the victims of Canada’s residential schools being found in unmarked graves. There were 132 schools operating for over 100 years. The death toll, once calculated, will be staggering. We always knew that, but no one was willing to face it until the physical evidence was literally unearthed. It’s time for justice for the survivors. If everyone in Canada had equal rights (and the resources to make it so), our country would look and feel very different. I want us to get there.

Meanwhile, especially in these Covid times, I’m in my own little bubble. I‘ve been doing lots of gardening, reading, and watching movies from my unwatched DVD stack. I hope you are all well and you’ll tell me what you’ve been thinking about and doing.

16 comments

  1. Best wishes on your continued retirement planning. As for the devastating news about the many deceased in unmarked graves, this an atrocity. Unfortunately, the US has its share of genocides and maltreatment of others. We must learn the lessons of history to avoid it happening again. Here, we have many who want to white wash history erasing all of the inconvenient stuff. We must never do that and shine a spotlight on the dreadful stories.

  2. Love reading FIRE stories and people’s different approaches to it. Having next year off has pushed back my thoughts of retirement but after a year off, I may want to FIRE up!

    The news of the indigenous deaths (murders) is horrific. What is it with colonialism!!! In many ways Australian and Canadian history runs parallel.

    • Lucinda, do you have a date in mind to retire? How many years?

      I agree there are a lot of parallels between Canadian and Australian history, especially when it comes to Aboriginal peoples, land grants, settlement etc. In high school now, the history of colonialism is taught. When I was in school, we would be taught about the British empire, the spice trade, etc. but always from the “terra nullius” perspective, i.e. the lands were essentially unoccupied until they were “discovered,” or the original inhabitants needed to be subdued, improved or exterminated 😦

  3. Juhli

    As old atrocities are rediscovered new ones are being committed elsewhere which is so sad and rather daunting. In the US it seems we still have two separate countries that parallel the Civil War lines.

    I am one of those who suddenly retired from a toxic workplace due to illness at 55 and once recovered found it impossible to return to my previous income. Fortunately it all worked out. It sounds like you are both well positioned financially and attitudinally to move forward in a new lifestyle. Congratulations on starting a new phase of your life journey together and on getting your COVID shots.

    • Thanks, Juhli! I am still reading your blog regularly but find it very difficult to comment due to the old Blogger/WordPress incompatibilities. I hope you are recovering well. I have found your retirement journey inspiring.

      I’ve often thought about what would have to happen to address the injustices Aboriginal peoples have experienced. Two reports were presented to the government which propose exactly that. Getting commitment and funding to make it happen are the issue.

  4. Huge congratulations to Rom! I’m sorry his company is so callously dismissive of their people but glad for him that he was able to save enough to save himself. That’s a big deal.

    My job is good in a lot of ways but I find myself feeling so burnt on all sides that I wish I could release something from my responsibilities, like work! Unfortunately I’m nowhere near the point of FI so I’ll have to keep that as a daydream and a long term plan. We’re still relatively hunkered down but have started seeing people a little bit more, still masked. I miss my people dreadfully some days but don’t know how to navigate mixed company when people aren’t vaccinated and aren’t necessarily masked.

    I’ve been watching the discoveries of children at the residential schools in horror but sadly not surprise. We still treat First Nations people horribly today, and so there is a tremendous moral debt owed by both our nations to the Indigenous people. It’s heartbreaking and appalling.

    • Hi Revanche, I feel like my non-work responsibilities are light at the moment so work fits in well. You will get there! I know what you mean about “mixed company.” I am not sure how we’re going to navigate that at work meetings. We are able to work at home until Aug 31 and I don’t think it will be extended. As to how we treat First Nations people today, this week’s headline said a lot: “BC admits communications with First Nations during Lytton (forest) fire ‘didn’t live up to expectations.'” (Emergency management evacuated townspeople from Lytton but not the surrounding First Nations communities) 😢

  5. H P

    Congratulations to Rom! That is so exciting. I’m leaning towards February for my “FIRE” date, but will likely pursue other paid employment in the future. Just not at a big corporation, and I don’t want to have to work. It will be optional

    • Hi HP, I have been following your journey! You are on a good path. I didn’t expect you to stay at work as long as you have, but you have made it “work” for you. Work-optional is the best!

  6. I ran away from my toxic workplace almost 13 years ago now! I loathed the idea of getting up every day and making decisions I fundamentally disagreed with. I leapt into the job I am doing now (that I’ve been doing since) with no idea what I was doing and a plan to “give it a year” at which point I would decide to stay or go. I am pretty sure they hired me on the basis of my scintillating personality and witty repartee rather than my actual skill set, but it worked out okay in the end cos I’m still here!

    My kids are still doing education (well, Chaos is having a gap year, but we’re still supporting him to a certain extent as he’s only working 20-25 hours a week) and I keep taking up expensive hobbies. My plan is to keep working as long as they’ll have me, and wind down to a couple of days a week once the kids are through school. Reg is a tiny bit younger than me, so if we’re to retire at the same age, I’m more likely to keep working for a bit and he might end up finishing before he’s 65.

    • Hi missmaudy, So, whether intentionally or not, you have a “next career”! One that you plan to stick with for a long time. It sounds like you are comfortable working for a number of years and you don’t dread the thought. Not many can say that. I like that you mention expensive hobbies because funding “lifestyle” is certainly one of the benefits of working longer!

  7. Jean Birch-Leonard

    You sound as though you have planned your retirement impeccably. I have just resigned from my paid job but I’m looking forward to starting in a voluntary position in a couple of weeks. It feels good to take a step back sometimes and analyse waht we are doing and why.
    best
    Jean

    • Hi Jean, Do you have a blog? It would be good to know how you are doing! I daydream about the kinds of volunteering I can do when I retire. It’s one of the things I look forward to most!

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