Welcome to Your Retirement Test Drive

Welcome to Your Retirement Test DriveHey everyone, I realize we are all going through a stressful period right now. Some of us are more fortunate and can handle this disruption without too much trouble. But many of us have to deal with illness and/or loss of income. My tone on this post might not be appropriate for some readers so don’t take it too seriously. You should skip this if you’re having a really difficult time with the lockdown.

So, how are you dealing with the COVID-19 lockdown? It’s April 2nd and about 80% of US residents are ordered to shelter in place. A month ago, social distancing would sound like a cruel April fool’s joke. Now, it’s all too real. Kate Brown, Oregon’s governor, ordered Oregonians to shelter at home 9 days ago on March 23rd. Our son’s school shut down on March 13th so we’re a bit early with social distancing. In total, it’s been 20 days of lockdown for us. Well, we didn’t lock down complete that first week. Our son played with a friend and we went grocery shopping a couple of times. But we have been taking social distance really seriously since then.


Lockdown routine

Lockdown means we are mostly at home. Mrs. RB40 is working from home and RB40Jr is out of school. I’m usually home anyway so it’s not a big change for me physically. I go grocery shopping alone once every 10 days or so. RB40Jr and I go out for fresh air almost every day, though. He is a rambunctious boy so we need to get out of the house a bit. We ride our bikes, practice basketball drills in an empty parking lot nearby, work in the garden, or just walk around the neighborhood. We stay 6 feet away from people so it should be okay. Mrs. RB40 hasn’t left our home for about 10 days. She gets fresh air while doing yard work.

Here is Junior on one of our walks around the neighborhood.

We’re dealing with the lockdown pretty well for the most part. Mrs. RB40 has a ton of projects on the back burner so she’s very happy with the extra time at home. She’s also a super introvert, so she doesn’t mind staying away from other people. RB40Jr misses his friends, but he’s ecstatic about not going to school. Our district is moving to online learning for the rest of this year so we’ll have to adapt to homeschooling. Surprisingly, I’m the one that’s having the most trouble adjusting to our new lockdown routine. Everyone is home 24/7 and I don’t have any alone time. I’m also a horrible teacher. I don’t have the patience to deal with a whiny kid. Just do your school work and get it over with already! I can’t wait for things to go back to normal so these two can go back to work/school.

How about you? Are you having a hard time with the lockdown?

Retirement test drive

People, I got bad news. Social distancing is your retirement test drive. This is life in retirement, on hard mode*. If you can’t deal with this, you are not ready for retirement. They aren’t exactly the same, but there are many similarities. Let’s go through some of them.

*hard mode – If you ever played classic video games, you’d know that they were a lot harder back then. Modern video games are really easy unless you play in the hard mode.

Loss of income

The obvious problem with retirement is the loss of income. Even if you retire at 67 and qualify for Social Security Benefits, it is still a reduction of income. This is what many workers are going through right now. Workers who lost their jobs can file for unemployment benefits, but the amount is much smaller than their regular income. (We’ll ignore the extra $600/week from the stimulus. That’s only temporary.) Also, unemployment benefits will run out at some point. I hope COVID-19 will be under control by then.

If you’re really struggling with your finance right now, you probably aren’t ready for retirement. You need to save and invest more so you can live comfortably on your passive income.

Social life reduction

Another big issue with retirement is a big reduction in social connection. These days, we spend so much time at work that it becomes a major social outlet. Once you retire, you will lose touch with most of your coworkers. Even if you have good friends at work, it’s hard to stay in touch. They’re busy with their own things and don’t have time to come hang out with you. It’s a big change. You will have to make friends outside of work.

Of course, social distancing is a harsher sentence because you’re not supposed to socialize with anyone at all. Well, no talking within 6 feet. You could socialize, but you really have to watch yourself. Anyway, we rarely talk to anyone while in lockdown. Retirement isn’t like lockdown every day, but there are many days like this. So if you can’t handle a few weeks of minimal human interaction, retirement might not be for you.

Keeping busy

It seems a lot of people are going stir crazy after a week in lockdown. They spend a lot of time in front of screens and they are bored out of their mind. Mrs. RB40 isn’t like that. She is busy trying to catch up with all her projects.

  • Origami
  • Gardening
  • Rearranging the house
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Reading
  • Baking
  • Keeping the peace at homeschool
  • Etc…

Easter got canceled so Mrs. RB40 used the eggs to start some seeds instead.

Easter eggs

She loves having more time to do all these things and she doesn’t understand what people are complaining about. This is your chance to catch up on all the stuff you don’t have time to do.

I think this lockdown is a great predictor of how enjoyable your retirement will be. If you’re bored out of your mind, you will have a difficult transition. On the other hand, retirement should be smooth if you’re enjoying this extra time at home.

Cooking at home

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic forced restaurants to shut down or change to take-out only. Many workers are used to eating out, but now they have to cook at home. This is good practice anyway. Cooking at home is healthier and more affordable. Life didn’t change for us because we eat most of our meals at home already. We usually go out just a few times per month. For now, we’ll cook our meals at home until the lockdown is over. I got a few take-out orders earlier to support local restaurants, but I’m really paranoid now. Mrs. RB40 has a preexisting condition so we’re taking extra precautions to avoid any unnecessary contact.

Anyway, this is a good time to learn how to cook. There are tons of recipe videos on YouTube. You can see some of our videos on YouTube – Eat by 40. Enjoy!

Family 24/7

I always suspected that being at home 24/7 with Mrs. RB40 and Junior would drive me nuts. This lockdown proved it. I need some space and alone time. This is the first time I wish we have a bigger house. However, this problem is mainly due to work and homeschooling. Mrs. RB40 brings home the bacon so I don’t want to disturb her work. She’s on Zoom pretty often so we have to watch ourselves. Also, RB40Jr is very resistant to school work. It’s been quite difficult to get him to focus and do just a little bit of learning every day. I’m sure most parents are having the same problem. (Homeschooling is hell. I have no idea why anyone would do this willingly.)

If this was a real retirement, Mrs. RB40 wouldn’t be working, so the home life should be a lot smoother. Also, Junior will go to college at some point. That should make retirement life easier too. 😉

Keep healthy

Lastly, it isn’t easy to stay healthy in retirement. I know we’re all living like a germaphobic hermit, so that’s helpful for keeping sickness out, but I doubt many of us are getting regular exercise these days. We also keep snacking when we shouldn’t! Everything is within easy reach.

When I was working full-time, I used to go workout during lunchtime. That was a great routine. I could decompress a bit and exercise got my heart pumping. After early retirement, I went to the gym for a while and then transitioned to working out at home. In lockdown, I get my exercise by dragging our son outside to get some fresh air.

Are you getting some exercise? You could go for a bike ride or just walk around the neighborhood. As long as you keep your distance while you’re outside, it should be fine.

How’s your retirement test drive?

Actually, early retirement is way easier than being in lockdown. There are some similarities, though. If you like your coworkers and enjoy your job, then you probably should keep working. Retirement can wait. On the other hand, if you don’t mind the lockdown lifestyle, you should shoot for the FIRE lifestyle. Early retirement is not for everybody, but it’s really great for some of us.

What do you think? Do you still want to retire after reading this post? Or will you keep working and avoid retirement for as long as you can? 

Keep your distance and stay healthy.

One good thing to come out of this lockdown is I’ll never have to buy kimchi again. My DIY kimchi is awesome!


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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, the job became too stressful and Joe retired from his engineering career to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. Today, he blogs about financial independence, early retirement, investing, and living a frugal lifestyle.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is increasing his investment in real estate with CrowdStreet. He can invest in projects across the U.S. and diversify his real estate portfolio. There are many interesting projects available so sign up and check them out.

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help DIY investors analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.

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Originally posted at https://retireby40.org/welcome-to-your-retirement-test-drive/

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