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One year ago I was 3 weeks from early retirement (age 54 1/2). I found this board and posted my combination of excitement and concern at the prospect. More than a dozen people responded with encouragement and shared their own stories.

As my 1st year of retirement nears its end I want to report that it has been great. I intentionally avoided taking on too many new community activities until I got accustomed to retirement. I had planned to take a number of short trips the first year, but delay long trips until I found out how my budget was going to work. This part of the plan was altered when my mother died and I had to travel between Illinois and Pennsylvania all summer to clear out her house and handle the estate.

The stock market has thrown another wrench in my plans. I intended to take a long and expensive trip south this winter. Looked good until after Labor Day as my portfolio was up 15%. Today I'm down 7.5% and my SEPP withdrawal is going to be $4000 to $5000 less than I'd expected -- about what I'd planned to spend on the winter trip. So rather than dip into emergency cash I think the prudent thing is to delay the trip until next winter. I have a number of other trips planned later in the year and will still be able to take them. Meanwhile, I don't mind winter nearly as much when I don't have get out to work on stormy days.

The great thing about retirement has been the flexibility to set my own schedule and do things on a whim. Rather it's playing golf, going somewhere for the day, or just reading on the front porch, I can do what I want, when I want, for the first time in my life. And there's so much to do I wonder, like most retirees, when I ever found time to work.

I highly recommend early retirement to anyone with the financial means to do it. I made the move five years sooner than I'd planned and had to scale back my plans a little to make the finances work. But those extra five years are going to be priceless, and I should still be able to do some of the more expensive things I'd planned in my early 60's.

Thanks to everyone who encouraged me a year ago. You were right!

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The great thing about retirement has been the flexibility to set my own schedule and do things on a whim. Rather it's playing golf, going somewhere for the day, or just reading on the front porch, I can do what I want, when I want, for the first time in my life. And there's so much to do I wonder, like most retirees, when I ever found time to work.

Hi Billjam,

After 15 months into my retirement, I could not have said it any better!

Fool on!
Aljo
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I made the move five years sooner than I'd planned and had to scale back my plans a little to make the finances work. But those extra five years are going to be priceless, ...

This sure put a perspective on it.

I'm not yet retired, but I will do so when my son is ready to move out, probably in a couple of years. I'm not setting a paticular financial goal any more. I'll simply make it work with what I have at that time.

The reason I'm waiting for him to move out is that I want to be here for him and put him through college, which he started this year. Once I retire I'll sell the house and travel in my motorhome for a couple years until I find where I want to live. Now that's freedom!

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I enjoyed your post. I plan to retire on May 1 2002. Right now I am overwhelmed by the plans and concerns assocaited with this. I emailed the post to my wife and we both felt encouraged by your post. Sometimes you get so caught up in the details that you forget the good stuff. Thank You!!!!
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billjam,
Thanks for your post. My experience after my first year of retirement/career change at 55 was similar. The most significant learning I would pass on to those considering taking the leap would be that I was surprised and pleased by the way we were able to lower our cost of living without lowering the standard of living. Wonders what you can do when you have the time. By the way my approach has been to do some teaching and some consulting at keep some level of positive cash flow, certainly less than 1/2 time.
Alandmim
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