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Tuesday, 7 February 2017

I'm buying free time

I've been called some uncomplimentary things, some in jest, some a little more viciously. The worst experience was having a good friend constantly calling me cheap in that joking-not-joking voice. I'm constantly having to remind myself that I'm not squirreling money away so I can fall asleep on a bed of cash. I'm simply buying back my free time.

Remember Christmas when you were a kid? You wake up in the morning, unwrap presents, and whatever toy you got you would spend the entire day playing with. I would read a whole book in a day because I could. Or get a new video game and play it for three days straight. I would regularly forget to eat and when I stood up for dinner the blood would drain out of my head and the room would spin a bit. Because I was a kid, and I didn't need to think about doing the laundry so I had clean clothes for work. Or going on a baking spree to make sure I had lunches and snacks prepped for the work week. I didn't have a nagging voice in the back of my head telling me I should consider using my time to learn more about coding, or updating my resume so I can get ahead at work.

A huge element of my focus on FIRE is to get back to those days. I don't think I'll ever have that childish freedom of barely eating or cleaning for days on end, but I want that nagging voice in my head to go away. If I decide to code up a calculator or two, I want to enjoy the process of making it, and the experience of learning without thinking about if I could leverage that to get ahead at work. I want to disappear into video games for hours at a time without coming out the other end with a vague sense of guilty anxiety about time wasted.

I don't picture my post retirement life spent in dirty track pants inhaling chips and watching daytime television. I don't consider that enjoyable now, so why would I do it post retirement. I also believe golf is the most boring false sport I've ever heard of. But post retirement I look forward to putting a full weekend into building a new chicken coop, and then spending Monday sleeping in and pottering around the house. Sleeping in on a Monday! And then doing another 'weekend project' Tuesday and Wednesday, because why not!

I'm normally quite introverted. After spending a couple of hours with friends playing board games, or just eating cheese and drinking wine, I desperately want some alone time. Once everyone leaves I don't feel deflated by the loss. If the visit was too long for me I almost feel relieved when my friends leave. These are people I really like spending time with, but I'm still relieved when they leave.

So last weekend, when I spent Friday night through to Sunday afternoon with my sports team, I was exhausted. I even took an hour to sit and read a book on Saturday morning, but by midnight Saturday I was ready to call it quits and went to bed early (early for party night anyway! Friday I made it till about 4am). While I had an amazing weekend, and I'll do it all over again next year, and I've been going to this camp for five years, it doesn't feel like a weekend to me. I didn't recharge.

My weekend recharge is normally games, books, maybe a little writing or building something, and a bit of baking or cleaning. Yes I complained about those things at the start, but those contained tasks like cleaning or baking give me a chance to reset, recharge, create something small and simple and satisfying. Without them in my weekend I don't feel rested.

So on top of my post-retirement life being full of learning and creating, I also picture it being so much more social than now. With all my free-time squarely back in my hands, and not belonging to my employer, I'll be able to fit in the boring adult tasks, the irresponsible 14hour gaming days, the learning new skills and I'll still have the energy in my social batteries to spend time with friends.

I could avoid being called cheap by trying to fix these things by buying stuff. Advertising constantly tells me I would be happier and more fulfilled if I bought some mysterious time saving gadget so I could squeeze in the cooking, and cleaning and socialising and relaxing. I think that's bollocks. I'd rather save my money and buy back the years of my life, than spend on a few moments of manufactured 'joy'.


  1. Mr. Crazy Kicks and I also have friends who force us to go to hip restaurants to show us what we're "missing" and make joking-not-joking jabs. Well, who's laughing now? Mwahahahahaaaah! Our days sound as you described. We work on home projects, recipes, beer, music, dance moves... Hang in there. I can tell your chicken coop is going to be fantastigreat.

    1. Egads, hipster restaurants, simultaneously the best and worst things. I've been to some that have done beautiful food for cheaps, and some that seem to be charging merely for the privilege of being in their company! They're so hit and miss, I'd rather settle for coffee at home. I think I could feed three friends for the price of a hipster latte.


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