Tuesday, July 19, 2011

If You Don't Work...What Do You Do?

First, someone asked me this very question today.  "If you aren't working, what do you do with all of your time?" she asked.  Then I ran across this blog post which mentioned the same thing, basically, one of the three requirements for retiring is that you must be able to enjoy living without working.  Since I haven't worked in nearly eight months, I think I have pretty much got the hang of not working.  Surprisingly, it does take some getting used to! 
Who would have thought that not working can take some effort as, for many people, being able to retire is that idealized state that many people aim for thinking that it would be so easy to live a life of leisure and do nothing at all.  Now, however, I am so busy I don't know how I would actually fit eight hours of work into my hectic day, but it is probably quite different than what most people assume you do when you retire (hint: you won't find me playing golf or lunching with the ladies, I can't afford it!). 
Here's how I fill a typical day:
  • Wake up about 8am or 9am (without an alarm clock which is the best part of all).
  • Clean up the house, or in our case as we are traveling, our room.  Do laundry occasionally.
  • Drink my tea while I check email and the other dozen or so websites that I frequent.
  • Shower and get ready to go.
  • Drop hubby off at the casino for his morning poker game.  While he is playing, I will do errands, pick up some groceries, check the mail, etc.
  • Volunteer at my old non profit for a couple of hours on Mondays and Tuesdays.
  • Study Japanese for at least an hour each day, sometimes two, usually in the coffee shop of the casino while he plays (and where I get free beverages. Now if I could just convince them to provide free wi-fi and better lighting I would be set!).
  • Eat lunch with hubby at the casino (they provide a free lunch for poker players so we split his lunch which is plenty for both of us).
  • Go home in the afternoon.  During this time, hubby cooks dinner for the family we are staying with and I update my blogs and websites.
  • In the early evening hubby might play another poker game with his friends or we may go to the movie at the military base ($3 each), watch a concert on the Boardwalk (free), or take a walk on the beach or local trail (also free).
  • If hubby is playing poker with his friends in the early evening, I might meet up with my friends, go to Barnes and Noble and read, stop by the library to get some books, take my friend's kids somewhere (playground, swimming, etc), or work on a project (I'm working on a book v....e...r...y slowly). 
  • On the weekend, we tend to look for free activities that are going on in the community.  Last weekend, I did some baking and we went to a potluck birthday party for a niece.  Next weekend there is a community fair which should provide some nice, free entertainment.
And this is what I have learned about being job-free:
  • You can't pick up shopping as a hobby or do any other type of expensive hobby since you no longer have the income coming in to support such things.  In our case, our choice is to either live frugally with lots of free entertainment or go back to work in order to afford expensive entertainment.  I choose frugal!
  • By not having a job to go to every day, I save a LOT of money.  No more work wardrobe, no more filling up the gas tank every few days to drive to far away meetings, no more morning (and afternoon!) Starbucks runs, no more designer everything to show off to my co-workers, no more business lunches out at fancy restaurants.
  • Since we have a super flexible schedule, we can do lots of interesting things at the drop of a hat.  In Atlanta, we ended up staying a few extra months when the opportunity presented itself.  When my sister-in-law asked if we wanted to go to Las Vegas if she provided free transportation and lodging we quickly jumped at the opportunity.  We didn't hear about the party last weekend until the last minute but with no real schedule, we could drop what we were doing and go.
I still do like working however, and eventually I may open another business.  I am also looking forward to the possibility of working some short-term jobs in Las Vegas (there are a lot of conventions such as the Consumer Electronics Show and World Series of Poker that hire vendors for short-term jobs for the duration of the event--I think it would be super interesting to work with such diverse groups of people), but I have come to the conclusion, however, that the American Dream isn't all it is cracked up to be.  By downsizing our lives considerably, getting rid of the 9-5 job, getting rid of the big house and yard and 2.6 cars in the driveway, we have been able to enjoy so many more interesting opportunities.  I would highly recommend "retirement" to everyone.


  1. I'm currently not working, but it's just temporary until school reopens. Like teachers, I have the summer off, but I'm not bored. With a house, yard and 4 pets, I have plenty to do! I do have to be careful not to spend a lot of money or I will be working just to pay off summer debt when I go back. I've made this mistake in the past. I've realized that only thing I really have to buy is food....and kitty litter. :)

  2. Hi Lorraine, I think it is fortunate that our selling everything and traveling coincided with my quitting work otherwise I would have still been in high spending mode and probably would have ended up broke! I never thought about teachers having the same issue--if you don't have eight hours of work to take up your day it could be easy to spend that time shopping! Hope you enjoy the rest of the summer before heading back to work!

  3. I just saw this article/headline and thought of you! Is it really chilly in Seattle?

  4. Yep! It's about 58 degrees and raining today in Seattle. It's so cold here!!!

  5. I'm trying to get to my 'retirement' state, which, for me just means being able to set my own schedule. I would love to be a house flipper. If I could afford it, right now would be the ideal time to buy. Ideally, I would love to buy distressed homes and renovate them while living in them, then sell after 2 years and keep the profit.

    That would be 'retirement' for me.

  6. What?! No soaps & bonbons?!? ;) lol! Great post! Being a stay at home mom some people figure I have all the time in the world... Pft! If only! lol!