The dangers of getting close to retirement: “Yeah, I’ll do that when I’m retired!”

The other day, my wife asked me to take out the trash. My response: “Yeah, I’ll do that when I’m retired!” We both got a pretty good laugh out of that one. After I took out the trash (pre-retirement, obviously), we realized that our planned retirement date, hopefully in early 2018, creates all sorts of inefficiencies; I catch us procrastinating already! YIDTWIR=”Yeah, I’ll do that when I’m retired!” Are they the seven most dangerous words for the approaching-FIRE crowd?

Procrastination is as old as humanity and if there weren’t enough temptations to postpone stuff already, a retirement date in the near future is the mother of all reasons: Procrastination-palooza! Think about how much procrastination an absolutely arbitrary date like January 1 creates: “I’ll quit smoking/go to the gym/work less/work more/etc. in the New Year!” The main reason for New Year’s resolutions is that they give you cover – a guilt-free, chain-smoking, TV-binge-watching couch potato existence between late October and December 31. There is absolutely nothing magical about January 1 but it still creates New Year’s resolutions. And, of course, resolutions are never broken but just postponed to January 1 of the next-next year.

But an upcoming retirement date is different in that you will actually have more time on your hands.

Maybe procrastination is a totally rational thing to do. You know, shift some tasks to the first few weeks of retirement to ease the transition. So we don’t feel bored with all that newfound time on your hands.

Procrastination: And it seems totally rational!

But it’s still procrastination and we feel bad about it! Here are all the areas where we caught ourselves using the YIDTWIR excuse:


I’m in reasonably good physical shape. In good enough shape that, a few weeks ago, I was able to hike through the Grand Canyon from North to South Rim in one day (more on that in a future post!). In terms of endurance and cardio exercise, I have always stayed in shape. But I should do more. Some strength training would do me good, which is the perennial advice I have been hearing from my doctor. Just not right now because there is the perfect reason to delay it. It’s called YIDTWIR! If I had 20+ more years in the workforce ahead of me, I might have as well started now, but with the impending retirement date, I can be a couch potato for 15-18 more months, right? No worries!

Eating well

Eating well takes effort. My wife cooks delicious and nutritious dinners at home, so I’m not too worried about that aspect, but work lunches are a different story entirely. Too much food, too many carbs, too greasy, and probably lots of MSG, too. If I knew I had to eat this for another 20 years I would probably change my ways. 15-18 more months? My liver can probably handle that!

Staying in touch with family and friends

Do we really want to visit the in-laws this coming Christmas? Deal with the long lines at the airport during the holiday season, flight delays, bad weather and too much food? There’s is the YIDTWIR excuse again: we’re going to spend so much time with my mom, my wife’s parents and our siblings and their families once we pull the plug on the corporate job. Why go through the hassle now when I still got a busy corporate career? (Just to be sure: Traveling and the hassle surrounding it would be the hassle/chore here, not the family). There is a danger, of course. Folks don’t get any younger. We’re all on borrowed time here and by the time we retire we might regret not having spent more time with our loved ones. Among all the different examples of procrastination, this is the most serious one and we’ll try our best to not to mess this one up.


A lot of household chores are left behind. That pile of papers on my desk or the overflowing walk-in closet? Clutter everywhere is smiling at me and I just smile back. YIDTWIR! Some folks with more discipline than us can do it, but a retirement date in the near future and a move to a different state on the horizon sound like the perfect excuses to delay this chore. Until then, I should enjoy my free time after work and on the weekends, right? And then just combine the decluttering with the moving in early 2018!

Getting rid of money-suckers

The clutter that literally sits in our closets also lurks, figuratively speaking, in our finances. Cable TV is still running. We still have a car even though we could have gotten rid of it a while ago and switched to a Zipcar. Complacency and procrastination become a lot easier when you know there is a natural breakpoint in the future to finally get things in order. How about buying lunches at work instead of bringing food from home? Or that $3 a day coffee habit? YIDTWIR! Who cares, because 15-18 more months of this will not make or break our FIRE ambitions! Of course, the danger is that if things don’t pan out as planned, whether it’s a stock market crash or the condo value tanks, we would have wasted precious resources.

Read more

I have to read a lot at work. I also like to follow the blogs on our blogroll. But sometimes I can’t even keep up with that. How likely am I to pick up a book? Whether it’s re-reading some of the classics or picking up a new book, it may not happen before retirement. Others can do it. But my list of must-read books gets longer and longer and I might have to read a book a day for a while after I retire. But then again: it’s not a bad way to spend my early retirement. Inexpensive fun, too!

Fellow-FIRE planners: What tasks do you postpone in light of all that free time you’ll soon have? Current FIRE crowd: how was the transition? Did you have to continue working 50 hour weeks during early retirement just to catch up with all the left-over tasks? We like to hear your comments!

15 thoughts on “The dangers of getting close to retirement: “Yeah, I’ll do that when I’m retired!”

  1. A great read, ERN. Some much-needed levity. And thank you for the couple of shouts – most, most appreciated! Did a punishing leg day in the gym this morning for no reason whatsoever. (Insert here: “Squats aren’t real until the bar curves, bro” and other hard-core gym cliches.)

    I recall your mention of the GC hike, and I look forward to the upcoming post detailing it!

    As you know, Team Libre isn’t one to sit still for real long. New adventures, tasks, projects and fun stuff have filled in the gaps left by the elimination of ~80+ hours per week of work for each of me and Lady. Eighty hours here, eighty hours there, and pretty soon we’re talking about real time…! We also have tended to some daily things with more care than we could previously “afford.” Then there’s Little Libre, who hasn’t yet celebrated birthday uno. Turns out babies don’t just run on autopilot… So filling the time certainly hasn’t been a problem! Yes, some of the stuff we do you could call “deferred” in a way, but lots of it has simply manifested because of FIRE. You know: Stuff we didn’t know we didn’t know about.

    Now I have to go back to spending the rest of the day trying to figure out all the stuff I didn’t know I didn’t know about the world. And maybe some more deadlifts. And maybe read a book en route to the Bebelplatz.

    1. Thanks FL! Yes, the kid keeps us busy too. I didn’t know your kid was so young. That’s priceless to see the Jr. grow up with more time on your hands. Our daughter is 3 and will be 4 when we plan to retire. Can’t wait to spend 2 more years at home with the kid before she heads to school!

      About the Grand Canyon hike, I will post that in two weeks, so stay tuned everybody! 🙂

  2. Hey, ERN

    Wish I could read more but with a ton of reading to do at work, this activity goes down the priority list unfortunately. We do tons of things right now that we intend just to ramp up in FIRE. e.g skiing, hiking.
    More traveling is of course on the cards….within budget, naturally…..

    Today is a hard day for doing much of anything…. :>(

    1. Thanks, Mr. PIE for sharing! Let’s all start a book club when we retire. 🙂
      And let’s all cheer up about the election result. So far Trump proved everybody wrong. He won’t run? Wrong. He can’t win the nomination? Wrong. He can’t win the general election? Wrong. He can’t be a good president? Maybe that’s wrong, too. The stock market, at least, seems to think the world will go on.

  3. Hey! I came here to get away from all the election talk. That’s what every other website on the internet is for.

    I’m fully guilty of figuring I’ll put things off until I have more time. I’ve also read that if it’s not a habit now, it probably won’t be later on. I know it will be easier to do so many things when I take away the demands of working full time, but now is the time to start forming those habits, and start being more efficient with my time.


    1. Yeah, let’s stay away from the election talk! Glad to see that others too will follow that smooth transition (“natura non facit saltus”) into retirement, slight procrastination now, then some left-over tasks later. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I think there is something to be said about coasting into retirement. For instance, taking a job with less responsibilities and more flexible hours and thereby provide more time for retirement type activities, etc. I’m not sure yet if that’ll be the path I take, but I’m leaning toward it. The other benefit it provides is still earning a paycheck and providing optionality if retirement isn’t what you thought it would be or the market tanks, etc.

    Thanks for the post!

  5. We have a garage in our rental property half full of junk from my pre-FI days. I went and cleaned up a bit but made very little progress still. If we’re ready to pull the plug on retirement by summer of 2018, hopefully I’ll get it cleaned up in the spring. 🙂

  6. Great read… no task are postponed yet till retirement as that is quite far away…
    I do consider spending more money on Family vacation as from 2017. That will make retirement even more far away… and it is intentional!

  7. We are about 5 years from FIRE and I already find myself saying that. I want to join an amateur concert band again, learn to play piano, create epic kayak and hiking adventures, more volunteering, etc…Sometimes it feels like we’re putting life on hold while these pesky careers are wrapping up.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.