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.
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 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.
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!