Fall is here!
Summer’s over, fall is here, and there’s an unmistakable chill in the air. So much has happened in the Eat Sleep Breathe FI household and it’s time to share another very long update!
Back to (in-person) school
After more than two years of learning online, our kids have finally returned to in-person school. It’s been good so far, but things started off a little bumpy. Both boys needed course changes, which meant a lot of back and forth with their grade counsellors.
In the end, we managed to get them into the classes they needed, but this resulted in new schedules for each kid—Kid 1 has a different schedule every day, and Kid 2 has a consistent schedule, but it’s different from Kid 1’s! As a result, there’s not a whole lot of routine to our school routine! 😅
All of this has been tricky to navigate, but it’s still been the least-stressful back-to-school season for me yet! That’s largely thanks to M being retired, which means we can share the load to take care of kid and dog needs, school stuff, and chores together. (Yet another benefit of FIRE!)
We’re now over a month into the school year, and the boys have fully settled into their school routine. They enjoy their classes and are happy to see their friends and teachers again. They still miss learning online but are happy to return to in-person learning.
Here’s hoping the rest of the school year continues to go well!
COVID finally hits us
After nearly three years, we finally had to deal with COVID in our house! 😫 Kid 1 caught it in the first week of school, then Kid 2 caught it soon after. These were literally the first illnesses any of us have had since we locked down in March 2020.
Thankfully, both boys fully recovered (though Kid 2’s now sick with a cold). M and I have, quite miraculously, remained COVID and cold-free so far. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll stay that way—we’ve quite enjoyed almost three years without so much as a cold!
What M’s been up to
The boys have been busy with school, and M’s also been busy with all kinds of things. Here’s what he’s been up to:
Setting up our new home gym
Since M no longer has access to his gym at work, he wanted to set one up at home. So, in September, he cleared out a room in our basement and turned it into our new home gym:
The only new items were the foam mats, adjustable weights, and TV wall mount. Everything else (including the TV and mirrors) was FREE—either given to us by family members or found on Facebook Marketplace.
Despite being so low-cost to set up, I think M did a great job with the gym—it looks really good!
Redoing our window sills
Now that M’s retired, we finally have enough time to tackle our list of laborious home maintenance projects. One such project was redoing our shower grout (which I shared about in my Summer 2022 update).
Next on our list was a project we’re still working on—redoing our window sills. They were badly water and kid damaged, and we’d wanted to strip, clean, and repaint them for years.
But it was such a daunting task that we never had the time or motivation to take it on. Since reaching FIRE, it’s become harder to procrastinate on things—we actually have the time now!
We got to work and started scraping and cleaning the sills in June, but summer fun and back-to-school craziness got in the way. It took until last week to pick up where we left off, and we’re making good progress.
The upstairs windows are nearly done, then we’ll move on to the windows on our main floor next. (Thankfully, those windows are in much better condition, so they won’t be nearly as much work to redo.)
Here are before and after photos of the window in our ensuite bathroom (which was one of the worst):
(Note that we still have to reapply the caulking to finish off this window.) We’re hoping to complete all of the window sills in the next few weeks. Then, next on the list will be patching and touching up the paint on our walls. (The work of a homeowner is never done!)
Since purchasing his 1965 Mustang, M’s become quite the amateur car mechanic. In recent months, he’s fixed the lights in his dash, replaced his brakes, and even changed the alternator in his parents’ Lexus!
I don’t think either of us could have predicted that M would be as comfortable and proficient with car repairs as he’s become. And it’s a good thing he has—his car’s 57 years old, so it’ll always need regular repairs and maintenance.
Being able to do the repairs himself has saved us thousands of dollars. They’ve also been (mostly) fun projects, and M has enjoyed working on them with his dad, uncles and friends. All of this is a huge part of M’s why for FIRE. We’re still so glad that he decided to retire when he did.
Classic car shows and meetups
M can’t seem to get enough of his car! Not only has he enjoyed working on it and taking it for drives, he’s also started participating in local car shows and meetups. The shows are usually for charity, which is an added bonus for M to participate.
And, unlike me, M is an extrovert, so it’s been nice for him to meet and get to know other classic car owners. It’s not only fun for him to socialize and make new connections, but he also learns a lot from fellow car enthusiasts.
As the weather cools and gets wetter here in Vancouver, all the shows and meetups will shut down until next spring, so M’s soaking it all up for as long as he can. We’ve been fortunate this year to still have nice, dry weather well into October, so M’s had some bonus time to enjoy his car!
Meetups with friends
While none of M’s friends are retired, that hasn’t stopped him from spending time with them. He was happy to host several gatherings in the last couple of months and even had one in the middle of a workday. (His friends worked remotely while hanging out and enjoying M’s homemade pizza.)
We also got together with our old art school friends for the first time in years. It was so much fun catching up and reminiscing. But we sure felt our age when we realized we’ve known each other for more than 26 years!!! 😱
What I’ve been up to
Not to be outdone by M, I’ve also been keeping myself very busy! Here’s what I’ve been up to:
M and I have been decluttering up a storm! In the last few months, we’ve sold or given away a bunch of items:
- My bike (it was a gift, but I never rode it because it didn’t have enough gears).
- A truck bed net that I found at a bus stop.
- An ice cream maker (M got it at work for $20, then we sold it for $50).
- Kid 1’s old crutches (he broke his leg when he was 12).
- An IKEA carpet runner.
- Two IKEA floating shelves.
- Two camping pads (I bought them used for $50 and sold them for the same price).
- A bunch of swing-top bottles.
Gave away or donated
- A queen bed.
- Two folding metal bed frames.
- Our boys’ old crib (it was stored at my dad’s house).
- Scrap fabric.
- Old curtains.
- A kid’s cyclometer.
It feels amazing to minimize the stuff in our house. Even better—we made a few bucks and were able to help others out by giving away many of the items.
With the boys’ return to school came a flurry of activity:
- Rounding up and sorting old school supplies.
- Shopping for new supplies.
- Dealing with course changes.
- Registering for and switching them to one online course each.
- Figuring out our new daily routines.
- Filling out forms.
- Paying school fees.
- Registering for parent-teacher interviews.
- Adding important school events and reminders to our calendar.
As mentioned earlier, I was grateful to have had M’s help this year. He also helped in years past but could only do so much since he worked full-time. It was nice that we could both be fully involved this time—it made back-to-school season a lot less stressful.
University application coaching
Kid 1 is in Grade 12 this year, which means less than a year from now, he’ll be starting post-secondary!!! (I can’t believe he’s almost finished high school—where did the time go? 😱)
Kid 1’s first choice is UBC, which is a pretty competitive school. So, I’ve spent the last couple of months getting intimately familiar with their application process and requirements.
This is majorly challenging for me, given that M and I both went to art school and have no idea how university applications work. I’ve had to learn a whole new language and system just so I can guide Kid 1 in the right direction.
Thankfully, we’ve had amazing friends and family to lean on for help. (They were UBC students, and their kids currently attend UBC.) They all shared invaluable insight and tips that saved us from making big mistakes.
Thank you, J and T, and J, G, and Z! You were all such a huge help to us. ❤️
Most parents we know hire professional consultants to help them and their kids with their applications. They’ve been mostly happy with the service and results, but we’ve also heard that these consultants can cause extra stress and anxiety.
After reviewing UBC’s application, M and I have decided to coach Kid 1 through the application process ourselves. We’ve found some great resources (such as this) and feel reasonably confident we can help Kid 1 turn in a strong application.
Hopefully, we’re not shooting ourselves in the foot by not opting to hire a professional consultant. Wish us luck!
Until recently, M and our driving school handled all of Kid 1’s driving practice. I refused to participate because, to be honest, I was too scared! I mean, would you feel comfortable being in charge of a new driver at the wheel of a 3,500 lb hunk of metal?!
Well, in late September, I finally made the big, scary leap and took on some of Kid 1’s driving practice. And guess what? He’s actually pretty darned good at it! He knows the rules of the road waaay better than us, and I constantly have to remind him to speed up, ha ha! (He’s a very safe and cautious driver.)
So far, he’s driven himself and me to and from a doctor’s appointment, home from UBC, and into and around downtown, then back home. He needs another 20-ish hours of driving practice before he can take his road test, but M and I are hopeful that we’ll get him there soon! 🤞
Volunteering for my sister
This is another way I’m paying my FIRE privilege forward—helping my sister in her school library. (She’s a teacher-librarian at a public elementary school.) We’ve only gone once so far, but M and I plan to go weekly to help with:
- Shelving newly checked-in books.
- Mending broken, torn, and worn-out books.
- Stamping, wrapping, and reinforcing new books.
For M and me, helping in my sister’s library is a meaningful way to give back with our time. We know teachers have too much to do and not enough time to do it all. We also firmly believe in supporting education and libraries.
It feels really good that we’re not only helping my sister, but also her students and school. And, let’s be honest—I love libraries of all kinds and am happy as a clam when I get to spend time in one.
I also enjoy repetitive tasks like the ones we help my sister with (shelving, mending, etc.). I find them relaxing and therapeutic and can easily enter a state of flow when engaged in them. (I know, I’m kinda weird that way.)
It’s nice that M enjoys helping out as well. It means we get to spend time together, see my sister regularly, and do something good for the local community. It’s just good vibes all around! We look forward to volunteering weekly with my sister for the rest of the school year.
I’m going to be an election official!
I’m pretty darned excited about this—in a few short days, on October 15th, I’ll be working as an election official for our municipal elections. Why am I doing this? There are many reasons:
- We’re very fortunate to have free and fair elections in Canada. In so many countries, people fight and die for the right to vote. I want to help support and protect this precious right.
- It’s been said that municipalities make the biggest difference in important issues such as climate change, affordability, and public transportation. By helping to run our local elections, I’m playing a small role in helping to tackle these issues.
- Having reached FIRE, I feel that I’m in a very privileged position. Helping with elections is one small way I can pay my privilege forward.
- Being an election worker is a very low-commitment, one-off thing. It’s a nice way to dip my toe into community involvement.
- I want to set an example for my kids by letting them see how much I value our democracy and that it’s worth my time and effort.
- I’ve always been curious about the people who work at elections and how elections work behind the scenes.
Despite all these big, important reasons for me to help with the election, it was still a tough decision. That’s mainly because it’ll be a looong day, from 7 am–9 pm! And it won’t just affect me—M will be on his own with the kids and Mika all day.
Therefore, M and I had to discuss the logistics before I could commit to the role. (Admittedly, I was overly excited and kind of overlooked the impact on him and the boys. 😬) In the end, M was supportive and encouraged me to go ahead and do it. ❤️
In my next update, I’ll share my experience and let you know how it all went!
By the way, I want to give a big shout-out to my friend and fellow FIREee, Chris Istace, who’s running for council in North Cowichan on Vancouver Island. Best of luck to you, my friend. If I could vote for you, I would!
Fully living on our investments
M and I recently reached an important new milestone in our FIRE journey—we’re now fully living on our investments. 😲 We finally used up all the cash we had on hand and got down to about two months of expenses. So, I gave our financial planner the go-ahead to start sending us regular payments from our investments.
No, it’s still not the ideal time to withdraw from our investments. And yes, it still sometimes feels like we chose the worst possible time to retire. But even with all the continuing uncertainty and volatility, we’re still confident that we’ll be more than okay.
I’d assumed I’d feel uneasy when we started withdrawing from our investments. But so far, that hasn’t been the case—and I think it’s because I got over that hump when we stopped receiving M’s paycheques.
Those early days of FIRE were actually quite stressful and psychologically challenging for me. It was nerve-wracking to know there wouldn’t be a regular stream of employment income flowing into our accounts anymore.
So, it’s been a pleasant surprise that taking this big step of fully living on our investments hasn’t been hard or scary—phew!
And that’s a wrap!
Wow, that was another long update. I guess it’s true what so many retirees say—how did I ever have time to work? (Well, the work part applies to M at least! Not so much to me, ha ha.) Honestly, if you’re worried about being bored in retirement, my opinion is that’s unlikely to be the case!
Share your thoughts
I would love to hear how you’re doing too. Let me know how back-to-school season went for you. Or, if you don’t have school-going people in your house, what you’ve been up to now that summer’s over. Leave a comment to fill me in or feel free to ask me about anything I’ve shared in this update!
By the way, I want your questions!
In about five weeks, my husband and I will have been FIREd for a year. (Where did the time go? 😮) To mark this milestone, I’m planning to publish a post featuring your questions!
You can ask me almost* anything about our post-FIRE life! For example:
- How do you spend your days now?
- Have you been bored?
- Any big plans on the horizon?
Want to join in?
If you’d like to join in, leave a comment below or email me at chrissy (at) eatsleepbreathefi.com to share:
- Your question(s)—yes, you can send more than one!
- The name you’d like me to credit you with (you can use a pseudonym or “Anonymous” if you prefer).
- The name and URL of your blog (if you have one).
Please send the above to me by November 1, 2022 (that’ll give me lots of time to write the post). I look forward to receiving and answering your questions!
*To respect my husband’s request for privacy, I won’t be able to answer questions that may infringe on that. Thanks for your understanding!
Support this blog
If you liked this article and want more content like this, please support this blog by sharing it! Not only does it help spread the FIRE, but it lets me know what content you find most useful. (Which encourages me to write more of it!)
You can also support this blog by visiting my recommendations page and purchasing through the links. Note that not every link is an affiliate link—some are just favourite products and services that I want to share. 🙂
As always, however you show your support for this blog—THANK YOU!