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50 Ways I’d Like to Spend My Time in Early Retirement

Jamaica Beach Runaway Bay

Time flies when you’re having fun. Or, as Kermit tells us, time’s fun when you’re having flies.

Time also flies by when you’re busy. The next few years will be exceptionally busy for me.

I’ll be working part-time. I’ll be blogging part-time. My boys will be in more after-school activities. We’re learning Spanish together as a family. The remaining time in my career most certainly will fly by.

And then I will be retired.

As I’ve stated before, I won’t be retiring from clinical medicine to escape a job I dislike. I will retire to free up over 2,000 hours per year to spend in any way that I please. How will I spend my time? Doing the things I wish were doing now, but can’t seem to find the time.

Presenting: 50 Ways I’d Like to Spend My Time in Early Retirement




1. Read. I’ve got a stack of unread magazines and probably read a book a month. I’d like to be like Zuckerberg and read a book a week. I might even find time to read fiction, although I generally prefer non-fiction.


White Coat Investor Book


2. Take Pictures. I enjoy photography, and nearly all of the photos on this site were taken by me.


3. Tent Camp. We probably average two or three nights a year. I’d like to up that to two or three weeks.



on the shores of shamba
My Kelty @ JL Collins’ Shamba


4. Eat well. With more time to prepare meals, and fewer meetings and surgeries at mealtimes, I anticipate fewer convenience foods in early retirement.


5. Hike often. There are hundreds of books full of great day hikes. Have boots, will travel.


6. Bike. We have a great network of paved bike paths, and world-class mountain biking nearby. Most of my biking is to the hospital and back on my motorized e-bike.



7. Volunteer. I donate a fair amount of money, but I’ve been pretty stingy with my time, although I did recently spend a week performing anesthesia in Honduras. I look forward to feeling like I have time to give, and following through by doing so.


8. Play. I do my best to say Yes when the boys ask me to play. In retirement, it will be much easier to give them all the time they desire. Hopefully, they’ll still want to play with Dad in a few years.


Playing in the leaves
big kids like to play, too


9. Walk. I could walk for miles and miles. A daily walk could be part of our morning routine.


10. Run. I’ve actually walked a marathon, but have never run one. I’d like to change that.


Crossing the finish line
free beer in sight


11. Sleep. I alternate between rising at 0515 for work and 0715 or 0915 to make up for lost sleep. I look forward to a healthier, more consistent sleep schedule.


12. Visit. I’ve got friends and family around the country, and I don’t do a great job keeping in touch or seeing them. When I’m retired, I should have the time if they do.

13. Take a motorhome around the country. We’ve been fantasizing about a full school year of road schooling the boys. History and science will be all around us. This fantasy can easily become a reality.


14. Minimize. We have too much stuff. Living in a motorhome will help us realize what we really need, and what we can live without.


Minimal San Francisco


15. Live in a Spanish speaking nation. There’s no better way to become proficient in a language than to live where it’s native. The boys would benefit from the exposure to a different culture. It wouldn’t be a permanent move, but a few months to a year would be fantastic. We did a trial run of three weeks and it was wonderful.


16. Go to the Games. Last year, I attended four of my alma mater’s home football games, and one away game. One year, I’d like to make it to every home and away game. Might have to hang onto that motorhome that we don’t have yet.



17. Watch TV. I know, I know, how lame and unhealthy, and blah blah blah. I keep hearing about these great series that I’m missing out on. I won’t spend hours in front of the curved screen every day, but I could start Lost, Breaking Bad, or Game of Thrones from Series 1, Episode 1 without any knowledge of what’s about to unfold.


18. A really long walk. I read about people who have walked great distances for charity, like Steve who is walking with a goat across America. I think I would enjoy walking a great distance to raise some money and awareness for a worthwhile charitable cause.


19. Organize. Minimizing is step one. Organizing what’s left is an important step two.


20. Write. Less time working means more time to write. Or maybe not, with these other 49 ideas. But I imagine I will be better able to focus on writing, and perhaps writing something bigger than a 2100-word blog post.


21. Represent a brewery at the Great American Beer Festival. I’m invested in two microbreweries. Plus, Mr. 1500 knows a guy who knows a guy who is involved with the granddaddy of all brewfests. I should be able to make this happen.


22. Backpacking. I’ve got all the equipment, but we pretty much gave up the hobby when we had kids. In a few years, the boys should have the stride and stamina required to get properly lost with us in the wilderness. I actually proposed to my wife after an 18-mile hike in a remote area. A “No” would have made for a long, awkward walk back.


Get Lost Backpacking
I could get lost here


23. Donate. I will continue to donate much off my website profit to charitable causes, including our donor advised fund. As the fund grows, so does our ability to give meaningful chunks of money away.


24. Make Music. I’ve got a five-year old who can read sheet music and play “What a Wonderful World” on the piano. I’m still working on the Jaws bass line.


25. Backpack Europe. I wish that I could be like the cool kids. I forgot to do this in my twenties, but it’s never too late. Do they still sell Eurail passes? Is there a senior discount for this frugal physician?


Positano Beach


26. Cook. I think I know a little bit about how to cook food, and then I see 9-year olds on Chopped Junior throw together some duck breast, molasses, and Twinkies into delectable entrees. I have a lot to learn. From 9-year olds.


27. Work? When I talk about retiring, I’m referring to a retirement from clinical medicine. I doubt I’ll ever have a traditional 40-plus hour a week job, but I wouldn’t rule out some sort of rewarding work that aligns with my interest and talents, whatever those may be.


28. Teach. I’ll have lots more time to teach my children about things they won’t learn in school. Personal finance, for example. There’s a good chance my wife and I will take the place of their teachers for at least a year if we follow through with the motorhome dream.


29. Learn. A funny thing happens when you teach. You learn. Touching on a topic will pique my curiosity, and I’ll have the time to dive deeper into a subject.


30. See More National Parks and Monuments Some of our nation’s greatest scenery has been preserved to be enjoyed by generation after generation. Did you know that all National Parks are free to visit this weekend 8/25 to 8/28? Or that 4th Graders can get a free family annual pass? And seniors over 62 can buy a $10 lifetime pass? If you are none of these, you can purchase an $80 annual pass when you are ready to tour the nation in a motorhome.


Mount Rushmore Trees


31. Snowboard. This isn’t high on my list, but I tried once and found it quite frustrating. I do OK on a skateboard, and can maneuver reasonably well on a wakeboard or wakesurfer, but those skills did not seem to translate well to the snowboard. I need to give it another go sometime. When I’m early retired, my boys will be at a good age to learn (and my wife already knows how).


32. Spend more time with my parents. They will turnbe 72 in the fall of 2018, and are quite active and healthy, but starting to slow down. I recognize that they won’t be around forever, and I wish I didn’t have to schedule time with them days or weeks in advance.

33. Brew some really great beer. I am an amateur homebrewer. I brew what I like and like what I brew. But I’m not as meticulous or exacting as I could be, and that’s often the difference between good and great homebrew. I’ve never brewed a lager, and I almost never enter competitions. As an early retiree, I envision entering and attending more competitions, and maybe capturing a lovely red or blue ribbon.


34. Cheer them on. I’m not much of an athlete, but I can be a stellar athletic supporter. One of the bigger regrets of many physician parents I know is that they had to miss so many of their kids’ matches, meets, and games. The same goes for recitals, etc… I will be there, lending my full support!


35. Spend the night in some Frank Lloyd Wright homes. I love his homes, leaky roofs and all. A distant relative (Grandpa’s uncle maybe?) worked with him on some of his homes. I’ve toured Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, the Meyer May house in Michigan, and fueled up at a gas station he designed in Minnesota. There are actually a number of homes in the midwest that are available to rent by the night or weekend. A FLW week would be incredible.


Fallingwater black and white


36. Hike far. There are some really great long distance hikes for the adventurous, including one that goes through Lakenenland. I like to think I’m adventurous. If Reese Witherspoon can do it, so can I!


37. Become wealthier. I don’t know if I’ve come right out and said it, but one reason I’m aiming for a low withdrawal rate is that I’d rather see my net worth grow than shrink as an early retiree.


38. Restore more furniture. Most of the furniture in our home(s) is well-built mid century modern furniture from the 1950’s and 1960’s. Finding and rehabbing pieces from my parents’ youth was a hobby until I had all that I needed (and a little bit more). Taking a beat up coffee table or chair, refinishing it, and finding it a new home could keep me busy later on in retirement.


mid century great room


39. Vacation with friends. Our vacations are scheduled around and within the confines of both work and school schedules, leaving very little flexibility. I look forward to having the availability to take off whenever it works for someone else.


40. Build a home. More accurately, pay someone else to build a home to our specifications. We did this once, and it we ended up with an amazing home, but unfortunately, things didn’t work out. We overbuilt for the area, the hospital went bankrupt, and we lost about a quarter million dollars. I would like a second try as empty nesters someday. Smaller, smarter, and stylish with everything we want and nothing we don’t.


41. Landscape. Weeds have taken over certain areas of our property. The riverfront is a mosquito-infested disaster. It would take a lot of sweat equity, but I’ve been saying I’d like to exercise more. The best kind of exercise is also productive in other ways. I’d love to spend more time keeping up with the property.



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42. Slow Travel. Living “like a local” with a tourist bent for one to three months at a time is so much better than cramming in as many highlights from Fodor’s or Frommer’s as you can in five days.


43. Strength training. Sarcopenia, be damned! I’m at the age where I will lose muscle mass if I don’t fight for it. I’d like to look as good or better in my forties and fifties than I did in my twenties or thirties. I’m more or less my same skinny self, so at least I’m not starting with a substantial deficit.


44. Gardening. Two years ago, I built six nice cedar raised garden beds. Last year, we grew some vegetables, much to the rabbits’ delight. This year, weeds grew in their place, much to the rabbits’ dismay.


Cedar raised beds
my garden. my handiwork


45. More time on the water. We’re surrounded by water and we own a boat. Boats were meant to float. We need to float that boat more often, and get our boys up on waterskis sooner than later.


46. Get to know our Godchildren better. We have a handful of Godchildren living in neighboring states. We don’t see them nearly as often as we should. The same can be said of their parents, whom we know well, but don’t spend enough time with now that we’re all busy with careers and whatnot.


47. Enjoy the morning. I have the expectation that in early retirement that every morning will be Easy Like Sunday Morning. That may not be the case, but there should be time for a proper breakfast, workout, dog walk, and of course, catching up on my favorite blogs.


48. Be more involved with schools. The stay-at-home moms and dads frequently volunteer in the classroom and get to know their kids’ classmates and teachers a lot better. We’re a few years away from a dual-non-income household of two stay-at-home parents. How cool is that?


49. Get involved with civic organizations. The toughest part might be deciding which one. Am I more of a Moose, Elk, or Lion? What about the Rotary? Sertoma Club? Curling Association???


curling club



50. Do the dishes a little more often. Just a little, though. Gotta keep it a treat. 😉


A big thank you to my lovely wife, who helped me come with eleven more ideas, when I had typer’s block after 39. And yes, #50 was her idea.


Which of these would you like to do in retirement? What would you differently? What’s your number 51?

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67 thoughts on “50 Ways I’d Like to Spend My Time in Early Retirement”

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  11. Studying geology of the Colorado Plateau esp in Utah.

    Beautiful vistas and now doing river rafting to see the canyons from the bottom up.

    Eleventh commandment… Thou shall resist the urge to get something for nothing.

    Saved me a bundle and got me to early retirement at 58.

  12. Check out The Seth Peterson Cottage by FLW in the Wisconsin Dells. Beautiful in deepest winter. Can’t tell you are in the Dells. Must book theough Park Service and books out 1-2 years in advance. Can catch last minute cancellations some times.

  13. So many good ones here PoF! For me, slow-travel and volunteering are my biggest aspirations for when we are FI, preferably doing both at the same time. I have a few medical missions and volunteer opportunities lined up, but alas right now they are constrained by time. Hopefully, this won’t be the case soon!

    Also, I may know someone who likes really good beer, so whenever you want to share some of yours, just let me know.

  14. I get super stoked thinking of all the epic things I could do if I wasn’t working 2600 hours per year. I actually have a word document with a similar list that just keeps getting longer. Thanks for inspiring me to add a few more items to the list!

  15. Yikes, you’ve made the comment that we’re alike in many ways, but this one hits home. If I were to make my own list, it would be very similar (note that I’ve already mastered the Jaws bass line though).

    The clincher is if you disliked Seinfeld. I really hated that show, but feel that I’m the only person on the face of the earth to feel that way.

    If you liked that dreck, that’s OK too. We can still page through old issues of Dwell and envision what that perfect home would look like. Actually, I just had this conversation the other week with the Mrs:

    Me: I can’t wait until I can design and build the perfect home. Every place we’ve lived in has had some sort of a compromise. If I designed it, I know exactly what I’d do. It would be perfect.
    Wife: We’re not moving again.
    Me: But, but…!
    Wife: No.

    • I hate to tell you, Mr. 1500, but I was indeed a fan. I haven’t watched Seinfeld in years, but my roommates and I did have a habit of grilling out and watching some NBC Must see TV before heading off to quarter tap night at our favorite watering hole on Thursday nights.

      My wife was the first to bring up the idea of building again someday. Likely in an empty nest situation. I’m on board, although, I am sometimes tempted by the available Frank Lloyd Wright homes for sale @ SaveWright.org. If you’re willing to move to Plover, Wisconsin, you can have 440 FLW designed square feet for 365,000.


      • Seinfeld, sigh…

        I loved Arrested Development! Did you watch that one?

        I’m obsessed with FLW as well. Been to Falling Water, Taliesin and a bunch of others. I don’t dig the flat roofs, but I’ll compromise with a 1:12 pitch.

        • Yes! We loved Arrested Development. Enjoy 11 minutes of clips here. Might have jumped the shark with the introduction of Charlize Theron’s character, but the first 2.5 seasons were pure comedy gold. We got Netflix just to watch Season 4, but that was mostly a letdown.


  16. #51 – audit college courses just for fun: no homework, no note-taking, no tests, no books. Just absorb what you can. Don’t even have to show up if the weather is crappy or if something more fun comes up. I heard in a Psychology class once that you learn more if you just listen rather than focus on taking notes, but I was too afraid to test the theory. 🙂

  17. Great list. It’s amazing at all the fun stuff out there that most people never do. We started by being tourists in our own city, then our state, and now we’re working our way out with a larger radius. It’s a big, glorious world out there and I’m sure you and your family will enjoy life to its fullest.

  18. That is a great list and it is good that so many of the things are outdoors and keep you active. I made a few lists before I retired in April and I am amazed at how many things I have already done, and how many things I still have to do! I would say we overlap on probably two thirds of the things on your list!

  19. Plan a visit to Buffalo, NY if you like Frank Lloyd Wright homes …. we have the Darwin Martin house and several others. After all these years, it still is surprising to walk around a residential neighborhood, turn the corner, and see another one of his magnificent creations.

    Great list BTW.

  20. Great ideas! I think it’s important to actually figure out what’s next after reaching this long-term goal of early retirement. I haven’t figured it out yet but I think I have 10+ year to figure that out so I hope to figure it out before then!

    I love taking long walks and sleeping a lot as well. I’m sleeping a lot when I’m not retired early, but I don’t want to change that part about myself at all :p if only I could be a professional sleeper..

  21. I scrolled all the way down looking for dominoes, knitting, crochet, bridge and 9 holes of golf.

    Not there.

    What fun you will be missing!

  22. This is a great list! If I’m thinking of any modifications, I would swap out the motorhome for a nice-sized sailboat and the only thing I would add personally is a little more time with my Martin acoustic guitar. It’s a thing of beauty and I don’t do it justice!

    • Gracias! You don’t have to swap out the motorhome. The sailboat can be added on. You know Airstream’s version of a motorhome is called a Land Yacht. You could have a yacht on land and at sea.

      I’d love to learn me some guitar. Piano first. Baby steps.


  23. Love this list! We are all about #30 next fall – can’t wait to get out and explore! And I’d love to give a shout-out for #48. I work in an Elementary school with about 1600 kids. We love when parents can help out – and there is always a need. I am only filling in for a temporary position right now but my hope is to volunteer more now that we are at FI too. And for #32 – can’t stress that one enough. Parents are 77 and 86 now and my dad has moderate Alzheimer’s. He smiles when he sees me but doesn’t know my name – and I can’t be sure he knows who I am. We take it day by day, but time goes by fast so making them a priority is key.

  24. Awesome list. Have you considered any of the following: white water rafting the headwaters of the Nile River, Gorilla trekking in Rwanda or Uganda, hiking in Nepal, walking the Via Dolorosa in the Old City of Jerusalem, competing in a USATF sanctioned race at a masters (over age 50) event?

    Anyway, I would like to combine the language learning and travel to learn Italian during a 3 month immersion in Florence or Rome; I want to participate in weekly bluegrass jam sessions on guitar with banjo, fiddle, bass and mandolin players; and explore the possibility of retiring in a Central American enclave.

    • All sound amazing! I didn’t want this to read as a bucket list, although at least a few of the ideas I came up would qualify as such.

      It sounds like your retirement will be far more interesting than mine. I need to step up my game!


  25. Interesting entry until you described yourself as a “stellar athletic supporter”…
    Then all I could do is LAUGH & stop reading, sigh…thanks for the laugh…

  26. I like the list. From my experience with working part time it is easier to say what you are going to do when you have more time than to actually do it. I definitely am doing some of the things I thought, but not all. I’m not sure why this is true, but I have noticed this in other people that have retired as well. I actually think writing it out as you have increases the odds.

    • You’re not exactly making me happy, Happy Philosopher. I thought you were here to spread cheer!

      Weeks off are a good example of me not getting done all that I thought I might. I guess retirement is like a neverending week off. Why should the results be any different? I will have this site, and you guys to hold me accountable, I suppose.


      • Lol, I am here to educate and entertain and tell it like it is! Spreading cheer is not in my mission statement 😉

        #51. Hang out with The Happy Philosopher for a day sampling fine beers and discussing the meaning of life.

  27. You’ve thought this out more than I have – I plan on occupying my time, but you’re definitely going to be super busy! These are some awesome things on your list though – camping and hiking are high on my list as well. And as far as the “watch tv” one goes, go for it – sometimes you just need to veg out!

    — Jim

    • Yeah, RtR, my retirement looks exhausting! Good thing I ought to have forty or more years to spread it out. Although, I doubt I’ll be snowboarding in my eighties. Or will I?


  28. Very nice. Among the 50 there were 30 that I definitely want to do in my own retirement, 15 that I “kinda” want to do, and 5 that I had no idea I *could* do in early retirement. I have to try that home-brew business!

  29. Let me know when you plan on heading to the Great American Beer Festival, as I plan on making that an annual trip starting next year. This year, I am instead going to the Bruises & Brews Beerfest in Glendale, CO.

  30. POF, you’ll be running on fume over the next few years. That’s a lot of stuff on your plate.
    Your retirement sounds very busy too. That’s the way to do it, though. Life is more fun when you have a lot of things to do. I’d like to try restoring furniture someday. That sounds like a good skill to have.
    Check out this post from Sydney, though…

    • Well, the linked article is both interesting and discouraging. Once a procrastinator, always a procrastinator? If so, that doesn’t bode well for a number of the 50 items above.

      There are a lot of projects I plan to tackle “when I have more time,” but it may be proper time management, rather than time, that is lacking.

      Thank you for the demotivation?
      🙂 -PoF

  31. Interesting list POF. The only comment I have is if you plan a withdrawal rate of 2.5% or less, the only problem you will face is how many hospitals will be named after your time – maybe POF-alpha, POF-beta, POF-gamma… I think it will be geekily cute to have Greek alphabets for each of your charitable hospitals 🙂

    • Oh, I don’t know about that, TRF. If I worked another 20 years, I could start to realize some serious wealth, but I’m not interested in spending my life that way, obviously.

      Of course, if I live another 50, compounding should have time to work its magic, regardless.


  32. Our list looks eerily similar! I think most FIREees do not have time in there current lives for simple things like reading and travel. It starts to become a craving, like we are deficient in vitamin D or anemic or something. I LOVE the idea of the FLW home tour! What a cool idea!

    • We’ll have to take that FLW tour and write about it. I think you could spend a full week staying at different places without more than half a day’s drive between each one. There would be others to tour along the way as well.


  33. Great list. I’ve been quite a number of US national parks and they’re amazing. Would love to go back to Yosemite one of these day.

    • Northern California and above is a wonderful destination for an extended slow travel experience. Beautiful country and great cities from San Fran north to Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, and on…


  34. Love this list and love the idea of this list. I want to create my own as inspiration to keep chugging along on the journey! I would like to volunteer more, get involved in civic organizations, and do some slow travel.

  35. I’m looking forward to playing more board games, throwing garden parties (and having the time to create impressively frugal dishes), having more barbeques. I’d love to learn the art of flower arranging so that I could do this for friends’ weddings, parties, and events…and just for my own home. There’s the drawer with, like, a million wires in it, that needs sorting out but that’s even lower down the list than snowboarding is for you!

  36. I’m in agreement on all 50 items, PoF. I was wondering how you would come up with a list of 50 meaningful activities, but you did well, despite typer’s block.

    I was having this conversation with a friend, and we discussed that it might be kind of fun to work several random jobs just to see what it is like; my friend suggested coaching kids soccer, driving a bus, and bar tending.

    Like you, I would like to have the time to devote to improving my fitness and tackling some extreme endurance events. I’ve long had the goal of completing a 100 mile ultramarathon, but I have nowhere near the time required to dedicate to training at this stage in life.

    • A 100-miler would be pure insanity! I’ve talked to people who have done them, which confirmed just how crazy it is. The hard core racers have their toenails surgically removed.

      My wife thought it would be good to work as a waitress to gain a better appreciation for that job. I could see myself bartendiing, too. We actually met a couple from our home state who were doing those two jobs in Esperanza on Vieques Island in Puerto Rico.


  37. Great list, I’ve been keeping myself busy with a bunch of those. So far, I’ve fit in more reading, gardening, and travel. We just got home from a 2 week road trip to Nova Scotia. One other thing on my list is making some art. Maybe the winter months will be better for that – there is too much to do when it’s nice out!

    • Nova Scotia is on our short list! Along with Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire… I’ve seen most of the country, but have never been north of Boston out east.


  38. That’s a great list, and I have a lot of those in my to do list as well. I hear you about home brewing and needing more time to put the work in. Pre-kids I was brewing 1-2 batches a month and took meticulous notes, and catalogued the process tweaking along the way.

    The last 3-4 years, I’ve just been recycling those recipes I created that I like, and/or making some variation on Hoppy Grapefruity Wheat beer. It will be nice to give it the time it deserves to be great and even enter a few into competition. 🙂 And hiking, and more music, and more play time, and well, i already do the dishes, so maybe less dishes!

    • Well, I do clean all the “dishes” I dirty when I brew up a batch of IPA. There’s the mash tun, boil kettle, sparge water pots, Vorlauf container, wort chiller, thermometer, refractometer, etc… It’s a lot of cleaning!

      Exploring more music is a good one. Podcasts, too. I’m usually streaming music when I’m at the computer.


  39. Sounds like you’ll be busy in early retirement! Great list!

    I look forward to a lot of these same things when I retire early. It’ll be great to have more time for my hobbies and, like you said, all the things I don’t have time for now.

    I’d love to make all home and away games of my team as well! I’ve continued my streak of making at least one game a year for the last 12 years through which is good for now.

    • That’s a pretty good streak, Green Swan. I hope your team plays well most of the year, but fails to show up against my team.


  40. Great list PoF! Most of these I think would be on my own list…except that number 50.

    I already do the dishes every single day, I don’t want to do them more often! I cook about 6 meals a week and do dishes at least once per day (sometimes more). It gets old pretty fast.


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