It is interesting how things change after you have achieved some goals. Take for example my goal of early retirement. When I was still in the journey of accumulating wealth to eventually retire, I was hell bent on learning everything about investments and stocks. At the time I started with the basics like having adequate insurance and emergency funds etc. Then I taught myself about asset classes, asset allocation and rebalancing. Next I moved on to learning about macro economics, market cycles and behavioral economics taking several classes on Coursera, EdX and Udacity. Eventually took a class in accounting and finance as well. The hope was that I will eventually be able to analyze businesses and invest in stocks directly.
However, before I could get to stock analysis, I have already accumulated enough corpus that allowed me to retire early. All of the learnings that I talked about earlier were done when I was still working. After retirement, I felt I would have so much time that I can read a lot more books and can start investing in stocks to get even better returns. When my friends asked what I would do after I retire, I told them that I will spend time with family (especially with my daughter), go crazy with martial arts (karate), work on my hobby projects and finally finish Intelligent Investor and start investing in stocks. Except that the last part (investing in stocks) remained a pipe dream and never really materialized. So what happened?
Well, as soon as I retired, I spend all my time with family and getting things organized at home. Since there was no rush to do anything, I was lazing around quite a bit initially. As a result, for the first 6 months, I did not put any effort either in my hobby projects or learning about stocks. What happened instead was this blog because many friends and colleagues asked me start one. For the first 6 months, I would write everything I know about retiring early. I am not used to writing, so it used to take a lot of my time initially. By the end of 6 months, I was mostly done with all the important topics I wanted to cover for any aspiring FIRE (financially independent, retire early) enthusiasts.
When I finally got into a proper rhythm and routine with the blog, I slowly started working on my hobby projects. The plan was that once I fall into a nice flow in projects as well, I will start working on my stocks analysis. But as I started working on the projects, they almost completely took away any amount of free time I could find. Of course if I make allowances for learning stocks, I could have done it. But somehow the passion for more returns very quickly disappeared. I am not as excited to grow my money faster as I used to when I was still working.
Investing is mostly about behavior and at least I understood that and my investing is all based on observing my behavior and the behavior of the market participants. Any reduction in volatility is because of the delta between my behavior and the market behavior in general. Now I am not chasing returns anymore. I am comfortable where I am. Instead, I am wondering what I will do with more money if I can’t even properly use what I already have. I don’t really know of a way to increase my expenses, nor do I want to fall into that trap. Instead, I am preferring to enjoy life as it comes, learning about sustainable living, becoming a better minimalist, spending more time with friends and family.
So this could be a lesson for those of you who are planning to retire early. The drive to grow money at a fast clip might die after you retire. Do all your learning before you have enough corpus to retire early :). It is not that I am not interested to learn about businesses. I still would like to understand how to value a business and how they handle finances. It is really exciting to learn how companies plan inventory, research expenses, future growth, paying bills and planning for receivables etc. It is just that I have not yet gotten around to it because what I am currently doing (family time, martial arts, hobby projects) does not leave much time for anything else. It is so strange that time is still such a precious resource even after retiring.
Anyway, for those of you who want to know, here was my plan earlier. Finish reading Intelligent Investor and Security Analysis books. Then read through all of Warren Buffett’s letters. Then, filter out some businesses using screener.in. Pick names of companies that I know because I use the products (like Bata shoes or Colgate toothpaste etc). Finally analyze every single company that is in my circle of competence, which would be quite small of course to start with. So if you are interested in fundamental analysis, this could be one way for you to get started.