A happy new year to you! The year 2018 has been exceptionally exciting for me. The last such eventful year has been 2002 when I took a flight for the first time in my life to a country half way around the globe, to pursue my Master's degree. Back in 2002, there were a lot of new things that I have never experienced before -- the culture shock, self reliance, clean roads, every shop, house and office having air condition, tons of cars and almost no people on roads, huge university campus, and much much more. Every day was like a new experience and exciting in its own way. Fast forward to 2018, and I had a similar kind of exciting year after a long time.
Like in 2002, there has been just one change in my life (MS in 2002 and early retirement in 2018), but the effects have been far-reaching. In 2018 it was all about risk taking, planning, executing and a lot of free time that eventually got spent on family :) which was thoroughly satisfying. Here is a look back at the events as they transpired over the past year.
I took my final company bonus in January of 2018 and went on a 3 month sabbatical. With no income coming in each month, I got a feel for how life will be without salary. Will my expenses be as I planned? Will I go over or under? I was having a feel for how life will be without any work to keep me busy. More importantly, I was looking forward to spending some quality time with my daughter.
In February at the start of my sabbatical, the first thing I did was to go on a shopping spree to find a good home gym equipment. I liked one and purchased it. Then came all the gym accessories. Now my fitness setup is complete. My annual bonus was funding all the gym expenses and I had enough left over to cover my monthly expenses for the next 3 months of sabbatical. In the same month, I earned my yellow belt (9th Kyu) in Karate along with my daughter. March and April was family time, planning expenses, reorganizing my portfolio and deciding whether I really wanted to quit work for real. By the end of the sabbatical, I really enjoyed my new lifestyle and I was extremely clear that I wanted to quit.
When I returned to work in May, I started the ball rolling for my exit and eventually quit in June. Those 2 months were wonderful with work feeling fun and light. All I had to do was to come up to speed on the emails that I did not read for the previous 3 months, document all the work I had done so others can continue where I left off and drafting my exit email. Nothing much else :). Even as the Indian and US stock markets were going on a roller coaster ride, I was busy turning in my papers. Now it is all too real. The only thing I have is my corpus to fund my expenses, the projects I planned to work on to keep me busy and the gym that I built and the karate classes that I enrolled to keep me fit. Above all, I will get to spend a ton of time with family, especially my little girl who is growing too quickly for me to miss out on all the contrasting naughty and yet innocent antics. And on June 29, 2018 it finally happened.
July came with a promise of more planning and execution. It so happened that I was holding a small number of restricted shares of my company, and I was required to sell them with in 3 months of quitting work. Thankfully US stocks were peaking at that time and I decided to sell all of them. I also received a big fat pay check that month because I had a lot of unused vacation time which has been accruing quite a bit over the years. With sufficient funds in the bank from the stock sale and salary, I decided to pay off my home loan. So this month saw the last home loan EMI payment. Come August, I closed my home loan and finally the house moved into my asset side of accounting and I became the owner instead of the bank owning it. There, all the liabilities checked off.
By the end of August, I have pretty much settled into a daily rhythm that is working quite fine. After losing a toe nail in kumite, the daddy-daughter duo received Orange belt (8th Kyu) in Karate. September is round the corner and it has been a little over 2 months since I quit. Time to cash in on the PF and gratuity. Thankfully everything can be done online, so I submitted the form and by the end of the month I had a nice fat pay from the government. I deployed it into an ultra short term fund and left some in the bank to cover the expenses for a few more months.
Thus far, I almost did not get time to work on any of my projects. Just household work, family time, exercises and blogging took almost all my time. Finally, in October, I started planning on how I want to work on my projects. In November, I started to work on my electronics project. Drawing out PCB designs and figuring out a good design. I will explain a bit more about this project some other day, but suffice it to say that there has been a lot of modelling, designing and soldering during this time. Eventually, December turned the corner and my project started to settle into my daily routine. Other than my portfolio doing a bunch of nothing, everything about the year was fun and exciting! I will talk about how my portfolio performed in my next post. Until then, Happy New Year one more time.