Can You Really Retire Even If You Have The Financial Means?

Seafood PlatterGreetings from somewhere in the Adriatic Sea!  I’ve been on vacation this past week and I’m hoping you couldn’t tell.  It’s a little hard staying away given how addicted I am to writing and interacting online.  If I didn’t care so much, I probably wouldn’t have responded to 150+ comments, published three new posts, written six new posts, and spent $200 on satellite internet connection!

As I was sitting at a lovely seafood restaurant eating linguine, grilled octopus and sipping Mythos beer, I began pondering whether I would really be able to retire early eg 40-45.  It wasn’t just a financial question, because that’s simply mathematics.  The question was really from a philosophical point of view.

If you’re still in your prime, and much of your life has been shaped by what you do for 12 hours a day, is it really as straight-forward as walking away after 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 years on the job?  It can’t be that easy.  Those of us who are the most financially meticulous probably have some target age we’d like to retire by.  We’ve got a nice 20-line spreadsheet and most likely will achieve our goals.  But, a lot of us enjoy what we do.  It’s not like we can’t have a pleasant day job and then aggressively pursue our hobbies after hours, right?

I write a post on Yakezie.com entitled, “How Do You Know When To Retire?” where I ponder not so much the how, but the how come.  Perhaps you’ll agree.  Either way, share your thoughts here or there!

Best,

Sam

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. says

    The hard part is not walking away, but what you will do! Is it fulfilling enough to give you same feelings of accomplishment you had working for others. In other words, it is all psychological.

      • says

        I won’t be fully vested (pension) and lifetime medical until 6/2017. Besides, I like what I do or at least I did. I feel as though I am semi-retired and doing what I like to do. The rest allows me to keep adding to retirement and keep from spending it. It also gives me time to figure out the rest of my life. I think I have at least 30 years left!

  2. says

    I really enjoyed the post and it makes a great point. I don’t ever want to stop working, I just want to be able to stop working and work on my own terms. When I say retire, I really mean what JD Roth calls “financial freedom.” I want to be able to do what I want when I want, but I don’t want to stop being productive.

  3. Mike Hunt says

    Hi Sam,

    Enjoy- is it getting a bit chilly at night? I was just near there last month and it was very nice.

    -Mike

  4. says

    great question Sam.

    i think that is why it is important to start designing your lifestyle the way you’d like to live it even during retirement because i don’t think one can really truly stop “working”. like Eric said, it’s more about what you do, when you choose to do it and how.

    in order to accomplish that, a key factor i believe is to earn as much as you can early in as short a period of time as possible. one can reap the rewards for the rest of their lives. for many, our careers / professions are limiting (from an income perspective) within a certain time frame, that’s one reason we should consider establishing additional streams of income, preferably passive/residual to expedite the process.

    thoughts / comments are welcome???

    enjoy the rest of the vacay

    • says

      I’m definitely trying to earn as much as possible now, but the fear is that the MORE you earn, the MORE you want to earn, and the EASIER it is to earn! You can’t just walk away from big bucks, although you can walk away from little bucks!

  5. libby says

    I think that if I work hard for retirement it is more to be rid of the mental worry than the desire to not work. I could not stay at home or spent time on hobbies alone. I would want to keep feeling productive.

  6. says

    @Eric
    Exactly. We’re retired and loving it! We still do plenty, but it’s on our own terms. Our hobbies keep us busy and fulfilled as does traveling and spending time with friends and family.

    Sam, it looks great there; hope you are enjoying every bit of it! It’s so great that you did it! I’m hoping you will share your trip with us when you get back. We’d love to take a cruise to the same area. Raising my glass to you!

    • says

      Thanks Maggie. I’ve got three or so related posts that I’ll share here or on Yakezie.com over the next several weeks. Some good perspective I learned during this time.

      How important/awesome is blogging during your retirement? ie if you had no blog, what would you do and how would you feel?

  7. Joel Berman says

    I retired from a very large corporation at 59 with 33 years in. It was a bit accelerated with incentives that I could not turn down. I fully expected to relax, write, blog, travel. Had the party made the lists, and promptly was bored. Two weeks later I was at work at a small company. I am having a blast. So I could not retire that time. That was 6 years ago. I am beginning to think about it again, but not very seriously. The difference was where I was working.

    • says

      Joel, thank you for your perspective! I fear I will go through the same thing you did when you were 59, and I’m glad you experienced it and found something else good!

      I have to tell you though… sitting at this restaurant watching the sunset and responding to you is a wonderful thing. I just need to get the income up that’s all!

  8. says

    I love this questions because it moves away from the financial obsession. If you are loving what you are doing, why retire? If you are in the rat race, get our as soon as possible. That’s my 2 cents. :)

  9. says

    If you have something that makes you good money (Im not talking about a job) its very hard to just say “Ok thats it, Im retired I made enough”. Thats the thing with money, when you make a certain amount you always think about how you can more.

    • says

      What’s a “good amount” to you? I’m thinking it must be different for everyone.

      I could walk away from $200,000 a year *I think*. I don’t know whether I could walk away from $500,000+ a year.

      • says

        I think thats the problem lol. Every time I make a certain amount I am always thinking about what do I need to do better so I can more. The “set” figure in my mind just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

        • says

          I’ve got good news for you! Thanks to the progressive nature of our tax system and a serious phaseout of deductions after $150k. You sill find the income of $500,000 or thereabouts to be good enough. You’ll no longer want to make much more after.

  10. says

    I really liked your last post and I’m hoping you’re enjoying your vacation!

    I’d like to retire early so I can spend time with my children and not have to worry about getting vacation time.

  11. says

    Wow, Sam! You made it to the Mediterranean! While you’re in the neighborhood, at least make a virtual visit to the island of Vis, in Croatia, where I live. Hope you have a nice vacation. If you make it to Croatia someday, you will want to sip a domestic Karlovacko beer – regular or lemon, both are great.

  12. says

    At this point in my life (about to turn 28) I can’t imagine “ever retiring.” For better or worse, my life is pretty boring without my job. I work in an industry that is exciting and fast paced, but I can see how that style of life can also get old when I’m, say, 60, or even 40. Early retirement doesn’t appeal to me, but having the funds in my account that would make it possible does. The earlier I can reach financial independence, the more risks I’ll be able to take in my career. That definitely isn’t retirement, but it’s retirement from having any fear of going broke removed from my life decisions. Retiring early seems so awful. I look at Steve Jobs who worked until his dying day doing what he loved. Maybe the work killed him early, but he sure changed the world a whole lot more than most people do, even those who live to 100.

    • says

      I wouldn’t want to go out like Steve Jobs in his 50’s, no matter how rich I am. Let me live til the median age of 80 and be middle class.

      Check back at age 32 and let me know if you still feel the same!

  13. says

    When my dad “retired” from his job as a professor, he started a company! He thought it would be his little retirement side-business. It turned out to be a 60-hour-per-week monster. He became a victim of his own success, I guess :-)

    But he can never really retire. He’d be too bored! He’s now transitioning the company into the hands of my boyfriend, Will, the new heir to the family business. He’s staying on to advise, which means his obligations are 3-4 hours a day, with generous vacation time (this year he traveled with my mom to Russia, India, Nepal, Thailand and all kinds of other places). It’s his ideal retirement … enough work to stay busy but not so much that he’s tied down.

  14. says

    You know, most of the people I know that are approaching “retirement age” (which, let’s be honest, is anywhere from 55-75 these days), just seem too busy to think about retirement– and this is by choice! My dad, for example, will be 65 next year and doesn’t seem to have any plans to retire. Not because he doesn’t have the money– but because he doesn’t want to! This American thing of “doing something” and “being productive” will keep us all working well into our 70s, whether we’ve got the money or not. The funny part is, many people spend their lives complaining about their work, but get rid of it, and they don’t know what to do with their time! Great post, Financial Samurai. Have fun on vacation!

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