The Dark Side Of Early Retirement

Darth Vader MaskIf you look carefully around the web, you’ll read scores of articles about the desire to retire early. Yours truly wishes to finish up no later than 45, as I believe working for 20 or so years is a long enough time.I’ve done the math with various living and return scenarios and it can be done. But the question is whether it’s a good idea? Perhaps not.

Now that the economy is in recovery mode, it’ll be interesting to see how attitudes change towards early retirement. Will those who’ve short circuited their careers feel the pull to return to full time work and maximize their earnings potential again? I believe so. What about all our “lifestyle design” and “digital nomad” friends who had a rough time landing something stable they truly love? Possibly they’ll come back too.

Those who are able to retire early are often cherished. I certainly admire those who are able to cut down their desires to the bare bones and live a very frugal lifestyle. I also admire those who’ve been able to strike it rich very early! That said, perhaps early retirement isn’t a good idea for the large majority of people. Let’s explore several reasons why people want to retire early, why they exist, as well as understand why we should all think twice about pulling the rip chord too early. Someone has to argue the other side, so it might as well be me.

WHY PEOPLE WANT TO RETIRE EARLY (IT ISN’T THAT OBVIOUS!)

1) Haven’t found the right job. The number one reason why people want to retire early is because people haven’t found a job that gives them enough fulfillment to do for the rest of their lives. Nobody quits a job they like. If there was a job paying $80,000 a year to hike in the mornings and get massages in the afternoon, I’d do that forever!

2) Easier way out. If you are a sub-optimal performer, you tend to experience a sub-optimal lifestyle. It’s easier to just give up as a result. Let’s say you are a research scientist who after 10 years never produces any relevant research and finds no cures. Instead of going on with failure, you decide to give up and get out of the game. Early retirement is like the cowards way of not having to be the best any more. Some even liken it to suicide.

3) People are lazy and want things now. Society has shifted our ideals from hard work and thinking long term to instant gratification. Nobody has the patience to work for decades before being eligible for a pension. We all think we know more than we do and deserve to be the rich boss now. When we don’t get our way, we quit, rather than letting people know we couldn’t reach our potential.

4) A feeling of hopelessness. During the downturn a tremendous amount of people began writing about location independent lifestyles that allow one to break free from the 9-5 and “really doing what you want.” In actuality, we all know that what they really wanted was to have a good job and be accepted by society. It’s because of the downturn of 2008-2010 that so many were displaced with nowhere to go. If they did, perhaps they’d think differently. In an economy where everybody is losing money left and right, what’s the point of working some think. Well, the economy has roared back with a vengeance and if you aren’t working, you are falling farther and farther behind.

5) Realization that time is precious. With the median lifespan hovering around 80 years old, you only have 15 years of retirement to enjoy your life if you retire at 65. People in this camp have a heightened awareness of time and therefore do everything possible to make sure they are financially stable sooner, rather than later. I’m a strong believer in this thought process, but at the same time, I don’t want to cut short my potential. The worst is running out of money and being too old to do anything about it.

THE DANGERS OF EARLY RETIREMENT

1) Oops, you change your mind. Imagine retiring at 37 after 15 years of work after undergrad. You spend the next 3 years traveling the world, living a leisure lifestyle and experiencing new things. At age 40, you realize the reason why travel and play is so fun is because of work! You have the urge to get back into the game, but who’s going to risk hiring a 40 year old with a 3 year employment gap? The employer will suspect you are rusty, and that you may just bolt after a year. As a result, the employer simply chooses to hire someone with no gap in their employment, or someone else from another firm.

2) You run out of money. No matter how conservative we are in our retirement money needs, something unforeseen may happen. Maybe you have a medical disaster, or your house blows down. Maybe your investments tank due to a massive economic downturn. Who knows what the future holds. But if you partake in “normal” early retirement, without the mega-millions windfall, you may find yourself needing more one day. Again, a large employment gap is perceived as riskier by the employer and you may be un-hireable. Here’s a savings guideline by age you should consider.

3) You lose touch with friends and family. It’s nice to have all the time in the world to do whatever you want.  But, if your friends and loved ones are busy working all day, they can’t join you on your midday hike or adventure to Bora Bora. They may also have a family to tend to during the evenings and on weekends. If you’ve ever taken a staycation by yourself, you’ll soon realize how lonely it is when others are busy leading their own lives.

4) You may find it difficult to start your own family. Unless you have a tremendous amount of money, raising a child may be too expensive an endeavor to undertake as early retirees. If you never wanted to start a family, chances are you haven’t been saving for a family. Let’s say you’re a woman who turns 35 and suddenly realizes the safety window for having a baby is closing rapidly. It may be tough to even get pregnant, let alone support a new born without the right support network.

5) You lose your own self-respect, and the respect of others. Unless you’re out there saving the world,  you might start getting depressed you are contributing very little to society.  Others will stop respecting you because you aren’t doing anything productive either. Traveling the world and writing about how great your life is a very unproductive endeavor. You better be learning a new language and volunteering in the local community, or else you’re just a travel bum. A great many rich early retiree friends from the Dotcom bubble have mentioned they wish they didn’t get rich so quickly.  Instead, they wish they worked a little harder for their money.

CAREFUL WHO YOU LISTEN TO

Early retirees will croon about how great their lifestyles are. I’m sure, in some ways they are spot on. But notice how they seldom write about the hardships they face. They can’t, because it’s important they continue highlighting how awesome everything is, to justify their decision to no longer work. Can you imagine spending 16 years going to school (grade school + four years of college) only to work for 10 years? Some would surely say that’s a waste, would they not?

The worst that could happen is some aspiring scientist, musician, lawyer, or teacher decides to give up their careers because they believe traveling around the world on a shoe-string budget is so glamorous. Years later, they realize their fingers don’t remember the notes anymore and the chemical formulas are one big haze. Maybe they would have made it as a concert pianist, or helped discover the cure for seasonal allergies, ACHOO! What a shame they never reach their full potential.

EARLY RETIREMENT IS SELFISH

As I strive to fulfill my goal of retiring by 45, I’ve come to the realization there’s an unhealthy focus on self.  “What do I need to amass to be comfortable?” should be replaced with “How much do I need to be comfortable while helping others?

It’s absolutely selfish for me to even consider working less than the number of years I went to school. I think back upon my childhood years and how much effort my parents put into raising me. My mother would spend hours a week sitting down with me after dinner to explain mathematical equations My father would read all my essays and fix all the punctuations and grammatical mistakes. I would feel like a disgrace not to at least try and do great things.

45 is just an age goal. If I haven’t achieved my potential by then, I don’t plan on retiring even if I have the money to do so. The point of having an earlier-than-normal retirement goal is to help keep someone focused. Like an exam that’s 3 months away, we don’t study until the week before. Hence, better to believe the exam is only a week away so that we are better prepared.

LOOK BEYOND THE SMOKE AND MIRRORS

Early retirees sometimes like to pity those who have to work. Yet perhaps we should empathize with those who are lost and haven’t found something they truly love to do (point #1). It’s impossible to all be great humanitarians working tirelessly until the age of 65.  It’s easier just to give up and tell the world how fabulous your life is, and how you’ve retired on your “own” terms.

As the economy recovers, perhaps we’ll be able to bring back our lifestyle design friends to their home countries to work again. Our early retiree friends will stop fearing failure as employers open their arms wide open and allow them to succeed. Entrepreneurial ideas flourish once again due to an abundance of capital. The more the wealth gap widens, the more the early retiree crowd will want to get back to work, and realize their full potential.

There comes a point when working isn’t about money anymore since we have enough.If we all reach this point, we’ll no longer be focusing just on ourselves, but on helping others as well. We’ll be doing something we love, that provides a sense of purpose.Here’s hoping we all get there!

Recommended Actions For Retiring Earlier Than Normal

Manage Your Finances In One Place: The best way to build wealth is to get a handle on your finances by signing up with Personal Capital. They are a free online tool which aggregates all your financial accounts in one place so you can see where you can optimize your finances. Before Personal Capital, I had to log into eight different systems to track 28 different accounts (brokerage, multiple banks, 401K, etc) to manage my finances. Now, I can just log into Personal Capital to see how my stock accounts are doing, how my net worth is progressing, and where my spending is going. The best feature is the 401K Fee Analyzer which is saving me over $1,500 a year in portfolio fees I had no idea I was paying. Personal Capital takes less than one minute to sign up and is the most valuable tool I’ve found to help people achieve financial independence.

Check Your Credit Score: Everybody needs to check their credit score once every six months given the risk of identity theft and the fact that 30% of credit scores have errors. For over a year, I thought I had a 790ish credit score and was fine, until my mortgage refinance bank on day 80 of my refinance told me they could not go through due to a $8 late payment by my tenants from two years ago! My credit score was hit by 110 points to 680 and I could not get the lowest rate! I had to spend an extra 10 days fixing my score by contacting the utility company to write a “Clear Credit Letter” to get the bank to follow through. Check your credit score for free at GoFreeCredit.com and protect yourself. The averaged credit score for a rejected mortgage applicant is 729!

Photo: Darth Vader.

Keigu,

Sam @ Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

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.

You can sign up to receive his articles via email or by RSS. Sam also sends out a private quarterly newsletter with information on where he's investing his money and more sensitive information.

Subscribe To Private Newsletter

Comments

  1. says

    Although it was not my plan, I’ve been basically unemployed for close to a year now(it’s not the economy’s fault, though–family health issue) I’ve learned some things in that time that relate to your post.

    First–I don’t see not earning a wage to be the same as not working or not being productive or not serving society (my grandfather as a retired minister served society a great deal through humanitarian efforts when he retired, for example). Believe me, if i had the opportunity to be able to retire early, I’d be able to figure out what to do with my time–I feel fairly productive even now. I aslo don’t know that financial independence would mean never earning money again–sometimes earning money is just fun;). . .

    And there are many kinds of paid employment in which you earn money but don’t necessarily serve a really useful purpose–or help others. I’ve worked in such jobs, and a lot of highly paid people are in the same boat. I have a problem with the idea of “making money=useful.” “making money=making money” that’s all.

    As for going on leave and coming back–well, I suppose that if you sat in your fuzzy pajamas all day watching TV, it would be hard for you to account for your employment gap, but I’ve had employment gaps before (after some major international moves). It kind of depends on what you’re doing in your ‘retirement’ and what kind of work you want to go back to. I actually think my previous stint of unemployment helped me find work. I was in France teaching the odd English lesson to professionals and I went back to work as a French teacher in the US. . .I had no problem landing a job–interviewers were mostly impressed with my experiences abroad. . .
    .-= Simple in France´s last blog ..Radical simplicity, frugality–for couples only? =-.

    • says

      Sometimes earning money is fun, lots of fun! It was fun arguing from a different point of view though, since so many glamorize early retirement. I’m afraid that once I get there, I’ll ask myself, “Is that it?”

      If I found something truly spectacular to do, I’m never retiring! I like what I do now, and could easily do it for another 5 years, and likely 10 years. But after that, I’m going to go all out and find something different.

      This whole blogging thing is such a trip, I hope the fun never stops!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Why Isn’t President Obama Considered White to The World? =-.

  2. says

    I’ve studied early retirement a lot. You’ve said some pretty darn smart things here, Sam.

    I think the biggest benefit of seeking early retirement is that it will make you a far more effective saver. The old-age retirement goal doesn’t work for most of us. It is too distant a goal. If you have your sights set on retirement at age 40 or 50, you go to the trouble of doing the numbers to see what makes that possible. From that point forward you are informed about spending decisions in a way that few of us are. You know how spending or not spending affects you in a personal way.

    It’s critical to have a plan as to what you are going to do after “retirement.” I think you are spot on when you say that many early retirees will not acknowledge how miserable they are because they feel a need to justify the unusual path they have taken. Early retirement can be truly wonderful. It can also be truly awful. You need to devote the same amount of energy that it takes to get the financial numbers right to the task of figuring out what it is you are going to do with all the free time. Make good decisions (one good decision could be to do work you truly love!) and retiring early can be the best move you ever made.

    I see the growing interest in early retirement as being more of a positive than a negative. But we have not got it all figured out just yet. It was not a practical option for a long time. So this is still a new and developing idea.

    Rob
    .-= Rob Bennett´s last blog ..“If Somebody Has Been Making Death Threats, Contact Law Enforcement Authorities” =-.

  3. Geek says

    Perhaps it is selfish to retire early, but does that matter? I hope to retire early on the “time is precious” front. There are many more things I want to study, see, and enjoy. My grandparents at 80 now, retired around 50-55, and they have a nice pattern of visiting friends, contributing to their community, and being with family.

      • says

        Sam, I don’t think self-care is the same as selfishness my friend. Taking care of yourself is only natural; trying to deprive someone else is the perversion. If you have been financially responsible and are able to retire AND desire to retire, I don’t see a problem with that almost regardless of the rationale.
        .-= Roshawn @ Watson Inc´s last blog ..Uncommon Money News (Vol. 92) =-.

      • PatrickW says

        There is an old Chinese proverb that I paraphrase here, “To rule the nation, you must first rule your family. To rule your family, you must first rule yourself.” There is nothing wrong with being self aware about what makes you happy. I have volunteered with absolutely miserable people who sneered and condescended at fellow volunteers. I don’t care how good the cause is, but I wouldn’t ever want to work with those folks again. Those people could use a bit more introspection or, even as you termed it, selfishness before worrying about the greater good.

  4. Cara says

    I’m a lawyer, so I’d be doing society a favor by retiring as quickly as possible and going back to being a musician. Unfortunately, sometimes trying to live up to your parents’ and society’s idea of “potential” means sacrificing your potential in another area.

    • says

      Cara,

      Attorney here too, but why would you retering benefit society? Tell me which one is more likely,

      You help a family…recover money from an accident, you create an estate plan to save on taxes, create the business they always dreamed of…etc

      OR

      Your music inspires other people?

      I would think the former.

      I don’t get the retire early crowd, I just don’t. I want to be happy, and if working makes me happy, then why quit?

      My dream is around the 45 or 50 year mark to be able to choose how much I work, how many clients I take on a year, how many hours I work in a week.
      .-= Evan´s last blog ..What is Your Day Job or Profession? =-.

  5. says

    I agree, retiring early can have its drawbacks. I took a mini retirement once after I was laid off. I did not rush to look for a new job because I have money saved. Guess What? I became bored to death and I also had no one to hang out with My spouse and freiends were all at work.

    :(

    Everything is not good as it seems
    .-= Moneymonk´s last blog ..Friday Quote =-.

    • says

      Everything is not as good as it seems indeed. I seriously believe Play is so much fun is because of Work! Going on that Euro Vacation after 8 months of hard work feels pretty awesome.

      I remember 3 month summer vacations between grades in HS and College. The months I just worked on my tennis game and fiddled around, I was bored out of my mind and longed to be back in school having fun with friends and studying!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Why Isn’t President Obama Considered White to The World? =-.

  6. says

    Great topic, i am only 23 but have always dreamed of retiring early, lets say age 50. The idea of not being productive anymore isnt really valid for me, as i would still be active. I consider it a productive day if i improve my golf game or book a flight to an exotic location i have never been too. I dont think its necessary to earn money in a day to make it a productive day. Hopefully ill be able to achieve my dream through hard work and then ejoy the next 30 years of my life without the grind of a 9-5 job.

    • says

      Hi Stephan – Wow, you’re already dreaming of early retirement at 23? Best you find something new to do ASAP! Improving your golf game or traveling to an exotic location is nice, but is that really productive? It goes back to my statement that early retirement is selfish, in the fact that all we are doing is focusing on how we can kick back, providing little to society.

      Keep on trucking and don’t settle for that soul-less job. You’re too young!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Why Isn’t President Obama Considered White to The World? =-.

      • says

        I think what im looking for is being able to “retire” not worry about money and do what i enjoy doing. Maybe buying a boat and being the captain of a charter boat for fishing trips. Or maybe a tour guide at cities around the world. Still doing something, but not having to worry about money

  7. says

    Do you agree or disagree that early retirement is a selfish proposition? Are we all just inherently selfish to begin with?
    I think it depends on what you accomplished, look at Bill Gates he did great things with Microsoft, and now he’s retired but doing great things with Charity…

    Personally, if I can get enough money, I’d like to do as Benjamin Franklin did and try to invest something great! He retired at 43 and then began all of his great inventions! We have a better world because he retired and invented things and organizations!

    What is your ideal age of retirement and how do you know when is the right time?
    Between 40 and 50, depending on the person. I also think I’d like to at least work part time after I semi-retire. Maybe start a business (or my by blog will take over the workd Muahaha)

    Do you think once we’re back to a raging bull market, there will be less people who want to retire early?
    Probably, but I bet they will look at the risk characteristics of their portfolio before they take the leap, and adjust it accordingly ;)!!!

  8. Alex says

    My mother retired early from Ford when they were offering the Buyout. She managed to survive by proper management of her money.

  9. says

    As I’ve said today in my intriguingly entitled post about financial freedom and the post-apocalypse (er, you’d have to read it! ;) ) I pretty much plan on always working now.

    I see my aim of financial freedom to make work optional. I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy any work I do then!

    A couple of years ago I sold out of a small business, not for a fortune but for enough to take a breather. I was bored to tears and listless! Some of that was doubtless mourning the demise of what had been a big thing in my life, but it also made me realize how much I like doing decent work, getting good feedback from clients — and banking checks! ;)

    Some Early Retirement gurus would say the problem is that I hadn’t replaced work with anything, and that’s probably true. (I could/should have traveled for six months, but for various reasons I didn’t).

    But I personally think being involved in society in some capacity is healthy and leads to a longer life — and in a world dominated by work and money, ‘being involved’ can easily mean some sort of job or work.

    The key is to have a choice I think. And to remember your can opener! ;)
    .-= Monevator´s last blog ..Don’t forget your can opener =-.

  10. says

    You make a very good point regarding why people want to retire early. If you are making good money loving what you do, why on earth would you retire early? You don’t, and that’s why I feel a little sorry for those who are retired early.

    I need to be productive. I couldn’t stand just writing, or playing golf, or surfing all day. I’d get bored. It feels great earning money and affecting change. Early retirees don’t have my respect, unless they founded some incredible company early on.
    .-= Powell´s last blog ..Marc Lipsitch catches the flu in action =-.

  11. Kevin@OutOfYourRut says

    Sam I’m not sure more people entered early retirement because of the bad economy. It’s certain that more people wrote about it and marketed it, probably because the general audience is fascinated about it as an alternate lifestyle in reaction to the bad economy.

    It’s kind of the way people romanticized Bonnie and Clyde and other well known crooks during the Depression. They knew that what they were doing wasn’t right, but they envied their no-holes barred “solution” to the economic crisis, and probably were a bit jealous as well.

    A rising stock market will probably create more early retirees. Just prior to the market crashes of 2000 and 2007 a lot of people were moving toward early retirement. But after, everybody needed to go back to work.

    • says

      Hi Kevin, good points and I just want to make sure that early retirement is not overly romanticized and people really think about why things are.

      I see your counterpoint about a rising market creating more retirees given more wealth. But, isn’t it interesting how I’ve taken the completely opposite argument that a bull market creates more OPPORTUNITIES, and hence allows people to want to work longer, b/c they are having more fun seeing results?

      My whole thesis is that if we all found something we really love to do, and got paid for it, we’d never have to retire!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Why Isn’t President Obama Considered White to The World? =-.

      • Kevin@OutOfYourRut says

        Sam, I agree, you’re onto something about seeing the results. With a strong economy and a bull market, people could see WEALTH down the road apiece and were running toward it, no doubt. With enough wealth retirement (and a bunch of other things) become real possibilities.

        You’re dead on with the last point as well–retirement is probably more of an attempt to end the drudgery of work that isn’t entirely satisfying, apart from the monetary rewards if offers.

  12. says

    Reason 1 about not finding the right job contributes to my wanting to retire early. If I could retire early, I’d have more time to discover and develop my strengths, and use them to make a more meaningful contribution to the world.

    I don’t want to retire early just to travel the world forever, because I’m sure I’d get bored of that.

    Maybe semi-retirement, where you work less than 40 hours a week but have accumulated enough assets to partially live off of, is the answer. Then you’d have more time to create a work-life balance.

    After reading Work Less, Live More, I’ve been think a lot about semi-retiring this way at around 40 years of age.
    .-= Darren´s last blog ..How To Find The Right Financial Planner Using 10 Questions =-.

    • says

      Semi-retirement to me sounds like the IDEAL balance after 20 years of working. That’s probably something I plan to do.

      Even if you find your ideal job, after 10-20 years, it will get boring imo.

  13. snowy says

    Anyone who is go-getter and disciplined enough to retire early probably isn’t going to have a retirement spent sleeping in til noon and then fiddling around online in their slippers for the balance of the day. I don’t buy that an extended layoff is the same thing. As my personal example, my dad retired early and had a nice range of activities – from looking after his elderly mum to german classes (and associated travel) to gardening to friends and so on. There’s no reason that “productive” has to mean tied to a 9-to-5 or your own company.

  14. says

    Despite the ER moniker in my blog name I have come to realize that “early financial independence extreme” would be a more descriptive name. The way I see it is actually that employment or working for money comes with certain restrictions (meetings, BS, promotion, politics, …) which I do not do very effectively. Furthermore, all my money from a single source or from a single vocation sadly requires one to become a specialist. I like Heinlein’s quote that being able to do or doing just one thing effectively makes one an “insect” rather than a human being.

    FI is the key to developing all aspects of me as a person. If I had stayed in my career, I’d be spending all my time in the following cycle: Write proposal, get proposal rejected, resubmit proposal, get proposal approved, calculate and analyze data, write paper, get it published, go to conference and give talk about paper. Repeat for 30 years while getting a nice paycheck once a month as long as I show up every day and grind. No wonder we used to joke that a scientist is just a tool that converts caffeine into papers.

    Instead I get to play with wrenches and dovetail saws, write software, use spreadsheets, do stock analysis, prepare food, write articles in several different places on many different topics, … And I get the satisfaction from creating a product and getting paid directly from selling that product. This may depend on the person, but I got much more satisfaction from selling something that I made for $200 than showing up for work, contributing a small part of the work, and then getting a direct deposit of $2000.

    Certainly, not everybody has the right personality to be ER or FI, but I also sincerely doubt that “being the best you can be” is necessarily accomplished by showing up 5 days a week at the same place doing the same thing for decades.
    .-= Early Retirement Extreme´s last blog ..It’s like owning a business… yet not quite =-.

    • says

      Hi Jacob, well said. It’s about financial independence, which is a part of retirement.

      I really admire what you’ve done and how you are going about things. My point is that it’s not for everybody, and many folks should be careful about retiring too early.

      Selling something for $200 you made on your own is definitely more rewarding than “working for the man” and making $2,000.

      I started this post playing devil’s advocate. But, the funny thing is, I ended up convincing myself early retirement may very well not be the right thing for me. We shall see!

      Keep up your good work!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Why Isn’t President Obama Considered White to The World? =-.

  15. says

    Incidentally, it is interesting notion that one aspect of what makes vacations feel good is that work sucks. A better strategy would be to go on vacations that suck so that going back to work would feel good ;-) More accurately though is probably that vacations create at least some balance in the life of someone who is concentrated on a single activity, if only for the allowed 2-3 weeks a year.
    .-= Early Retirement Extreme´s last blog ..It’s like owning a business… yet not quite =-.

  16. says

    Sam … honestly, whenever I come visiting I have to plan for an hour (if not more) but the reading is good and the conversation stimulating.

    I don’t know if it is really early retirement that people are looking forward to – more likely they are looking to be financially free, and therefore be able to continue in employment as a choice not a necessity if they love the job they have or, having the financial freedom, do something altogether different, maybe start a second career, go and get a fine arts degree … it’s just part “B” and if the financial wherewithal is there, then the lifestyle is determined more by values than by the need to earn.
    .-= Valentina´s last blog ..Sunday Morn Musings: Screw It, Let’s Do It! =-.

    • says

      Hi Valentina, good to have you back! How is blogging life going for you? It really is about financial independence, whether it’s sooner rather than later.

  17. says

    I’m sorry, but if this post wasn’t so sad, it would be comical.

    To quote my friend-in-spirit, Peter Joseph:

    “Think about how much time is wasted in most people’s lives on jobs that do absolutely nothing. Think about how much energy is wasted by someone who works at Wall Street, driving from Pennsylvania every single day from their home so they can be a trader on Wall Street, wasting energy on something that means nothing; that wastes even more electricity and energy. When you begin to think like that, when you begin to see how much energy and resources are wasted on actions that have no return whatsoever except the self interest and consumeristic, monetary values of particular individuals, but return nothing to society. Think about how beautiful society will be when we start to educate people on natural processes of the environment; on science, on technology, and resource conservation. And people can gauge society in a professional level, if you will, they do so on things that actually matter. Whew, that will be cataclysmic. That would be unbelievable. To see people doing stuff that actually has a relevance. That will enable them to have so much more freedom too.”

    There’s a reason I “retired” early, and it’s deeper than what this post is about.
    .-= Ryan Martin´s last blog ..Are You Wasting Your Time Chasing Money? =-.

    • says

      Hi Ryan, although I write with this strong thesis, you perhaps miss my point. I’m all for early retirement as I myself want to be done by 45!

      The world over cherishes those who seek early retirement and early financial independence. My attempt is to elucidate the potential dangers.. the dark side if you will. We all need to really have a good think before just cutting the chord.

      Please DO share with us your deeper reason as to why you retired early. The “problem” with my writing is that I argue so aggressively sometimes, that it ends up rubbing someone the wrong way. What can I say.

      Have a read here. I argue the entirely OPPOSITE side. It’s called “You Are The Lucky Ones”, and that means you! http://untemplater.com/personal-finance/you-are-the-lucky-ones/

      • says

        Sam,

        I get your point now. I used the Peter Joseph quote because I have strong feelings against the monetary system we live in. Likely, everyone reading your post already knows this system is inherently flawed.

        It’s this perceived fear of the dark side that makes the system easier to live with. To use one of your examples.

        “1) Oops, you change your mind”

        My wife and I took two months off to travel Europe. She quit her job to do this (her employer didn’t give her time off, go figure). She got a job immediately in her industry when she came back. What was a new employable asset? Being able and responsible enough to quit and travel (life experience).

        Like my wife, I returned to work after our trip and my employer gave me more authority. Why? Because obviously I have my shit together (budgeting, planning, resourcefulness); World travel can show more responsibility than doing the same PowerPoint presentation every week.

        I don’t want to come across as “I figured it all out”; personally, what I try to do is validate perceptions that are based on the “system”, and most can’t be. Everyone can do this.
        .-= Ryan Martin´s last blog ..Are You Wasting Your Time Chasing Money? =-.

        • says

          Ryan,

          I think we’ve had enough bashing of “the system”, hence my post… “The Dark Side…”. There’s enough disatisfaction with the way things are, I don’t feel like addressing the issue more.

          Do you feel you would still be as against the monetary system if you had tons of money? I can tell you that from I had no money during school, to now having some money, and enough to live for quite a while without having to do anything, I’m pretty darn happy with the monetary system for the most part.
          .-= admin´s last blog ..Why Isn’t President Obama Considered White to The World? =-.

        • lisa says

          Very well put Ryan. Thats what i figured out (I will probably travel the world even frugally doing helpx and woofing exchanges) :-)

          Lisa

    • says

      Way to just quote someone without sharing your own thoughts. I think Sam is being too nice. Let’s just come out and say it. Without having to look at your bio, it’s pretty obvious you weren’t very successful in your career, whatever that may be. If you were, you wouldn’t quit. Truth hurts.

      I think we can all be productive without 9-5 job as well, that’s a given. What’s not a given is no-brainer type mentality that goes into thinking we should all quit our jobs and do whatever the F we want.

      • says

        Hi Genius,

        My name is Ryan Martin, but you should know that.

        I am 33. If you need help being a landlord or buying duplexes, I can help you with that. If you need help valuing stocks, I can help you with that, although you may not agree with me. If you need help with agile project management, specifically scrum, I can help you with that. If you need help finding a great diet book, I recommend Muscle Chow, by Gregg Aveddon. And you’re right, I didn’t succeed at “career”, which is fine, because life offers many other options.

        I know it’s not a bio, but it’ll have to do for now.

        Though yours was an opinion Genius, I will still let you know the truth doesn’t hurt me; that’s why I go by my real name.
        .-= Ryan Martin´s last blog ..Are You Wasting Your Time Chasing Money? =-.

      • lisa says

        Now, whats a failure? Is the guy who gets laid off and cant find work for 1.5 yrs a failure? Who do you think you are to be arrogant enough to say that?

        Im an IT consultant, make a lot more money than 75% of people in the country according to the IRS, that does not make me better or less or a failure if i want to retire.

        I think you want ryan to be a failure, so you feel better about your lack of ability to quit your job and travel around the world, as well as doubting your ability to get a job when you come back. Personally, ive traveled overseas many times and immediately was hired when I got back as well.

  18. says

    Sam, you paint a pretty bleak picture of retirement! :)

    I suspect that while retirement may not be perfect – no jobs are perfect as well.

    I actually “like” my job but there are things I don’t like about it and some days I wish I would have stayed home. :)

    I imagine retirement might be similar – even those who enjoy it might still wish they could just “go into the office” once in a while. :)

    Interesting post!

    • says

      Hi Mike, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I paint a bleak picture on purpose because the majority of people paint a wonderful picture. I’m trying to answer the “what if” question, as in what if retirement isn’t all cracked up to be. “Is this it?” is what I’m afraid to ask.

      Hence, rather than retire.. find a job where you really love, and just do that for ever instead. I don’t want to be unproductive, not to say being retired is unproductive!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Why Isn’t President Obama Considered White to The World? =-.

  19. says

    I plan to retire early at age 35. What lead me to this point was more luck than skill. Our house price moved up (we’re not in the US) by about 85% in the five years after we bought it. I worked in a family business where I got bonuses based on performance (of the company, not me). I had cash during the market bottom and was following stocks that fell to less than 1/2 their previous levels… then recovered.
    Right now, I work as a stock broker and financial planner. In two years, I’ll have enough income from investments to support my young family. Unlike my father, who seems addicted to income, I’ll stop working. My reasoning is that I’ve learned as much as I’m going to, and I’ve helped clients as much as I can. What I want now is to return to school to become a teacher. I guess there’s no need to “retire” first, but I’m not brave enough to quit work, support a family and pay for a mortgage and pay tuition. I’d rather have the mortgage paid off and have enough income for the rest of my life. The upshot is that, no matter where I work, I won’t have to put up with politics because no one can hold my paycheque over my head.

  20. says

    Wow, I love to hear these justifications on how you NEED to be a cog in the machine to actually feel like a contributing member of society.

    Congratulations educational system! You have created someone who feels “complete” with a job and is more than willing to stay in the box. Yes! That is when I reached my full potential… in the cubicle, while attending to emails.

    What is sad is the constant whining about “boredom”. Hey everyone, it helps to get your tush off the sofa, into the community and helping. I know its difficult to see sometimes, but the concept of doing something without getting nothing in return a.k.a. being generous will get you a long way from “bored” and do a lot for that “achieving your potential” piece.

    Also, I do see where you guys are coming from: when you come home from the job, there is very little you want to do but sit on the couch… but try a little harder.
    You had dreams once, right? I doubt they were about “meetings” and “gantt charts” … do something now, even if you are working full time, to take care of your dreams a little bit too.
    If you have a job you love and that fulfills your dreams that is truly awesome. You earned it!

    A person who shines, inspires others to shine with them.

    “Retired” at 33 and lovin’ it. Yeah!

    • says

      Anna – I might be wrong, but i hear a little bit of sarcasm in your comment :) I guess my post has elicited some emotion from you, which I think is healthy.

      Again, I’m ALL FOR early retirement, as I myself would like to do something else by age 45. I just wanted to highlight the potential dangers, the dark side if you will, b/c I get a sense that early retirement and being a lifestyle designer is becoming a massive trend that not everybody should undertake.

      Here are my other thoughts in a post entitled, “You Are The Lucky Ones” http://untemplater.com/personal-finance/you-are-the-lucky-ones/
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Why Isn’t President Obama Considered White to The World? =-.

    • says

      Another person who probably didn’t do well in her career, and is now “retired” and loving life. Come on Anna, be honest with yourself! If you were successful in your career and loved your job, you would never leave!

      Taking a look at your website for one second, I don’t know. I wish you luck in trying to be a consultant to companies who want to virtually teach online.

      Before bashing people who work the “9-5″ route, look at yourself first, reflect, and tell us what made you so great.

      • The Mere Human says

        Most people don’t love their job nor do they have success.
        Are you expecting that anyone can be successfully ? Also, people want more
        things out of life, instead of a mundane 9-5 existence. Remember that the
        feeling of success is just a dopamine rush, clever people can look deeper
        then that.

        Most jobs are dumb, tedious, fed with politics, few of them give a real
        contribute to society. I don’t see a problem with people who want a simple
        life, working in what brings enjoyment.

        Don’t bother though, if you don’t have the IQ to fill the FI time, society will do
        that for you, muahhaha.

  21. BD says

    I dunno, in today’s world where jobs are hard to come by, I think anyone who can retire as early as possible is the exact OPPOSITE of selfish, because by them retiring, it opens up jobs for the rest of us. My entire life, I’ve always been at companies where I’ve had no opportunity to move up, because everyone above me refused to ever retire. At my last place of employment, a textbook publishing company, the person above me was in her 80’s and still going strong. She wants to work there til she physically can’t any more. There was no place for me to go up (it was a very small company). That was five years ago. Lately, ANY job is hard to come by, and even more retiree-age people are hanging on due to the bad economy.

    So really, retiring early can be a boon for those of us needing jobs. :)

  22. says

    My straight answer, no it’s not selfish and may actually be good for there to be more early retiree’s.

    There is always a level of unemployment that needs to be filled and for every sensible person who retires early, another work space is opened up for people who need to work.

    My job is no longer location or time dependent so I have given myself a large amount of freedom. However the idea of retiring is not even in my mind yet…. I love very frugally but still I don’t think I could stop doing what I do for a long, long time…. I really like it.

    Another thing about all these early retiree’s is that most of them have not retired. Many of them are making money blogging, starting locally based business or volunteering…. Rarely do people stop it all earlier than say 70-75.

    I get told off by my friends for playing Devil’s Advocate all the time…. I am sure you get stick for this too :)
    .-= Forest´s last blog ..Condom Soccer Balls, Not Just For Hard Times =-.

    • Kevin@OutOfYourRut says

      Forest, I think you’re right about people not really retiring. Maybe part of the lure of “retirement” is really the freedom to give up what is not fulfilling in favor of finding that which is?

      We probably can’t generalize why anyone would do it, or want to do it, but it’s a solid bet most aren’t planning to become completely inactive at 40 or 50. Then again, maybe a few are, but it’s not a state we can stay in for too long. Restlessness seems to be built into the human spirit.

  23. says

    @BD

    @Forest

    Man, didn’t think about that angle about retiring to make room for others in the work place! Your guys came up with the same conclusion within minutes of each other. Pretty neat.

    BD, I’m sorry the 80 year old woman is keeping you down!

    Forest, playing Devil’s Advocate is OK sometimes…. but the problem is, when you get SO immersed in playing devil’s advocate, you can convince yourself, as I kind of do in this post, that you are a real advocate! The better the argument, the more convincing. Easier to psyche ourselves out in other words!

    • BD says

      Heh, it’s ok. I ended up quitting the job 5 years ago due to life problems and having to move (CA was getting too expensive for me).

      Although, I still haven’t been able to find any full-time work after that, so I’m starting college again this fall for another degree.

  24. George says

    If you’re working at a job that you defined, then you’re not going to want to retire. Heck, isn’t that a definitition of selfishness, too? It’s your job, so of course you want to continue working in it?

    The rest of us are perfectly happy to shift off to our own plans when we’re financially independent. For myself, the right time would have been about age 35-36, but I didn’t plan for it, so am still working at age 47 with golden handcuffs that will come off no earlier than age 53.5.

  25. says

    Hey Sam, you have some of the best posts and commenters on the web, hands down.

    As someone who’s early semi-retired now and has taken a few (short) sabbaticals along the way too, I am conflicted on the notion that there’s a correlation between lack of success at a job/career and wanting to retire. I worked at a university for a period of time and there were scientists there that continued to show up daily well into their ’70’s and ’80’s. Some of the younger scientists suggested that perhaps they should have got a life outside of work a long time before. But they loved their fields of study. My father still helps out on the farm at the age of 90 during busy times. He loves it.

    I’ve also worked at jobs that I looked forward to Monday morning every bit as much as much, if not more, than I looked forward to Friday. Which meant that I often spent the weekend working too. Not all of them though, and being financially independent allows me to pick and choose and be able to reject those jobs that don’t provide the kind of work that just fits like the proverbial glove.

    I think the key to be happy in retiring early is to be going *towards* something, not so much *away* from work. To be able to spend some time and energy on things that are fulfilling to you because you enjoy doing them and possibly feel as if you’re contributing (if that’s one of your values – it may not be), not because you have to earn a paycheck to pay the mortgage.

    Nobody’s ever going to pay me to write a novel, and when you’re in the kind of career / industry where 70+ hour weeks are the norm, especially when you’re making the big bucks, you can choose something like early retirement to be able to do these things.

    I find that I am conflicted about forums like http://www.early-retirement.org where it seems that some people don’t have a ‘grand purpose’ or even compelling goals that they want to achieve. Their days are free, yes – but are they meaningful or just filled with mindless activity and minutiae – just self-directed rather than employment-directed? I don’t know, sometimes I even wonder what the point of blogging itself is.
    .-= Single Mom Rich Mom´s last blog ..Home Renovating – buy the right property at the right price =-.

    • says

      I have to apologize to the forum members of early-retirement.org. I do think that there’s a huge number of people on that forum for which providing advice and guidance to newbies is actually an avocation. They love helping others and it shows. I’m beyond grateful to all of them.

      Unfortunately, they read my comment here and felt that it was troll-like which was not my intention at all. I know I can’t seem to feel the freedom in just living a peaceful life that’s not striving for something all the time. I couldn’t do it in the workplace and don’t seem to be able to do it outside of work either.

      Coincidentally, retiredsyd had a great post on the types of retirees and how some take to retirement like a duck out of water and some, like me, have “achievement addiction”.

      Here’s her post on that:
      http://retiredsyd.typepad.com/retirement_a_fulltime_job/2010/05/the-retiring-mind.html

      Needless to say, I bought the book. And will work on my internet manners.
      .-= Single Mom Rich Mom´s last blog ..April’s challenges =-.

      • harley says

        SRM, just to clarify, the post on ER.org isn’t referring to you as a troll. It’s a different comment here that is being referenced.

        • says

          Harley, do you think Rob’s comment above, stand alone is an unreasonable comment? I realize his reputation, but he doesn’t spam my site.

      • says

        Thanks for that harley, I’ve been busy so I haven’t been back to check. :-)

        FWIW, I did say “some” people, definitely NOT all – that site is full of deep thinkers, it almost reminds me of a philosophy club with a great sense of humor.

        There’s quite a few on the site who have shown up and expressed dissatisfaction with ER. Some go back to work to find purpose because that’s what they know, others find it elsewhere. I’m hoping I have the imagination to do the latter.

        Here’s an article you might find interesting:
        http://pslinstitute.com/misc/HappyPeopleNeverRetire.pdf
        .-= Single Mom Rich Mom´s last blog ..Internet forums – fulfilling or sucking the life out of you? Also some thoughts on being an achievement freak – and being ashamed to admit it. =-.

  26. Lemondy says

    Excellent post. I was brought up to have strong motivation to “give back” to society. To say that spending a few decades to become a “specialist” in your vocation is somehow a BAD thing – this is totally alien to me.

    Think of any of the teachers who you found inspirational. Were they newbies straight out of college, or the battle hardened late/middle-agers who learnt how to do it well through hard-earned experience? Think of the hospital consultants who took ten years accumulating debt in med school before they even STARTED their careers proper. Do we want these people to retire early too?

    That is the kind of lifestyle I aspire to follow. Find something you love to do, and are passionate about, work out how to do it really damn well, and then keep doing it. Keep working at it until you get better, and be damn sure pass on the experience you built up to others.

    Yes, no job is perfect and you’ll have to go to crappy meetings and deal with politics. Boo hoo. Life is so hard for us in modern society, eh? The number of people who have given so much to me throughout my life: from my family, to my teachers, my doctors, people who took a chance on me and gave me a job – I feel I have built up a massive debt to all these people. The way to pay it back is to work hard and do something useful with my life – I want to leave the world a better place than when I entered it, by whatever tiny difference I can make.

    No, I do not want to retire early. I mostly love and occasionally hate the things I do in my job and career, but I’m sure as hell going to stick at it until they cart me away.

    Rant over. Lemondy out.

    • says

      Hey Lemondy, that’s exactly what I’m thinking. It would be a damn crying shame if all those teachers, doctors, inventors who helped us all decided to retire early and never reach their full potential.

      No job is perfect, and life ain’t fair. We should have a given right to the pursuit of happiness, and that is ironically where we should empathize with those who are so dissatisfied with their jobs that they quit early so they don’t have to go through the pain anymore. Everything takes time and perseverance!!

      Good luck in your search!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Don’t Have Children If You Can’t Take Care Of Yourself =-.

  27. says

    Having worked 30 years in the public sector, I was able to take an “early retirement” at age 51. But I kept working, picking and choosing, mostly part time. I am now 63 and have started my own business and do more and more of what I love. The word “retirement” implies lack of activity to most people. To me it means more choices.

    James Michener said, “The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him, he is always doing both.”

    I try to follow this creed. Am I retired? I will let someone else decide.
    .-= Joe Plemon´s last blog ..Uncovering Money Myths / Weekly Roundup =-.

  28. Charlie says

    I agree that having a sense of urgency now is important to being prepared. Retirement takes planning, investing, a whole lot of saving, and a backup plan. It’s easy to get depressed thinking about how many years we have left to work (even if retiring before 65) as it’s often a big number – and in the beginning is always a bigger number than the current number of work experience years we have. So instead of thinking about it as how many years of work we have left (cuz the word “work” isn’t a happy word for many), think of it as how much more money we can put away in that many years instead.

    Raising a family will definitely impact when you can retire unless you are already including those costs in your retirement number when you’re single. But I imagine those costs are really tough to estimate. So many parents have told me raising children ends up costing way more than they planned for, and families can end up bigger than planned too. I’m still intimidated about raising kids and would definitely have to work many more years to be able to support them the way I’d like to. Perhaps I’ll just enjoy spending time with my relatives and friends kids instead and stick to retiring in my 40s!

  29. Live Richly says

    The typical idea of retirement never really resonated with me. It seemed like most people worked at a job they didn’t like for 30+ years until they could quit – sort of like prison! If you did enjoy your job, why quit? After reading the Four Hour Work Week where Ferris talks about mini retirements all the way through, I thought, “Bingo!” I plan to do what I call soft retirement where I work part-time doing things I enjoy and spend other effort on other projects that may not make money, but are still productive, like learning a language.

    Is this selfish? Not necessarily. I plan to employ people, help out my community and keep my use of non-renewable resources down.

    I think Sam is right about mentioning the “dark side” though. Bad things happen in life. I am thankfully recovering from a chronic illness, but many people never do. My husband could become disabled or die suddenly. I plan to have a big nest egg so that if I can’t work for a few decades, I am not impoverished.

    It’s also quite the coincidence that I posted my own article about retirement a couple days before Sam: http://liverichly.com/?p=294

  30. says

    Great topic, Sam. I think everyone needs to decide for themselves if early retirement is a good option for them or not. You bring up some good points to think about. I personally can’t see myself retiring any time soon, I enjoy what I do (and I’m no where near ready!). However, if I were a cubicle drone, I could see myself dreaming of an early retirement. Anywhere but a cubicle sounds too good to be true ;). (been there, done that…yuck!)
    .-= Little House´s last blog ..Yakezie Carnival =-.

  31. says

    I like to think of ‘early retirement’ as the time I get to full time write books, do public speaking, and do service full time during the day rather than a ‘full time’ corporate job. I can’t picture myself not improving or contributing, I would go nuts.

    Do you agree or disagree that early retirement is a selfish proposition?

    –> I agree it is selfish if the end goal is to just hoard/mass money and then spend the rest of your days sipping cool aid on a secluded island while the world passes you by. It is not selfish if you seek it to really pursue a passion/soul driven activity that you don’t consider work, but where you are contributing in some way to the world.

    Are we all just inherently selfish to begin with?

    –> Haha, I believe so yes. My first instinct is to win the lottery and go hibernate in a cave for the rest of my life. But it’s just an instinct. I’m not sure where it comes from. Maybe from the ‘evil’ view of corporate America. Either way, that instinct is not what is best, I know that much.

    What is your ideal age of retirement and how do you know when is the right time?

    –> 45, Roughly the same as you Sam, if I’m realistic. 35 when I’m really in shooting for the stars mode (getting a great book publishing deal, for example). Either way, I’m going to pursue my ‘retirement’ activities now part time until I have the means to retire and do them full time.

    Do you think once we’re back to a raging bull market, there will be less people who want to
    retire early?

    –> Hmm, I think there’d be more because they’d see so much more money and think, “Oooh, soon I’ll be able to retire at this rate.”

    Thanks for making me think Sam (bows).
    .-= Jeremy Johnson´s last blog ..Your Past: Does It Equal Your Future Or Not? =-.

    • says

      Jeremey-san, I guess we are on the same track mate! I donno though, a raging bull market makes me want to work more, so I can really maximize the opportunities. Not working or vacationing during a rager feels really off. I really couldn’t stand it.

      I’m surprised nobody takes my stance regarding a horrible economy makes people want to just relax more, since there’s no point running in reverse!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Why Isn’t President Obama Considered White to The World? =-.

  32. says

    Interesting, interesting.
    I’m not going to say anything about early retirement this time but someone must look into your “multiple personality disorder” symptom :). I just read your comment on Untemplater about defining yourself outside your career and now you’re shaken by the thought of losing your career?

    Maybe I didn’t read the whole thing, maybe I got it wrong (so please enlighten me), maybe it’s part of your journey, maybe there’s just too much information and ideas floating around, maybe…
    .-= Bytta @151 Days Off´s last blog ..Day 30: Our Father 2.0 =-.

    • says

      Bytta, you’re not looking carefully enough. There’s a lot to read, so no worries! My goal is to get out of my comfort zone, because I’m just way too comfortable doing what I’m doing now. It’s important to me at least that I keep on moving.

  33. says

    Great post Sam. I agree that people want to retire because of your number 1 reason – they aren’t happy with their jobs. But, if you think about it, what if when they retire, they aren’t happy then either? Then, what?

    If retirement is the supposed answer to the problem of not liking your job, another “problem” will arise in retirement that will give the retiree something else to want. :)

    I am totally for working for something fulfilling that you don’t feel the need to retire…especially when it serves value to others. That’s the ultimate goal…at least for me it is. :)

    • says

      Good point Kristine! Perhaps happiness is just a state of mind. If you are predisposed to be happy, that is what you’ll be no matter what circumstance.

      I often wonder if I’ll ask myself one retired “Is this it?” No, it’s important to keep active and find something we love to do.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Where Did All The Time Go? =-.

  34. says

    Perhaps one way of looking into retirement (that is, changing the perspective of the definition entirely) should be taken into consideration as well. For example, when most people mention retirement, they mention not working either their primary trade in favour of something easy, or not working at all.

    To me, this is not how I intend to retire. In my eyes, a solid definition of retirement means barring off cataclysmic changes in finances. It means having a portfolio/assets that not only grows greater than expenses on a monthly basis, but being able to hedge your position protectively against the many cases of calamity. I guess you can say it means freedom of purchasing power.

    Even if I reached that stage, be it through success in my writing, developing a powerful portfolio, or otherwise, I wouldn’t want to give up working on the things I love working on. I want to remain part of my communities. Inspire people. Coach people. Teach people.

    If by retiring, it means never working again and going into solitude.. I don’t ever want to retire. <3
    .-= Aury (Thunderdrake)´s last blog ..The Hoarding Dragon – The difference between knowledge and experience =-.

    • says

      Yes, a big debate is what the definition of retirement is. Hence, those who proclaim they are retired while working on this and that is somewhat misleading.

      I’m just wondering what would happen if nobody was legally allowed to retire early. Would we have more innovation and progress? Or just a bunch of unhappy people? If we never have a choice, the path we are on is all we know, and therefore, we may be very happy as a result!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Where Did All The Time Go? =-.

  35. says

    Wow, what an interesting discussion!

    First on the selfish thing: Who is more “selfish?” The person that “does what they love” and gets paid money to do it or the person that “does what they love” and doesn’t get paid. Hmmm . . .

    Second: Thank goodness I’m retired or I never would have had the time to read through this post and all the interesting comments. What are the rest of you doing, reading blogs at work while your employer is paying you? Hmmmm . . .

    And lastly: I’m kind of guessing that most commenters here are younger than my advanced years (46). I had a job that I loved for many, many, many, (too many) years. Get back to me after you’ve had that job you love so much for 18 years and tell me what happened to that love.

    Yes, I could have gotten another job, tried for one I loved. Or, since I had made enough money in those 18 years to retire, I could just go do something I loved and not get paid for it. Is productivity defined by “earning money?” I think I’m contributing far more to my society (friends and family relationships) than I was going to work each day pushing papers around eight hours a day (and surfing the internet on my employer’s dime?)
    .-= Retired Syd´s last blog ..The Retiring Mind =-.

    • says

      All good points Retired Syd. Hence, why I question whether we are all inherently selfish? I think the answer is “yes we are”.

      You’ve retired at an age where I aspire to retire as well. I think 20 years is long enough to work at building wealth. Time to do something else afterwards.

      I’m all for early retirement if someone can afford to do so. It’s just important not to look at things so blindly without looking at the other side.
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Over The Hill At 40 – Age Discrimination In The Workplace =-.

      • says

        “I’m all for early retirement if someone can afford to do so. It’s just important not to look at things so blindly without looking at the other side.”

        I get what you’re saying. I think the same thing about having children. Aaah, but that’s another post entirely, isn’t it. . .
        .-= Retired Syd´s last blog ..The Retiring Mind =-.

  36. Tracy says

    Interesting topic. I’m 26. I want to be financially independent before I’m 40. I haven’t “started working” yet. . . or maybe I have. . . I’m a graduate student.

    I guess what I don’t get is an assumption from the pro-work camp: that “work” must be “paid.” I personally feel that I could be a much more useful and productive member of society if I could pick a cause and go for it without necessarily having to worry about material compensation. I feel that working for a paycheck ties me down to someone else’s requirement of what is “useful” work, which I may or may not necessarily agree with or value.

    In a related context, why is self-respect tied to “paid” work? Does that mean that if you do un-paid work, you should not have respect for yourself? Where does that put volunteering?

    And for that matter, why is “retirement” defined as “no work at all”? I don’t get that part. . .

    I’ve noticed that if someone else wants to do something, you aren’t paid to do it. . . So why assume that the job you are paid to do is in any way optimal?

    • says

      Hi Tracy, I donno if it’s a good idea about grad school if you’re already thinking financial independence/retirement by 40!

      Self-respect isn’t necessarily tied to paid work. It’s just what man believe. Volunteering is highly noble, and you make a great point.

      Good luck in your post graduate work life!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Where Did All The Time Go? =-.

  37. says

    A nice perspective.

    Early retirement is not for everyone. Personally, I would find far more meaning outside the work place than in it – if I had a different occupation I might feel differently.

    To address the holiday point, it would be nice….very nice….to take a holiday for a couple of weeks without spending a few hours a day dealing with work.

    To address the status point, I simply do not understand the issue – I will not miss the corner office (which I have) and the other perks that go with my job. I view the ability to retire early and be financially independent as a bigger status symbol than any job I could possibly aspire to.

    There is an endless menu of meaningful and enjoyable things to do with my limited life. My current job and most other forms of paid employment do not rank very highly by either criteria.

    The issue is not whether people should or should not retire early but why some people have the means to persue alternatives to a working life which does not fulfill their aspirations but choose not to do so.
    .-= traineeinvestor´s last blog ..A case study in emerging market risk =-.

  38. says

    I have posted an extended version of this on my own blog here:
    http://sawbonessurio.wordpress.com/2010/05/04/response-to-financial-samurais-the-dark-side-of-early-retirement/

    Vanakkam Sam-san,
    Hate to sound cynical, but was this post written to get more hits? I jumped here from ERE. All arguments usually have a “premise” on which the entire thing hinges on. Your’s unfortunately hangs on “being glib” and that’s it! Very sorry, but that’s the truth.
    [....]
    Even if we halve the World’s population number for “employable age”, how many of the world’s “employable” can find the “right job”, ever? South-East Asia is also home to the world’s “grunt work”, i.e., all the things that “Urbania” consumes, come from here. Do they have “right jobs”? Like hell they do! Do they read your post? Most likely not! Do they even aspire or think of “Early Retirement”? Hmmmm, an interesting thought. Don’t you think? Reality is, the largest employer in most “booming” economies is healthcare (nursing and tending the ‘nouveau riche’ sick), hospitality (preening and pampering the rich) and construction (dirt, noise, sudden-death)… Sad truth is: The vast majority want jobs in air conditioned offices, with ‘officer-like’ qualities, working on computers, shifting papers and “supervising” someone else. No economy/country can provide this to EVERY ONE of its aspirants.

    Please let’s not delude ourselves about “finding the right job” in order to “fulfill our worth”. With 6 billion in the globe and rising don’t bother about fulfilling your “worth”. Try and enjoy your “being” (snide remarks about exotic vacations notwithstanding). By the way, what is one’s worth? Read and decide for yourself. Caveat: This can happen to anyone!:
    The famous Joshua Bell experiment.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/07/AR2008040701359_2.html?sid=ST2008040701372

    Next time you feel like posting such “antidote” posts, sleep over it until the thought passes or matures fully. If it still doesn’t, then please read YMOYL by Joe Dominguez (or something else similar. This one came to my mind first!).

    Enough of my “Harrumph”!
    Surio.

    • The Genius says

      You’ll have to read at least 10 more posts on here to come up with a decision to answer you first question.

      Frankly, I think Sam writes with a lot of truth. He mentions he’d like to retire early too, but just can’t see himself retire much earlier than 40-45.

      We already have tons of posts and forums like early-retirement.org glorifying early retirement. We all believe it’s great. What’s unique here is the different perspective.

      • says

        @thegenius,
        Sam’s a good writer – No one denies that. That’s why he attracts intelligent readers LOL ;-). The comments are meant to keep him on his toes when his standards appear to be slipping.
        I am a constant lurker to this and many other “similar calibre” sites, so I’ve read my share of postings (certainly more than 10 :-]). I don’t usually post “I also agree” comments and if I feel that my point of view is ‘reasonably’ covered in the sample size of comments, I keep mum :-]. In this case, it was not. That made me open my big mouth and put my ‘Size 10′ into it.
        In this case I discovered a bad case of
        “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”
        — Maslow
        affliction with both Sam as well as bulk of the commenters. The way to see this whole Early Retirement(Early Retirement Financial Independence) palaver is by looking a little into the discoveries made in the field of Physics. Newtonian Physics was not enough to describe the Time-Space continuum, so Quantum Physics had to be invented and used in order to better explain the whole kaboodle(#).
        (#)This is a generalisation and terms will be mixed-and-matched badly. Purists may forgive and absorb the general sense of my analogy.

        So it is with Early Retirement. As I write in my longer blog post, people that usually contemplate the ER/FI “concept”, do so after having moved above and beyond the “usual incentives” for working: What will you do from 9-5?, Proving one’s potential etc. I like to think that the readers that DO read his post are higher on the Maslow triangle than the exotic vacation, corner ofice chasing kinds. So, it is plain incorrect to use these “old-arguments” as the so called “dark-side-of-retirement” props. I felt no one addressed this in the comments so far. If any one of the commenters had done so, I wouldn’t have “Harrumphed” at all. I would have been ‘quiet as a church mouse’, so to speak :-)

        In a similar vein, “Monevator” tackled the “dark-side” about running your own business. I had no issues with that one because he was somehow able to avoid the “Have Hammer, See Nails” syndrome.

        If you haven’t done it yet, I also suggest people take a look at the Joshua Bell article on my comments section. “What’s one’s worth?” is very very very… contextual. And regarding our parents’/teachers’ sacrifices that was being touted (in post and the comments), they were merely fulfilling their duties and their responsibilities as good parents and teachers (which we would do too in those same roles. Of this point I am very confident!). But should that aspect define the rest of our lives’ trajectory? It is a rhethorical question. Please ponder.

        To me, the “age” of retirement is a complete non-issue in this context. “I would be certainly retiring earlier that I would have, since I have woken up from sleep-walking” would be a more appropriate thing to say.

        No offence to anyone with my comments, just that I have high standards from the bloggers I follow and the “followers” (for lack of a different word) that follow the blog as well. :-)

        Best,
        Surio.


        .-= Surio´s last blog ..Response to Financial Samurai’s “The Dark Side Of Early Retirement” =-.

        • says

          Hi Surio, thanks for your thoughts, all for some reason I have a hard time fully following your comments. Sorry for my lack of reading comprehension!

          I write my posts in a way that is authentic as possible. Again, I’m all for early retirement, and I wanted to “argue the other side” forcefully, to ensure I, and perhaps other readers who have similar aspirations aren’t missing anything since this is serious, life changing stuff.

          I’m truly thankful for the great readers on this site. Some fantastic insights and comments. I learn as much from others as some do from the posts I suspect.

          Please elaborate more on “when my standards seem to be slipping” and “similar calibre” sites. What standard are we talking about, and who are the comparisons?

          Cheers,

          Sam
          .-= admin´s last blog ..Pretend You Have Arrived So You Can Become =-.

        • says

          Please read my comments in context with your blog post; the comprehension will come.

          A very very small proportion of the general populace (very self aware – see maslow triangle) angle for ER and FI. Not everyone bothers about this concept. This is a fact. The readers that “seek out” such (ER/FI) sites have already formed ‘very compelling reasons’ for why they “want out” (run out of money, difficult to start family, losing self-respect are really trivial and already well considered in the grand scheme of things for those that decide to enter FI/ER). Therefore, these arguments along with the others that your post makes are *not* the compelling arguments for “dark-side-to-retirement”, at least not for those who are avidly following “good” ER/FI blogs as a means of benchmarking their own progress. This is my point of view.

          1. IMHO, “Finding the right job” can never be an arguing point. With nearly three billion people across the planet, ALL of them competing for the “same kind” of resources and with globalisation moving jobs willy nilly, etc., finding the “Right Job” is now like winning the lottery…. Don’t even bother bringing this as an issue. “Most” people contemplating ER/FI have already stopped “looking for fulfillment” in their 9-5 jobs (regardless of whether they are successful in it)! Makes sense now?
          2. “Fulfilling one’s potential” would be a non-argument. As the Pulitzer prize winning Joshua Bell experiment showed, when a “philharmonic grade” artist was ‘positioned’ as a busker, he was treated as a busker with no-one even bothering to give him a second glance :-(. So much for his parents nurturing his talent and his teachers honing his skills. Nobody gave a damn! So words like “fulfilling one’s potential / worth”, etc., should not be a moot point for argument in the very first place. “Who you are?” must go above and beyond your educational qualifications, or your parents’/teachers’ context, or your job, your perceived “worth and contribution” to society blah blah…. “Just be” and try and enjoy your existence on this planet (This is an Eastern philosophy and not inherently a “selfish thing” – do not view this in a Western World context) Do I make sense now?
          3. The word “Early” is relative (not to be correlated with age). Setting a “goal (exit stage 2, Left. age 45)” is a very very personal thing (and very much in context with one’s own geo-political situation). It cannot be treated as an absolute (Never assume your readership demography on the Net :-)). The goal can be 35-45-55-etc., but all of these are still “Early”, is it not? “Earlier than I normally would have retired” is the way to approach it. For instance, “What if you feel bored afterwards” would not be an issue for someone who exits at 55 (60 would be the nomial retirement age anyway). So all these that argument is also context sensitive and not really a “dark side”. Should I put it any more differently?

          ……….and so on.

          These points that you should have considered/raised in your post is what I meant that “standards are slipping” (lack of a better word).

          Best
          Surio.

          P.S: I am very sorry my comments made no sense in the first place. And here I was, deluding myself that I had a engaging, chatty style of writing and cross-referencing :-(. Better stick to an odd post, and forget about that award-winning novel ;-) Ha Ha. No hard feelings from my side :-D.

  39. says

    Sam,

    Thoroughly enjoyed your post. You covered most of the topics on early retirement nicely.

    I think people are so obsessed with retirement because it brings the hope of freedom and choices. My definition of retirement is having enough financial reserve to have the choice to choose what you do on a daily basis without worries.

    Everyone’s definition of activities in retirement are going to be different based on their life experiences. If someone had sacrificed for their family and worked hard all their lives, they might want to spend a few years or more relaxing. For others, they have gone back into work because they are too bored. There is nothing wrong with any choices.

    Unfortunately for BD, I’m one of those who will be shuffling into the office even at 103 because I enjoy what I do. Will that change in the future? Who knows. I don’t have the same interest today as I did at 21.

    People are better off planning to answer this question: Will I have enough assets to pay me a salary without working from when I retire (Age here) until I am 120. We have retirees today who retired before I was even born. The average life span for someone who is 65 this year is 90 years old. Let’s assume retirement at 45-85 only. That’s 40 years of salary (payable to yourself) to cover along with the cost of inflation.
    .-= Kim | Money and Risk´s last blog ..The Financial Risk of Using Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin & Blogging =-.

  40. says

    I retired at 50 because I was a millionaire. Plus, I had achieved every single thing I ever set my heart to. Or so I thought. No matter what chart or calculator you use to figure out your financial structure, the math never works out correctly. They can’t figure in The Great Recession and technological advances. You can try to figure the worst case scenario but trust me, the numbers just never work.

    Here I am almost 60, I have spent a decade living well @ a bare bones pace with a frugal lifestyle. I haven’t run out of money BUT I’ve run out of retirement. I want back in. So, I am.

    I’m certainly not a coward and my blog (http://alldoorsconsidered.blogspot.com) has been gut honest and I have told my readers the hardships I faced. I have so many more things I’d like to do with my life, more adventurers and more accomplishments and that takes money. Not passive income.

    Obviously, I’m not alone in my thinking because I am encountering more and more early retirees who want back in. I think the ‘new’ retirement will wind up like the ‘old’ retirement: you work till you can’t, then retire, and die a few years later. The ages will have changed but the procedure will have not.

    Good luck to everyone.
    .-= morrison´s last blog ..Early Retirement and Frugality Suck. =-.

    • says

      Morrison, you write a truly fascinating, insightful, and poignant post regarding your experience as an early retiree! Thanks for that! At least you can say you did it, and now you have two job offers again to get back to work since that’s what you wish!

      I’d love to read more about your “time off”. Was traveling even more not in your desire list? What about trying to make your blog humungo and monetize it? What about joining a tennis league for those over 50 or 55? I’m just trying to think, without knowing for sure, how it will be like come retirement!

      Thanks for your candidness!!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Don’t Have Children If You Can’t Take Care Of Yourself =-.

  41. says

    @Surio
    Thanks for further clarification. My site isn’t an “early retirement” site, so perhaps benchmarking my site to sites that specifically focus on early retirement might not be appropriate.

    Can you share with us your age, some semblance of what you need to require to retire, and how you are going about achieving your early retirement goals if that is what you ultimately desire?

    I’ll stand by my conjecture that nobody retires from a job they love to do. Those who haven’t find that job (which is not a dirty word) are just less fortunate. Not everybody can find that amazing job, and that’s just the way it is.
    .-= admin´s last blog ..How To Dramatically Increase Your Job Security For Life! =-.

    • says

      I am benchmarking “your posts” with the clarity I generally associate with “your other posts”. No relation to other ER/FI sites. It takes 7 colours to make a beautiful rainbow. And variety IS the spice of life. So no comparisons ever with apples or pears.

      My reply to “the genius” was in context with his accusation to “read some and more” before opening my trap ;-). Do not read too much into that. @thegenius – no hard feelings. :-)

      My credo:
      ————–
      “Your job is not your life. It is just a job.
      A job is a way to earn income. How you spend
      your time is your life, and your job is just part of it.”

      I think Dominguez said this. I don’t have the book with me now.

      About me:
      —————
      In short, all the cliches, I fulfill.

      At length, I have a PhD and a career that is considered “successful”. I live in India; I am married to a level-headed European (Thank God for small mercies ;-)), I am in my mid-30s. I intend to be “free from the grind” in 10 years (Fingers crossed). I too made bad calls with the real estate bubble, with credit cards, with impulse buys…. and woke up when the missus shook me by the collar to remind me if I have “lost my marbles and earlier clarity of life” :-D. sometimes, I feel my life kind of mirrors/parallels all the turns that Jacob’s (ERE) life also took.

      One major reason to aspire to become “free” in that sense of the word would be in order to have *time* in your hands that is your own (to kill)! It would be liberating, don’t you think? Time to “do what you please” without really bothering to ask “What’s in it for me?”, spending time with my wife and children on my own terms and conditions (rather than miss out on family life due to ‘crunch’ product releases, impossible deadlines, back-to-back (mostly pointless) meetings, etc., dragging you down and away). I could contribute to worthwhile causes, undertake theological pursuits ;-), return to sailing, “Saving the World!” (Poor joke, that one ;-)), writing a book, I would like to build an institution that outlasts me, I could go on! Or to simply say, sod all this…. I will simply “Do Nothing” and “Just Be”.

      I use a combination of Bonds, mutual funds and Equities, a watertight, frugal lifestyle, NO credit cards (believe me, it IS possible!), no ‘heavy’ travel, use public transport, keep fit to avoid healthcare costs, use cash for most if not all purchases, and mercilessly cut overheads (and hopelessly failing at times :-() to get to the Finish line… Fingers crossed. I have kept a link to a “retiring from passive income” on my blog as a constant reference to lifestyle choices ;-)
      http://sawbonessurio.wordpress.com/2010/02/08/planning-ones-retirement-with-1-1-crores-corpus-fund/

      Have I given the data you asked for? Shoot a line if you need more clarity.

      —-
      Since you chose to call the topic of “right job” your ‘conjecture’, I will leave you at that. And since ‘fortunate’ figures in your conjecture, please reflect on this quote.
      Fortune is a fickle mistress;
      She arrives without announcement
      and leaves without notice.
      — MK Gandhi.
      So, I am not at all in favour of using it as a point of assessment. Those with jobs you love, Count your blessings, and hope the good times last (I certainly do!). In today’s dynamic world, one cannot ever be sure of anything but oneself.

      Best,
      Surio.
      .-= Surio´s last blog ..Response to Financial Samurai’s “The Dark Side Of Early Retirement” =-.

      • The Genius says

        No wonder why it’s a little difficult understanding your comments. Didn’t realize you come from India. Your writing style is very different.

        • says

          @thegenius,
          I do not intend to flame anyone but I think the excuse of using my “Indianness” for not comprehending my comments is a little lame. The English “construct” we all use is the same. I know that my vocabulary is a little more (or different) to yours’ but that should not be an issue, yes? (specially with free apps like “wordweb”).

          I (and the wife) suspect, the real reason for all this perceived “difficulty in comprehension” is that most of us become so rigidly convinced of our own respective points of view floating in the post and comments, that it becomes difficult to wrap around a very different point of argument floating across the room.

          And that is exactly what I have been trying to do all the while, in all my comments. To try and bring a slightly macro (the 3 billion population point, the globalisation impact on our finances and jobs (we love), the Joshua Bell article, etc.) rather than the usual micro perspective of “not in right job”, “getting bored” arguments that we are all aware of anyway.

          Best,
          Surio.

          .-= Surio´s last blog ..Response to Financial Samurai’s “The Dark Side Of Early Retirement” =-.

      • says

        Thanks for sharing your background Surio. I see you too wish to finish up in 10 years and are in your 30’s. May I ask whether getting your PhD contributed to your desire to want to no longer work? And if so, would it have been better not to spend 4 or so more years getting your PhD and worked in that time instead to make/save/invest more money so you could retire early?

        What is your PhD in? What do you think about my argument of at least working the amount of time one is in school? In your case, that would be about 20 years or so.

        Cheers
        .-= admin´s last blog ..Pretend You Have Arrived So You Can Become =-.

  42. vga says

    I really liked this post. It’s nice to have someone point out that early retirement isn’t necessarily all smiles and fun. Or to put it another way, you better have some idea what you actually want to do when you retire.

    I’ll take a crack at your questions too:

    ——–
    Do you agree or disagree that early retirement is a selfish proposition? Are we all just inherently selfish to begin with?

    Nothing selfish about it. Selfish would be retiring by living in your Mom’s basement and have your parents take care of you. Being a stay-at-home-do-nothing-spouse is selfish.

    Retiring by living on your own hard earned money is just another life choice. So long as you aren’t asking other people to support you, it’s all good.

    ——–
    What is your ideal age of retirement and how do you know when is the right time?

    My ideal time is right now… maybe.

    I’ve worked at a number of jobs and I can say that either the idea of standard 9-5 work isn’t for me or that I’ve been in the wrong field. I don’t really know.

    I’ve worked at some jobs that I absolutely hated. Abusive bosses and 12 hour days. The pay was nice, but there is no early retirement that would have been early enough from these places. I’m not sure how people even manage to make careers out of these kinds of jobs.

    I’ve also worked jobs that I’m totally indifferent to. They aren’t good or bad. They are just there. I don’t make much money and I’m certainly not living a glorious lifestyle. So the question is would I keep working if I could retire and maintain the same quality of life? The answer is probably no. If working 40 hours a week gets me a small apartment, used furniture, an ancient car and no real respect, how is retiring going to be much worse? At least if I retired I could move to some place with better weather.

    Despite all this I still hold out hope that I’ll find a job I actually enjoy and where I feel as if what I do actually matters. I’ll be starting a new job in a few months and am really looking forward to it.

    I am also very well aware that one day my career will hit a wall. There comes a point where doing good work isn’t enough. You’ve got to have social skills, political skills, and schmoozing skills to get ahead.

    At this point there are a few options.
    – Keep on going because you like what you do
    – Become cranky and cynical
    – Lateral move to a different job
    – Try to play the game and get further ahead
    – Retire

    And your career can get derailed other ways like through mergers and layoffs. If and when this happens I might not have any desire to go through the hassle of sending out resumes which will never be read, trying to BS my way through interviews and moving across country to get another job. That’s why I hope that I can get the option of early retirement as soon as possible.

    ———
    Do you think once we’re back to a raging bull market, there will be less people who want to retire early?

    No idea. Nothing about a raging bull market makes people’s jobs more enjoyable nor does it help people find their passion. The grind is still the grind. What it does do is provide more opportunities for people to advance their careers thus eliminating a certain sense of career malaise. On the other hand it also makes early retirement easier by allowing people to save up money faster.

    ———–
    Here are some thing would stave off any desire for early retirement (at least for me).

    Stability – I don’t like knowing that I – and my whole department for that matter – could be rightsized away at a moment’s notice. As far as I’m concerned, early retirement is more stable than having a job these days.

    Advancement – We all can’t be CEOs, concert pianists or Nobel lauriets. And realistically most of us know that we’ll never reach those heights no matter how hard we work. But there needs to be some way for even the lowly peons to get ahead. Even if it’s as simple as getting additional training in exchange for more money or more vacation days. Everyone needs to have things that they can realistically work towards. Nothing is more depressing than showing up every day just because you need to pay the rent.

    Real breaks – If I could take a real break of 3 months to a year and still be able to return to my job it would be the perfect answer to the current deferred life plan. It doesn’t have to be paid and it doesn’t have to be spent on exotic beaches in Hawaii. It just has to be a break so that I can focus on bettering myself. Maybe I want to take a vacation and road trip across the USA or maybe I want to write a book. The point is that I want the time to do those things.

    • says

      We can’t all be great, but shouldn’t we all at least try to be? Perhaps a good analogy is like quitting in a baseball game during the 4th inning while behind 1-5. There’s 5 more innings to go and anything might happen if we try!

      Are you saying the folks living off the Bank of Mom and Dad aren’t being very productive either? :) Well, after yesterday’s massacre, maybe we don’t have to worry about a raging bull market anymore!!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Pretend You Have Arrived So You Can Become =-.

      • vga says

        Personally, I’m done with trying to be great.

        I’m another disillusioned PhD (actually, I have two doctorates, but now is not the time or place to expound upon my educational credentials). I’ve noticed several lurking around here and there are probably a few more that haven’t revealed themselves. I took the thing that I was best at (academics) and pushed it to its absolute limit. During the process I learned exactly where my limits are and a lot about what would be needed to surpass them.

        I don’t really view it as quitting in the middle of a game. I think of it more as playing the odds. If I know that I only have a 1% chance of becoming the director of research at XYZ corp or a less than 18% chance of becoming a grant funded independent investigator, are those really worth striving for? I’m not so sure, because those require a great deal of effort and every bit of time and effort that I spend striving towards those goals is time and effort that cannot be directed towards other goals.

        One very painful thing that I learned while pushing myself to the limits academically was just how much of life I missed out on. While I try not to be bitter and angry about it (I firmly believe that very little comes from such thoughts), the fact is that sometimes when I think about how much I gave up to chase a goal I get pretty sad.

        While I haven’t completely given up yet and I hope that I can eventually find a very rewarding job, I think I’m done with being an overachiever. Average is fine with me. I’d rather focus on bettering myself as a person and catching up with all the things I missed out on.

        I think that’s one reason why the idea of early retirement fascinates me. The idea of vast amounts of time to improve myself instead of someone else’s CV or a corporate bottom line is a very tempting proposition.

        The other reason is that as I’ve looked for jobs in the middle of this grueling recession I realized just how little your actual ability has to do with finding and keeping a job. Search engines, not people, read your resume. Politics, not results, gets you a promotion. Networking, not your resume, gets you an interview. A merger wipes out your whole department. A crazy boss ruins the 40+ hours a week you spend at work. Work stress ruins your home life. You finally get a job offer, but it’s in the middle of some place you have no desire to live. The thought of being able to walk away from all that is very enticing.

        The only thing keeping me from retiring early is that I don’t have the means yet. I could probably do something akin to Jacob’s ERE, but I find his lifestyle far too Spartan and far too removed from social norms for my tastes. In other words, I’d rather keep my day job. Should I ever acquire the means to retire early, it’s anybody’s guess when I walk.

        Honestly, if I liked my job I would probably stay there until I finally got laid off. Like I said before, I don’t hate work, I just highly doubt that my efforts will ever get me anywhere worth mentioning, so I would rather focus on those areas where I can actually improve myself.

        ——–

        Some of the people living off the bank of Mom and Dad are trying to be productive, but just haven’t caught a break yet. And in this economy that can be very hard. I’ve got a lot of sympathy for these people. I was pretty close to becoming one of them a few months ago.

        But there is another group of people who sponge off their parents, spouses, significant others, relatives, the government, etc simply because they are lazy. No matter how great the economy is and how easy jobs are to come by these people aren’t going to do work unless it’s forced on them.

  43. Jade says

    Actually I think the definition of early retirement varies. For some people, such as myself, early retirement is not about no longer working; rather, it’s about having enough money to quit working because you have to, and work because you want to. I’m already retired but I’m still serving my country in the military. I will probably do this for 30 years, not for the pension or benefits, but because I just love what I do and it makes me happy doing it. I get to travel a lot, spend time with my daughter, do side projects (I own a real estate company) teach, and do so many more things. Retirement is not about not working it’s about working on what makes you happy, irregardless of money.

  44. Jade says

    If you have a job you love, it’s no longer a job, but a definition of what you do. When people ask me what I do for a living, I always answer that I’m retired even when I’m doing work for the military. I love, love what I do, so I do it for me and not because I have to, or because it pays the bills, trust me, money is not an issue. I can buy almost anything I want. But that’s not the point of working, just getting money to pay bills.

  45. says

    Harley, do you think Rob’s comment above, stand alone is an unreasonable comment? I realize his reputation, but he doesn’t spam my site.

    Of course I have never spammed your site or any other site one time in my entire life, Sam.

    My “reputation” is the result of the fact that I am the person who discovered the analytical errors in the Old School safe withdrawal rate studies back in May 2002. The former owner of the Early Retirement Forum (Bill Sholar) was a friend of mine in our Motley Fool days. He developed the FIRECalc retirement-planning calculator, which gets all the numbers wrong (it doesn’t include a valuations adjustment and that is the single most important factor that determines retirement success or failure). When I posted the accurate numbers at his site, Bill went nuts. Hundreds of other people expressed interest in being able to have honest discussions. Bill nixed that.

    Do you now understand why there is such a deep hatred of me among some of the people who congregate there? How would you feel if you not only had gotten the numbers wrong in a retirement study but had thereby caused lots of your friends to suffer failed retirements and had also banned honest posting on the topic at a retirement board? You would feel pretty darn bad about yourself. That’s how those people feel about themselves.

    You could be helping them out by writing about this matter. We need to get this all in the open so that people can return to sanity. I encourage you and all other personal finance bloggers to do so. Lots of people have been hurt, lots of boards and blogs have been destroyed or seriously damaged and those of us who care about the future of these communities should be doing what we can to help out.

    You’re a brave fellow, Sam. You’re perfect for this!

    Rob
    .-= Rob Bennett´s last blog ..Investing: The New Rules — Today’s Understanding of Stock Investing Is Primitive =-.

  46. Fun In The Sun says

    Sam,

    Very intriguing post. It’s actually quite biting and truthful, and I can see why many who have retired early would object.

    Unless these retirees created something great, I don’t have much respect for them at all. You’re right, it is kind of like suicide, b/c it’s the easier way out, rather than trying to achieve.

    Retirement is different for everyone as many have noted. But, it’s good to hear those who experienced early retirement and come out with the truth about its difficulties.

    It annoys me that early retirees show off so much and try and tell us how great their lives are when the rest of us are not retirement. It’s gloating, and unnattractive.

    Thanks for keeping it real!

  47. veganprimate says

    It’s a myth that every single person can find meaning in work, can do what they care about passionately for money. All that serves to do is make people feel bad for doing a normal job.

    People who don’t want to retire are the people with the problems, frankly, b/c they can’t think of anything to do with their time besides work. Their only social outlet is their job (losers), they have no hobbies (losers), and the only way they can feel productive is by doing someone else’s bidding (losers).

    Retiring from paid employment is simply going back to the way humans were meant to live. Taking care of business (food, clothing, and shelter) and having fun. I work in the medical field, so therefore, my work is “meaningful,” for what that’s worth. But if I had a choice to either run lab tests all day or do one of more of the following all day…play my ukulele, weave a throw rug on my loom, bake a loaf of bread, ride my scooter around town, knit a hat, hang out with people who WANT to be with me, not hang out with people who have to be with me b/c their cubical is right next to mine…well, I think I’d have a hard time choosing to run lab tests all day.
    .-= veganprimate´s last blog ..Tolerance and Immorality: Part 2 1/2 – We are all sinners =-.

    • Hard Worker says

      Are you kidding me? Why are you calling people who work at their job losers? You think there are actual people who exist who don’t have hobbies and just work? The people who don’t want to retire are so lucky!

      I just read your profile. You might have to look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself why you are in the state you are in. Too bitter imo.

      • says

        As is usual in arguments like this, it degenerates to misquoting. Nowhere did veganprimate say “people who work are losers.” Simply that if work is the only thing a person can think of to float their boat, they are a loser. I would tend to agree.

        Out of the gazillions of things out there that a person can do with their time, work is just one of them. To have such a huge dependence on one activity, and one that is simply following someone else’s direction (your employer), speaks to lack of creativity and well-roundedness.

        So I would have to agree with the initial sentiment, that if you can only find friends by working, if you can only find something to do with your day by working, and if you can only feel productive by doing what someone else is telling you to do, you really might be a loser.

        No one is happy every minute of every day, working or retired. But the proposition that happiness can only be found within the context of a “meaningful job” is very sad indeed.
        .-= Retired Syd´s last blog ..Book Winners =-.

        • says

          Will have to disagree. Out of the “gazillions of things” out there a person can do with their time, if someone believes work is that thing, then more props to them! Who are we to say that someone is a loser for loving their work and making an income to boot? I suspect the person who loves their work sooner or later will think, “Wow, I would do this for FREE and yet still get paid!”

          Yes, it’s a myth that every single person can find a meaningful job. Which is why those who have are some of the luckiest people on earth and don’t ever want to retire.
          .-= admin´s last blog ..The White Cloud of Happiness =-.

  48. says

    I guess my point was that if a happy person can be made to be unhappy simply by removing one activity from their life, that is sad. If someone has complete dependence on one aspect of their life for making them happy, I suggest they are not very well-rounded.

    As far as the paycheck, I think that is a very good reason to work. Most people need to work because of that little thing called making ends meet, which I fully understand.
    .-= Retired Syd´s last blog ..Book Winners =-.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *