What If You Don’t Want To Eat Dog Food And Live In The Middle Of Nowhere In Retirement?

Larry Ellison's yach at the America's CupEvery person has a different idea of the perfect retirement. Some are happy to live off the grid where nobody speaks another language other than English and the best restaurant in town is the greasy spoon. Others are happy to live in a one bedroom or even a trailer to make ends meet. Heck, some are even willing to live in a region where the weather is horrendous for half the year because rent is so cheap.

If the first settlers over 300 years ago spent three months moving across the country for a better life, why not take a Greyhound bus and move in under a week? What if you don’t want your kids to grow up sheltered? What if you love the arts and all different types of food? What if you don’t want to just ride a bike, but drive an actual car with airbags? These are some questions that many readers and friends have posed to me over the years.

Financial Samurai is never going to be a frugality blog focused on saving money so you can live in the woods. Everybody knows you shouldn’t spend more than you make. Saving money is not rocket science. You just do it and there you go. What Financial Samurai is about is maximizing your income through real estate, the stock market, derivatives, P2P lending, risk-free investments, and entrepreneurship. Figuring out ways to make more money is infinitely more exciting than writing over and over again why you need to budget and save. Once you maximize income your options expand tremendously!

MY IDEAL RETIREMENT  SCENARIO

1) Diversity. Having grown up in six different countries for the first 14 years of my life, I have a need for diversity. As a result, I prefer living in or the suburbs of international cities such as San Francisco, New York, Paris, or London. Part of the fun of living in a big city is all the great people you end up meeting. The other big plus is all the variety of food and entertainment. I attended international schools while abroad and it was wonderful to hear different perspectives. The only problem with living in an international city is the cost. Living on less than $100,000 for a family of four, or even for one person in some cases really isn’t that great when the median single family home price in San Francisco is around $1 million dollars. But with high cost of living comes higher incomes.

2) Above Median Income. Given $100,000 a year is kind of tight in expensive cities, the ideal retirement income is around $200,000 a year. I’m roughly $85,000 short based on my passive income generation capabilities, which is why I’m still trying to actively figure out how to make more passive income. If I wanted to cheat by including X Factor income, then things are fine. But cheating is no fun! With $200,000 a year (~$140,000 after tax), I can send two kids to private school if needed ($55,000), travel comfortably for two months a year ($20,000) and not have to worry about money when going out to eat ($15,000). The remaining $50,000 will be allocated towards housing and other forms of entertainment. I won’t need to save for retirement since I’m already retired.

3) Travel Hub. I love to explore new places, but I actually dislike the act of traveling. I’m always stuck in the middle seat next to the bathroom between two huge sweaty dudes. I’m also spoiled as hell because I always took business class on international trips since 1999. I even got to fly private several times when I was on the road with company management looking to IPO. I’m not wealthy enough to justify a $8,000 business class 14 hour flight to Asia when $1,300 in coach will do, but maybe someday. As a result of being spoiled, I always look for direct flights to go for holiday. The inefficiency of layovers kills me as does the stress of missing a connecting flight. Now that I have more time in retirement, I’ve opened up to the idea of having one stop over, but definitely not two yet unless they are great places where I plan to stay for several nights. SF (Virgin America), NYC/Newark (JetBlue, United), Denver (Frontier), Atlanta (Delta), Houston (Continental, United), Dallas (American), and Baltimore/Washington (Southwest) are some of the main hubs.

4) Strong Educational Environment. Education continues to be the key that sets people free. After going to business school it has become very apparent that education brings people out of poverty and lets people earn more to do what they want. San Francisco is great because we have Berkeley, Stanford, Santa Clara, and USF. Boston has to be the mecca of education with Harvard, MIT, Boston College, and Boston University. Strong schools attract smart people with innovative ideas. The best hospitals and research centers in America are located in SF, Boston, and NYC as well. Health care will become increasingly important as we all grow older.

5) Moderate Climate. It’s better to live in a place where the weather is great all year around rather than half the year. The best weather in America is in San Diego where the average temperature is around 76 degrees all year. Unfortunately, the diversity isn’t so great hence I have to sacrifice some warmth by living in San Francisco where the average temperature is about 65 degrees. When I want snow, I’ll drive up to Lake Tahoe during the winter 3 hours away so I can actually do something with the snow like snowboard. When I want hotter weather I’ll just drive 30 minutes in any direction except west because that’s the Pacific Ocean. Napa Valley is only an hour and change away and is gorgeous.

I’m not willing to compromise on location, food, shelter and education. To eat is to live. To travel is to be free. To learn is to overcome. Life is too precious to not live where you want. Living is a choice and I don’t want money to get in the way and neither should you.

SO WHAT IF YOU DON’T WANT TO EAT DOG FOOD IN RETIREMENT?

* Don’t retire. If you want a great life but don’t have the money, don’t retire! There are far worse things in life than working a boring 40 hour a week job in an AC filled cubicle. Boredom shouldn’t be the main reason for retirement. You can always fill out your boredom before or after work. If you are bored at work, chances are that you will be bored in retirement because there’s always something to do. Trust me on some of the negatives of retirement.

* Save more money. For the last five years of my career, I ratcheted up my savings from 50% to over 70% of my take home pay because the economy was going to hell and I started to want out. Each year of saving 70% is like banking two years of living expenses if you maintain your lifestyle. If you are not saving money until it hurts, you are not saving enough. And if you are not saving more money, then I question whether you really do want to retire.

* Broaden your relocation plans. Although you can plan to relocate to Middle America where very few people live for a reason other than because it’s cheap, broaden your search around the States and outside the States. Please take your next vacation to Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Ecuador, Paraguay, Costa Rica, Spain, Chile, Venezuela and a host of other countries. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out how great the quality of life is in other countries at much lower prices. Not only that, you can learn a new language and culture.

* Develop money making hobbies. Hobbies are great because they are enjoyable and don’t feel like work. Hobbies that produce income are even better. The trick is to make sure your hobby doesn’t start feeling like work. I love to write, therefore I love to blog. I’ve found a handful of key products that I endorse and add them to my posts which will help readers with their problems and make me some shekels. One blogger I know is a proponent of living frugally on less than the median household income of $50,000 while making over $40,000 a MONTH from his site! Now that is a killer business model. I also like to meet new folks who enjoy tennis. Hence, one of the things I’ve been toying with is teaching tennis for several hours a week again during the afternoon when I’m not playing tennis myself. There must be something you can do. And if not, just offer a service such as teaching to buffer your income.

* Map out your income sources. Before writing Achieving Financial Freedom One Income Slice At A Time, I really didn’t know what my passive income sources were. Now that I do, I have a clear target of building the income stream to $200,000 by the end of 2015. I’ve aggregated all my financial accounts with Personal Capital and can track my budget and my net worth growth accordingly. You need to get a grasp on all your debits and credits before you can really make progress.

* Consider part-time work. I wouldn’t mind working at the BMW dealer for 10 hours a week followed by five hours a week at Ben & Jerry’s because I love cars and I love ice cream! If I can make an extra couple hundred dollars in spending money while getting the stimulus of meeting new people I’m down. It’s now easier than ever to be a consultant or freelancer thanks to the web. With decades worth of experience, it shouldn’t be that hard to gain freelance work if we properly establish our brand online or reach out to our network.

OUR RETIREMENT IS SHAPED BY OUR UPBRINGING

It’s much better to make more money to live a more comfortable retirement than to scrimp and save to retire on a meager income. Making more money is infinite, but the same cannot be true for reducing expenses. The reason why frugality or minimalism blogs are so popular is because anybody can stop wasting money on crap. It takes way more effort and brain power to generate income and that’s when people start fading out.

Everybody should really create three main sources of income in their lives: 1) Job income, 2) Passive investment income, and 3) X Factor income based on things you truly like to do. Most people just get stuck with #1 because they are too lazy, too afraid, or simply lack the education to invest their savings. Getting to the X Factor is even more difficult because it requires a good idea and even more risk.

So long as you have a day job income, I highly encourage everyone to take more risks during off work hours. Fortune hunt in the stock market. Brand yourself online instead of letting Facebook or LinkedIn own your brand. Start a side business selling something you’re good at. If you don’t try, nothing is going to happen. But if you do, you might just find yourself eating prime-rib instead of dog food!

Readers, what type of retirement do you want to have? Is it worth retiring if you’ve only got $30,000 a year to provide for you and your family? How would you suggest people get over the impatience and continue working for a better retirement? How do you decide when to retire?

Photo: Larry Ellison’s yacht, Musashi Georgetown docked in SF for the America’s Cup 2013. 

Regards,

Sam

 

 

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

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Comments

  1. Betty says

    I do find that my upbringing and, environment has
    shaped me and, thus I am content on much less money.

    Am I narrow minded? Perhaps, but here is the real deal, I am content. I am not
    always looking for an “experience” to fill boredom.

    My parents were military. This exposed me to foriegn countries/cultures. Too, other
    military families were from various regions of the U.S. giving me a broader since of
    what life was like around the states.

    I found that I hate travel. I love the U.S. We have a little of most any culture in various
    parts of the country. There is plenty to see right here. Yet, I find happiness just going on
    a long drive in the mountains where I live.

    • says

      This is wonderful to hear Betty. If you are content, then really nothing else matters.

      The post is here to address the conflicting issue of early retirement which is populating the internet with the desire for a more expansive retirement experience.

  2. says

    I don’t think that not living like a king in retirement is the same as “eating dog food”. LOL

    To me it is worth retiring on 30k a year if I can retire when I’m 45 and not 65 (i’m 37 now).

    The things you like require earning a large income in your retirement. I don’t like travel and generally don’t like expensive things and can’t stand cities and suburbs so I don’t need much to get by. (Right now I live on 6 acres in the middle of nowhere and love every day) ;)

    Thought provoking post though, thank you.

    • says

      Sounds good Mark. I saw a gourmet chef create gourmet dog food one day and thought to myself, maybe it ain’t so bad!

      Write a post about your 6 acres in the middle of nowhere. It sounds great actually! No neighbors to bother you is a rarity in big cities.

  3. says

    “Although you can plan to relocate to Middle America where very few people live for a reason other than because it’s cheap, broaden your search around the States and outside the States”

    I don’t think that’s necessarily true. There are a ton of places to live in Middle America that are awesome. I would never want to live a highly populated area for a variety of reasons. #1 I hate traffic #2 I don’t like crowds #3 I grew up in a small town environment and I want the same for my children.

    • says

      Middle America an be great. It just depends what you want. If you want hiking and camping and a bit of peace and quiet, places like NYC and NJ are terrible choices. But if you spend every weekend at a Broadway show followed by dining at trendy restaurants, NYC and NJ are great choices.

      • says

        I have to disagree with you there MFIJ. I live in southern NJ right (a little way from the Commodore Barry Bridge), and my lot size is 1.5 acres as almost everyone around me, since they were all zoned 1 acre or more … some have 2+ acres.
        It is peaceful and quiet and relaxing to go home after running around Mid-NJ for work purposes. I don’t care to live in the northern part because most of it is too densely populated for me and my wife.
        And we’re about 1/2 hour from several campgrounds, and about 45-60 minutes from the Poconos too!

        • says

          I love St. Louis, too. Though when I was there, I have to admit it felt like an oasis in the midwest. I agree that there are really awesome parts, but also agree that there are places that fit the stereotype of small town mindsets.

        • says

          Good to know! It can get rough sometimes for minorities per many, many people giving me feedback of living in the heartlands and the south. I experienced plenty growing up in Virginia myself. Bummed me out and I’ll write about it in the future.

      • says

        I live in central Indiana and it can be quite boring. However, Greg’s parents are from central Minnesota where it is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. They live in a town that is home to a liberal arts college so there is quite a bit of cultural diversity as well. There is a vast amount of wooded wilderness, thousands of lakes, and just a beautiful landscape in general (rolling hills, etc.) The lakes in Northern Minnesota are clear and absolutely glorious. We have had so many fun vacations there fishing, jetskiing, and basically enjoying the great outdoors.

        • says

          His parents also own a cabin on a lake in South Dakota. You can literally drive an hour without seeing another car. It is so beautiful, calm, and serene, and it gets so dark at night that you can see every star in the sky. I absolutely love it there.

        • says

          This is great to know Holly. Maybe you or Michelle and others can write a great post expounding the virtues of Middle America for ignorant people like me. I’m totally biased for coastal living I admit.

          I’ve been to Des Moines probably 12 times for work, Kansas City 5 times, Colorado a whole bunch of times but not so much Indiana, Minn, and elsewhere.

          Thanks!

        • says

          Ha!

          It totally depends on where you go in the Midwest. There are plenty of lame places as well, like the town I live in. I actually can’t believe that I live here sometimes…but the good thing is that we’re only 20 minutes from Indianapolis if I want to go out and do anything.

  4. Insourcelife says

    Excellent article! I like your breakdown of sources of income into Job/Passive/X Factor. Number 1 is easy and we all tend to get complacent once we get to the point where it provides a cushy life. Number 2 and 3 is where it’s at and that’s why I am concentrating in those areas now to get to where I’d like to be.

  5. says

    This is why I prefer to differentiate between financial independence and retirement. When I hit FI, that just means that I no longer need my job to support a modest lifestyle. Of course, I want a more rich and fulfilling lifestyle than baseline FI can supply. But once you no longer need a job to survive, you can take more risks, experience less stress, and embrace more options.

    I’ll probably retire whenever I get sick of working and have the money to do so. As for how much money I need, I don’t know. Kind of depends where things fall out lifestyle wise. I could see myself being happy in some place expensive like NYC or in places that are a lot cheaper like college towns in the South. I’d probably gravitate towards cheaper less crowded areas and save the expensive cities for visits. My dream retirement would involve a summer and winter home – so that I will never have to deal with snow or cold again.

    • Jason says

      Hi MFIJ

      Yes, I definitely agree with your statement here. Retirement IS different than Financial Independence.

      But, as I’ve found out, neither of these is an ongoing activity, they’re really just milestones. Afterward, life will still be waiting for you. It sounds obvious, but I had a really tough time getting this through my head! :)

      • says

        It really is interesting that the default assumption once FI is achieved is that wealth stays static or declines. For me, it’s hard to say as it’s too early to tell whether my X Factor will surpass my Wall St income. Give me two more years.

  6. says

    I think the reputation for being “fly-over” country is way overblown. Middle America has much of what you describe, it’s just more affordable.

    Retirement for me will cover my lifestyle as it is now, plus one enormous vacation per year ($8000?).

      • Cosmic says

        That’s a great question!! I live in Cincinnati and I love it. This city has more Fortune 500 companies than Boston and great national recognized hospitals. Its really pretty city with rolling hills and pretty views.

        Plus being from DC, I couldn’t buy a 4 story brownstone downtown with a property tax abatement (50 dollars a month for 10 years) with city and river views. I plan to have this paid off in 5 years at 38.

        You can get fresh meats from the local farms – food is really cheap. Food in Atlanta cost 2x as much as it does here.

        Even one of my friends born and raised in NYC moved back here – you can have the best of both worlds. Making a great salary (over $100,000) and cheap living.

  7. says

    I am planning a very simple retirement so the things I am looking for in a retirement location are very different than you. I am looking for a place with a low cost of living but with good public transportation because I am thinking about when I am old. I want to have doctors and a hospital in the smallish city so I don’t have to travel for medical care. I want to be near at least one of my sons so someone will visit me occasionally when I move to a nursing home.

    I will have to work part time to buy luxuries like new glasses and visits to the dentist but I plan to work at a fast food restaurant so that I get a meal allowance. One free meal three shifts each week will help my budget.

    I will not eat dog food but it will be a very simple existence.

  8. says

    In your explanation of the diversity of the Bay Area, you forgot to mention you can always slum it up in Sacramento on your way to Tahoe!

    When I get to retirement, or I should say IF I get to retirement, it would be nice to have the same scenario you laid out as ideal for yourself. For those of us not on track to accomplish this (despite our efforts), then we might have to settle for eating dog food or, at the very least, living in “dreaded” place like the midwest!

  9. says

    I want to live by the ocean for the rest of my life. Right now it’s by cold water in SF but it is gorgeous and bearable in a wet suit. When I retire I’d happily be here (SF is awesome) or somewhere tropical with warmer waters so I can go scuba diving without wearing a 7mm neoprene wetsuit!

    I also think that when I retire from my main job I will still do some part time work but it will be work that I love so I wouldn’t really classify it as “work.” I’m working hard now to save as much as I can to love a comfortable retirement with the same diversity and yummy dinners out as I have now. Hopefully I will become a better cook once I’m in retirement though! :)

  10. says

    When I fly overseas, I go business or first class. I use my miles to do it and only pay for the taxes (a few hundred dollars each). I cannot spend 10 or more hours in coach!

    I always saved for my future which meant I lived on less. More importantly, I put the money to work to generate future income. You have to think about your future early because it takes time to accumulate enough to retire in the future. You can catch up, but it means delaying retirement and changing your habits. My minimum without any debt is about $75K (fixed income) per year. I expect my other savings to fund my wants.

  11. says

    I totally agree, finding ways to make more money is just more fun. I really don’t get the appeal of working your ass off and saving every penny possible just so you can quit your job and live like a college student. I’d much rather try to achieve a retirement where I can take advantage of all my new found time and have the means to do the things I’m not able to while tied down to a job.

  12. says

    I want to reach financial independence. After that I’m not sure what our next step would be. I would love to live overseas. I could potentially teach English in Latin America or do translations. :) Plus of being fluent in Spanish and English.

    • says

      So envious you are fluent in Spanish and English. I took 7 years of Spanish and even lived in the Spanish language house in college for a year and STILL suck!

      Sounds like a fun retirement plan. Good luck!

  13. says

    I agree! Living on less is an important part of saving money now and during retirement too. And I like how you said, If you’re not ready to retire then don’t. Exactly! Not everyone can or will retire early. It’s all about personal goals.

  14. Ravi says

    Hey Sam! Another terrific post. I’m a frequent reader and an infrequent commenter, but have you posted any updates on your experience with Prosper? I’m aiming to add a few hundred dollars each month to get to around $10k in principal. Then just reinvest and let it keep growing. How’s your account doing? Any strategies you’ve been trying out?

    Thanks for your efforts here. Congrats again on financial freedom!

    • says

      Hi Ravi,

      I’m failing miserably at Prosper. Will have an update in a month on all my passive income streams. I ended up focusing on what I know, the stock market and punting in the Chinese Internet stocks.

      Best,

      Sam

  15. says

    We’ll consider ourselves FI when we reach savings such that we have enough streams of income to fund about $70K pretax in income (then inflation adjusted in the years following) just to sit on our butts all the time. (Not that we anticipate sitting on our butts, but it’s nice to know you can for a day or a week and not feel the urgency to HAVE to do something.) Though Mr PoP is playing around with the idea of working an extra year so that he can buy an NSX to have fun with in “retirement”.

    But where we live, $70K is not dog-food money. In fact dog-food wouldn’t work for me since I’m a vegetarian. It’s more than enough to live in a house with a nice pool within walking distance of the beach, enjoy the occasional performance at the local symphony orchestra or actor’s theaters, travel in a somewhat frugal fashion for long periods of time, buy new clothes that feel comfortable whenever you need them… And really, where we live, you can probably do most of this, though perhaps the house walking distance to the beach with a pool and expensive nights like the symphony might be a stretch, on the median American household income.

  16. says

    Sam, I admire that you promote the “middle” road for retirement – not filthy rich with private jets and yachts, but not super-frugal either.
    Given Seattle’s slightly lower median home price than San Francisco’s, I think I’ll manage on less than 200k, but it seems like FI/RE bloggers are all doing really well these days so maybe I won’t need to if I get more blogging time :)

    That said, how do you feel about walking the earth a bit more lightly and using less purely for sake of the environment?

      • says

        I’m wondering if you commit to using less than the average SF-ian or the average american, even though you live on a larger income.

        For example I think Mr Geek and I will swimming along nicely on 80k post FI/RE at age 35, but I feel like we consume a lot, compared to a world citizen on average. Whereas some other bloggers bicycle everywhere.

        What are your thoughts on using less? Do you? Do you plan to? A night at the opera I suppose creates very little waste, relative to a night at a cheap bar!

        • Geek says

          I’m not suggesting you use less, but asking if you consciously do, since that seems to be a theme to some of the FIRE blogs :)

  17. Jason says

    Great article, Sam

    I also never understood the extreme-frugality crowd. To me, a lifetime of making-do is harder than just working a few more years and having a better income. It’s hard to get to a certain minimum passive income, but it gets easier to boost it each year, why not take advantage of that? (Slipperly slope, I know.)

    Dealing with the impatience of waiting for enough passive income, though, is very understandable to me. I’ve struggled with it a lot over the past several years. But, I think I’ve made progress in that department by realizing some things:

    Earlier this year, I took a fair bit of down-time and left for a vacation to a quiet house on a quiet street in a quiet town. For once in my life, I could really feel what true independence would be like, to be free from all of the pressure. No emails or phone calls, no financial pressure, just a big, flat, blank open canvas. It was nice at first. But eventually, I started wasting the time I had; zoning out in front of the TV, doing some sudoku, walking to the mall, just ambling around. Eventually I felt like I had stepped out of the proverbial cargo doors and was drifting into open space. Overall, not a comforting thought. I’m glad I unplugged in this way but I certainly was surprised that I didn’t enjoy my quiet time like I had hoped.

    I’m back now, but after my experience, I’m rethinking things. I’m still working the steps for financial independence. But, I’m not really sure anymore what retirement means to me. Going even further, I’m starting to not believe in it at all. The whole idea seems like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny; just a story that we tell the kids so they all stay quiet and busy and have something nice to look forward to. (Picture it, fruity rum drinks on a white-sand beach for ever and ever and ever… Ho ho ho!) But, examined too closely, it just unravels.

    What’s the plan now? Quit my job, sure – it’s always been taxing. Relax a bit. Work on the house. Travel around and see friends. So, that’s the first year, maybe two. But after that, I don’t really know. And, I’m not sure if that answer is quite good enough.

    Maybe it’s time to invoke the power of the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) in my life. (For those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s a tool companies use as a guide. It’s an ambitious, clear, and compelling goal that gives the company a solid vision of the future.) I’ll have to give that one some thought.

    ————-

    On an unrelated note, I find it interesting that the implied assumption throughout this article is that once you stop working full-time, you’ll be “stuck” at the income you’ve set up. I think in many cases, that’s not really true, especially for this financially-responsible crowd. At least in my mind, it’s so ingrained for many of us to have a rainy-day fund that I can easily imagine having some money to invest at the end of the year. More investment each year means higher income each year, especially if you have a good amount of non-depletive investments like RE, dividends, or what-have-you. In fact, maybe proper financial planning should include regular raises in retirement.

    • says

      Boredom and loneliness really is a problem for early retirees, especially those without a spouse or family. If you experienced malaise during your time off, then you will experience it when you are fully off. Hence, work to slowly fill in your time with things you enjoy and make a plan.

      • Jason says

        Yes, where I’m at now, having a plan for the time is now more important than worrying about the financial aspects. It actually takes the pressure off a little bit too, which helps me actually *enjoy* the process. What a concept!

        On the financial end, I’ve signed on with a real-estate-oriented retirement adviser, so he’ll be helping me plan out a solid end-game. I’m hoping this will help me put the mechanical things (acquisitions, payoffs, etc) into autopilot mode a little more, boost my confidence, and solidify the timeline.

  18. says

    My wife wants us to retire in the Bay Area. I would be happy elsewhere, but I am OK with the Bay Area. As you point out, there’s lots to do. It looks like we are on track to hit our number in 10 years. We won’t be pulling in $200k in retirement, but our income will be lots more than our current expenses plus inflation.

  19. Sambuca says

    Cool article. Got me thinking too. I feel very comfortable reading MMM (and ERE, back in the day) because they are making it work with much less, and I kinda see them as the ‘soap opera’ ER story, maybe it will work, maybe not… I made a plan toward 1MMUSD when I was graduating from ChE in 1996. Well, with a few ups and downs, I was just about to hit my goal in 2007 when my career went from moribund to rock-star! All of my talented peers had left for Wall St and I moved from consulting to O&G major. Long story short, I surpassed my retirement goal that year, but I am incredibly glad I didn’t retire with ‘just enough’. From here on out, I can pretty much make my life anything I want it to be! I lived in Norway from ’07 to ’09 then Dubai ’10 to ’12. I’ve doubled my FI goal but still have some heavy golden handcuffs… so maybe it’s just a tiny taste of what the Zuckerberg and Ellis-types must feel, how unfair money is, but also that work is the most powerful currency we posess. Apparently my next year of work is worth quite a lot, and I try not to abuse it, but it’s nice to have all these options! It would be a ‘no brainer’ to retire at 40 reading MMM, but then I’d never know what could have been! And there are certainly more possibilities with another few-100k in the bank than with another year on the clock (given that the time would just be added to my ‘old age’, I’m having way more fun with the freedom the reassuring extra money is giving me now).

  20. says

    My approach has been to find work I love. I really enjoy the 40+ hours a week I spend at the office. I wouldn’t mind having a “working” retirement. Even if I grow tired of my job, I think my goal will always be to earn a living doing something I enjoy… when you have work like that, the salary is less important.

  21. says

    I retired after being a stay at home mom for 20 years. I’m having a blast billing out 50 hours each week for work I used to do for free….funny…how that works. (I’m a Drupal developer and freelance writer and used to donate my time to nonprofits and community organizations.)

  22. says

    I don’t want to eat dog food but enjoy a simple lifestyle in a sunny country. With a paid house it is hard to spend more than $1,000 a month here, staff, boat and cars included. We killed a pig today and a duck earlier this week, fruits and vegetable are cheap and delicious so I’d say we eat pretty well too. Being born in Paris I love big cities but in semi retirement I am happy to visit once or twice a year, last summer I spent 6 months traveling around Europe which was a lot of fun and this summer just a month in France visiting family. People made time to see me but even then meeting up at 9pm after they get out of their crazy work was frequent so I would have to look for new friends or get busy until 9pm to see mine. I imagine in the Bay Area there are more entrepreneurs or early retirees who can afford a free afternoon and join you for tennis.
    As per your expenses $50K for a family of 4 looks really low if you include housing and don’t own your house so 200K would be the very least to live there.
    Instead of living in the middle of nowhere America, living abroad can be an option if you don’t want to wait to leave the corporate world.

    • says

      Now that is an interesting story to hear, definitely one of the few that I have heard about that went so smoothly. Aren’t you missing the comfort of Paris? Would you suggest that particular lifestyle to everyone or would corporates be unable to make that switch smoothly?

    • Sarah says

      I’m unwilling to move to Gautemala and live off only $500-$1,000 a month, which is kind of what this post is about. It may be fine for you, but for most people, they want health care, amenities like AC and other luxuries.

      If you were to say you could afford your life in Paris, that would be a different story that would be more impressive. But to each their own.

  23. says

    I would love to be able to move out of the city and up into the bushland in the hills. I would build my own cabin to live in and try to be as sustainable and self sufficient as possible. This would be a simple life, not because of necessity but because it provides a straight forward structure and day to day goals.

    Unfortunately I don’t think my partner will agree to this plan but thankfully she is more adventurous than I am sure she will pick somewhere nice.

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