The Ideal Retirement Age To Minimize Regret And Maximize Happiness

Contrary to popular belief, the ideal retirement age isn't as soon as possible. Retire too soon and you may feel empty for never living up to your true work potential. Retire too late and you might always be left wondering what could have been if you had changed course sooner.

For example, a 35-year-old couple making $400,000 might love their jobs. With two young kids under three, both parents might both want to work for 20 more years. This way, they can maximize their capital and support their kids through college. But will they regret retiring after both kids have left home? Maybe.

Then you might have a 30-year old couple making a combined $80,000. They don't have kids and don't want kids. Instead of needing a 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom home, they are happy living in a 1-bedroom condo for much less. All they want to do is travel and lead a simple life. In their mind, the ideal retirement age is 40.

Ideal Age To Retire For Less Regret And More Happiness

To minimize regret and maximize happiness, I believe the ideal retirement age range is between 41-45. By this age range, most will have had ~20 years to save and invest. Most will also be healthy enough to explore the world and do the things they've always wanted.

After retiring since 2012, I've also come to realize the best reason to retire early is more happiness. Your happiness curve shoots up sooner, reaches a higher peak, and stays higher for longer the sooner you retire.

See the happiness by age chart below. If you can retire between 41 – 45, you will have made enough money to not have much career regret walking away. Further, you're still young enough to enjoy your wealth and fleeting time.

Ideal retirement age to minimize regret and maximize happiness

My Retirement Age

I retired from banking in 2012 at age 34 and mentally unretired by 36 because it was just too boring. There were only so many gothic churches I could see and rounds of golf I could play.

Now I call myself a fake retiree because I'm busy writing on Financial Samurai, sending out weekly newsletters, and recording podcasts (Apple, Google) in between school drop offs and doctors appointments.

My online activities keep me busy for 15-20 hours a week. Then I spend another 25-30 hours a week are spent with my wife and kids as an old parent wanting to make up for lost time. Teaching my kiddos new things is now my greatest joy. It's also a lot of fun for me to relearn all the things I had forgotten in school.

I'm currently 45 years old and have accomplished much of what I've wanted to accomplish. But if I were to retire all over again, one of things I would have done differently was try to work for at least three more years. In retrospect, retiring at age 34 was too early.

It would have been nice to have taken advantage of paid parental leave twice. Relocating to a new office in Asia or Europe would have provided a great thrill. Padding my 401(k) and taxable investment portfolio with three more years of profit sharing and contributions would have provided even more financial security.

Oh well! I cannot go back in time. But I can use my experience to help you make a more informed decision about the ideal retirement age. Let's go through the reasons why the age range of 41-45 makes sense to take things down at work.

The Average Retirement Age In America

To get a retirement age baseline, as you can see in the chart below, the average retirement age is between 61-65 for 51% of Americans. 63% of Americans retire between the ages of 61-69.

In a quest to live a better-than-average life, it's logical to conclude the ideal retirement age should at least be below 61-65, the majority age range of when Americans retire. Study after study show most Americans are “disengaged” from work. Therefore, most of us would rather retire sooner than later.

18% of Americans retire before the age of 54. Thus, the ideal retirement age should also be under age 54.

The Ideal Retirement Age To Minimize Regret And Maximize Happiness

In terms of retirement age trends, women are working longer. Men are also starting to work longer again. Take a look at the chart below.

The trend to work longer for men since the early 1990s is probably due to changes in Social Security, pension eligibility, less strenuous work, longer and healthier lives, more educational requirements, and a decline of retiree health insurance.

The constant increase in retirement age for women is likely due to increasing workforce participation plus all the same reasons men face. In a land of equality, I suspect the average retirement ages will eventually converge at around age 65. We're also living longer.

Now let's look at factors involved in deciding the ideal retirement age. In my mind, the two biggest factors are life expectancy and overall health.

Factors Involved In The Ideal Retirement Age

Here are some factors to consider before deciding when to retire:

  • Length of time spent in school
  • Cost of education
  • Student loans
  • Multiple job changes in a career
  • Graduate school
  • Children
  • Whether you rent or own
  • The desire to spend time with aging parents
  • Healthcare costs
  • Passive income generation
  • Net worth
  • How much you enjoy your job
  • Overall health
  • Life expectancy

If you spend a fortune and more of your life on your education, retiring early is a more difficult decision. The same goes for the longer you spend in college post high school. One good goal to have is to work for as many years as you've gone to school starting in the first grade.

Target Net Worth Amount For Retirement

In order to retire comfortably, I believe one needs about 15-20X your average annual household income in terms of net worth. You can retire with less, but you'll always be looking over your shoulder wondering when the boogey man will get you.

Social Security and your passive income should help minimize your drawdown of principal. One positive thing I've discovered since leaving work is that you will likely need less than you think in retirement.

Therefore, the fear of running out of money in retirement is overblown. You can always do something to make side income.

Suggested net worth targets by age, income, work experience
Suggested net worth targets by age, income, work experience

For those of you lucky enough to have a pension, a pension certainly counts in the equation. Here's a post I wrote about how to calculate the value of your pension. A pension is much more valuable than you probably realize.

The Ideal Age To Retire Overview

Let us now subjectively talk about the ideal retirement age by various age ranges.

The constant battle we will all struggle with is deciding how much money is enough since there is an endless amount we can make. We've got to time it just right so that we get to enjoy our money for a long enough period in retirement, instead of die with too much.

Retiring Between Ages 20 – 30

Unless you're leaving work to be an entrepreneur or a stay-at-home parent, retiring before 30 is suboptimal, even if you have the money. Your energy and enthusiasm will generally be the greatest at this age. To spend it on a beach doing nothing would be a darn shame.

Further, spending more time getting an education versus working also sounds like a waste of an education. You're expected to live another 50-60 more years.

The ratio of learning, to work, to leisure is off. Therefore, I highly recommend not retiring before the age of 30. Retiring this young will make you feel listless. You will probably feel more loneliness as most of your friends are busy working.

Ages 20 – 30 is not the ideal age for retirement.

Retiring Between Ages 31 – 35

Most people only start gaining confidence at work after they've hit 30. Before then, you're mostly a cost center doing your best to learn everything you can about the business. Why else do you think there are no CEOs under 30, except for at startups that have failure rates of over 90%?

Your 30s is a time to leverage all the experience you've gained in your 20s to position yourself for greater rewards. Unless you have something very clearly in mind that you want to do in retirement, to retire before the age of 35 is to prematurely truncate your potential.

Even though I retired at 34, I believe 34 is too young. I went through seven years of post-high school education, three of which were done part-time for my MBA. As a result, I feel like I didn't fully maximize my MBA. Further, it would have been nice to have a kid while working to take advantage of benefits.

Depending on your net worth, retiring early to live in poverty doesn't make sense. It would be much better to find a more enjoyable job and live a more comfortable lifestyle.

Retiring Between Ages 36 – 40

After five years of seeing what you can do in your 30s, you realize more money and power gets old after a while. You're still young enough to try something new, but you may be getting squeezed by a mortgage and kids.

Just as 30 was a big age for the motivationally inclined, 40 is equally big because this may seem like your last chance to change your destiny. You're still young enough to make a big career change.

If you're burning out, at least you can can conduct some quiet quitting to help you recharge and figure out something new. If you've always been working at 120%, taking things down to 80%-100% might feel like a vacation.

By age 40, you have the wisdom and experience to take on new challenges. Therefore, you don't want to have any regrets by not doing a career pivot. Remember, we're trying to find the ideal age to retire that minimizes the regret of not trying something new.

Retiring Between Ages 41 – 45 (The Best Age Range To Retire)

You're likely in your prime earning years, making leaving your job that much harder. But after 20+ years of work, you won't feel as much shame retiring or taking things down a notch. After all, you've been working longer than the time you spent in school.

You're also starting to feel that life speed is accelerating. 50 is right around the corner! You think more about your mortality because you're probably less in shape and more injury prone. You start experiencing these random health issues that never used to appear before.

If you are blessed with kids, they are likely still living at home with you. They are growing up fast and by the time turn 18, they will have spent ~80% of their time with you already. Therefore, you may have a growing desire to spend more time with them before they build their own lives.

Thankfully, the one benefit to being an older parent is that you might be able to spend a lot more time with your children. Older parents tend to be wealthier with potentially more time flexibility as senior employees.

If you have enough passive income, then retiring by age 45 is the ideal retirement age. You may have the perfect mix of wealth, health, experience, and confidence. Initially after you retire early, you should lower your safe withdrawal rate to help you adjust during the transition.

By age 45, you are more aware of your mortality due to health issues and more friends and acquaintances passing away. If you retire at 45 and die at 60, as many do, you will at least have 15 years to live as free as possible.

Death Rates By Age In The United States

Below is the latest death rates by age. Between 45-54, the death rate for males is 490. But between ages 54-64, the death rate more than doubles to 1,111. Then between 65-74, the death rate doubles again and so forth.

At around age 40-45, the death rate starts accelerating. Therefore, you ideally want to retire with enough money and enough health to live as long as possible. An early retirement is a hedge against an early death.

Death rate by age in America, your percentage chance of dying by age range

Retiring Between Ages 46 – 50 

Retiring between ages 46-50 is the second-best retirement age range. The closer you are to 50, the more you may be wondering how you lasted for so long working at a job that doesn't tickle your soul every day.

Can you truly say the work you do makes a positive impact on society? You're starting to think much more about your legacy, your mortality, and the purpose of life.

You may also begin to wonder how your life might have been different if you had taken the leap of faith earlier. The fear of regret becomes more prominent if you haven't taken many risks.

At 50, you personally know more people who have died. As a result, you may be agitating for change. Somewhere between ages 40 – 60 is the best time to start decumulating your wealth. If you've saved and invested for the past 20 – 40 years, you will likely die with too much. As a result, it's best to run some numbers and spend more money while you're still healthy.

Retiring Between Ages 51 – 60

Perhaps you've waited this long because you wanted your kids to get through college. Or maybe you just couldn't quit the money and the prestige granted upon you after 30+ years of work. Or maybe you are lucky enough to have a nice pension waiting for you.

Whatever the case may be, you better have loved what you did or else you will feel regret having waited until 60 to retire.

After more than 30 years of saving and investing, you should feel financially secure to do whatever you want. If you've stayed in good shape, you may feel like now is the time to live it up.

Retiring After Age 61

Not only do you feel a sense of accomplishment for lasting this long, you also feel a great amount of nostalgia. Where did all the time go? You wonder. Hopefully you're done or almost done paying off all your debt and any children's education costs.

Further, there just might be a healthy pension waiting for you. At the very least, you can withdraw from your pre-tax retirement accounts penalty free if you wish. Just make sure you do so in a way to minimize taxes. God willing, there should be another 20 years of life left to enjoy. You plan to make the most of it.

Retiring after age 61 is great if you love your job. Some researchers report you will live longer if you retire later. Just make sure you're not tricking yourself about how much you enjoy work. If you do, you will regret working so long.

The Ideal Retirement Age Range: 41 – 45

Now that we've subjectively discussed the ideal age ranges to retire, let's get a little more objective. I've used four variables in my model to come up with the ideal retirement age.

These variables are: Income, Freedom, Potential, Return On Education

The lowest score is a 1. The highest score is a 10.

Ideal age to retir

Going through the variables by age, the ideal age to retire is between 41-45 years old.

If you love your job, then the ideal age range to retire is between 46-60 years old. If you hate your job, then your ideal age to retire is between 36 – 40, if you can. In each case, just make sure to have at least 20X of your annual income saved up before you leave work.

41-45 years old is the optimum retirement age range because you've put in your dues and still have enough energy to do something new. At the very least, you've minimized regret by no longer having to wonder what if.

Go through a regret minimization exercise every year to help you identify what matters most to you. Be intentional with your time.

Reviewing The Variables For The Ideal Retirement Age

Income: You will have hopefully experienced several good years of making record high income. Therefore, you will have a good idea of whether a high income makes you happier or not.

Freedom: Your freedom level at home depends on your family situation. At work, you should have more autonomy given your experience. If you do end up retiring between 41-45, you may have the best combination of capital and energy to maximize your freedom.

Potential: With ~20 years of experience, reasonably good health, financial security, and still a decent amount of energy, you have maximum potential to do many things. The more experience you have, the more people will respect you too. Further, if retirement doesn't work out, you're still young enough to easily get a job again.

Return On Education: Unless you finished getting your PhD in your 30s, you've spent enough time getting a return on your education. If you did go to college into your 30s, then the ideal retirement age is probably between 51-60. Again, a good goal is to work longer than you've spent in school since the first grade.

The later you retire, the more risk you take on of not doing everything you wanted to do before you die. Retiring by 45 gives you a reasonable good hedge against an early death.

The Best Retirement Age Can Change

When I was 30 in 2007, my goal was to retire in 2017 at the age of 40. I figured, after spending my 20s learning, I should spend my entire 30s earning, saving, and investing. Just 10 more years of work and I'd be set fo life!

I was regularly working 60+ hours a week and disliked it. If I worked until 40, I reasoned that 18 years of work after college was equivalent to 27+ years of work at a 40-hour a week job.

However, I couldn't last until 40 because I was burned out. As a result, I retired at age 34 in 2012 with about $80,000 a year in passive income. Because I retired so young, I ended up missing out on millions of dollars of upside because a bull market ensued after.

I wish I had enjoyed my job more so I could have worked longer. Or, I wish I could have taken a 3-month sabbatical, recharged, and transferred to a new office in a different part of the country. Or, I wished I could have landed a tech startup job in 2012 and rode the boom.

After all, nobody retires early from a job they love.

Got Lucky Finding A Passion

Thankfully, I had found something more interesting to do. If it wasn't for Financial Samurai, I probably would have gutted it out until at least 40. Then I would have taken at least a 6-month sabbatical to reassess my life.

I worked in a satellite office that already had two Managing Directors. The only way I'd have been able to get promoted was to move to Hong Kong or New York City. Such a move didn't make sense due to the large drop in quality of life compared to San Francisco. Therefore, staying in the same role for at least six more years would have left me bored and a little bitter.

Instead, I left at 34 and focused my energy to grow my own site. It is the creation of something from nothing that will give you the most satisfaction. Here's a post on how to be more creative.

Finally, the severance package was also a key catalyst to leave. Because my severance package provided for about five years of living expenses, it made me feel more comfortable leaving six years earlier than I had originally planned.

Ideally, I should have worked for two more years to get the perfect match. Two more years of savings plus five years of severance would bring me to the ideal retirement age range of 41-45 from a financial standpoint.

If you are unwilling to wait until 41-45 to retire, then please at least negotiate a severance. There is little downside.

What If You Don't Have Enough Money By The Ideal Retirement Age?

Retiring early may be more difficult because of a bear market. Then again, generating more passive income is easier in a bear market since rates have gone up.

Further, retiring during a bear market is better because your finances will have been battle tested. Conversely, retiring at the tail end of a bull market may be one of the worst times to retire. In a bull market, we tend to lose our discipline an inappropriately extrapolate our extraordinary gains far too out in the future. Beware.

But what if you don't have enough capital at the ideal retirement age? Do you keep on working until you can accumulate enough capital? Or do you retire anyway because you want to minimize the regret of not pursuing your dreams?

Because time is finite and money is infinite, I think it's better to retire by a certain age rather than after obtaining a certain amount of capital. To hedge against a disappointing life, take more chances. You can always earn supplemental retirement income. If things don't work out, you can get a job again.

Staying Busy In Retirement

Instead of doing nothing in retirement, you might find yourself as busy as ever. You will naturally spend more time doing what you enjoy and surgically cut out the things you don't.

When you're retired, you're like a kid in a candy store with an unlimited budget. The only restraint is your energy and time.

Life doesn't end once you retire. It simply morphs. You can do a lot of fun and productive things after you leave work.

Here are some things I've done post-retirement:

  • Traveled to 30+ new countries in Europe and Asia with my wife. Angkor Wat, Cambodia was truly amazing.
  • Gotten my USTA tennis ranking up from 4.5 to 5.0. This would have not been possible without all the newly found time to practice.
  • Became a high school tennis coach and won two Northern California Sectional titles.
  • Became a father to two children.

Don't think about retirement in the traditional sense. Think about retirement as a new adventure once working for money and status is over. You can even create your own “Trust Fund Job” to keep you busy and relevant in society.

To minimize regret and maximize happiness, work on doing things you want to do every day. It is much more likely you will regret forsaking time for money than forsaking money for time.

Once you reach your 40s, you will start to feel the importance of making every moment count. Even with a family to support, money depreciates in value while time appreciates in value. Find the point where the lines intersect and you will find your ideal retirement age.

What do you think is the ideal age range to retire?

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Retire Earlier With Real Estate

The ideal retirement age requires building enough passive income streams. In my opinion, real estate is one of the best ways to generate passive income. Real estate is a tangible asset that is less volatile, provides utility, and generates income.

By the time I was 30, I had bought two properties in San Francisco and one property in Lake Tahoe. These properties now generate around $200,000 a year in retirement income.

In 2016, I started diversifying into heartland real estate to take advantage of lower valuations and higher cap rates. I did so by investing $810,000 with real estate crowdfunding platforms. I believe in the long-term demographic migration trend towards lower-cost areas of the country.

My favorite private real estate investing platform is Fundrise. Fundrise has been around since 2012 and has provided a great way for investors to diversify into real estate and earn passive income.

Fundrise offers private real estate funds that invest predominantly in residential and industrial properties in the Sunbelt region, where valuations are lower and yields are higher.


The Ideal Retirement Age To Minimize Regret and Maximize Happiness is a Financial Samurai original post. FS is one of the largest independently-owned personal finance sites online. All posts are written based off firsthand experience. Join 55,000+ others and sign up for my free weekly newsletter.

240 thoughts on “The Ideal Retirement Age To Minimize Regret And Maximize Happiness”

  1. My situation is way different. I teach at a private high school where teachers’ children get free tuition–as long as you are working there; here is the catch: I’m 53, my two children are 4 and 2, with another on the way. If I want that free tuition at a very fine school, my last kid would graduate when I am 72.

  2. Pantea Rahimian

    Hi Sam I love this article and your honesty, transparency and suggestions. My husband and I are planning on retiring early and we’ll be in our 40s. We both have jobs we enjoy but my job as a social worker is especially stressful and I can’t imagine doing it until I’m in my 60s. Thanks for the encouragement and advice!

  3. Hi Sam,

    I am a female – 68 biologically but probably 10 – 15 years younger physically and mentally. It has not occurred to me yet that I need to retire! I have a husband who is 4 years younger. My net worth including real estate is approximately is 2.4 million. My husband brings no retirement funds to the table.

    Can I, should I retire? Being in two relationships where I was the only or primary breadwinner has me skittish. Plus what would I do with myself?

    I am growing a small HR consulting practice specializing in smaller businesses that is picking up. I just need to market a little. I have 35 years experience at the senior HR executive level in 4 industries and I hate to let the junk in my trunk go to waste – plus I love the consulting side of what I do. Maybe I should write?

    Thanks, I thought your article interesting and eye opening. Should have read it 30 years ago!!

  4. This was a great read. I approach early retirement from a slightly different angle (not that these aren’t all 100% applicable) but to your point on ‘return on education’ for physicians it is actually the norm to not start to receive your income potential until you complete training in your early- to mid-30s. From here, incomes skyrocket, but so must savings if you plan to retire early, especially in 10 years to hit this age range. I am all for it, simple…but in no way easy. I actually recently published a post called ‘How much do doctors need to retire?’ that addresses similar points. Thank you Sam for another entertaining and compelling read. Keep ’em coming!

  5. In my youth, after getting out of the service at the age of 22, I decided that “retirement” was too good to waste on “old age”. Until I was 40 I worked enough to save money and “take off” on various adventures, as well as obtain a BA degree. At 40 I figured out that I needed to do something to give me a “retirement”. Obtained a teaching credential (Mathematics) and taught for 20 years. Have been “retired” again for 17 years and don’t regret a single thing about my choices. There is no “one size fits all” in regard to this question.

  6. Retired at 66. Was worried about medical insurance, after retiring, but Medicare is just, or better,than what I was paying per month through my job. One still needs to have a plan for the unexpected.

  7. Instead of using age as the standard, why not look at factors to consider for retirement: financial capacity, health, mindset, fulfillment, readiness to embrace a life not directed at accomplishment, flourishing outside the 8-5 timetable.

  8. I availed of early retirement 2 years after I0 joined government service just to repay my 4 year scholarship. I didnt like the work ethics in government. Never regreted my decusion, I found the best jobs in the private sector!

  9. I’m 48 and just retired two weeks ago. I love it so far. I’m sure I will get bored at some time, so I plan on picking up something part time in the spring just to give me something to do.

  10. If you enjoy what you do for a living, then it really isn’t work, when you dislike the prospect of having to go to work then that’s the time to retire if you can afford it.

  11. I have a differrent take that I haven’t seen reflected in any of the posts or comments yet:

    Instead of investing and saving post-college I lived at the beach (LA then OC), worked an easy job as I didn’t have a real vision for my life yet and partied my butt off. Spent every penny I made post-college while fully indulging my wild oats until I met my wife in my mid-20s. We dated for a few years while I still lived at the beach with buddies, and then finally got married, got serious and launched my tech career in my early 30s.

    My working life in tech sales has been lucrative and easy – always had the freedom to do what I wanted, never missed one of our kid’s games and was usually home by 5/6. No one prevents me from taking vacation and my day is usually my own. I’m getting to a position of FI and my wife has an education career that she loves and is allowed to work part time, so I my target is another 5/6 years until we’re 60. By comparison I play golf with an ob/gyn who at 60 recently cut back to part time and no more on-call, saying it’s the first time in his career he can actually relax. That’s the kind of person who needs to retire young. Like the ortho surgeon I feel I am still strong in my game and it’s fun and lucrative, plus by keeping my network alive I’m now able to help my kid get a summer intership here in Silicon Valley with one of the big boys.

    Being able to retire when your kids is young is an incredible opportunity. Glad you were able to make it happen and that it works for you.

    1. I like it!

      I think the reality is, most people who live it up and “mess around” in their 20s don’t end up building enough wealth to mess around later in life. Instead, they are stuck at jobs they don’t like for much longer than they want.

      Maybe only those who really don’t care or who come from wealthy families can afford to live it up while young. And being young is also relative. Now I think 35 is really young. I’m sure I will think in 20 years that 45 is pretty young.

      Life is a gamble! Such a constant battle to figure out how to live well while also building wealth and having purpose.

      No easy answers. But really good perspective but I love to read from you and others.

      1. Your observation is true, though I will add one caveat: The messing around one can do single and 22 can never be replicated when you’re older. One of my closest friends is a lawyer who deals with exec compensation and contracts, and he has a client that is wealthy beyond belief, and super smart, but divorced his wife of 20+ years to party and have a good time which he regretted not doing when he was young. Of course now there is a kid involved and the risks of recreational drugs and the promiscuous sex holds zero appeal because I did all that stuff when I was young and I’ve been happily married for 25 yrs. I actually see a bunch of this in the Bay area as no one has fun here when they’re young in their career because it’s not really a fun place, at least not compared to L.A.

  12. Post FI Doc

    I don’t think the word “retirement” is the correct word to use. Most of us that have reached financial independence are still working. A lot of us have “transitioned” into doing something else. When people tell me I’m retired, I would tell them I’m still working, but in a different capacity. I’ve transitioned to doing something else. For the record, I hit FI in my mid-40’s, and I do believe it is an excellent age as I’m able to spend so much more time with the family now.

  13. Retired at 57, but eased my way into it, working half time at 55 and quarter time at 56. Reduced hours allowed me get used to reduced income. I used the next several years of no wages to transfer a significant amount of assets from my IRA to a Roth… not so unfortunately, the balance on the IRA is about the same as when I started transferring assets… lucky me! The only unfortunate thing is the last couple years limiting travel and the prince of energy.

  14. There is no exact right age for retirement. The issue should be; “What is the proper time to retire with maximum funds be it investments, a pension, savings, and also a medical coverage for you and your spouse?” So age is not a factor, the total assets and medical benefits is. Thanks Sam for the information you have provided!

  15. NachoCheese

    Great (updated) post and podcast on the same topic!
    I retired at 49 just as the “first” documented case of THE virus hit the USA in WA state.
    For me it was a combination of being financially ready (I hope!) and reaching my limits of dealing with corporate bureaucracy, being micromanaged to a level I’d never experienced before (20 years self-employed before this job), and an HR department that didn’t like a “boots on the ground” approach; they seemed to prefer looking at the numbers in their tools and sending out warnings instead of talking to the people they were warning. It was very much a guilty-until-proven-innocent environment and a “better get your approval numbers up or there’s gonna be big trouble!” message.
    I had a post-college roommate whose father retired at 51 for health reasons so at age 25ish, I decided to shoot for that goal because I had no other good example to consider. When I told my college girlfriend about retiring at 49, she remembered that conversation nearly 25 years ago and said, “Earlier than you planned; congrats!” :)
    I fall into the GoCurryCracker category of not sure how I had time to work before. ;)
    Besides travel being unexpectedly curtailed, it was a great decision to retire.

  16. Great article Sam. I am a 43 year old with a few kids and plan on semi-retiring early next year. My company was recently acquired and I have a 1 year severance which will allow me to ‘test-drive’ the semi-retired lifestyle. Semi-retirement seems to be the logical best of both worlds; maintain some income and intellectual stimulation while freeing up time to spend with your kids (while they still enjoy your company). It goes fast!

  17. I’ve read a lot of “money and retirement” books and this post reminded me of the book “Die With Zero” by Bill Perkins. He had a different way of looking at things that what I was used to. Overall it is good to spend money on experiences when you are younger and can do things. As you get older there are things you won’t be able to do. I haven’t been able to ride roller coasters for a long time. I let my kids and wife get “fast pass” so they can enjoy it while they can.

    1. The message is correct, and I’ve been encouraging readers on FS to spend more money to live a better life for years. This post was also originally published before Die With Zero came out.

      Just be careful going too far. Bill’s net worth is in the hundreds of millions. He can afford to spend until the cows come home. Most cannot. It’s like how only the super rich or the poor say money can’t buy happiness.

      Related posts:

      No Point Making Money If You Don’t Spend Your Money

      Overcoming Frugality Disease

      Stop Frugality From Leading To A Lifestyle Deflation

      The Best Decumulation Age To Start Spending Down Your Money

      Good reminders for me to update all of these posts as times change!

      1. I found this post interesting in theory because I have been asking folks if they ever regretted retiring too early, however I found nothing that really applied to me.
        I’m 56 and at the height of my career as an orthopedic surgeon. I was lucky enough to negotiate a week off a month when I started at this practice 12-13 years ago, which goes a long way to making by job ideal. A few years ago, I also realized that I could stop working and probably never run out of money. I’m naturally frugal and live in a very low cost area.
        I remember years ago reading about how you wanted to retire to Hawaii. I actually left Kauai to start this job and then finally sold my house there last year when real estate was crazy high.
        I sold another multi family last year, as well.
        I don’t have kids to support but do figure I will live to be 100.
        But I feel like, if I retired now, it would be a waste. I have probably the best job in the world in terms of feeling like I am doing something cool that is challenging at times, but fulfilling and helps people who are sometimes grateful. It pays quite well, I have great coworkers and partners and plenty of time for hobbies and family.
        What I realized is that if someone like me is even thinking about what it would be like to retire early, we are all probably romanticizing retirement too much. This is like folks thinking about their wedding day rather than how to make a marriage work.
        I would say that the day you feel like you don’t want to write for this blog is when you really go into retirement. Is retirement when we cease productive activity? When we cease doing things for remuneration?
        I’ve always liked working. Maybe I’m in the minority. I actually probably need more training in spending money. Even on my time off, I can’t stop the productive, remunerative activity.
        But I do think sometimes, shouldn’t I retire now that I’ve made my nut? But, nope. I’ve made a life I really love. Work is part of that. You have, too, but it’s just not having a regular job of the type you or others thought you should have. Early retirement is like a fairytale wedding. It should be the beginning of something good, not the goal.

        1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The one group of people I hope never retire are doctors and surgeons. We need more of y’all to work to help people feel better. Also, with how much Time you guys have spent on education, retiring early would be a waste.

          There is this whole personal finance doctors niche online. Basically all of them want to be entrepreneurs and don’t want to really practice medicine as much anymore. It is pretty fascinating. And why I included the “return on education variable“ in my chart below.

          You are blessed to have focus and do you want to do what you want and earn a good living. Enjoy it!

          But please tell me some of the negatives of working in Kauai? I imagine it might be a little small and lonely sometimes. Which is why I would rather live in Oahu.

          1. Kauai is a great place to live. The people are lovely and it is obviously just gorgeous. But Lihue isn’t the big smoke, like Honolulu. Kauai is very small town/backwoods in a way.
            That makes it a a great place to live, but can be a frustrating place to work, unless you have patience, a lot of EQ or have spent a bunch of time building local cred.
            Honolulu is like moving to Toronto from NYC. Kauai is more like Quebec.
            Some folks like to talk about their weekend before getting down to work. Others can’t stand talking story until the work is done.

            1. I hear you. I like talking story. But I also like getting things done. Kauai is just too small for me.

              My stress level Emily goes down from about a five out of 10 to a three out of 10 when I land in Hawaii. It’s such a great lifestyle. Let me know if you start missing it!

  18. Is there a retirement age for entrepreneurs, who quit their job to found successful businesses?

    1. Statistics show the most successful entrepreneurs start their businesses around 40 years old. So that’s another win for the ideal retirement age of between 41 to 50.

      Becoming an entrepreneur after 40 feels like you’re playing with houses money a little bit. It’s kind of like a government employee who retires early with a pension and then becomes a consultant or gets a private sector job. Don’t need it. So the extra money is like winning the lottery every two weeks or every month.

      1. Being an entrepreneur is a full time work in itself, although quite satisfying and financially rewarding. I gather you consider this state of running your own business akin to retirement considering the flexibility it offers to do things your way.

        1. I call it fake retirement since I still work 15 to 20 hours a week on Financial Samurai. But it is on my own terms and it provides me purpose and joy. So I continue!

          I really like writing, investing, and reading for about two hours from six in the morning till eight in the morning or so. Completely intellectual things then do my fatherly duties, exercise, and nap after a good lunch!

          Balancing the physical with the mental health and now with the family is very important to me.

  19. I retired the day I turned 30 and haven’t regretted a single minute of it. I started investing in real estate at 18 and have been able to live comfortably while continuing to grow my income for 6 years now. It’s amazing to be able to stay home with my family and assist in homeschooling my daughter. We travel, hike, cook, and play whenever we want. It’s been amazing and I can’t imagine reentering the workforce again.

      1. No, my wife has always been a stay at home mom. We were married at 21 and had also grown up homeschooled, so our plan was always for me to work and her to stay home. So we are both truly retired and able to do pretty much whatever we want. We get a lot of the “so what exactly do you do?” comments from people we meet.

        1. Cool cool. We did homeschooling for 18 months and spent a lot of time with our kids then. We tag teamed to give ourselves breaks.

          So what do you do for the rest of the time then?

          1. Hike, mountain bike, cook, RV, donate time in our church, take walks, read books, host guests. I wondered what I would do when I quit working. Come to find out I’m “busier” than ever, just not what the majority of people would consider busy.

      2. This is exactly what I did at 51. Got downsized (again) and said that’s it. Was planning on 54-55 (I’m now 54) just to have access to 401K withdraws etc. but we ran the numbers and can get by on what my wife makes. So you can count me as part of that group.

        1. So much easier to retire with a working spouse for sure. It’s nice to have one working for stability, and one taking a lot more risk or taking things down a lot.

          I had that for almost three years when I left in 2012. My wife, who is three years younger than me, ended up working for three more years until she left in 2015. Equality!

  20. I think 40s and 50s are a great time to retire or semi-retire if you have the means and get the planning right. There are only a few people I know who willingly worked into their 80s because they genuinely loved their job. Most people I know either dislike or only partially like their jobs post 40. Being able to pivot into something you truly love when you no longer really need the income is a great way to be semi retired and stay active. The happiest retirees I know are all actively involved with hobbies, volunteering, or working part time in something they find fun.

    1. Yeah, semi-retirement or fake retirement where you go and do something you enjoy is what it’s all about.

      I know FOR SURE there is no way in hell I would have lasted in finance until age 50. I already felt in 2008 after the the terrorist attacks in Mumbai my heart was no longer fully in finance at age 31.

      Leaving the Oberoi hotel just a week before the attacks felt like death was catching up to me.

  21. Hugh Hunkeler

    Age 60 was the ideal time for me to retire:
    -My last kid graduated from college and got a job with health insurance
    -My company was wearing people out with new processes that they felt would help “manage” programs, but just made it harder for experienced people to do a good job
    -The COVID quarantines caused cash flow problems, so my company needed to lay off some employees, and I got the maximum amount of severance…and was going to be putting in my notice in a couple months anyway.

    1. Must feel very satisfying, especially after your youngest graduated college. I totally understand the timing. And if you enjoyed your job, then all the better.


  22. Another great post, Sam – thanks!

    I retired a year ago at 55. I had been thinking about and planning it for a few years. Working from home during the pandemic made it easier, as I had never met many of coworkers in-person. I also wanted to maximize the number of healthy post-work years, and felt the NW was more than “enough”.

    It does feel like a mix of Murthy’s Law and Sequence of Returns Risk these days :-). Tough market conditions, however, are a way of stress-testing the portfolio.

    I think 55 was just right for me.

    1. Good to hear!

      “ Working from home during the pandemic made it easier, as I had never met many of coworkers in-person”

      Curious if this would spur you to want to work longer?

      Seeing so many more workers with more flexibility and enjoying tennis and the beach during the weekdays actually made me want to go back to work during the pandemic!

      1. There were many positive things about in-office work, but I do not miss spending 7+ hours a week in traffic, and the high-pressure aspects of running a large organization.

        Work was more social earlier in my career, as an individual contributor – and much less so at the end in a leadership role.

        I am happy to have full control of my time now, and can’t see going back.

  23. I retired at 50 several months before the pandemic hit. Unfortunately, I had no plan for sequence of pandemic risk for retirement years lost! lol I was lucky enough to have 35 years of work count towards social security and be vested in two pension plans. Had I known what the stock market would’ve done the prior 10 years I could’ve retired at 40. IMHO retiring at 40-45 is too early unless one has enough investments and/or passive income to provide a worry free retirement.

    Retiring at 45 might be ideal but the reality is few people will be able to do so comfortably. It would require a career, investment and life plan at 18-22 years old. One would also need a career that pays very well or be successful in a business. They would also have to save and invest wisely. Checking all these boxes at such an early age is unlikely which is why the majority of people retire much later.

    Most people have better odds retiring at 50 than 45. It also splits ones active work and retirement life in half, about 30 years working and 30 years of active retirement life (50-80).

  24. Glad I found this article/sight at this moment in time. Wife and I are looking to retire in next few months at 46 and everyone we know seems to think we’re crazy. Glad to see others see the light too. Going to experience expat life in the Dominican Republic.

  25. This is one of the best articles I have ever read. I started this article wondering if retirement was right for me. I was hesitating and I found the reasons why in this article. Now I know retirement is RIGHT FOR ME NOW! Thanks so much! I am a total fan!

      1. Total fan. Long time reader. Retired at 55 but wife and I had a defined benefit retirement plan (retired teachers). How do you calculate the value of a defined benefit retirement added to savings like 403b, IRA and taxable savings/investments? Thanks. Great book btw. IMHO the best way to have a successful retirement is to “keep working” at your passion. For us it is developing a humanitarian service program in Guatemala. Fantastic experience and VERY rewarding.

  26. Dear Sam,

    Thank you for all of your posts. They have been extremely helpful to me. I have been talking about retiring at age 50, since I was about 40. I am known for this with my friends and family. This is the age that I set where I would get lifetime medical for my family from my company, as well as achieve the level of financial security that I felt comfortable with. My job in Corporate Finance for the last 30 years has been extremely stressful and consumes all of me. I have regrets with missed time with my two children, family, and friends. Here I am at age 52.5, and I am still working! I have firmly narrowed my retirement date to 6-18 months from now (53-54 years old.) Which date to choose now consumes all of me. I am mostly over the fact that my career has been such a big part of my identity, but I am worried that I will be bored and feel that I made a mistake. And, you can always have a little more money for cushion. I am 100% sure that once I leave Corporate America, I will never ever go back. I am anxious to retire to find my purpose, and get back to being myself around my family and friends without all of the very extreme stress. I read your points about 1-2 years being a good timeline to retire, which all make complete sense to me. I am just not sure that I can endure the stress any longer and have it consume all of me. Yes, it is true that once you’ve decided to retire, you are less stressed, but 18 months feels like too long to keep up this “act.” Any advice?

    PS. My son is looking to go to William and Mary for Business, and to run track. Fantastic college. Congratulations on all that you’ve achieved and on being such an inspiration to others.

    Best regards,

  27. Marc Billingsly

    I am 40 and finally make real money ($300k this year and next in a relatively LCOL area.) My plan at 35 was to retire at 40, or at least be able to (thanks MMM). I didn’t make over $100k until age 36.

    Now I realize that this kind of money doesn’t grow on trees and I can’t walk away for the time being. I do like my job, but it is very stressful / demanding (not always in a bad way.) My new goal is to retire at 45 and at least double my NW in the next 5 years (40-50% savings rate). Certainly I will move on to something else at that point rather than just leisure. I am a banker and could easily semi-retire at a low salary in a small town while still covering expenses since my savings will be completed by then. This may be the smart plan at least until my kids are done with college at age 50. Just need to find a spot where they’re happy to have me for about $85-100k and nobody sweats my attendance or plummeting golf handicap. That’s the dream and I feel its attainable in this industry.

    All that said, I agree fully with 40-45 being ideal. I suspect I will have a hard time walking away from the money and opportunity of executive management in 5 years, but I really would rather not work at all and I don’t care TOO much about status and prestige. My family spending remains relatively lean which gives me options, but “the big house” purchase looms as a want.

    Either way, I find solace in the grind by mentally planning to walk away “soon.”

  28. Hi.
    I’m new to your blog. I’m in the beginning stage of a remodel and loved your percentage breakdowns of the rooms in a home. Very helpful. So, my question on retirement. At 58, I was forced into retirement by Covid. I’m cool with it. As a single mom/divorced woman, I feel pretty pleased that my net worth is about a million. I’m doing the remodel to strategically increase that. Hopefully by 200-300k. The problem is all my money is in my house. I have alimony which pays my basic expenses and SS coming in a few years. Everybody tells me to sell, invest in stocks, travel and enjoy myself. What are your thoughts?

    1. Hi Emily,

      If all your money/net worth is in stocks, then you should diversify and boost liquidity just in case the value of your house decreases.

      If you can remodel/expand for a profit, go for it and then sell. If you are remodeling for your own comfort, you won’t be able to capitalize the value of you remodel. You will end up concentrating even more of your net worth in your house.

      The value of cash flow has gone way up b/c interest rates have gone way down.

      1. Hi,
        I am in a pretty similar boat to Emily but own a house in San Francisco. I am thinking about legalizing my in-law unit to add square footage for sale. I was originally planning to hold onto the property and rent it out but due to all going on with COVID/work from home, I am thinking about selling before my value drops. Do you think it would be better to sell or rent out the house now? Thanks Sadie

          1. Hello there,
            In general do you believe in real estate or stock market for investment?

  29. Hey Sam – love the site. However, I must point out that the Boeing retirement age vs death age is chart which you shared is not factual. I too made the mistake of sending those numbers around before I quit the company for the first time. Look around a bit online (since I can’t provide links) and you’ll see what I mean.


  30. While this age of charts to retire is great, this gradual increase every year, I feel like this doesn’t take into account things that happen to many people in first world countries:

    1) Career change – Some people just hate their first career and switch to a second lower paying one, that is less stressful, but still a career that is not a hobby.

    2) Time off – People suffer from burn out or take time off to raise their kids until they go to kindergarten. I meet so many women who have done this. Of course, this puts them behind in the work force when they come back.

    3) Divorce – If you were a two income household with equal contribution from both partners, it could completely set you back. And no one ever plans to get divorced when they get married… Of course, if you remarry, this might put you back on track, depending on who you marry..

    4) Health – People get injured for a period of time and cannot work.

    1. Yes, life happens to us all. I’m trying to figurer out the ideal retirement age. But of course, getting to the ideal age can be difficult. I missed the mark by 7 years because I was burned out and simply couldn’t last.

      It would have been great if I loved my job.

  31. Sam, you mention 20x your income in NW before you retire. You also recently had a 0.5% withdrawal rate for retirement recently. So if someone make 100k and they have 2 million saved, they can withdraw 10k per year?

    If someone makes 500k per year and have 10 million NW, they can withdraw 50k per year?

    10k per year seems low to live on, although maybe not assuming you don’t have a mortgage. Do you think the 20x rule and the 0.5% withdrawal rule are at odds with each other?

    1. They are not at odds with each other, they are on the same plane.

      20X income comes first. Once you get there, I think you can retire or consider yourself financially independent. Once there, I would first start withdrawing nothing or up to 0.5% if needed. And then adjust accordingly after one or two years.

      The message I’m trying to tell everybody is to build supplemental retirement income in the form of passive income or active income. If we face structural declines, Having a low withdrawal rate will be worth it.

      1. What do you mean by withdraw nothing? How would you pay the groceries if you had no income at all? I think I am missing something here.

        1. I mean withdraw no principal worst case. Live solely off the dividends, but better yet, live off supplemental retirement income you generate in retirement and then start living off the investment income if necessary.

  32. I think 50 is the perfect age for most people if you don’t have to worry about money.
    Any younger and there is still a lot of doubt about if the money will last.
    However, you don’t have to retire 100%. Going to part-time is a great option.
    Semi retirement is another story. Then, the earlier the better. 40 is the perfect age for semi retirement. ;)

  33. 100% agree with you. Retiring in your 40s is the sweet spot. We hit lean FI in 2016 at 34, but plan to keep working & building till about 45.

  34. I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume you made roughly $800,000 the year prior to retirement. 20x of that is 16 million. You’ve told us you had about 3 million at your retirement age. 20x just seems a bit extreme in a career like investment banking, maybe I’m mistaken but when if i work until age 50 in IB I doubt I’ll be at 40 million net worth by then (20x income on assumed 2 million compensation by then). It’s a very aspirational number, I just don’t see it happening unless I find a way to achieve 15%+ returns on my investments. Do you think i could find a way to get 15%, real estate probably gets that right? Thanks for all you do. Super interesting stuff.

    1. I had a base salary of $250k when I retired (mentioned in the post). So if I followed my net worth target, I should have left with at least $5M, but I didn’t. Another reason why I should have worked for a couple years more. 34 is not the ideal retirement age.

      I think you’ll be surprised at how many investment opportunities there will be to help you get to the $40 million number if you’re making $2 million of year regularly by age 50.

      That said, The higher net worth, the more conservative you want to be. For example, if you had a $20 million net worth and lost 30% in March and the stock market, you probably wouldn’t be feeling very happy at that time.

  35. Gennadiy from Belarus


    I missed all bullets on your chart.
    At the the tender age of 42 I just started making good money. I was my third career move.
    Despite the fact that I can live on 12 th/y( mmm, I miss my felling being rich like a king on minimum wage income) – I don’t want to do it any more.

    Sam, I enjoy reading your FS more then my FT job.
    However, only@65 with no reduction for the age my pension will give me sweet *20.

    So let’s say I was retired twice before and now I am just digging gold in El Dorado.

  36. I think you should change the title of this post to: Ideal age to quit the job you do not like and do the job you do like. The concept of retirement is not the same as people understand it in its true sense (GM union labourer retirees, sits at home and watches TV). Most of the reader, yourself included, simply substituted a job that they did not like and was too demanding, for a job that they enjoy (for now) and is less demanding in their eyes (although it is also debatable). This is not retirement but a career adjustment. And furthermore, after quitting the job you do not like, I wander if you would do another task (website, teaching finance, etc) is it was pro bono? I guess not for long or you would not do it with zeal and diligence. So the statement that “I am retiring” in this context is nothing more than mental masturbation.

    1. Sure, happy to do so in a new post. I haven’t said I’ve been retired in many years now because I’m a full-time parent and spend about 20 to 25 hours a week on this site. But I will say that running Financial Samurai is 90% easier and 100% more fun than my previous day job.

      If I stop doing anything, I will have personal retirement income of about $265,000 a year. That provides for a comfortable retirement, but not outlandish given I am a family of four.

      My goal is to go to at least $300,000 a year and consistent passive income before I retire again.

      1. Thanks for posting this, very interesting. I’m 40 married 2kids10/13. We own our home, cars etc no payments. We have saved and invested 1 m in the market 80% equity’s. 1m in 401 k , 300k in cash. I’d like to retire at 46 any advice ?

      2. To say that $265,000 a year provides for a comfortable retirement seems like a pretty big understatement. Assuming a paid-for house, I’m trying imagine how I would spend that much in a year. If it’s not too personal, would you mind sharing your yearly itemized spending? I’m not asking facetiously or in order to judge you on your spending choices. But you lay out some pretty big numbers in terms of overall retirement savings goals and seeing a break-down of your annual budget would give me (and others, I’m guessing) some idea of how our own retirement spending expectations compare to yours. If you’ve already done this in a previous post, I’d be interested to read it. Thank you for your website. I enjoy it very much.

    2. There are plenty of 65+ that retired and spend some of their time working at a supermarket bagging groceries so they have something to do and can socialize. Would you say they are not retired? Retirement can happen if you are financially independent. Just because you like doing things that happen to make money doesn’t mean you are not retired if you do not need to do those things.

      Saying being retired means you have to sit at home and do nothing productive is an extremely limited view of an amazing time in people’s lives.

  37. Like Sam’s parents, I too was in the Foreign Service and retired at 53. I could and should have retired at age 50 when I was eligible. In today’s world, I understand that few Americans will have a traditional pension. In today’s world of near zero interest rates, I know I am lucky to have a pension that also increases with inflation.
    Since I retired 6 years ago, I have yet to touch my savings and investments. In fact I have yet to even spend one half of my pension in a year on living expenses.
    Since college, international travel was my passion and has continued to be until the pandemic began (I was actually traveling up until April 1st when it became obvious it would be better to settle down in one place).
    The Foreign Service was the perfect lifestyle to see the world and now that I’m retired I can visit all of those countries that my employment would have prohibited (for example, North Korea). I wanted to point out my experience because there are many of us who do not have the highest paying jobs but have learned to make the best of the experience and flourish. Using Sam’s .5% withdrawal rate, my pension is now worth more than many retirement investment portfolios.

    1. Definitely, the foreign service lifestyle is pretty nice. And with the pension, that’s great. I am off and trying to encourage my parents to spend more money given they also have a pension after 30+ years of service.

      Broad habits die hard. If you haven’t touched any of your principal and don’t even spend 100% of your pension over the past six years, I encourage you to spend more money.

      What is the fear in spending 100% of your pension each month if it is never going to run out? And you have other savings and investments too?

  38. This one has been on my mind since the first day I started working. Initially thought of 55 based off thinking that was earliest to access retirement accounts. The it changed to 42 using Roth IRA ladders. The it became 42 but with two independent strategies through Roth IRA ladders and real estate investment where both strategy would support independently. Now I’m thinking about 38 given how the real estate path is going. I’m trying to balance how fat of FIRE we want, how many nice toys we want (ex. Tesla CyberTruck), having 0, 1, or 2 kids, and career burnout and potential. This article really hit home on the thought process I’m currently going through!

  39. I like the analysis you did in that table on the best age to retire. It helps to look at the different aspects of your life, career, income, and education to take it all in. Retirement definitely is a personal choice. I think one’s 40s are a great time to retire, or take it down a notch at least if possible.

    But we’re all different of course. I know two physicians, both with incredible careers, working in their 70s and 80s, happy as clams being able to help pediatric patients. One of them finally retired this August after a couple years of reduced hours. He almost retired last year but then changed his mind. I think COVID finally gave him the nudge to finally pull the trigger.

    The other physician I know is 81 and is the most dedicated doctor I’ve ever met. He’s got the most incredible bedside manner, knowledge and experience beyond what I could ever imagine, so kind, has the best energy and sense of humor, and is so happy doing what he does.

    I certainly don’t think many people would still be happy working like he does at 81, but I also think a lot of people aren’t doing jobs that they truly love. And of course health also has a huge impact to one’s happiness and ability to work in those upper years.

    I hope I’m as healthy and energetic as he is in his 80s! I’m going to go work out now and eat some vegetables ;)

    1. Those positions are blessed because they truly have found what they love to do and it gives them pride and a sense of community. The income doesn’t hurt either.

      I wish I loved my job to do it for another 10 years. But it started getting boring after 13 years. It really is a blessing to find work that you feel is really making a positive impact to the world.

      Being a Doctor Who could help others heal Hass to be one of those professions. And this is why it’s sad to see so many doctors retire early In the personal finance community.

  40. And the other side to consider because of the focus on a daily purpose that benefits others:

    1. Robert Hatmaker

      Agree with T – “focus on a daily purpose that benefits others”. I retired at age 55 from a fantastic job from which few people retire early – college professor. I retired for the freedom to do some international humanitarian work. Have so far been involved in polio vaccine distribution, repairing cleft lips, and education of indigenous (Maya) youth in Guatemala. (Amigos de Guatemala). Started at age 55 and now 81 and still going strong. Recommendation — if you retire early, do something to help others. The time will fly by and it will keep you “young”. Find your purpose and go for it!

      Sam, you have obviously found your purpose in being a father, tennis and Financial Samurai. You’re doing a GREAT job. Thanks.

  41. I feel 41 is a good retirement age; most people who retire that young are industrious so it is very likely that they will monetize their hobbies; who knows, perhaps their hobbies will be more lucrative than their job. I unwillfully retired at 39, two months ago, after laid off due to Covid. I realized that I am spending about half of what I predicted and that I have way more than 20x yearly expenses (something like 100x). I am not lying but I think I will spend $10,000 per year thanks to good financial decisions:
    – I bought a house in the country with five acres, I have an ag exemption and taxes are dirt chep..I am not lying ok… $500 per year! I paid my mortgage sooo long ago. house was cheap to (I built most of it in 4 years btw). I bought/built the house five years ago and now the land is very close to the city limit which made my land be worth 2x of what I paid for (but I am not selling)
    – I am into house flipping so my home maintenance expenses are like maybe $1000 per year
    – Of course paid off car, something that I found is that; since I drive like twice a week, the risk of having an accident is so low that I could cancelled comprehensive coverage.
    – Driving two times per week reduced my gas consumption to about $50 per month.
    – When I built my house I insulated the crap out of it so my electrical is about $50 per month.
    – No HOA (smart), No gas (everything electric), Internet is $35 /month, Phone is $15 /month.
    – house insurance is about $1000 per year, I have it just because I have like 15 trees that can fall on the house and we get tornadoes where I live. Still, I am actively looking into how to reduce this bill.
    – We decided not to have kids.
    – My girlfriend carries some of her own weight and she is really not a spender.
    – I shop at Aldis, I was thinking of $200 per month on food but we have a really hard time spending that much, we are averaging like $100/month.

    I am sacrificing a little bit just as a precaution until markets stabilize; Mainly not dinning out.

    In short, I found out that you actually spend less than what you were considering when you retire.

  42. I’m on track to become financially independent at 35, but I’m still not sure if I would actually retire. Even though I work a lot of overtime at my job now at 24, I could work a lot less at any point in my career if I no longer wanted promotions. My job is already low stress enough working overtime, so without working overtime I would feel like I’m on vacation. I already make quite a good income at my age, and my living expenses are very low for my income range. I only spend 20k a year in total, and I could easily drop to 10k/year if I wanted to accelerate FI. I also have decided I never want kids or a wife, so I would have a very low expenses throughout retirement.

    1. Adrian Fletcher

      Where exactly do you live or how do you afford to spend 10k/year? I think this sounds like lean FIRE which is not what I want to do, but I respect everyone’s own decision :)

  43. James Borst

    My sister-in-law just retired and I’ve wondered when would be a good time for me to retire. It is interesting that many people take up as many things as possible to stay busy. I may consider consulting with a financial planner to see what I should have prepared before retirement.

  44. Jenna Hunter

    I like what you said about how the 41-45 years old is the best time to retire because you’ve earned a good amount of money and minimize regret. This would be really helpful for my dad to know because he is thinking of retiring. It would be really nice if he could get a professional to help him figure out when he should retire with his income.

  45. After reading a few of your posts, I realize that your not retired at all. You are trading your time tending this site for money – sounds like a job to me. To thine own self be true FS. I realize that this is what makes you happy, and that’s great! However, its misleading to call it retirement.

      1. I have not met one interesting retiree. They are impossible to talk to as they have nothing to say. Honestly, most don’t do anything of interest. No one says let’s invite the grandparents to dinner and hear about their adventures.

        1. I think that says more about the people you mingle with than anything. I’ve never met an uninteresting early retiree or a person with an otherwise unconventional lifestyle. My grandparents took the more traditional route, and they still have many stories to share, most are not work-related. Also, to me, this seems to further motivate a person’s goal to retire earlier rather than later, as you can DO more. Finally, most work-related stories are insanely boring, unless you work in the healthcare field as I do; then I would love to hear your stories. Otherwise, I do not want to hear your boring complaints about your job.

      2. People don’t understand that the new concept of retirement is doing whatever you want. I am sure you really enjoy running and what is best is that, if you wanted to, you could shut down the website or sell it tomorrow and spend your life sailing or running or jumping.
        I feel people are fixating in the literal meaning of the word “retirement” which is you are too old to continue working so you leave the workforce to wait for your death.
        Keep the good work! love your website.

        1. I like that. I’ve started to map my date of FI rather than retirement. It incentivizes me to keep expenses low, pay off the mortgage sooner, AND save/invest… rather than just save/invest.

  46. I love the quantitative post. Appeals to the scientist in me. We will consider start toying with the idea at 41-42 and consider it over 5 years. Part of the reason is all the things youve gotten into other than your old 9-5 job. That is a big part of RE. I can be hard as a physician to graduate late and leave during the peak earning years, but docs can move around when young and make lots of money to pay debt and nestegg without having 10-20 years experience due to our training so 40s may be low earning years for some.

  47. Hi Sam.

    Worked in middle east as oil and gas engineer for 13 years ..was laid off last year in oil age 46 ..thanks to frugal savings habit ..networth of 1.2M minus staying house..distributed almost 1/3 in stocks bonds andRE
    now at home since last 1.5y..when I was working ..had urge to retire at home..feel like going back to work..grass is greener on other side..

    current annual expenses are 20000 pa..

    my only concern is 2 kids are small grade 5 and 2…so have to constantly think about their future college costs etc..

  48. I like the idea of 20x yearly spending OUTSIDE of IRA type money, I think it misses a couple things however like planning for one offs you know are going to happen. For example you may sock away some money in a 529 for college but how are you going to pay for the incidentals like summer abroad or spring break or air plane rides home? My solution was to chuck 20K into a UGTM funded in equities and let it grow for 20 years. When college came I had 4 years of ready cash and when my daughter graduated we had enough left over in that fund to get a car. College never touched my cash flow. 70% of that money was interest.

    Another example is Roth conversion, you can plan for that as well. I did an analysis and it appears Roth conversion is best done over a number of years (4-6) just prior to RMD. It is best done while living off of cash. The cash comes from saving into a fund ear marked to be spent down into cash at the commencement of conversion, plus you need some money to pay the taxes. Having this buffer fund helps protect against SORR. Save 30K into this fund when you are 25 and at 65 when you start to Roth convert you will have enough to cash out 88K per year to live on for conversion. 90% of that money will be interest.

    Good post

  49. I like the numbers you put up. As a physician, I think the long time in training pushes the chart out 10 years. I was financially ready to retire at 50 and pulled the trigger at 54 after slowing down for three years. I switched to a new career of writing and teaching personal finance to doctors. I think it is better to retire with a purpose and not just quit working. So instead of saying I retired, I like to say I repurposed. My retirement story can be found in my book, The Doctors Guide to Smart Career Alternatives and Retirement. We will all be happiest if we retire to something rather than from something.

    Dr. Cory S. Fawcett
    Prescription for Financial Success

    1. David Michaeli

      I agree. It’s fun to take a year or two off to realize the travel dreams, but living with purpose bring meaning to so called retirement. And, it could be as simple as Teaching ESL as a retirment career in order to travel the world.

  50. As someone who has age 46 targeted for myself for now (barring any windfalls, which would only advance this date), I like this scale.

    Those Actuarial numbers are harrowing. Where is that table from? It should be posted in every workplace everywhere.

  51. asia_mystery

    Below is my historical ratio of Networth to Gross Salary, so based on Sam’s very original ratio should be 20. My retirement age could have started at age 49. However, more than half my assets are in non-liquid assets (e.g. property) and I still have two kids age 10 and 12. There seems to be an underlying theme most people can retire once the kids finish college. My best guess I’ll retire before I’m 60.

    Age NW: Salary
    37 4.88
    38 4.15
    39 5.00
    40 4.44
    41 5.00
    42 5.85
    43 5.69
    44 12.39
    45 12.04
    46 13.08
    47 14.55
    48 14.96
    49 19.08
    50 16.84
    51 19.66
    52 22.1

    As a side note Sam’s blog was timely as I was recently unhappy at the office this past week…I work for a very famous financial service company and with each passing year I become more jaded as to how “white dominant” the organization is (despite 15% of its workforce are people of color). But then I’m at an age which I shouldn’t care about this corporate bs inequity…why go through the corporate grind…it’s just not worth it now. So if my 5 layers of white bosses are reading this post … your Diversity and Inclusion pep talks are worthless…show it in action.

    1. Just turned 54. 5 months ago I left a very a world famous fintech company (cushy, comfortable, and secure job) to join a bank. A decision I now regret, the bank is making me work very hard and I ‘m not enjoying the work. While i’m very disappointed I made the decision to leave the fintech firm, BUT the reason I left is that it was a white dominated org. My boss during my annual review basically implied that white males have privilege (I’m thinking of suing the company, I have his statement on audio). Futhermore, for the past 3 years the boss has screwed me on bonus and pay increase – he keeps on telling me that I’m the highest paid team member, which I hate how he compares my skills to my peers b/c I move mountains, others do not. BTW: My boss is a punk ass young white guy who is 16 years younger than me (at one point I was making more money than him) and deep down I knew he wouldn’t do a damn thing for my career progression. While the Bank job pays more than Fintech…it’s just not worth it – I’m stressed out, not working out, and worst of all I’ve become horribly grumpy with my family. It’s taking a toll on my mental well being

      Now that I’m miserable with my new job, I’m thinking that I give retirement/ semi retirement a trial run or look for a job I can enjoy. I think I’m FI, I have two kids 13, and 15, and a wife who doesn’t work. But most of my NW is real estate. I’m estimating that my passive income (bonds, equities, rent, options, insurance) can give a cash flow of about USd150k a year.

      My NW: Income ratio history is:

      Age 37: 4.9
      Age 38: 4.15
      Age 39: 4.44
      Age 41: 5.0
      Age 42: 5.85
      Age 43: 5.69
      Age 44: 12.04
      Age 45: 13.08
      Age 47: 14.55
      Age 48: 14.96
      Age 49: 19.08
      Age 50: 16.84
      Age 51: 19.66
      Age 52: 23.29
      Age 53: 25.12

  52. Bill Eichbrecht

    My definition of retire is the ability to live a life style you want and not need the income of a “job”. When you get to this point, it is not considered work. It is considered doing what you want. If it is not what you want, you tell the boss you are finished with your career and then do what you want. I retired at 52, but I was not at the financial point I wanted. I am still employed, but now I am at that point. I do not have to hold back my thoughts to the boss anymore and fear being fired. I think I would actually like to have being fired on my bucket list. I actually told the president of the company he was stupid with others on the phone and didn’t get fired. That is what I call being retired.

  53. Kathy Abell

    I retired “early” at age 55. I thought that was pretty late based upon the FIRE blogs I’ve been reading the last six (?) years. So it was good to see a total score of 32 for the 51 – 60 age range, which is not too far off from the total scores for the “blue zone” optimal retirement age ranges.

  54. I semi-retired at 44 (transitioned from c-suite level position to part time role with same company in same functional area – finance) where I continued to work until fully retiring nine years later at 53. In semi-retirement, standard work schedule was 3 days per week (Tues-Thurs) although I frequently worked a 4th or 5th day during the week when things were busy or they needed more of my time. I stayed on as an employee and received ful benefits (although I was unemcumbered by the day to day bs like goal setting and performance reviews and managing staff).

    That period allowed me to continue to build my nest egg, setting my DW and I up for an enriching retirement.

    We travel quite a bit (target 60 nights away from home, spread over around 8 trips per year). I do not consult or work in any capacity – have zero interest in doing anything like that.

    Retirement has been everything I hoped it would be and more. It’s truly exceeded my every expectation.

      1. I think the right age is 50 – if you can afford to do it (which means being able to do the things you want – and not having to live frugally). This provides a very long period of “go-go” years, in which to experience lots of different things.

        I think 44 would have been too early to be fully retired (for me). I am glad I stayed on part time so we can afford to do what we are doing now.

        Having said that, I suppose if I had the money at 44 I have now then maybe my answer would be different – although realistically I would probably need more just due to the longer retirement period:-)

  55. TheRunningMan

    Everyone is different, thank goodness! Some spend and experience when they are young, working later in life. Some save when young and experience later in life. Some choose to have many children, cherishing all and working long to support them. Some choose to have no children and live to serve their own desires alone. Some don’t save at all and live off of the rest of us…these I tend to loathe. Point is that you can’t distill all of this down to a score…IMHO.

    But, a thought provoking post! Cheers!

  56. Congrats on the nice number.
    You’ll have to quantify “not a big spender”. It’s all about understanding your expenses now and the future. Many folks retire with much less.

    If “not a big spender” requires 600K a year, then you are not going to make it. If it only requires 100K a year it should not be a problem.

    How much does your house cost to keep? Taxes, insurance, maintenance…
    Do you have kid(s) to send to college? You going to send them to public, private college. Will they get scholarships? Where do you want to travel to, how often do you want to eat out and at what level?

    1. I have no dependents.
      Taxes, insurance and maintenance on my paid off house is about $20k a year.
      Probably spend about $150-175k a year total.
      I am healthy.
      It is the unknown that makes it hard to know what is a safe number to feel secure in retiring.

  57. I am 51 and have about 6 million saved in investment accounts, a mix of taxable and nontaxable investment accounts. I paid off my 3 million dollar house. I have no debt. I want to retire and worry I do not have enough. I am not a big spender. Thoughts?

    1. If your expenses are 150K-175K per year and you have 6M invested, then your drawdown only needs to be 2.5%-3% per year to cover your expenses. Assuming your investments average at least 3% growth and another 2% in dividends, then your principal amount theoretically never changes as you cover your expenses in portfolio appreciation and the inflation in dividends. Getting a total average annual return of at least 5% on your assets seems reasonable, particularly over longer periods of time so I’d say you are just fine to retire anytime you want.

  58. Based on all the factors you laid out, I’m going with around the mid-Forties as the sweet spot.

    However, I think this can completely change over time as your life evolved. I craved early retirement in my late 20’s, but started to really enjoy my work and found a good balance in life, and so now at forty am not in a huge hurry to retire at all.

    Ask me again 5 years from now though whether I still feel the same…

  59. Wow, Sam, you’ve accomplished so much five years post-retirement. I retired when I was 42 and have only traveled to about three countries in five years. You’re right about being retired from 9-5 work but not retired with all the work that you’ve done and still doing. That’s exactly how I feel. I’m just getting started with running a blog and hope to be able to accomplish at least 40% of what you’ve done with yours. Let me congratulate you for all your accomplishments.

  60. Again, great topic and spot on with the ranges. I’d love to get your opinion on the comment about the retirement amount in cash or cash equivalents. We tend to be heavy in RE. I’ve read your post and agree with a lot of it. Not that one asset class is any “better” than another, but more about what you are more comfortable with. We’ve been doing RE for many years now and it is just our comfort investment.

    Anyway, if our rentals are yielding similar to long term market rates, on average over the long term after expenses, how would you count those properties towards the 20X multiple? I typically use the total equity as part of our NW calculation.

    I think our long term plan will be to consolidate all our props into a few large, multi-unit properties and “retire” on the income. We are light on equities, but that’s by choice.

    And to tie it all back to the topic, I am shooting for 45-50, with the idea of going into academia for retirement. What the hell is all this education for if I don’t give some of it back?

    You are usually spot on with what you write, so I thought I’d get your opinion on this.

    Thanks for keeping us focused! – FS

  61. What about using 72t to access your pre-tax funds penalty free? Think you had an article on that a while ago.

  62. I don’t think that I will ever truly retire at any age, because I want to feel like I am contributing to something outside of myself. If money were no object I would go back to school to make me better in my current field and to learn more and be better able to apply it to the issues of humanity.

    My only real goal is to be able to provide a good balance for it all. To be able to leave at noon each day would be ideal. You really only work so many hours a day anyway, before your ability to focus and your productivity drops off.

  63. Sam, if to retire comfortably you believe one needs at minimum 20X their annual expenses in liquid POST-TAX net worth (so no PRE-TAX retirement accounts like 401k), aren’t you then saying pretty much no one will have enough money to retire much before 59.5yo?

    By your own math in articles like “The Average Net Worth for the Above Average Person”, in your POST-TAX savings guide, the high end estimate maxes out at $400k at 60yo. If that person had (in your example here) 100k in annual expenses, that person would only have 4X expenses at 60yo and at no younger age in the POST-TAX savings guide would the person have a higher ratio than that of savings to expenses. Additionally, in your Average Net Worth of the Above Average person chart, for the 60yo with a ~2.2M total net worth, that person has 72% of their net worth in PRE-TAX savings and 28% in POST-TAX savings.

    I get your point of focusing on POST-TAX savings to retire early, but I think 20X POST-TAX savings (and disregarding PRE-TAX savings) is 1) unachievable for most people and 2) overemphasizes the value POST-TAX savings at the expense of PRE-TAX savings.

  64. Great article! I’ve seen you reference 20x annual expenses in other articles as well, but curious how came up with that? (Would represent a relatively high 5% withdrawal rate unless i’m misunderstanding some of the assumptions).

    I’m 43 and recently switched careers and cities in an attempt to find a more sustainable/enjoyable path. While things are somewhat better, I’m realizing that there’s still a lot of corporate BS to deal with. Plus, frankly, I just don’t like dealing with (most) people.

    Luckily, I definitely meet the 20x rule (even more depending on what/how I count it) and have really been considering truly retiring. In my case, I think i’d spend my time being a dad, doing household chores, etc. I have absolutely 0 desire (or even idea) for starting a business, though, so am a bit hesitant to pull the trigger (i’d want to have 99% confidence that I could support myself and my family for the rest of my life on passive income alone).

    1. I emphasize 20X annual gross income, w/ 20X annual expenses at the minimum.

      A 5% withdrawal rate is high, but it’s really only a 2.2% withdrawal rate if you invest your entire liquid assets in a 10-year government bond that provides a risk-free 2.8% rate of return.

      Practically everyone I know who left the workforce early has found something else to do that brings in some change.

      1. Interesting – thanks for the clarification. Wouldn’t inflation eat into that too though (roughly ~2-3% a year)? Other articles I’ve read on safe withdrawal rates seem to factor in annual inflation adjustments (so, you’d want your portfolio to average maybe 6% so that you can average a 3% real return).

        I guess 20x gross income could likely end closer to 25x-30x post-work expenses when you factor in a) no need to save anymore b) likely a lower tax bracket c) no payroll taxes. Or, if you think it’s highly likely that you’ll end up finding a way to earn some money in retirement.

        In doing some research on withdrawal rates, I found this article. Seems well-researched and kind of interesting. They came up with 2.8% as a conservative withdraw rate for a 45 year old (assuming annual adjustments for inflation) on a 604/40 portfolio with 95% confidence.

        Sorry – for all the questions. I vacillate between giddiness (at the thought of retiring this year) and despair (thought of 10 more years to get to 35x annual expenses plus trying to convince my wife that this isn’t nuts).

  65. I just submitted my retirement notice, age 49. Could have retired many years ago based on 25x expenses, etc. For example, at age 41 net worth was around $5mm. 8 years later it’s over $20mm due to $15mm in gross earnings over that timeframe. Sure glad I didn’t. Now it feels like ‘enough is enough’. Less job satisfaction is definitely another reason. Let’s see how I do in the next chapter…

      1. Your blog convinced me there is no incremental happiness to be gained… in a $800k/year vs $2mm/year withdrawal rate. Unless you were just being facetious

        1. Gotcha. I def wasn’t being facetious. I have a close friend worth $350 million, and he wants to grind it out to see if he can get to $1 billion. I keep telling him to stop and smell the roses more, but he refuses.

    1. El – thanks for sharing. Genuine question: I can see how 5mm vs 20mm is a huge difference and worth 8 more years, but was there any earlier point that you think might have been just as good or possibly better? For example, would 45 with $12.5 million of NW have been as good as 49 with $20 million? I ask cause I’m in a similar situation. Thanks

      1. It really had to due with the professional opportunity. Big job, $2mm+ /year for last four years, living in a great global city, etc. Too good to walk away from. Now for personal reasons elderly parents, kids in college, etc it feels like the right time.

  66. It would great to hear more about how people achieve 20x expenses at such a young age especially with children. My wife and I have an annual income ~$300K+ in our early 30’s with networth of <$1M. We save aggressively but live in a high cost area.

    The idea of an ideal retirement age is nice but if it is not achievable without significant career success/extreme frugal living is it really achievable?

  67. Sam, I love this site. My goal, someday is to write this well.

    Okay, that aside, I’m targetting 45 as an outside date to make a decision, with three options:

    1. Leave before that to start a business
    2. Take on a position as a President of a Company
    3. FI and pivot at that date

    Regardless, after 45, I don’t plan to ever report to anyone within the Company I’m in.

    I’m six years away and fingers are crossed that things keep working out and we hit our numbers.

    Though, like you say, given my background, and my wife, we actually should be able to hit our spending number quite easily, if needed, so there isn’t much that should hold us back from that target date.

    Regardless, I will never stop working in my life, I will simply choose, when, what, and how I work.

  68. The questions I have about this post relate to definitions. “Retire” traditionally has meant stop working or pursuing an income. In the context of this post, retire seems to mean leaving a w-2 or guaranteed income. Is that fair?

    I still work 40+ hours a week, but I left a w-2 job for my own business in 2007. Maybe i’ve been “retired” for over 10 years and didn’t know it. :)

    1. Don’t think you are retired.


      “Retirement is the withdrawal from one’s position or occupation or from one’s active working life.[1] A person may also semi-retire by reducing work hours.”

  69. One can retire 3 to 10 years after becoming a millionaire. That’s the approximate amount of time that it takes to become a multi-millionaire. That’s the basic time horizon that’s in my head.

  70. How does a pension figure into the 20x annual expenses rule-of-thumb? Let’s say my annual expenses are $100k, but I only have $1M saved up. However, let’s say if I retire I could immediately start drawing a pension of $40k/year. Using a 4% withdrawal rule, it would seem a $40k pension is the equivalent of another $1M, or maybe better since it’s not subject to market vagaries. My numbers are similar to the above example, and I’m wondering if I should take the plunge. I’m 55 going on 56 so I’ve already missed my chance to retire at the ideal age!

  71. I don’t think there is some broadly applicable “ideal” retirement age. It depends on your personality and how much you enjoy the game.

    I’m an old soul. If money were not the limiting factor, I would have happily left all forms of gainful employment behind back when I hit 30. For me, that was the age when the rewards from working hard started diminishing. Instead, getting ahead began to require ever increasing amounts of luck (right place, right time), politics (firmly apply lips to boss’s butt), and self-destructive sacrifice (pack it all up and start over in a new city — again….).

    On the other hand, we recently got some new department heads. By my guess, they are in their late 50s and are loving the game. The stuff I can’t stand dealing with, they revel in. They’ll probably never retire – maybe only when their wives finally force them to move some place warmer.

    This is my limited view from corporate life. I would expect people working in nonprofits, or who are self employed, or whatever, to have totally different outlooks on the ideal retirement age.

  72. The variables you mentioned in your post are all so important. Think you probably covered them all. As most commenters have stated, retirement is personal and different for everyone.

    As an older reader who has 3 adult children, let me touch on their personal stories. Child #1 graduated at 22, from Yale. Cost us $200,000. No graduate school,very bright, and upon graduation was earning 6 figures at an investment bank. Now is early 30s and earning a huge income, has millions, owns a vacation home, loves his job, not married, and not even nearing “burnout”. Don’t see him retiring “early”.

    Child #2, attended college, no graduate school (his education was less, about $150,000 plus private school for 8 years, at $100,000). Late 20s,works in entertainment field, loves what he does, would WORK FOR FREE, and I don’t think he will ever voluntarily retire. Not married, don’t think he ever will. His job is his life.

    Child #3, the expensive one. Graduated from Ivy College, ($240,000), worked in commercial banking for 2 years, hated every minute, decided he wanted to be a physician, was able to do a complete career switch in 2 years, just accepted to a great medical school. He is now mid-20s. Will be 30 when he graduates, and probably 34ish when done with a residency (depending on what field he chooses). No way he is retiring anytime before he hits 60. My husband wants to pay for this, so now, at the age of 61, he is going to spend $80,000 a year for next 4 years to pay for school/living costs.

    Luckily we can afford to cash flow the tuition, will just be a lot less going into savings, and my husband is planning on retiring in 2 years. He has a full pension waiting him at 63, so he wants to stay until then. Plus he actually enjoys his work.

    So yeah, depending on how many years of education you put into a career, salary, life choices, satisfaction, health, etc. retirement looks different for each person. I also think there is something about not “working” that makes you seem irrelevant to a lot of society.

    As you age, your perspective changes, wait.

    1. Thanks for sharing. And congratulations for the kids making it out.

      I was actually going to give your recommendation at the end of your comment to your kids! When they hit 40, I’d love to know how their view of work has changed at all.

      In our 20s and early 30s, it’s full of excitement. And then after a while, the desire for money wanes and the desire for freedom rises. I don’t know many people who continue to be interested in what they Do after 20 years.

      Would love to hear your kid’s thoughts directly.

      1. Well I can say my husband still enjoys medicine after 30 years- didn’t begin his real doctor life until she 31. Now at almost 61 still leaves at 6:00 am and does some night and weekends every month. He has outside interests but still likes what he’s doing. But yeah , he may be unusual.

        1. That’s great! To ophthalmologist I’ve seen are in their 70s. And so is our pediatrician.

          How about you? What do you do or how has your career changed over the years?

          1. I have a law degree but only worked for a few years in the field until my first child came along. Had 3 kids over 8 years and with s husband who was never around I stayed home. Over the years I have taught religious school and done a lot of volunteering. But I regret not staying in work force- by the time I would have felt comfortable leaving my youngest I was already 41- so just remained “mom”.

            1. Gotcha. Do you regret more not staying in the work force or regret getting a law degree?

              I have friends who tell me they regret getting an MBA because they ended up being a stay at home parent three years later etc.

              After getting my MBA in 2006, I only leveraged it in the workplace until 2012, so that was somewhat of a regret. I don’t think I needed the degree to get paid and promoted. That said, I feel proud to have gotten a graduate degree, and it helped me think about how to best run a business.

  73. Great post. It’s really impressive to see how many people thinks that retired people don’t do anything. Most of the people I know are busier after retirement than before. You are a great example of that! It’s just a way of spending time in the best possible way.

    Personally, I think that between 45 and 50 is the best age to retire for most people. I would like to retire a bit earlier (around 40), but probably won’t be able too (time will tell).

  74. Sam,

    How do you count pensions into the retirement equation or do you recommend 20X regardless of how much pension you earned.

  75. I went quite a bit younger than most people (31-35).

    If we assume the limiting factor is money, and you have the money, then I think that’s a good time.

    You have more drive and energy when you’re younger. That’s energy that can be turned to things far more beneficial to humanity than working for someone else’s company. With financial freedom handled, you could help the homeless, teach/mentor children, or start a business with more on the bottom line than simply dollars.

    I didn’t pick the younger ages because I think you need some baseline wisdom to do those things. That much time and force directed toward a problem has to be handled in the right way. Those problems need life experience as opposed to a job that generally just requires showing up and completing simple duties. They’re much more complex and no one will stop you when you’re doing everything wrong.

  76. I retired/career breaked at 45 and couldn’t be happier. It seems to be about the right age. You are right that it is possible that in another couple of years once the kids are a bit older i might want to go back to the work place and or acquire some extra skills and education.

  77. Financial Orchid

    I wish there was a similar age breakdown for women because the timeline is certainly different for women with shorter biological clock + the gap in time off caring for children and potential loss of income. Would your wife be interested in writing a similar timeline break down but for women instead?

  78. I vote for 41-45. I think most people start earning competitive wages in their late 20s or early 30s, and if they save and invest aggressively for a decade or so, with some luck they should be able to retire or become financial independent. Healthcare is a big question mark though. So is the topic of how many times average expenses you need to save. You say 20, but many say 30 or even 40 times. If you were retiring very very early (say 30-35) you could say perhaps 50 as you don’t even know how many kids you will have, how your health will turn out, etc. As for me, I am 40. My expenses in NYC are about 200-250k a year (without private school for my kids!). Based on your criteria I could ‘retire’ but that is scary for me. Of course, I wouldn’t retire in NYC, I would move to somewhere I can lower my costs and have a good quality of life with good weather and schools. Even then, I can’t think of many places you can live an upper middle class lifestyle for less than 150k including housing costs, or 100k if your housing is fully paid and RE taxes are minimal.

    1. Yes, 20 times annual expenses is the minimum. I hope readers see the word “minimum.”

      I personally think using 20 times your annual gross income is more appropriate.

      I think about your step in for a bit. Are you really afraid to leave work having a net worth of $5 million? Run the numbers and see how long you will last given your net worth can easily generate hundred $50,000 a year in risk-free income.

      1. I can understand the 20 times annual gross for a conservative estimate for the average American family.

        Most of the FIRE community are, humorously, “below” average. That is, they spend much less than they make to have high enough savings rates to retire early.

        My personal example, before leaving mega corp and top floor corner office (lots of buildings and lots of corners on each building) but still director-ish level. Salary plus bonus was 300K, adding another 100K in stock and passive income of at the time over 200K. If we simply consider gross income at a 20x multiple, 600Kx20, $12M. OK, so lets back off on the passive `cause that’s what I’ll live off of and call it $400K at 20x is still $8M.

        We have no real debt (well investment properties only at 200K), no car payments, no house payments, no boat payments, no credit card payments, no student loans… and we live well on $50K in a non coastal city (NC). Having 20x 50K or $1M, I agree is risky. A happy medium based on expenses not gross income seems more realistic. Someone who spends more than their gross income, will have the opposite problem. This is why, I prefer expense based calculations.

        You are right to consider age in the discussion, the older ya are the less you need. Most multiples don’t consider Social Security kicking in at 60 something. Consider that if you’re 60 and need 50K and know that you will receive 30K at 67 from your previous contributions to SS, do you really need to generate 50K for 30+ years? It’s a charged subject about SS being there or not. In this case is $1M too much? If you are 60, hate your job but think that you’ll need $1M and you’re only at $700K, is it worth it? 7 years pulling out 50K or less then down to 20K withdrawal? Take it early and not pull as much out of savings early but have more to replace later?

        Perhaps the analogous question is, why not treat SS like a pension you are eligible for at 62 and the longer you hold out the larger it becomes? What is your rule for pensions? Multiply and use as savings, reduce from the needed income, ignore, other?

        fireCalc shows us at fatFIRE possibly moFIRE (rentals other passive income), so, I’m not rationalizing my case for getting out, just that for super savers, 20x gross seems kinda fat.

        1. Yes I don’t think gross income multiples make sense in all situations. Our average income is probably $1M in the past few years, which means we should have $20M saved up? Given my current expenses, taxes, I can save 250k a year. At that rate it would take me a long time to save $20M. And $20M compared to 250k or so in expenses is too much, and even more stark if our expenses are lowered to 150k or even 100k. Personally, like many people on here, I’d rather not rely on any income outside of passive income in retirement. I have no desire to do any other sort of work in my retirement. The good news is I like my work currently and it’s low stress with great hours and plenty of family time. I think $8M-$10M would be very comfortable at 45 with a nice cushion, anything more I’m not sure what purpose that money would survive.

  79. Adam and Janet


    Perfect timing with this post. I been thinking and planning our retirement since age 30. I wiill be 54 this year. This year I attended funerals of 3 co-workers! They were aged 46, 65 and 50.

    Totally agree with you that retiring 41-45 is the best age. I wanted to retire at age 43 but did not know how to generate passive income or even factor in healthcare cost back then. I just didn’t think about medical coverage when I was young and healthy. Medical for a couple is 20-22K. That is what my 2 uncles will pay this year.

    We started making 19K each in the late 80’s as computer programmers. With small 1.5-3% raises and few promotions I broke 100K in our late 30’s. It took us many years to save money. It was when we learned about future layoffs that motivated us to generate passive income. Thank goodness that a good family friend introduced us to NY muni bonds in 2010 and we reached base line FI at age 49/50 in 2014 by using our life savings to buy individual muni bonds.

    We will be 53/54 this year and our passive income from tax free munis and wife’s pension covers 2x expenses. I just have 17 more months to double my pension to 70K and to get 8K (not taxable) for healthcare at age 55. These are my golden handcuffs. At age 55 when I collect my pension, our passive incomes will cover 2.6x expenses. When we collect our 401K and social security at age 62, our after taxed (Blockbuster FI) passive income should cover 3.8x expenses.

    Why do we need/want so much money? During retirement, our expenses will rise. We want to travel more and renting a nice place in Hawaii will cost a min of 5K a month. I want enough money so that I will never worry about inflation. I never want to work again. I have no writing skills and I don’t want to start my own website nor a side hustle.

    I know I can walk out now and be financially OK but since I am just 17 months away from 55 why walk away from all that free money? We got investable assets including 401Ks 58x expenses after taxes. Since healthcare is very important to me, I want to reach 55 to get 8K for company retiree medical. If I leave before 55 then I get nothing for medical. I work 5-10 hours a week from home and I keep a low profile at work. Sometimes it can be stressful being on my own when there are problems. I have been in the same company for 31 years and I hate my job but the money is good. My boss likes me and gave me a better raise and bonus this year. He and mgmt are afraid of me leaving since I am the only one that supports the IT systems. They want me to stay another 5-8 years. No way!


  80. Damn Millennial

    “Work sucks I know”

    -Blink 182

    I think you are spot on with your age ranges. I think “retiring” how you did it is the way to go. You can retire from the “job” but still focus on what you enjoy doing. It feels good to earn and be a part of something.

    I think that working brings people an important aspect of life. Those who ONLY focus on earning I do think are making a mistake. There is oh so much more to this wonderful world then money.

    I hope to never retire, and be fortunate enough to work on projects I care about my whole life.

    1. I keep it the same. Because the passive income you generate is largely from your after-tax investment accounts that you have accumulated.

      And the most wonderful thing is that once you generate a large enough not, you can just live off the passive income and never have to touch principal.

  81. I am in my early 30s with essentially $2M saved, which is roughly equivalent to 20X my annual expenses. Additionally, my wife plans on working for quite some time and she makes a modest $65K annually. Despite having 20X in savings and her income I could never think about retiring at this point. We are about to be parents for the first time and have no idea what our expenses will look like years from now. We don’t own a home and have no idea what large expenses are associated with having a child.I guess I still don’t know what type of life I want. I could presumably kick it in now and live a very modest lifestyle, but I can’t imagine an environment where that would happen. My guess… I will continue to grind it out for another decadeish and reevaluate.

    1. Cool. I believe your life will change once you become a parent and once you turn 40. You start trying to decide between making more money or spending more time with your kid. The more money you have, the less valuable it is to spend time making money.

      At the same time, you want to see what you can do and make the most of your education and potential. That’s why am 10 years, you might be singing a different tune as you’ll Be in the window of 41 to 45 years old.

    2. Our expense before child and after child increase to become 2X, then 3X. It ballooned from $4K/month, to $8K, then $12K per month, and we only have 1 child and he goes to public schools!

      The main increases are as follows: $20K per year from tutoring, $20K/yr travel: before you have child you can travel in low seasons and paid 50% less, after child you travel in high seasons and pay 2-3x more. Finally it’s the food/restaurants: before child you can cook easily and even restaurant meals left-overs become the next meal, but not after you have a teenager who eats like a horse. Also you need 2 cars now even with a stay home wife, etc… Of course you can drop the tutoring, music lessons, etc.. but that’s what every other kids do in bay area.

      These expenses will go away once our kid graduated from college, but the 2x, 3x expense increase is real.

      1. Eric,
        You can spend as much as you want on your kids. You are choosing to tutor rather than do it yourself. You are choosing to travel to expensive places. You are choosing to eat out.

        Both my boys were district and state level musicians, one on alto sax which is arguably the hardest instrument to get into these bands. Private lessons were $2k a year. Travel soccer was $1K a year.

        Who cares what the Jones are doing? You shouldn’t if you want to FIRE.

        Be weird be different be financially free. I can assure you, the Jones across the street are not, that is, unless you live across the street from me!

  82. I love your blog. On this one I have a couple of questions as I am trying to plan for early retirement (although not as early as you suggest is optimal). When you say 20x your annual expenditures are you counting taxes or just spending pattern? My pre-tax need is much different than my post tax need. Although I recognize that taxes will be different once I’m retired, selling stocks to use for cash will bring with it capital gains taxes. That brings me to my next question – 20 times your liquid assets – does that include the savings in your retirement plans (401ks/IRA/Roth)? I don’t know whether to really consider those liquid although it is cash and stocks because you can’t access it until a certain age without penalty. I’m just trying to figure out whether you would recommend that I amass 20x my spending in non-retirement liquid assets or whether I can count those assets. The answer would make a big difference in timing for me. I would love to retire early but I have no plans to decrease my spending. I would love to travel and attend concerts and go wine tasting (and buying) – all things that will continue to drain the pocketbook. Not all of us have great passive income streams like you do. What would you suggest?

    1. Good questions, which I will clarify in the post. I’m talking about 20 times the money you actually spend after taxes. But this is the minimum, the absolute minimum where I feel that people can take the leap of faith. And that amount does not include pretax retirement accounts. Only accounts which you can readily access without penalty.

      But if you’re 50 years old, and you only have 9 1/2 years until you can access your 401(k) penalty free, you have to just calculate the gap just in case.

  83. I’m in my early 30’s and after a short time away from work, I want to go back. I’m not looking for “ordinary”. That means working for a world-class employer with a position that is multi-faceted and brings a lot of challenges to the table. Going to school, working, and getting certified took a ton of my time in my 20’s. I owe it to myself now, and to my future, to work to my max before I close the book entirely. I completely relate to this post and finding the right time to call it quits for good.

  84. “You Might Find Yourself Busier Than Ever In Retirement

    The beauty of leaving the workforce is that you get to focus all your energy doing what you truly want to do. ”

    Absolutely True! I stopped working, and while I was busy when I worked, I am busier now because I am doing what I want to do, not what some corporate objective needed me to do.

    The important thing is to have things you want to do when retired. Goals and hobbies you are happy about are essential. (There is nothing more depressing than a retired person who doen’t know what to do with themselves.)

  85. Is this a trick question! :) I think it’s the earliest one can afford and be comfortable/still do everything they want with their life.

    I love the line “your life morphs after retirement” and I’ve heard from other bloggers that they were busier after retirement but it didn’t feel like a bad thing because it was everything that they wanted to do. I love it!

    I put 36-40 as the ideal time to retire. I can’t say why…but I think that’s when my husband will retire which means….the correct answer is whenever you can afford to and be comfortable! Hehe.

  86. Sam, I just read an article on Yahoo Finance the other day about Jack Welch formerly CEO of GE saying that we should banish the word retirement from our vocabularies. :-) Just thought that’d be a great jumping off point for one of your future posts and fairly relevant to this article.

    I am currently not in the mode of thinking about retirement with the coming birth of my son. I do think that late 40’s feels about right for retirement. It’s more or less based on the age my son will be more than about my financial situation. I would love to stay home with my wife and raise my son as a retired person. It’s because I want to give my son a solidly middle-class upbringing that I am committed to working for a steady paycheck, a growing 401k and other investments, and extremely importantly healthcare coverage. I do believe that once I near the cusp of retirement I would prefer to retire earlier with less of a solid financial position than to grind out due largely to ability to enjoy life with my wife and family. Obviously the ideal is get a side business going and have both.

    1. Awesome to hear about your son! I wish you and your partner best of luck in delivery and health.

      One of the things that I guessed I would hate is having to go to work if I had a baby. My guess was that my heart would feel so torn and so guilty to leave him. Hence, the decision was to build up enough income to be a stay at home dad with my wife.

      I felt a tremendous amount of guilt every time I left the house for more than two hours during the first six months of life. But as he grew older and I could see that his mom was sleeping a little bit better and more confident, that guilt slowly faded. But I still love to see him and spend at least four hours with him every single day. And now that he just turned one, I’m excited to take him to the zoo and play :-)

      This is a post worth reading:

  87. I’m aiming for 40, but I don’t think I’ll be really retired. There will always be something going on, and some cool new things to get involved in. I also quite seriously fancy an attempt on all the countries in the world, and that involves some serious planning and work.

  88. That’s one impressive list of accomplishments you’ve done since 2012! I think the way you’ve described the age brackets with career and retiring motivating factors makes a lot of sense. I’m glad I grinded through the workforce in my 20s and most of my 30s when I had the energy and drive. It also allowed me to save well and get my 401k account a solid foundation from which to grow. I count my blessings every day that I was able to leave the mainstream workforce when I did to focus on self employment and now being a sahm.

  89. You should retire from a 9-5, but don’t ever retire from making money excitement. I think of business, life, and making money as a game and I like winning.

  90. Retired is when you truly are not working. Most people here are still active with a part time work or a web site activity or an active rental management role. Truly retired is all passive income with no management activities. Ideally with 20 times income to net worth. Best would be 25 to 30 times.
    If you are still with a gig for health care reason, you are not retired. You are just in a better position than someone working 8 to 5 for those same benefits.

    Even Sam is not retired yet (but getting there). But he is and has been financially independent for a while. He has been since he quit his W2 income for 1099’s.

    The next step is to trade the 1099 for the K1. Which is what he did with the realtyshare investments.

    So the question I have for Sam:

    When will you reach retirement age for truly passive income. A big reason the boook sale works is the web site. Fees from personal capital is the active web site.
    Assuming a sale of the web site, how much longer do you need to work or keep certain benefits from your working spouse?
    Hopefully you have hit that magic number already.

    1. FranceUSA
      Agree with your description. There are the working `cause I have to, the working `cause I love it and need the money, Financially Independent but actively involved in making money (me, Sam) and the full time golf, shuffle board, perpetual vacationing retirees living off of dividends, pensions and annuities.

      If your spouse works cause ya need the healthcare, you are not financially independent or retired. If you have a pension and little cash, you are not financially independent `cause you are still living paycheck to paycheck.

      As far as the 20x, 25x, 30x my parents retired on MUCH less and traveled. They had a small pension (<1K a month) and under 500K of investments and NO DEBT. Two cars, villa on a golf course, eat out on occasion, some foreign travel lots of visits to kids and grand kids.

      To Sam's 100K comment. He's going to have the range of comments from that's not enough to you can live like a king. The more comments he gets and more provocative the statement, the more hits! We live in NC and, we have no debt, spend half of that and travel domestically and live well.

    2. Agree. Check out the third paragraph this post:

      “Although I no longer consider myself retired with all the work that goes into running this site and being a stay at home dad, here are some things that have happened since 2012.”

      Early retirement was fun for about a year, but I decided to get back to work and try new things. Being a stay at home dad is at least a 50 hour a week job.

      Not sure what your question is asking. Are you asking when I should have my wife go back to work to get company healthcare for us? She hasn’t worked a day job since 2015. We pay for health insurance directly.


      Or, are you saying that my current passive income of about $200,000 a year is not enough for me, and I have to eventually find a day job again once I sell this site?

      Although I agree with you that $200,000 a year is not a large amount to provide for a family in SF, we are pretty frugal people and that’s the amount that we’ve determined is enough to not go back to work. Hopefully I can continue to build on this passive income stream as well.


      How about you? How old are you and what age do you plan to retire with what target liquid net worth? What do you plan to do when you retire?

      1. It seems that using a conservative 3% draw for safety since you are younger and your desire for $300k a year, a $9M liquid net worth would be your goal.
        Moving to Hawaii is not going to reduce that target. My bet is you will achieve over $10M sooner than you think.

        I am concerned about net worth. First I was worried about getting our 1st $1M. Then the 2nd one was there quicker…. (I hope the Government does not cap Qualified accounts to $3M). That is still working for up to 5 years to we can move from a 4% draw to a 3% draw.

        As your next diversification step I think you do need a self directed Roth with a 50/50 partnership for which you do not get a salary. You are so close to tech start ups you should be able to do it much better than me.

        1. Hawaii is much cheaper than San Francisco in housing (30% cheaper), education (50% cheaper), and property taxes (65% cheaper). Pretty pumped. Once you have housing done, life is pretty inexpensive in general if you have your healthcare.

          Hopefully I can get a higher than 3% return on my investments, but I won’t count on it.

  91. Sam,

    From what will soon be a year of experience as a busy-as-heck early “retiree”… I agree on ideal age ;)

    I would love to hear you expand just a bit on 20x annual expenses. This doesn’t seem to jive with your previous recommendation of having enough to generate the risk-free-rate of return.

    Is it simply that, with 20x, you’ve got enough breathing room to create something – a practice or a product or more – that generates income at some point?

    Thank you sir!

    1. Hi Eric, my initial proposal was 20 times average annual gross income for the last three years of Work. By using gross income, it’s a more conservative way to go and a more aggressive objective for people to shoot for.

      When I proposed this multiple, there was such an uproar that it was unrealistic to get to that level of wealth (see comments after you click the chart). The people against this multiple focused on a multiple of expenses since that was their easier way out (being super frugal). I saw their point So that’s why I highlighted it here as the minimum amount once you have before considering leaving work. But I still believe in the minimum 20 times annual gross income instead.

      The risk-free rate of return would currently indicate about a 33 times expense multiple. Which is not too far off 20 times annual gross income if you’re able to save 35% of your salary.

      The earlier One retires, the higher the potential for other sources of income streams because we tend to just focus on doing what we love to do. And since are so enthusiastic about our new Activities, we tend to make money from it.

      The multiple also depends on when you plan to retire. Retiring on 20X expenses at 30 years old is much more risky than retiring on 20 X expenses at 50 years old.

      Personally, I haven’t touched a dollar of retirement principal since I left work in 2012 at the age of 34 1/2. I don’t plan to touch principal maybe forever actually.

  92. Enjoyed my job, then pushed into management, was still ok but not as fulfilling. Coworkers same age as me started passing. Then, my older son died at 22. Big change in perspective. Retired less than a year later.

    You never know what’s around the corner.

    1. Sorry to hear about your son. One of my good friends died when I was 13 years old. Here today, gone tomorrow. And maybe that’s why I’ve always had a decision to try to live best life possible as soon as possible. Yes, it takes a lot of initial hard work in savings and risk, but it’s worth it.

  93. 41-45 is just about the right balance. Unless there are other issues at work or opportunities outside of work. Then a bit earlier is good too.
    I think waiting to 65 to retire is a terrible idea. By then, you won’t have as much energy to do what you want. After 5 years, you’ll be 70 and traveling isn’t much fun at that point.

    Anyway, I think 30x is much safer. 20x is cutting it very close unless you plan to work part time after early retirement.

    1. Don’t write off the old because you’re not there yet. I retired at 70 and over the summer drove to both Pacific and Atlantic Oceans – so did coast to coast, but not without a break. Then I spent six months in Europe. Had a great time.

      So travelling may be great fun at any age. Obviously one needs to be healthy. If you need an argument in favour of going earlier, say ‘you can’t be sure your health will last till [age]’. But one can have fun at just about any age. I do.

      1. It’s just based on personal family history. My parents are getting older and they don’t enjoy traveling anymore. Too many health issues. I don’t have good genes so earlier is better for me.
        Yes, I’m trying to live healthy now, but not sure if that can overcome genetic.

        Great to hear you’re doing well and enjoying life.

    2. Paper Tiger

      Joe, I tend to agree with you on the 30X. Too much volatility and uncertainty in this world to cut the cord without more of a buffer. And I don’t think if you are out of work for 5+ years and feel you need to go back, it will be as easy as one might think so having that extra buffer may help avoid that consideration.

      From my perspective, however longs it takes to save up 30X is the ideal retirement age.

  94. I’m shooting for 45. That goal is based on when I think I’ll hit my 25x number. I calculated it based on projected returns on current assets plus new savings. The new savings goals are not aggressive because we want to live for today while we save for tomorrow. The timeline feels balanced to me.

    I never considered some of the other factors related to age you mention above. For example, say I won the lottery at 22. I would not care if I wasted my college education. I may want to do something productive with my time but I’m pretty sure I won’t spend any time with the exact goal of maximizing my earned income or using my education.

  95. I retired once in my 40s for 4 years, only to go back to being a corporate soldier for another 3 years do to my competitive nature. Im 1.5 years into my second retirement and I dont plan to go back. Those 3 years confirmed that it isnt worth the additional money and stress when Ive already have my nut covered.

    I have friends who admire what Im doing, and clearly have the means to follow me but cant. Its a mental thing more than anything. They cant give up high paying sales jobs and cushy benefits, even though they hate what they are doing. My advice to then is go for it!

    Im writing a different narrative for the second half of my life, where I call all the shots:) You row your own boat in life!

    My 2 cents

      1. Cool, sounds like a great experience. I did a start up in early 2000s, for little software company out of Boston. Dotbomb era:) It was fun, but soon found out all the folks making big bucks were on Executive team. I had to move on:)

  96. Brian McMan

    I voted 20-30.

    Women just don’t look at me the same way as they did back then. Had I had the retirement time to pursue relationships then maybe I wouldn’t be alone ya know. But hey I choose to go to class instead.

    Its just this great big obligation, say ya gotta work so you can’t go see your family members in the hospital before they pass. Feels bad, ya know? Retire earliest ya can.

    I’m not sure how compounding works, but retirement compounds on itself ya? Say if ya retire at 20 and start looking for a life purpose you’re more likely to know what it is at 40 then if you work until 40 and then start looking for it. Same with health, if ya gots the time to work out for 20 years you’ll be so much healthier…and a 20 year relationship with a soul mate would be better than a 0 year and starting relationship…

    Getting the growth started earliest is most important. (I guess, I’m not there yet but it is a dream of mine).

  97. Hey, it looks like I’m nailing, Sam! I’ll be quitting my job at the end of next year at the age of 44.

    Personally, I think 35-40 would have been a better age group for me to retire, but that might just be me. My daughter was born when I was 35 and I hated leaving for work everyday after that. That’s what helped me discover the idea of FIRE and getting the hell out! ;-) It’s just taking me until 44 to reach financial independence.

    — Jim

    1. Well done! Hope you actually make the move. It gets a little tricky and nerve wracking once you decide that’s it. Lots of doubt goes into your mind. But if you can negotiate a severance package, it becomes much, MUCH easier to leave, so please try at least. If you decided to leave already, there is no downside in asking.

      My boy recently turned one and I think it would be so hard to leave him to go to a job I didn’t absolutely love 5 days a week. I’m prepared to not work for at least another 4-5 years until he goes to kindergarten.

      Related: Career Or Family? You Only Have To Sacrifice For Five Years

  98. I could retire now (44), but that would mean downsizing slightly and selling a newly invested rental property that has strong upside potential but where the income doesn’t cover the mortgage just yet. I forecast things to turn the other way in 3 years and then I’m off. Hard to be so close yet not quite there yet. I always thought 45 was my “ideal” age and now it looks like it’ll be 47. I don’t think 2 years off the target is that bad in terms of forecast accuracy.

  99. This question is SO individual. I didn’t retire until age 62 because I loved my work as a registered nurse. I was FI decades ago but truly enjoyed working. I retired when I did because traffic became a drain on my soul and hubby, who had been retired for a long time, was impatient for me to have more time to play. Two years later I still look longingly at some part time nursing jobs and haven’t ruled out going back to work in a limited role. I’ve gradually learn to appreciate free time during the day though and yesterday went to a fabulous Zumba class and today will attend a hobby craft meeting that I would have skipped if I still worked.

    The ideal age to retire is when YOU want to and not according to someone else’s timeline.

    1. No doubt, hence the survey question and asking people to share their experiences.

      But for folks who are seriously contemplating retiring earlier, it’s good to gain different perspectives just in case.

      And I assume folks who retire after the age of 45 reading this post will be more agitated than those who leave before 45. I’m looking forward to the reactions!

    2. Barb, I agree completely!

      Being a home owner and financially free from the need to work by age 40 is exceptionally rare and, to be honest, is more a matter of having extreme amounts of luck rather than financial acumen. Few Americans are making several hundred thousand dollars in their 20s and 30s, and folks dont usually reach financial independence at such an early age without either an inheritance or some other source of unearned wealth.

      The tone of this article seems to suggest that almost anyone can simply decide to retire at 40 (or earlier) with just a simple financial plan in place. Though this is an interesting story, it is ridiculously unrealistic for the vast majority of us working stiffs.

      1. That’s why I use the word “ideal.”

        But I thought it would be impossible to leave work before 40 as well until one day I had an idea and got to work on Financial Samurai and really focused on building passive income.

        You just never know until you try. What have you tried lately?

  100. I’m on track to “retire” at 55. Why so late? I want to wait until the kids are done with college, the house is paid off and I can get lifetime health insurance from the office. Also, my current job is not too soul-crushing and on most days I actually like it!

    Once “retired” I’ll probably be busier than I am now. Big plans for the blog, maybe write a few books, etc… Overall, I’m trying to enjoy the ride as well as looking forward to the destination.

  101. I voted for 46-50, in case there are market downturns and/or financial mistakes were made early on. I am slightly older than this, and still working, since I took a professional degree, and love my work. I foresee working only 3 days/week instead of 5, in the very near future.

  102. Mr. Freaky Frugal

    I didn’t FIRE until I was 52, but I think the ideal retirement age for me would have been around 45. That’s about the time when I started to dislike my career as a software developer.

  103. I’m thinking 41-45 (mostly because that is what I am projecting for my retirement date).

    I also think it is a good time because my kids will be more grown up and we can go on lots of trips together without having keep as close of an eye on them. It also means I did a healthy amount of work to be proud of for my life and I am still young enough where I can do something else.

    1. How awesome would it be to live abroad for two or three months during summer vacations, and go travel for three weeks during the winter with your children given that you are retired or have an Internet business? I’ll be writing about that in the future and I think it’s going to be a blast.

  104. Patricia Sisemore

    Retirement is a loaded word. As you have proven Sam, it really means leave someone elses set of rules and agenda and set your own! I say the sooner, the better! I was layed off at 35 and started my own real estate investment company. I just turned 50 and loving every minute!
    Thank you Sam for your excellent perspectives.

  105. I might die tomorrow. Sorry to be so morbid, but who knows? I could. I might live to be 120, but that’s unlikely.

    As of today, here is the “average number of additional years” I can expect to live when I reach a specified age (via:

    – Today = 48.4
    – If I make it to 62 = 23.6
    – If I make to 67 = 19.7
    – If I make it to 70 = 17.4

    Overall, I just don’t know.

    Re: retirement age, the short answer would seem to be as soon as possible if one is looking at it solely from a number of years perspective. However, considering other factors such as the items you highlighted, I’d think the answer would be 50. Why? It’s somewhere still in the middle but on the likely “second half” of the game.

    Ultimately, it comes down to (1) what defines retirement and (2) whether or not you’re enjoying the ride along the way.

    1. The hedge against an early death is a big one, especially if you don’t really love what you do. I don’t think more than 10% of people who work can actually say they truly love what they do. Maybe they can say they like work most of the time, but if you build enough savings, I believe people should gravitate towards loving what they do. There’s going to be a lot of regret if you look back and realize you spent 40 years doing something that was ho hum.

  106. I ‘retired’ at 29, when my job at the local radio station ended. I took my web design freelancing business and ran with it, since there was nothing to do in the media business anymore in my city. I’m now kinda retired (I work about 1-2 hours/day) and just enjoy life. Retiring at an older age is OK, but it also comes up with a lot of health issues. Ideally, we should get some ‘me’ time earlier in life.

  107. I’m 39 and very much looking forward to retirement, but I know I’m not ready for it yet. I enjoy what I do, I just know that I don’t want to do it forever and I want to have the flexibility to work on my own terms, not because I need the money. I want to travel a lot after retirement so that is a big motivation for me to retire when I’m young enough to make that happen.

  108. I should be able to retire by 35. The thing is, life requires purpose, and except for work, I’ve never had one. I wish I could find another purpose, but I doubt that will ever happen. Given that, I’d rather have a purpose, even if it’s not one I’m particularly thrilled about. So I suspect I’ll just work until I die.

    It’s like running away. I’d love to run away from my life, but I have no where to run to that would be any better.

    1. Brian McMan

      I’m in the same boat, but I’m hoping that having a lot of time and money after retirement will better position me to find a purpose. I was unemployed once, and that was completely miserable. Work is a much better alternative, and one of the only positive things going for me.

      That is to say I’m not retired, but I’d like to encourage you to connect with people who are, surely there are others who have went through this thing.

      1. girlonamission

        I am about to turn 31 and just recently become obsessed with wanting to retire early. I think it’s because as I’ve aged I gained more hobbies and my desire to expand on those hobbies requires time. Therefore, I’d love to retire by 45. (Fingers crossed.) I suggest you start looking into hobbies and learning new traits and you may just find a new purpose. My hobbies currently include volunteering for a land preservation, camping/hiking, and bee keeping. P.S. I’m jealous you are set for 35!

    2. I have the same problem – i’ve been writing code since i was 15 and fortunately no longer have to code for money since 45, but i’m still working at 51 because i’ve no idea what i’d do otherwise, and I still love my work! I’ve no desire to start new companies because it’s really hard work and frankly i’m out of ideas anyway.

      Most friends who retired earlier (in their 30s, 40s) came back to work in some capacity. A friend who’s retired and watch youtube all day long always admonish me to retire immediately, so go figure. Also didn’t help is our kid is still in schools, so basically we’re stuck until he goes to college anyway.

      i’ve set a new goal of retiring when 55 and when our kid goes to college, until then, we donate our income to charity and travel whenever we can as a consolation price.

      1. Thanks Sam: there’s dearth of book for people who are already financially independent (FI) whether to continue working or retire early (RE), especially for those in their 30s, 40s, 50s. For me, FI is relatively easy (due to luck, not ability), but RE is the hardest part for me.

        It seems in our society, only athletes and a lucky few have similar experiences, and most of them don’t just sit home and watch sports, but what do they do then? If you write such book I’ll buy it :)

      2. Hi, Sam, after re-reading many other comments and give RE another though, I figure out my excuse: “social”. I know, I know, this is just an excuse, but nevertheless, “social” is the real excuse.

        You see, i’m an immigrant coming to bay area, leaving all my friends and families behind. I realized the lack of opportunities to social is a real fear and is the driving reason behind me still working after FI (liquid net worth ~50x annual expense). Conversely, the people I know who retired with much less or much younger, are either autistic (many software engineers are clinically anti-social), or those who were born here and have families around. Many of my friends who didn’t immigrate to US can retire w/ much less, because they never deserted their social network by coming to USA. My fear of staying home and do nothing and watching YouTube all day is the reason that prevent me from RE.

        Now that I figure out “social” is the real reason, I can address that by trying to build a social network *outside* of work. This will take time but at least I feel it’s the right step forward.

        1. Eric, you raised a point I’ve been thinking of lately:
          “My fear of staying home and do nothing and watching YouTube all day is the reason that prevent me from RE.”

          Is it really so bad to you use your time goofing off if you can?

          The other day I was watching a mantis on one of my plants. I wanted to stay and watch and see if he would catch something but I had to dash off to do something else because my weekend is only so many hours and I have to prep for the week.

          Which got me thinking, so what if I RE and spend my time bumming on the couch or luxuriating in laziness or just reading endless trivia on the net? It’s what I want to do with my time. I figure as long as I’m not bored and take care of my health by eating right and getting out several times a week I should be ok. (I do plan to write, keep bees, garden (a proper self sustaining eco-friendly garden is my dream) and travel.)

          Am I wrong? Should someone who’s FIRE do more just because? Is it not enough to want to just sit and watch butterflies?

          1. I actually have a friend who RE @50 and watch youtube all day long. He’s also alcoholic and single. Humans are social animals, we are genetically designed to be social, just watch our own kids and see how easily they make friends, etc…

            Incidentally I also know someone who RE and declare he’ll spend most of his day meditating, then he wrote a book, became NYT best sellers, he go around the world teach people how to do meditation, build an institute on being mindful, etc.. You get it, he’s not really sitting home by himself meditating 12 hours, he’s out and about building and socializing with his tribe.

            I think RE require work, and the work is to find the tribe that you can socialize with after RE. Once you have that, like your church, charity, local schools, etc.. RE is doable. A friend who retired @50 advise me to find something to run to, not run away from. Being alone at home sucks, even my wife who’s been a at home mom constantly was out of the house and doing things with her friends. Since all my friends are working, I need to find a solution for myself.

            Sam has his tribe here in this blog, this is why he can RE and I cannot, not yet.

            1. Hmm, maybe it boils down to personality. I have a theory, people are wolves; so there’s pack animals and lone wolves. I think I’m a lone wolf. I’ve never been big on the social scene. I prefer the company of maybe four friends. I don’t drink or smoke. I’m single. I’ve stayed at home for weeks on end (during the holidays, avoiding crowds), enjoyed it and have never been bored. In fact, I wonder at how glorious it feels and how I wish I could do it everyday.

              I wake up late (my body’s natural rhythm), enjoy the solace over breakfast with my thoughts. Then I plan my day and tackle the tasks that I’ve scribbled on my chalkboard. I write in the evening/night when my creative juices are going and drift to sleep feeling satisfied. There’s always something for me to do, learn, try, read (my reading backlog is appalling), research or write. I’m just one of those people who is never bored.

              I think my creativity and fulfilling all the things I’ve wanted to do will keep me going in retirement because I don’t need to try to fill the hours. I already do. And when I have the money, I will travel and explore.

              I wish there was more data collected on RE people. I wonder if there’s any out there like me (personality wise)?

          2. Totally agree. I get sick of reading comments about how you cant just watch tv all day etc….. but if that is what you want then WHY not! Do what YOU want!

    3. Assuming you can afford to retire—and only you know if you can—here are some thoughts from having left a corporate job at 48 without knowing what was next (but knowing there had to be more to life than working 9 to 8. I am 57 today).

      Searching for your purpose? Here are some great questions to ask yourself re: figuring out your passion and purpose:

      Not sure you’re built for one big purpose? It may be easier to consider creating a portfolio of pursuits after you leave/retire. As an example, my portfolio at one point consisted of: create something original that goes out into the world every week; contribute regularly to at least one good cause; try to build up an independent venture that’s mine (not working for someone else); do one weekly thing to build/strengthen personal connections; and always be planning my next “memorable experience”—whether a big trip or doing some fun with a local friend.
      You’ll be amazed where a portfolio of pursuits leads you (yes, often to “purpose,”) and because money isn’t your #1 objective, the best part is at any point you can say, “Okay, enough of THAT,” and move on.

      Wondering what you have of value to offer to the world? I took me a while to learn that my past work and hobbies had given me some skills that I just took for granted. So, now I share with friends this piece of career advice, which I saw in a Comments thread like this once upon a time. I think it works for early retirees, as well:

      “If you find that there’s something that takes very little effort from you, but seems to be appreciated by those in positions of power, don’t assume that everyone else is just too stupid if they can’t do it as well as you do, or as easily. Odds are, it’s a particular talent you have, and that’s why it seems so easy and natural to you. If you find that happening, congratulations—now all you have to do is figure out how to leverage that skill.”

  109. I’ve been aiming for between 40 – 45 for several years. In addition to being at a point in life where I will have at least 20X expenses saved, all my kids will be grown when I’m 45 which adds to the “freedom score”. Having the kids for the most part out of the house and launching costs covered provides a lot of extra comfort in budgeting. At 40 – 45 I’ll still have an entire extra decade over what most people consider early retirement (55).

  110. The age breakdown descriptions here are pretty good. I only semi-retired in my mid 40’s so I can keep my healthcare benefits.

    The “life speed is accelerating” comment is especially true. It just keeps getting faster

  111. quantakiran

    Life doesn’t end once you retire. It begins. (Yeah, it’s been one of those days at work.)

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