The Health Benefits Of Early Retirement Are Priceless

If you don't have your health, no amount of money is worth it. As someone who has been writing about early retirement and the FIRE movement since 2009, let me emphasize the health benefits of early retirement in this post.

There are many benefits of early retirement. Full control of your time is often the most cited benefit. Greater happiness sooner is another.

However, the health benefits of early retirement are the most important positive of leaving the work force early. Our goal should be to retire while we are healthy!

Mance Rayder, The King Beyond The Wall once said, “The freedom to make my own mistakes is all I ever wanted.” After leaving Corporate America in 2012, his words have never rung more true.

If I wanted more money, I would have stayed in my investment banking job for the rest of my career. But I longed for the freedom to choose after my 13th year.

Being absolutely free is priceless. Unless you love what you do, it doesn’t matter how much money you have. If you’ve still got to take direction from someone else, you'll always feel at least a little bit trapped.

But besides glorious freedom, there are also incredible health benefits I’ve noticed after leaving the permanent workforce. Let me share some with you.

Health Benefits Of Early Retirement

When I was working a full-time job from 1999 – 2012, I had the following ailments:

  • Plantar fasciitis (1999-2001 the worst period)
  • Frequent allergic reactions (throughout)
  • Chronic lower back pain plus sciatica (1997-2003)
  • TMJ (2010 – 2012)
  • Teeth grinding (2010 – 2012)
  • Golfer’s elbow (2011-2012)
  • Tennis elbow (2008-2011)

During the last year of work, my TMJ got so bad that I went to a dental specialist and paid $750 out of pocket to have him shave down my rear molars.

The idea was to create grooves in my teeth so my mouth could shut more easily, thereby relieving the stress from my jaw muscles. The procedure helped lessen the pain by roughly 30%, but that still left 70% of unwanted discomfort.

Can you imagine going to the dentist to purposefully drill down your teeth? That seems absolutely nuts to me now!

The Chronic Pain Went Away After I Retired Early

By the sixth month after leaving my job, EVERY PAIN went away. If I knew that my TMJ and jaw pain would have gone away so soon, I would have tried to negotiate a severance sooner! However, while you're in the thick of work, it's easy to continue the path of gutting things out.

Perhaps my health problems would have gone away even sooner than six months after retiring. However, the first three months were filled with excitement and worry.

I kept wondering whether I had made the right move. I had other job opportunities come up that I kept on rejecting. But after a while, not working just felt natural because I had an outlet, Financial Samurai, to share my thoughts.

I firmly believe that STRESS is the main source for many of our health problems. Except for an occasional allergy attack, I no longer suffer from any of the above mentioned chronic ailments. It's been three years since I left work, and work stress was clearly the source for most of my problems.

For more details about how stress can negatively affect your physical and mental well-being, see a paper on the US Library of Medicine's website. Let's look at other health benefits of early retirement you could receive if you decide to retire early as well.

You'll Probably Look Better As Well In Early Retirement

Here are more health benefits of early retirement.

1) Weight Loss

Besides the disappearance of chronic health issues, early retirement allows you to take better care of your body. When I first began work, I gained 20 lbs to 180 lbs within the first year at 5′ 10″. Getting fat got me down because I was so used to being trim due to all the sports I played growing up.

After leaving Manhattan for San Francisco in 2001, I got down to about 165 lbs, but I was always battling back the 170 lbs mark. By the end of my first early retirement year, I got down to 158-160 lbs and stayed there for two years due to all the exercise. There were also no more constant wining and dining of clients at high caloric, fancy restaurants.

Do you remember running around the neighborhood as a kid with all your friends? I do. Every day after school we’d go out and skateboard for three hours a day before dinner. When we're working, there's no play time between 4pm – 6pm anymore. For many, leaving the office before the sun went down was unheard of. Just like how compound interest creates great wealth over time, compound lack of activity creates great girth after several years.

My exercise frequency went up from 2X a week to 4X a week on average. The duration of exercise also increased given there was never really anywhere to go by a certain time frame. We’d play tennis for three or four hours sometimes without a care in the world.

Plenty of exercise plus a good diet surely should help one’s quality of life and longevity at the margin. Have you ever wondered how much money you’d be willing to forgo to live just one more year? Probably a lot the older you get!

Although I'm still not in ideal shape today, I look normal for a guy my age trying to take care of two young children.

2) Less Gray Hairs / More Hair In General

The first time I found a gray hair was at the age of 34. I was sitting in the barber’s chair when I kept seeing what I thought was a reflection off my left side. The grey hair was a shock, that reminded me how quickly we age. Of course I pulled it out, contrary to my barber’s advice. “If you pull it out, 10 more grey hairs will grow back in its place!” she said.

I thought 34 would be the beginning of the grey hair avalanche. But instead, I haven’t had a grey hair since, and I’m 44. No longer was I wondering whether I made the right move to retire early. There wasn’t any money worries either since I had picked up a consulting job to supplement my passive income streams.

Another interesting phenomena I noticed is that my hairline doesn’t seem to be receding as quickly any more. It began started receding when I was 33 during the height of the financial crisis. But it’s seemed to have stopped for the past two years. Unfortunately, I’m unable to grow back hair where hair used to be, but I’ll take a slowing recession any day!

3) Naturally Feel More Confident

When you’re in better shape you feel more confident. When you’re more confident, you enjoy life more. And when it’s evident by everyone around you that you’re a happy person, more opportunities arise.

I told myself, no, I swore to myself in 2012 that I would never go back to work if I could successfully negotiate a severance. I remember the week where the fate of my severance was in limbo because I accidentally e-mailed back an old work file that contained client contact information. Thankfully everything turned out fine, especially since I emphasized I wasn’t going to work for a competitor.

Except for competitors looking to hire me immediately after I left, the first year of early retirement on the work front was quiet. But since early 2014, I’ve received multiple attractive consulting offers that just came out of casual conversations and referrals. I’ve never advertised my services to any corporate before.

Optimistic people are like magnets. When you're confident, people of all sorts want to connect. This is true in your professional and personal life.

Nothing Is More Important Than Your Health

I cannot overemphasize the health benefits of early retirement. The pandemic and so many people dying due to the coronavirus really puts into perspective how important our health really is.

If there's one time to start eating well, exercising, and getting in great shape, it's now! The more in shape we are, the less we will be negatively affected by viruses. And if we have a family, the more healthy we are, the higher the chance that we will live longer.

A lot of people who’ve never achieved early retirement have bashed the early retirement movement. I even penned a very frank post before pulling the rip chord called, The Dark Side Of Early Retirement and The Negatives Of Early Retirement Nobody Likes Talking About.

Many of the arguments still hold true now that I'm years past normal work life. However, if your body is crying out in pain, you owe it to yourself to discover a more congruent occupation.

When I’m sick, I’m willing to give any amount of money just to feel better. If you are experiencing chronic health issues, there’s a high chance the source of your ailments is due to the stress from your job.

Does that prestigious title or all that money really matter if you are feeling horrible? You might even be cutting your life shorter by a year or two due to so much stress. We haven’t even touched upon mental issues such as depression and anxiety that work stress can create either.

It's been over nine years since I left Corporate America, and it's become so abundantly clear how much work stress is killing us.

If you find a way to get out or work at a more fulfilling, and less stressful job, please strongly consider taking a leap. The older you get, the more you will cherish your health.

Don't look back and regret having chased money and prestige. Chase happiness instead.

Plans To Retire Early Again

I had a good early retirement run from 2012 – 2018. Then I decided to work more online to boost my passive income streams. There must be some type of inherit desire to earn once you have a child.

Now that Joe Biden is President, I plan to retire again by 2024. I'm tired and need a break. The lockdowns forced me to build more wealth since so many other things were shut down.

I've noticed some annoying health issues pop up during and after the pandemic as well. I'm sure stress and worry manifested these problems. It’s hard when you and your partner both don’t have jobs, but have two young children to raise in San Francisco.

However, with a strong stock market and real estate market, our family has enough passive income to provide for a comfortable lifestyle. I'm bullish on real estate and plan to invest most of my incremental dollars in real assets.

Let's hope the economic recovery continues! The amount of wealth that has been created since the pandemic began has been quite an unexpected surprise.

Note: If you are experiencing any type of chronic pain (not just back), I highly recommend picking up a copy of Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection by Dr. SarnoI've been back pain free for over 15 years despite playing tennis 2-4X a week, after having crippling back pain in my early 20s. I couldn't even drive to work for a while because my sciatica was so bad.

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83 thoughts on “The Health Benefits Of Early Retirement Are Priceless”

  1. Excellent,I retired at 62 (2018) with a state pension and military reserves pension.My wife retired from nusing last year (2023) life is god.

  2. Thanks for the post. After a high tech company in Sacramento laid me off with a significant number of other managers I was scared. I immediately jumped into consulting for a software company making more money than ever. The stress level was off the charts and every illness know in me family showed up at my door. I had to take more meds as the months went by. But my retirement savings also did very well and an individual 401k allowed me to put away a great deal. I dumped the software consulting job after a couple years and am just taking 1-2 year contracts until the magic 59 1/2 y.o. I’m feeling so much better.

    When my mom got older she was getting stress about just paying her monthly bills. She had enough saved and a pension to live on her own forever. She went to live with my sister and all the financial stress went away. She is 94 and her health is as good as you can expect for a 90 year old. Those are the kinds of things i am writing about in

  3. I could not agree more! I am 35, working towards retiring early, have a few more years to go. I had the job from hell that was taking a significant toll on my health. I left that job 2 years ago and moved to a much less stressful position that only requires about 30 hours a week ( I negotiated a higher salary for less responsibility and hours). The lower stress and fewer hours have totally changed my life. I lost 30 pounds, my back pain and chronic headaches are gone, I now bike to work and have time for my family and time to put into growing my real estate portfolio. Life is too short to stay in a job like that.

  4. Scrooge McDuck

    I approach my Wealth and Health in the same regards. The earlier you plan your wealth the earlier and longer you can reap the benefits. The same goes for your health. No one wants to be rich and sickly or poor and extremely healthy (Even though I would choose to be poor and healthy) for that matter. I think both should be held in the highest regards when evaluating oneself. Great article.

  5. My wife and I are 49 and are both retiring in the next 2-3 years. This is possible because we have always been dual income and more importantly, started saving 15% or more of our income since we graduated from college in our early 20’s. Both of our 401k’s have seven figure balances and I also have a defined benefit pension plan with medical benefits and cost of living increases. Two of our three children will be in college in 3 years but we also started saving for that when they were born so they can graduate with little or no debt. The big mistake I see people make is waiting until their 30’s or later before they get serious about retirement planning and saving. Many also spend on things that we have never had such as boats, motorcycles, RV’s, or expensive new cars. We didn’t buy a new car until both of our homes were paid off at age 48. The only thing we splurged on were some nice family vacations over the years which I would do all over again.

    Another big part of our decision to retire early is the crazy marginal tax rates we pay – about 55% for our top rate and an effective federal and state rate of 43% last year. We no longer will work for the government for over 5 months each year!

  6. I truly believe that corporate life is ruining many people’s lives without them even knowing. Working for so many hours is not how we should live.

    I have a few points to add on to your article: Weight Loss is a huge part of it. People eat horribly when they are at work. You get so hungry sitting at a desk and need to just snack on whatever is available. This is not healthy. Also, you go home and you are too tired to make food, so you go out to eat. It is a cycle that is tough to get out of.

    Eventually, I hope to work about 25-30 hours a week and be able to make a decent income. At my age and income, I’m content at where I am at; however, I definitely would be happy if I had more time to relax and hang out with friends.

    Thanks for the article Sam and keep up the good work,

  7. Pingback: Scraping By On Five Hundred Thousand A Year | Financial Samurai

  8. I personally think 40+ hour workweeks, cubicle dwellings and tyrant bosses are incredibly unhealthy. We are not meant for this and it is causing a host of ailments. I was experiencing health problems, so I left. I always try to tell “kids” in their 20’s to not get into debt and the habit of living paycheck to paycheck. You just never know when you need to leave. Living a simple life brings soooo much more joy than a fat paycheck… at least it has in my experience. An additional benefit is that early retirement or part time work usually has us treading much lighter on the environment, so that is an added bonus even if not the main intent.

  9. I made the choice to choose a career that I enjoy, find meaning in, and is lower stress. And I love it. I see every single day the impact my work has to improve the quality of people’s lives. On the flip side, it’s a lower paying field, with no benefits. My master’s degree cost more than double what I make in a year. So saving to be able to retire at 60 requires serious sacrifices in my daily life, such as not participating in any event with friends or family that costs money. So retiring early is highly unlikely. But at least while I am working I am enjoying it. I do sometimes think about the options I would have had if I had spent a decade in a high paying field first. I just couldn’t do work, though, that didn’t make the world better. So I deal with the consequences of that choice.

  10. Hey Sam-

    This is a timely post for me. I am in my mid-20’s and herniated a disc in my lower back about 6 weeks ago. I went from being very active and playing lots of golf to hardly being able to walk. It really made me question what the point of saving so much for retirement was if my body wasn’t going to be there for me to enjoy it! Luckily, I am doing better now but back pain/sciatica is terrible!

    1. Hope u feel better and read Dr Sarno’s book tonight! If you’re not feeling better within two months, I’ll buy you a drink if we ever meet up. And when you do feel better, you can write an article for me on how you got to your state in the first place!

  11. I wonder, too, about the health effects sitting down for as many hours as we North Americans tend to do – 8 hours at work, .5-2 hours driving, then more hours sitting on the couch or in front of the computer at home. Followed up, of course, by sitting to eat, then lying down – there just isn’t a lot of work done by the middle 1/3 of an average person’s body.

    I find, personally, if I don’t deadlift for a few weeks, I actually get sharp lower back pains that come on randomly until I start up again… and my hamstrings and lower back tend to get the most sore after intense workouts. I’ve seen some studies on the ‘sitting too much’ phenomenon, but I wonder if it’ll be the public health crisis of the currently-working generations.

    1. It’s irreversible the negative effects of LT sitting according to what I’ve read, but that seems so pessimistic.

      Man, haven’t deadlifted in maybe EVER! My knees might break :)

  12. Sam,

    Wow, it is fantastic to see a PF blog specifically reference the mind-body connection and how worry, stress, and anxiety (especially about finance issues!) are directly correlated to health concerns. Reading Sarno was life-changing for me, cool to see you give him a shout.

    1. I will give Sarno a shoutout until my dying days. Good health is priceless and anybody whom I meet who suffers from chronic pain needs to know about Healing Back Pain!

  13. I retired August 15, 2013 at age 47 after making big bucks when my cancer drug got FDA approval. I liked making cancer drugs, but hated the stress and the douchebags I worked with.

    I call August 15th “Emancipation Day” and celebrated it in 2014 and I will this year too!

    I have had many of the same health benefits that you mention. Like you, I bemoaned the lack of play time between 4-6, and also the lack of a summer vacation like when we were kids. Now every day is like summer vacation! I go running in the afternoon, read books, meditate, go to the beach with my dog.

    Everyone told me not to quit, because I would become bored and fat. Well, after 2 years I am not tired of it yet, not even close. And I’m not fat, in fact I’m in really good shape!!

  14. I think it is perhaps one of the best things that we can do to focus our efforts on being able to generate other incomes as soon as possible and then start working towards being able to free up time to do other things that can reduce the stresses that we might have.

  15. Not so much stress-related, but definitely work-related: Last year I had to complete a major project at work using software that required infinite repetitions of a command using the CTRL and SHIFT keys at the left side of the keyboard. This put my hand in a clenched position many hours a day, and I eventually noticed trouble extending the middle finger of this hand, in that the finger joint was snapping rather than opening smoothly. Hey, what good is it to have such a finger if you can’t extend if to give someone the finger?

    This was diagnosed as a well-known condition called a “trigger finger,” which in some cases responds to a cortisone shot and in extreme cases requires surgery. (The orthopedist said my case was not that severe.) But a funny thing happened following my retirement in July 2014 at age 66. Since I was no longer abusing my hand, I realized a few months ago that the trigger finger had completely cleared up on its own. Small case, perhaps, but it’s nice I have my full range of motion in that finger back, so now I can give anybody and everybody the finger whenever I want!

  16. Health is so much more important than a high paying job. I’ve been fortunate to get out of a job that wore me down, get a severance and then move on to another job that doesn’t wear me down. My health is all the better for it. Neck and back pain is an absolute killer!


  17. This is exactly why I want to retire early. There are numerous studies where stress is linked to poor health.

    I come from a family of people with high stress, and picking a career in consulting wasn’t my best health choice! I’m hoping with a frugal lifestyle and extreme saving habits, I can be semi-retired by 38 or 39.

    A goal without a plan is just wishful thinking.

  18. I left working on Wall Street earlier this year because the cost of living just completely overtook the salary. I could have stay for several more years and made a great salary, but why? Now, my salary more than covers our cost of living, and I’m on track to retire (~4 years) around the same time I would have been hitting my inflection point on Wall Street. The move has removed depression and suicidal thoughts, and I’m doing so much better than ever before.

    I can only hope my transition to retirement yields even more benefits!

    Thanks for posting!


    1. Proud of you! Glad you no longer have depression and suicidal thoughts. No job or amount of money is worth going through that!

      Four years is not too far away at all. It’s going to come quicker than you think!

  19. theofficialjohnandre

    To play devil’s advocate, a lot of people pass away as soon as they stop working. So I think it’s important to stay BUSY for your entire life, but more importantly, you need to find a job that doesn’t really grind you down. You need a reason to stay alive.

    Look at Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett, Jack Lalanne, etc. These guys kept working up into their 90’s, work keeps you alive.

    1. Very impressed w/ Team Berkshire!

      I will say that writing is one of the most active mental exercises one can do. And, it’s easy to do and cheap. Highly recommend the activity!

    2. Ahh, theofficialjohnandre, but these people you just mentioned probably loved what they did for a living! I don’t make big bucks (and never will), but we low paid folks have even greater issues when planning our retirement. Instead of giving up several trips to Maui, or Paris, we have to face the reality of giving up three meals a day in order to retire sooner. I agree that job stress is indeed killing us, and I have a whole collection of stress-related issues. I’ve worked in a call center environment for about 15 years, and I’ve read that most burn out a lot earlier than this. I think I burned out about 10 years ago, but I can’t leave. I need the good insurance my company offers to pay for the results of having the high stress job for so long. I have created a count down timer for my retirement (I’m 54 now) and I can’t wait to be free. I just hope I can hit the mark right on the bubble that will allow me to eat pretty good and enjoy what life I’ve got left instead of being constantly worried about making it from month to month while having a decent place to live. Trading one stress for the other isn’t going to help.

  20. Try having two kids under three. Retired or not. In fact, you’d want an office job for the escape! I do not envy stay at home moms. But, in general, you’re right.

  21. Sam, looking back on your experience now, if you were starting out again from scratch knowing what you do now, would you have taken a different path that didn’t require the 13 years of stress and health issues, and perhaps take a more balanced approach to life? Or do you think it’s worth it to get to where you are now?

    In answer to one of your questions, I definitely don’t think ruining your health and well-being is worth it for ‘glory’ – glory to me would be living a great, healthy, meaningful, balanced life. Even though I’m on the ‘work hard to make money path’, I’m constantly looking at the other paths out there, and not sure I want to stay on this one for many more years…

    1. Let me think about it. Absolutely yes because:

      1) I would have been a fool to reject GS in NYC. That was like winning the lottery for a guy who went to a non-target school.

      2) If I rejected GS, I would have made little, but would have gone to Suzhou, China in 1999 to work on an eyeglass parts business. Who knows what my life would have been. Investing anything in China pre-2003 was a fantastic move.

      3) If I had neither, I would have gone the more balanced life approach and got some job at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, or whatever for less pay, but less stress. But I think I would still have been bored out of my mind after 10 years.

      So that’s it. Whatever I would have done, I would have been bored after 10 consecutive years of doing the same thing. Hence, I might as well try and go the path to make as much money as possible before that boredom/itch to do something else sets in.

      B/c I survived the gauntlet, I would do my path over again. The pain was bearable, b/c that pain was all I knew. If I had read Dr. Sarno’s book earlier on, the pain would have been even more bearable b/c I probably wouldn’t have had as much pain!

      I cannot imagine myself doing the same thing for 20+ years. I lasted 3 years longer than when my enthusiasm started to fade, and could have done 2 more years. But that would have been a disservice to my company and to myself.

      The pain is worth suffering for max freedom. B/c the good thing about pain and hard work is that it’s OVER. Then you get to enjoy the rewards, perhaps, forever.

  22. I cannot describe to my friends intelligently, the simple pleasures of dropping what I’m doing in a second and walking to up to river with the dog in the sunshine on some ideal Tuesday afternoon – because I can. This costs me nothing, and gives my butterflies in my stomach – it’s not the river or the walk that does that. It’s the choice I have that gives me the butterflies. And I promise you, not a day goes by in my work life where I don’t appreciate it. I’m constantly reminding my wife how great it is to have our lives like this. If there’s one thing that scares me out of bed in the mornings, it’s the thought of losing my choice.

      1. Reading through all these comments and replies, I’m harbouring for a FB ‘like’ button. I sort of want to acknowledge other peoples good opinions and replies!


  23. Sam, I think your journey from corporate America into self employment is in contrast to my own, and yet I share your views about the mental struggles between work, money and lifestyle – seems its a question that repeats itself depending on what’s immediately happening in one’s business life at that time.

    I suffer from crohns disease of which I unfortunately have to admit was brought on by stress – although it took me a while to admit it! For me, it was the stress and anxiety of starting/running my own business, as apposed to my cushy job at IBM. This doesn’t mean I regret leaving the day job because I don’t. I know within myself that the drive to go it alone was too strong and still burns within me. Perhaps it’s a curse or perhaps it’s good thing – ask me on my death bed!

    What I can be sure of is that everyday I get up I’m excited, anxious, stressed, happy, proud, stimulated, passionate, and sometimes very grumpy (weekends just get in the way!) but it’s not what I do, it’s who I am. And every year I get a little older (I’m 36) I get a little wiser and handle everything a little better. The stresses that caused my crohns in 2010, I would not even lose a wink of sleep if it happened now. Hindsight’s a bitch! When it comes to health, we’ve all got our bag of spanners, right?

    FYI: For all the reasons for and against you growing your business, cashing in, or continuing. I’d wager that whatever you decide to do, and whatever advice you take on, your decision will be founded more on your personality rather than the mechanics of a deal or money.

    1. Awesome! I think you inherited a special entrepreneur’s trait, and that is: You can’t NOT do it.

      There’s no way you can sit at a cushy corporate job and not start and work on your business b/c it’s just too obvious, or there’s too much of a need in this world for you to get it done.

      I feel that way about the financial advisory business using tech. Although most are well intentioned, there are too many people who have NO IDEA what they are talking about giving advice and helping people, as they themselves are struggling financially! It’s like the blind leading the blind. I do believe I can build a better system, but that will require 5-10 years of 50+ hour weeks.

      Finding the middle way is probably better.


  24. I totally agree about the stress part! Our bodies can handle acute stress, but we didn’t evolve in an environment where chronic stress was common place like it is today.

  25. I definitely have seen a correlation between stress (work or lifestyle related) and health problems. When I was spending 14+ hour days working or preparing presentations during my residency, I definitely ate more junk food, exercised less, gained weight, and had various muscle aches. I remember getting neck spasms and lower back pain frequently with poor sleep hygiene and probably a weaker core as well.

    My colleagues in comp sci and I-Banking had similar complaints: teeth grinding, muscle pain, tics…etc.

    Health is most important. Reminding myself of these problems helps me focus harder to reach Financial Independence sooner.

  26. Health is so priceless, you are right. My parents are in their 60s and have all sorts of health challenges. It sucks getting old and your body can’t keep up. I had a fair number of health scares myself even in my 30s which were not from aging but from work stress. I didn’t take care of myself and felt a lot of pressure not to take sick days. My body suffered a lot as a result. I am extremely grateful that I was able to leave that job and work independently now. My health has improved so much, which is beyond priceless and I feel so fortunate about.

  27. The stress is killing me slowly, I have suffered many of the same ailments you had, I was a triathlete and runner, ended first by chronic plantar facitis and then a massive back misalignment causing permanent nerve damage. I am lucky to be walking after having surgery. I still have the same job but have become much more financial secure but can’t quit the treadmill of life job yet. I dream of doing something I enjoy and that is not so stressful, I just am to insecure to leave the security and do what I want. I have to many people counting on me to be there for them. I will check out Dr Sarnos book and keep reading this awesome blog that gives me hope.

      1. Funny – my brother and his wife both work in Big Law in NYC. They often lightheartedly debate over who should get to retire to be the “househusband” or “housewife” – seems like with their combined salaries and bonuses, they should be able to do it together before 35 if they geoarbitrage at early retirement! I hope – that lifestyle stresses me out just hearing about it.

  28. Nobody at their death bed has said “I wish I worked another day”. You have stated on multiple occasions that 200k is the ideal income. If you are already there with passive income, why put yourself through the stress of building a company?

    1. The challenge first. And then the duty to make the most of things second.

      One of my original theories was thinking that work is more fun if you didn’t have to work. I can absolutely say this is true after doing some consulting work. You end up working 100% b/c you want to, on things you find interesting. I’ve gone for two pay cycles without sending an invoice b/c I simply forgot! That’s when you realize you’re not doing it for the money, and the money is just a bonus.

  29. I’m fortunate that I work in a very high pressure job in the financial industry where only performance matters, yet I don’t feel that stressed out and haven’t had any serious work stress related health issues. I think a lot of it also comes down to setting boundaries on yourself and your workplace, pushing back at work when they are trying to take you down and keeping in mind at all times that its just work and nothing else, money comes and money goes and you are a highly educated professional, probably overcompensated in one of the best countries in the world for labor rights and benefits. If you get too greedy for money, power and fame to the extent that you are willing to sacrifice your health, sanity, family, friends, vacation and anything you hold dear, you are likely to have the same outcome in any job or industry.

    1. You are fortunate to have a high tolerance for stress! Thinking about your own good fortunate on a daily basis definitely does help.

      But what about that person who hustles harder and performs better?

      1. Yes I am fortunate, and specially so since I can find contentment.
        As for hustling harder, my personal experience is that hustling too hard does’t make you perform better. For me personally, it makes me perform worse. I am at the very top of my field in terms of performance (returns for my investors) and I don’t put in anywhere near the amount of working hours my peers put in, 35-40 hours at the office, maybe 5 hours outside. Most of what people call hard work is wasted time, face time and other office BS anyway, not real work that delivers results. Of course if one is insecure or trying to take over the world, they will work infinitely harder regardless of the result and will never be content. Again, it comes down to boundaries and limits and having the balls to stick to them.
        As for your dilemma, I think you are selling out, or at least trying to. More is never enough for most, and you are proving exactly that.

          1. Selling out as in changing direction from what I think you originally set out to do i.e. leave the rat race and retire or become financially independent with a passive stream of income so you could truly enjoy life, family, health, and live on your own terms. By creating this business, or at least attempting to, you will surely be entering the rat race again, and probably eventually in a big way. Of course, you could tell me that you will be your own boss and bootstrap the business and accept little to no funding, but you will still be back on the hamster wheel.

  30. Sam, I’ve always suspected this is the hidden demon of “success.” Most folks looking in don’t realize that with a 6 figure paycheck typically comes a healthy dose of pressure to perform and resulting stress and chronic ailments. My chronic ailment of choice, throughout my career, has been acid reflux and neck and back tension/pain. One of the things I look forward to most about ER is downshifting into a low-stress, low-pressure-to-perform lifestyle.

    My wife frequently teases me that as soon as I get over one goal/stressful event in my life, I tend to thrust myself right back into another. I sense this is what is happening to you. You will likely make FS into a very profitable company (not that it isn’t already) with 5-10 more years of work/stress, but you’ve got so much already. Consider gratitude for what you’ve created, gratitude for your health/happiness and run with that until the day you die.

    If you’re lucky enough to look back on your life, on your deathbed, will you likely regret not working more to build FS into a Billion Dollar company or not enjoying happiness and health once you finally found it and exploring everything that lifestyle had to offer?

    Cheers and as always enjoy your content,


    1. I think we all want to have our cake and stuff our faces with cake too. The middle ground is something I’m really contemplating, bootstrapping and testing instead. It may be an expensive $30,000 – $50,000 test, but I think that will solve all “what if” questions I may have.

      Please read Healing Back Pain by Dr. Sarno if you still have your ailments!

  31. I quit my previous job in January, took about 2 months of and then started my current one. I now only work 40 hours a week, sleep a solid 7 hours a night and get an hour of exercise a day. I’ve lost an inch on my waist and have a spring in my step. It’s amazing what stress does to your body!

  32. Tyler Philbrook

    For around 2 years my blood pressure was dangerously high to the point that my doctor was considering putting me on blood pressure medication. At the same time I suffered near dibilatating migraines almost every day and every Sunday without exception. I am only 25 and should have been in much better health. Being so young and having next to no savings to “retire” I found the need to change my job. Doing so almost immediately my blood pressure dropped to the normal range and the migraines almost completly went away (down to every 4 to 6 months between one) This article is everything I already knew about what work can do to you and with every step I take now taking me one more closer to financial independence I can’t wait to be able to walk away completely from working in a job that I don’t want to be in. Thank you so much for this article

    1. Great to hear you are feeling better and made the change!

      The thing is, when we are in our 20s and early 30s, we are much stronger in dealing with maladies than when we are older, I think. Hence, good on you for making the change before it’s too late.

  33. I remember very well your post “The dark side of early retirement”. I have recognized for some time that when we reach the end of our journey toward a sustainable passive income, it may not be completely filled with rainbows and unicorns. It is great to hear other people’s experiences about getting to the other side of retirement.

    I would say that my health is impacted by the stress with my job and sitting too long at a desk. My wife definitely has some health issues that are exasperated with her work. I believe that our stress levels and weight will all drop once we stop work. We will certainly be more healthy.

    1. I guarantee you your stress will drop if you no longer have to work. But, you will also feel stressed in the beginning whether you made the right decision to retire early.

      Definitely look into a standing desk, or walk around every hour to keep the limbs limber and blood flowing!

  34. My mind, body, and family are paying the price that stress puts on me every day in this job.
    Spot on article

  35. Great article, I would just add to this point: Getting retired early & Also having an Active life is very important since a passive life style may eventually kill th purpose of maintaining good heath! Finally Its back to our ancestors wisdom: “Heath is Wealth!”

  36. Thanks for fixing:) (Editor note: edited to take out the spoiler, sorry folks!)

    After reading the article, it is a great point. I’ve noticed the more I work or the more responsibilities I get at work, the less I exercise besides playing soccer twice a week. Gone are my daily walks or walking to the store to get groceries. I keep getting long term sports injuries due to the weight gain. Everything needs to be done urgently in my mind, even though very few things are actually urgent.

    I don’t want to FIRE like some other people, but working for 30 hours a week for 9 months of the year, while making a 6 figure family income would be amazing. Financially there wouldn’t be a big difference (other than saving less), but the extra time off would be priceless in terms of physical and mental health.

  37. When I was working for a start-up and attending business school part-time I was sick on a regular basis. The health problems started with gastritis, my esophagus was severely inflamed, had a scope done and put on Nexium. Colds and infections every few months. I had a sinus infection 3 times in one year. I’ve never had a sinus infection before or after this period. Half way into my MBA I had a nervous breakdown. I started waking up at night drenched in sweat, dizzy spells and pretty bad anxiety. This lead to an antidepressant and Xanax prescriptions. Somehow I survived, graduated, and took a job with a better work/life balance. There isn’t any amount of money that could get me to work like that again.

    1. Glad to hear it Ken! Did Xanax work? I’ve always been curious about such drugs.

      It’s an interesting balance between seeking the balance, and killing yourself in an unbalanced way so you can get out early from the rat race.

  38. Stress definitely causes body pain. Your brain does whatever it takes to tell you that you’re unhappy. In the 20th century, it was stomach ulcers. Once people realized stomach ulcers were caused by stress, people stopped getting them. Now it’s back/shoulder/neck pain, or immune response, e.g. allergies.

    I had horrible back pain for 2 years where something as simple as a sneeze would bring me, literally, to my knees. I read Dr. Sarno’s “Healing Back Pain” and my pain was gone in 2 months.

    It’s amazing what your brain, under stress, does to your body to get you to stop doing bad things to yourself.

    1. Another Dr. Sarno supporter! Have stomach ulcers really gone away? Amazing.

      Crazy about the epidemic of back pain. But I swear I’ve been chronic back pain and sciatica free since I read the book back in 2001ish.

      1. Yes, they found out that ulcers were caused by a bacterium called H. pylori, so treatable with antibiotics. The scientists that identified the correlation were awarded the Nobel prize, I think.

        (First time commenter. I had to geek out!).

        1. Back pain and ulcers are not as fun as early retirement. H pylori is “maybe” treatable by antibiotics. There is a 50% chance it will come back and about that chance it will take care of the h-pylori. Ginger, broccoli, bananas are some of the natural ways of treating h-pylori which all of us have in our gut however anti-inflammatorys are the worst as are alcohol and smoking. H-pylori is very common to most of us though can be harmful when exacerbated by the things such as those mentioned. Ulcers are actually shown not to be caused by stress. Take some baking soda with water ( essentially what is in alka seltzer anyway) and get your alkaline in balance. I went through the back pain, anti-inflammatory, ulcer route and got rid of the ulcers by the things I have mentioned ( not anti-biotics) and Reiki got rid of my back pain though for lots of people Reiki is not something they are willing to try unfortunately as it is too woo woo :) Good Luck!

  39. Joe Millionaire

    I’ve been at my new job for 2 weeks, and I am already popping Pepcid. I think I had a gastric ulcer brewing also exacerbated by drinking alcohol.

    My income was decking in my old job with bleak future. My friend got me hooked up here. The pay for non partners is not even great but in 5 years when/if I become a partner I’ll be making 500k.

    As a man our self worth is tied to our financial success. I have many friends making 3,4,500k. Some are already board of director. They seem to handle stress ok.

    Financial Samurai, what do you think. I can actually go part time here and free lance else where but I maybe only making 200k. Also not having steady work is another firm of stress.

    Should I just bail on the partnership track sooner rather than later? I am 44 y/o already.

    1. Hi Joe – I’d try and give your job one full year to see if things get better as you navigate the politics and the work. If it doesn’t get better, and your physical pains worsen, then I’d probably bail.

      Your happiness WILL LIKELY NOT go up making $300K, $400K, $500K vs. $200K. Instead, your happiness may go up making $200K b/c you’ll be less in pain and have more freedom.

      Calculate your after tax money as well. It becomes kinda pointless at the $500K level due to all the taxes. $200K – $250K I’ve found is the maximum income where happiness no longer increases.

      Check out this post: Overcoming The One More Year Syndrome In Order To Do Something New

      1. Joe Millionaire

        F-ck, just tweeked my back at work today. My back has been good for the most part, but sometimes a wrong move exacerbate it.

        Based on your article on Overcome One Year Syndrome, I should quite now lol.

        I did the calculation –

        Extreme scenario. Max income as a partner $600,000/year x 20 years. Assuming I work until 69 y/o and working my ass off. Freelance $200,000/years x 20 years. That’s is $400,000 a year difference, but after tax that is really about $220,000/year. So all that work and stress will net me an additional $4.4 million over my career.

        Realistic scenario. $500,000/year as a partner for 16 years (until I am 65) – $250,000/year freelancing. $250,000/year difference. After tax, $137,500. * 16 years. $2.2 million.

        An embarrassing point that I did not mention. With the help from my parents through out the year, and my own contribution of course, I already have a $1.35 million dollar house paid off in addition to the one I am living in which I and still paying off.

        So all that hustle and stress over a life time to gain $850,000 of spending money. When I crunch the numbers it just doesn’t make sense. But from the point of pride, and sense of achievement, and ease of cash flow, that additional money feels nice.

        What about other guys? What would you do in my situation?

        1. TradingNymph

          If you have no children and not planning to have any, I say sell the house and quit. Buy a nice 300,000 home and experience life. Most in life is ego and a waste of time.700,000 is much better spending money and you can enjoy it now…cuz you don’t know if you will be even alive in 20 years.

  40. I believe stress very much affects people’s health.

    I had some chronic back issues a few years ago, which I deduce is from sitting on my a$$ all day at a computer in addition to work stress, but a chiropractor recommended an herb that is an anti-inflammatory and it has done wonders for me. I am so thankful he told me about it.

    1. I also just started suffering from chronic back pain at 33 (for probably the same reasons you mention). What is the herb if you don’t mind me asking?

      1. Matt, go to a chiro if you enjoy the feeling (I do). But don’t go to a chiro to try and fix your back pain. Seriously, read Healing Back Pain by Dr. Sarno. Will be the past $10 spent or booked checked out of your life.

        It’s a mind body connection.

      2. @Matt, ‘Arnica’ is an herb used in inexpensive commercial creams and is anti-inflammatory. I had good luck with it for tendonitis and joint pain. Brand names Arnicare and Traumeel are available in drugstores and natural food stores. They contain no drugs, and are homeopathic. Good luck!

      3. It is called curcumin. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory from the turmeric plant.

        Good luck with your back pain.

        1. I should also have mentioned that this particular chiropractor had me fill out a form with all of my symptoms, and when he reviewed it he immediately told me I had inflammation and to take curcumin and if I didn’t feel better in 30 days to come back and see him. He DID NOT charge me for the consultation, but I was annoyed with him because I thought he would give me an adjustment because I was in so much pain and I thought, yeah right, some herb is going to make me feel better?! But I did go buy the curcumin and within a week I felt 75% better and within the month I was 95% better! I tell everyone that it is a miracle, because I was barely functioning before that. Today, I still take 2 curcumin capsules a day for “maintenance,” and I have not had ANY problems since then and it has been more than two years.

  41. I know my body had taken a toll after working in corporate America and I want to fix it. However I am unable to retire – but changes to my lifestyle is needed. I don’t think work alone is responsible, it is life itself and what is the definition of happiness. I no longer chase high position jobs as with great responsibility comes great stress, I plant my own vegetables and slowly easing into a relaxed lifestyle even if shit is hitting the ceiling at work! That can wait!

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