What Does It Take To Retire Early

If you think having a few million dollars in a bank is your path to early retirement you’re not going to do well in early retirement. Early retirement is a mind game. It is the desire to cease working at all costs regardless if you have a few million dollars in the bank or not. At least, that has been my experience. I retired at the age of fifty. I’d rather stick needles inside both my eyes than work at a job ever again.

Regardless of all the planning you have done to earn yourself an early retirement graveyard, unless you have the guts and determination to stay retired, the slightest dip in your pre-planning may cause you to run back into the workforce. In other words, IMHO, the only way a person can seek and stay early retired is because they want it more than anything else in the world. It’s a lot of sacrifice. You have to be quick-witted, extremely agile and be the most cost-conscious solution provider on the face of the earth.

Lots of things are going to go wrong and be contrary to your ridiculous pre-planning. You can read all the books you want, scour all the DIY YouTube videos, read all the early retirement blogs you want BUT your life is going to be different from any other life you devoured.

Remember Jacob of ‘Early Retirement Extreme‘? Jacob used to tout the wondrous miracles of early retirement till he eventually got offered a job he couldn’t refuse. Once Jacob, who used to live quite frugally with his wife (who worked a teaching job BTW) went back to work, all bets were off. Unless you have the badassity tenacity of Mr. Money Mustache (IMHO), early retirement for most is just nothing more than a pipe dream. Early retirement is hardcore. You have to be willing to live so beneath what you had become accustomed to (try $1500 to $2800 a month!) and you have to rely 1000% on yourself. No picking up the phone to call anyone to help fix or solve your problem. You have got to do everything by yourself. You have to choose to live so differently from any other human being that you may never know the meaning of the expression ‘normal life’.

Early retirement is fun while you are young. Nothing, however, can prepare you for your eventual old age, declining health problems and the outrageous health care expenses that go with the early retirement extreme. There is no way a 35 year old can experience and prepare for what a 65 year old is feeling. Maybe that’s why the recommended age for retirement is upping to 67? Apparently, at this age you’re starting to get a taste for what’s really ahead for you in your future. Mr. Money Mustache, although pleasantly retired at an early age still goes to work by taking on side jobs! Thus making one ponder, what the heck is early retirement and is it really possible to achieve it at an early age?

You have to understand that should you retire early, your future life will be the continual constant of change and downsizing. You’re life doesn’t expand in early retirement. To the contrary, your life, upon early retirement will decrease, diminish, lesson, be reduced, will shrink, will be curtailed, deflated, shortened, shriveled and become small. Mr. Money Mustache just reduced his square footage lifestyle down to 1000. Both he and his wife voluntarily agreed that they will only have one child, as a means to keeping their living costs in the downward trend. As I said, early retirement means your future life gets smaller. Not bigger.

Almost no one in America dies of ‘old age’. That’s according to the NCHS, which is the government agency responsible for collecting statistical information on how we die. In the NCHS’s instructions for filling out death certificates, “old age” is discouraged for use as a cause of death: “Terms such as senescence [the process of growing old], infirmity, old age, and advanced age have little value for public health or medical research.” Instead, physicians are told to list the immediate cause of death and any conditions that led up to it.

Nothing in early retirement is going to prepare you for your eventual end of life. You’re going to get sick and you’re going to need a lot of money to stay alive. Nothing is going to prepare you for this true fact of life.

Almost every single retired person that I know or have met, despite their massive so-called saving account balances, their ample pensions, social security benefits, interest income or passive incomes are hustling on the side making AND bringing in more money, more money, more money. In other words, what I am trying to say is this: there is NO such thing as early retirement.

You’re gonna work at something till the day you die.

Young people are continually asking Jacob if they can retire young? They confess to him how much money they have in the bank, their age and their future plans. Jacob’s reply is usually the same: The main question you should ask yourself is thus not whether you have enough money, but rather whether you can envision yourself living an unconventional life outside the boxes that most others live in. If this is the case, the money to do so can be earned fairly quickly. The challenge is mostly in the mind, and so this is the real question you should be asking yourself. Can you be happy without doing what everybody else is doing?

If you plan on living a life alone, inside some sparse hut or cave, devoid of other human beings and common human comforts, you’re gonna do just fine in early retirement.

If not, don’t be giving up your day job just yet. Life is very, very long.

retirees

Live well and prosper, my friend. Live well and prosper.

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14 thoughts on “What Does It Take To Retire Early

  1. Cindi, You are right on with this article! Even in retirement you are working to find ways to adjust your life to fit your funds. At 62 years old I didn’t think I was retiring early but I just couldn’t do the work I was doing any longer. Staying within our budget isn’t easy due to living on Long Island, but we’ll do what we need to not have to work again. Needles in the eyes, you bet!! Our retirement may not be the jetting here and there lifestyle that a lot of people would enjoy but it is all ours! Am glad that you too are enjoying yours!

    Sue E from NY

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    • Thanks Sue. I’m from Long Island. I feel your pain!! You should come upstate if you ever get the chance. Taxes are lower. Utilities are affordable. The air is cleaner. Food is cheaper, fresher and gives a whole new meaning to ‘from farm to table’.
      As my retirement years progress, I find myself engulfed in survival mode. This wasn’t part of my planning. LOL. I thought survival was a TV reality show. It’s become more my normal life.
      Hang in there. We’re all just getting started.

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      • I really love upstate NY! We drive up to East Aurora each year to visit family and it is beautiful. Unfortunately my husband doesn’t want to move there because of the winters. Don’t know if we could afford to winter in the southern states and summer upstate. At this point though I don’t want to wait until we are desperate to sell our LI home. It does seem that you have a good handle on managing this thing called RETIREMENT! Enjoy your travels! Will look forward to reading about all!

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      • Sue, the winters upstate are much, much better than the winters on Long Island. LI winters are cold and damp…to the bone! Upstate is a more dry winter. Get a home with a fireplace PLUS with the money you will be saving you can spring for a February month long Florida vacation for about $2,500. You’ll be getting that money back alone just from the savings on your taxes.
        Tell your husband to start rethinking.
        You will have a much better life up here. Tons of new retirement communities also popping up all over up here. So hubby doesn’t have to shovel or mow ever again. Plus you’ll have a pool in the summer. Snowshoeing in the winter.
        Start looking 90 to 100 miles up out from NYC and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Monroe is a nice community. Close to the city but far enough that its only a memory. LOL!
        Good luck.

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      • Sue, just one more thing to consider. don’t know where on LI you live but I see every day on the news, more and more gangs are taking over what used to be quaint little LI towns. If this should happen to you, your home may not be worth as much as you’d like.
        Just a point to consider.
        Take care.

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  2. Cindi, I thought this was a good post. I think you hit the nail on the head about all of those “FIRE” blogs. Thanks for keeping things real. The only FIRE blogger I have followed for a long time (since 2008) and think is really on the up and up is American Dreamer. I haven’t followed you as long, but admire how you share with us the ups and downs of your life. I am excited that you and your dh will be able to take your dream trip out to the Grand Canyon this fall. That is something I would like to see also.

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    • HI Chris. Thank you so much. I have to give American Dreamer a look/see. I love people who keep things real and tell it like it is. Early retirement is NOT an easy thing. Wish someone would have told me that. I would have held on a bit longer. LOL!
      We’ll be going to The Grand Canyon in the early spring. Arcadia National Park is scheduled for this fall. I’m a long time planner, what can I say. I had to call the RV park in Arizona and book next year over the phone because their website wasn’t geared up yet for 2018. As I said, I’m a long term planner. Gulp.
      Biggest thrill so far was making and paying for those reservations! My dream is finally coming true. Can’t wait.
      Thanks for your comment.

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  3. I enjoy reading these early retirees blogging FIRE information.These were not around when we were planning to escape corporate America at 55. Research and figuring out how to achieve our FIRE was a private journey. I am very much like the American Dreamer in that I was a stay at home Mother till my kids private high school tuition and college rolled around and I increase my time at work to full time. But this ended with needing to care for my parents three states away in 1998. I did a side hustle for four years in between traveling to care for them but that ended in2004 when DD finish law school and DS finish college and six months after my DH retired at 54.We knew we didn’t need this to maintain our lifestyle. The real bummer was DH only had 18 months before diagnosed with Leukemia and the horror of his ten month battle. As early retirees we had some large travel plans that we felt we could space out every two years while we pursue other interesting hobbies in between. They never happened! I totally agree you can plan all you want but life has a way of throwing you a curve ball whether retired or not. I must have the true early retiree mind set because going back to work or side hustles are not options that I consider, planning and saving all of my life means just readjustment of what I do spend and when I can afford it. Prioritizing what I feel is what I want the most. I never tried to keep up with the Jones so it is my decision how, when, where and what gets my discretionary spending. Sincerely, Lara

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    • Hi Lara. What I find most disconcerting with some of these extreme early retirement scenarios is what lengths these 35+ year olds will do in order to stop working. They call it retirement but I call it ‘dropping out of the rat race’. Living in a trailer, off the grid, at age 30 or so is not the picture perfect retirement dreams are made of. Mr. Money Mustache seems to have the right balance however: live smaller, debt free and do some side hustling jobs.
      That was so unfortunate about what happened to your husband. That must have been devastating. That’s why I always advise to enjoy your life NOW. Don’t wait. Life is long but time is fleeting.
      Thanks, as always, for your comment and for sharing a part of your life history with us.

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