Wow, we just had 3 gloriously warm and sunny days in Portland. On Saturday, the temperature hit 77 degrees in the Rose City, breaking the record by 6 degrees. The average high temperature won’t get this high until July so you can imagine how unusual this is. We went out for a walk and a picnic lunch to make the best of a beautiful Saturday. It was great to see so many people out and about enjoying the beautiful day.
Long Dark Winter
The Pacific Northwest has a well deserved reputation for our long gloomy rainy season. Nine months of dark & dank winter seemed to stretch six ways to forever when I was working in a depressing grey cubicle. Walking into the building before dawn and leaving after the sunset really sucked. (After the clock moves backward in November, the sun rises at 7am and sets around 4:30pm.) I endured this for many months every year and I am so happy I don’t have to anymore.
Spending 8+ hours in a cubicle in the middle of a big building can really warp your perception of reality, especially if you don’t get any sunlight before and after work. Portland does get a rare winter sunny day once in a while, but for some reason, it’s never on the weekend. Luckily, this past winter has been a lot better for me. Our condo has a lot of windows and even gloomy days aren’t too bad. We also spend some time outdoors even when it’s sprinkling.
Same City Different Outlook
Portland is the same city with the same weather, but it’s different now that I’m not stuck in a cubicle. A change in perspective can make a huge difference in how you perceive your situation. Personal finance in particular can be perceived in so many different ways.
Examine Your Perception of Retirement
Last week, I asked if it’s possible to retire comfortably on $32,500 income. Many Yahoo! readers think that’s unimaginable and no one can possibly retire on such a poverty level budget. However, many RB40 readers felt that wasn’t too bad at all and in fact, many are already living within that income level. People will frame it differently depending on their location, health, and current budget. I’m quite certain that if you really had to make $32,000/year work, you would be able to do it.
Early retirement also requires a different perspective. When I first started working, I never imagined that I would quit my career before 40. My family never had much money when I was growing up and I thought I’d work until was old, so I could buy whatever I want. Strangely, I never spent much money even when I was making a good income (except for traveling and good food). I guess saving money was more important to me.
How do you want to spend your life?
After many years of saving and investing, I realized that working in a job I didn’t like, even for more money, wasn’t how I want to spend my life. I could change companies, but I thought I’d try something radical instead. While leaving a good paying job during peak earning years isn’t a good financial move, for our family it was a great decision.
Our family is much happier even with less income. I’m much more relaxed and I’m spending a lot of quality time with Baby RB40. Mrs. RB40 was worried about our finances at the beginning, but it’s been almost a year and we are doing all right. Retiring early requires a different perspective and a lot of preparation. Here are some mitigating factors that helped us prepare for my early retirement.
- Frugal living. Spending less money doesn’t mean you have less fun. The best things in life are free. Living within your mean is a good start, but living frugally below your means will get regular folks like you and me to early retirement.
- Supportive spouse. Mrs. RB40 likes to work so she continues to do so. More importantly, she understands that working in a job I hated wasn’t good for our family. You have to work as a team to face these big challenges.
- Multiple sources of income. Having income from peer to peer lending, rental properties, dividend stocks, and blogging/freelancing really helps. A little income goes a long way in retirement and I think working part time or being self employed post retirement is a great idea.
- Post retirement plan. Transitioning to being a stay at home dad/blogger was quite easy for me. I am very busy every day and I don’t have any idle time at all. I would have a much more difficult transition if I didn’t have much to do. Anyone thinking about early retirement should figure out what they want to do when they don’t have to spend a lot of time working anymore.
- Willingness to change. A lot of people are stuck in their ways and aren’t willing to change. Early retirement means you’ll have to be flexible and accept some changes. The whole idea of not working a regular job anymore can be quite shocking to many people. You just have to do what’s right for you.
Seeing things from a different perspective can be very difficult when you are used to one point of view. For 16 years, I thought Portland was a dark gloomy city for 9 months because that’s what I saw, but that’s not true. You might not think early retirement is possible, but maybe you just need to look at it differently. Retirement doesn’t mean you have to quit working completely. Working part time or changing fields are valid options if you’re not happy with your career. Even if you like your job and are happy with your situation, you may find some benefit to viewing life from a different perspective.
Spring fever hits pretty hard this year. It was so nice, I didn’t get much blogging done over the weekend at all. How about you? Is it getting nicer in your part of the world?