Is Early Retirement A Terrible Idea?

Is early retirement a terrible idea?

A while back, Forbes had an interview with Jeremy and Winnie from Go Curry Cracker. They lived a modest lifestyle and invested most of their income which enabled them to retire in their 30s. They planned to travel the world and live off their investment income.  They just had a baby and are taking a short break in Taiwan until they are ready to travel again.

Of course, this being the internet age, we have some criticisms. Mainstreet.com interviewed several financial advisors and here is Why Retiring in Your 30s is a terrible idea for anyone. Early retirement isn’t for everyone and it is predictable that financial advisors are against this. They have been trained to help people retire at 65 and they can’t imagine the alternative. Financial advisors are the last people who would support early retirement because you’re picking their pockets. Instead of hiring financial advisors for 20+ years to help manage your finances, you are taking control and planning to retire in your 30s and 40s.

Why early retirement is a terrible idea

Let’s go through some of their concerns and see if I can make some rebuttals.

You are not adding value to anyone – One of the main concerns is if you can retire by 40, then you must be special. You are letting your talent and skills go to waste by shutting down early. You are depriving the world of your special talent and that’s just unconscionable.

Come on, unless you are a genius like Steven Hawking, you are replaceable. The world will go on even if you retire early. Actually, by retiring early, you are clearing the way for smarter and hungrier young folks. There are only a few truly irreplaceable people and guess what – progress will continue even after they leave. Everyone likes to think their work is important, but the modern world is set up so most of us are just a cog in the machine. A financial advisor should know this because there are plenty of financial advisors out there.

As for adding value, I am adding a huge amount of value to myself and my family. Our quality of life is vastly improved now that I’m not an engineer anymore. Life isn’t all about money, productivity, and efficiency. I wasn’t a genius engineer anyway; there are plenty of people smarter than me.

Retirement period is too long – Normally, retirement can last 20 to 40 years. If you retire in your 30s, then you’ll need to add 20 years to that. That is a long time and life can take many drastic turns in 50 years. You might have a child or two, get divorced, get remarried, or became ill. You can’t plan for all possibilities. Can your retirement portfolio last 50+ years?

It’s true that life isn’t static and a lot can happen in 50 years. Our investment looks like it could support us indefinitely according to the 4% rule, but we can’t know for sure. However, we don’t make a plan and stick to it for 50 years without making any changes. We will continue to evaluate our finances every year and react accordingly. If you are smart enough to figure out how to retire by 40, then you can figure out what to do when life throws you a curve ball. Divorce is a biggie, though. You’re on our own for that one. Anyway, those kinds of life changes occur whether you’re retired or not. I’m sure I would have a lot more health problems if I continued working in a stressful job that I hated.

You will be bored – Yes, some people will be bored out of their minds after they retire. Many people identify themselves through their job and retirement can be a difficult adjustment. This is a good thing to find out in your 30s. If you can’t handle retirement, then you can go back to work. It’s much more difficult to go back to work when you’re in your 60s. Personally, I haven’t had a single boring day since I quit my job almost 3 years ago. I’m sure most early retirees feel the same.

You won’t be able to keep up with your friends’ and family’s spending habit – Your friends and other family members will get promotions and earn raises. You’ll be left behind on the spending curve and you’ll be sorry. This shows you how financial advisor thinks. They cater to the mainstream and it is our culture to keep up with the Joneses.

Early retirees need to think differently and we eschew the Joneses. We make financial independence our mission and that require a different trajectory. We need to spend much less than we earn so we can invest our saving. Keeping with others isn’t a big concern for us. If your mission is to keep up with the Joneses, you will never reach financial independence. There will always be someone who is richer than you (unless you’re Bill Gates or Warren Buffett.) They are giving most of their money to charity so beat that.

Working keeps you occupied and prevents you from spending money – “Unless you plan to sit at home idly once you retire, your expenditures might grow in retirement rather than shrink.” This is another display of rigid thinking by the financial advisors.

It’s true that your expenses may increase when you retire early. Health insurance in particular can be a big expense for early retirees. However, working isn’t cheap either. It takes money to look professional. You need clothes, a nice vehicle, and possibly time spent in a salon or barbershop. You spend most of your time working so you need to hire services to do a lot of stuff for you. Many families eat out or buy convenient meals because they don’t have time to cook. Work also ties you down to a particular location and for most of us, it’s a location with high cost of living.

When you don’t work anymore, you are free to live anywhere you want. Jeremy and Winnie had a much higher quality of life in Mexico and they don’t spend as much as when they were in Seattle. We are still in Portland, but I hope to live in Thailand or another more affordable country for half of the year when we both retire. If you are creative, you won’t spend much more money after you retire.

Early Retirement isn’t for everyone

Early retirement really isn’t for everyone. Our culture pushes us to work hard and spend most of our earnings. Financial advisors mean well, but they are part of the machine. It’s their job to tell you to work until you’re 65 so they can earn some commission. If you want to get out of the rat race, you have to think out of the box. You need to work hard early on and invest a significant chunk of your income so you can take advantage of compounding. You have to be adaptable for the rest of your life so you can deal with surprises. Most importantly, you need to take control of your finance and make financial independence your mission. Financial advisor can be very helpful, but sometime you need to ignore good advices if you want to go your own way.

Do you think it’s a good idea to retire in your 30s?

Related post

Can you really retire for 60 years? Paul and Vicki Terhorst retired 30 years ago in their 30s. They seems to be doing just fine.

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

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55 thoughts on “Is Early Retirement A Terrible Idea?”

  1. It’s never too early to retire! If you have your financial ducks in a row, then why not? Why stay in a job that makes you miserable? If you are capable of living a life outside of the 9-5, then do what makes you happy. Live your life for joy, not a “steady paycheck.”

    Reply
  2. Adding my two cents a little late, but all I can say is WOW, what a post and comments. Joe, you should submit this post (in edited form) to the NY Times.
    I recently read a Linked-In post from a long time, successful career woman who, very honestly laid the whole work/career situation for many out in honest, plain language. All the sacrifices she had made to herself and family, for a 2-3% raise each year. Interesting.
    Great comments here. Love the ones about, your co-workers don’t even remember you after a few years. (Out of sight, out of mind). Or if you think your boss, or his boss really cares about you, you’re sadly mistaken. (They are watching out for themselves- #1!) Got a good laugh from those.
    Money guru Jane Bryant Quinn concludes in her latest book-most investors do very well on their own. I’d add, just watch out for those corner storefront “FA’s”. They love to sell their products, buy/sell you stocks, move your money around to make commissions. Stick w/a
    fee only advisor if you really need one. Great post!

    Reply
  3. I just want to add one more comment. There is just no way, in my opinion, that retirement can be “Too Long.” Retirement is not like a vacation. You don’t just go back to school or work when it’s over, YOU DIE! Do you want to remain a slave until a few short years of old age and then die???? Man oh Man, there are sooooo many interesting sights to see, music to hear, art to view, books to read, good people to interact with. Why spend your life at some darn miserable job when you can be happy doing fun and interesting things? The whole idea of retirement lasting Too Long is just ridiculous.

    Reply
  4. Let me take the opposite side on your points, hopefully without getting too emotionally charged up. I think some people are better off exercising their unique talents and passion if they align perfectly with their occupations. I’m considered very good at my specialty, and my opinion carries a lot of weight throughout my organization. Outside of work I don’t get taken nearly as seriously. I for one am glad people like Michelangelo and Mozart produced as much as they did during their lifetimes.

    If you retire in your 30s the uncertainty window for financial security widens, so while I would not say it’s impossible, I agree with reducing the safe withdrawal rate below the customary 3% level that is used for 30-year horizons. I saw an article by William Bernstein suggesting something like 1.5%.

    Boredom is subjective and some occupations are not very stimulating. I’m lucky my job involves solving puzzles, which is something I really enjoy. Recent health research suggests that age-related mental deterioration can be slowed by cognitive exercise, and many kinds of work activities can fit the bill. Also some work environments can widen your social circle if you’re so inclined. My point is that the “work is killing you” meme is being oversold (in my opinion).

    On Jones, is the pot calling the kettle black? Many decades ago Thorstein Veblen described what was then the holy grail– conspicuous leisure. After WWII this was replaced by conspicuous consumption which is our current embodiment of Jones. Now all I see on the ER boards is people are bragging about how early they stopped working, so perhaps the pendulum has swung back a century?

    My work keeps me occupied, and it certainly reduces spending of my own money. But then some jobs allow us to spend our employer’s money, like in expense accounts. Where I work several financially astute managers took advantage of our generous expat terms to cash in on years-long foreign assignments. They got the first-class travel for their entire families on the company dime and this allowed them to significantly accelerate their retirement savings rate. Although obviously they were in no hurry to leave.

    Reply
    • Of course, if you are happy and found your place in the world, then that’s great. I wouldn’t have quit my job if it was still the right fit for me.
      I don’t know much about conspicuous leisure in the old days. I thought that was only for the very rich.
      I’m very happy to hear that you enjoy your work. The world would be a happier place if everyone find their perfect work.

      Reply
      • You’re correct Joe. This person is obviously on a high rung of the employment ladder. People like that often have to be forced into retirement kicking and screaming. If you have great working conditions, get treated with the utmost respect, and travel first class at company expense, why retire? Just so that you can become a has been? I firmly believe in that concept of the carrot and the stick that they talk about so much in business classes. People, for the most part, are only nice to you when they expect reward for doing so or fear punishment for not doing so. Once that is gone, that royal treatment fades away rather quickly. I once asked a doctor how she felt when she was away from work and people just treated her like just another ordinary person. She glared at me. I asked her again. She told me in a cold tone that if I asked her one more time that I’d have to leave. Why would you speculate that she was so touchy???

        Reply
  5. I retired at 39 and I felt the “letting your talent and skills go to waste” portion of the argument. In my old job I was the sounding board for many of the ideas that our offices generated. I had a different way of thinking then the rest of my counterparts and my insights often sculpted policy for the better. I was also less career oriented than many of my peers. I spent most of my time raising the profile of subordinates instead of seeking recognition for myself.

    As for the Joneses…I have always hated their way of life. My wife’s cousin in a successful dentist. He owns several practices in the surrounding area. Every time I see him he is driving a different car. Always trading at a loss after driving 10K miles. In one year he went through 20+ vehicles. His conspicuous consumption is disgusting to me. I think about where all the money he wastes comes from. Thousands of patients paying outrageous costs to a person that is wasting their hard earned money. He bragged about getting a woman $20K in credit to pay for dental work. She will be paying for the BMW he traded off after 2 months for the rest of her life…disgusting!!!

    Reply
    • Hi Mike,

      My family was almost completely made up of lawyers. I am a close cousin of Dabney Carr, a lawyer and Thomas Jefferson’s best friend. I told my mom when I was a teenager that I did not want to follow in her and the other family member’s footsteps. She then begged me to become a dentist. Back then, dentists had a high suicide rate, got little respect and only made about 2/3 of what a doctor made. Between that and the specter of spending my life working in people’s mouths, I declined.
      This guy should do what I did years ago, rent cars. I went about 18 months without buying a car. I rented a different car every four weeks. It was a blast. He could then save some money. When there are big economic declines, one of the first things people cut out is expensive dental work.
      I have noticed what seems to be a significant decline in the interest that many professionals exhibit in their clients/patients welfare. The often seem much more interested in their own wealth and status.

      Reply
  6. I scanned most of the comments so I wont rehash what has already been said. The thing I want to add is, Do employers really care about employees anymore?

    Now this is a generalization, but most employers will cut employees without missing a beat. Everyone now in their 20s-40s grew up being taught that we should get a good job and work there forever. Retire at 65 with a pension and live out your golden years happy.

    I am an engineer and the last 3 companies I have worked for have had layoffs. Its business… its probably necessary. However, “retiring” early, meaning that you are financially independant, means that if layoffs occur, you are prepared and aren’t stressed out like the rest of the company.

    Just some food for thought on the topic 🙂

    Reply
    • The days of working for one company your entire life and eventually getting a defined benefit pension are long gone. Anyone working in the corporate world needs an exit strategy because odds are they will need it and FI is a a great escape pod to have in time of need. Corps today are more focused on their share price than the feelings of their employees. Sad but true!

      Reply
  7. I won’t make it to early retirement by my 30’s, but I will by 45. I think the counterarguments are pretty poor. Everyone should know that age 65 or later is not required to be reached before you can retire.

    Many people will continue to work until they can’t anymore and some don’t want to save at a higher rate to retire sooner. That is okay, I just think the media needs to try and ruin the perception of a viable life choice!

    Reply
    • I retired at 41 years old. It was a spur of the moment thing and I had 4 kids at home and almost nothing saved. I came very, very close to flaming out financially, but things eventually came together. I’ve gotten all four kids and my wife through college, have the house and cars and credit cards all paid off, and money in the bank. I think that a lot of things in life just come down to luck or maybe Heavenly Intervention if you believe in such a thing.

      Reply
  8. As the main focus of my financial plan is to retire in my 30’s I think it’s a great idea. If the worst case scenario is to come out of early retirement to work again, that doesn’t sound utterly terrible. Also similar to your plan Joe, I would like to use my retirement accounts for the typical retirement age of 59.5-65 years of age. I think it prevents some of the risk involved with starting to work again at 45 after all of your investments crashed, you got bored, etc.

    I have come to the conclusion that I have no ambition to be the CFO of a company so if I had to get back in as the mid-level guy, my pride and ego could take it. I don’t think my mind could take working 20 plus years wondering if I should have retired early.

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  9. We almost couldn’t believe that piece even got published, but, you know, clickbait. What a preposterous idea, that we shouldn’t retire in our 30s if we can. And with no real arguments behind it other than some guy thinks it’s a bad idea.

    If we were all going to retire early and then mooch off society, that’s one thing. But we’ve all worked hard, paid our taxes, and saved up enough to be self-sufficient. (Plus we’ll keep paying taxes on things we use, like gas and purchased goods, and some income tax.)

    We wrote a post last week about how our situation (2 1/2 years from ER) doesn’t fit into the standard financial planning box, and as a result planners are trying to push us to save a lot more for retirement, because they refuse to calculate our “needs” based on what we actually spend, and instead can only compute what we currently earn (which any ER aspirant knows is completely unrelated to what you actually live on). Plus they want us to have way more life insurance, which is also ridiculous, as we have plenty, and are on the verge of lifelong self-sufficiency, so truly need almost no life insurance. But planners just can’t seem to deviate from the norm by and large! It’s so sad, because for sure plenty of us ERers would be happy to get some validation from professionals who’ve seen the light.

    Reply
    • The good planners understand that your annual spend rate is what really matters and how that might be affected positively/negatively going forward. Life insurance is a risk mitigation tool and once you achieve financial sufficiency where is the risk?

      Reply
  10. I like your rebuttal to that article. I think when and how people retire is different for each person; there is no one ‘right time’ to retire. I had no desire to retire early at all up until last year. I have always loved to work, I love my profession and I always said I’d never retire but I’d “die with my boots on”. But while I still love the work I do, the changes in the profession, government policies and the organisation are completely out of sync with my values and my job is changing so much that it’s almost unrecognizable from the job I originally took. I could work for myself ( have done that in the past) but the huge increase government regulation & paperwork make that very unappealing. Also I am finding that I no longer have the energy and wellbeing that I’ve always had – I’m exhausted. So now I’m on mission to retire in the next few years – a total change of mind 🙂 So theres no ‘right’ time – just the time that is right for each person.

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  11. Since my wife is a financial advisor and the fact that I work for her I felt compelled to write something in their defense. Not everyone needs an FA especially the people on this site but some do. Some people for whatever reason will not invest the time required to create and follow a financial plan. Just like knowing what you need to do to stay healthy, eat right and exercise, for whatever reason some people just won’t do it. Those are the type of people that might need a FA. But I should add in choosing a FA you need to find one that offers you more than just the investing piece. You need one that will teach you about financial independence and the reasons why you should get there as soon as possible. Prior to getting there your FA should sit down with you and help design a customized lifestyle to cover the years ahead. For some that lifestyle could include a degree of work and some people need help in finding what would best suit their needs. Also a FA should serve as a sounding board, someone a person can bounce ideas off to ensure an optimal outcome.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment. It’s good to know some FA aim to teach their clients about financial independence. That should be their main objective.

      Reply
  12. I think all those reasons are looking for your average Joe’s perspective. In order to retire early in your 20’s or 30’s, you really need a different mentally than the average Joe’s out there. I disagree that you are not adding value to the society if you retire early. You can choose to volunteer and help out with your community. Don’t tell me that’s not adding value to the society.

    Reply
  13. The sooner you can retire, the better. I guess it comes down to your definition of retirement as well. I my case, this would mean be financially free to do what I want.
    I will still work, but on things I really want to work. SO, I keep contributing (But I am very replaceable, no worries)
    I won’t be bore, as there are so many things to discover in the world.
    Luckily, I am not too worried about the money my friends and family spend.

    All in all, for me, the sooner, the better

    Reply
  14. Joe,

    You know where I stand on this issue since I already quit my full-time job the day after turning 32.

    The whole point about robbing humanity of some kind of unique/rare talent is perhaps the biggest joke of all. We already know that this is highly, highly unlikely. But what about vacating a job that you don’t really enjoy? Does that not help humanity? Our unemployment rate across the globe is chronically high. Does “creating” a job for someone else in line not help humanity immensely by allowing someone else to fill those shoes and put food on their table? Imagine if more people retired/become FI in their 30s/40s. Imagine how many more jobs would open up. That’s real change.

    Best regards.

    Reply
  15. I definitely won’t outsource my finances to some financial adviser. No one is going to take better care of my money than myself. I think retiring whenever you are comfortable with it is a perfect time. For some people that’s 30 and others it’s 65. You just have to do what is right for you and weigh the pros and cons of the risks you are going to take. For me I say earlier is the better while you still have time and youth to take on your passions full bore!

    Reply
  16. I read the article criticizing those retiring in their 30s and found it uninformed and annoying. I’m glad you wrote a rebuttal. The argument that you’re not adding value is utterly ridiculous. And the one about not being able to keep up with the Joneses…well the early retirees already chose not to keep up, that’s how they got to retire early! I understand there are risks to retiring early, but I think the author doesn’t truly understand the early retiree/FI is all about.

    Reply
  17. As others have mentioned above, the mere idea that you are more useful for mankind as a corporate drone in your 9-to-5 job, than if you had time to think for yourself, is totally stupid!

    Think of what useful things you can do for the rest of the world if all of a sudden you have an extra 40 hours a week to do it? I’m pretty sure I’m not critical to the future of humanity at my job trying to get more automated systems in place to sell crap to more people.

    Yes, a few people, in the right work environment, could be essential to important discoveries (Einstein?). But hopefully these people are smart enough to do what they want in the right environment.

    More than Early Retirement, I think the point is Financial independence: reach FI to do whatever you want in life. That “whatever” can be a job, if you think that’s where you belong.

    Reply
  18. I retired going on 19 years ago and I’ve not been bored. It’s really good to be able to travel and do things in your 40’s that are harder to do or just aren’t as much fun in later years.

    You do fall behind your peers financially. Where I worked, you got twice yearly cost of living raises and a gerneral wage increase every year, plus step increases. As a retiree, all I get are once yearly cost of living increases, if I get that. Plus, increases in health and life insurance premiums take a much bigger percentage bite from my check now. On top of that, I only get paid once per month. If I go over budget for some reason, a month can seem like a very long time.

    Time does go faster when you’re having fun instead of being stuck in the rat race. I’ve been retired almost as long as I was employed and the time in retirement has blown by extremely fast, especially compared to the 19 years of Hell that I spent working at a job that I detested from the very first day.

    Reply
  19. Interesting thoughts. I won’t be able to retire in my 30s because I made some dumb money moves in the past, but I’m still hoping to retire early. But I don’t know that I’ll actually ever 100% retire. I could see myself being one of those people who’s bored in retirement.

    Reply
  20. I think the article on retiring in your 30s is a bad idea makes one really bad assumption — that retiring=not working or doing anything productive. Retirement is FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE — it is all about working when and if YOU WANT TO and not when you have to. For myself, once I understood that subtle difference, I understood the amount of freedom that FI provides.

    Reply
    • That’s a great distinction. It’s a bit tricky and most people aren’t willing to work at it. Good luck!

      Reply
  21. I can only hope that 50 or 60 years from now, somebody will summarize my life by saying,
    “He sure was a disappointment”

    Then I’ll know I did something right

    Reply
    • I think you’ll have to elaborate on that with a blog post.
      Why do you want to be a disappointment? 🙂
      Hope you’re loving being a parent!

      Reply
      • Parenting is awesome! And exhausting 🙂

        It’s not that I want to be a disappointment, it is that I don’t care about the opinions or expectations of others. As such, to people like the author of the article you linked to, we will be huge disappointments. I’m perfectly OK with that

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  22. While you can argue about whether outright retirement makes sense, that obviously depends on your ability to save money, live frugally, and avoid boredom outside of a working environment, you can certainly push for twilighting a career.

    High tech engineering work arcs tend to have sell-by dates due to push from below and tools rot, but that really isn’t what I’m thinking about.

    As you age, your ability to take orders (especially capricious ones) tends to go away. Failing advancement to upper management, VP slots and the like, your abilty to work for 30 year olds tends to be a limiting factor. Also, as your main value will tend to veer towards domain knowledge rather than hard work or latest/greatest practices, the temptation is to become glued to a job.

    So, there are plenty of reason to bow out after a couple of decades, but I’d say that the strongest one is that if you are in your 40’s, you have a much greater chance of building a new career from scratch. Hopefully that career involves self employment with direct retail customer interaction…ie., not simply becoming a consultant for the kind of company you just left.

    Doing the same kind of job at a professional level for 45 years strikes me as a mind numbing experience, regardless of your abilities as a memory designer.

    Reply
    • That’s why engineers should have an exit strategy. If the corporate environment doesn’t work out, then you will have a plan B. If it does, then you’re still perfectly fine. Unfortunately, nobody ever taught us that in school. Even mentors don’t tell you this except for a few rare cases.

      Reply
  23. Well of course it’s a good idea! As long as you have a plan and are okay with the risks involved.

    The sad truth is that many customers of these financial advisers will never be able to retire early because they don’t save enough and they lose a third or a half of their real return due to fees and crappy investments. How many advisers would tell you the truth and say go get a vanguard index fund at 0.09%?

    Reply
    • Even people who saved enough will be discouraged by the financial advisors. They are very conservative and it’s in their best interest to keep you working, IMO.

      Reply
  24. Definitely agree this isn’t for everyone, but for some people the idea just worms its way into their brain and makes a little home there 🙂

    I prefer the expression ‘work optional’ to ‘retired’, as I can’t imagine not working, but definitely want it to be on my own terms. FU money, as JLCollins puts it…

    Reply
  25. One of the main reasons I don’t believe in hiring a financial adviser is because they wouldn’t understand my mindset of early retirement. It’s totally possible to retire early and live an amazing productive life and we have people like you and Jeremy to show us the way.

    Reply
    • Everyone who want to retire early will be disappointed after talking with a financial advisor. You are not their target audience and they are not trained to help you. That’s why you need to take control of your finance. Thanks!

      Reply
      • I would expect a financial advisor to be totally supportive of early retirement. It takes a lot of money saved up to retire that early, invested for a long time. More assets under management = more fees for the advisor.

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  26. I think the concept that early retirement is depriving society of our usefulness is completely insane. The assumption is being made that an individual’s talent and creative genius is best utilized by their traditional 9 – 5 job. As you mentioned there are few people whose work is truly revolutionary that withdrawing from the workforce will deprive mankind to a noticeable extent. All retiring means is you are deciding how to allocate your own time.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if on average an early retiree’s contributions to society are greater than what they would have been had he or she stayed at a normal job. The world is full of financially independent people who have changed the world after leaving traditional jobs. I would argue that coaching a kid’s soccer team may provide more value to society as a whole than being a drone in front of a computer screen in corporate America.

    Even the truly genius among us would better serve society outside of a traditional job. One of my favorite American inventors, Lonnie Johnson is a perfect example. He had an amazing career before developing the Super Soaker, and with his financial independence thanks to the super soaker he started his own company and is making huge strides in battery and solar technology.

    Reply
    • And I imagine the people who really are doing revolutionary work are most likely workaholics who love their jobs, and therefore not in the pool of people considering early retirement, or even ever retiring. In other words, if you’re even considering retiring early, chances are your job isn’t saving the world, and you know it.

      When one of my favorite bosses retired (at normal age), he made the comment on his way out the door that come the following Monday, the office would continue to function as if he had never been there. And surprise, it did. To the extent that he was missed, it was because he was a really great guy, not because of any special work he did. And now the only people there who remember him at all (he retired a couple of years ago) are the handful left who worked directly with him. Most of the office has turned over since then. Some legacy.

      I obviously can’t speak for everyone, but one of the reasons I want to retire early is precisely because I know my job contributes little, if anything, of real value to the world* (or even to my employer) and I’m tired of wasting my time doing unimportant things. Now, I might spend my retirement doing other unimportant things, but at least they’ll be self-directed things that interest me, rather than boring things someone else is making me do.

      *My coworker, who obviously understands this, is fond of saying that no one will die if we don’t do our jobs.

      Reply
      • Exactly! I used to say – nobody is going to die if I don’t come in tomorrow, I’m not a doctor. 🙂
        It’s great to understand that you job isn’t the most important thing in the world because you can make plan accordingly. Most people think they are irreplaceable, but the truth isn’t as flattering. Only a few people remember me in my old office and that’s only because they are following this blog.

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    • Great comment! I think you’re spot on. If you are doing revolutionary work, then you probably love your job and won’t quit anytime soon. Most of us aren’t doing that kind of work, though. I’ll have to read up on Lonnie Johnson. Thanks!
      I hope to contribute more to society as well and will be coming out with an invention soon. 😉

      Reply
      • Joe, but you are doing revolutionary work by providing great insight to retiring early! I have to admit when I talk about early retirement my co-workers laugh at the idea. Most think I am crazy and don’t think it is even possible.

        My job is definitely replaceable, but if I don’t do my job people will die.

        Reply
  27. I’ve noticed that many people who are working towards retiring early also plan on working part time during their retirement period. Many are self employed, write a blog, a book etc. So my question is are they really retiring early or have they found something they love to do, that will keep them engaged, make them a little money, and give them the flexibility/freedom that they cannot find in the corporate world. Let’s look at Ernie Z as an example who is a role model of mine. Is he really retired? I really don’t like the word semi-retired either you are retired or your not so what is he?

    Reply
    • I love Ernie’s lifestyle. He used to work a few hours per day and now it’s down to a few hours per week.
      Retirement really is the right fit. I’m not sure what the right word is. How about mostly retired? 🙂

      Reply
  28. I think it’s a fantastic idea if you can do it. I am only sorry I didn’t figure that out years ago when I was younger and spending all of my money. Now, I’m just hoping to be able to retire at 65, or at least just scale back, as we own our own business. I also think it’s a radical new idea that people just don’t want to accept is possible and judge it negatively only because they didn’t figure it out earlier. I say go for it, Joe!

    Reply
    • Good luck! Starting your own business is a great idea. If you can figure out a part time business that will keep you busy and help pay the bill, then you’re golden. Thanks for the compliment.

      Reply
  29. I think if you can retire early, then it’s probably a good decision. No need to extend the date of your retirement because of any of these excuses, you just never know what may happen later in life!

    Reply
  30. Why retire in your 30s? Why not retire in your 20s if you can pull it off? Fact is, you are never too young to retire. The following two paragraphs come from my “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free (Retirement Wisdom That You Won’t Get from Your Financial Advisor).”

    Ultimately, it’s best not to allow culturally grounded norms and values to shape your expectations and beliefs about the “right” time to retire. Think about all the things you have put on the back burner for so many years. Voluntary early retirement gives you a chance to pursue new areas of study, work part-time in an area that interests you, or move to a warmer climate. It’s a great opportunity to pursue your goals and dreams while you are still young, energetic, and healthy enough to enjoy them. In addition, retirement may be your last shot at being the person you would like to be.

    Retiring too early doesn’t pose too serious a problem. If you are in your 20s, 30s, or 40s, you can always go back to full-time work and give retirement another go sometime later. On the other hand, retiring too late means you don’t get another chance to do it right. Put another way, if you put it off too long, upon your retirement you may find out that the best time to pursue your dreams and enjoy life to the fullest was twenty years ago.

    Reply
    • I think 30s is a much better time to retire than in your 20s. You still don’t know what you’re doing in your 20s. 🙂
      It’s much better to find out that you don’t like retirement in your 30s and 40s. That will give you a lot of time to figure out a plan.

      Reply
      • Joe, at ANY age the key thing is to be retiring (moving on?) TO something and not just retiring FROM a job. You’ve got to have something to keep you engaged and look forward to. If you do (and a new business certainly would qualify) then you’re going to have a much better chance of enjoying earlier retirement and making it work.

        Reply

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