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Don’t Wait Until Retirement to Be Happy


Don't wait until retirement to be happyLast time, Adam and Jane gave us an update on their early retirement situation. Both of them have been ready to quit their job for a long time and they are just hanging on to shore up their personal savings. They were planning to work until they are 55 so their pensions will be fully vested. However, Jane will be laid off at the end of 2016 (with a very nice severance package) and she will blaze their path to early retirement. Unfortunately, Adam still has to work 3 more years to receive his full pension. His job is becoming even more stressful because his team has shrunk so much. He is the only person left supporting his software, 24×7. Ouch, that sounds very painful.

In a stressful situation like that, I firmly believe you have to do something to lessen the pressure right away. It’s not healthy to hate your job because that’s how you spend at least 50% of your waking hours. I loathed my corporate job before I quit and the bad vibe permeated all facets of life even when I wasn’t at the office. The stress impacted my physical and mental health, relationship, finances, and even sleep. You can probably endure the stressful situation for a few years to meet a financial goal, but you need to have a finish line in sight. You can’t keep going for 10 or 20 years in a stressful job because it won’t work out well. Adam and Jane have a lot of tenacity. They have been enduring their jobs for a long time, but Adam still has 3 years left to go. I couldn’t endure that kind of stress for more than a few years.

My last year on the job

Actually, I enjoyed my corporate job when I first started. However, over the years, it became more stressful and I progressively liked it less and less. My last year was unbearable and I should have left long before enduring that kind of mental anguish. Every day was a foggy haze. I should have started negotiating for a severance package and looked for a different job instead of sticking around. It was difficult to think clearly when you’re under constant pressure, though. I kept counting down the days and pushed through it.

When I quit my engineering career, life instantly became much better. I was able to spend a lot more time with our kid and work on this blog. These days, my life is mostly stress free. I can sleep through the night and I have a good relationship with my wife and kid. Sure, I don’t make as much money, but I don’t need to spend a lot of money to relieve the pressure either. I am feeling a lot healthier now because the physical and mental problems are gone. That’s priceless.

Don’t wait until retirement to be happy

I call this blog Retire by 40, but it really should be Enjoy Life by 40 or something like that. I retired from my corporate career 4 years ago, but I don’t plan to stop working anytime soon. I’m busy every day and I enjoy 99% of it. Being a stay at home dad takes up a lot of time. It’s been getting easier since RB40Jr turned 5, but I still can’t get much done when he’s around. Like most 5 year old boys, he is full of questions. So I work on the blog when he’s in school and after he went to bed.

The point I’m trying to make is that you don’t have to wait until you’re 60 to enjoy life. Holding down a stressful job that you hate is no way to live. It’s better to find an alternative and enjoy life now. Who knows what will happen in 10 or even 5 years. I knew I’d have a major breakdown if I stuck around much longer at my old job. You might feel like you have to keep working in your job, but there are other choices. Here are just some ideas if you really can’t handle it anymore.

  • Find a better company to work for. The job market is a lot better now and you might be able to find a better work environment. Some companies have terrible corporate cultures and you don’t want to be stuck there for years.
  • Change your group. Sometime changing jobs within the same company can improve your professional life, too. I changed groups a few times at my old company and life improved with new faces and challenges. This is a good option if you have some “golden handcuffs.”
  • Change your career. You can go back to school, interview for a different job, or even start a small business. You don’t have to stay in the same field your whole life. Most of us choose our career when we were just teenagers. People change and your career might not be the right fit anymore.
  • Cut back to half time. I don’t think this option is available to many people, but check with your HR department to see if it’s possible. This is the ideal option for Mrs. RB40, but it’s not available from her current employer. She probably will need to find a new employer that will let her work 20 hours per week.
  • Side hustle. Use your spare time to figure out how to make money with your hobby. I started Retire by 40 while I was working full-time. It gave me an outlet and actually made my full-time job more bearable. Everyone needs a little passion in their life.
  • Become Financially Independent. This is a long term project for most people, but I think it’s a lot more achievable than you think. Most people with high income have high expense rates. If they can reduce it down to the basic living expense, I bet many of them can quit their job in just a few years especially if they have been saving for a long time.
  • Stay healthy. Often, we let our health go when work becomes too stressful. I had many health issues due to stress, but I tried to stay healthy by exercising during lunch. I also meditated and practiced yoga to help calm my mind. These healthy habits can be very helpful when life is full of stress. I don’t think I could have gone through the last year of full-time work without exercise and yoga.

I know it is difficult to make a change at work. However, if you have many years left, you can’t stay in a stressful environment. The stress will invade all facets of life and everyone around you will be unhappy. The money and/or work satisfaction isn’t worth putting your family through the wringer for years. You can’t wait for retirement to be happy; you need to find a way to make things work now. However, if you only have a few years left, it might be worth it to push through the difficult period like Adam plans to do. As for me, I am much happier and healthier after 4 years of early retirement. Money doesn’t mean that much to us after the basic necessities are taken care of. Family time, health, and a stress free environment are much more important to us.

Are you putting off happiness until retirement? I think that’s a mistake unless you only have a few years left. Be happy now because the future is uncertain.

*updated July 2016

Image by Evil Erin

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, the job became too stressful and Joe retired from his engineering career to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. Today, he blogs about financial independence, early retirement, investing, and living a frugal lifestyle.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is increasing his investment in real estate with CrowdStreet. He can invest in projects across the U.S. and diversify his real estate portfolio. There are many interesting projects available so sign up and check them out.

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help DIY investors analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.

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{ 65 comments… add one }
  • Kevin August 2, 2016, 1:28 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for quite awhile now. So much, in fact that I’ve set a goal to “retire” by 40 too. I’ve been so focused on setting up investments, cutting expenditures, etc, that it’s easy to forget you still need to enjoy the present. Thanks for the reminder:) I also went to CMIS for highschool from 1998-2003 so I don’t think we overlapped but I was surprised when I saw that reading one of your posts last year.

    • retirebyforty August 3, 2016, 2:44 pm

      Hi, I did not go to CMIS. I went to Montfort when I was in grade school. CMIS sounds like a good school.
      Good luck with early retirement! 🙂

  • Finance Solver July 31, 2016, 4:24 pm

    I’ve been hearing about how stressful jobs are for higher uppers and I’ve always wondered, what were some things that made it stressful, if I may ask? I just started working this month so I’m full of optimism and the illusion of “happy work” but I don’t know what might change that could make it so stressful. You don’t have to tell me the specific details or anything, but is there general things that you could say?

    • retirebyforty July 31, 2016, 11:00 pm

      I think it’s mostly family. When I got older, I wanted to spend more time with family and not at work all the time. Working 60 hours/week was fine when I was in my 20s, but I couldn’t do it when I got a bit older. The stress also comes from the company pushing me to take on more leadership responsibilities. I’m not a good leader and I don’t like leading. Good luck with your career. Some people last longer than others. You might be a good fit for the corporate job, who knows.

      • Finance Solver August 7, 2016, 10:32 am

        Thanks for the reply and letting me know! It’s always nice to hear other people’s perspectives especially from the ones who have experienced it already. I’m trying to get into early retirement with an option to work if I want to or not so you’re right, who knows what will happen by the time I hit my 40’s.

      • Xyz from Financial Path. August 10, 2016, 9:05 am

        The biggest gain in happiness, for me, came from simply having a goal. Once I knew what I was working for and looking forward to my goal of early retirement, I became much happier in life.

  • STE July 31, 2016, 6:48 am

    Hi RB40,
    I learn a lot form your web and the way your handle your life after retirement. I’m also retired 2 years ago but at age of 44, few years later than u 🙂
    I enjoyed most after retirement is the family bonding with my kids ,, I have 2 daughter ,,
    Also , quite similar as you , one of the reason for my early retirement was the ” health issue ” that streeful job causing me to hv high blood pressure and migrant from time to time ,, my sugar level also increased due to excessive drinking,,
    Now I have more time to exercise and time with family ..
    Cheers ! Let’ s enjoy our life of early retirement ,,, in a more meaningful way.

    • retirebyforty July 31, 2016, 10:57 pm

      I love living with less stress. Spending more time with my family is really good too. 🙂 Good luck!

  • Adam and Jane July 28, 2016, 10:41 am


    Great suggestions! I would like to add Telecommuting.

    When I was allowed telecommute several years ago, it made my life less stressful eliminating a 2.5 hrs round trip commute. But I was more accessible when there were problems. In the past before Telecommuting, when work called I would say I am in transit and asked them to call the next admin. I really love working from home especially when there is bad weather.

    You are right in saying to try to be happy now. In the last year, we focused on our health, eating better and exercising instead of thinking about work. We are re-programming our brains to not focus on work as much. Without kids and both of us being type A perfectionists, work is our priority. Well NO MORE since 2009!!! Our priority was to become FI.
    In 2009, we heard rumours of future re-orgs and I feared a certain manager. I told my wife if I report to that mgr in future then I would have to quit. In 2009, we started buying muni bonds because I was motivated by fear! By 2013, our passive tax free income from munis was 53K enough to cover expenses of 40K per year but not enough for medical. That mgr picked on one of his employees each year and gave them a bad review resulting in NO raise and NO bonus. He did this for 3 years straight to 3 people. Yes, I feared him!

    In 2013, the rumours came true. There was a power struggle at the top and there were MASSIVE re-orgs! Our team will be merged with the mgr I feared. As fate would have it, that bad mgr was FIRED JUST before we merged! Life was OK after the re-org but we kept buying more muni bonds and still being frugal. We save 85% of our incomes.

    When we reached FI in 2014, a load was lifted from our shoulders. That was when we didn’t care what happens at work anymore. Our team had 6 mgrs in 2 years. One of my prior mgr that we love, asked me to learn a new sotware so that it looks good on the review. I told him in a nice way that we had FU money and I ain’t doing it because I am stressed enough with my current workload. He said what would I do if I was let go. I told him that we are FI and that I would retire at age 50 if given a package. He was shocked. That felt good! Although, he was 61 and he still needed to work to increase his pension. He told me that he has a lot of hobbies and toys. This year that lucky guy got a severance package. I am so happy for him.

    Some ask why do people work in a job they hate? I don’t know too many people that love their jobs. Some people hate their jobs stay because it pays well. Some people love their jobs but they dont’t make enough money. It is great that you have a job you love and if it pays well that you hit the jackpot!

    I love computers as a teenager and I majored in Computer Science in college. In the beginning, I love my job. I love programming. As RB40 mentioned, your job changes. Mgmt may want you to manage people or have you learn something new not by your choice. In the 29 years in the company, I changed my job 4 times and 3 of them were NOT by choice. My wife and I hate our jobs but we stay because the pay is good. It allowed us to pay off our 30 years mortgage in 11 years by 2002. My parent’s 30 year mortgage still have 2 more years left!

    Who are we to complain? Our immigrant parents worked in garment factories and they never complained. My in-laws made poverty level income and they raised 4 kids. They NEVER applied for welfare! Who are we to complain? So, I hate my job. Compared to our parents we are doing OK. Jane and I are first generation Americans. Maybe it is because we have an immigrant mentality that we save as much as possible and work in jobs that we hate to secure our financial future.

    As the Financial Samurai said, go and visit foreign countries and you will appreciate what you make and what you have.


    • retirebyforty July 28, 2016, 11:52 am

      Thanks for sharing your story. I think you and Jane are doing really well. We have very similar background, but I guess our mindset is different. I guess I’ve been lucky all my life so I figure that it will continue. I’m willing to take some chances.
      I’m glad telecommuting works well for you. It didn’t work for me at all. I couldn’t get anything done when I work from home. It turned out to be a good thing because I left work at the office. A lot of my old coworkers took their work home with them. The 2.5 hours commute sounds horrid…

      • Adam and Jane July 28, 2016, 3:16 pm


        You guys are doing great with your wife working and with your income from this site! You and the many other blogger have guts to walk away and created successful sites. Jane and I are gutless so we endure for a bit longer. It is tough to just walk away from a paycheck. We also don’t have the desire or skill set to change careers. My parents are from China and whenever I mention that I want to quit she tells us how lucky we are to have a job that pays well…blah..blah…she is right but it is a Guilt trip!


      • Jtz December 11, 2016, 10:50 am

        My commute is now six hours, but that includes an hour of walking. And the walking isn’t so bad. Why commute this long? I can look after my mother and make a significant contribution to the end-goal: FI. Plus, I can telecommute every other working day. Love the telecommuting with its five minute commute!

  • Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes July 28, 2016, 10:00 am

    Some people just don’t fit in the corporate world,and that’s OK.

    There’s other things to see and do in this world.

    • retirebyforty July 28, 2016, 11:47 am

      I agree. We’re both lucky to get out while we are relative young. If things didn’t go exactly right, I would have been stuck there for many more years.

  • freebird July 28, 2016, 8:55 am

    I’m still working 2.5 years later; I moved to Socal during this time, started working from home, and it’s turned out even better than I had expected in early 2014. The trick was to identify the specific tasks that (1) I enjoy doing and (2) that add the most value to the business. Then it was a matter of just focusing on those tasks and allowing management to take me off the hook on all the rest. Result is fewer work hours (which fly by BTW) and more and better quality output, so win-win.

    I couldn’t have rearranged my job without reaching FI because not towing the party line disqualified me from the management pay scale which most people need to cover their cost of living. But my W2 income is the side hustle now, and I’m glad to not have to deal with the personnel drama and politics that come with that kind of job. I’ve always been more of the doer than leader type, and the income consequences don’t matter after reaching FI.

    Maybe this is all the more reason to avoid debt. Even if you get that promotion and raise you banked on so paying it off becomes easily affordable, could the nature of your job change in a direction you might not like? Like maybe the top management chain you respect and enjoy working for gets pushed out by some merger or reshuffle? If this happens and you have a mega mortgage and other expensive obligations, you could be stuck.

    • retirebyforty July 28, 2016, 10:57 am

      That’s great! You are doing extremely well with your chosen lifestyle. Not many people have that luxury. Most engineers I know are not very happy with their work environment. Some companies are really good, though.

  • Jeff V July 28, 2016, 6:18 am

    Good advice. I don’t have the money for FI yet, but my engineering job is dull and lacks job security, as I am currently contract for a company that doesn’t hire often.

    I feel like I need to do something different, but I am not sure what. Try a franchise business? Pursue a CFP and become a financial planner? Something else entirely? What has stopped me so far is money. The options above will likely be a 50%+ pay cut, with the hope of getting back to my current income in a few years.

    – Jeff

    • retirebyforty July 28, 2016, 10:55 am

      Computer engineering seems to be less stable every year. You should keep your eyes open for other opportunities. I was thinking about CFP too. It sounds like an interesting job because you can help people. Yes, the pay cut would be tough, but do you really want to deal with the engineering industry for another 10-20 years? Life is full of possibilities. Good luck!

  • david gale April 18, 2016, 3:33 am

    I worked in Local Authority Camden Council for nigh 20 years it was a drudge no support from managers and a souless task where common sense did not prevail . I achieved a lot for my clients went above and beyond call of duty for what other more professional colleagues should of been doing and felt worthless. Even the sense of achieving goals/outcomes with clients wore thin as they seldom appreciated owt but achievement of additional benefits or awards you got them and they often spent them on other things. Such is the madness of government and LA that any grants you obtained for clients via Dwp social fund was paid directly into their account and often not used for purpose of application.
    I hoped for change in my job but this did not happen and it wares you down. I have no regrets in leaving and taking early retirement may not have the salary or contact but I deemed and reflect that content nor contact was worth the low morale and lack of support either emotionally or job satisfaction was afforded by such employment.
    I have been able to refocus on my relationship and have now happily remarried and am content its not what you have around you its who and as said earlier you work an awful long time to feel that you may work among hundreds of people within office yet feel totally alone. The beauty in life is finding a job you like and enjoy easier said than done but in the meantime I am happy to have got of the merry go round of being in a rut and will never just put up with accepting this is my lot! 55 may be too young to retire but I certainly have no regrets about jacking in my job even two years on!!

    • retirebyforty April 18, 2016, 7:41 am

      Thank you for sharing. You’re right about being stuck in a rut. I really wears you down. Keep your eyes open and I’m sure you’ll find some good opportunities.

  • Sherry April 5, 2016, 6:49 am

    I am 63 and have been horribly stressed and unhappy at my work for several years. My commute takes 2 hours every day. I recently switched jobs at same company and though people are wonderful there is very little to do so often boring. Glad to have less people stress but hard to function below my abilities. I plan to retire next March but I am struggling with frustration and impatience. Life is soooooo short. I regret so much wasting myself at a place that was a poor fit for my real interests and abilities. My health has suffered and so has my spirit. I wish I could stop now. How do I get through another year!?!

  • Caleb April 29, 2014, 1:25 pm

    If you hate your job, you need to do something else. I have been in a job that I hate and was extremely stressful. It impacted by mental health, physical health and most of all it hurt my marriage. You are not always going to like your job every day, if you do then that is awesome, but you can find a situation where you can make a living and not drive yourself crazy.

  • Kirok April 15, 2014, 5:52 am

    I’m 61 and hanging on for dear life until age 63. I hate my job—I loved it when I started (32 years ago), but the job has changed and so have I. In two years, the wife will be fully vested in her teacher pension. We have S.S., pensions, and savings and can afford to retire right now—but two more years will really solidify the finances. I try to minimize my stress by maximizing my time away from work with long weekends and occasional mental health days.

    • retirebyforty April 15, 2014, 9:23 pm

      Sorry to hear that. Good luck with the next 2 years. People changes and a perfect job 32 years ago usually isn’t so perfect now. 2 years will go by very quickly. You can do it.

  • Mike February 10, 2014, 10:41 pm

    I don’t understand, why do people pick careers that they hate. I have been employed for over 20 years and have never regretted my career choice. I have had a passion for science since I was 5 years old and currently work in product development and love every minute. I can’t believe they pay me to do something I truly love. I will probably retire between 55-60, but I am not really counting the days until I retire. If your sole goal in life is to quit your job and retire you made a poor career choice.

    • retirebyforty February 11, 2014, 10:38 pm

      Most people didn’t have a full understanding of their career choice. I liked my job when I first started, but the job changed and I changed. It’s great that you are doing something you love. Not many people can say that.

    • Pon July 28, 2016, 12:03 pm

      I’d say everyone has different circumstances. For example, if you only have the next 24 hours to do whatever you want, what would you do? Is it going to work and doing what you love? or spend time with your loved ones?

      Unfortunately, as we age, we don’t know what’s going to happen. Loved ones leave us unexpectedly.

    • Stevie Wonders July 28, 2016, 7:14 pm

      Also, the corporate environment has worsened over the last 30 years, much nastier than it used to be. When companies talk about becoming leaner and meaner, they aren’t kidding, especially about the meaner part.

  • Jim January 23, 2014, 10:26 pm

    I’m 40 and I’ve retired. It sounds silly, but I’m bored. I don’t know what to do with myself. My wife and I have a small child, but I have absolutely no interest spending 24-7 with a child. I have a hobbies, but they don’t take up 16 hours a day. Any suggestions on how else to spend time meaningfully? Thanks.

  • [email protected] January 23, 2014, 9:45 am

    Time is definitely more precious. I realize this more so now that Baby LRC is around and time is at a premium. With dropping him off to my parents, picking him up, doing chores/running errands, there isn’t much time to spend quality time with the family. I live in a high cost of living area in NYC and it’s tough, but I’ve really been wanting to be “happy” before retirement. I have these golden handcuffs at my government job that will allow me to retire at 55 with a nice pension. But that seems so far away.

    • retirebyforty January 23, 2014, 8:42 pm

      How long do you have until 55? Life is really busy when you have a baby and a full time job. You just don’t have time to do anything. I’m really lucky that I can spend a lot of time with our kid.

  • papadad January 22, 2014, 10:58 pm

    Joe, thanks for the post. Lots of truths. Life is short.

    • retirebyforty January 23, 2014, 8:40 pm

      Life is precious and we need to make the most of it. Thanks for commenting.

  • krantcents January 22, 2014, 5:09 pm

    I have always been a strong advocate for finding a career or business that you love. Sometimes you have to change employers to find the right situation to make yourself happy. The entrepreneur route is not for everyone, but that too has to be the right choice.

  • SavvyFinancialLatina January 22, 2014, 2:43 pm

    Wonderful stories and input. I think my major worry is taking care of my parents. Hopefully this will lessen when my brother grows up and can share the responsibility.

    • retirebyforty January 22, 2014, 5:13 pm

      I’m really lucky that my brothers are helping out with our parents. They also don’t need much help right now. Maybe in the future, they’ll need more help. I think we’ll be fine, though.

  • freebird January 22, 2014, 1:17 pm

    Joe, you’re absolutely right, I think we’re meant to enjoy all phases of life as best we can, not always “saving the best for never”. To me the right path is through moderation and balance. Some think of retirement as the Great Escape, but frankly I’d rather be working a job that I enjoy than having nothing to do at all during the day. I think your last point is key here, if you’re financially independent, then you don’t need to scrounge for that last buck by climbing the corporate ladder of distress. Instead you gain the freedom to choose exactly the kind of job that adds meaning to your life, whether that involves a transfer, back to school, part time, or trying your own side-business.

    One curious thing I’ve found as I approached financial independence is that I started to dislike my job less and less. The job itself didn’t change all that much, but my attitude towards it definitely did as I weaned myself from dependence on that paycheck. Gone are the insecurities over layoff rumors and performance reviews, the frustration over slow or no responses from coworkers I depend on, and the disappointment from not receiving that pay raise that I had already spent. Now I only do the parts I enjoy and am good at, and just blow off the rest, and interestingly management has found that my performance has actually improved!

    This is one of the ironies that young people fresh out of school don’t seem to realize, spending more today won’t make you happier in the long run, in fact it’s just the opposite because the resulting low savings rate makes you ever more dependent on a secure and growing paycheck over time.

    • retirebyforty January 22, 2014, 5:11 pm

      Thanks for sharing. I think I waited too long to leave my old job. I just couldn’t stand it anymore. Perhaps if I achieved FI earlier, I would have been able to turn it around. I really like being self employed, though. It’s a good match for my personality.

    • Stevie Wonders July 28, 2016, 6:43 pm

      After realizing I was near FI, I didn’t like my lousy job any more than before, but the stress levels plummeted just as you described. Prior to that, I was in constant panic mode desperately wondering how I would escape the quagmire I felt stuck in.

  • Getting burnt out January 22, 2014, 11:39 am

    I just found your blog recently and I’ve enjoyed reading it. I’m in my early forties and I’ve been contemplating retiring over the last couple years. I’ve been self employed for the last 14 years and my wife (in her early-thirties) and I have done pretty well for ourselves. We own multiple properties and would be able to retire now if we sold our largest property (our current residence) and lived in one of the smaller properties we own. We’d be able to live off the rental income from the 3rd property while living in the 2nd property. Problem is that we love our current home that we live in so it’d be tough to go from our current home to a smaller home. My wife works full time while I work part time from home while also managing my two school age kids. So we’re left with the following struggle: work our stressful jobs to maintain our current lifestyle or reduce our lifestyle and remove the stress of work from our lives.

    • retirebyforty January 22, 2014, 5:09 pm

      Congratulation! You’re almost there. It’s a tough decision. You will have to figure it out for yourself. For us, moving to a smaller home didn’t have a big impact. It’s hard to give an opinion without knowing the sq footage. The 3 of us are quite happy in our 1,000 sq ft condo, but I know it’s not for everyone.

      • Getting burnt out January 23, 2014, 3:02 am

        Our current residence is 4000 sq ft. We live in So Cal, OC. It is our dream house and we worked hard to get here. Our other two properties are in the same city we live in. The house we could move back to is 2400 sq ft. We had lived in this property previously for over a decade. It is a great property and would suit our family fine. It is just not our dream house. Our 3rd property is a 3bdrm condo. If we sold our current residence we would have both of our remaining properties paid off free and clear. This would allow both my wife and I to fully retire. We’d have to cut back our spending a lot, but we’d have enough to live on from our rental income. Rent in OC is ridiculously high so it would provide enough to pay for the essentials: food, utilities health insurance etc. The thing we struggle with is whether we would enjoy life more working jobs we hate but living in a house we love and being able to travel, eat out a lot, etc. or do we leave behind our stressful work lives and live a frugal, simple lifestyle. Years ago I would’ve thought it’d be an easy choice to retire early. What I didnt realize is how much I would enjoy living in my dream house. Like you said, it is a decision we need to figure out for ourselves. But making a final decision is much more challenging than I anticipated. That’s why I have found your blog interesting. It gives me insight to what things may be like if we choose to retire early.

        • retirebyforty January 23, 2014, 8:41 pm

          Good luck with your decision! 4,000 sq ft is huge. 🙂

  • Insourcelife January 22, 2014, 10:35 am

    I just found out that my childhood friend died on Monday. He was 38. He was stressed at work, stressed at home and suffered from high blood pressure, which is essentially what killed him. “Don’t wait until 60 to be happy” is right because some won’t even make it that far. Not to be a downer, but puts things into perspective.

    • retirebyforty January 22, 2014, 5:05 pm

      I’m sorry to hear that. Life is really short and we need to appreciate our time here. I had a feeling that I wouldn’t make it to 60 if I stuck with my old job. That’s another big reason why I had to get out of there.

  • davidmichael January 22, 2014, 8:31 am

    Well … what I didn’t mention in my last comments and advice for Adam and Jane in the previous article, was the other side of my own personal situation about retirement at age 57, some 20 years ago. I mentioned that at age 64, my wife lost her annuity ($650,000) because her insurance company went bankrupt. Consequently, we have worked periodically as part of our retirement from professional life.

    What I didn’t mention, is that at age 56 we had just completed a 500 mile bike ride across Oregon and I thought I was in perfect health. However, I noticed a lump on my neck that was growing larger by the month. And, after 20 years as the president of my own company, I realized I hated my management role as I had lost my vice-presdent a few years prior to form her own company. It seemed there was no way out of it, and I needed another seven years to complete our retirement plan with a million dollars in stock investments. I was under intense stress and spent more and more time in the mornings at a local coffee shop trying to figure a way out, totally feeling stuck.

    When I went to my local doctor to check out the lump, I was sent to a specialist for a biopsy. The opinion came back as a strong wake-up call. It was cancer, in the form of Hodgkins Disease. Since I was in stage one, the doctor said I had eight years to live if I did nothing to control it. Of course, our whole world collapsed and the money and dream house and company had little meaning all of a sudden. Now it was a fight for survival. After researching all of the different methods of treatment over six months on a Macrobiotic diet, I relented to undertake radiation treatments for eight weeks. A good decision as the cancer was knocked out in two weeks and I have been in good health ever since. I ended up selling the company within a year and never looked back. The stress was gone, and a whole new life opened up, part of which was teaching for five years in the Middle East and now RVing and exploring North America. We live on approximately 30 percent of my former salary and love every day on this planet.

    • retirebyforty January 22, 2014, 9:00 am

      Wow, thanks for sharing. I really need to profile your retirement. I’ll get in touch soon.

  • William Cowie January 22, 2014, 8:00 am

    This is so true. I come from Africa, where I’ve seen people happy at less than a tenth of minimum wage. A lot of it is simply deciding to not let lack stop you from finding happiness where you are.

    Finding happiness is intentional, not financial.

    • retirebyforty January 22, 2014, 8:59 am

      As long as we can meet the basic needs, we don’t need a huge amount of money to be happy. Our standards are just warped by external factors.

  • Done by Forty January 22, 2014, 7:21 am

    I had some of the same symptoms of over-stress at my last job, too, Joe: waking up in the middle of the night worried about a project, declining health, tired all the time…

    The new job is virtual and much less stressful. I joke that I might not quit at 40 if it stays this stress free: being at home with the family and the dogs makes it easy for it not to feel like work sometimes.

    Love the advice to put your well being before career. It’s such a common sense fix, but a hard one to sell in our work-centric culture.

    • retirebyforty January 22, 2014, 8:58 am

      Congratulation! It’s great that you found a less stressful job. I probably should have done that before quitting completely.

  • Fast Weekly January 22, 2014, 6:31 am

    Absolutely Joe. That’s why we’re taking a year off and traveling once our son gets a little older. We think we’ll set out in early 2015. Live must have balance and must be enjoyed. My mother died in her early 50s and my father nearly died in his mid 40s. Adventure is out there, don’t be afraid to live a little

    • retirebyforty January 22, 2014, 8:57 am

      That’s great! I’m planning to go to Thailand for 2 months next year. It will be a blast. I think 1 year is probably too long for us. We’ll probably do 2-3 months every year.

  • Justin @ Root of Good January 22, 2014, 5:40 am

    I could have written this same blog post, Joe! Except the 1% of unhappiness time due to fighting with Jr to get him to brush his teeth and not throw toys and food would be about 4-5% (we have 3 kids and they can be challenging at times!). Still, being happy and stress free 95% of the time is quite a luxury.

    • retirebyforty January 22, 2014, 8:56 am

      I can imagine 3 kids… That 1% is already driving me nuts. 🙂

  • [email protected] January 22, 2014, 5:31 am

    Time is definitely more precious than money.
    My dad HATED his job so much that it really impacted his life while we were growing up. When he retired, he literally turned into a different (and better) person overnight. Since he didn’t have to dread going to work anymore, it was like the weight of the world was lifted off of his shoulders.

    • retirebyforty January 22, 2014, 8:55 am

      Thanks for sharing. That’s a huge reason why I quit my job. I don’t want my kid to deal with my job stress.

    • Robert January 10, 2016, 7:42 pm

      Thanks for the vote of confidence. I’m 59 and have been teaching for 27 years. It used to be a fun and challenging profession, but not there is too much stress. Standards, evaluations, new curriculums it’s just to stressful. I’m very unhappy.

  • Well Heeled Blog January 22, 2014, 4:58 am

    The danger of being miserable in your job is that the misery will leak into other spaces of your life. But I also don’t think you need to have a super duper happy job that you are super passionate about to be a generally happy, successful, well-adjusted person.

    • retirebyforty January 22, 2014, 8:54 am

      If your job is tolerable, then it’s probably okay. As long as you’re not miserable, it won’t ruin your personal life.

  • Retire Before Dad January 22, 2014, 3:52 am

    Reading the case study yesterday, working another 5 years seemed like a terrible option. People in this situation often make the mistake of just saying screw it and quitting, which can bad too. The exit strategy they put together and your suggestions are much better than just up and quitting. I’m currently planning to retire at 55. But sometimes I think that’s not early enough, even though my job is not stressful.

    • retirebyforty January 22, 2014, 8:52 am

      If you enjoy your job, then there is no reason to quit. 🙂 You’re right about quitting. If they keep enduring their job, that’s how it’s going to end up. It’s better to have a plan.

  • jane savers @ solving the money puzzle January 22, 2014, 3:39 am

    I love my health care job but, now that I am in my late 40s, I am feeling the effects of the physical wear and tear and the constant stress but I need to work until I am 59 before I can escape.

    Health is the most important thing you can have followed by the luxury of time but much money is needed to be able to claim your time as your own.

    • retirebyforty January 22, 2014, 8:47 am

      Working in a stressful job is a lot less fun when you’re older. Good luck!

  • [email protected] January 22, 2014, 1:34 am

    Money buys you time back for yourself. We don’t have kids yet, that’s why we’re hustling hard now to build our net worth. I want to work on my terms when I’m done.

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