You Do Not Equal Me

I was chatting with someone the other day who asked a good question: how do you put up with all those negative comments from people who call your plan to retire by 42 crazy or impossible?  To be honest, I have literally stopped reading most of those comments.  Why?  I realized almost 95% of them all suffer from the same problem.  They somehow assume my life is similar to their life, which is almost always a wrong assumption.

This issue becomes grossly obvious to me when I see someone comment with numbers saying they spend on housing, property taxes and utilities and then assume that I would spend a similar amount so how could I possible live on that remains.  The obvious answer is no I couldn’t live on what remains, because I’m spending much less than they are.  Often I don’t get enough information to understand what the difference is.  So I’m left to guess that is might be the size of the house, local real estate prices or they have a much newer home with more features than I.

In the end the reason doesn’t matter as the assumption that somehow they should equal what I do is usually the problem.  In case this isn’t dead obvious by now, I will say it again: you have to make a plan about your life…not your neighbour’s life, not your friend’s life and certainly not my life or even Robert’s life.  While if I ever sat down with Robert and did a line by line budget comparison I would expect to find some similar spending, I would also never assume his plan could work for me.  Why? Because I’m not Robert…I’m turning 34 soon and I will not be retiring.  I haven’t had his type of education, opportunities or priorities…so I wouldn’t expect the same results.

The somewhat interesting part of this for some people is they realize that if you don’t like your plan for your life, you can either change your plan or perhaps change your life to match the plan.  The second option surprises some people, because they don’t often realize the number of assumptions in your plan that relate back to your lifestyle.  If you really want to retire at 45, then put everyone on the table as an option to change.  Consider downsizing to a home with half the space, get rid of half of what you own,  and give up some of your hobbies or social events.  You can’t have a very early retirement date with a typical lifestyle…you have to be different to get different results.

So don’t try to be someone else, rather be who you want to be.  Yes, it might involve giving up a few things, but often you can also gain a few more things than you expect while doing it.  You gain piece of mind, you gain confidence, and you gain some of the best sleeps you have ever had in life because you don’t have to worry about money.  It won’t be easy, but for some people…it is worth every penny.

10 thoughts on “You Do Not Equal Me”

  1. Great closing sentence! That’s essentially what I tell people, and I typically hear that I’m crazy. I think there’s even more here: people really might not think they care about it (until something goes wrong and I get an earful =P).

  2. Tim, I can’t say I have received negative comments like those you described (although I have received other types of negative comments).

    But it was this sentence in your great piece which grabbed my attention the most:

    “You can’t have a very early retirement date with a typical lifestyle…you have to be different to get different results.”

    As you know, my lifestyle is in many ways atypical. But it is in large part why I was able to retire at 45 in 2008 (and eventually find your blog LOL!). I have always considered myself an outlier, so achieving that goal is the icing on the “outlier” cake. 🙂

  3. Very well said, Tim. You’re right that there’s always a difference. It’s usually either personality or circumstance. Some things we can control, some we can’t. It doesn’t help to compare ourselves to others, only to make sure to do the best we can with what we are given. As an example, I’ve retired, so now I have to make choices to make my life as meaningful and useful as possible.

  4. Well put Tim! Life is all about choices…some people make the choice themselves and others let life make the choices for them. You have clearly made good decisions in life and I know you will continue to do so. If people read your book or blog and learn something you’ve had a positive impact – those who read it and attack you and your decisions are closed minded and obviously have nothing to learn from your different point of view. I’ve known you for 20+ years now and you’ve always been a bit different in your thinking and clearly it has worked out well for you and your family. Keep on, keeping on and I know I don’t have to say it but don’t let anyone rain on your parade!

  5. Thanks everyone. I’m glad you all liked the post.

    @Chris in Denver,

    I’ll have to mention your comment to my wife about my thinking, just so she knows that I’ve always been this way. 😉 I appreciate your point…some people aren’t ready to learn anything from me.


  6. I agree with everyone. It’s possible and don’t let the jealous people affect you. My parents live in Vancouver (expensive City) but they retired at 37(mom)/47(dad). Typical stay at home mom, dad got laid off from his mechanic job and never got paid for the last 3 months (company went bankrupt). They haven’t worked in the last 33 years! People have been so jealous of them and I hear very bad comments everyday. Guess what! They live an even better life and still take trips! Why? They live an extremely simple & healthy lifestyle and not once have depended on the government. Not for everyone… but it’s possible!

  7. I think people (including myself) come to these various blogsites to try to learn how to retire early and “in comfort”. Everyones level of comfort is different and that’s probably where the negative comments come from.

    I don’t want to live like Jacob from ERE for example in a trailer somewhere, coming with truly ingenious ways to keep warm or make a weeks worth of meals with beans, cactus, and river water. I also believe he has recently gone back to work in some capacity.

    I think people come to your blog and look for guidance to some degree then may get frustrated by realizing it’s not as easy to retire at a young age as you may make it sound at times.

    Compounding that I don’t think every blogger always discloses all their income sources clearly. I’ll take Derek Foster as an example there retiring at 30. We know this story as well. Is it truly retiring when you write books, make t.v. appearances, columns in a newspaper and have a blogsite? Sorry that’s not truly retired is it? It’s just different work. (In the standard sense of the word – insert image of smiling person on sailboat from retirement brochure here…).

    Also when a former financial planner says he retired at 35. How much passive income is he still receiving from IMF / MER fee’s from the accounts he set up for the previous 10-15 years working in that industry? So in a sense that person is “semi retired” It’s not like he/she built up a million dollar + dividend portfolio working at a typical 9-5 job somewhere. Or in cases the wife works still or both? Maybe his contributions writing blogs indirectly? helps keep his exsisting clients or attracts new ones?

    So you are right other people are not you, and i’m not being hateful here. People may not picture the full story?

    The average person will want to retire in a comfortable home, have a car or two, maybe a toy like a hot tub, to enjoy their “wind down” years. Travel etc., but not sleep in a hostel. To do that in a realtively frugal but confortable way, I think you need a minimum of $3500.00 after tax or a little more a month. You also will have to have that increase because of inflation.

    So the frustration occurs when you run the numbers and see this is a pretty difficult goal to achieve especially at a young age. To make that kind of income your looking at a $750,000 + dividend portfolio. (or other income sources of course). Plus your home home will have to be paid for.

    I have seen a photo with you at a swing in a park with your kid. That certainly doesn’t cost a lot to do. For me personally – it’s the last thing I would want to do in my life. I enjoy action and my independance and travelling places, sports ++. I also don’t want to ride to those activities on my bike, or in a Prius.

    I think everyone should strive to have balance in their life and find happiness. You may have to work a little longer. But, you may find your own particular standards in your life may make you happier then laying awake at night worrying about that coffee you bought at starbucks hurt your budget.

    I don’t think everyone is a “hater”. There are just different visions of retirement. The one most people have will have a basic yearly expense of probably $10-15 K before you actually start doing anything other then staying home, eating, or doing things that cost no money.

    I think more people are looking to you for advice on how to do that, and have the retirement industry’s carefree lifesyle in their heads.

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