There is No Sacrifice for Early Retirement

Oh, I couldn’t do what your doing.  It would be too much of a sacrifice.”

Of all the objections to early retirement, this one confuses me the most.  Why?  Well in my mind, early retirement has no sacrifice to it at all. Zip, zero, or none.

Perhaps I’m being a little literal here, but for review what does “sacrifice” mean according to Google: An act of slaughtering an animal or person or surrendering a possession as an offering to God or to a divine or supernatural figure.

I suppose I could use my new sword purchase to sacrifice a goat or something, but I’m sure the ER gods would just bring down their wrath on me for not knowing the only thing they care about is saving. 😉  In my mind that definition implies you value what your sacrificing.  I don’t value: pointless meetings, commuting, corner offices, high stress levels, useless work (when your project gets cancelled), office politics or working evenings and weekends.  So none of that would be a sacrifice.

The reality is in early retirement there is no sacrifice, it is rather an opportunity cost.  Again for review that is defined as: The loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.  So in basic English: it’s a trade off.  You can use a dollar to save for tomorrow or buy something today.  It’s all about choice.  There isn’t a wrong or right answer, but instead a question to yourself.  What option do you personally value more?

In my mind people focus WAY to much on what they would be giving up rather than the much more interesting what you stand to gain.  As a few examples, here is what I’m gaining:

  • Never Worry When Something Breaks – We always have the savings to replace the item.
  • Never Lose Sleep – Again with a high savings rate we can handle unexpected expenses easily.
  • Utterly Fearless About Losing My Job – I have enough saved I could be unemployed for a decade with out government benefits.
  • Speak My Mind – I’m more open to provide my ideas because I don’t fear it impacting my job.
  • Feel No Guilt About Putting My Family First – I’m not on the long term career path so I don’t feel the need to suck up and miss family events for meetings.
  • I Ignore My Job Description – Instead I do what actually interests me and I think needs to be dealt with beyond my have to do items.
  • I Take More Risks – Since I have lots of savings, I fear losing bits of the savings less.  I’m ok with more risk.
  • I Can Do What I Want – I don’t have to ask permission as long as I don’t break any laws or harm anyone.  I do what I want with my life.

So yes, I’m giving up a few things like my peak earning years, but in comparison I still think I’m getting the better end of this deal.  So what are you gaining from your retirement plan?

5 thoughts on “There is No Sacrifice for Early Retirement”

  1. Good list you posted there, Tim. But many of them can be consolidated into two items – (1) making sure you have a cushion of ER (investment) income over expenses, and (2) Freedom.

    The only thing many early retirees fear (here in the USA, but not as much now with Obamacare starting in 2014) is the loss of employer-provided health insurance. Having to go out and buy an individual health insurance policy prior to turning 65 and becoming eligible for Medicare keeps many would-be early retirees working.

  2. The biggest plus for me, which didn’t make your list, is time. All that time spent at work, you get to yourself. Instead of sacrificing time for money, you get the time to do what you really want

  3. Agreed with all of the above – great post.

    BUT if I was trying to pull off FI/ER on an income closer to the median household income of ~$65k/year yes, there’d be some sacrifices. And I’d still be willing to make them. But that’s why I decided my first line of attack years ago had to be a good offense – earning as much as I could. That way you can eat your cake and have it too.

  4. All I know is we paid off the house yesterday! The rest is all gravy from here. Granted we are going to buy a few things we’ve been putting off but all well deserved and needed not toys. I just have to work on tax advantaged accounts now. 🙂

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