Early Retirement is Easy

My friend Jacq the other day put up a post stating that early retirement is easy, which is actually somewhat true and makes a bit of fun at my post that early retirement is NEVER easy.

The point beyond the polarized headlines is the fact both posts are actually very true.  Early retirement planning can be both freakishly easy and hard at the same time…it just depends on what parts you are talking about.

I agree with Jacq that the basic math of it is so simple it becomes obvious: spend less than you earn.  If you want to retire earlier, just spend even less and make even more the accelerate the process. Or if you feel too tight on your spending, you can spend more you just extend your working life to do it.

The harder part I think if getting to know yourself and your desires, needs and wants.  Understanding yourself is key to ensure you have a lower than average amount of spending, since you spend less on what people expect and more on what actually matter to you.  Also you get to figure out what things you can still achieve the same outcome on with less money.

In our case, my family spending is highly optimized to our particular wants and needs.  So I have a nice lifestyle on fraction of the spending of my peers because I understand how my mind works.  Learning this is not easy and takes a fair bit of self reflection and awareness.  You have to be able to ask and answer some question like:

  • Do I care what other think of my clothes, car, house or job?
  • What does respect mean to you?
  • What makes you feel accomplished?
  • What brings you joy, happiness and contentment?
  • What do I need to stop doing that isn’t helping me reach my goals?
  • What excuses do I use to prevent me from doing what I love?

As you can see answering these aren’t easy, but vital to having a happy early retirement.  You need to be moving towards something and not just running away from work.

So what parts of early retirement planning do you find easy or hard?  Why?

3 thoughts on “Early Retirement is Easy”

  1. Glad you sensed the fun.

    The financial part IS so very easy. What I would consider a bit difficult is getting out of your comfort zone to earn more – but not everyone has to do that. I did.

    And I’m not sure it’s that possible to know what to do with the non-financial part until you’re actually faced with it. It’s sort of like moving from going from full-time school to full-time employment where the game completely changes – only you’re 100% self directed this time. And there’s no test period unless you do it like I’ve done over the years. And I still don’t have it dialed down.

    How do I make friends to hang out with when my old friends (and maybe most of them came from work situations) are all working? Propinquity is an amazing thing.

    Are these side hobby(ies) that I have enough to fill my days when I have an extra 12 hours per day to fill – suddenly? 60 hours a week is a shit load of time to fill.

    Do I want to be / find fulfillment in being a housewife / househusband? (More for people whose spouses still work). Cripes I was back at work within 3-4 months after both kids were born and happy to escape. Can’t really relate to the people that are happy doing that stuff.

    What I generally don’t listen to… people who talk about how it’s so magically, rainbows and unicorn easy to make a transition to not working. Because it is not. For me. People bullshit so much on the internet. Guaranteed you won’t find out that they’re kind of meh about their newly retired lifestyle until they’ve done a 360 and said “whoops – am consulting/building or renovating a house/what f-g ever now!”

    I’ve done that myself but it’s not intentional. Am kind of “this is good/ok/nothing special… Ooh shiny project that needs me.”

  2. I worked part-time for 7 years before I fully ERed 6 years ago. This made the transition from working only 12 hours per week to zero hours per week very easy. The tougher transition was going from working 37.5 hours per week to 20 hours per week and from commuting 5 days a week to only 1 day per week in the mostly telecommuting deal I had for the first 2 years of part-time work. Yeah, it took me about a week to get used to THAT! Then I set up activities such as volunteer work and resurrected hobbies to keep me busy and fulfilled, maintaining or expanding them once I fully ERed 7 years later.

    The money part was pretty easy, too, because I was already used to living on half, then 1/3 pay in my part-time years.

    The main piece of my ER plan was the health insurance. I ERed just before Obama got elected in 2008 but I made a calculated gamble that he would win and fulfill his promise to set up an affordable HI program soon into his first term. And he did, and that has greatly improved finances and peace of mind.

  3. To be honest, since I have shifted my thinking towards realizing that each decision I make is every increasing the amount of time I have to work or delaying financial incependence there has been very little that is hard to give up as it is not a life time of sacrifice just a couple year adjustment to get the initial savings built up and the rest should take care of itself.

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