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?