This might sound odd but I am grateful for 2018 being a crappy investment year. Yes, you may now say: WTF?!?!
I think perhaps my greatest fear about my early retirement was the markets would go the hell after I retired and then I would be forced to go crawling back to my old workplace and beg for a job. Yet after that partly coming true in 2018: the bad stock markets part. I realized that I don’t have to go back to my old work at all. I still have a lot of money saved up, I can still live my life and find other means of making money that don’t involve my old job.
In short, I faced down perhaps my biggest fear about my early retirement and realized the greatest gift about early retirement isn’t really about having all this time off. The greatest gift is the choices that come from having financial stability. I have time to consider my options and try other things to make money. I don’t have to reach for my old career for a solution if I don’t want to. Simply put: I’m not limited by my previous choices in life.
Most of our adult lives we end up bound by our previous choices. If you buy a car you end up bound by your payments for it. Or if you buy a big house, you also end up bound by your payments for decades. And so very slowly you bind yourself to all these chains of monthly obligations that keep you at your job. You can’t quit without having another job lined up because your payments consume so much of your money each month and you don’t have much for savings.
Yet going for financial independence you in fact create the inverse of that situation. You pay off your consumer debt and you get more choices. You can invest a hobby like beer making to help save more in the future and still enjoy life. Then you pay off your mortgage and get more choices. Do you want to go part time instead of full time now your mortgage is gone? You save and invest your money and you get more choices. Do I really want to apply for a job in another industry? Until one day your investments earn enough you don’t have to go to work each day and your choices explode into a millions of pathways for you to choose.
Now this sense of freedom can be terrifying at first but over time you choose the life you want to live. I choose to write on this blog because I enjoy helping others get closer to early retirement and help those to adjust to life after retirement. I choose to help out at my kids school library because I get to spend an afternoon each week in a room just full of books. I choose my life one thing at a time because I enjoy them not because I need to pay my bills and I’m not afraid anymore.
So what is your greatest fear about early retirement?