I tend to live without regrets on the big stuff. I look back at each change I’ve made in the course of my life and I’m happy I made it.
Happy I moved to the mountains, happy we moved back to the city, happy I went to law school, happy I quit law school after a year, happy we moved back to the mountains, . . . . I think you get it.
I love my life and I’m happy for the sometimes windy path that got me here.
But I went to a conference in September and met a bunch of kick A$$ people. People in their twenties and thirties who were saving amazing amounts of money, living on what sounds like not much so they can retire young. Remember, if you save 70% of your income, it only takes 11 years to save enough to retire. I met several people who were doing just that.
It helps that they were in high paying fields like IT and engineering but their ability to create lives that worked for them while achieving crazy high savings rates is impressive.
I don’t think we would have saved 70% of our income but what if we had made more frugal choices? What if we hadn’t purchased a vacation home or a boat, and what if our home was more modest? When could we have retired?
I ran the numbers and figure these extravagances cost me about 2 years of work. But I wasn’t working in a coal mine—I had a job I loved 90% of the time working with people I respected 100% of the time. I respected some of our customers 0% of the time but my interaction with them was thankfully limited.
The increase in real estate values approximated my investment returns. Surprisingly, it doesn’t cost much more to operate this home compared to our previous, more modest home—only property taxes are significantly higher.
But here’s the thing—that’s our back yard up there. Those are elk y’all! For me, that tax bill and our chewed trees are worth it.
The expense of our vacation home would have been spent on vacations instead. Those vacations wouldn’t have given us entre to a community we love and enjoy–imagine summer camp but with cocktails! It would be worth it to me at twice the price.
Really the only significant financial fail was the boat. But the boat has been a huge personal gain—I wouldn’t trade it for an earlier retirement. Mr. Ms. Liz summed it up best when he emailed photos: “Nothing better than spending time with our great friends in an amazing setting without cell phones and other distractions. Only our sparkling personalities to keep us entertained.” And Mr. Ms. Liz is never more attractive than when he is driving that boat!
So I didn’t get to retire in my 30’s or even my 40’s but I got there on a path that worked for me. Many readers of this blog intend to retire at a “normal” age and that’s fine. We each need to find the path that works for us.
It’s a bit morbid but ask yourself:
“If I died tomorrow, would I wish I had made different choices?”
If the answer is yes, then . . . make different choices. To borrow my fantastic friend’s mantra, you’re the boss of you!