Have you ever had someone show up at your door and try to sell you something? I’m not talking about a neighborhood kid raising money for something–I’m totally OK with that. I’m talking an adult who wants to sell you on their religion, their cleaning product or their home improvement services. Annoying huh?!
But now, I want to walk door to door and tell people how great early retirement is. Can you imagine how that conversation would play out?!
Ok, I’m not going to walk door to door. When we get a little in our liquor, we do try to get all of our friends to join us on this early retirement adventure. Mr. Ms. Liz especially. “Why are you working?” “You don’t have to work, right?”
It reminds me of conversations I’ve had to have about why we don’t/won’t/didn’t have children. Half hour conversations about our decision process and then they still assume we weren’t able. BTW I don’t know if we were able . . . because we never tried.
Decisions like early retirement or family composition become foundations for our lives.
And interrogating people about why they work when they don’t have to or why they don’t have children is like asking people why they do or don’t believe in God. It chips away at the foundation of their lives.
But I think we’re just trying to communicate how kick a$$ fun it is to not work. Yep, it’s really fun. So occasionally we do some chipping.
Our biggest limitation in retirement has been our love of our normal lives. This is why we haven’t embarked on an epic trip or bought a camper. We love our normal, everyday lives and the people we get to hang out with. We don’t have a strong desire to leave either.
I no longer define my success by my salary, my company’s success, or my leadership role. I define success by the amount of joy I have in my life. The joy in my friendships, the joy in keeping active, the joy in improving my Pickleball game, and the joy in connecting with people through this blog.
Sometimes, I wish we would have done it earlier.
We could have been more frugal. We could have skipped the new cars, the stupid big home, the vacation home, boat and some expensive hobbies and travels.
I could have been better at chasing money–taking jobs I would have enjoyed less but for more money.
We could have retired as soon as we reached 25x our annual spend. Depending completely on the math behind the 4% rule.
Other times, I think we did it just right.
Life is about balancing living for now versus living for later. We could have been super frugal, erring on the side of living for later and not made it to later. We’ve both lost people far too early and know all too well that there are no guarantees.
I also think about how increased frugality would have affected our friendships. Traveling, camping and boating deepened them. I don’t have a biological sister but I have three sisters from other misters. Would we be as close if we hadn’t survived sand storms, medical emergencies, and wine shortages? Oh, and that time we forgot to bring the camp grill . . . and the stove? Thankfully, I’ll never know. But I do know beef tenderloin is quite delicious when cooked over a fire on a marshmallow skewer.
In my mind, chasing money isn’t a race worth winning. I got out of accounting for a few years in my mid-twenties and hated it. My happiest day was when my bank statement would arrive and I could reconcile it. Not lying, I’m such a dork. So moving from accounting to another role would have made me miserable. No amount of money is worth misery.
I’m a worrier and a planner. If I had retired with just barely the resources I needed, I would spend my retirement worrying about money. We waited until we had saved over 30 times our cushy retirement budget. And we have fallback plans for our fallback plans. I worry about money not at all. I budget it, I track it, I forecast it but I don’t worry about it.
And although this may seem unnecessary, it was important to me to leave my staff and my company in good hands. I spent 17 years there, my colleagues and employees were like family. When I did leave, I left them with someone more capable than me. I set her up for success the best that I could and she was more than ready.
So if we show up at your door and try to convince you to join us on this early retirement journey, please be kind. It really just means we’d like to hang out more and we want you to experience your best life. And for us, we found our best life when we retired.