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July 9, 2016

Is Extremely Early Retirement Worth the Trouble?

Site of Henry David Thoreau's cabin near Walden Pond - Photo by Pablo Sanchez
The long version of this question is more like “Is being able to quit your job a few years early worth scrimping, saving, and depriving yourself during your working years and retirement?” Obviously, I think the answer is YES, but let me tell you why.

Living Cheap is Easy
I don’t find “scrimping and saving” very hard. I’ve been doing it my whole life and it feels normal to me. I also don’t feel like I’m depriving myself or my family. We eat well, go out with friends, attend concerts, own a beautiful home, buy things we want, travel, and do pretty much anything we want. We just pay attention to how much we are spending and keep it at a reasonable level. We have never had an official budget, but everything magically works out.

There's One Thing You Can’t Make More Of
You can always make more money. Houses, cars, kids, and possessions can all be replaced (I hope you caught the joke in there). The one thing you can never get back is time. The idea of working eight hours a day for 40+ years at a job you probably don’t like is incredibly depressing, yet that’s considered normal. Better yet, the people who want to quit working after 10 years or fewer are considered crazy. I don’t think I’m crazy for wanting to spend my time with my family and doing the things I love (which don’t cost a lot of money) instead of sitting in traffic and an office all day.

I’m sure a boat, a new car, an annual trip to Disney World, and whatever else people spend money on are great, but they aren’t worth the extra 30+ YEARS of work. I’m sure retiring at 65 is great too, but you still missed out on a lot of time with your kids and you are probably too tired and broken to do a lot of fun things you always wanted to do. Doesn’t it make a lot more sense to free up the prime of your life for living rather than working? I think so, and that’s why I’m doing everything I can to become Fiscally Free.

If this whole thing doesn't work out, I can always go get a job. I can't, however, go back and live the life I really wanted.

I will leave you with a pertinent quote from Henry David Thoreau:

Spending of the best part of one's life earning money in order to enjoy questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it, reminds me of the Englishman who went to India to make a fortune first, in order that he might return to England and live the life of a poet. He should have gone up garret at once.

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