Early Retirement and Why I Want to Retire by 45
Early Retirement has always been my goal and I’ve written a blog post or two about. However, I never officially set a specific goal. I’ve vaguely said that I’m aiming for retirement by the age of 45 or so but it was never anything definitive.
While I have personal and financial goals every year, I also want to aim for something specific in the long run and this certainly fits that bill.
I always find that having a goal sends me down a better path to reach it and while certain things may come up that can derail you now and then, having that end point is often very motivating in getting you back on track.
This blog has always been about early retirement and it just makes sense to have that end point set going forward.
Therefore as of today, I officially announce it to the world : I PLAN TO RETIRE BY 45!
Now that it’s out there, I can’t go back and renege on it and will definitely succeed. That’s how goals work right? I’m 100% guaranteed to achieve it now! You guys will have to keep me honest and really shame me if and when I fail to retire early. Feel free to boo me from the rafters if I’m still working my corporate job by then.
Also when I say retire by 45, I mean before the end of my 45th year to give myself some flexibility. Seeing that I’m 37 now, this gives me a few more years to save and put myself in a better position to do that.
The idea behind setting an end goal is an enticing one for me since it builds upon the work I’ve been doing up to now, motivates me to do more and helps me realize that every day at work brings me closer to something very exciting.
So why now? Why am I deciding this today and not earlier. Like I said I’ve always had that vague goal in mind but this year feels like the year to really set that in stone for a variety of reasons. I suppose it makes sense to go over the top 5 to give you an idea of what I’m thinking about these days.
5 Reasons for Setting my Early Retirement Goal Today
Life is Short
This one is simple and I’m sure most of you can understand that especially in light of everything we’ve faced in the past two years.
We all have a certain amount of time on this earth and the crazy part is that none of us know exactly how much we’re allotted. It can all be gone in an instant and making the most of it is an important part of the journey.
This blog has always been about a good balance of saving and enjoying life and that won’t change but the end goal is still the same; to retire early. It would certainly suck to do all this and then die well before it happens.
I wouldn’t be destroyed because I think I’ve lived a good life but it’d certainly be better if I hit that early retirement mark and could experience what adult life is like without being tied to a job.
Currently, we sit at a time in our lives where hundreds of thousands of people have died in my country and millions more worldwide. It’s no surprise that many people have re-evaluated what their life is about in the face of something like that.
I certainly have and it’s no surprise that my priorities have changed and I started thinking more about what I’d rather be doing with my life. I think we’ve also seen that in the corporate world with how and where people choose to spend their time.
The great resignation, as many are calling it, is a response to this and it’s not a surprise considering the variety of issues that come with working for a soulless corporation. We’ll get to that in a second but the main point here is that I want to do something different with my life because I don’t know how much more time I have left.
I’ve also had some health issues this year that helped drive that mind-shift. It’s easy to think you’ll be fine retiring by 50 or 55 or 60 but the reality is that your qualify of life could change in a second because of health issues and you want to be able to enjoy life to its fullest as much as you can while you can.
Of course that’s also the argument for the opposite, live life now and forget savings because you never know what happens tomorrow.
That’s also why I’ve always preached a good balance in your life while on this journey. I eat well, I enjoy hobbies and I spend money on things and experiences that bring me joy at the expense of future savings because of this reason. I’m just lucky enough that those things aren’t overly expensive and I still earn enough to be able to keep a high savings rate and help drive my dream of early retirement.
The reality here is that life should be enjoyed every day whether you’re working or retired but I am fully aware that the days I have away from work are just much better than the ones I have at work so I’m trying to get rid of that part of my life sooner than later. It just makes sense to have a goal for early retirement to make that happen.
Work Sucks(and The Corporate World Does Too)
Back to the point of work. Work just sucks in the grand scale of things.
I don’t mean my job is terrible and it makes me hate my life. In fact, I’m very lucky in that I somewhat enjoy my job, enjoy the people I work with and believe I am paid fairly for the work I do. It’s also somewhat interesting work at times which is always a bonus.
HOWEVER, despite all that, I am still very much aware that work is a transaction where I trade my time for my company’s money and it often just doesn’t do anything for me on a personal level.
Trading 40 hours of every week is a struggle when I’d rather be doing something else that I enjoy more. One thing I’ll mention that has been a big improvement in the recent year has been working at home which is such a time saver and makes the job so much better as an introvert.
While that makes work better, it also makes me realize how much worse it’ll be when and if we have to go back to the office. Plus it makes me realize how much I enjoy spending time at home during the day doing whatever it is I feel like doing when things aren’t too busy.
Even though I don’t hate my job and I am not miserable there, I’d fully prefer to not have to go there daily. I’m aware that I’m one of the lucky ones given my work conditions and yet I still feel this way. It really makes you think about workplaces in general and puts the great resignation into perspective even more. Is it so hard to understand why people don’t want to come back to work in certain industries? I certainly understand it.
On a global scale, this pandemic has revealed work for the transaction that it is and that’s certainly one of the reasons for the great resignation and lack of workers for certain jobs(not to mention the many deaths that likely impacted the workforce and that no on seems to mention in these articles).
The reality is that many jobs especially ones where working at home isn’t available(think grocery stores or healthcare workers or manufacturing plants) have done a terrible job of showing that they care about their employees at all.
The mindset of customers first and many customers in general have driven many jobs into unbearable experiences.
The risk that people are taking for poor pay and inadequate protection is just not worth it and companies didn’t do anything to change that when they had the chance. Who wants to potentially die for a $10/hr. job and deal with terrible customers all day? I wouldn’t want that and I understand why people are fed up with this.
There was a point in time last year when my company actually tried to force us back into the office while the pandemic was raging(before vaccines). I told my team to stay at home and eventually the company changed their decision when they heard a lot of complaints from everyone involved.
While that’s great, the idea that people had to be in the office at all and put their lives at risk showed that these companies don’t really care about any of us and just want to make sure they have as much control as they can in order to keep the transaction weighted towards them.
The cool thing is that some of that is changing now and it’s great to see. The people who can jump to a new gig and get better pay and benefits should definitely be doing so to show these companies that they’re done being loyal when the company isn’t. Inflation and poor raises compound this issue too.
In my mind, this is not so much a labor shortage but a lack of willingness to pay a good wage with good benefits on the part of the company facing the shortage. It’s a lack of willingness to actually care about their employees beyond them being a number on the page. Yes there are good jobs out there and good companies that do that but there have to be more and I don’t see that change happening any time soon.
This year we got a 2% raise this year despite soaring inflation based on the idea that other companies are doing the same and inflation(at the time) was transitory. However, at the same time, we’ve also had a 12% bump in our health insurance costs. On top of that, I have to pay for parking if I return to the office which means my pay next year will be far shorter in buying power than this year if all that happens. Do I expect a 9%+ raise next year because inflation is still rising? I do not.
Maybe it’ll be time to look for a new job for the first time in a while. One requirement; the ability to work from home.
Raises, job quality, work from home or whatever, I still don’t believe that the type of work I do right now(generic corporate gig) will bring me substantial self fulfilment.
While I may certainly do things that may even bring in money after I retire, it won’t be the corporate grind because I’m just done with that whole thing especially after I saw how all these companies treated people this year.
Now that the clock is ticking, it’ll be a lot easier to deal with it knowing I only have X amount of time left.
I’ve Got So Many Hobbies and No Time to do Them
I just want more time to do stuff I like to do. I have a blog and a YouTube channel and I’ve barely had time or motivation to produce anything on both because we’re right in the middle of our busy season and I’m exhausted after work.
There’s a reason I haven’t posted much in the recent months and that’s soon to change because that busy season is over but it’s still a drag not to be able to do all the things you want to do.
It’s, like, a real bummer man.
On top of that, we just bought a house and man, there’s just a lot of chorin’ to be done around that thing.
We’re in the middle of a forest so right now we’re dealing with a deluge of weeds that basically have to be dealt with on a weekly basis. You add mowing, taking care of the mulch beds, mulching and more and it’s a recipe for a time sink.
The nice thing is that I find myself enjoying that stuff plus it can be a nice workout but it’d be nice to not have your entire week taken up by work and chores. If I had to give up, it’d definitely be work.
I also want to have more time to play board games, write short stories or even a novel, go for a hike in the middle of the day and learn how to cook better. I’d like to learn a new language, travel more and all that good stuff and while I can certainly do some of that right now(and am), I do think there’s more ahead for me when I’m able to cut the 40+ hours a week I’m forced to exchange for money.
Again, balance here is key, as I’m not saying I’m not able to do any of these things right now. I enjoy writing on this blog and do, I enjoy making YouTube videos and do and I enjoy doing a variety of those other things and do but I want to do more of them and I’m less than a decade away from being able to do that.
I also said maybe some of these things will make me money because monetization does happen. I wrote a bunch of short stories years ago that still earn me ~$150/month and would like to do more in that realm. This blog isn’t exactly bringing in any profit but it might someday and I’ll be able to donate that money to charity because I’m not dependent on it. My YouTube channel has some subscribers now and I might be able to monetize it soon.
The best thing is that I enjoy these things and find fulfillment in them. When I make that $150/month from my random short stories I wrote years ago, I’m more excited about that payment than I am about my check from work which is a lot higher than that and that’s because I care more about that stuff.
It’s my own thing and while it’s still trading my time for something, it’s something I choose to do over something I basically have to do.
I Want Flexibility
While this applies to my hobbies since I’d be able to do whatever I want, I also want the flexibility in the life I live.
It’d be nice to volunteer somewhere whenever I want and it’d also be nice to travel whenever I want.
Maybe, it’d be nice to find a job where money didn’t matter and where I was doing something I was passionate about. Sure, I could do that now, but there’s a lot of risk in that because I may hate it and earn less money. That’s no good. If I do that after 45 then I can just quit right away and not worry about it. That’s a beautiful spot to be in people.
There’s vacations too. Sure, I can take PTO and go on a vacation but I know I have a limit on the time I can spend there and just have more work waiting when I come back.
We like to travel and it’d be nice to just go to Hawaii for 2 months and hang out there for a while before coming home.
There is one impediment to that in that my wife might still be working when I retire early but maybe I can convince her to retire not too far after. However, she’s an engineer and the type of person who likes her job so maybe she’ll keep working for a while and I’ll just sit around at home tinkering with stuff.
I’ve seen a few of the retire early community just float around different cities and states during the journey and that would rock too. We have a home base with a house but going away for a bit of time would be pretty cool especially when you don’t have to worry much about coming back to work.
Plus, it’d be nice to sleep in more often, to take a walk any time during the day, go get groceries when it’s not that busy and cook a nice meal without being tired from a long day’s work.
I also have so many hobbies I want to pursue and not enough time in the day to do any of them and flexibility to do all that would be peachy keen.
I Hit a Milestone
It’s easy to say I’m going to retire early but you also have to do the work to get there. It takes time to save enough and start letting compound interest do more of the work for you.
However, once you’re there and moving closer to that target number, whatever it may be, you start feeling much better about hitting that end goal.
Well, I’m getting there now.
In my last spreadsheet update, I passed the big ol’ million dollar mark. ONE MILLION DOLLARS. That’s the two comma club!
It’s pretty cool to get there and really does make me feel better about this target. In fact, this is probably the most important factor and the impetus for the change in my mindset.
That’s just my portfolio value too and doesn’t include the other things that may make up my net worth like house equity or an emergency fund. It also doesn’t include any of my crypto holdings which I always assume have a chance to go to 0 in the long run but have started to become a more significant part of my overall net worth in recent years.
This spot basically means I’ve reached CoastFI which means I could stop saving at all today and still reach my target number with an 8% return.
The recent market turbulence has certainly impacted all this a bit but it just means I’m buying things at a discount for now and since I’m still years away from my end point, that’s a good thing.
That’s because I’m still working and saving, I can save more during this time frame and aim to exceed that target number for a more sound retirement especially now that I have some chronic health issues that will bump up my healthcare costs in early retirement.
We’ve already had a bit of a downturn but we’re right in the middle of a small recovery right now but I’m still aware that a full on market crash could certainly happen in the next 0-8 years. It’d certainly suck seeing the numbers on the page go down instead of up but as long as I and/or the wife remain employed, continued saving through that and a recovery after would mean that could actually be beneficial for us.
Overall, this is the main reason I can start considering this. I am an anxious person and setting a definitive end point is a big step for me and not something I was comfortable with until the path ahead was a bit clearer.
There’s still risks. Healthcare for example is a complete mess and while I pay $5000/year for a high deductible plan right now through work, that number would likely rise quite a bit for my wife and I on the open market. Here’s an example of a plan for a 50 year old man with a wife a few years younger than him in one of the northeast states.
That’s $17,000 per year with the potential for an additional $17,200 out of pocket if we both have a bad year. Holy guacamole, remind me why I can’t just pay an extra 5-10% in my taxes and get free healthcare again?
Market risks exist as well. If a prolonged crash happens then my million dollars could become half that in the blink of an eye. If a recovery takes longer than usual then that could create problems.
However, I know those things and can plan for them and work around them. I know I’ll need extra money planned for healthcare and might need to save more if the financials don’t work out due to a massive market crash.
It’s possible that I’ll find other ways to make money in the future as well. After all, this blog is amazing and surely going to attract readers by the dozens! Even if so, I’d still want my financial well being to be tied to my savings as I’d rather take on charitable endeavors with profits from this blog and other hobbies.
I know there are risks with any endeavor but there’s also a risk of simply dying early and never enjoying the fruit of your labors. I’d rather take on the known risks than experience the second.
Luckily, my life right now is pretty good with a good mix of work and life balance. I can enjoy many of the things I want to enjoy but certainly would like more time to spend with them. However, I’m not in a spot where I’m dying to get out and I can definitely weather a few more years of this before this goal comes calling.
So it’ll be 2030ish, a real good year. Then it’ll be time for early retirement. Heck, maybe it’ll happen even earlier. After all, that 45 end point isn’t a must, maybe I’ll retire earlier than that if things go better than expected. In either case, here’s to setting goals and early retirement in general.
It’s still years away but I’m certainly excited about it.
How about you. When do you want to retire?