I’ve mentioned that we have a 1 year old daughter. We’ve used that as much as possible to make family come to us for visits. Well we finally lost that battle and agreed we’d make the trip this time. Between 3 different stops and a few more day trips we hit about 1,200 miles. I must admit the kid was a good sport about being stuck in the car and she mostly slept. We had very nice visits overall except when we shared our exit young plans, but not for the reason you’d think.
If you hear many stories about early retirees sharing their plans with family, you run across many of the same themes. You can usually bucket them into 3 categories.
- That’s stupid – amazement that you’d be willing to give up all the money that you could make mixed with disbelief that you can make your saving last for a 40+ year retirement
- I like work – just as it sounds and these people do exist. They don’t even understand why you’d want to retire early, work is great.
- I’m Jealous – These are the folks that can’t comprehend how you’ve been able to save enough to even consider retiring early and don’t believe it would be possible for them.
I was ready for any combination of these when one night we shared our new mission with my sister. We hadn’t planned on telling them anything. We had actually agreed not to say anything to anyone about it. But as these things tend to go after a few bottles of wine and beer, I was excided to share our plans and secretly hoping they wanted to come along for the ride. I knew they could be in very similar position to us financially. They both make decent money and my brother-in-law had inherited a bit of money back when.
So we told them. We laid out the mission, how we were sick of work as it currently exists, and how we planned to not have to work anymore. We described how until the kiddo is out of high school we plan to stay nearby family and after that consider whatever floats our boat.
Surprisingly the reaction they gave was a classic #2 with a small spattering of #1. I didn’t really think they liked their jobs… just goes to show ya. The #1 didn’t surprise me as much. I know they spend more than we do. Great house in a great location, spare car, more frequent big travel. I didn’t overly expect that they’d want to cut back on any of that to retire earlier except for one thing. My in-laws have not had the best track record of longevity. I thought if anything could help them to see the value in an exit young strategy, that would be it. Alas, no such luck. But that wasn’t what bummed me out about the conversation.
When they began to pepper me with questions about what I would do in retirement, I had no good answers. For as many years as I’ve spent thinking about retirement, I still don’t have a vision of what it should be like. What it really got me thinking is that maybe I’m making a big mistake and that couldn’t be more depressing.
My wife is a very routine oriented person. She works out 6 times a week, reads every night, and is never bored. Her vision of retirement looks very similar to her current existence. Instead of going to work as she does now she would teach some exercise classes. Instead of cooking nice meals a couple times a week, she would do a few more. She would spend more time with our daughter and there you have it.
I’m sure I would also expand some of the things I do now. I would probably golf more though that gets old at times. I could certainly use more exercise. But that alone doesn’t really excite me. Can you be excited to retire but not excited about life as retired? I do think it’s likely I’ll take some sort of part time work but who knows.
I was reminded of something I heard once that made a lot of sense. “Don’t get an MBA because you hate your job. Get an MBA if the job you really want requires it”. That’s not perfectly analogy but hear me out. Its basically saying not to spend a whole lot of money to get something to doesn’t solve the underlying issue. Isn’t that what retiring early does, give up a ton of money to get away from your current job?
Yes and no right? At the end of an MBA, you’ve not only given up money but also time. Early retirement spends money but buys time. I guess what it comes down to is this, I need a plan. I’m sick of the status quo and need something else. I’m all in on retiring early but I have about 4 years to figure out the vision for that life or I’m going to be more stressed than I am now.
I do take some comfort from a vacation day I took recently. No reason for the day off other than I had one that I needed to use before the end of the year. It was glorious! I slept until 10:30, enjoyed what was left of my morning, and ran a couple errands. While I loved every minute of it I’m not sure how that extrapolates to full time. I may need more routine than that. Sleeping in was terrific though!
Would love to hear from all the FIRE folks out there. How did you go about developing your vision for early retirement? Post in the comments.