Early Retirement Journey Made Easier
Early retirement – tell me one person who has never wished for it?
An article on ThinkSaveRetire.com struck an immediate chord. It really resonated with me. If you are thinking about early retirement, or have already retired early, I would ask you to read it.
Even though I am no longer working full-time, I hesitate to label my more-productive-than-ever-before life that I currently lead as “retired.” In reality, it is far from that.
Then again, other people term this as retirement. I have a quiet chuckle and then just roll with it.
Simple ways to make early retirement easy
Here is what I am doing to make my post-early retirement lifestyle easier and better
Focus on the goal, but appreciate the present
Steve, the author, says that sacrifice is necessary when we want to retire early. But it is not all that we should be doing. We should not forget to live our daily lives while we keep an eye on our ultimate goal – early retirement.
I have already cut the cord. Early retirement is here for me. Still, his point about not ignoring my present life is just as relevant.
As I work towards my goals, I must remember to appreciate the present, take time to celebrate the little victories and be grateful. I couldn’t agree more with him when he writes “Trust me, it’ll make the march towards early retirement much easier.”
Get excited about the smaller things in life
Steve, talks of how he looks for small, everyday things in life to get excited about. It could be anything – his favorite team or watching Netflix. He then wires himself up to show emotion – yell, curse and have fun as your team wins or loses.
There are two points being made. First, go out there and find things that get you all excited. Second, make yourself excited for them.
I agree with the first. Everyone should have a passion that excites them. Do something that gets your Dopamine going. This is what will help you when you face a challenge, need to make a tough decision, or when things go wrong. I love me some romantic comedies. Give me a good game of tennis to watch (Roger Federer versus Nadal, anyone?) and I am in heaven.
But I am not one to yell or curse at a game. I get excited about things, but I try to maintain an equanimous demeanor in front of people, including my closest friends and family. I show emotions. People will know I am happy or sad. I do not go wild, EVER! Should I try his way – about wiring yourself up for showing emotion? Let me know if you think I should.
Maintain relentless optimism
As an early retiree, positivity is fundamental to your happiness. This attitude is a basic requirement if you believe that your savings will last you for the next 30 – 50 years without having to work.
I am an optimistic person. I believe that things will work out – which is not to say we, as a family, won’t face hurdles along the way. We will overcome difficulties and come out on top.
My husband, on the other hand, is someone who always plays out the worse-case-scenarios in his mind – which is a good thing. It helps us to be prepared. However, he tends to gets worried about these scenarios becoming real-case situations. This hampers his problem-solving abilities.
Ignore the hate
Early retirees are often misunderstood. Steve has been called names and accused of “living off the fat of the land”. He says, “While easier said than done, ignoring the hate makes early retirement much, much easier.”
I, too, have been misunderstood. It bothers me, immensely. I have learned to tune out the criticism, but there are times when I can’t. These times still hurt. I need to work on mastering the ignoring game.
Destroy as many debts as possible before retiring
I was lucky I did not have much debt in my name. As a family, we had a small amount left on our mortgage (which has been paid off since).
Find something to do
En-pointe. You cannot retire to doing nothing. As human beings, we need to feel productive and accomplished. Find something to do – be it consulting work or a hobby.
In my case, this blog has become my work and my passion. It is something which I enjoy doing. I wish to convert it into a source of income, soon. I start my work at an appointed time, make a schedule to follow, have goals and KPIs for myself. Plus, with no people around me to chat with, I get more done each day.
Establish your personal business card
Everyone should design their business card. What does it say?
I often stumble when people ask me what I do. What should I say? I am afraid of being judged. If you worry too, then you should be doing this exercise too.
Don’t rely on discipline to save; instead, automate
Automation makes things simpler. You are no longer dependent on yourself to DO the thing – be it contributing to your 401(k) plan from your payroll, paying your monthly bills, or contributing to your investments.
I don’t have too many things automated. Reminders are set up for bills. Automating bills means linking service providers (cell phone, utilities, etc.) to my bank account. Data theft concerns me. By sharing my bank account information with as limited people as possible, I try to limit the number of places from where my information could get stolen and misused.
Make damn sure to pay yourself first
Typically, budgeters pay other people and entities first. You first budget for taxes, monthly bills, loan repayments etc. Then you spend whatever is left over. But do you have an emergency fund going?
Start by building up an emergency fund. Then pay the government. After that pay your debt dues, monthly bills etc.
I am lucky to have enough money saved to be able to fund an emergency. I need to set up a designated account for it. Pronto.
Forget the experts and focus on your goals
In simple words, YOU DO YOU!
There is no magic formula to make early retirement easier. Yes, there are guidelines for success. But you gotta make sure these work for you. You have a unique personality. Your financial position is different. And your goals are yours.
So whatever you do has to work for you.
I make sure I do not blindly copy any guru – financial or otherwise. For example, I tried the envelope system of budgeting. Within a few weeks, I had tweaked around with it to make it into something that works for me.
Do not worry about being a “minimalist”
Minimalism is a term that has been taken to the extreme. As Steve says, “Be sensible, not minimal”.
I make considered spending decisions and not impulsive ones. Labels like minimalist, thrifty are somethings I dislike and avoid. They become limiting.
I am careful about my spending. Coffee and some good stationery are my two indulgences. These are budgeted for, too.
READ MORE: Want to start budgeting? Here are some mantras for success that you need.
Talk about the future…all the time
It helps you keep your eye on the goal. Talk to your spouse. Find ways to include your children.
Discuss your goals, your plans to achieve them, tweaks you want to make to your life style. Talk about any (big?) purchases you are planning to make – be it a new car or your new iPhone.
This is a routine at hour house. Heck, we have even made a ritual out of it. The weekend visit to Starbucks is a great time for us to talk. Caffeine makes everything better. We enjoy the coffee and the conversations.
Maintain a giant pot of FU money, not F Me money
Both FU money and F Me Money are terms used by Steve.
The concept of FU money is “you can effectively put a stop to full-time income immediately and still remain financially independent, at least for a while.” That is precisely how I see my current financial position.
F Me money is when you “are living paycheck-to-paycheck and beholden to a full-time job in order to maintain your lifestyle.” I had a full-time white-collar banking job. I quit working, did I not?
Love your work, not necessarily your job
I loved both my job and my work, till I didn’t. It took me a while to make the decision.
My line of work has changed. I became a freelancer. This blog was started. Love what I am currently doing. It gets me all excited and pumped up.
You cannot compare yourself to others
Nor should you. Don’t compare the money you have or the age at which you retire. Instead, focus your energy on achieving your goals.
Success stories are a source of inspiration for me. I use their examples to set up goals with me.
At the same time, I agree with with the article. If I am comparing myself to others I am also limiting my self to their story, to their achievement. I make my own goals and focus on achieving those.
Have a plan if the shit hits the fan
Work towards success, but plan for failure. What if working as a freelancer does not bring me any income? How else can I use my skills to bring in income?
Draft your own “I Quit” letter
The idea is that you list down reasons why you want to take early retirement. Get them all down.
I never did so. But once I did quit, I wrote a post about why I quit full-time work without any regrets.
What stage of life are you in? Just starting to work? Built up a nest egg? Want to quit working full-time? Live in a single-income family? Work as a stay-at-home-mom? Let me know in the comments below.