Financially Independent, Retire Early
As the years have gone by, we have received many questions about FIRE. We’ve spoken to those who wish to retire early, and to those who have already done so.
What has emerged as a theme, is that there are two paths to FIRE: the monetary, measurable path — and the emotional, immeasurable path.
Let us explain.
Physical and measurable
It’s obvious that to retire early, one must have the money.
Someone must track their spending, find out where their money is going and what they spend annually to live the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. Take that annual spending figure and multiply it by 25 as the experts have recommended, and then the resulting number is the amount one must have in invested, liquid assets.
To make reaching that number easier, one can simplify their personal infrastructure, cut back on spending, invest wisely, and join their company’s matched retirement plans. If a person is younger, they have time on their side to begin making a money machine.
After retirement, there’s the 4% safe withdrawal rate, and perhaps some geographical arbitrage to keep housing expenses down. Then there’s Social Security, Medicare, personal wills and trusts.
This is a very formulaic, very mechanical approach to achieving the numbers and protecting your assets.
Many of the people we have spoken to, say this is the easy part. Just follow the tried and true blueprint.
Then… there’s the other path. The one that can often blow someone out of the early retirement water.
Emotional and immeasurable
In the early days of our retirement, no one spoke of this side of the equation to gaining your financially independent dream life.
In fact, this secret torpedo-to-your-plans was pooh-poohed as not important.
Today, one will see articles here and there about the emotional component of early retirement, but most of the financial planners that you pay to see don’t speak of it.
That’s because it can’t be measured, there is no one-size-fits-all, and everyone has different desires and challenges when it comes to their emotional involvements.
However, if you want to ensure a successful early retirement, the sentimental and psychological side must be dealt with, or it will rear its ugly head and take you down.
We have always said that to retire early is simple, but it’s not always easy.
We believe anyone can do it, but one must be committed.
If you are married, then your partner must be on the same financial and goal-oriented page as you are.
Spender vs Saver
If your spouse is a spender by nature and you are a saver, then there will be trouble in paradise reaching your set goals. If there is no meeting of the minds, there can be divorce, or the dream of early retirement will be shelved.
Someone in the partnership suffers.
Different retirement goals
If your spouse thinks leaving the job is fabulous, but they want to replace the job with activities like being on a city or business board, have a life filled with volunteer work, growing a garden or taking continuing education classes at your local university, that retirement dream could pose a compromise to you. Especially if your idea of financial freedom is travel, simplifying your housing to save money, becoming a snowbird or an expat.
These are very real situations, and just goes to show you that there will be issues to resolve between you. Not impossible, but these things need to be talked out before you make the retirement leap.
Sentimental family home and grandchildren
What if there is an old sentimental house in the family that takes commitment to repair and maintain, and perhaps the other spouse has their eye on a footloose and freer lifestyle?
How does one meld those two very different dreams?
What happens when you go merrily along on your FIRE path and then grandchildren come into the mix? The balancing of this matter has ripped couples apart. There are workable solutions but one must be open-minded about them, not putting a foot down giving ultimatums.
Both people have a right to their retirement dreams.
Peer pressure and status in society
And then there’s the issue of peer pressure and status in the community.
Let’s face it.
One’s career can give us a certain kind of standing in the community from which we derive all sorts of benefits and pleasures.
One man told us that it didn’t matter, that his freedom was more important. But then as he settled into FIRE, he realized how much he took his executive first class flights for granted. And his secretary’s ability to plan his trips and lodging on the company’s tab was also overlooked.
These days, no one calls him to solve problems at his company, and his flights were in the “common cabin” which affected him psychologically. He was surprised at this discovery!
Hey. It happens. Welcome to the other side of life.
Depending on your particular retirement plan, getting a new car every few years, upgrading one’s entertainment system, vacationing in 5-star resorts could all be pushed to the back. No one will defer to you on the sidewalk like they did at the office. Yes, you have become FREE! But to others you just look “ordinary.” No job titles are worn when you jog at the community park.
There is no speedy way to wade through
The emotional path of FIRE has to do with intangibles. It concerns values which roll around in your mind and heart that you might not even know you had.
While the emotional side of your life cannot be easily calculated nor standardized for everyone, it’s a huge part of your personal happiness.
Finding out how much money is enough is essential to your future. However, if you don’t respect the matters of the heart for your retirement future, you may unnecessarily find yourself in choppy emotional waters.
It is important for you to learn who you are without your job title, before embarking on your new adventure. Like an actor that has been type-cast, now is the time to reinvent yourself.
About the Authors
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on Amazon.com.