When I was about 23 or 24 years old, I remember having a conversation with a girl that I worked with about how I planned on retiring before I turned 40 years old. She thought I was just joking or just talking about some sort of “pipe dream”. However, I was actually dead serious. It was right around that time that I read a book called “Rich Dad Poor Dad”, which basically points out that you always have the option in life to work for yourself rather than work for someone else your whole life. That book planted the seed in my mind that I would be retiring someday in the not-so-distant future.
My friend at work however, gave me the same reaction that most people have when talking about retiring in your 30’s or 40’s. She pretty much had the firm belief that doing something like that was completely crazy and unrealistic, and her response to me was simply “Ya wouldn’t that be nice…”.
Well, I did retire when I was 30 years old, and let me tell you, it is VERY nice!
What Retirement is According to Most People
Most people view retirement as something that they must wait for, something that they must earn by putting in several decades of hard work. Retirement age used to be 65. I believe it’s 62 now, but I’m not completely sure about that, nor does it matter to me. Whatever the official age may be that the government will allow you to retire is irrelevant. Let’s just say that “retirement age”, according to most people, is an age that you will be when you are much older than you are now.
Once you finally reach “retirement age”, you are finally allowed to have access to your “retirement fund” without having to pay a penalty. Sure, there may be a few other perks that the government allows you once you reach that magic age where you are allowed to stop working, but the main thing is that you can access your retirement fund without having to pay an extremely large penalty for early withdrawal.
In order to successfully retire, according to the generally accepted view, you must spend the majority of your life working a full-time job and putting money aside each week into your retirement fund. Hopefully you and your financial adviser made good investment choices within your retirement plan, because whatever money you have in that retirement fund must last you for the remainder of your life. At least, that’s the plan.
So in short, retirement according to most people is essentially the day that comes when you:
1.) Can legally access your retirement fund without having to pay a penalty, and
2.) Are certain that you have saved up enough money and invested properly so that you have enough money to last you for the rest of your life
Why That System is Flawed
1.) There’s no guarantee that you will live to ever see “retirement age”. You may walk outside of your house today and get hit by a bus. God forbid that that ever happens to anyone, but you really can’t know for sure just how much longer you have left on this Earth.
2.) That way requires roughly 40 years of your service. Generally, most people don’t really enjoy their jobs very much. It’s a very rare thing to meet someone that has a genuine passion for how they make their living. Most people simply just go to a place everyday called “work” so they can earn a paycheck. A full-time job is EXTREMELY time consuming when taking into consideration all that is involved – travel time, actual time on-site, going to bed early so you are well rested for the next day, and the lack of freedom to travel anywhere that is too far away from your home since you have to be at work the next day. During most people’s working years, the majority of their lives are consumed by their jobs. If you don’t believe that your job dictates how you will spend most of your life, answer this question – It’s Tuesday today….why don’t you just take a ride down the shore and stay down there for a few days? You can’t do that though, because you have to be back at work tomorrow. Not only does a full-time job occupy your time while you are actually working, but it also occupies your time while you are not at work, because you must be ready to go back tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that….Accept it or not, but when you have a full-time job, an extremely large portion of your life is dedicated to servicing that job. If you choose to abide by the socially accepted retirement system, you must be prepared to service that job for about 40 years or so.
3.) You must wait until you are a senior citizen to finally get to enjoy living your life as you please, while you spend your healthier, more physically capable years servicing your job and only getting small bits and pieces of freedom during your off-days and your vacation time. Even the small bits of freedom that you get on the weekends and during vacation weeks are only tastes of what TRUE freedom actually is. You still must be home and ready to go back to work when your vacation is over. It’s not until you become a senior citizen, and you retire that you can finally enjoy the feeling of what it’s like to be 100% free from any obligations to be back at work. Unfortunately, if you wait until you hit your 60’s to finally experience that feeling of complete freedom, you will have already missed out on all of that great stuff that you would have loved to have done when you were younger and more capable. Not that you can’t still have fun when you turn 60, but I would never want to let my youth pass me. There’s just too much fun to be had!
4.) You may become very bored, very quickly when you suddenly have all the free time in the world. If you’ve spent the last 40 years of your life revolving your schedule around your job, than what exactly are you going to do with all of the extra free time that you have once you don’t have to go to that job anymore? Maybe you can focus on your hobbies more, assuming that you have picked up some hobbies over the years. However, we as humans become conditioned to doing things a certain way from repeatedly living our lives following a routine. If your “life routine” for 40 years is to get up early everyday and go to work, come home and relax with your family and/or friends, and go to bed early so you are prepared to do it all over the next day, than what exactly are you going to do with yourself once your lifestyle does not have “work” to revolve around anymore? You may find that you have no problems keeping yourself busy and living an enjoyable life with your newly found freedom, but there is also a very good chance that the sudden shock to your system may cause you to almost experience “job withdrawal”. I know several retired people that continue to work for this exact reason. They simply don’t know what to do with themselves otherwise.
5.) You may not have saved up enough money or invested properly for your 40+ working years. Maybe you were living paycheck to paycheck for most of your life, and the thought of putting 5 – 6% of your paycheck towards your 401K plan was completely out of the question. Or maybe you were investing a percentage of your paycheck towards your retirement fund each week, but you or your financial adviser chose poor investments, and your retirement fund only has enough money in it to last you for 5 years or so. There is no guarantee that your retirement fund is going to have sufficient funds to last you for the remainder of your life. What will you do than? Continue working?
6.) If your entire life was spent working for someone else, you will have missed out on learning the valuable life skills as to how to make money for yourself. Simply doing what you are told and collecting an hourly wage or annual salary is not the same thing as knowing how to make money for yourself. Not that anyone is required to ever learn how to become self-employed, but it certainly is a useful skill set to have. There simply just isn’t enough time to learn that skill if your entire life is spent servicing a full-time job. If, when you finally do hit retirement age, you find that your retirement account doesn’t have sufficient funds in it, you will most likely need to get another job because you have not learned the skills of making your own living.
What Retirement is to Me
This is just my humble opinion about the matter, but retirement to me is not the same thing that most people would consider it to be. Fortunately, I’m free to make my own choices in life and view things however I chose to view them. Therefore, I can view the concept of “retirement” anyway I choose to.
Retirement to me is simply living my life exactly as I please, without having a boss, and without having any obligations to do things that I really don’t want to do. I’m doing that now. I play live gigs with my band about 2 to 4 times per week. I write books. I develop websites. I stay out late at nights. I sleep as late I want. I train Jiu-jitsu 4 to 5 days per week. Basically, I just do whatever I want. All of my endeavors are things that I truly want to be doing. How I make my living is completely on my own terms. I don’t focus on anything that I don’t truly love doing anymore, as I did for many years. That was not the case when I worked for a company full-time. Getting up at 6 am everyday to go push papers around was not even in the slightest bit enjoyable. I could say that it was tolerable at best, but even that is a stretch of the truth.
I “retired” from living a mediocre life that I did not enjoy. I now can gladly tell people without complete honesty that I really do love what I do for a living. I will continue to do things that I love to do for the remainder of my life. If I do reach the magic age that the government finally allows me to “officially retire”, my life will still be no different. When I’m 60 or 65 years old, I may not be writing books or playing in a band, but I will still be living my life completely on my own terms, doing exactly what I want to be doing.
Since the choice is completely up to me (and you as well) as to how I choose to view what “retirement” actually is, I can honestly say that I have achieved my goal of retiring before I turn 40 years old. In fact, I did it at the age 30. It was the best decision that I ever made, and I highly recommend that others give it a shot as well.
How You Can Retire Now
I’m no different than you or anyone else that reads this blog. All I did was simply formulate a plan….albeit a very vague one…and I followed through with it. I was filled with doubts and uncertainties as to how I’d get by without having a job. After all, I have always had a job, and a paycheck since I was 14 years old. I simply just put some thought into how I could possibly get by in life without having a job, and I made a plan which I followed through with. It worked out just fine, and all of the concerns that I had were non-existent.
You can retire now too simply by believing that it is possible. Not many people have that kind of belief in themselves though. For instance, I was talking with a friend the other night about what I’m doing for a living these days. She said, “I wish I could do that”.
My response to her was, “You can do it too if you want to.”
Immediately she responded similarly to how most other people respond by saying, “Well, I’m not quite as talented as you are, so I couldn’t do what you do.”
Her assumption was that the fact that I know how to play guitar, and I’m in a band is what allowed me to quit my day job. I told her that she was completely wrong about that. In fact, most of the money that I make from the band, I spend on beer at the bars that I’m playing at! The band thing is really just a hobby to me. It is only a small part of how I make my living. I do make money from the band, but that alone is definitely not enough to allow me to fund my current work-free lifestyle.
It’s a combination of the room rentals, the books, the websites, and the band that allows me to fund my current lifestyle. That was all part of my vague plan when I quit my job. My initial plan was to live off savings, play some gigs, and have two roommates while I “figured something else out”. I fully intended to be pretty much poverty-stricken within just a few months when my savings ran out. However, after following through with my plan I found that not to be the case. I never actually have had to touch my savings account. Instead, I picked up several more gigs with my band. I also built another room in my basement so I could have a third roommate. Additionally, I took some online courses about website development and marketing eBooks. I’m now doing just fine financially, and I’m doing so on my own terms.
I took what is known as the “ready, fire, aim” approach as opposed to the “ready, aim, fire” approach. In other words, I took my shot before having a solidified plan in my head as to exactly what I was going to do. If I had decided to continue planning exactly what I was going to do, I very well would still be working at my job today, because I never would have been “ready enough”. I just had to go for it, and figure things out along the way. I did exactly that, and it’s working very well for me!
Anyone can do what I did. If you are intelligent enough to go out and get hired for a good job, than you are intelligent enough to make a plan as to how you can make a living for yourself on your own terms. If you have the ability to learn to write a resume, successfully interview, and learn how to do a job well, than you also have the ability to develop an alternative lifestyle for yourself that is much more enjoyable for you. You have the ability to learn things and apply yourself, therefore you can use that ability in any area of your life that you choose.
Additionally, if you have the ability to get up every single day and go to work, that alone tells me that you have exactly what it takes to retire now, and live your dream life. Imagine if you took all of the mental energy that you spend on being a good employee (showing up everyday, not calling out, doing your job well, etc…), and instead spent it on doing planning and researching as to how you could potentially earn money via your own passionate endeavors. I’m absolutely certain that if you believed in yourself and put that much effort into structuring your dream life, you could definitely do it. Yes, you could retire NOW if you want to. It just takes some planning, willing to try new things, and taking action!
“You miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky
P.S. – If you liked this article, and the overall message that I am conveying in my site, you should really sign up for my mailing list. I sporadically send out emails with all kinds of cool content. It’s free to join!!