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Reader Story: The Man Who Thought Early Retirement Sucked

candleAs occasionally happens on the weekends, I have an article from an MMM reader to share with you. I thought this one was an appropriate follow-up to my Internet Retirement Police rant. In that controversial piece, I attempted to re-define the word “Retirement” to reflect the reality that most of us don’t just simply stop doing things when we reach financial independence.

I issued that new definition to battle a common complaint against the philosophy of this blog: “I like working, and therefore I will never want to retire. Therefore, I will continue to spend all my money on myself as fast as I earn it, forever”.

Without a desire for financial independence, many of the lifestyle improvements we Mustachians take for granted may never come about. This is why I maintain this focus on “Reduce or Eliminate the Need to Work for Money – THEN see where life takes you after that”.

So let’s see what another early retiree – one who got there a few years younger than I did – has to say about life after freedom:

Financial Freedom Kind of Sucks – What Happened after a Young Retirement

What the hell was wrong with me?

I had done exactly what they all said to do. I skimped. I saved. I invested. Now, after six hard years of working my tail off, I was officially “financially free” at 26 years old. My income from my passive investments (mostly through real estate investing) eclipsed my monthly expenses (which I had minimized following a lot of the advice from guys like Mr Money Mustache) and I was technically retired.

And I was miserable.

I still remember the conversation I had with my wife the day I quit my job and said “I’ll never again have to use an alarm to wake up!” I thought that financial freedom was the freedom to do whatever I wanted – and I wanted sleep. I wanted to relax, to not have to work so hard, to not have to “fight the man” any longer. No more bosses, no more deadlines.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t loaded. I had simply surpassed my moderate amount of expenses with passive income. I didn’t have the money to live a life of ridiculous travel or buy myself a nice yacht to cruise around the islands with (though I don’t think that would make me any happier.) I simply had enough money not to work anymore. In other words – I had just enough money to wait around for death. I felt like I was living at a nursing home, but without the sterile walls and bed pans.

Granted, I don’t have children at this point so I can’t say how things would be different if I were raising some youngin’s, though my three cats definitely kept my busy. Okay, that’s a lie. My three cats took naps with me and I had to clean a litter box every few days. Okay, that’s a lie also – I just had to remind my wife that the litter box was in need of changing and I’d get back to the game. But when you have nothing to do, even the easiest, most mundane tasks seem overwhelming. In the words of Jim Gaffigan, “you mean I actually have to point the remote control?!”

At this point, you’re probably thinking I’m a lazy SOB who’s whining about “living the dream.”

Okay. That’s fair. I’ll still argue that “the dream” is more like watching a episode of a fishing show while taking sedatives. But let’s move on.

So, I had identified the problem: financial freedom sucks if that’s all it’s about.

I believe this fundamental thinking is imperative to get through our thick skulls, especially for followers of MrMoneyMustache. If you are following the lead of the head Mustachian by living below your means and curb stomping debt – chances are, it’s not going to be long before you are faced with the same problem.

So what should you do? Why does this even matter to you right now?

Here’s the deal: it’s time to start plotting your financial independence now, so you don’t end up a depressive pile of existence like I was.

And Then…

Let’s play a quick game I just invented (yes, I’m pretty resourceful.)

I call it the “and then” game. It’s real easy to play and something that’s been stirring around in my head for some time now, which has helped me get over the “financial freedom slump” and into some true, healthy productivity. To play, I just want you to envision your goal.

What are you aiming for in your quest for financial freedom? Is it to quit your job? Is it to travel the world? What is the end-game for you.

Do you have it? Great. Now ask yourself: “and then?”

In a world where many of us grew up playing video games, “the end” was truly “the end.” Once we saved the Princess from Bowser’s castle, we shut the game off and popped in another cartridge, perhaps tackling “Paperboy” or “Duck Hunt.”

In America (and probably elsewhere) retirement mentality is the same. The end goal is retirement… and then death. There may be a few games of shuffleboard and a few nice Bahama cruises during the waiting time before we bite the dust, but there really is no game plan for post-retirement.

The “And Then” game helps to change that mentality. For me, my goal was to quit my job and not have to work.

“And then?”

Well… I wouldn’t need an alarm.

“And then?”

Well… I would probably need to find something to do.”

“And then?”

I’d start a business and maybe teach something I’m good at? And probably start building a family.

Bingo. For me, the “And Then” game reveals that my goal shouldn’t simply have been “I want to retire.” Instead, retirement to me meant building a business of something I loved to do. It also meant making babies (whoo hoo!) – neither of which really required me to reach financial freedom to get to. Granted, I now have the ability to devote 100% of my time to those goals, so reaching that first level of “financial freedom” was simply a stepping stone.

So officially I “came out of retirement” and planning on how I would take my real estate business to the next level, while also starting a blog which led to a leadership position with the most influential real estate investing website on the planet. I now get to do everything I want – and in reality – it doesn’t involve sleeping in. In fact, I wake up earlier, sleep less, have more stress (the good kind,) more deadlines, and even a boss again – and I love every second of it.

That’s true financial freedom. I started this article stating that, at the time, I believed financial freedom meant being able to do whatever I wanted. However – what I thought I wanted was the problem. I didn’t want sleep – I wanted to build something awesome.

“Work is good for the soul,” as my dad always told me (or maybe it was just a line I heard in a movie. Either way, it makes sense.)

You might be different – maybe you want to teach, maybe you want to travel, maybe you want to start a blog. Whatever you want – I encourage you to start looking today at how you can make that happen. You don’t need retirement to make financial freedom a possibility. Start right now. What’s your goal? What do you really want in life?

And Then?

Brandon Turner is an active real estate investor and the editor of BiggerPockets.com

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One last note from MMM: That’s another reason I ran this post from Brandon: he works at BiggerPockets, which is a really interesting real estate investment forum used by many readers of this blog. If you want to understand current state of the art in  landlording, quickly, this is a great place to do it. Brandon suggested the link  http://www.biggerpockets.com/starthere

 

  • Lance @ Money Life and More March 23, 2013, 2:42 pm

    Even if you aren’t financially independent the “and then” line of thinking can help you figure out what you really want out of life. You think you want to buy a house? And then what? What is the goal after that? If you don’t have goals you have nothing to strive toward. I’ve gone been down that path before and you just start to waste away. You need to have something, a goal, an and then idea to keep moving forward in life.

    Reply
    • Brandon Turner March 23, 2013, 6:20 pm

      Hey Lance,

      That’s so true! I know a lot of people want to buy a house, or a car, or whatever just because that’s what people do. The “and then” game is a good way to keep yourself in check. Thanks for the comment Lance!

      Reply
  • Mike March 23, 2013, 2:48 pm

    I’ve got my “and then…” pretty much settled. Now to get there!

    Reply
  • Jennifer March 23, 2013, 2:54 pm

    This is my biggest fear of getting to FI. I know I can get there, but what will I do afterwards when all my friends are still at work all day. My challenge is to figure out the “and then” for myself.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache March 23, 2013, 3:17 pm

      How interesting that some people are pretty sure of their plan, and others are not. I have always had way too much to do – passions and interests and such – such that my day job was getting in the way back when I had one. So when I retired, I just continued to do the things I always wanted to do but formerly had a shortage of time for.

      Another early retiree friend of mine, however, says he is a bit short on ambition at the moment and is envious that I have about the next 30 years mentally booked with stuff to get done.

      A big part of it for me is being a Dad. That is already more than a full-time job for me, which ensures that any remaining free time is treated with great respect, for it is sparse. Once the little boy grows up, life might become much less busy. We’ll see.

      Reply
      • Giddings Plaza FI March 24, 2013, 10:50 am

        Jennifer, I’m in the same boat, interests-wise, as MMM. I haven’t quite reached FI yet, but during a long sabbatical I took, I had way more than enough to do–seeing friends a lot, taking care of my house, learning violin, getting back to fluency in my second language. You’ll figure out how to stretch your wings, whether it’s interests, home projects, or even starting to work again–although with more choices, because your money will truly be where your mouth is.

        Reply
  • Debt Derp March 23, 2013, 3:17 pm

    Great Post! I have always looked at things as “Whats Next?” With this mentality everything is a check list on a life you are “supposed” to live.

    Graduated from college. Check.

    Whats next?

    Get a job. Check.

    Whats next?

    Get married.

    Whats next?

    Buy a house, have a kid, save 5% of your income to retire at 65, etc. etc.

    So I am drawn to this idea of And Then… Instead of the life checklist.

    For me it’s pay off my crazy student loans, and then save most of my income, and then march towards financial independence, and then be free to do whatever the fuck I want, life checklists be damned.

    Hmmm, I love this way of thinking! Thanks.

    Reply
    • Brandon Turner March 23, 2013, 6:24 pm

      Thanks for the awesome comment! I use to dread growing up, because I feared that checklist. I always thought the worst day of my life would be the day after getting married- because my checklist was over and I was just waiting to die. Thankfully it kinda keeps getting better because I tossed the checklist :)

      Reply
  • Johnny Moneyseed March 23, 2013, 3:35 pm

    A few people that I work with know that I have a blog dedicated to the idea early retirement for my family. They, at once, began to berate me yesterday, asking questions I didn’t think I’d ever hear. “Why would you want to retire early?” “What’s the point of life if you aren’t working?” and of course “Won’t you be bored?”

    I had never thought to ask myself any of those questions, because I would never be bored myself. We have a drive towards higher things in life, and the only “the Man” that we’re going to have to deal with is yours truly.

    Reply
    • Stephanie March 23, 2013, 6:07 pm

      I have gotten the “what would you DO?” Comment from someone at work whose wife stays at home. Um, whatever I want to! I have a lot of hobbies!

      Reply
    • Giddings Plaza FI March 27, 2013, 10:25 am

      I get the same questions! I don’t see how I’d ever get bored. I just finished a four month sabbatical, and was crazy busy the whole time–socializing, landscaping my yard, learning violin, sleeping late…loved it. And yes, when I am FI, I will most likely still do income-producing work. But I’ll do it on my terms.

      Reply
  • Done by Forty March 23, 2013, 3:37 pm

    Reply
    • Mr HighFalutin HillFolk March 23, 2013, 4:21 pm

      lmao

      Reply
    • Dmitry March 23, 2013, 10:43 pm

      That was great! :)

      Reply
    • Brandon Turner March 24, 2013, 5:27 pm

      Hahaha Awesome! I forgot all about this scene – or I would have totally added this video. Thanks for posting this!

      Reply
  • CALL 911 March 23, 2013, 4:05 pm

    I’ve been on the journey for only a few months, and this article speaks to a silent, nagging fear I’ve had. I really like my job. I don’t want to be tied to it forever though. I’m trying to get to FI not to retire, but to have FU money, so if my job becomes intolerable I can say FU!
    And then?
    I figure I have a dozen years to figure out the answer to this question.
    Thanks for touching on my insecurity guys!

    Reply
  • Kenoryn March 23, 2013, 4:21 pm

    I’m not surprised to see people say this, as I have colleagues who will come back from a week’s vacation saying, “Yeah, it was good to relax for a bit, but it starts to get old by the end” – ?!?! For me, there aren’t enough hours in the day for all I want to do, and I’ve decided the day job is the one that’s got to go. For Christmas a couple of years ago I gave my partner a book on how to build your own guitar and he gave me a cheesemaking kit and plans for building a cheese press, and alas, neither of us have been able to get to those things. (Well, I did make mozzarella a couple times. Turns out that only takes about half an hour! No cheese press required.) The things we could be learning with an extra 40 hours per week! The things we could be creating! I’m learning woodworking and woodcarving, he’s learning metalworking. We’re renovating my house and learning everything that goes with that. We’re growing more of our food every year and someday we’ll build our own house with an attached greenhouse to grow more exotic stuff like olives, coffee, etc… but for now we’re limited by time.

    Anyway… back to work on the new wainscoting in the bathroom! Any early retirees looking for something to do are welcome to come help… ;)

    Reply
    • Brian March 24, 2013, 9:44 am

      It sounds like you have it all figured out. Only boring people get bored. If more people had a desire to try new things and learn new things this would not be an issue. Now, time to start building my own guitar!

      Reply
    • Brian March 24, 2013, 9:48 am

      Right on! Only boring people get bored. If more people wanted to learn and try new things this would not be an issue.

      Reply
    • Fil March 25, 2013, 5:08 pm

      Woodworking and metalworking! I am complete agreement that that is a great way to spend time. Creating something yourself that is either functional or beautiful or both is awesome. Especially when someone asks you where you bought it or who did it for you and you smile and say you made it. I look forward to more time to pursue these things.

      Reply
  • Mr HighFalutin HillFolk March 23, 2013, 4:22 pm

    i can’t comprehend ever running out of things to do. the thought of it boggles the mind.

    Reply
    • Mr. 1500 March 23, 2013, 5:00 pm

      Agreed.

      The way I think about it is that work is just one phase in life. Prior to this phase was education. After the work phase is done, there will be others. The work phase is the only mandatory one though, so best to make it as short as possible to regain choice and freedom.

      Reply
  • Jose March 23, 2013, 4:22 pm

    I’m not afraid of an early retirement. I’m looking forward to it. What I do know is that there won’t be endless day’s golfing, sitting on the couch watching TV or other inane activities. I would go nuts, so the odds are pretty favorable that I will take up a second career doing something I love. Not because I HAVE to, but because I WANT to.

    Reply
  • Rick March 23, 2013, 4:31 pm

    My problem is that I have mostly lived the Mustache lifestyle (spend $100k/yr) and saved 60% post tax. I have about $5 million and in my thirties. I think I want to retire but I love my job. Plus I am addicted to saving more just to see the stash grow. How do you say enough is enough? How do you “retire” from a job you love and make tons of $ to only have a “retirement hobby/job” that pays a lot less?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache March 23, 2013, 4:41 pm

      Wait.. you think that spending $100k per year qualifies as a Mustachian lifestyle? Maybe if you have a rare disease that requires you hover permanently in a helicopter and never touch the surface of the Earth.. :-)

      If you love your job, it seems like no problem to keep it. If you’d rather do something else, you can do that too, without regard for whether it earns money or not. If you do choose to keep earning, at least there are some pretty powerful things that can be accomplished with that kind of wealth over a lifetime.

      Reply
      • Rick March 23, 2013, 5:23 pm

        It should read UNDER $100k. Closer to $40-50k. And the 60-70% post-tax is what I put into Vanguard on my own. In addition I max out SEP and other retirement funds about $75k. I think I am more Mustachian than not – living on $40k with an income over $750k.

        How did the “sucessfully retired” detach from the Accumulation phase without it being painful? Didn’t it seem that when you or ERE or any other high $ saver stopped the massive saving, it felt like something was wrong? That’s where I need some help. Financial advisors and magazines don’t discuss this. That’s part of the reason I spend or donate a little extra money – I just feel greedy saving so much, spending so little, and actually loving my job – so the stash continues to grow. And what are these powerful accomplishments you suggest? Extreme saving and retirement blogs make little mention of charity because the need to make sure the money lasts 40+ years.

        Reply
        • Tom March 23, 2013, 8:18 pm

          Why not turn “donate a little” into “donate a lot” if you’ve got that kind of cash and comparably very small expenses? There is no shortage of worthy causes that could desperately use your generous donations.

          Reply
        • Xtal March 23, 2013, 8:57 pm

          This may help:

          http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/09/29/weekend-edition-the-life-you-can-save/

          I would love to give more money to charity, but I “only” gross $58k a year. Nonetheless, I already do give some, and I have plans to give more. In fact, I just got the book mentioned in that post from the library, and am about to start reading it.

          Reply
        • Jesse March 23, 2013, 9:10 pm

          Don’t feel bad, life is for living and if you enjoy your job, keep at it!

          To deal with the greedy feeling, you could create a will and leave it to your loved ones and/or to charities and other organizations, so that you know it’ll go to help others if you don’t use it all up during your lifetime.

          You could also do all sorts of interesting projects with that amount of cash, beyond just donating it to charities. Depending what you’re interested in, you could try to improve your local community by investing in small businesses and non-profits, or do stuff like buying property and renting it out for very cheap to those in need. Whatever you do, have fun with it!

          Reply
        • Kenoryn March 24, 2013, 12:54 pm

          Important thing to remember, I think, is that money, in and of itself, has no actual value and is completely useless. The only reason anyone values it is because of the things you can use it to accomplish. If you can already accomplish the things you need or want to, it can provide you with no further value. Why would you pursue the acquisition of something that has no value? It’s like growing zucchinis (bear with me here). It’s easy to get carried away and end up with too many. They’re so easy to grow. Why not have more? But what good are they if you don’t eat them? Unless you have an outlet to give them away to people who will eat them. Otherwise you’re stuck doing the ol’ ring-the-doorbell-leave-a-zucchini-on-the-front-step-and-run-away trick. ;) Fortunately money is easier to give away than zucchinis…

          Reply
          • InDifferentCircumflexes April 6, 2013, 8:31 am

            Your comment is somewhere off the charts – for several reasons:

            1. His earning that kind of money on something he loves doing – tells him straight up that he is creating value. Regardless of what you might think of that.

            2. Accumulation of capital is highly useful for society – just try building a business from scratch without capital or loans!

            3. Once he starts thinking about it, I’m sure there will turn up many things he can do with it, such as (e.g.) giving finance to start-ups (which potentially could generate jobs), or he could invest in good companies that need more capital to expand…

            4. Why not simply add to the heap, then start using from it, once he gets tired of his job ? Nobody said there was a maximum limit of the ‘stache stash!

            And your comment about money: Money have value in an economy – that’s their very reason to exist! If you start defining “value” as in “what’s useful on a deserted island”, then … well, in that case gold is valueless.

            Reply
            • Farmstache October 21, 2013, 4:57 pm

              But gold is valueless. While I agree with you that once he starts figuring out what to do with the money, everything will turn out great, I think most of the mustachianism concept is actually that money is worth less than experiences or happiness: you need only to have enough not to worry, and then you can enjoy life to the fullest.

              Really, money doesn’t actually have value. If we could ER by getting a bag of food, some entertainement tickets for what we love and enough supplies to do any side projects – then we wouldn’t need money at all.

              I think that’s massively important: money in itself holds no value. There are money hoarders like there are junk hoarders. If it’s not serving you, it’s like accumulating junk. Learning to detach from the value of the money to attach to the value of what you can experience is a precious lesson. When I look into nickel picking today, I’m not seeing money going in, I’m seeing my future freedom going in. I’m seeing my farm, my animals, my family meetings under a starry sky. If I had 5 million, I’d surely put it to work for the best causes instead of just the most profitable option, because after you get the freedom to choose, money is indeed useless.

              It’s not easy to do, but it’s an important step.

              As a tip to the millionaire, what I’d do to start dealing with the “hoarding” habit is what MMM advocates to break any habit: small changes, adjusting actions while aiming for a similar feeling in the after-fact. Say, if you enjoy seeing the pile grow, why not use some of the money on a more charitable venue that gives you reports and where you can also see the pile grow? It’s not growing in your bank account, but still growing somewhere.

              Reply
        • anonymouse March 25, 2013, 7:59 pm

          Have you tried taking a break from work? You love it, sure, but is there anything else that you like to do? Given the sort of money you’re making, and presumably how long you’ve been at it, your employer might be willing to let you take a couple months off, and you have more than enough savings that you can even afford to quit and go look for work after your break. And then… well, figure out what your life looks like without work, by actually trying it and seeing what happens. Do you have hobbies that you would have time to pursue more deeply? Are there any causes you’re passionate about but don’t have the time to help with? Did you ever want to accomplish some crazy feat like cycling across Russia or walking from Land’s End to John o’ Groats, just to say to yourself that you’ve done it? Try it, see how you like it, and go back to work if that’s what you want to do, just be careful that you’re doing it because you truly want it more than any alternative, rather than just out of habit.

          Reply
      • Greg March 25, 2013, 1:18 pm

        MMM, it’s time to reintroduce readers to the concept of a SWAMI, a Satisfied Working Advanced Mustachian Individual, http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/04/30/weekend-edition-retire-in-your-mind-even-if-you-love-your-job/.

        Reply
    • lurker March 24, 2013, 8:31 am

      nice problem to have….hey Rick how would you like to pay off my mortgage and put my kids through college?????

      Reply
  • zweipersona March 23, 2013, 4:39 pm

    This is pretty simple for me. I still intend to work, just around the world, experiencing other cultures and seeing the sights. There are a LOT of overseas opportunities out there, especially if you’re willing to teach english overseas.

    Reply
    • Brandon Turner March 23, 2013, 6:38 pm

      I told myself the exact same thing, but ironically haven’t traveled a whole lot since quitting my job! I think I need a trip soon :)

      Reply
  • Mr. 1500 March 23, 2013, 4:55 pm

    This one hits close to home for me. My dad was in construction (electrician) until the Great Recession hit. He waited for about 2 years until he realized that there wouldn’t be work again for a very, very long time. He was lucky to be eligible for retirement with a fat union pension, so he made it official.

    However, he hadn’t ever considered retirement, so had no plans. He went into a deep depression where he would sleep for 16 hours a day. He grew lethargic and accomplished absolutely nothing for the next couple years. To say it almost killed him isn’t an exaggeration.

    Eventually, we got him started with other activities. He now volunteers for Habitat for Humanity and bikes about 100 miles per week.

    We all need a plan for our time and purpose in our lives.

    Reply
    • Steve D March 26, 2013, 11:42 am

      Whoa, how old is your dad?
      @ a working age in the 1930s, and is STILL biking 100 miles a week?

      I guess even if he was 14 yrs only in 1932, born in 1918, he would be close to 100? Good for him!

      Reply
      • Mark W March 26, 2013, 10:10 pm

        Steve, I think you’re confusing his use of the phrase “Great Recession” (2008…) with the Great Depresssion (1929…1933). It sounds to me like Mr. 1500′s dad is a recent retiree, but probably not of an advanced age. I’m happy that he’s back to feeling useful…

        Reply
  • My Financial Independence Journey March 23, 2013, 5:11 pm

    For me, financial independence is mostly a form of insurance all kinds of negative career events like layoffs or crazy bosses, rather than a desire to stop working or career shift.

    I’ve tried the “and then” game and it doesn’t mesh with FI for me. None of my “and then”s are productive passions like starting a business. All of them require money which would lower my savings rate and delay FI. So there’s a lot of balancing between what I can do now (time and money wise) and what I’ll have to wait until true retirement to be able to do.

    Reply
    • Brandon Turner March 23, 2013, 6:35 pm

      That’s a great way of looking at it – insurance. For me, it was just a stepping stone, so I can do more of the things I want to do rather than the things I have to do. My passion is pretty equally split between trying to build a big business and just volunteering, which I think is important too. Good luck to you on your journey!

      Reply
  • Jazz March 23, 2013, 5:22 pm

    Brave new life had a very interesting post several months ago along the same lines. He called it “filling the retirement identity gap”:

    http://www.bravenewlife.com/09/the-retirement-identity-gap/

    I think for us the first few years will be filled with travel and sight seeing. After that we might take up some money making hobbies. Regardless of what we decide to do, my golden rule will be: no more stupid, externally imposed deadlines!

    Reply
  • Joe March 23, 2013, 5:23 pm

    Yeap, Financial Independent/retirement isn’t that simple. Everyone I know who left their job is still quite active. I’m getting less sleep than ever since I quit my career.
    You have to keep busy and stay active to feel fulfilled. I’m sure I’d get depressed again if I don’t have anything to do other than watching TV all day. Life is more interesting when you have goals.
    These days I’m spending most of my time raising the kid and the rest of it on my blogs. Once the kid heads off to school, I’ll probably expand my online business or start some kind of local microbusiness.

    Reply
    • Brandon Turner March 23, 2013, 6:30 pm

      I think you hit on something really major here – goals. They are ubber important, and without something to reach, it’s too easy to slow down!

      Reply
    • Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies March 23, 2013, 7:09 pm

      The happiest retirees we have ever known (early or otherwise) are those that have a follow-up act. Be it creating a small business or devoting a significant amount of time toward a charity – they have something that occupies a large portion of their time.
      For now my “and then” is a little opaque since we’re not 100% sure if it’s going to contain a small person or not. If it does, I assume there will be much homeschooling (perhaps including other non-related children in that mix). If it doesn’t, then I expect that volunteering and teaching will play a slightly different role. The “and then” is also likely to be mobile – traveling slowly at times and exploring living in different areas. =)

      Reply
  • Michelle March 23, 2013, 5:32 pm

    This is something that I always think about. I don’t think I could ever just quit and do nothing, mainly because I’ve always been so busy. However, having less on my plate would be nice!

    Reply
    • Brandon Turner March 23, 2013, 6:37 pm

      Ironically, I feel like I have so much more on my plate now, but it’s stuff I want on my plate :) Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Reply
  • Lucas March 23, 2013, 5:45 pm

    definitely a good thing to think about! I think the bigger question for me is how in the world will I chose between all the things I value. Every time I achieve a big goal there is something of a let down because I know it isn’t everything it is cracked up to be, but there are a million and a half things to move on to!!

    Reply
  • Leon @ Hardworking Penguin March 23, 2013, 7:11 pm

    Hey Brandon nice to see you here on MMM! I’m an avid reader on this blog as well. Keep up the good work at Biggerpockets

    Reply
  • MaryM March 23, 2013, 7:49 pm

    I absolutely agree with your “and then?” game. It is a real eye-opening question of those supposedly “happily-ever-after” situations. You need to know what you want to do even after you achieve your goals. Like your video games analogy, a lot of feel-good movies just “end” at where people get into the dream of their college, win the most challenging competition or fall in love the person of their life. And then? … in real life, we move on with more challenging goals.

    Reply
    • Aaron March 25, 2013, 12:58 pm

      And for those movie, tv show, or video game endings, if they make a sequel then something typically goes wrong with the “happy ending”. Why is that? Because saying that they are just happy and nothing interesting happens for the rest of the time is just boring.

      Reply
  • Geek March 23, 2013, 7:50 pm

    At FI I think I’ll learn to golf since I’ve wanted to for a few years now.
    Then I’ll get actually good at Japanese vs. good at being very bad at Japanese.
    And write more of my short stories and keep working on the novel.
    And walk the dogs for at least an hour a day in the summer (they don’t like Seattle winter any more than I do)
    And ski daily in the winter. If I get good enough I’ll teach!
    Likewise with windsurfing (bonus: windsurfing and golf likely don’t occur on the same day).
    And I’d write in my darn blog so it was active more than 2 weeks a year.

    If I do all of this I still won’t have enough time for all of the books I want to read. :/

    Reply
  • @pfinMario March 23, 2013, 7:52 pm

    It’s interesting that you had a wife who, presumably, kept working. Would the boredom have been different if you had both early-retired at the same time? As a still single guy I don’t know that I could tell someone on a first date that I just kinda sit around all day

    Reply
  • Geek March 23, 2013, 7:53 pm

    At FI I think I’ll learn to golf since I’ve wanted to for a few years now but until I’m FI I don’t think I need another money-costing hobby.

    If I really decide I don’t want to work I have a huge list of things though :)

    Reply
  • Someone March 23, 2013, 8:01 pm

    Sorry, this post was kind of an “Obviously” post. I’m a little mystified that he worked so hard for financial independence without figuring out WHY he was working towards that.

    For me, financial independence and “retirement” has never been about the thing in itself. It has ALWAYS been about freeing up my time to focus on the stuff that matters more to me.

    It’s great that he finally figured out what he wanted to do with his time, but if you notice, he didn’t need to become financially independent to do it either. If he had figured out his passion for real estate a lot sooner, he could have gotten into it long before he became financially independent. It’s the same difference for him.

    Always figure out why you want financial independence and what you want to do post-FI. If you don’t, that’s amateur-level thinking. Sorry, but it’s true.

    Reply
    • Debbie M March 24, 2013, 2:10 am

      Sometimes you’re running from something rather than toward something. Sometimes that thing you’re running from is so all-consuming that you really don’t have the time or energy for anything but the running.

      Reply
      • Tara March 25, 2013, 11:39 am

        This is true for me – I want to get out of my corporate cubicle 9 hour a day job, but I think it is going to take me several months of recuperating and pondering to figure out what I want to do next, once I get over the stress of the past 30 years of working. But I do plan to find that next thing, because I get bored and depressed with no place to go and nothing to do every day.

        Reply
        • Mike March 25, 2013, 6:40 pm

          I couldn’t agree more, I am saving like crazy so I can quit working because I hate my job. I have a few ideas in mind and I’m fleshing those out more right now but I really doubt I’ll have a clear direction when I achieve FI (it’s only a few years away).

          Reply
  • Mr. Bonner March 23, 2013, 9:39 pm

    There was a hilarious (well…maybe not…) article on The Onion recently about finding the thing you are most passionate about then doing that on nights and weekends for the rest of your life. One should strive to work all day then when you are exhausted and tired try to squeeze out a few quality minutes each day of whatever you really care about. Unfortunately, The Onion is all too often not as far off base as it may seem.

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/find-the-thing-youre-most-passionate-about-then-do,31742/

    Reply
  • Mr Risky Startup March 23, 2013, 10:10 pm

    I have it easy. In a few years, once I reach the FI in my late 40′s (or win the lottery, which is impossible as I am not dumb enough to play it), I will take a day to celebrate the moment – and then go right back to work.

    I love my job and I am pretty boring person – not many hobbies, cannot stand doing work around the house, hate TV… I don’t mind golf, but even that is not something I could do more than once per week.

    From my own family history, all my workaholic predecessors either found something to keep them busy, or they quickly got depressed and died after their careers were over. Unlike my grandpa who took on building a boat followed by building a summer house and ended up living into his 90′s, I have no desire or skill to do something like that. I like supporting charities, but only with my money. I like to travel, but I could not do it full time… So, my plan is to keep working until I drop dead.

    All the power to MMM and those who can find the fulfilment outside of the typical career, but some of us are just not cut to be “free”.

    P.S. Recently I heard the story about the guy who helps business owners sell their businesses. He said that number of owners who end up with few million in their pockets, and no worry in sight, end up vacationing and playing golf for a few months, and then many get depresses and even attempt suicide. Apparently, by leaving their careers, they lost the meaning of life. Sad.

    http://www.thestar.com/business/small_business/exitstrategy/2012/11/26/what_to_expect_when_retiring.html

    Reply
  • Debbie M March 24, 2013, 2:36 am

    Sometimes you can’t guess at the “and then” until you start trying things out. Like most readers here, I probably have enough hobbies to fill up my day (reading, auditing classes, listening to music, playing instruments, writing, hiking, dancing, sewing and other needle arts, etc.), but one of my ideas for a big, productive thing involves starting with some volunteer work at the local junior high (probably math tutoring) and seeing just what they need and how that matches up with what I’m good at. I don’t want to be a teacher (so many kids! so many classes!), but I’d love to work with teachers to make better teaching materials. Or maybe tutoring a the local community college where I’ll be taking Spanish after I retire may lead somewhere. Or who knows?

    Reply
  • Melinda Gonzalez March 24, 2013, 9:10 am

    I think you covered a subject many people worry about. I think we are all used to being so busy, that when were not we feel useless. The thing is while we may be “busy” we aren’t really going anywhere. The good thing about financial independence is that it gives us an opportunity to create “space” for our true selves to come out. If we can get past the anxiety and need to be busy, we will discover what we truly enjoy doing. I think it takes a strong person to slow down and actually focus their attention inward instead of outward. Once you figure out what you love, you can start doing it – just like you did. Your a great example of how slowing down can change your whole life – and direction.

    Reply
  • kr March 24, 2013, 9:22 am

    I think people have said this before … but there really should be a better word to use in these discussions than “retired.” (No one probably wants to go around using “financially independent” because it sounds like bragging, ha ha.) Retired just has so many connotations, and you have to discuss and explain and push your way through all the baggage/philosophy of that.

    Reply
  • Jeremy March 24, 2013, 9:24 am

    And then… We will travel the world! Muahahahaha

    6 months later, I’m not sure how I used to find time to go to work. We’ve been developing our Spanish skills, playing in the ocean, meeting new people, and exploring new cities.

    Reply
  • Tushar @ Everything Finance March 24, 2013, 9:31 am

    I love the honesty. Sometimes, when I see people retire this early, I think about how bored they must be if they don’t have a ton happening on the side. If you are building a business, then I don’t consider that retirement, so I admit that I always pictured people retiring super early doing nothing at all with their days.

    I really love the “and then” mentality. Knowing what you want to achieve when you reach your goal (financial independence) is super important.

    Reply
  • Ishmael March 24, 2013, 9:35 am

    I can’t even wrap my head around the idea that people would find their life boring without paid employment. Time at work can be OK, but it doesn’t compare to the time you spend away from it.

    Most jobs have had the enjoyable/reqarding parts sucked out of them anyways, with increasing specialization and need for efficiency.

    When I retire, I look forward to:
    – reading
    – starting an interesting small business (without the pressure of needing to make a certain level of money at it)
    – hobby farm activities (gardening, logging, etc)
    – fishing (a lot!) and hunting
    – playing some video games again. Waste of time, but they are fun!
    – finishing renovations on our farm house.
    – more camping and travelling (at a leisurely pace, guided by good deals and not a rush of time). This will include going camping until I get tired of it sometime. I’ve never come close, and I’m curious to know how long I can do it before getting a bit tired of it.
    – writing a book
    – tinkering with robotics and home automation
    – open-source programming
    – take some more courses (including learning to _really_ cook)
    – much more cooking and food preparation
    – listening to CBC radio programs I never seem to catch now.
    – volunteering for local environmental organizations
    – being more politically involved
    – cleaning up my wood lot
    – woodworking and building furniture and other useful things

    Well, that’s a few off the top of my head, anyways. There are lots more!

    Right now, all I can do is say, “well, I don’t have time for any of that so I might as well not even think about it.”

    Reply
    • Matt March 25, 2013, 5:18 am

      Nevermind all that, those of us with kids propbably wouldn;t have any free time anyway!

      But seriously, I find it worrying too but from a different perspective. A lot of people have stated what they would DO with their time, but another question is “WHY” and the whole point of life and living. It’s easy to lose sight of why we are here with a job and no time to think, but just doing stuff for pleasure isn’t an end in itself either. I think, at least in my case, I’d have to find meaning perhaps in something that contributes back to society.

      Reply
  • CL March 24, 2013, 9:57 am

    I know that for me at least early retirement had always been about having time to spend with my future children. I also would like to read more books and write more frequently. I’d like to travel a bit more, learn more languages, and spend more time swimming at the lovely beaches in Sarasota, FL.

    Reply
  • Tim March 24, 2013, 10:37 am

    I have to say I often don’t get a critical point of these posts. The author had a good job, and left Financially Independent. It’s unclear how he felt about his job, though the fact that he left at 26 suggests that he cared more about not working than about his job. Now he is involved in a business that he enjoys, has a boss, and has all the other trappings of a job.

    My question: why didn’t he just start at this job to begin with? Why is it necessary to gain Financial Independence first?

    I realize that many people find this blog and Financial Independence exciting because they want to be able to do unpaid activities. But for people who enjoy paid activities, whether a full time job, a startup business, or blogging: why not do what you enjoy now?

    Reply
  • Melinda Gonzalez March 24, 2013, 10:37 am

    I believe a lot of people are afraid of not being busy, because than they are forced to deal with all the internal stuff – like what they really want to do in life (not what’s expected). I think financial independence gives us the opportunity to stop “doing” all the time, and focus on the internal instead of external. Most of us are doing a lot, but accomplishing nothing. It might be uncomfortable at first, but if we can get past the discomfort I think we will naturally discover what our true love and purpose is. That is what financial independence can allow for us – the chance to stop being a “human doing” and instead be a “human being”.

    *Sorry I posted basically the same thing twice, the website was acting crazy with me!*

    Reply
  • Maia March 24, 2013, 11:48 am

    It’s so important to have goals that you work towards, which are outside of your job, unless your job in itself is your passion, but even then you can be financially independent and continue doing it, just with having that extra piece of mind.
    The best thing is to have a list of goals as well as a life list of all the things you want to achieve and work towards in your life, keep adding to it and reviewing it and that way when you do reach FI you’ll be armed with an endless list of possibilities.

    Reply
  • Canadian Budget Binder March 24, 2013, 12:21 pm

    Good for you Brandon.
    It was easy to relate to your story in terms of the “And Then” as I frequently ask myself that when I think about the future. If I ever did reach a point of FI and was able to walk away from my job I’d likely start something else in my life. I’m not one to sit around as I’m always on the go. The luxury will be I get to pick what I want to do with my life that is my “And Then”. Great story.

    Reply
  • Wall Street Playboys March 24, 2013, 6:29 pm

    You know the real crux here is that people eventually realize that the end goal is “helping people”.

    Yeah people can read the blog i help run and think that its for “bragging” but really the goal is to help educate and encourage men to go out there and take what is theirs.

    In this story you posted above by teaching and starting a family that is in essence “helping” you are raising a family to pass on information to a loved one. Just as teaching you are helping your students who become “like family” to you.

    This blog is another example. The BEST feeling is when you get an email from someone who says you helped “change their life”. Only got 2 of those so far but that’s 100 times more motivating than an extra $1K in your bank account or a fancy new car. Helping people in a positive way is a sickening positive feed back loop. You meet new people who help you for free, you help them for free, both of you feel good about one another and the cycle continues over and over and over again. This is why “retirement” or financial freedom or whatever you want to call it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. You can now do exactly what you want to do when you want it and people again are good at heart so they turn to helping one another.

    Of course from a personal basis, not going to go full on MMM lifestyle (feel free to throw some hate towards this post) but at the end of the day the key here is passing on information, making friends, and helping people grow. That will inevitably lead to opportunities.

    Reply
  • jet March 25, 2013, 12:28 am

    Yup, good article. For me at the moment it boils down to, the things I want to do, vs what I actually do in order to bring in the money. There needs to be balance in all things in life, and so I plan my annual leave, foster cats, write two blogs, and am networking to perhaps start a bike coop/kitchen in my area.

    If I could make enough money to pay down the mortgage doing all these things then great! We are not quite ready for that yet. Maybe when I do these things in my spare time they will build momentum for when I finally can quit the 9-5 job.

    Reply
  • Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce March 25, 2013, 5:41 am

    Nice, Brandon. I like the “and then” philosophy. My favorite quote, however:

    “Reduce or Eliminate the Need to Work for Money – THEN see where life takes you after that”.

    So..you saw. AND THEN…

    I did not even get halfway to where you got financially; I cut expenses left and right and started making more money, and I found that I only want to work half as much.

    Bottom line: you cannot go wrong beginning the process of eliminating the need to work for money!

    Reply
  • Doug March 25, 2013, 9:12 am

    He said: I thought that financial freedom was the freedom to do whatever I wanted. Well, that’s what true financial freedom is. However, if he wants to do things like travel a lot and doesn’t have the money, then it’s debatable how much freedom he really has. I would suggest he try getting part time or temporary employment to supplement income (remember, if you don’t really need the money, you can pick and choose, and quit if the job’s not to your liking) and between jobs do other pursuits like travel. That’s pretty much what I’ve done since I “retired” at age 34 in 1995. I should add that, contrary to popular belief, it’s harder for a single person like myself to build up income to retire as I have or have had only one income.

    Reply
  • Angulo March 25, 2013, 9:16 am

    I get the same comments from my co-workers who say that they will be bored if they can’t work anymore. I will never understand that…
    But…what about if I don’t want to learn wood carving or start a business
    or volunteer and all I want to do in retirement is watch/listen to my
    15,000+ lp/cd/vhs/dvd/bluray collection??
    Should I feel bad about that???
    Now…wouldn’t it be fatally ironic that somehow I became blind or deaf
    close to or after retirement?

    Reply
  • Freeyourchains March 25, 2013, 11:12 am

    All you need are Huge goals to change Humanity and/or Technology. Be like Jacob at ERE, and Publish a paper on Neutron Stars. Impress others and impress yourself. No Ph.d required, only a library card + time. They will ask how you did it, and you just say to them, Financial Freedom + all the time in my life to think and study about it, and then they will all write you off as a one time success coook and/or crazy, but then you become successful again with another patent, and again and again and again, just like Nicholas Tesla. Then you agree to a contract with an Investor like Westinghouse to $1.25/HP, and later have to rip it up least your best friend’s company goes bankrupt paying you in royalties after the first few million.

    Tesla References with PDF’s worth reading at:
    http://www.stealthskater.com/Science.htm#Tesla

    Reply
  • John@MoneyPrinciple March 26, 2013, 5:41 pm

    Retirement is an awful word for a change in what you do. How many people do you know who ‘retire’ and then drop dead of boredom.

    realised this ages ago so my mantra is that I never want to retire but hope to just change what I do. Stay working, stay learning, stay thinking and stay living.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache March 26, 2013, 10:06 pm

      I hear it happens, but I’ve never known anyone who got bored when they retired. For everyone I know, it has been a time to start doing the things in life that are more worth doing. Although flexible self-directed work fits right in with this model, a scheduled 9-5 job can really get in the way of it. That’s why I wrote the post “The Tyranny of Having a Real Job”

      Reply
      • Doug March 28, 2013, 12:24 pm

        I don’t buy into that urban myth about people who retire and are bored to death either. I’ve also found a full time 9-5 Monday to Friday job to be tyranny, something that causes a major disruption in the orderly flow of my life. Who says you can’t stay learning and thinking by doing other things outside of paid employment?

        Reply
  • DoubleDown March 27, 2013, 1:18 pm

    Megamind has achieved his goal, and sums it all up sitting around in his pajamas:

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mi59kKLzo9g&w=420&h=315

    Reply
  • Brian March 29, 2013, 1:50 pm

    Just a comment on his statement about not having enough to travel. My wife, 1 year old son and I are currently doing just that. But using MMM’s philosophy of reducing and living simply. We are travelling the U.S. in a pop up camper we bought for $700. It’s solar powered by a panel I built. State parks are usually around $20/night to stay at with full hookups, and most national parks are usually free to stay at primitive sites. Since we are both nature lovers, we dont go shopping , we reduce our times out to eat to once a month, and the things we like to do are almost always free. We have been doing this since the end of January this year an made it from Pittsburgh, PA > Kentucky > Tennessee > Spanish Fort,Al > New Orleans, LA > Lafayette,LA > Bernice,LA > and currently in Mohanas , TX. All on a little under $2k per month passive income.

    We are heading to Tonto Basin-Lake Roosevelt, AZ to volunteer as camp hosts for 3 months where we get a full hookup site and propane for free.We plan on travelling indefinitely and will NEVER buy a huge RV.
    You can also check out couchsurfing.org for international travel and stay or look into a somewhat new trend called “boondocking”

    Reply
  • Dick March 31, 2013, 9:43 am

    I’ve been a lurker here long enough and I think it’s time to bore you with my two cents.

    I think people don’t realize how vitally important it is to have some sort sort of plan or hobbies and passions. Otherwise your liable to end in a very small world.

    The best example what otherwise happens, are my upstairs neighbors who, I found out recently , appear to keep track of everything that happens around them from their chairs. This includes at what time I go to bed and get up . If or when I go out. And if not why not ? And if they hear a sound they can’t trace I get the third degree in what was that sound a couple of days ago.. and so…and so on..

    It ain’t healthy folks ! I have seen other near and dear people who quietly withered away with time as being their biggest enemy. They start calling you at the office because they can’t stand the silence any longer.

    Reply
    • Doug April 5, 2013, 5:08 pm

      What a depressing existence that is. If that’s all I existed for, I would rather be dead so not to be a parasitic drag on the world’s already overstressed natural resources.

      When you look out the window of a plane 8 miles above the ground, the horizon looks flat because you can’t see the curvature of the Earth. Given that the Earth is so mindbogglingly big, and the Universe is far, far, far bigger, how could anyone possibly run out of things to see, do, and experience? I just don’t get it, and never will.

      Reply
  • Anna April 7, 2013, 3:55 pm

    If I didn’t have answers to the “and then” question I wouldn’t even be motivated to become financially independent. I’m not motivated by retirement, I’m motivated the idea of following my life purpose.

    Reply
  • Nikki June 19, 2013, 4:06 pm

    We aren’t retired yet, but we’re already having this problem. I will be “retiring” from my job as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom in 5 years (because my kids will graduate/become adults), and my husband should be able to retire at about the same time, give or take a year or so. He will be 53 and I will be 46. I have NO IDEA what we will do. I have been a full-time mom for so long (since age 22), it kind of defines me. And he has been without leisure time for so long, he’s not sure what he’ll do with it.

    Reply
  • The Roamer May 21, 2014, 10:41 am

    I really enjoyed this article and I guess my unspoken question has been answers. I always wondered if MMM had heard of bigger pockets and Brandon turner. Before I found MMM I was a bigger pockets reader I even read the beginners guide(lots of great info and I totally recommend it) but without getting the spouse to buy in real estate investing just wasn’t going to happen….
    Back to topic this was great I’ll pass it on to the Spouse. I always feel like I have lots of goals I’m striving for so inadvertently I ask and then like I finished paying of student loans and then I put the money some where else…I’m working on goals now so after retirement I hope I have more time to really immerse myself in them… And I know my blog is helping me stay accountable in my action steps
    It’s all really exciting! :)

    Reply

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