240 comments

Reader Case Study: Should This Man Claim his Freedom?

"Badass Mustachian Eagle of Freedom" by M. Mustache. 2013, 8.5"x11", Kid paint on scrap paper

“Badass Mustachian Eagle of Freedom” by M. Mustache. 2013, 8.5″x11″, Kid paint on scrap paper

I’ve had the chance to go to lunch with quite a few visiting Mustachians of late, and a theme has been popping up in the conversations. Like my own family, many of these readers have been leading slightly-less-ridiculous-than-average lives for years, which has led to a considerable surplus of money.

But amassing money is just one side of the coin. The other is knowing what to do with it: deciding upon your own definition of freedom, figuring out when you have saved enough to accomplish it, and gaining the confidence to make the jump when you get there.

So when this incredible comment showed up on the post about The Rules, I knew I had to get in touch with the guy who wrote it. His general theme is not uncommon among readers of this blog, and if we study the theme, we may all be able to learn a thing or two.

(our conversation has been edited for length)

Dear MMM,

Love the blog. Actually, I read it obsessively, and have even begun preaching the precepts to all (including friends and family – I’m trying to convert the kids into Mustachians before it’s too late).

Anyway, here is my problem: I am a BIG FAT GUTLESS PHONY! That’s right. As far as I’m concerned I can afford to retire now at 54 years of age. Our net worth (the wife and I) incuding the house, is $4.25 million. However, any time I suggest to the wife that I am packing it in (I hate the meaninglessness, imposterism, drudgery, uncertainty, depression inducing self-esteem sucking, soul wrenching boredom, of my useless pseudo-middle-management-faking-it-all-day-$100K a year plus automobile-desk-job), she disagrees and expresses concerns about our lifestyle and the children.

I tell her it doesn’t have to be that way, and point out the huge wealth of information that you have so concisely articulated in hundreds of articles. But, alas, it does me no good.

I’m just a regular dude who happens to have some very basic Level 3 Mustachian instincts (assuming the levels go from Level 1 at the lowest to Level 15 at the highest) who got lucky with my timing in life. I bought a house 30 years ago before prices were insane, moved once, 25 years ago, paid off the mortgage aggressively a long time ago, and enjoyed the quadrupling of its value.

Similarly, I was as frugal as I could be, earning a basic salary through employment over the last 30 years, with a semi-spendthrift wife and 3 kids with quasi-rich friends, while investing in basic stuff .

So now that I’m TIRED, FED UP, DEPRESSED, and I JUST WANNA QUIT and read books, and fix up my house, and ride my Harley, and exercise, and go skiing, and ride a bike (a real bicycle), and do my photography, and cook, and volunteer, and indulge in a mid-day Bota Box if I get the urge, and stay in California, or Arizona, and shop at Trader Joe’s in the U.S., and beach bum in Florida for a couple of months a year.

Yeah – I know it’s my fault. I SUCK. So, other than just manning up and breaking free, do you have any advice on an alternate way to present the facts to convince her we’ll still be OK, even with keeping the house for now, and investing the $3M for income?
Please. I’m ready for a change. Time to break the rules.

Sincerely,
Yin Yang

This comment blew my mind. So many aspects of Mustachianism, so many successes and failures and emotions and common themes, wrapped into a single comment. This is a man of 54 years of age who is ready for a plate of Freedom, but thus far has failed to walk up to the counter and claim it. So I wrote back to him and requested further details. His reply was:

It’s difficult to explain the situation to “non-Mustachians”. Most people I encounter do not hate their jobs (or at least do not ADMIT to it). When I mention “retirement” to anyone, I get looked at as if I had a third eye…. There’s a weird combination of guilt and pressure I feel – from my wife, parents, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. – that somehow has a psychological grip on me, and keeps me “playing the game”. It’s as if I would become a pariah if I stepped off the treadmill. The worst thing I fear is setting a bad example to my children, none of whom have even started to work yet. I don’t want them thinking “If dad can be a bum, why can’t I?”

Financial Figures

Combined Employment Income:
$140,000.00 Gross (pre tax) (My portion is $110K – that will disappear with retirement.)

Monthly Expenses:
Property Tax $670.00
Electricity $400.00
Heat:$125.00
Phone: $30.00
Internet: $125.00
Home Alarm System: $30.00
Home Insurance: $200.00
Car Insurance: $660.00 (4 vehicles)
Motorcycle Insurance: $100.00
Lawn care/Maintenance: $100.00
Life Insurance: $200.00
Disability Insurance: $250.00
Critical Illness Insurance: $225.00
Cable TV: $70
Cell Phones: $160.00 (Wife’s plus 1 kid)
College Tuition and Living Expenses (2 kids): $2500.00
Food: $650.00
Fuel for 4 Cars: $400.00
Vehicle Maintenance: $200.00 (4 vehicles)
Vacations: $1000.00 (3 trips a year plus some long weekends)
Miscellaneous:$200.00

Total expenses $8295/month

Assets:
Home -mortgage free; Estimated market value: $1,000,000.00

Liquid non-tax sheltered investments: $2,350,000.00
Includes an allocation of Stocks, Bonds, Preferred Shares, REITS (real estate investment trusts), ETF’s, Mutual Funds, GIC’s (CD’s), and some Cash.
Income yield across the board on all of this is approximately 5% annually. The market value of the holdings fluctuates depending on the way the market goes, interest rates, and other variables.

Registered (Tax sheltered) Funds (RRSP) (i.e., 401K)
$750,000.00 in ETF’s, Mutual Funds, GIC’s
Mostly growth oriented equity funds, some dividend reinvestment. Mostly long term outlook.

Rental Income Property
Value: $325,000.00
Mortgage: $200,000.00
NET positive monthly cash flow (after all expenses): $450.00 ($5,400/year)
(If I bailed on it now, I could likely add $100,000.00 liquid cash to my portfolio).

I have 3 “adult” children: 26, 25, and 21 – two in university. There is a potential massive expense coming if they pursue law and medical education outside of Canada ($100k for a domestic education, $500k for the US equivalent)

The house will definitely be downsized within 3-5 years, freeing at least $400,000.00 cash for more investments.

I anticipate having these ridiculously high expenses for the next 3-5 years, but would still like to retire in 1 year (at 55).  I would like to hang out in Florida and/or California for at least 2 months a year, and in Colorado (to ski) for at least 6 weeks a year as part of my retirement wish list.

Whoo. While that is a lot of information, and I can hear the WHOOSHing sound of 800,000 boxing gloves stirring up the nation’s wind currents as we all read that astonishing list of expenses, let’s start with an end-run around the whole heap of details:

This guy’s invested savings (taxable plus retirement): $3,100,000
Annual income provided by these savings, using the 4% rule: $124,000
Current (worst-case) annual living expenses: $99,540

See, once you amass a sizeable ‘stash, your money can work harder than you can. And while YinYang’s expenses are massive right now, his great collection of investments is providing passive income and growth that will on average easily outrun his family’s spending even if he never reduces these expenses. Doing the math, the current expenses are only 3.2% of the investments, meaning he has a huge safety margin beyond even that which is built into the 4% rule.

Since the worst case is already good enough, we could close this case study right now and tell our man to retire. Which is exactly what I advised him in my first response to his comment. But since I am Mr. Money Mustache, there is obviously more to be said on those expenses:

Property Tax: This will drop by at least $200/month when you move
Electricity: $400 a month – WTF? Do you live in a one-acre Bouncy Castle that you keep inflated with 1,000 blowdryers? My electric bill is under 25 bucks. You need to get yours down right now my man. Savings: at least $300/month.
Home Alarm System: 
These are a silly invention – the Timeshare Condos of the suburbs. Drop it, live free, and save $30.
Car Insurance and Gas: You are forking over $15,120 per year (and probably over $20,000 after accounting for depreciation), in order to trash your own environment while driving four unnecessary vehicles around in circles. Why are you punishing your children by addicting them to Motorized Thrones when they could obviously ride bikes? Where is your own bike? If the distances involved are too great, you live in the wrong place and need to move. Savings: at least $1,000 per month.
Life, Disability, and Critical Illness Insurance: What are you insuring against? Your savings are already equivalent to several life insurance settlements. Even if you perish before finishing this article, your family is financially set for life. Cancel all three policies immediately and save $675.00 per month.
Cable TV:
Did you throw this in just to enrage Mr. Money Mustache!? Fuck the nonsense of nationally broadcast passive entertainment – as multimillionaires who are raising doctors and lawyers, your family is obviously intelligent enough to find more advanced forms of entertainment than watching TV, for a savings of $70 per month
Cell Phones: $160 is an awful lot of cash for occasional access to radio waves. You might check out this MMM reader’s quick guide to less costly cell plans in Canada. Savings: at least $60.
Vacations and Miscellaneous:
with a tighter budget, I would grill you on these expenses as well. However, given your unstoppable cash surplus, I’ll leave these bits of luxury untouched, so you can be free to attack the other areas.

Investments: Although we won’t get into the details, you should conduct an audit and make sure you aren’t carrying any of the nonsense high-fee mutual funds (expense ratio over 0.5% or preferably 0.25%) in the portfolio. Instead I’d carry passive index funds that track the Canadian TSX index, US total stock index (like Vanguards VTSAX), and international stocks (VGTSX). Large REITs are nice too.

Total monthly savings after application of the MMM Face Punch: $2335. This is a 28% reduction of your expenses, even without touching the core of your lifestyle – the ability to help your kids with their education. Applying the 4% rule in reverse, this spending cut is equivalent to increasing your nest egg by about $700,000. And after downsizing your house, the newly liberated cash will add to that, resulting in a total equivalent wealth boost of $1.1 million.

In a Nutshell: Congratulations. You’re set for life. There is not even the slightest logical jusification for you not to hand in your two-week notice at the end of your workday today. While the agreement of a spouse is important, there is no sense continuing an unsatisfying job when all possible calculations suggest your salary is completely unnecessary. And as the final bit of unnecessary safety margin not mentioned in the box above, your wife is still free to keep her own job.

These objections based on fear are often rooted in a lack of understanding of the true nature of investment returns. Money really does produce money when invested, but this fact is not intuitively obvious if you haven’t soaked up the idea. The solution is then some sort of education – simple investing books, or talking to other early retirees. However, the facts are behind you on this one, so I am optimistic that anyone can learn to let go and let their retirement savings sustain them, given a sufficient cushion.

While there are many good solutions to the problem of a misunderstanding like this one, “Continuing to work an unnecessary job you hate”, is not one of them.

You have many adventures in freedom and years of healthy healing ahead of you. And if you’re so inclined, please keep a journal of your experience so we can take inspiration ourselves.

As for you: If you’re more than ready to pull the plug – go for it, and share your story as well!

 

Further Reading: an older classic on a similar theme theme: the Quitting Lawyer and the Despondent Millionaire

 

  • mary w November 4, 2013, 1:18 pm

    I understand people wanting to pay for their children’s education. I generally agree with paying for undergrad education if the parents can afford it (and you can). However, I would strongly urge you to reconsider any thought of paying for graduate education either in Canada or abroad. The “right” graduate education will either be paid for by someone else (employer or educational institution itself through jobs) OR for a clearly high paying career such as an MD where student loans can be reasonably paid off after graduation.

    Just do it!

    Reply
    • CincyCat November 4, 2013, 6:21 pm

      I completely agree! We are prepared to pay for undergrad education for our kids, but graduate degrees are on them. As you state, many employers pay for MBAs, etc. As for medical & law degrees, I don’t think there is any obligation (moral or otherwise) on mom & dad to pay for this! Good grief! That’s upwards of $250,000 x 3 kids, plus interest! My sister is an MD, and I am an MBA, and we never expected our parents to help us with these degrees! We were married with families of our own by this point in our lives!

      Reply
      • Nina November 11, 2013, 8:39 am

        Education was probably the most important priority to my pre-Mustachian era parents and they were able to support me and my siblings through any path we pursued (they encouraged “professions” and so raised engineers and doctors). I say “able to” because for the most part we covered our own educations through scholarships and work, and I would say that both these things gave us a leg up in life. We all left school with no debt but also important experiences, connections and life skills (and some investment savings to boot!). And we didn’t bankrupt our parents in the process. With my own kids, I have saved for their educations, but there is no way, even though I can, that I will fund 100%. They’d never understand the meaning of hard work or learn how to make tough choices if I did. My parents both retired (early) while I was in university, and I never thought of them as bums or a bad example. Nobody knows how many years they have left ahead of them, and if there’s one thing I’m grateful for its that my frugal, bike riding, life-loving mom got to leave the ball and chain of work and enjoy another 20 years of post-work life before passing away too soon. There is never enough time, so Yin Yang, take MMMs first bit of advice and DON’T GO TO WORK TOMORROW! Also, as a fellow Canadian take the lesson learned from my parent’s situation and spend the RRSP before you hit 65. My dad now does not have my mom to income split with and with mandatory withdrawals from the RRIF, most of those hard-earned savings are taxed and seniors benefits clawed back. So do yourself and your family a favour and live to enjoy the rewards of your hard work or luck or whatever you want to call it. You deserve it.

        Reply
    • Free Money Minute November 5, 2013, 5:55 am

      I agree. Why in the world are you waiting for your kids to decide if they are going to the US for $500k of additional education. They either need to pay for it themselves or you need to be part of the conversation/decision. Sounds to me like this guy needs to grow a backbone and make some decisions that are reasonable considering the wonderful position he has put himself in (as far as assets/investments, not his forced obligations). Retire with dignity and enjoy life as you see fit. Great job!

      Reply
      • Pretired Nick November 5, 2013, 4:27 pm

        Well said, FMM! The saddest thing about this story is how many years this poor guy has suffered at his job for no good reason. If my wife wouldn’t “let” me quit, I’d laugh in her face as I wrote up my resignation letter. Fortunately Pretired Mama is very supportive of escaping the rat race as soon as possible!

        Reply
    • Kellen November 5, 2013, 8:25 am

      I agree too! My parents always made it clear that they would pay for our undergrad expenses so that we would have a clean slate to incur the debt we would need to get a graduate education. I thought that was perfectly fair.
      In the end, I chose a graduate program that gave me free tuition + a stipend to do a little grading, and my sister attended a law school that pays off all of her student loans for her as long as she works as a public defender (a job she loves.)
      It is a motivation for your kids to work for what they get, instead of getting it because their parents can pay for it (and subsidize kids like my sister and I, really.)

      Reply
      • Geneviève November 5, 2013, 10:44 am

        It may be cultural (I’m french, living in Paris), but I think quite differently: I want to pay the studies of my children if I can, I don’t want them to start their adult life with a big amount of debt: I didn’t complete my studies and had to work very, very hard during the first years of adulthood to finish it afterwards. I think my children deserve my efforts…

        Reply
        • Carrie November 6, 2013, 4:18 pm

          I’m confused. I thought French higher education was funded by the government?

          Reply
          • Jean November 8, 2013, 6:05 pm

            It is, the fees are minimal for Universities and Engineering School. Business School are private and can be more expensive.

            Reply
      • Nicoleandmaggie November 7, 2013, 5:33 am

        Ditto. My parents paid for undergrad 100% but I was on my own for grad school. Parents’ income and wealth are generally irrelevant for grad financial aid, even though they can be important for undergrad. Plus, if grad school is a good idea it should pay for itself either through stipends or through a ridiculously high salary after.

        Now, if you had some kind of agreement where they picked a cheaper undergrad if you put the savings towards grad, you should honor that and set that aside. But otherwise…

        Reply
    • ABC November 5, 2013, 12:05 pm

      Just send the kids to countries that will pay for higher education. I have made it perfectly clear to my kids that they can go to EU and get decent free education (~$50/years in fees). Or pay (on their own dime) a ridiculous amount of money for a mediocre to ok college in North America. I hope they are smart to explore the world and learn new languages.

      Reply
      • Lina November 6, 2013, 8:33 am

        The education isn’t free anymore for non-EU citizens in EU member states. But with fees such as 20 000 USD per year it is probably cheaper than some US universities/colleges.

        Reply
      • Student July 12, 2014, 2:17 pm

        This is a bit ridiculous. Going to an in-state university is far less insane than moving across the pond to a strange, foreign country in order to leech off taxpayer funded education that you didn’t pay for, assuming such a thing is even legal and assuming the student can MASTER the foreign language to a college level and not have it impede their studies, and that their education is applicable here (legal, accounting, etc. majors have regional differences in what the student must learn. Someone who knows British law isn’t qualified to be a lawyer for American law.)

        My tuition is currently 12,400 a year including fees, and this is not a particularly cheap college, as my state is known for being expensive in all manner. If they explore college options and pursue financial aid (I get 7500 a year in grant money–free money!), their college expenses could be even less than that. Go two years to a community college before transferring to a university and save even more. Lina below says the fee for non-EU citizens to study there is 20,000 a year, which is more than my not-particularly-cheap education costs even before considering the free grant money.

        Even if you have a loan, the payments are delayed for several years while they finish their studies. Assuming they both graduate and had picked a realistic major which actually has jobs, which is the only reason they should enroll in the first place, the debt can be paid off within 5 years or less easily, and is worth it in the long run with increased salaries.

        Reply
    • HealthyWealthyExpat November 5, 2013, 11:56 pm

      I completely agree. Do your kids a favour, Yin Yang, and let them know that they are responsible for their education beyond their Bachelor’s degree. You will be doing them a favour by teaching them the value of hard work and that money doesn’t grow on the MamaPapa tree. Years later they will be proud to say that they worked their way through graduate school. Challenge and adversity beget greatness.

      Reply
      • Emily November 6, 2013, 5:25 am

        As a recent med school graduate with almost 6 figures of student loan debt, I actually agree. Let your children figure it out for themselves. I’m glad that my parents didn’t take on this burden because it has taught me a lot and it has allowed them to relax as they approach retirement. Besides, I’ll be able to pay off the debt in no time. The kids will be alright.

        Reply
        • CincyCat November 6, 2013, 4:45 pm

          Yes!!! This comment x1000! My parents actually couldn’t afford to cover my undergrad 100%. They paid what they could, but I had earned scholarships, and paid out-of-pocket for some of it, and also had federal loans. In no way did I ever feel like they “should have” paid for more. Federal loans in the US are very easy to get, and the interest paid on undergrad loans is 100% tax deductible (as of today – goodness knows what our illustrious congresspersons will do in the future).

          Reply
          • Lisa Cee August 7, 2014, 11:25 am

            I find that students (myself included) who have their parents’ pay the bulk of their college costs often have an immature understanding of money when they graduate. My parents paid a large portion of my private college “experience” (with a small balance accruing in a student loan, which I completely ignored until I had to start paying it) and I feel like it took me longer to really understand how to handle money.

            Reply
    • Ryan W November 6, 2013, 11:22 am

      I supposed I don’t understand why people would want to bankroll their children’s undergrad education, at least not completely. In my experience, if Mom and Dad are paying for tuition, room and other expenses, there is much less motivation to make wise decisions. There is no life lesson in getting a free ride. Also, I think that these days too much emphasis is placed on a college education in an expensive university, regardless of who is paying for it.

      I have every intention of helping my kids while they’re in college; I just think it’s more important to help them build the right habits so they won’t need as much of my help in the first place. Nobody every truly appreciates that which is simply given and not earned!

      Reply
      • Elyse November 7, 2013, 7:42 am

        It really depends on the kid.

        My parents paid for my room, board, books, and tuition. They paid for everything except for my fun money my freshman year. It was known by all of us that that was my introduction year, so they were helping out more than they normally would.

        Starting sophomore year, any additional class fees, food money, or supplies were my responsibility. They still paid for the basics of school, but I paid for all the fluff. My scholarships were enough to cover those expenses, so I wouldn’t have to work if I didn’t want to. But it gave me the focus to go work and build up an emergency fund without freaking out about my loans. I worked two jobs during school because they gave me the freedom to not be under constant pressure.

        Some friends paid theirs themselves, other friends were in the same boat as me. I didn’t see any real difference in how we handled studies. Some of the people with tuition paid for goofed off. Some of the people paying it out of pocket goofed off.

        As for me, it didn’t hurt me. I had an emergency fund built up by the time I graduated. I had a very high GPA (despite working 20+ hours a week) and didn’t have any trouble getting a job. I didn’t goof off just because someone else was paying. In fact, I was constantly feeling pressure that I better do well, or I’ll get “that stare” from mother.

        Depends on the person. If someone goofs off because it is paid for by someone else, do they really deserve to be at college?

        Reply
    • Puerto Rican Mustachian November 10, 2013, 2:22 pm

      Eagle of Freedom, i know exactly how you feel. I live in Puerto Rico and have a very similar situation, good job, good family, good savings (level 3 or 4 Mustachian as I moved to a condo apartment when my son left for college). I am 49 and can’t hardly wait to get to 55 (maybe earlier) to enjoy Freedom – regardless of what humanity thinks of me. Mr Mustache, you have at least one fan in this beautiful Caribbean island. Thanks for a great Blog!

      Reply
    • Matt BK November 11, 2013, 7:34 am

      Yes! Grad school should be paid for by an employer or program, not out of pocket!

      Reply
  • Rory November 4, 2013, 1:24 pm

    The true tyranny of a job like what this case study discribes is that it makes you a worse version of yourself. You are less loving, less patient, less generious with yourself and your time than you would be if instead you were living the life you want to live.

    This person has earned his freedom and then some. It is ashame his wife isn’t on board. Perhaps with all the free time he is about to have he can focus more on that relationship and get them both on the same page.

    Happiness is nothing if not shared with someone else, after all.

    Reply
    • Ben November 5, 2013, 8:33 am

      True dat.

      Reply
  • Miss Growing Green November 4, 2013, 1:26 pm

    Claim your freedom NOW! Don’t wait; everything Mr. MM said is extremely sage advice. As far as convincing your wife you’ll be “okay” why not just direct her to your own reader case study. Sometimes hearing the same thing from an outside source puts everything into perspective.

    Congratulations on financial independence. You probably could have done this a long time ago, so don’t squander the opportunity to quit that dreadful job as fast as you can!

    Reply
  • Go Curry Cracker! November 4, 2013, 1:27 pm

    Wow, that was painful to read for a bit.

    Congratulations, you are financially independent, and you have a great opportunity to be a role model to your family by taking action for a healthier happier life.

    In answer to the question, is there an alternate way to present the facts to your wife, it sounds like facts aren’t necessarily what is needed. A heart to heart about the negative health consequences of staying on the current path may help
    Change can be difficult. Hopefully you and your wife can have a positive conversation about this.

    Good luck and best wishes

    Reply
  • Greg November 4, 2013, 1:38 pm

    “The worst thing I fear is setting a bad example to my children, none of whom have even started to work yet. I don’t want them thinking “If dad can be a bum, why can’t I?”
    “I have 3 “adult” children: 26, 25, and 21 – two in university. There is a potential massive expense coming if they pursue law and medical education outside of Canada ($100k for a domestic education, $500k for the US equivalent)”

    You might want to have a heart-to-heart discussion with your children to make sure they don’t want to become bums before investing $500,000 in their education. And there’s no shame in being retired at age 54. I can’t imagine too many children would feel that they’re entitled to not work in their 20s because their dad chose to retire at 54.

    “$100K a year plus automobile-desk-job”
    “Vehicle Maintenance: $200.00 (4 vehicles)”

    Does that mean you have an automobile through work plus 4 additional cars at home. WTF??? I’d be teaching my kids the value of car-pooling, at the very least, if all five family members need cars on a daily basis.

    “And as the final bit of unnecessary safety margin not mentioned in the box above, your wife is still free to keep her own job.”

    I didn’t see it mentioned in the article but I’d assume that both spouses will collect substantial CPP after retirement plus possible OAS (depending upon retirement income). Those are some nice lifetime buffers not to mention the FOUR MILLION DOLLAR safety net that will be untouched and keeping up with inflation in the 4% withdrawal rule.

    Reply
    • LB November 16, 2013, 6:36 pm

      My parents retired in their 50s, when I was just beginning college. Instead of encouraging me to become a bum, it made me think in a very different way about what I wanted out of life and a career and taught me that there’s much more possible in life than spending weekdays under fluorescent lights for 50 weeks a year. I took on a mixture of freelance writing, part-time work, and home craft businesses as a recession survival measure, and I miss having a “real job” sometimes, but not enough to go out and get one,

      Reply
  • Tara November 4, 2013, 1:38 pm

    Wow, if this was my husband, I would tell him to pull the plug already! He has already assured his family’s comfort and security, he deserves happiness and better mental/physical health for himself. Do it, man!

    Reply
  • EL November 4, 2013, 1:48 pm

    This guy should be retired. I know everything is bigger in America, but now Canada has taken the cake. Convincing the wife that working is no longer necessary can be a difficult discussion, but if you show her the numbers I don’t see how she cannot agree. Good luck.

    Reply
  • FI Pilgrim November 4, 2013, 1:49 pm

    While it seems like the obvious answer is “just quit now!”, I can understand the sentiment that “I’m 54 and don’t want to seem like a quitter”. However, there are plenty of ways to live life better and give back more to the community once you’re retired. I think once people saw what you’re doing with your new life they would appreciate all the hard work you’ve put in to get there, as well as how you’re choosing to spend your freedom. Congratulations!

    Reply
    • Ms. Must-Stash November 4, 2013, 2:40 pm

      @FI Pilgrim – I think you’ve hit on a key point here: what is the story that he will tell himself, his family (especially his kids), his colleagues, etc? I think if he can tell a really awesome story about how he worked hard, saved aggressively, and now has the freedom to ________fill in the blank with a couple of things that sound cool/important/meaningful and are reasonably plausible, even if he doesn’t necessarily intend to do them________ — well then he’ll be all set! As long as he says it with conviction, people will say, wow, that sounds exciting, and he will worry less and less each time he says it until he doesn’t worry at all.

      For example, where I went to college, I learned that you always needed an exciting-sounding story about what you were doing over the weekend or you were perceived as uncool. I wasn’t a hard partyer, but I learned to tell a socially acceptable story that would shut people up and not make me feel like I was out of the loop. I told these semi-fictions until I didn’t care any more.

      Reply
    • Mrs. PoP November 4, 2013, 5:11 pm

      I totally agree, FI Pilgrim that it helps to have a “story” that you’re telling people about why you’re changing direction. But even more than that, it helps if you buy into it and have a plan about what you’re going to do.

      Quitting a desk job to park in front of the tv all day probably isn’t going to bring a ton of joy into this guy’s life. But what does he want to do to keep his mind and body engaged? Figure that out (at least in part) and appealing to the wife should become much easier.

      Reply
      • mralistair November 5, 2013, 3:58 am

        I’d also ask if there is something hiw wife wants to do, does she want to set up a business, travel, garden, can they do it together.

        Reply
      • Kenoryn November 5, 2013, 7:07 am

        I think he’s got it figured out already! He wants to “read books, and fix up my house, and ride my Harley, and exercise, and go skiing, and ride a bike (a real bicycle), and do my photography, and cook, and volunteer, and indulge in a mid-day Bota Box if I get the urge, and stay in California, or Arizona, and shop at Trader Joe’s in the U.S., and beach bum in Florida for a couple of months a year.”

        Reply
      • Steve Wisconsin November 6, 2013, 8:19 pm

        Maybe time for a sabbatical. Take a year off and see what you think after that.

        Knew a good guy that just passed away this summer at the age of 56, decent health too. I remember that weekly when I decide how much life to contribute to my business vs family vs me.

        Reply
        • mattbkk November 7, 2013, 11:55 pm

          I’m English, lived in Thailand for a long time, and I retired about 5 years ago aged 41. Initially I did nothing except bike ride and relax for about 6 months, and proclaimed to everyone I was “retired”. For my non-Thai but Asian wife, this wasn’t socially acceptable. Anyway after that break I ended up starting a couple of new businesses, one of which I still have and I do part time. So now my wife tells everyone I am self employed and this is apparently much more socially acceptable. Personally I couldn’t give a flying f*** if my employment status is acceptable to others but it’s a big deal for my wife. So if I was doing the whole thing again I would announce myself as an “entrepreneur” on retirement and after a while everyone loses interest anyway. They only really ask when you make the transition from Corporate Drone to Liberated Mustachian ;-)

          Reply
        • Rider65 November 9, 2013, 8:06 am

          I’m a female in the US. My expenses were HUGE compared to the OP’s ($22K/year for health insurance alone), and my net worth was about the same when I made the leap. Sabbaticals work. I didn’t have that option, so I bought a farm and cut my work hours to less than half time. That works too. My employer was delirious at not having to pay my health insurance, so I got anything I wanted in exchange including hours that suited my new lifestyle. The reduced work load gave me respite from the crazy, a start on my bucket list (I was turning 50 and had that “now or never” bug), and gave me lots of time to upgrade my investment philosophy. I did not consult with my boyfriend/life partner (I also refused to get married), because it wasn’t his decision. I figured I was smart enough and still young enough to come back out of retirement if need be as long as I had three years’ expense money stashed. If I couldn’t make it back to positive cash flow in three years, I figured, I deserved whatever fell on me. That’s motivation for some serious effort. It paid off. I highly recommend not taking life too seriously and taking your talents as seriously as you can.

          Reply
  • Phoebe November 4, 2013, 1:53 pm

    I can very much relate to this fear! There are times that I think I’m going to call it quits as soon as I hit my magic number, and other times that I think I’ll work until I’m at least 50.

    The one thing Yin Yang said that struck me is that he worries how early retirement would impact his children and alter his other relationships. I too worry that seeing a strong working woman is a good example for my (future) kids that I shouldn’t give up, and I also worry that my parents who sacrificed for me to become something great would be disappointed if I retired before becoming an executive.

    I hope I’ll be able to get over those fears when the time comes, and for now they are just vague feelings I try to brush off.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 4, 2013, 5:48 pm

      I was intrigued by that concern as well, since I did the opposite: I insisted on being retired before my own son was even born!

      I actually feel slightly embarrassed if any work tasks (carpentry or blog) ever get in the way of my primary job of being here for him, since I think having your moneymaking taken care of is quite an appropriate role model for a kid.

      The example I want to teach him is: you get your monetary shit taken care of EARLY in life. Then you are free to raise your kids, contribute to society, unleash your creativity, and whatever else you want to do.

      There is no particular honor in holding down a 9-5 job – in fact, I’d say this is something you do only until you’ve figured out how to move up to the next level.

      Reply
      • Chris Gammell November 5, 2013, 11:28 am

        While there’s not a chance in hell that my investments will get me where I need to be by the time we have kids, I’ve been planning my career around being self employed by the time I have kids. I can’t have freedom, I will have flexibility and be there to help raise younglings. Life comes first and I’m willing to sacrifice now to make sure I get there later.

        Reply
        • Dana Olson November 9, 2013, 4:05 pm

          Chris Gammel your money mustach is strong. Your day will be here soon. Thanks to you mentioning MMM on your podcast, I was able to find it. Thanks to MMM I realized I had saved enough, and I took the plunge and quit my job at the age of 51 in July. My analog life is a huge improvement over the digital one I had behind a computer at a desk 50 hours a week. I have found that it is has been no problem not having some one else telling me when to get up in the morning, where to drive my car, where to sit all day, and who to talk to. Shoot now I only sit down when I’m really tired from playing too much. When I was working I routinely emailed people who just sat across the hall from me. I can still send them email when ever I want. Although I must admit my interest in job related topics is starting to fade. Lastly it is amazing how much more fun you have with your kids when you actually have enough time to really get to know them.

          Reply
      • Gipsy Queen November 5, 2013, 12:29 pm

        What if I DON’T want to quit?
        What if my “job” is a source of inspiration, fulfillment and excitement, and I want to be a role model for my child to pursue her own dreams?
        What if this job is either “all in” or “all out”? Time is flexible, but there ARE deadlines to meet, other people depending on you, and the need to produce results or perish, so a work day can be anywhere between 2h to 12h, and there are usually long periods of either this or that?
        How do you make time then?
        My solution was “sacred times” that I can work before or after, but not during. Any better ideas?
        (Have you noticed? Not a word about the paycheck :-))

        Reply
      • MG November 6, 2013, 7:39 am

        I think that’s exactly the crux of the issue: There IS no honor in holding down a 9-5 job for the its own sake. Unfortunately, nobody really sees it this way. Not this guy’s wife, nor his kids, nor the rest of society. We are taught that working is considered to be a virtue in its own rite, not linked to an end or purpose.

        Reply
      • Mark I November 6, 2013, 8:04 am

        We have two children (ages 6 and 8) and I feel guilty that I have to work full time. I feel guilty about the time that I have missed. Fortunately my wife stayed home with our kids and even occasionally worked/volunteered at their school to be closer to them. We are still a one income family (my income). Does anyone have ideas going forward? Should I stay with the full time job and try to get to early retirement ASAP? Or should I try and scale back my work to spend more time with my children thereby delaying early retirement?

        Reply
      • Ron November 9, 2013, 1:30 pm

        There’s a huge middle ground between working full time and retiring. Yin Yang’s story resonants with me except for the fact that he hates his job. I like mine a lot—teaching university students—for many reasons. I don’t need the salary, but the work provides a deep-seated sense of purpose that I would lose if I read, cycled, skied, and sunbathed year round. Granted, YY did mention volunteering, so he may find the same type of balance.

        Reply
      • Jeff November 13, 2013, 9:11 pm

        I have been trying for years to talk my father into retiring. He has been ready, just like Ying Yang, for years. His work is hurting his health and I know if he opens up his own consulting business with his considerable expertise, he could do everything on his own terms, and be much richer AND happier at the same time. The notion that anyone’s children wouldn’t want to see them happy and healthy seems odd. I bet they would love to see you living an awesome life and would take that as inspiration to work hard, save hard, and win freedom, just like you did.

        At age 33, I am constantly moving around the country for various artistic opportunities, quitting jobs I don’t like without really fretting about it. I went on a 2 year self-employment stint, and recently took a wonderful job teaching. Even this, I treat as something I’m doing by choice, rather than out of necessity. Far from financial independence, I have still managed to cobble together a nice amount of personal autonomy while working to Mustachianize my practices to win my absolute freedom. When I made the decision to follow my passion without compromise many years ago, the way in which I view the world around me fundamentally changed. I want to see this happen for my folks. I wish they’d just claim their freedom already!

        Reply
    • Kelly November 6, 2013, 8:45 am

      My fave quote from Chris Guillebeau: “You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.”

      Live YOUR life. If you’re always worried about “what other people will think” you’re wasting your energy. Let the rest worry about themselves. Best of luck to you.

      Reply
    • nicoleandmaggie November 7, 2013, 4:30 pm

      Pragmatically, most 20-somethings really can’t tell the difference between a 55 year old and a 75 year old. He can just say he’s retired and nobody will blink. Plenty of pensions vest at some point in people’s 50s and they retire old-school at that point or start a second career. It isn’t that unusual.

      Reply
  • crazyworld November 4, 2013, 1:55 pm

    Wait, here is the more important question – how do you amass that many assets with ~$140K annual pay?
    The husband & I have been making decent pay for the last several years and been saving some of it (not quite mustachian levels, but not like a 5% or anything). Savings rate has slowly grown through the years. But growth has been just ok. We are 43 now, but at 54, there us no way we will have more than maybe 1.5 million, best case. This is the part I have most trouble with. I read all about the fantastic growth in investments, but for the life of me I don;t see my stash doing this. Most savings are in a Fidelity 401K and a 457+Deferred comp plan, some tied up in our home, some in cash right now as we are renovating an older home we moved into last year (very un-mustachian move imho, but here we are). Current NW maybe ~750K? It will not become 4M in 9 years…

    Reply
    • Greg November 4, 2013, 2:13 pm

      I wondered the same thing. The current lifestyle and income would have made me think that they’d have <$1M assets (before factoring in home value). But they did pay off their home early, before BC housing prices went through the roof, and they would have begun investing during the stock market boom years, so maybe some good investment fortune explains the huge net worth.

      Reply
      • Herr Handlebar November 4, 2013, 6:47 pm

        Based on the statement, “who got lucky with my timing in life” I’m assuming there is a windfall or two we are not told about.

        Reply
        • MrMonkeyMoustache November 5, 2013, 3:35 am

          $300000 on $140,000 per year – how the *&^&*! was my initial reaction too. However, it inspired me to take a quick look into my much more modest situation and I got a pleasant surprise.

          This guy clearly got the savings snowball rolling early and due to it his current saving rate, even with his extravagent lifestyle, is over 50%. Sure there may have been windfalls along the way, but I’m sure the expenses have crept up too (he’s supporting kids at uni). His stash is definitely realistic given his income.

          Well done to the guy and he should enjoy his freedom. He is free now, regardless of whether he leaves his job or not. He is in no way a wage slave any longer.

          Reply
        • Lara November 5, 2013, 11:45 am

          I’m assuming it meant that he started investing in the stock market in the mid to late 80s rather than in the mid to late 90s. That ten years makes a big difference.

          Reply
          • Yin Yang November 6, 2013, 2:09 pm

            That is correct.
            I have been working and saving since 1983.
            I was also a big fan of David Chilton’s “The Wealthy Barber”, a fictional book that outlines how regular systematic savings over a long time yield massive gains. However, I also admit that I was lucky. Interest rates back in those days were relatively high. The conservative estimate for calculating the effects of compound interest in the early 80’s was 10%. In reality, one could find medium term investments with 12-14% yields quite easily, without taking on massive risk. Money invested in the 80’s through the 90’s is what has made the difference.

            Reply
            • Da55id November 6, 2013, 7:54 pm

              Is it possible that your real concern is deep down whether your wife will join you and stay with you if you retire? It seems as though you are looking for her permission. I totally understand this as it took a couple years of joint planning with my wife to bring her on board. She may have unstated concerns such as: Will he just be hanging around the house and thus reduce my freedom and make unusual demands on my time? Will I have a new child to care for while I’m dealing with the actual children? What are you going to try to take away from me? How will I explain to my friends that my husband no longer has any status – since perhaps her identity and social rank is bound up in your title/job etc?

              Please excuse me if this is all too personal, but this is real stuff and if not handled carefully can be explosive and irreversibly painful. I sense that your foot dragging might be based on relationship fears.

              Reply
              • Jenni November 7, 2013, 9:31 pm

                Yes, something to think about is creating a story of what you are doing now, like that you’re moving into consulting or managing your investments or something along those lines? Managing your rental properties? That would give people, and possibly your wife, a story that they can comprehend. Best of luck.

              • Rick November 10, 2013, 8:25 pm

                I suspect there might be something similar to what you’re talking about with the wife. My grandparents divorced (after 40+ years) within the first year of my Grandfathers retirement. Seems he worked so much, they didn’t really interact that much, and turns out they really didn’t have much in common anymore.

    • CincyCat November 4, 2013, 6:57 pm

      He does mention buying a property, and then selling it when the market was good. Also, MMM’s own personal story describes how he was able to save enough to retire on a household income of $140k. Indeed, if my husband and I had not been stupid with credit cards in our early 20’s, we could have stashed away tens of thousands of dollars each year while making far less than what we do now.

      Reply
      • crazyworld November 4, 2013, 7:06 pm

        But, we have not been stupid with credit card debt either…honestly some days i am sort of annoyed at being goody two shoes with my lifestyle. We do have some travel costs due to families abroad, still, that would add maybe 50K to the stash so far?

        Reply
        • CincyCat November 5, 2013, 10:12 am

          Don’t forget the impact of compound interest. That annual contribution of $50k does not stay $50k over the course of 20+ years. And, if you are able to ‘stash an additional $50k each year for 20+ years… (MMM has a great chart demonstrating this principle, but I can’t find the link.)

          Allow me to elaborate on our youthful stupidity… (CC’s are a big chunk, but there were other dumb moves along the way.) When my husband & I got our first “real” jobs after college, we were making about $30,000 each ($60,000 household), with no kids, two cats, and living in an apartment that only cost $315/month, which was close enough for me to walk to my job. We did not have kids for another 5 years, so we could have easily stashed away 10’s of thousands every year, but as I said, we were stupid. In addition to dumb credit mistakes, we decided that we could “afford” a more luxurious apartment, so we upgraded twice (to the tune of an additional $500/month – $6,000 per year – in rent alone). Each move put us farther away from our jobs, to the tune of an additional 100+ miles per week. We also bought a brand new car & financed it, when our old car would have continued to run just fine with a single $400 repair. (I don’t think I need to go on…)

          Reply
      • crazyworld November 4, 2013, 7:07 pm

        Enough for retirement, but my understanding is MMM does not have 4M in asets?

        Reply
        • Kenoryn November 5, 2013, 8:15 am

          Just do the math: if you assume he’s been working since he was 22 and saving $30K per year (for the sake of simple math) then invested with 7% returns he should have over $3.5 million by now. If we assume a $150K windfall at age 29 from lucky house purchase and sale, that number jumps to almost $4.4 million.

          If MMM had continued to work, and worked until he was 54, with his current spending rate from age 30 onward and a $140K/year salary (say $110 after taxes) with $800K as of age 30, by the time he was 54 he would have over $8.7 million.

          Reply
          • cwebb November 5, 2013, 8:31 pm

            But this guy didn’t save at that rate. He bought a really expensive house at age 29. And his current salary doesn’t interpolate to anything close to affording that in 1988.

            Also , he just doesn’t live like someone who cares about saving money.

            Reply
            • Kenoryn November 6, 2013, 1:33 pm

              Yeah, but a big part of his current spending is the kids’ cars and university. Before he was paying for those, he would have been putting away an extra $37,000 per year. And who knows what his savings rate was before the wife and kids? Don’t forget that house at 29 was his second house – who knows what he made from the first one to put toward the second.

              Reply
          • 2lazy2retire November 6, 2013, 2:09 pm

            Savings Police?

            Reply
        • CincyCat November 5, 2013, 10:00 am

          MMM is pointing out that most folks don’t actually *need* $4 million in assets to retire. It all depends on your level of *spend* each year. This guy has more than enough in assets to retire & still maintain his current spending level indefinitely. If he decides to fund an additional 20 years of graduate level education for his kids, that will be another story. He could wind up with very little in assets left for retirement if he takes this route.

          Reply
    • JJ November 4, 2013, 7:01 pm

      I don’t think it’s all that shocking if you start earning and aggressively saving early enough. We’d easily hit that level by 54 if we intended to work that long.

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache November 6, 2013, 2:12 pm

        Indeed – I find all this questioning of whether or not Mr. Yinyang really saved $4M to be highly amusing. In fact, I’ve had to delete at least 20 comments from people repeating this pointless complainypants skepticism.

        This guy is FIFTY FOUR years old. That’s 24 years older than I was when retiring. That’s a 30+ year career. It’s VERY easy to end up with $4M or more after that incredibly long time, as long as you have a solid income and invest a reasonable percentage of it. You don’t even need any property windfalls, and this man clearly described some house appreciation, which makes it even easier.

        Simple Math Quiz:
        Given that the stock market has returned over 10% compounded annually since he started investing, how much would he have had to invest annually to end up with $4M?

        Answer: only about $24,000

        For Extra Credit: given that about $1M of this wealth came from house appreciation, how much did he have to invest to get the other $3M?

        Answer: only about $18,000 per year.

        The Moral: Never accuse a Mustachian of falsely reporting his or her savings. Accept them with your most humble thanks, and turn to your spreadsheet program if you want to tweak the assumptions for your own life’s situation.

        Reply
        • Deborah January 15, 2014, 5:46 pm

          I started late at accumulating a stash – as a woman I wasn’t supposed to do finance (eg. first employer told me I shouldn’t join the superannuation scheme because I was a woman). Sure I saved money because I was always frugal, but I in a bank savings account (0.5% interest when inflation was 10%), and it wasn’t until I was 31 that I thought about buying a house, or doing something sensible with my money (morgage interest rates were 17.5% when I bought my house). Later, I had an accident which halved my earnings for three years and cost me about an extra $70,000 (couldn’t clean the house, or do most things for myself, so expenses went through the roof). But despite all this, I still managed to retire at 54 – with about half yinyang has, and having effectively missed 15 years of stashing, so I don’t see any reason to doubt him.

          Despite being told for several years that I had enough to retire (by financial advisors), I was really sure that I couldn’t afford to retire, so I took a year off – had so much leave stored up that I converted it to half pay, and took a couple of extra months at no pay. This silenced my own doubts that I could afford to retire.

          I would suggest as long a period off as possible to yinyang as well. His wife is clearly very important to him, so having a trial and getting to believe that it works is crucial.

          Reply
        • ErikZ January 16, 2014, 9:05 pm

          How the heck can you put aside 24k right out of college?

          I think you’re dismissing his skill and work to set up the nest egg.

          Reply
    • greg November 5, 2013, 6:52 pm

      This is almost exactly my personal situation, except I have been very frugal since graduating from undergrad with no additional education. My very conservative projections net $4.5m in net worth by 45 *on my own*, much less with a high-earning partner.

      It’s easily possible with an 80% take-home savings rate.

      Reply
  • Paul November 4, 2013, 2:02 pm

    Time is WAY more valuable than money
    If you have enough money to live on for the rest of your life,
    why the F***********K would you waste one more minute at work???

    I guess I’m just a little emotional today: we lost our beloved greyhound Bongo last week to cancer. I think of all the walks I could have taken him on, all the bellyrubs I could have given him and all the times spent on the couch reading a good book with his big ol’ greyhound head in my lap while he snoozed away —IF I STILL DIDN’T HAVE TO WORK…. I’m late to emulating MMM, so I’m not retired yet.

    Seriously, if this fellow feels he “can’t” retire, maybe he can donate about 10 per cent of his wealth to me, and I’ll retire for him. Every day I will send him pictures and a running narrative of all the fun I’m having while he is slaving away. Maybe THAT will slap some sense into him

    Reply
  • kristin November 4, 2013, 2:05 pm

    I am the oldest of 3 kids and my dad retired when I was in high school. This did not make any of us think that we shouldn’t have to work, instead it inspired all of us to graduate from college in 4 years, get great jobs, get advanced degress (which we paid for ourselves) and get even better jobs. All of this so that we might possibly retire when OUR kids are in high school, instead of working until we die. Don’t worry about setting a bad example for your children, this would be the best possible example!

    Reply
  • Done by Forty November 4, 2013, 2:09 pm

    I remember that comment and was immediately intrigued. I think I, personally, would get buy in from my spouse prior to quitting. But I think that’s something that can be achieved in short order if both parties are willing to have an honest dialogue, perhaps even with a third party (marriage counselor…or possibly a fee only financial planner if her worries are primarily finance related).

    Basically, I wouldn’t be making big life decisions without (hopefully) gaining agreement with my wife. If I tried and couldn’t come to agreement, then I’d probably just go forward with retirement and explain that ultimately, each of us has to make our own choices when it comes to working.

    Best of luck to the original commenter!

    Reply
    • Frugal in DC November 4, 2013, 3:13 pm

      A family mediator could also help the couple come to an agreement. I worry that some financial planners talk about shit like “maintaining the lifestyle to which you have become accustomed,” but hopefully a good fee-only planner would be able to inject a good dose of sanity and just stick to the numbers.

      Reply
  • Early Retirement Journey November 4, 2013, 2:13 pm

    We were in a very similar situation, and the way my husband helped me work through my fears of letting go of our hefty paychecks was to set up a three way cross check. We ran the figures through an online retirement calculator, we set up an appointment with the brokerage where a big chunk of our portfolio was invested, and we scheduled an appointment with an independent financial advisor. After seeing all three deliver the same set of data – yes, we had enough saved to retire on our projected budget and almost assuredly not outlive our money, we then put ourselves on said budget for one year to see how it felt. Turns out it felt just fine, and we subsequently retired, me first, then him one year later.

    It’s now almost three years later and my only regret is that I didn’t release him sooner. He looks like a college kid these days as he buzzes around town on his bicycle attending classes at a nearby college. When not doing that, we’re generally out and about doing something physically active.

    Our current withdrawal rate is 2.5% and we have no unmet needs or wants in spite of knowing we could ratchet that up if we wished.

    Regarding being viewed as a quitter – quite the opposite. We both feel that we left at the top of our respective games

    Reply
    • tallgirl1204 November 7, 2013, 12:49 pm

      Thanks for this– this is the comment I’ve been kind of waiting for. Because I feel for the wife– the world has she has known it is about to change, and I can understand why she would fear that. Your three-step check seems reasonable, as does the “live on the budget for a year.” So glad it is working well for you.

      Reply
  • Grant November 4, 2013, 2:39 pm

    8295/month in expenses!? I nearly shat myself when I saw that figure. That is about half of what my grandparents live on PER YEAR! Over $3M in the bank, nearly $100K/year in income using the 4% rule, a paid-off mansion, and *still* he’s hesitant to retire? I simply do not understand.

    Reply
    • Greg November 5, 2013, 9:41 am

      Yin Yang must be one of the few readers on MMM that could live to age 104 and still survive without any real investment growth. If his annual rate of return is just inflation-level and he lives only on his savings plus his government Old Age Security & Canada Pension Plan, then he’d have about $4 million in cash to live on for the rest of his life. That would allow a lifestyle of $80,000/year to age 104 without running out of money, without any rate of return on his investments. And he did it all with a middle-class income and 3 (expensive) children. Very impressive.

      Reply
  • Rebecca November 4, 2013, 2:42 pm

    Another brilliant case study as always, MMM.
    I always look forward to reading them as there’s always something to learn!
    Coming from Australia, where you are able to get a help ‘loan’ from the government to complete your university degree, (minimal interest, only paid back when you earn over x amount per year) I have NEVER understood why American youth feel ‘entitled’ to have their education paid for by their parents… This seems to cause a lot of grief for parents, especially if they cannot truly afford it. I would never ask my parent(s) to pay for my education. But of course, the social climate is different.
    Yin Yang, good luck! You possess all the necessary financial tools to make ER/FI work for you, it seems to be the emotional side you’re struggling with. I’d suggest to keep trying to talk to your family about your goals, even referring to the ‘Make Your Spouse Love Frugality’ post.
    (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/22/selling-the-dream-how-to-make-your-spouse-love-frugality/)
    Another option would be to seek the counsel of a registered Psychologist or counsellor, who may be able to help you work through some underlying issues stopping you from believing you can retire early.
    Good luck! Be sure to let us know how you go!

    Reply
    • Karl November 5, 2013, 1:00 am

      Actually the ‘loan’ in Australia (aka HECS-HELP) for University isn’t charged interest. It is adjusted to match inflation via the Consumer Price Index. Usually around 1.2-2.2%. This keeps things fair. I have a $30,000 HECS-HELP debt atm, but with my current income I will have that paid off over the next 10 years without noticing it (it comes out of my gross salary as a tax). We definitely have a great system here compared to America. Americans might call it socialism, we call it a “fair go” for all to attain higher education and qualifications. Let’s just hope that the Liberals don’t go and privatise it all for profit like they have with everything else in the past. That will be one step in the direction of becoming like America where the rich are favoured and the poor are locked into an endless cycle of poverty.

      Reply
      • Rebecca November 5, 2013, 8:33 am

        Thanks Karl! I wasn’t 100% sure whether the HECS-HELP charged interest or whether just adjusted for inflation… So I thought I’d avoid any complainy-pants comments by saying if there is, it’s minimal :) I don’t finish my degree for 4 years, so I sure hope the loans aren’t privatised.

        Reply
  • Insourcelife November 4, 2013, 2:56 pm

    This is one of the most depressing case studies to read on many levels. So much waste and so much potential! Spot on analysis by MMM as usual. Get your spouse to read this article and hundreds of comments sure to follow and take the red pill already!

    Reply
  • Fredrik von Oberhausen November 4, 2013, 3:19 pm

    Yin Yang, isn´t there some job that you would like to do, that would also give you the possibility to do what you want to do and at your one pace? Ski instructor? Buy properties, fix them up and rent it out? Repair Harleys? Professional Photographer?

    So a change in career which would bring in some money and still a satisfaction for you at the same time. I guess the good part here is that it almost sounds as if your wife does not fully understand how much passive income you have. So would she know if that comes from passive income or work income? Maybe your new career could be as investor (which you obviously already are!) and just show the passive income ticking in each month to keep everyone happy.

    I hope that everything will work out for you and that you do indeed build up the courage to stop your current job!

    Reply
  • grum November 4, 2013, 3:41 pm

    Yin Yang, your story is so close to mine it’s uncanny. Most of the numbers are in the same ballback, except expenses because I’ve always tended to be frugal, and wife’s income because I was lucky enough to find a high earner that loves her work. But we live well on low expenses, and my wife isn’t pulling in multiples of 100k or anything.

    In a month I turn 55. I have a boring inside job that is low stress and pays well, and I don’t want to be here. I can feel time ticking by in my body and I want to spend it being active outside and with my young daughter.

    — Two weeks ago I told my employer I was out of here —

    I have no great plans apart from spending time figuring out what best to do with the rest of my life. I don’t do boredom and have plenty of possibilities in mind, but I also know from previous experiences of taking time out that your outlook changes after a while out of the rut, and new ideas emerge once there is space in your brain for them. So I’m not rushing into anything.

    So, thanks for providing a story and associated comments that helps me feel like I’m not doing something stupid. I too was worried about setting a bad example to my child, I can see now that it can be turned around to be an inspiring example of success.

    Take the leap and let’s compare notes in a year!

    grum

    Reply
  • Laura November 4, 2013, 3:44 pm

    What is it that your wife fears she will not have if you quit? Once you learn that, figure out a way for you to quit so that she won’t have to give it up. Then you’re set!

    Reply
  • John November 4, 2013, 3:49 pm

    Net worth over $4 million? That’s four times as much as most people allot. Way to go dude! That is a tremendous sum to retire on and give your job the middle finger!

    Reply
  • LH Gervais November 4, 2013, 4:06 pm

    He is all set, financially. He needs to make sure that his wife is on-board before retiring, though. When men become unemployed (even when money is no problem), they are much more likely to wake up to a divorce filing (vs. no effect on divorce risks when women are unemployed):

    http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/06/22/male-unemployment-increases-risk-of-divorce/27142.html

    I think that this is largely due to the “loss of status” that the wife experiences when the husband no longer has an important-sounding job. It is also due to the fact that mainstream North American society only values men for their job titles and paychecks, and generally derides any interests or passions that men may have outside of breadwinning and child-rearing as being signs of “immaturity”.

    Having a good narrative or “story” to tell the kids (volunteering, etc.), and also making sure that his wife has a good story to tell her social circle, will be important. Otherwise, he may find that his victory is celebrated only by himself and those of us inside of MMM’s sphere of influence (while other people find negative ways to frame his unconventional, and hence “threatening”, choice).

    It is especially important that they are on the same page, given that his wife is a “semi-spendthrift”. If she experiences social angst as a result of her husband no longer playing a conventional “work until dead to bring in money” societal role, then she is likely to turn to hyper-consumption as a coping mechanism (which could also provide the “benefit” of proving that early retirement is not sustainable by spending more than the 4% SWR). Generally, hyper-consumers are somewhat insecure people who have a strong need for “social validation”… so, it is really essential that he gets her on the same page before downshifting. Otherwise, she might find the “social validation” that she seeks from her social circle by filing for divorce.

    So, it sounds like he is all set financially… but having a spouse who isn’t onboard is a very non-trivial matter (based on some ‘case studies’ that I have seen around me at work).

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 4, 2013, 5:05 pm

      Some interesting speculations there, L.H. I don’t know the details of the relationship, but I will chime in to suggest that taking early retirement due to financial independence (especially at 54, which isn’t very early) is not a loss of status in the eyes of most people. Rather, it can be an embarrassingly high mark of status and wealth. Saying “retired” is very different from “unemployed”!

      Reply
      • LH Gervais November 4, 2013, 5:43 pm

        Good points, MMM, and I hope that you are right! He has worked hard and clearly deserves a break. I hope that he is able to move to the next phase of his life and that his spouse appreciates that there is more to life than work (and job-title-based status) and is willing to enjoy the benefits of extensive free time.

        My point isn’t to discourage him from seeking a change, but to caution that it is *essential* to have his wife on-board before making the change. Based on the following article, being “retired” doesn’t exactly insulate you from risk of divorce:

        http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052970203753704577255230471480276

        I am a huge believer in the FIRE approach to living life, so please don’t take my comments as being excessively pessimistic. I wish our case study all the happiness in the world. I just wanted to raise the risk of divorce because that is a real risk anytime a couple has a lifestyle change that both sides aren’t on-board with.

        Reply
        • Prefer Anon November 5, 2013, 12:47 pm

          LH Gervais has made a very important point. I’ve lived some of this, having retired early.

          I was totally astonished to receive the social negativity LH points out – from my wife, many of her relatives and many friends. It literally took me YEARS to first acknowledge and respond to this and then fortunately only a couple more years to reframe and address it. Some of this is cultural (attitudes in USA where I live vs my home countries’ culture) and some if it is the individuals. I’ve seen other friends struggle with the same “problem” (and what a *great* problem it is!).

          Some of the symptoms were hearing my wife say things like “He doesn’t do anything” to friends, “I wish you had a job so we didn’t have to discuss everything all the time” to me and similar. (Many many more, but I don’t want to go all negative).

          I was able to redress it in several ways:

          Firstly to proudly own it: “Yes, I’m retired. We’ve had a bit of luck, kept our spending under control and now we’re reaping the benefits”. Culturally I was previously inclined to trot out the “I do consulting” line instead as it was none of their business. However, proclaiming it was far more USA culturally acceptable and indeed something my wife could proudly repeat to her friends.

          Secondly, I found it helped to point out the positive things at home. “I’m SO happy to be here today for this school event. I wish more dads were lucky enough to be here too by retiring early / work less like I managed to do”. This reinforced the benefits to my wife and child. I also had become oblivious to this it turned out! Being able to take a long weekend whenever we wanted, or really enjoy summer vacation.

          It wasn’t long before my wife pointed out to me that she was so lucky to have us both around for some trip where her friends had to do the mum+kids alone while, sometimes, Dad joined them on weekends.

          So, although MMM expresses some doubts about this, I can certainly vouch for this being a real world concern!

          Reply
      • BH November 5, 2013, 12:25 pm

        All you need to tell them is ‘self-employed’, that doesn’t raise any eyebrows and has been working for me for quite some time now!

        Reply
        • Mark Abner A. November 6, 2013, 7:10 am

          Helpful. I was thinking “self sufficient”. What do you say when people ask “How are you self-employed?” though?

          Reply
          • Sofie November 17, 2013, 10:22 pm

            Investing! ;)

            Reply
      • Stéphane November 5, 2013, 1:37 pm

        Hi MMM and all,

        This is making me think about the right partner mustache in life one should look for ;)

        I tried to find the “dating” portion on this site without success, could be a great idea. As mustache’s people think a like and are willing to move for nice places to live and more…

        Ah… romance at it’s best !

        Reply
        • greg November 5, 2013, 7:02 pm

          This is the main part that sticks out to me as a young, single, high-earning, frugal person with an 80% after-tax savings rate:

          “I tell her it doesn’t have to be that way, and point out the huge wealth of information that you have so concisely articulated in hundreds of articles. But, alas, it does me no good.”

          Various FI/finance bloggers I read (MMM/jcollinsnh/madfientist [spouse w/ separate assets]/paula-affordanything) all have significant others that are either on-board or have found others that either reasonably compromise or do not put their assets at risk.

          Now take my perspective:

          1. marriage implicitly assumes all liabilities of any significant other, allowing denial-of-service on a wonderful, mustachian lifestyle

          2. there is an instinctual reaction that protecting one’s self going into a relationship (blessed by the state or otherwise) is not OK

          3. those that are under 30 (anecdotally) are fiscally terrifying

          4. the vast minority of people can even comprehend the progression of a geometric series

          This is my particular pain-point, and it sounds like all of the personal work has been done on the part of Yin Yang. The difference with my situation is that he/she is already backed into a corner with previous commitments that can possibly come crashing down over his/her head with the authority of The State.

          But the nuances between the respective situation in the post and my own is still tiny compared to the as-yet-unexplored area mentioned in the previous comment:

          “This is making me think about the right partner mustache in life one should look for ;)”

          I’m exploring this on my own with various factors, but it has (depressingly) boiled down to finding out how much I’m willing to sacrifice my financial freedom to placate others’ spend-y habits …

          Reply
          • Aunt Becky November 6, 2013, 9:23 am

            This sounds familiar. Personally, my hubs and I are very early 30s and just now starting to dig out of our spend-y habits of our 20s. Hubs has a very awesome friend in his late 20s who is very mustachian. He is also single and can’t find the “right” gal. He always falls for creative (read bordering crazy) gals, He is struggling to find someone who is intelligent and motivated around his age range. Sadly, most are married, or very spend-y, or just not in general very emotionally stable. I am always amazed that he doesn’t have girls swimming around him in circles. Maybe it is just this part of the midwest, but I get the impression it doesn’t get better in other areas either.

            Reply
          • Spectra January 27, 2014, 1:42 pm

            This is something my wife and I speeak to all the time. We feel so lucky we have each other becuase we married so young (22) and we’re both so thirfty. But then we realize that when we married she was extremely thrifty and I was incredible with numbers. So she has become more number centric and I have become much more thrifty.
            I think for us it came down to one principle. We were both disciplined and willing to work on goals together. Find that person willing to work with you on common goals instead of you both going different directions and hope to meet up at some point.

            Reply
      • Frank November 10, 2013, 9:16 am

        The term “Independently wealthy” can make it sound even more regal!

        Reply
    • Louise November 4, 2013, 6:39 pm

      Excellent point, LH Gervais.

      He sounds like he has a lovely retirement ahead of him. It would be a terrible shame for his hopes of being a better person and enjoying life more to be ruined by marital strife.

      Whether or not his wife is convinced by MMM’s sensible reassurances, some marriage counseling over the next few months, and possibly right after he retires as well, would be a sound investment. Not only will it help them communicate and affirm each other’s goals and fears and work out solutions, it will help them renegotiate chores and roles after he retires.

      Reply
    • Cats Eye November 4, 2013, 8:10 pm

      Great story. Strongly agree with some folks here that women need social validation and a lot of them do get it via touting their spouse’s career. I have often found it curious, not being an American myself, is the way people define themselves by stating what their job title is. Maybe volunteer or working a day of the week for a charity/non profit can help ease off those awkward moments of having to explain one’s choices.

      mooting the issue of social acceptance can happen by allowing her to see for herself that all is financially sound by testing waters for a while (e.g., switch to 50% salary cut for 50% time off and see if it works out OK, etc.), at which point she may appreciate having a more meaningful relationship with the spouse instead of social validation.

      Reply
    • Casey November 5, 2013, 6:18 am

      Lots of interesting points there, LH!

      One suggestion though – I doubt the wives are divorcing “largely due to loss of status” or only valuing their husbands for the salary they bring in. Take the example of my Aunt and Uncle, married at 16 and 19 respectively, and living a Mustachian life long before Mr Money Mustache was born.

      When my Uncle retired, he drove my Aunt up the wall. She had over the years honed the chores and daily tasks to a routine that she makes look effortless. She was (and is) stunningly efficient; she can keep a spotless house, make delicious and frugal meals, babysit two great-grandchildren with serious health problems, help out an older neighbour with the chores that are getting too hard for her, and still finish an afghan in a week!

      Uncle Art is equally awesome – but he was at a loss what to do with himself that first year of retirement and was constantly “giving her feedback” on how she could improve the way she did things. He felt he was helping, she felt that he was ignoring her expertise.

      He found some hobbies (woodworking and fishing) and they have been very happy with retired life since, but Aunt Marie still swears that was the only time in their (not always easy) life that she honestly thought about divorce.

      If the person retiring has a plan, there won’t be as much upheaval, but in many cases people retire without thinking about what they are going to do with their time, and the upheaval and conflict that result are likely responsible for a lot of those divorces you are referencing.

      If Yin Yang has a plan for how he is going to be spending his time, and continues to treat his wife with respect in the areas she may view as “hers”, I really don’t think he has to be worried about divorce, unless there are pre-existing problems! ;)

      Reply
    • Nihongo Dame Desu November 5, 2013, 7:06 am

      I think this post begins to touch on the real problem. We can all see that based on the numbers, this guy is set, even if he blocks all or nearly all of the
      Facepunch cuts suggested.

      However, whether it should be or not, money is an emotional thing. So think I suspect it will take more than math and Facepunches to get the wife onboard the USS Retirement.

      So I’d suggest that something more than just showing her the pretty math of the situation might be in order. If she works, then having her stay in the workplace (since she’s the one not ready to sail away just yet) makes sense. If she doesn’t work, not might be a good time for her to start. She’s demanding her husband stay at his soul-suckign job, so it seems she should be willing to find a soul leech of her own. Even a part time job (maybe at a place that gives her a discount on things you buy anyway) offers additional mental cushion.

      Also, YY could discuss doing some sort of step down job. Is a consulting gig feasible? That seems ideal as it is fairly easily scalable, which is nice in tow ways. First, it allows for a gradual step down from work as wifey sees that the sky does not fall when the income decreases. Second, it is more safety net because if stocks plummet or things start to feel tight, it can be scaled up to bring in more income.

      Things like this will help get the wife’s buy in so that all of the YY family can sail happily into the retirement sunset.

      Reply
      • Kenoryn November 5, 2013, 9:44 am

        Since he’s in Canada, that would be the HMS Retirement. ;)

        Reply
    • Econ Grad November 5, 2013, 12:26 pm

      Good article, and it brings up some valid points for concern. However I think that when people are considered ‘unemployed,’ there is an element of a lack of consent. This lack of consent, or rather, involuntary unemployment, has much more negative social implications. I believe that the article failed to specify that the greatest locus of people who are unemployed are simply jobless, and not early retirees.

      My girlfriend thinks that early retirement is sexy. I think part of that stems from the creativity it demands from a person, especially in this society where working into your sixties is kind of assumed and a very mainstream philosophy. It’s about questioning The Man, man.

      To many people, social status is sexy. I think we can all agree that being jobless greatly hinders your social status, and I also think we can agree that being an ultra successful (by societal standards) early retiree, greatly enhances ones perceived social status.

      Ceterus Paribus, if I worked and saved my ass off so I could enjoy the rest of my life, I wouldn’t care whether my wife wanted me to continue working. I worked, I saved, and I know my expenses well enough to decide for myself when I can safely quit my bullshit job. So forget her if she’s so ungrateful that I freed up the rest of her goddamn life.

      Reply
    • Rent$385 November 5, 2013, 2:24 pm

      I love the dating pointers idea. It took me a long time to find someone that was a partner, a friend and also frugal!

      Reply
    • Yin Yang November 7, 2013, 2:06 pm

      Bingo!

      Reply
  • lurker November 4, 2013, 4:15 pm

    sir, on your death bed will you really be saying gosh I sure wish I had worked a few more years and missed a few more runs in fresh powder so everyone else would look at me the way they do now??????
    look in the fucking mirror and repeat after me:
    I am free
    I am free
    I am free!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  • Well Heeled Blog November 4, 2013, 4:27 pm

    Can you strike a compromise with your wife to help her get used to this idea of you quitting (and thereby taking 75%+ of your pretax family income with you)? Even though you have amassed great savings through hard work and luck, here are some of the worries that might be going through her mind:

    1. If education for your children has been a goal/family priority, will we have to change now?
    2. How likely are you to get a job that pays an equivalent or at least comparable salary if you decide retirement isn’t working out?
    3. What happens if we suffer another financial crisis and our retirement funds goes down by 30%+?
    4. If you have the health insurance for the family, how do we make up for that shortfall?
    5. What if someone gets really, really sick, and we have to spend a significant portion of our accumulated wealth on treatment?

    I’m not saying that you don’t have good reasons to quit, or that you don’t deserve to pursue other interests, but I also don’t think it’s as easy as, “oh, your wife is a bad person or she just doesn’t understand the numbers.”

    She may understand the numbers very well, but may require a different level of financial security needs or have different risk tolerance.

    Have more open communications, help her understand your perspective and try to understand her concerns – and then figure out a plan to mitigate those concerns.

    Congrats again on your financial success and best of luck!

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 4, 2013, 5:12 pm

      I agree that dealing with the specific issues is a good tactic:
      “The education of the kids will not be affected at all – here’s the money we have set aside for that”
      “Here’s what happens to retirement income in a financial crisis, with our asset allocation (not much)

      … and note that this is a Canadian case study, so health insurance is not an issue. On top of that, his health will be much better due to quitting the unhappy job!

      Reply
      • Mr. Frugal Toque November 4, 2013, 6:36 pm

        The only problem with this approach is that the spouse’s idea of what “work” may not be the definition that the readers of this blog have.
        Here, we’ve learned to thing of work as productivity. Once you have financial security, you can afford to be productive in any way you want. We can have retired people who actually do a lot of stuff, whereas the previous generation thought of retirement as “sitting on your porch, drinking tea, waiting for the grandchildren to visit.”
        Work, to some individuals, means “having a full time paying job” or “running a business”. To stop “working”, in this sense, is declaring yourself to be near death. If you’re not dead, how dare you stop bringing in money!
        I really think this goes deeper than math, but without knowing anything about the background of Mrs. Yin Yang, I’m really just guessing based on the “guilt and pressure” and the feeling that he would become a “pariah” were he to retire.

        Reply
  • RubeRad November 4, 2013, 4:31 pm

    One idea for talking the wife into down-sizing and right-locating the house and shifting transportation from car to bike: you will be able to leave more inheritance for the kids.

    Although if that’s the primary motivation, then you should also keep working and amassing wealth, so, double-edged sword I guess.

    Reply
  • Jon November 4, 2013, 4:37 pm

    The best example you can set for your kids is to retire so they see that endless, pointless accumulation of wealth is not what life is about. It will not make you happier. It will prevent you from doing what will in fact make you happier.

    It’s too bad the wife is not on board and hopefully she will see things clearly soon enough. I would think after a couple of years of retirement and she sees that your net worth has only increased she’ll come around. But this is your one chance at life. You’re not going to ever be in a place when you can be more physically active and enjoy more of life than you can right now. If she feels she must work that has to be a decision she makes for herself. Frankly though if I were in your shoes I’d want my wife retiring with me so I can enjoy it with my best friend.

    Reply
  • Happyback November 4, 2013, 4:44 pm

    First of all…GREAT job! I hope I’m that financially set at 54!

    I’m a little dingy sometimes, but I don’t see anything regarding his taxes factored in, or his wife’s. Wouldn’t that have quite the impact on the calculations? (It would where I live!)

    Otherwise, I’m glad he’s ready for some freedom. Maybe his wife is just worried she won’t be able to go play with him, because she has to work? Hopefully she will retire, too, so they can travel and have fun experiences together.

    Again, GREAT job!!! I love reading success stories!

    Reply
  • Conifer here I come November 4, 2013, 4:54 pm

    Hello MMM I am one of the Washington Posters. Currently living in Philadelphia I am soon to join you in that paradise I call Colorado. You do indeed have the answers to most of life’s problems and I thank you for your role in my family’s evolution. But I believe you have missed this gentleman’s point. He did not wind up in this financial position by accident and he probably understands the math as well as you and I. But neither all the understanding in the world nor all the logic can convince a person (in this case a spouse) who does not want to be convinced. Mrs. Conifer here I come is fully supportive and a wonder to behold but I have gone through two other wives on the way here. Social life outside the Heartland/Rockies is cruel and implementing the MMM philosophy here is often the Seinfeld equivalent of asking for a doggie bag while on a date. I believe what this commenter needs is for Mrs. Yang to speak to someone like Mrs. MM or Mrs. Conifer, who now breathe the clean, cool air of financial freedom and wonder how they ever lived any other way.

    Reply
  • Colleen November 4, 2013, 5:57 pm

    This is crazy!

    There are no exorbitant lifestyle expenses left after you downsize your house to slash property taxes and utilities, get rid of at least half the cars, and let your adult children start supporting themselves a bit.

    The lifestyle your wife is accustomed to seems pretty reasonable after all that is gone. No excessive grocery bill or crazy dining out expenses, no country club membership, or even self maintenance (hair, gym, nails and other silly stuff) expenditures.

    You can keep your travel budget. Aside from the space in which you live, there is not much that will change. If you’re sneaky about it, your wife may not even notice!

    Reply
  • SkepticTank November 4, 2013, 6:19 pm

    Mr. MMM,

    What if the vast majority of Yin-Yang’s savings is in 401K & IRAs (non Roth)? You can’t get to that until you’re 59.5, right?

    I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of months now and have been wondering about this. I’m 50 and have followed the advice over the years to put money away in 401K. Now I’m thinking I’d like to retire in 5 years (by then I should have about $650K in net worth – 2 paid off houses by then, one we rent out for $1200/mo the bulk of the rest of the money in 401K and IRAs), but most of the liquid assets are in 401K & IRAs so am I hosed (only have about $130k outside of 401K in savings & Roth IRA)? Will I have to work another 4.5 years and retire at 59.5?

    Maybe this is a cautionary tale for younger folks aiming to retire early: you should MAX out Roth IRAs and do most of your saving outside of your 401K if you want to retire really early.

    SkepticTank

    Reply
    • Ed November 4, 2013, 7:32 pm

      Please recheck the irs rules,but I believe you can take distributions from a 401k in the year you turn 55 or later without penalty if you leave/retire. The 59.5 rule applies to IRAs.

      Reply
    • CincyCat November 4, 2013, 7:35 pm

      I believe MMM advocates Vanguard Index as well as more traditional retirement options. With Vanguard, you have full control of your money, and age is not a factor in withdrawals.

      Reply
    • cptacek November 4, 2013, 9:28 pm

      If you have a Roth IRA established, you can transfer money over from the 401k/IRA to the Roth IRA one year, pay the tax on it at your regular income tax level, and then the next year take it out, tax free and penalty free. The initial transfer is considered a contribution, and as long as the Roth IRA has been established for 5 years, you can take any contribution out. Please note, the money doesn’t have to be in there for 5 years; the Roth IRA vehicle has to have been established for 5 years.

      Of course, if you transfer the money over, and it grows, then you can’t take the returns out, just the contribution amount.

      So, you can transfer money over gradually over the course of a few (or many) years so you don’t pay taxes on too high an amount all at once. The money you transfer now in November/December can be cashed out in January, then you can transfer more money over in 2014 for withdrawal in 2015.

      Reply
      • Dan November 8, 2013, 9:30 am

        I don’t think this is 100% correct – I believe the law on conversions is that if you withdraw them within 5 years, you get hit with the 10% penalty, but you are not taxed again. This is based on the discussion here:

        http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/ask-a-mustachian/help-me-understand-the-roth-conversion-pipeline-idea-and-its-benefits/

        The Roth IRA is fantastic for early retirees, but regular contributions trump conversions. I’d avoid the back-door Roth if you can due to the five-year waiting period – and most people probably can.

        Remember that you do not add back in 401K, 457, 403B to come up with MAGI, so for example, a married filing jointly couple can easily add 35k to the Roth MAGI limit by having each person defer the maximum to a 401k. If you are self-employed it is even better – the Solo 401k is an amazing tax shelter.

        And if you maximize your deferrals, you save current year taxes too. Had a self-face-punch moment not too long ago regarding all of this – reduced our effective tax rate by about 7% just by maximizing retirement accounts, and it keeps us on the right side of the Roth MAGI line until our income nearly doubles!

        Reply
    • Annie-get-it-done November 6, 2013, 9:12 am

      You can take money from 401k’s at any time without a penalty, but there are limits, and rules. Every FI focused person should be aware of them:

      http://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Retirement-Plans-FAQs-regarding-Substantially-Equal-Periodic-Payments

      Reply
    • annie-get-it-done November 6, 2013, 11:13 am

      You can withdraw from your 401k before 59.5, but there are limits and rules. Take a look at “substantially equal periodic payments.” it is a good tool for FI types:

      http://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Retirement-Plans-FAQs-regarding-Substantially-Equal-Periodic-Payments

      Reply
    • Matt November 6, 2013, 3:04 pm

      I believe this is a Canadian case study which means the 401K is actually an RRSP. There is no age limit on a RRSP. You can withdraw at any time with no penalty.

      Reply
  • Mr. Frugal Toque November 4, 2013, 6:21 pm

    I have to admit that this whole thing blows me away.
    The 11 weeks I spent laid off last year didn’t cause Mrs. Toque to worry about income but rather invigorated her in the direction of wanting me off of work full time.
    That amount of insurance also astounds me. You need car insurance (for your 1 or 2 vehicles) and you want your million dollar home insured against catastrophes, but I’d never give a thought to any of those other types of insurance for a guy who has such a ‘stache saved up.
    Add to that the fact that you can afford your outlandish expenses (which are around 4.5x mine; you’ve got 3 adult kids to my 2 tiny ones) and I can’t believe you still feel required to work.
    On the other hand, if you do have to convince Mrs. Yin Yang, I don’t know if sheer math will have the effect you desire. It’s much more likely that you have to look at her past. Does she come from a family of people who believe in “work until you die”? Can she tell if that brought her older family members happiness and tranquility? Is that what she expects the two of you to do?
    Work is a complex issue. For some people, it’s important to have a “career path” and “growth”. Work is their soul and not having a job means decay and a permanent state of uselessness.
    For others (yours truly included), a career is just what they call it when you look back in hindsight at all the jobs you had. Yeah, I worked hard and got better jobs. So what?
    It’s kind of like when you look back all the dumbass things you did in university and someone says, “Yeah, dude, those were the days.” Really? Were they? I don’t remember thinking so at the time. All I remember thinking is, “Fuck, this is a lot of damned work.”
    You need a good understanding of what “work” and “having a job” means to your wife before going any further with anything.

    Reply
    • FI already November 4, 2013, 10:11 pm

      Excellent post Mr FT. You hit the mail on the head. I am in a similar situation, but with a much higher net worth and much lower expenses. My SWR currently is around 0.5%, but my wife is only slowly warming up to retiring. It does have a lot to do with the value system of a person. Math helps, but the value system and associated psychology is the key. Thanks for posting.

      Reply
  • JJ November 4, 2013, 6:44 pm

    Bouncy castle inflated with hair dryers!!! Shit is funny dude.

    Reply
  • Justin November 4, 2013, 6:58 pm

    Dude! Facepunch! Just do it!

    You’re a millionaire multiple times over. Here’s what you should be doing:

    “read books, and fix up my house, and ride my Harley, and exercise, and go skiing, and ride a bike (a real bicycle), and do my photography, and cook, and volunteer, and indulge in a mid-day Bota Box if I get the urge, and stay in California, or Arizona, and shop at Trader Joe’s in the U.S., and beach bum in Florida for a couple of months a year.”

    Not meaningless drudgery in exchange for more unnecessary money.

    Reply
  • Jana November 4, 2013, 7:20 pm

    So, really basic question from a college educated nerd. Do you just withdrawal funds from the various accounts on a monthly basis to get a salary? I’d like to know how to make this work practically. I know it works, I just don’t get how it works. My husband will be getting a pension, but I’m not sure how to go about it.

    Reply
    • Frugally-raised November 5, 2013, 10:39 am

      I guess you live paycheck-to-paycheck? That is, you think of your salary as what you’re allowed to spend?

      Instead, when living off your assets, you figure out how much money you need to live (e.g., a yearly budget). Then you make sure you have that amount accessible when you need it by either investing in things that generate income (dividends, rental properties, etc.) or by selling assets and moving the profits (cash) to a checking account, or some combination of the two. There is no “salary”.

      Obviously, you choose the above strategies based on: whatever is easiest; what you want or don’t want to do (e.g., be a landlord); how much you want to give the government in taxes; and possibly other things I haven’t thought of. But that’s the general idea.

      Reply
    • Clint November 6, 2013, 10:52 am

      I’m not sure I follow the question entirely, but since no one else has responded yet, I’ll take a stab. If you’re retiring early, I think the idea is you’d stop investing a portion of your dividends, and when they roll in, monthly or quarterly, you’d draw them down instead. I think my mom actually has the div. checks from certain holdings coming straight to her house. she hasn’t touched the stocks my dad built up.
      And I imagine the same would go for a 401k or Roth when you reach retirement age. You’d stop investing some or all of the dividends and take them as income as they come in. But your shares in index funds or whatever would hold steady, providing a steady flow of dividends.

      Reply
  • Stephen November 4, 2013, 7:53 pm

    I enjoyed the face punching assessment and agree with the premise. I’m still amazed after working with friends and clients (doing financial counseling) how much personal finance has to do with psychology and relationships. It seems to be even harder to work with people who are well placed financially (people in crisis are often eager to listen). I still see Mr. Yang working for years to come.

    On a side note the “Home Alarm System – the Timeshare Condos of the suburbs.” is solid gold. I’ll have to tuck that one away for future use.

    Reply
  • Julian November 4, 2013, 7:59 pm

    What is the situation with some sort of Social Security type income in Canada? Surely this man will be fully maxed out on that as well. I’m confident that with a bit of tweaking he could basically live off the income from the investments..Oy vey

    Reply
    • Lorri November 5, 2013, 6:25 am

      You would be eligible for early, but greatly reduced pension at 60, and a supplement at 67 (65 as this man is grandfathered in).

      Reply
  • Lazyretirementgirl November 4, 2013, 9:24 pm

    Mr. Yin Yang. I feel your pain. I retired at 56, with a very nice stash, after 30 years in a high pressure, intense ( although fun and stimulating) career. Part of the reason I went out then, at the top of my game, was that my husband had had it with his career, and I did not think the marriage would fare well with me working and him not. Once you leave the world of work, your marriage is likely to be even more essential to your happiness than it is today. I hear your longing to spend time in Florida and Arizona, and support you in satisfying those wishes. But, if your wife is an important part of your life, get her on board. If she has not lived through the depressing, soul sucking experiences you have had, she needs to understand them, and how you feel. You are more than a success symbol. Get out and live.

    Reply
  • Amy November 4, 2013, 9:25 pm

    Am I the only one that sees his inability to retire as a marital issue? It sounds to me like he is trapped by her (and by extension – the children’s) expectations of his earning power. I sense genuine fear that if he were to make a decision like this without at least his wife’s agreement, life could get really expensive (read: attorneys, spousal support) or at least very unpleasant.

    I do hope I am wrong. But sometimes even the people who have earned the right to their own freedom aren’t really free.

    Reply
  • Aja November 4, 2013, 9:33 pm

    The parts of this that got me most were: “I hate the meaninglessness, imposterism, drudgery, uncertainty, depression inducing self-esteem sucking, soul wrenching boredom, of my useless pseudo-middle-management-faking-it-all-day-$100K a year plus automobile-desk-job” and “I’m TIRED, FED UP, DEPRESSED, and I JUST WANNA QUIT and read books, and fix up my house, and ride my Harley, and exercise, and go skiing, and ride a bike (a real bicycle), and do my photography, and cook, and volunteer, and indulge in a mid-day Bota Box if I get the urge, and stay in California, or Arizona, and shop at Trader Joe’s in the U.S., and beach bum in Florida for a couple of months a year.”

    This is not small. This is a BIG, HUGE cry to be seen, heard, acknowledged, and supported.

    It sounds to me like Yin Yang is getting to a breaking point that may go beyond stress and depression and into chronic or terminal illness. The human spirit can only take so much inanity. Recently someone told me that in war, suicides go down, but in financial crises, suicides rise. War brings out our warrior selves… money brings out our ego and spirit-sucking image issues. Yin Yang is crying out to come back to life.

    Some people have cautioned against making any changes that could lead to divorce. I don’t recommend disregarding one’s spouse, but sometimes you need to think outside the bounds of the roles you have developed with each other. His wife really needs to recognize the cry for change in the above comments. And Yin Yang needs to acknowledge all he has already done for his family, and take charge of the fact that doing what’s best for him may in fact be the most courageous, best thing he could do for his family at this point as well. Even if his wife can’t see it, and chooses divorce. That would be her choice, and would suck. But is being tired, fed up, and depressed really worth being with someone who can’t understand the need to stop being all those things? Would his kids really want him to make himself sick in order to pay for their medical school? The best example you can set is being your fullest, most vibrant self. It sounds like this job is not helping him do that.

    I strongly recommend Dr. David Schnarch’s books – A Passionate Marriage and Intimacy and Desire. His focus is sex therapy, but his framework for understanding marriage relationships is deep, thorough, brilliant, and widely applicable. May it help Yin Yang navigate the upcoming changes/challenges and he and his wife come out a stronger couple in the end. Best wishes.

    P.S. Recently I hit a similar point of feeling fed up, albeit with a much smaller net worth. MMM, thank you, because finding this blog was what helped me to see that I do, in fact, have enough. And more. And the capacity to handle any future crises, market-related or otherwise. Major changes are afoot, but I now consider myself retired at age 31. Any future work will come from a sense of abundance and a desire to really be in the world, not out of need.

    Reply
    • Lisa November 5, 2013, 11:38 am

      I think this comment has nailed it. This isn’t about money. It’s about his life, his mental health, and his relationships.

      I am also going to be bold and suggest that he give away a significant amount of his money, at least 100K if not 500K. For example, he could set up an endowment at his alma mater, or donate it to a charity he believes in. He could make a significant contribution to something other than his family’s spending and I think it would lift his spirit a lot. Plus in the long run it probably would not hurt his ability to survive on his investments at all. Right now his money is mocking him – he cannot even seem to enjoy any of it. Maybe seeing what a powerful tool it is to another organization will change something in him.

      Reply
      • Ron November 9, 2013, 1:52 pm

        I second that. Ben Franklin said, “Wealth is not his, that has it, but his that enjoys it”.

        Reply
  • Rebecca November 4, 2013, 9:35 pm

    Mr Yang – your passion for life is fantastic and worth fighting for! I love your to-do list: “I JUST WANNA QUIT and read books, and fix up my house, and ride my Harley, and exercise, and go skiing, and ride a bike (a real bicycle), and do my photography, and cook, and volunteer, and indulge in a mid-day Bota Box if I get the urge, and stay in California, or Arizona, and shop at Trader Joe’s in the U.S., and beach bum in Florida for a couple of months a year.” I say you have earned it – and if I were your wife the “and cook” alone would have been enough to sell me on the idea :) I do notice that activities with the wife were not mentioned, and that together with her lack of support for your desire to retire could definitely interfere with your Happily Ever After plan…maybe she is feeling neglected and some extra positive attention could help on that front?

    Best of luck!

    Reply
  • Karl November 4, 2013, 9:55 pm

    This is what I call a good problem.

    I am still another 15 years away from FI. I’d love to be in this situation.

    Reply
  • vern November 4, 2013, 10:18 pm

    This guy’s main problem is that he actually gives a shit what people think about him.

    That can be a very expensive way of going through life.

    Reply
    • Sanne November 5, 2013, 3:39 am

      So true. It’s bad enough when you feel pressured to keep up with the Joneses… let alone share a bed with them. If I was married to a man who tried to guilttrip me into selfdestruction because he values his lifestyle over my health and happiness, he would be sitting with a sore butt on the curb before he even realized I kicked him out.

      Reply
  • CrossBorder November 4, 2013, 10:30 pm

    I think this is a rare case where MMM may have missed the mark a little in his response…along with many of the comments. The original question posed by YinYang has nothing to do with money. I think he has all that figured out. His issue is how to deal with the expectations of his wife and kids. When you’ve spent years playing a particular role and creating expectations with the closest and most important people in your life, how do you go about saying, “I’m someone different now. The promises that I’ve made (or implied) to you are now changing.” That’s the hard part. If YinYang’s wife married and loves the successful businessman, changing that without her agreement to spend a significant part of his time playing in far flung places is challenging and risky if he wants to remain married. If he has created expectations with his kids that he will pay for them to go to graduate school, suddenly changing as they’re applying to schools will have them feeling like he’s gone back on his word. That’s bordering on being an integrity issue. YinYang has a tougher issue than it appears and it’s not about the numbers. It’s all about how to deal with the most important people in his life in a way that he doesn’t find himself alienated from them.

    Reply
    • Kenoryn November 5, 2013, 8:52 am

      I’m not sure that’s true. He can afford to pay for his kids’ graduate school and still retire now if he wants, so he doesn’t have to renege on any promises. Even if he continues to pay for his adult children’s vehicles (!?!?) and living expenses after retirement, which is totally ridiculous, he could STILL afford to send them to ridiculous grad school. And his wife has expressed concerns about being able to keep up the extravagant lifestyle and the kids’ educations, not about his image or feeling like they’re quitting. Sounds like that’s his own concern, and it sounds to me like his wife genuinely is concerned about something going wrong and not having enough money. Maybe she doesn’t have a lot of investment knowledge. Maybe she envisions really extravagant vacations or buying houses for all the kids or something. Maybe she’s just a worrier. I would invite her to sit down and create a worst-case-scenario spreadsheet together so she can see how the numbers play out.

      Reply
  • Guido November 4, 2013, 11:05 pm

    Same exact scenario for me, kind of scary, hate my stressful work, have about the same assets, similar income, same age, etc. My stay at home wife will even support the retirement and our costs are a fair bit less. I am ready in almost every way.

    I also worry about the impression it will have on my kids, though I think we have successfully taught them all to be self starters.

    My conscience keeps me working though, I have a small business with 30 long time loyal employees who are apparently not yet ready to retire. I feel bound to continue for them, I am the only one who knows how to keep all the gears turning.

    I figure this is an unspoken but common problem for many successful entrepreneurs, I have seen many working into very old age, on the surface, seemingly unnecessarily.

    Reply
    • Mrs PoP November 5, 2013, 7:36 am

      Guido – have you thought about selling your business to one (or a group) of your employees at a fair (or discounted) price and with seller financing? You could develop a plan for them to train under you to learn how to “keep the gears turning” for however long that takes.
      Customer retention and business stability would be much more likely under such a plan, and your 30 long time loyal employees would be able to enjoy that stability until they are ready to move on to other endeavors.

      Reply
      • Guido November 5, 2013, 10:44 pm

        This is good advice, but many employees are employees by choice and are not destined to be entrepreneurs. There is a pretty big difference really and most are not up for the change and increased responsibility.

        Most of my employees are older than me and I think if they truly wanted to become entrepreneurs, it would have happened earlier. I did speak to a couple of the “younger” and more ambitious ones already, but they were not comfortable with the idea.

        I have recently recruited a couple of well educated recent college graduates. Although still pretty wet behind the ears, i will have a discussion with them, but it still might take a few years to prepare them…

        I am a serial entrepreneur and have gone through this before. I would really like to do it better this time.

        Reply
        • T Schmidt December 12, 2013, 4:00 pm

          Hmm, if you have talked to them and they aren’t interested that’s certainly one thing. But you already did the hard part, starting the business, you just need to get them to be business people to keep running it which would be a heck of a lot easier in my opinion.

          Reply
    • dude November 5, 2013, 7:57 am

      Then dude, think about stepping back and taking on the role of mentor — you might find HUGE rewards in passing your knowledge and business on to one or several of your most loyal/most ambitious employees.

      Reply
      • Guido November 5, 2013, 11:06 pm

        I think what I find most interesting and in common with the fellow above is that we have both been probably working our butts off and then suddenly discovered that we have hit or even exceeded our “number”, but cannot figure out a way to gracefully and quickly extricate ourselves.

        The webs that bind us are not just financial.

        Reply
  • Aaron Pratt November 4, 2013, 11:36 pm

    Something that hasn’t been addressed fully, and is something that looms large in America (and other places, too), is the deep entanglement of work and identity. You are what you do. If you do nothing, you are nothing. The notion that identity within a community is tied to the profession, the house, the cars, the vacations taken by members of the community. Breaking ties to that profession, downsizing, economizing, and all the things that are becoming intuitive to Mustachians are deeply counterintuitive to the vast majority of Americans. We are born and bred to think bigger is better, more is more, and that career and station and neighborhood and house are deeply defining elements of identity. To become truly Mustachian, you have to not care about these things. You have to think intuitively smaller, more efficient, more mobile, more nimble, less burdened. Having been born with nascient Mustachian instincts, I’ve always marveled at how confusing and disruptive my way of thinking is to the American public en masse. What I’m hearing is that the Mustachian way of thinking and living is not just foreign, but completely counterintuitive to Yin Yang’s wife. It’s the quizzical look I get when someone asks me what kind of car I’m going to get next, and I tell them I’d like to get rid of the one I have. It’s the confusion that abounds when I tell people I have a phone with no contract. Perhaps I’m reading too much into her apprehension, but unpacking a life so carefully built and curated to consume more and more is no easy feat. I wish them both well.

    Reply
    • Leslie November 5, 2013, 9:04 am

      My husband was planning on retiring next spring but his job has become insufferable due to politics. If he doesn’t get a new offer soon I told him to retire next month. Seeing someone you love wither in a bad job situation is just depressing. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to pack it in but Yin Yang surely does. I wish him and his family the best.

      Reply
    • Nina November 11, 2013, 9:37 am

      I like the direction of this comment. If Yin Yang is indeed concerned about perceptions of others (and perhaps also how his wife/kids deal with the perceptions of others) there are some small, immediate steps he can take to test the waters and work up the psychological strength needed to live a non-conventional life from those in his normal circle. Try keeping only your two junkiest vehicles and working together as a family to ration them (e.g., your kids could cooperate and maybe get some quality time together by carpooling to law school/trying out public transit, etc.). I live on a street where 90% of the cars parked in the 2 and 3 car garages are new BMWs and Lexus’s. It challenges me a tiny bit to pull into the driveway in my 12-year old fuel efficient non-finanaced vehicle (or god forbid seeing my neighbors as I’m heading out for my 20km bike trek to work at 5:30 am) and have the neighbors thinking I’m poor. But it is the kind of psychological challenge I need (and my kids need – like why doesn’t our car have TVs and heated seats like my best friends’) to stay out of the I work hard and deserve it even though I don’t need/want it, working till the day I die trap. Vacations could be another place for baby steps even though MMM didn’t touch your budget. There is room to increase your enjoyment by decreasing your costs- try local accomodations and feeding yourself at markets rather than the Fairmont resort & “fine dining” and vacation for LONGER. Best vacation I ever had was sleeping for free on the beaches of Corsica, not something I can do with a family of 4 (though some might say ‘why not?’), but I’m sure some middle ground exists, where you’ll get used to being perceived differently (perhaps as a ‘local’ rather than as a rich tourist) and maybe even find that you like it.

      Reply
  • The Watchman November 5, 2013, 5:03 am

    As a 42 year old who will be leaving his career in 2 months time with a make work optional ‘stache, I’d like to let you all know who did the most to give me the courage to quit-people on their deathbeds.

    A study of these people (can’t remember the source right now) found that they had the following realisations. They wish that they: had the courage to live life for themselves, rather than the life others expected of them; hadn’t worked so hard; had the courage to express their feelings; stayed in touch with friends; and let themselves be happier.

    I’ve found that office work directly prevents one from doing almost all of these things.

    By ending my career in two months, I hope to have learned from the wisdom that these folks have gained over their lifetime.

    Cheers all, and wish me luck.

    Reply
    • dude November 5, 2013, 8:01 am

      good luck! and maybe think about writing a blog or updating your progress on the MMM forums. I think there is a dearth of information from successfully “retired” (esp. FIRE’d) people out there, though it is growing. I seek out these real-life examples doggedly!

      Reply
    • LS November 5, 2013, 1:35 pm

      This comes from a palliative care nurse — -http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying

      I would suggest that this gentleman consider going about the process slowly, involving his family in his thought process and planning with them, but always with clear dates and numbers in mind. He suggests that his family would feel slighted by changes; but perhaps it would be the suddenness of retiring (and not the change itself) and its possible financial impact that would send everyone in a tailspin…at least for his children.

      Also, I wouldn’t recommend paying for your kids’ graduate education. You have an enormous amount of money that, wisely placed, could alleviate suffering in this world. And hopefully pretty soon you’ll have plenty of time to go about figuring out the best way to do so:)

      Reply
      • The Watchman November 6, 2013, 3:00 pm

        Thanks LS – was nice to read the article again, particularly as it’s been so influential to me.

        Reply
  • Strick November 5, 2013, 5:06 am

    “So, other than just manning up” – at least he already knew the answer before asking it….

    And why in the world would he spend so much on a process that will turn his children into the kind of people he doesn’t like living a life he hates? (half-million on law/medical school?)

    For Phoebe re: “I also worry that my parents who sacrificed for me to become something great would be disappointed if I retired before becoming an executive…..MMM-There is no particular honor in holding down a 9-5 job – in fact, I’d say this is something you do only until you’ve figured out how to move up to the next level.” Exactly. The easy way out Phoebe for all those that just don’t get it is to “start a business” (it doesn’t have to take up more than one day of your year) just so you can say you’re a business owner with of course the corresponding incredibly flexible hours. With all the free time but still maintaining same SOL, you’d be assumed a successful business owner at that…..

    Reply
    • Kenoryn November 5, 2013, 10:06 am

      Or, he could take the lifestyle reductions MMM suggested; this will leave him needing only about $1.7M to live on. Once he is done paying for kids’ college in a few years, he will need only a little over $1M. He could keep $1.5M, which will give him a large buffer (plus his wife can keep working if she wants, plus he can start getting CPP in a few years), and use the rest to start a fund to support charitable causes. He can set up a Board of Directors, and make himself the chair, and once or twice a year they’ll meet and allocate the interest to whomever they see fit. He’ll have a job title he can put on a business card. He’ll have an important role in the community. And he’ll still have all the money he needs and all the free time he wants.

      Reply
  • Anonymous November 5, 2013, 5:06 am

    Alarm systems, especially those with a monthly service associated, are indeed ridiculous, but sometimes they can be financially a net win: most homeowner’s insurance will give you a discount on your premiums for having one, and the discount is often larger than the cost of the service.

    Reply
  • MoneyAhoy November 5, 2013, 5:08 am

    Wow, that sounds like he’s saved himself up quite a nest egg.

    I agree with many of the comments here. It’s not like he’ll be quitting and sitting around the house all day eating icecream and watching TV. As long as you’re doing something meaningful and productive with you life, who the hell cares what anyone else thinks.

    It’s almost as if his wife has joined along with the collective group-think in that he has to keep working. I think it’s setting a worse example for the kids to keep working at a job he hates vs. showing them it takes courage to follow what you truly want in life. Make the jump!!!

    Reply
  • Rob November 5, 2013, 5:42 am

    Since he is Canadian I’d highly recomonmend they contact Garth Turner via his blog http://www.greaterfool.ca. he’s a well known blooger less known as a for fee financial advisor. I’ve read his blog for years and have also met him and i can tell you he’s one of the smartest investors out there. His basic rule of thumb is a blanced portfolio will average 7%. For the risk adverse perferred shares yeilding 5% which is an after tax equivlant of almost 8%

    He does come across as a bit of a blow hard via his blog (greaterfool.ca) but as mentioned he is one of the smartest investors out there. I spend a lot of time researching this studd and he stands head and sholders above the rest.

    Secondly anyone who gives you the evil eye for retiring at 55 is simply jealous, that’s the standard age for teachers and civil servants.

    Reply
  • Chris November 5, 2013, 5:56 am

    Anyone else wondering why retiring from a mind-numbingly boring job necessarily entails not working at all?

    My parents retired in their early 50s and used their new-found time to start a non-profit (davidsrefuge.org).

    Just because you’re not getting a big paycheck doesn’t mean you’re not working. Frame this as a career change.

    Reply
    • rjack November 6, 2013, 6:31 am

      I like your idea. He could also reframe it as a 1 year experiment. At the end of the year, he and is wife could discuss what is next.

      Reply
  • Basenji November 5, 2013, 6:14 am

    I feel sad that this is what our North American societies are like: paid work and earning money are more important than time and freedom. The fact that YinYang has to struggle with this demonstrates how messed up our group expectations are.

    Obviously, YinYang needs to “retire” and live his life on his well-earned nest egg. But, as MMM is pointing out, I am going to use this case as a mindfulness bell of how assumptions we make and our beliefs create the prison we lock ourselves in. Birdy, fly free! And for the rest of us still working on FI, onward to the promised land!

    Reply
  • Weston November 5, 2013, 6:18 am

    I’ve got to say that I’m a little disappointed with your response although several of the commenters do an outstanding job of trying to address the real issue. The vast majority of your response deals with the minutia of the numbers since that is where you seem comfortable. You then give only a cursory nod to what I think is really going on here, when you write…” While the agreement of a spouse is important, there is no sense continuing an unsatisfying job when all possible calculations suggest your salary is completely unnecessary.”

    Yin Yang seems to have an outstanding grasp of the numbers. To me this is a post about relationships and I think that for many readers of your blog (both male and female) what is keeping them from the lives they want is not understanding the principles or doing the calculations, it is a spouse or partner that you love and respect who has a different view on this topic.

    While I thought your “Selling the Dream…” post was excellent I still feel for many of us what is holding us back is not numbers, or society, or our own preconceptions but rather the very real response that will ensue from the person we love and share our lives and finances with.

    Not saying you have the answer, and I deeply respect those that don’t spout advice on topics they are not qualified in, On the other hand, I think responding by focusing almost entirely on the numbers is just avoidance. Saying agreement of a spouse “is important” is at best the world’s biggest understatement. I think agreement of a spouse in such life changing decisions is crucial if not almost mandatory.

    If you don’t have that agreement you will pay dearly for it one way or the other.

    Reply
    • Yin Yang November 6, 2013, 2:44 pm

      In all fairness to MMM, this is primarily a blog about money management, fiscal prudence, frugality, philosphical views as they pertains to lifestyles and their effects on finance, and productively creative ways to spend one’s time in retirement once FI has been achieved. I never expected him to cure my psychosis! Most of the comments in reference to the psychological aspects of my problem are accurate. While I am fully aware of them, and readily admit to them, it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with them directly. There are deep seated cultural, familial, and societal aspects to contend with, and that’s what I am having trouble with. While I have been coping with this quite easily for years, I have finally run out of patience. This is what has brought it all to a head. I agree with MMM and most of the reader comments. The thing that has to change is me. Shopping list: Spine, balls, guts, courage.
      Thanks!

      Reply
      • Goatee Joe November 6, 2013, 10:19 pm

        Personally, I think you’ve already demonstrated great guts/courage by putting your story out there, so I’d like to thank you for doing that. The feedback has been great: this is the only MMM article for which I’ve ever read ALL the reader comments. Very thought-provoking and inspirational, so thanks again and good luck, whatever you decide to do!

        Reply
      • Ellie November 7, 2013, 12:11 pm

        You have a lot of external pressures to keep the nose to the grindstone. Have you considered any form of counseling to help you deal with all the naysayers? Just having someone who is completely on your side can be a big factor in developing a plan and the guts to make the change you want. Of course, this blog does that. :)

        And don’t count out the possibility of finding part-time work, either using your own background or something completely different from what you’re doing now. It might give you some of the time you desperately need while bringing in some income to placate those outside forces.

        Reply
      • Marla November 8, 2013, 7:28 am

        Hi YinYang – thanks for posting your story and putting up with all the feedback (some of which must sting). One of my favorite quotes is “Without fear there is no courage” – So you can likely knock courage off your shopping list :) I relate to the identity issues covered by many posters (I’m an early retiree, 43). It took a couple of years to learn how to answer “what do you do?” at parties and when meeting new people, but I’ve learned to flip the script and ask people different questions eg. “Planning any vacations?”. “what did you get up to this summer?”. It leads to much more interesting conversation (who wants to talk about work?) and a growing confidence in who I am being much more than what I “do”. Best of luck!

        Reply
  • nick November 5, 2013, 6:36 am

    I suggest he quits now and he can always go back again.

    I’m not sure how paying for your kids education teaches them the value of money. I paid for mine and retired at the same age MMM did.

    Reply
  • Erica November 5, 2013, 6:45 am

    “While the agreement of a spouse is important, there is no sense continuing an unsatisfying job when all possible calculations suggest your salary is completely unnecessary. And as the final bit of unnecessary safety margin not mentioned in the box above, your wife is still free to keep her own job.”

    Indeed….why should his wife be coddled? She can strive to earn whatever income she feels is lacking, in my opinion.

    Reply
  • SavvyFinancialLatina November 5, 2013, 6:49 am

    Claim your freedom. Your kids can pay for their graduate education. I don’t think you should worry about that.

    Reply
  • Mrs PoP November 5, 2013, 7:09 am

    Reply
    • dude November 5, 2013, 8:19 am

      Wow, Mrs.PoP — thanks for sharing! that’s one of the coolest articles I’ve read in a long time!

      Reply
  • Gerard November 5, 2013, 7:10 am

    Off topic, I clicked through to Raptitude and enjoy it much. Thanks for the link.

    Reply
  • sara November 5, 2013, 7:42 am

    Hooray for Ying Yang. It sounds like he just needs to spend some time away with his wife getting her on board and that he can tell The Man to suck-it very shortly.

    While it is obvious that some of your readers are in the position of Ying Yang, I think more of us have numbers that aren’t nearly as impressive as YY’s, but still have a sizeable enough Stache to walk away. But we worry about healthcare, college, market unknowns, and wind up continuing the soul-sucking 9 to 5. I’ve totally bought into Mustachianism, but I (and especially my husband) need some more confidence/face-punches to pull the trigger.

    Reply
    • bc_stache November 5, 2013, 12:45 pm

      You pretty much nailed it on the head for me sara. I’m late 40’s with two rugrats (10 and 8) and a lovely wife. We have about $1.6M socked away, as well as a paid off house. Based on our current expenses, logic tells me we’d likely be fine if we both walked away from our jobs right now. Wife is even fine continuing to work a few more years, with me pulling the straps right now (we’ve agreed I hate my job more than she does…). Still, like you, I need a few more face-punches to finally pull the trigger (very very close now though).

      Reply
      • sara November 6, 2013, 7:13 am

        bc_stache: DO IT!

        :)

        Reply
  • dude November 5, 2013, 7:49 am

    This guy’s story reminds me of the “Mexican fishing village” story, which has many versions and is all across the internet. But I still find it relevant and on point:

    An American tourist was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.

    Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The tourist complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

    The Mexican replied, “Only a little while.”

    The tourist then asked, “Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?”

    The Mexican said, “With this I have more than enough to support my family’s needs.”

    The tourist then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

    The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life.”

    The tourist scoffed, ” I can help you. You should spend more time fishing; and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat: With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor; eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles and eventually New York where you could run your ever-expanding enterprise.”

    The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

    The tourist replied, “15 to 20 years.”

    “But what then?” asked the Mexican.

    The tourist laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

    “Millions?…Then what?”

    The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

    Dude, get thee to the mountains and rip some pow — you are not getting any younger, and at this point in your life, you should be fully aware by now how fragile this existence of ours is (surely you’ve known people cut down in the prime of life by cancer, accident or other disease). Tomorrow is not guaranteed to any man. You are a paradigmatic example to your kids of how working and saving aggressively when young can result in the life one has dreamed of. Don’t run away from that — embrace it! I wish I had a father who set such an amazing example for me to follow!

    If your wife loves you, she has to come around. If not, then (and I don’t say this to be callous, but rather to be realistic if your happiness means anything to you) it might be time to consider whether you can live the life you’ve dreamed of on half your assets. I know I sure could (and I’ve got a fairly similar lifestyle and income as you — though not nearly the assets because I started much later in life).

    Reply
  • Robert from Boston November 5, 2013, 8:11 am

    It seems to me that his wife may be concerned because their spending could be A LOT higher than reported here … I mean, I don’t see anything for clothes or medical (doctors/prescriptions – unless everything is covered in Canada) or income taxes or miscellaneous house expenses/repairs, pet expenses if they have pets, hobbies/entertainment … let alone furniture, gifts or splurges or drycleaning or possible hair cuts & etc. for his wife.

    Plus $650 a month for food seems low for YinYang’s family, with 3-4 people at home and their patterns of spending otherwise. No word of credit card expenses but nothing about being credit card debt-free either.

    His wife could be being overly concerned. She could be way too attached to The Lifestyle. Or she could be worried sick about money (without being able to stop spending).

    I love the Mustachian lifestyle and I hope everyone, including YinYang, gets to live it. Just find myself wondering if there’s more to this story than YinYang wants to admit!

    Reply
    • Yin Yang November 7, 2013, 2:13 pm

      What does this term: “Credit Card Debt” mean?

      Alternate response:

      If anyone out there has credit card debt, GET OFF THIS BLOG NOW AND DON’T COME BACK UNTIL YOU’VE ELIMINATED AND LEARNED YOUR LESSON. (Credit card debt people cannot call themselves Mustachinans).

      Reply
      • Happyback November 8, 2013, 3:31 pm

        AMEN BROTHER!
        SAY IT AGAIN!!!!!
        ;)

        Seriously, pull your wife close, look her in the eyes, and tell her you love her. Tell her you want to spend the rest of your life with her.
        Tell her you want to whisk her away to enjoy the sunsets….
        And that you happen to have saved lots of money for lots of years, just for this purpose.

        And hand her 2 tickets to a vacation you both would enjoy.
        Then retire hand in hand.
        She just needs to know you’re not going thru a midlife crisis. She needs to know you love her, and that you’re sure. She loves you. She believes in you. If she didn’t she wouldn’t be there.

        Now, love her into it!
        ;)

        Reply
  • HD November 5, 2013, 8:23 am

    vern November 4, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

    “This guy’s main problem is that he actually gives a shit what people think about him.
    That can be a very expensive way of going through life.”

    Boom!

    Sanne November 5, 2013 at 3:39 am #

    “So true. It’s bad enough when you feel pressured to keep up with the Joneses… let alone share a bed with them. If I was married to a man who tried to guilttrip me into selfdestruction because he values his lifestyle over my health and happiness, he would be sitting with a sore butt on the curb before he even realized I kicked him out.”

    Boom!

    As much as I appreciated reading the other posts, these 2 commenters nailed it on the head.

    If Mr. Ying Yang listens to only these 2, problem solved yesterday in my opinion.

    Best,

    Reply
  • sheri November 5, 2013, 8:32 am

    While I don’t think for one minute that he’s obligated to do so, I can understand, sort of, if YinYang wants to pay for his kids’ on-going education. But I seriously think those “adult” children need to be facepunched themselves for expecting their parents to pay for the insurance, gas and maintenance for their cars. And they really need to take some responsibility for cutting down on the use of all those blowdryers for the bouncy castle. They just need to take some responsibility, period.

    Reply
  • TOm November 5, 2013, 8:40 am

    I find it crazy that none of the kids have started to work yet given their age..

    the oldest is only 3 years younger than MMM was when he retired.. at what age will these kids need to start working for themselves.. I believe MMM has a blog post that discusses having to earn things vs. being given everything..

    Reply
  • Dollar Flipper November 5, 2013, 8:45 am

    I’m just blown away. Father in law retired at 55 with a sizeable nest egg. Kids are done with school and he enjoys fishing now instead of working 10+ hours. You won’t look back once you take the plunge. I think the biggest issue is getting your wife on the same page and understanding why she’s so afraid of you not working. Is she working? Is that fair? Lots of fun stuff to discuss/figure out!

    Reply
  • Jack Ludden November 5, 2013, 8:57 am

    “WTF? Do you live in a one-acre Bouncy Castle that you keep inflated with 1,000 blowdryers?”

    Hahaha. Awesome.

    Reply
  • Kenoryn November 5, 2013, 9:07 am

    Let me get this straight: you are concerned about your kids not being hardworking because they will see your early retirement as an example of not working hard. Meanwhile your GROWN CHILDREN are not yet working, and are having their living expenses, college tuition, even car insurance and maintenance and GAS?! Paid for by their parents! Holy crap! That is insane! How on earth will they learn to be hardworking if Mom & Dad are handing them everything in life on a silver platter? Coddling and pampering your adult children will not help them out in life. You would do your kids a much greater service by giving them a cut-off date after which you will no longer pay for any vehicle-related expenses or living expenses, and tell them to get a part-time job (and of course work during the summer) to cover their expenses. Keep paying their tuition if you must. But the rest is just crazy. Time for your kids to take on some responsibility here.

    Reply
    • Kenoryn November 5, 2013, 9:22 am

      Also, I think it is worth you and your kids considering whether they really want to be doctors and lawyers. Preferably before you invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in those career paths. By growing up with the extravagant lifestyle and seeing your massive spending levels as their example, they may feel they are trapped and forced to pursue only high-paying careers because they couldn’t afford to keep up the level of luxury they grew up with on a normal salary. And low-paying careers like being a writer or an artist probably never entered their heads as a possibility. And if they haven’t worked yet, they probably don’t have a clue what they do and don’t want to do with their working lives as they’ve never been exposed to any of the options. Getting your kids to start working now and teaching them to be responsible for their lifestyle expenses, and setting an example by reducing your own expenses, could save them from the lifetime of drudgery that you experienced.

      Reply
  • Joe November 5, 2013, 9:28 am

    One thing that I found really helpful was to show my wife that we can live without my paycheck. We saved all my income for a year and she saw that it was doable. Try that and see if you can convince her. Just keep trying to convince her and she’ll see the light at some point.
    Law school or med school? They can get some student loans.

    Reply
    • Spoonman. November 5, 2013, 11:23 am

      We did this for a while too – we only lived on my wife’s income, and mine went all to savings. When her company instituted a 401k that was far more flexible than mine this changed a little because she started maxing out her 401k.

      With a baby on the way, we have been worried about the seemingly insane cost of college, but I’ve realized two things:
      1. what can’t go on forever won’t – college will not keep increasing in cost at the pace it has been
      2. we could pay for a child to go to college purely from her current salary and easily live on mine, and presumably we’d both be making more money than now in 18 years if we’re both still working.

      Reply
      • Kenoryn November 6, 2013, 1:36 pm

        Plus your child will be making money and helping pay for it too – right? :)

        Reply
    • grum November 5, 2013, 3:41 pm

      Great idea – That’s exactly what I’m doing this year – saving 100% of my income. If my family can live without it for a year (just 2 months to go, and we will make it), we don’t need it.

      Reply
  • Brian @ Stocks and Cents November 5, 2013, 9:38 am

    I think we have a winner. This guy has worked hard, done very well on his investments and it’s time for him to reap the rewards! Yes, he needs to have a hard discussion with his wife and kids but other than that and some minor lifestyle changes, it’s time to retire!

    And sell one or two of the cars. That’s a bit much and I’m an American saying that.

    Reply
  • Jacob November 5, 2013, 11:07 am

    Holy Junk! What’s crazy to me is to constantly see the infectious disease of lifestyle inflation rampant as ever. This man obviously was KILLING it for a few decades, and his expenses followed him up the income ladder. Could you imagine if he kept a simple lifestyle during his run up of good fortune?! That $4M could easily be $10M!!!

    MMM, I also love that you just gave a man with a $4M net worth a $2300 per month Face Punch. No one is exempt!

    Next, I’d love you to review Kanye West’s budget and bust out the brass knuckles….

    Reply
  • Green Money Stream November 5, 2013, 11:22 am

    The best line here has to be in regards to this guy’s electric bill. I laughed out loud imaging a one-acre Bouncy Castle. But that would be my son’s idea of heaven.

    This brings up a point though. I can’t get my electric under about $60 a month. It’s not bad, but I don’t see where I can cut it further. We have a well, so I think the water pump associated with that must burn through electricity. I need to visit the forums for some inspiration here.

    Anyway, thanks for the laugh MMM and the great article.

    Reply
  • Christine November 5, 2013, 11:22 am

    Wow.. I still have to work on the income and wealth building.. clearly!

    Reply
  • chris smith November 5, 2013, 11:48 am

    @MMM

    Like the person in your case study, I question my own ability to cut free from the man. After reading this study, I thought, is it possible to have a “work sheet” that would give someone like myself and YingYang a thumbs up or down on our ability to retire and start living the good life?

    Or maybe I’ve missed such a tool that has been created already.

    See you at hh tomorrow.

    Reply
  • Ricky November 5, 2013, 12:26 pm

    One can’t assume that their spending will remain the same pre-retirement and post-retirement. They could get incredibly bored and spend much more or realize that they don’t really need to drive or use as much electricity since they are going to actually pursue things that make them happy. Driving only rarely makes someone happy, it’s usually only a means to an end.

    Even if they use a 3% withdrawal rate, they are still incredibly well set, and they shouldn’t have to ever dig into their principal at that rate.

    One thing not really factored in and I would be a little skeptical of is the kid’s exuberant college expenses.

    Reply
    • Kenoryn November 6, 2013, 1:40 pm

      I think you mean exorbitant. :)

      Reply
    • Kenoryn November 6, 2013, 1:43 pm

      Also I believe that’s 2 kids’ expenses, not one. That would be maybe $6,000 in tuition and $9,000 in living expenses each.

      Reply
  • Debt BLAG November 5, 2013, 12:37 pm

    He hints at it in his emails, but my guess is that what’s holding him back has a lot less to do with finances, and a lot more to do with appearances and how he or his wife, or a combination of both,

    To me, it seems like a silly question. If they shift some things around, he and his wife could have his current salary for 40 years, even without seeing any returns; what’s the point in being miserable?

    I might suggest something of a partial retirement — one at a new job where he looks forward to going to work, that appears respectable enough, and yet may not pay as much as he’s been getting.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

To keep things non-promotional, please use a real name or nickname
(not Blogger @ My Blog Name)

The most useful comments are those written with the goal of learning from or helping out other readers – after reading the whole article and all the earlier comments. Complaints and insults generally won’t make the cut here, but by all means write them on your own blog!

connect

welcome new readers

Take a look around. If you think you are hardcore enough to handle Maximum Mustache, feel free to start at the first article and read your way up to the present using the links at the bottom of each article.

For more casual sampling, have a look at this complete list of all posts since the beginning of time. Go ahead and click on any titles that intrigue you, and I hope to see you around here more often.

Love, Mr. Money Mustache

Ads

$25 Unlimited Smartphone
The Lending Club Experiment
A $500 Signing Bonus... WTF?
How to Start a Blog

latest tweets