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Great News – Early Retirement Doesn’t Mean You’ll Stop Working

“If everybody retired early like those Mustachians”, the lament goes, “there would be nobody left to do the work.”

Given Infinite Money, would my brother Wax Mannequin ever stop rocking? No, he would only rock MORE. (Image credit Tanya Plonka)

Given Infinite Money, would my brother Wax Mannequin ever stop rocking? No, he would only rock MORE.
(Image credit Tanya Plonka)

We need people to do the hard, dirty necessary chores that keep society running. And we need other people to keep the innovation going, since technologies and ideas don’t invent themselves.

And besides, even on an individual level it is a bad idea. What about those studies that show life expectancy drops very quickly for those who retire? What about those of us who love our jobs? What would we do all day if we didn’t have to work?

Luckily for all of us, there is a simple answer to all of this:

I propose that you keep right on working well after your retirement date, and in an ideal world you keep working right up until the last day of your life. Only then and with the satisfaction of countless decades of doing your best, is it really worthwhile to take that final rest.

If this sounds like a prescription for living hell, the problem is not with my proposal. It’s with your definition of what “work” really is. The problem is likely that you are doing work because you need the money, rather than for the joy of getting the most out of each of your days. And there really is a better way.

How “Retired” People Work

These days, I seem to know quite a few financially independent people. They come out of the woodwork once you start writing a blog about the idea, and we end up keeping in touch because we have so much in common. They are fun friends to have, plus it is handy to have someone with whom to share a mountain bike ride on a Monday, or beers on a Wednesday.

According to their own definition, they no longer need to work for money because their investments cover their (usually below average) spending. And yet, at the present moment almost all of them are still doing things that look like working.  A couple of them are still charging away at expanding their companies. Others are still productive at writing books or investing and helping others start companies of their own. Even I get accused of not being retired on the grounds of either carpentry or writing. But there’s a reason behind all of this work-like activity, and it’s not money.

The Rule of Free

For the first few years after retirement, I found myself continuing old money habits without questioning them. Like everyone, I’m way more habit-bound than I like to admit. And besides, if money is good, then more must be better, right?

The problem was that these habits were costing me some freedom. When opportunities came up to earn little chunks of income,  I would tend to go out of my way to accept them. When spending decisions came up, I would stress unnecessarily to optimize each one. I found myself agonizing over whether to add a $14.50 order of delicious Baingan Barta to the order of Indian take-out, when the bill was already approaching $40.

Habits like these are very healthy when you are still earning your independence: it is the double-sided optimization that gets you to financial freedom 30-40 years ahead of everyone else, so the reward on effort is very high. However, once you have enough money, getting even more doesn’t do you much good at all. So once the job was done, I wanted to put the theoretical freedom into practice. I forced myself to adopt two new rules:

I try to make all spending decisions as if the price were $0.00

And I make all work and income decisions as if the wage were $0.00

But doesn’t this lead to infinite consumption and zero work? For the Beginner Consumer, most definitely. But by the time you are truly ready for early retirement, these guidelines should lead to almost exactly the same life that you already have. The key is that both factors become magically self-regulating if you understand what truly makes you happy.

I’ve learned that more stuff does not bring more happiness – as you add belongings, your stuff just starts to own you. Even upgrading to higher quality versions of existing stuff doesn’t help. I could swap my 10-year-old Scion  xA for a new Tesla P85D with just the spare change in my wallet at this point, but this upgrade would probably make me slightly less happy, because I’d have to watch the beautiful machine fading in the hot sun and being shat upon by birds, while I felt guilt over not driving it enough to justify the price.

But buying tools that let you accomplish things can be much more satisfying than buying luxury toys. For me, this means physical power tools, but also tools like a functional office, a nice kitchen, and good shoes. So I don’t skimp on the things that help me get more done every day. An upgraded car doesn’t qualify because it would only help me accomplish more driving, which is not on my bucket list.

 On the work side of the equation, the philosophy is reversed. My best days are the ones where I accomplish something truly difficult, preferably in both mental and physical realms. And my worst days are those that I just spend sitting around. So I’ve learned that work is an incredibly powerful source of happiness. The key is that it must be creative, social and engaging work that brings you towards a purpose you believe in. 

So if a friend asks me to spend a day helping him haul steel beams and welding them into his foundation so he can resume progress on a dream house, I’ll be right over. Although I usually get paid for work like this, I’d also do it for free. But when an advertising company hints at a seven-figure offer to buy this blog, I have no interest at all. After all, would I give Mr. Money Mustache away for free?

When you take money out of the equation, it is much easier to make decisions that really bring you a better life.

So Here’s What Would Really Happen if More People Pursued MMM-Style Early Retirement

I find that when people earn their freedom from money constraints, they usually don’t stop working. Instead they start doing their best work. Looking at many of society’s highest achievers right now, the world leaders and founders of the most productive companies, I see mostly people who have already made it. And yet are still working because it means something to them.

Early retirement, according to this new definition, does not mean quitting work, even while it may well mean quitting your job. It means opting out of the bullshit portion of your work. The commuting, the politics, the production of inferior products just because your boss has found a profitable niche to exploit. When used correctly, a sizeable ‘stash can help you become a more ethical person.

Early-retired Doctors might set up smaller practices which operate without any pressure for profit optimization, and without patience for insurance company shenanigans. They might treat their medical staff better than the larger operations do.

Early-retired Attorneys might refuse all cases that are based on questionable ethics, and do only work that actually helps somebody.

Google engineers who retire early might still work or contract part-time, or feel compelled to create completely new inventions with their newly freed minds. If some of these inventions grow big and end up being acquired right back into Google, it’s just another dividend of early retirement and the cycle will begin anew.

How would you run your own life, with a continuing desire to create but no immediate need to make the next mortgage payment?

Early retirement also leaves much more room for family life, because you lose your fear of falling behind.  Sure, I’m currently far less “productive” in conventional business terms than I would be if wasn’t a full-time Dad. In fact, before beginning this project I granted myself 20 years of slack time, just to make sure work would not take over. But who cares about conventional business productivity?  There will be plenty of time in the second half of my life to embark on bigger things.

And there is no such thing as skills going obsolete: A true Early Retiree expands his or her network of skills and knowledge every day in unforeseen ways. As the years go by, the friendships and business opportunities only multiply, whether you have time to capitalize on them or not.

The net of all this is that you probably have less to fear about post-retirement life than you thought. It also means you’ll probably use less of that war chest you have been amassing, because your energy (and therefore income) will only multiply over time. You have decades to build, accumulate and contribute after you make the jump. So make your plan with a heavy dose of optimism.

There is nothing to lose and everything to gain from getting as many people on this train as possible, including yourself.

 

 

  • mjbaker888 April 16, 2015, 8:47 am

    Volunteering is something I look forward to when I retire *from employment*. Habitat for Humanity or something along those lines. It’s rewarding *work*, a far cry from not-so-rewarding *employment*.

    Reply
  • Jeff April 16, 2015, 9:06 am

    I always enjoy reading your posts and especially this one today. It is really interesting to me that people can often arrive at very similar destinations while traveling significantly different paths to get there. I am a near life long follower of Jesus (don’t worry, I’m not planning to proselytize). But, please don’t think of me as some might stereotype an American “christian.” As I am nearing age 50, it has been the metamorphosis of discipleship which has led me to most of the same ideas, thoughts and habits that you teach on this blog. Of course, I believe that the things which you teach and attempt to practice are true because they are “truth”, that is, they are “reality”. And the journey of life is about learning to discern “truth” from that which masquerades as “truth” but is really a lie. It would be my opinion that if people believed and embraced the real Jesus (not some cheap representation) who claimed to be “the way, the truth & the life”, they would find the realities you are pointing your readers toward. Please continue to good “work”!

    Reply
  • Catherine Jean Rose April 16, 2015, 9:20 am

    One of your BEST posts to date.

    “How would you run your own life, with a continuing desire to create but no immediate need to make the next mortgage payment?”

    I’ve been teaching for 17 years. The first several years of my career were wonderful: challenging, fulfilling, lots of autonomy…

    Now – I’ve become completely disillusioned with public education. All the bureaucratic red tape, mountains of paper work, inane meetings, unreasonable demands from administration, and jumping through endless hoops – I’m tired just writing about it.

    However, my end game may be surprising to some. Once I reach FIRE, I’d like to return to high need schools and volunteer my time for free. Yes, that’s right. My ultimate dream is to retire comfortably from the very system that drove me into early retirement – then return to school and actually TEACH (sans the hoops and red tape).

    IMHO, being able to use one’s training, skills, and talent where it matters most – free of bullshit, baggage and stress – is highly desirable.

    Reply
    • MarciaB April 16, 2015, 12:25 pm

      Catherine Jean Rose – that is the perfect example to cite. Being able to do the important and direct work that has a big impact and also brings you joy (in the classroom with students) and skip the overhead (meetings, paperwork, etc.) would be any educator’s dream.

      Reply
    • Murse1001 April 17, 2015, 2:33 pm

      Your plans are not so “surprising”. I went back to college as an adult to become an RN. I really just wanted to have a job in which I did some good for the world after a decade of financial sales. I just couldn’t imagine 35 more years of my life being wasted doing something that provided me no pleasure and the world no benefit. This was, of course, before the thought had even crossed my mind that I could retire before my 60’s. The whole experience was awesome because; #1) reduced income and school expenses taught me how to significantly cut spending (yes, I learned before finding MMM) and #2) I love being a nurse. However, two years into the career and the red tape is killing me! Yes, I do good, yes it’s thousands of times better and more rewarding than my previous gig, but I still spend too much of my day charting for billing and liability purposes and not enough saving lives/helping people. Plus, every month, management has another “pet project” to improve the hospitals bottom line that sucks up large amounts of my time. Once I get to FI, I intend to donate my time as a RN in situations where the red tape is gone or minimized and my skills used most productively.

      Reply
  • Kyle April 16, 2015, 9:38 am

    Interesting you bring this up, this is exactly what I’ve been trying to explain to people even just a week ago. I grew up with so many interests, I got a degree in Physics, learned things from carpentry to programming and now find myself constrained from work to do one thing. I love controls engineering but not necessarily love what a company pays me to design/program. It’s very constraining. I’d love to build automated brewing equipment or program brewing web apps, do more work to my house without consuming ALL of my free time. It’s about freedom to do what I want and continue learning and building things like I did before I became an “adult”. not so I can sit on my ass.

    I might add that early retirement, as I know you’ve mentioned in previous posts, means learning and trying many new things you wouldn’t otherwise experience.

    I also believe if we had more people retire early it should move average wages up in the industries they were in. People becoming frugal and retiring early in giant masses isn’t something we realistically have any worry of anyway.

    Reply
    • tlars699 April 16, 2015, 10:32 am

      “I also believe if we had more people retire early it should move average wages up in the industries they were in.”
      ^^ This! All of the supervisors posts would be vacated, and most people would be willing to put off retirement for a little bit to train their underlings to be able to run the show without them. Everyone would be promoted in some fashion, and get raises appropriate to their positions.
      Talk about improving the economy. :)
      That would mean the expectations of employers and required levels of qualification would have to drop appropriately, but that should happen anyway.
      We also have a huge amount of immigrants, which would gladly supplement the workforce, so it should never be an issue.

      Hopefully, more people will begin to see the light. :)

      Reply
      • Kyle April 16, 2015, 1:13 pm

        Sounded like satire but it did make me laugh. My point was if its harder to find qualified people, companies start pulling people away from other compaines using higher wage as bait. It’s already been happening in my field of engineering but probably not from early retirees, just economic growth.

        I’m very happy to work with people with much more experience than I who wont retire early and one day if I do retire early I will probably still work in the same field occasionally and pass my experience on, just not 5 days a week lol. For now I’ll take the 5 days a week and learn and save what I can.

        Reply
  • johnhenry April 16, 2015, 9:55 am

    I love posts like this because it gives me hope that MMM and his readers are just around the corner from knowing and embracing Modern Monetary Theory. After all, how can it be so obvious that the behavior recommended above makes sense at the individual level, but not the societal?

    Money is nothing but a tax credit that allows us to pay the obligation to our fellow citizens, and for those of us who obtain a surplus, to secure the goods and services of others so they can pay their obligations or build their surplus. Once an adequate surplus is attained, of course it’s silly to keep toiling away for tax credits you don’t need instead of engaging in work you enjoy, despite our biological dispositions to hoard and attain social status. And it’s silly to be wasteful along the way because by wasteful spending you are in essence extending the time it takes you to pay your obligation to society.

    Why do mustiachians champion those ideals for the individual, but fail to recognize the need for a system of government and money that aligns with them?!? A system that provides either a job or income guarantee, plus a 100% (or very close) inheritance tax!! After all, which of us would sit down to play a game of monopoly when each player starts the game with the amount of “money” they had at the end of last game. Monopoly money is just monopoly money! But our money is just tax credits!! If fairness is an objective, there’s no reason in monopoly or our society to allow any player in the new generation to start with more or less obligation to the group than his peers!!

    Yes, since money is just tax credits and we can print it out of thin air, the ultimate “goal” of the money creation/tax system should be to ensure fairness, an equal obligation for each citizen. We’ve got to ditch the illusion that the government “takes” money from citizens in the form of taxes to “pay for” public purpose. Sure, every government, no matter how small will require obligation from it’s citizens. And with no money to measure it, that obligation would have to take the form of grain, or weapons, or gold, or military service, or digging ditches, or tally sticks, or whatever. Imagine coming to play a Monopoly game and there was no money! It would be quite an ordeal to have each player bring trinkets to use as money. To decide which were more valuable in relation to the others. Luckily both the Monopoly bank and our government print plenty of money for the game to be played. And in both cases, the fairness of the game is not determined by how much money is printed, but in what proportions it is distributed!! And to some lesser extent the rules about the money once the game is underway. And as an aside, just because the players/citizens have money that the game/government printed, neither the game nor the government is “broke”!!

    I’m not sure if we mustachians are smarter than the average citizen, or more “economically productive” than the average citizen, or wealthier than the average citizen, but I think it’s fair to say that mustachians are more focused on individual “economic efficiency” than the average citizen. In other words we ask, what’s the most efficient path for me to take, still meeting my human needs and desires along the way, to achieve a financial status that allows me freedom. Freedom being the ability to meet all obligations to society (taxes) and required/desired goods and services of others for the rest of my lifetime.

    It’s obvious that we need a system of government/money that is more fair than what we have now. And being fair should be the ultimate goal. But I think a system with an income guarantee and no inheritance would also serve to promote the individual ideals outlined in this post. Allowing families to stockpile wealth in increasing concentration generation after generation is no more “natural” than allowing a citizen’s obligation to the group and the group’s obligations to him (his wealth) to die along with him!! The natural result will be more people realizing exactly what this post points out. Money, and by proxy, wealth, are an anti-tax. It doesn’t make sense to accumulate way more than you need and it doesn’t make sense for the group(society) to allow you to keep them when you die!! Enjoy it while you are alive!

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache April 18, 2015, 3:50 pm

      Sounds like a pretty interesting train of thought, but one that might not be compatible with human nature due in practice – much like Marxism or Soviet-style Communism.

      For example, can we really prevent parents handing down wealth to their children? People will find a way to do it regardless, like buying their groceries or houses, handing them cash or other hidden assets, paying for education, etc. What if my son bought a house at age 16, then I proceeded to help him renovate and sell it, and we repeated the process until his wealth was $100M?

      But sure, the idea of an estate tax is still reasonable (just makes massive dynasties a bit harder to form). And the guaranteed income (at a very basic Mustachian spending level) has some theoretical benefits too, because you replace the expense of running many other social programs.

      Our biggest difference of opinion is in whether or not our current system is fair enough – it seems pretty fair to me. Some people get way ahead due to intergenerational wealth, but the opportunity is there for everyone. The only disadvantage is to those born with limited ability and/or into a harmful environment. My theoretical political platform would be: great cheap education right up to university and NO money/lobbying in politics, so that there was no way to buy special-interest laws for yourself regardless of wealth. But also pretty loose regulations on accumulating wealth and running businesses as long as you comply to strict environmental controls (economics but with attention to externalities!).

      Reply
      • johnhenry April 20, 2015, 10:13 am

        Ya, I’m no proponent of communism where the state attempts to control all capital and means of production, because I do recognize it’s too much against the grain of nature as humans. But surely it’s possible to see the folly in promoting a “capitalism” that allows capital and other private property to be accumulated and concentrated inter-generationally. (Especially by followers of this blog who recognize the power of even a small stash.) What I advocate instead could be described as pure “capitalism for a generation” or “humanism”. Because the government would be taking the position that each citizen owed the same obligation to the group.

        You may laugh at the idea as idealistic, but it’s certainly just as feasible as “no money/lobbying in politics” under our current system. The absurd concentration of wealth is one reason for laughable corruption we currently endure.

        It’s just not possible to achieve a meritocracy when wealth passes from one generation to the next. It’s not possible for a government to ask each citizen to contribute equally, even denominated in a currency it controls, in such a system.

        It’s true, before our society moves towards that system we will have to acquire a more realistic understanding of taxes, wealth and money. But we are only a few decades into the post gold-standard era. I have no doubt that in the long run (decades? centuries) humanity will get there. Citizens of that era will look back on our time today and consider it just a small step towards meritocracy from Feudalism. Because it is. Some of us may think it’s “fair” because yes, up to now it is the most meritocratic time in history, but mostly because it’s all we’ve known.

        In terms of creating a more fair society, free university education will help today’s poor only slightly more than free bread would have helped a peasant.

        Reply
        • Frugal Bazooka April 20, 2015, 10:47 pm

          Your focus on taxation and the relationship to wealth is understandable, but one sided. There is a much larger portion of the population, much larger than the inherited rich, that receives little to zero benefit from paying taxes and the taxation they endure ensures that they will not achieve a level of wealth commensurate with their labor. Taxation is simply confiscation of their labor to be redistributed to the larger society.
          That seems to fit your more “fair” society, at least in part. Of course those being taxed might disagree with you.
          One thing your pov seems to overlook and maybe underestimates is the value of the individual to determine the outcome of his/her success or failure. Giving someone a piece of bread might help solve one day of hunger. Giving a person an education could propel them to another socio-economic strata if they can figure out how to use their education to make more money.
          The idea that inherited wealth alone is somehow responsible for economic inequities that exist in capitalist societies is as outdated as Noam Chomsky. The idea that eliminating accumulated or inherited wealth for each generation would somehow reset the fairness button, again ignores the reality that trust fund babies are just as likely to end up broke as they are to build a larger fortune. Once again the individual is the variable that will determine the outcome. Most of my socialist friends hate to talk about the power of the individual to overcome their circumstances. They rather talk about how powerless we are in the face of “the man” or “the system”.

          The irony of course is that in their own lives – in spite of their true belief in the futility of capitalism – they have achieved great things and amassed plenty of money within the capitalist system and without an inheritance.

          Reply
          • johnhenry April 21, 2015, 3:19 pm

            I’ll give you credit for your willingness to assess taxes as a measure of labor instead of money. After all, a government that prints it’s own money doesn’t tax to get the money, it taxes to get real resources like labor and material. It pays for that labor and material with money it creates and then requires some of it back as tax as a way to give value to the money. But to call all taxation confiscation is to completely misunderstand taxation. How can the smallest of governments operate without tax? And how else can it be collected besides “confiscation”???

            My POV doesn’t ignore the capabilities of the individual. It fully recognizes the immense human capacity for creativity and productivity. Our history books are full of 1 in a million rags to riches stories. And there is no doubt that our nation of hundreds of millions would continue to produce a multitude of those celebrated individuals even if our society were less fair. You’ll have to send me the statistics on the trust-fund babies going broke vs. accumulating more wealth. :)

            Are you suggesting that we purposefully maintain an unfair society just to provide an uphill battle so the next rags to riches story is more impressive?

            Or are you naive enough to believe that after the long, slow migration away from Feudalism, by way of a democracy that has disenfranchised non land owners, women, blacks(just to name a few) we have finally arrived (if so please tell me the point of that arrival!!) at a place where each citizen has her obligation to the group measured fairly.

            A different way to ask that same question. Would you trade places (and give the same likelihood of achieving the economic status you’ve achieved) with black man born into America 20 years ago? 40 years? 80 years? 100 years? What about a non-land owner born in America or Europe 200 years ago? 400?

            Only the most stubborn liars would pretend they’d take those odds. Again, this isn’t about something being “possible”. It’s about it being probable. Winning

            You’ll tell me with a straight face you think 50 or 100 years from now society will look back at this present age and not think the same thing?

            I’m not a socialist but I think I’d like your friends you call socialsts!! :) Stand up and count me as one of those who has “achieved great things and amassed plenty of money within the capitalist system and without an inheritance” and even appreciates a rags to riches story yet strives for a society where we at least attempt to denominate obligation fairly among citizens.

            Reply
            • Frugal Bazooka April 24, 2015, 12:31 am

              Your post is intriguing. Few people seem to want to delve into the pure socio-economic side of financial independence and clearly you’ve given this a lot of thought. Much like you I was trained to view economic activity through a variety of socio-political lenses and it’s sometimes frustrating to read how most people gloss over the underbelly of the economic beast. Be that as it may let me respond as best I can.

              In my study of American history, federal taxation has become something it was never intended to become: an economic force. Taxes were intended to pay for wars, a few gov’t programs and the salaries of a few thousand federal workers. Now gov’t spending is beyond what it was intended and most aspects of taxation have become a beast it was never intended to be. After all, the very foundation of the country was based on ending British taxation. Having said that, I’m a modern thinker and aware that we have a monolithic country on our hands and the growth of the state and it’s costs are somewhat inevitable, maybe even desirable on some level. But I don’t think we should shy away from calling taxation what it is: a form of confiscation. The fact that it hovers around 30%-50% (including federal, state, sales and other taxes) for most Americans who pay taxes makes the case even more poignant. The kicker for me is not the high rate of taxation, as much as the low return of gov’t goods and services for that high rate.

              As far as the 1 in a million rags to riches story, I would argue it’s more like 600,000 out of a million. Granted they’re not all “rags” to riches stories, many are about going from lower middle class to upper middle class, but still a big deal in my book. I’ve read several stories recently about the decline of worldwide poverty at a rate never seen before in history…all attributed to capitalist forms of enterprise. Let’s not forget Hong Kong’s amazing rise to economic success with a combination of uber capitalism and minimal taxation.

              As far as who in society will rise from the ashes of a shitty life, idiotic parents, and a substandard education to embrace capitalism and climb the ladder of moderate wealth, that is the great unknown. On some level, yes it’s a game with winners and losers and we’ll never know if everyone can win, because it just won’t happen. There are just too many variables to say that one group or another will fail because of past injustices or a history of racial or social bigotry. The fact remains that people on the bottom of the economic ash heap rise out of it on a daily basis because of some great talent, some lucky break or just working their ass off.

              In my youth I studied the clash between communism and capitalism (this was a front burner issue at one point in American history) and I was extremely sympathetic to communist ideology – at least as a stepping stone to social democracy and maybe some kind of mixed market model. As I experienced the world I learned 2 important things: 1. some people are willing to work their asses off for success and 2. some people are not willing to work their asses off for success.

              That reality caught me by surprise and taught me many valuable lessons that socialist theory did not take into account: namely the ability of an individual to manipulate their labor and their understanding of economics to create financial and ultimately material success.

              While I wish all people the best of luck on their journey to whatever economic reality they can create, I believe it is ultimately up to the individual to start the journey, travel the journey and succeed or fail at reaching the goals of the journey.

              Put another way, you can lead a horse to water, but forcing it to drink my vision of the truth will simply drown the horse.

              Reply
    • Pat April 18, 2015, 4:42 pm

      Sharon Astyk, especially in “Making Home”, makes the point that in poor communities it is incredibly important to be able to pass on assets. Assets are not seen as individual assets but as family assets. Joel Salatin makes the same point about family farms. He will face a huge inheritance tax when his mother passes, because the farm that was worth very little when his parents bought it is now worth a lot. It is a different world view, but one that is important to consider.

      Reply
      • Leslie April 28, 2015, 12:08 pm

        Current estate tax law exempts the first 10 million dollars per married couple, or 5 million per individual. Because of that only 2 out of every thousand will pay estate tax in 2015. This impacts poor communities because governments end up raising the sales tax to cover budget short falls due to few estate taxes being paid. Poor people pay a bigger percentage of their income in sales tax as it is regressive.

        Reply
  • JT April 16, 2015, 10:23 am

    Great post. Most people who argue that “it wouldn’t work if everybody did it” are missing the point entirely. It’s not about laziness. It’s not even about being “rich.” It’s about choosing to spend your time however the f*ck you want. Anyone driven enough to attain FIRE early in life is going to be a productive member of society no matter what their salary is. Thanks for another good read.

    Reply
  • Tyler in Seattle April 16, 2015, 10:39 am

    This post reminds be of a quote from a little old lady on working till the end:

    “I don’t want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails.
    I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp.
    I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children.
    I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone’s garden.
    I want to be there with children’s sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder.
    I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.” — Marjorie Hinckley

    Reply
    • Happyback April 23, 2015, 10:37 am

      I loved her! She was the one that taught me, “You CAN have it all…just not all at once!”

      Reply
  • Ricky April 16, 2015, 11:20 am

    I’ve said it many times to myself – the ideal way to live is doing what you want, when you want, disregarding the price of everything. Once you have a certain amount of money, this is possible. That amount of money can even be surprisingly low! If you have a job you love and are breaking even on a cash flow basis (not saving much), you’ve still got it figured out! Working a high paying job you hate in order to do what you want is only ONE way of doing it. Then again, there’s plenty of high paying jobs that you might love so it’s rather silly to EVER do anything you hate for money.

    That’s why I think there’s so much truth to “do what you love”. There’s infinite money out there. You can always make more money. You can’t always do what you want if you focus on income alone.

    I do not agree with anyone who has millions in the bank and still does meaningless calculations on what their time is worth or what is “worth” pursuing. It’s only worth it if you want to do it or not at that point, not the amount of dollars you’ll make by doing it. I mean, to some extent, you do need to still need to keep the value of a dollar in check with your expectations so you don’t think completely unrealistically, it’s just it doesn’t need to be your primary motivator.

    I love the idea of being able to separate money from everyday choices.

    Reply
  • Stan April 16, 2015, 11:21 am

    If there is a point between working and retirement I have hit it. My main job is 2 miles from my home with 3 stopsigns total so commuting isn’t any problem at all. I love my job, I have the ability to learn and work with people making them as happy as they want to be. I am providing a needed service that can’t be farmed out to a foreigner on a phone. I can go out whenever I want to visit with people. I am earning enough to be in the top 2%. My company gives me (almost) free healthcare. 40 hours a week goes by fast doing what I love. My weekends are free to do what I want. My house is paid for and I’m totally debt free. I don’t obsess about others driving habits or how they living their lives is going to harm anyone else or anything in the far reaches of the planet. My retirement will be less than 6 years which I shall receive a very large retirement payout and with savings there should never be any money concerns. What will retirement bring? Don’t know. Probably working a side line for profit followed by travel to points unknown. I have had ideas for inventions to see them on the market years later so maybe something will pop up and create a new market. Sit back and do nothing? Not unless I’m incapacitated. Or maybe someone will pay me very handsomely to blog. Good luck all.

    Reply
  • jennifer ann walsh April 16, 2015, 11:26 am

    Another epic post. Love the philosophy. This is now my second favorite MMM wisdom bomb. The first being “Give yourself the gift of not worrying about money”. That one was life changing in that it finally shifted the perspective of this natural born spendy-pants into seeing the value of stashing. It’s funny how all this focus on money is actually about freeing oneself from having to think about it at all.

    Reply
  • Johanan Rios April 16, 2015, 11:35 am

    As with all of your posts, great work.
    I was recently watching an interview with Mr. Elon Musk, when asked how he came up with PayPal he said “i saw the future going in three different directions and i wanted to contribute, so i decided at the time to pursue the internet”

    What really resonated with me about this quote, is that he wasn’t even thinking about money. He was thinking about how he could contribute his creativity to the world. That’s the mindset i want to have, even before reaching FI

    Reply
  • Edward April 16, 2015, 11:43 am

    Holy shit!! Wax Mannequin’s your brother?! I just saw him play in North Bay last weekend at a small pub. …I think he got into some trouble with staff for walking on the tables.

    Reply
  • Master Nerd April 16, 2015, 11:58 am

    Yes! I think the problem is that for the vast majority of people retirement means not working at all, and not earning anymore income. This type of definition is usually coming from people that have never been retired and are likely no where near reaching that stage in life, so it’s just a foreign concept to them. They probably envision retirement as older folks (65+) playing golf, visiting grandchildren, and roaming around the country in an RV. For those people I think it can sometimes make more sense to use the term financially independent.

    Taking money out of the equation is very liberating. I would go one further and make money decisions based on value. e.g., Will this fancy car add genuine value to my life, or will it just burn more fuel and cost more to maintain so I can look cool? No to the former, yes to the latter. Should I spend a little more on a quality bicycle because I use it frequently, it improves my health, it’s fun, and it’s still vastly cheaper than a car? Yes, if you actually use it.

    Once you remove the need to make money, it just becomes an added bonus. I had one job doing tutoring, but because I found it so rewarding in other ways, that I totally forgot about the pay cheque until it showed up in my mailbox. Being a productive member of society does not have anything to do with money. It’s about pursuing your interests and passions, and at the same time improving the well being of the world around you. Recently, in Mexico I met a lady that moved there from Canada on a permanent basis a few years ago. She told me she now spends more hours volunteering than she ever did before working, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Getting rid of money always reminds me of Star Trek, where a society can prosper and grow into a powerful empire all without spending a dime. It’s incredible what can be accomplished when you replace pay cheques with genuine passion, interest, and desire.

    Reply
  • Josh M April 16, 2015, 12:08 pm

    I always laugh when people say this kind of thing about FIRE- I laugh because I spend a good two thirds of my time at work sitting on my ass surfing the internet not being productive, because there’s no work to do! But I wouldn’t get paid if I wasn’t here, and at this point in my life not getting paid isn’t an option. I would love my job if I could just go home when there was no work to do and not worry about the financial ramifications… I can hardly wait for FIRE, but I’m nowhere near close to it.

    Reply
  • skg April 16, 2015, 12:17 pm

    take a look at this couple’s story:
    http://www.vogue.com/13235619/prerna-gupta-songify-got-rid-of-possessions-lived-as-nomad/
    more stuff does not make you happy

    Reply
  • Jim McG April 16, 2015, 1:09 pm

    I was made redundant at the end of last year, aged 51. I had stashed away enough cash over the years to effectively retire. I have to say I loved the first few months of my early retirement, keeping fit, cycling everywhere, volunteering, working on my golf game, cooking, reading, writing, meeting my wife for coffee in town when she had a break from the part time job (which she still enjoys). I think I’ll always look back on those months with a real affection. Increasingly though, as time goes on, I’m becoming restless and thinking that I should be getting back to work of some sort. I was pretty good at the job I had – I was a Sales Director for a big global manufacturer – but I’m finding opportunities to pick up bits and pieces of work I’d like to do quite challenging. Much as I’d also love to help a mate build his new house, that kind of work is few and far between even if I had the skills to help out! I know I have to stay positive and I feel that in order to be a successful Moustachian that the biggest thing you need is a Can Do attitude and a relentlessly positive mentality in the face of the social pressures pushing you back to “having a career”. So thanks for this post reminding us that the work v retirement debate isn’t black and white and that your world (if you’re in the lucky position many of us here seem to be in) is what you make it.

    Reply
    • Howard April 16, 2015, 3:22 pm

      Jim – In 2000 I effectively made myself redundant and left the corporate rat race at age 50. Like you I had enough cash/investments that it wasn’t a problem. I also had my consulting business that my wife was using for her business, so I decided to reactivate it. I wasted time developing the business plan, etc. Finally, I just started looking for consulting projects that I found enjoyable. In the beginning they were few and far between due to the poor economy so I actually picked up work that my wife didn’t have time for in her bookkeeping business. I managed the back office for a commercial real estate developer. I straightened out the books and processes and worked there part time for five years. During that time I met a variety of interesting people and set my own hours. Simultaneously a friend recommended someone and together (but 700 miles apart) we started pursuing consulting projects. It took us 18 months to hit our first major project and 15 years later we still collaborate on projects and are very good friends. I have another relationship like that one that is 5 years old doing a totally different, but interesting consulting regime. Some years I have made much more that I made in the rat race and other years the tax bill was very low. Long story to get to my point is that your appear to be able to pick what you want to do so your “work” is finding those enjoyable assignments. The whole process of getting there is another something to do. One of the things I do only for a corned beef sandwich is show people how easy it is to set up their consulting business. I do this because a friend did it for me 21 years ago. You are still a sales expert (with any title you wish) so the question is what would you like to sell?

      Reply
  • wheelingit April 16, 2015, 1:32 pm

    Don’t usually comment, but this article totally hit home. We “early retired” at the age of 38 and have been enjoying a different lifestyle ever since. We travel fulltime, volunteer, run our own little online businesses, but we are no longer in the regular 9-5 grind. You don’t stop living, you just start living differently. Great article!

    Nina

    Reply
  • Samuel Mandell April 16, 2015, 2:06 pm

    There are two issues at play here. The first making life changes and getting into a mindset that you can retire early if you are willing to adjust your lifestyle. This blog does an AMAZING job of providing guidance, but I would almost say it’s real gift is encouragement and being a north star if you will (if he can do it so can I!).

    The second issue, which is probably the sadder of the two, is that I firmly believe that even if the average person were to get to a point where they no longer needed to work for money (either because they saved or because they won the lottery), they would have NO IDEA what to do with their time. To put this another way, the HARDEST question I think you can ask somebody is: “what do you want?” For folks reading this blog (myself included), I would very much encourage you to begin to spend as much time working on that problem, as the problem of saving enough money.

    Reply
  • Dee April 16, 2015, 2:18 pm

    I love your comment about asking yourself if you would do this work for free. I was getting paid a lot of money at my last job, but the stress was awful and I absolutely hated my employer. Right now I am mostly a stay at home mom, but I have been starting to pick up some free work that I really love and am extremely passionate about- and its leading me in the direction of some different opportunities for paid work, which is awesome. There is just no way in hell I’d want to go back to my last employer- life is just too short!

    Reply
  • Jens April 16, 2015, 2:41 pm

    Great post. I also think people do the best work when they reached financial independence.

    If you don’t do it for the money, you must do it for something else. This is usually a good sign, for good results.

    Reply
  • GU April 16, 2015, 2:45 pm

    “What would happen if everyone retired early?”

    It doesn’t really matter, because it’s never going to happen. Only a small percentage of people will ever attain FIRE. It’s not because it’s unattainable for most people, it’s because most people will never take the steps necessary to attain FIRE. Plain and simple.

    By now, all but the dumbest people in our country know what comprises a healthy lifestyle, yet how many people actually eat a healthy diet, get enough exercise and sleep, etc.? Only a minority. Everyone knows that unprotected sex can lead to STDs and unwanted pregnancies, and that contraceptives are cheap (often free), but STDs and unwanted pregnancies still occur in suprisingly large quantities.

    Human beings are not algorithms that, once programmed for a goal, will ruthlessly and unwaveringly carry out that goal. Expressing the desire to retire early and actually implementing a plan over a 10-year timespan are two entirely different things.

    Human nature means, in today’s world, living a very non-Mustahcian lifestyle. And good for us, because having fewer Mustachians makes it easier to be a Mustachian yourself. I promise you, frugal, sensible living on a massive scale will not be a “problem” the American public voluntarily foists upon itself. So don’t worry about “what if eveyrone retires early?”

    Reply
    • Beekeeper Dave April 20, 2015, 11:00 am

      While I dig the cynical bite of your post, I am compelled to lean towards optimism in this case. It seems to me that retired Mustachians make the best employers in the world, paying their employees high wages and offering great benefits just because they can and they want to, thus propelling their employees more quickly into financial independence of their own. What if everyone retired early? I dunno, maybe every job would be like working for Google. It would be awesome, we could get back to the business of doing amazing things like space exploration and curing cancer and building hoverboards! (You know, all the stuff the Popular Mechanics Magazine promised us back in the ’50s) But… back down to cynical planet Earth, I think you’re right; “what if everyone retires early?” is a question that will never be answered because the herd just doesn’t want to find out.

      Reply
  • alistair April 16, 2015, 3:33 pm

    a colleague told me about his first boss who used to say “you mustn’t work too hard, otherwise you wont have time to make any money”

    I think that is spot on, the fleibility to take advantage of oportunities can be as important as maximising the weekly wage

    Reply
  • R47 April 16, 2015, 3:33 pm

    Good article — while I agree with most of it I have to add that necessity (or desperation) is the mother of invention. It’s not the best way to live & work for obvious reasons but I’d be hard-pressed to find a better motivator than that.

    I honestly don’t know what I’ll be doing during retirement — I should probably figure that out before I get there…

    Reply
  • Dr. Doom April 16, 2015, 3:51 pm

    Awesome post, MMM. I finally quit my job last week, putting the RE in FIRE at age 37. Literally the next day my sister-in-law asked if I’d take $500 to paint the first floor of her condo. I said: No can do, you can’t afford to repaint. Instead, I said: You buy the materials and I’ll do the labor for free, but in return you have to put that dough into your retirement account where it belongs.

    This is what it means to have enough money: I can choose to help people because I want to. Because it’s fun. (I like to paint.) And I don’t have to consider any other factors other than my own personal motivation, which is, in this case, to help someone in my family out. I will keep working (meaning: expending energy to do useful stuff) in one form or another for the remainder of my life, but it won’t necessarily be for money.

    Reply
    • Adam April 16, 2015, 6:54 pm

      Its taken 36 years but today i found you Dr. Doom… the one man on planet earth who likes to paint! I knew there was ONE!

      Reply
  • stuart April 16, 2015, 3:52 pm

    Does the advice to make all spending decisions as if the price were zero contradict the advice to shop with your middle finger (e.g. don’t buy blueberries if they have jacked up the price) ?

    Reply
  • Gen Y Finance Guy April 16, 2015, 4:35 pm

    I think the problem that most people have is that they don’t really distinguish the difference between a JOB and WORK. Mostly people think they are one in the same.

    In my opinion you have a JOB when you HAVE to make money to pay the bills.

    Work is anything that takes effort. So a job would fall under work as one of many different activities that qualify.

    As I engineer my way out of a JOB, my primary goal is to spend less time working for the man and more time working on things that bring joy and fulfillment to me.

    Great Post!

    Reply
  • ClaireB April 16, 2015, 5:03 pm

    I feel that working the 9-5 and having kids has completely sucked the soul out of me. As well as spending all my free time trying to convince the city where I live that they should build better bicycling infrastructure- pointless so far. I have no idea what I would do if I had oodles of free time. Every day my focus is smiling, good nutrition and exercise, and getting more than 6 hours of sleep. We are on track to FIRE in five years and I imagine it will take awhile to get back the ooh-la-la about life that I once had. We chose to take a 2-year-round-the-world-honeymoon before having kids, instead of working towards FIRE. Right now I’m glad we did that, and can hopefully do it again when the kids are older, assuming I get back the ooh-la-la to expand my vision beyond sleep.

    Reply
  • Markola April 16, 2015, 8:05 pm

    Thanks to this post, I just decided to never ask for a raise again. I deserve it but it would mean increased obligation to my boss. This realization is another in a welcome string of insights lately that come from being increasingly post-FI. I’ve become fairly bullshit-proof at work. Last week I stood up to my boss when when he was making my job unecessarily hard and…he thanked me and said how lucky they are to have me. I was prepared with my FU Money had it gone the other way. I simply don’t care about the petty concerns anymore, and am able to focus on helping my staff solve problems and do their jobs, and on what I want to do. We’re doing our best work yet, too. One day I’ll just quit. Who cares? I don’t.

    Reply
  • Doug April 16, 2015, 8:09 pm

    Another great post, MMM! I’ve also observed most people don’t understand that work can come in forms other than paid employment. I’m retired now from paid employment, but always find myself busy doing something such as helping family, neighbours, and friends with various jobs. Hardly a day goes by something doesn’t need fixing, or someone needs help doing something. I don’t know how I managed to get away for a 6 week trip to Thailand earlier this year, of course when I came back there was a back log of many things to be done including finishing my income tax. You can take that old urban myth about bored retirees with nothing to do and throw it into the rubbish bin where it belongs.

    It’s also well worth mention that in paid employment many people do things they know are unethical because they fear they’ll lose their jobs if they don’t follow orders and do so. If there were more people in the work force who were well enough off financially that they didn’t need to worry about the consequences of being fired for acting with their conscience, the world would be a much better place.

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  • Barb April 16, 2015, 8:29 pm

    This essay came at just the right time for me. I retired at age 60 last May though I could have retired much earlier as hubby and I are inherently frugal and have been FI for a long time. I was blessed to like my work as a registered nurse but the commute was becoming unbearable and hubby wanted me to be off to do things with him. Now almost a year later and I still long to go back to nursing. I enjoy being retired, have a lot to do and am never bored but miss the satisfaction of the work. I’ve held off returning as I keep thinking it is a failure of imagination to not find a completely satisfying life without paid work. I am fit and in excellent health and I feel “too young” to not be working. Undoubtedly old programming but still a theme running through my brain along with the knowledge that RNs are in short supply and needed to provide care.

    This essay made me think of returning to working part time in a different way. I don’t need to do it for the money and I can chose to contribute the money earned to a cause (or several) that are important to me. Maybe it is enough to just do the work because it is fulfilling? I am fortunate to be in a profession that has almost unlimited opportunities to work part time or sporadically in a PRN position and I know many can’t do that. Thank you for the thought provoking and timely topic.

    Reply
  • Leslie April 16, 2015, 9:10 pm

    FIRE also means that if a freelance gig comes up that you can’t take on, because you are traveling, that you can refer it to someone who really needs the work. When I refer a colleague who I know is great I feel really happy. You might think that they would steal my client, but in reality, if they are a good fit for the client than I hope they prevail. Since I am not acting from a place of scarcity, I can afford to be more generous with my time and referrals. Giving back to other people is a good way to spend retirement.

    Reply
    • scott April 16, 2015, 9:22 pm

      Your referral story reminds me of a N. Taleb quote:

      “You are rich if and only if money you refuse tastes better than money you accept.”

      Reply
  • Robert Curth April 16, 2015, 10:54 pm

    Thanks for this article. I am still unsure what to do after I am retired. I love your $0 test as a tool to find out.

    Reply
  • Ashish Gupta April 16, 2015, 11:17 pm

    I think you’d love the definition of work by Bill Watterson, via Calvin. “Its only work if somebody makes you do it.”

    As an aside: $14.50 for Baingan Bharta is atrocious abuse of Indian food eaters :O If you are ever in the capital city of India, I offer home-cooked, sumptuous Bharta at my place. Though you’ll have to bring beer ;)

    Reply
  • Burak April 17, 2015, 12:13 am

    I think all Mustachianism can be summarized by referring to this post. However, in order to truly understand it, one needs to read a great deal of other stuff from MMM.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • Frank April 17, 2015, 12:49 am

    OK I admit I have a problem.. Even though we are probably FI’d close to twice over (SWR 2.3%) AND have pensions kicking in in 5 years or so that will more than cover all our living expenses.. Oh and rent that currently makes about half our living expenses today.. not to mention my Wife will work for another year.. Well I can’t stop obsessing about the possibility of running out of money.

    I took a part time job after being retired for 7 months, I mean it was so well paid and came with travel bennies and happened to be a fun job.. so why wouldn’t I do it?

    Of course really the job means I don’t have to worry about money again.. which I don’t have to anyway.. yipes!

    The work at the job has almost dried up for now so maybe I need to take the time to reinvent myself without work to convince myself we have plenty.

    Reply
  • Jochen April 17, 2015, 1:07 am

    Dear MMM,

    thank you very much!!!
    In General, because your blog gives me the motivation to improve my live.
    (saving rate, consumption behaviour, bicycling…)
    And now with this blog.
    I´m exactly at this point. early retirement is already possible since months, but i´m still working here at my 9 – 5 office job and still thinking about possibilities what to do with my time.
    – take the offered severance payment and just take over household/kids (and my wife will work)?
    – work part time in the office job?
    – start online business?
    – start craftsman business?
    – expand existing forestry business?

    Thanks for taking out the money on this equation. No more pressure to earn more and more.
    Now it´s really simple.

    Thanks again.
    Jochen

    Reply
  • Paul D. April 17, 2015, 7:18 am

    I’m coming out of lurking because I cannot resist a comment upon the use of the word “shat” and the larger context in which this word was used. And I mean this with absolutely no sarcasm. Mr. MM, you are a genius at written communication.

    Reply
    • camry April 17, 2015, 8:33 pm

      I was laughing out loud this morning when I first read the word!! Hilarious, and shows unconventional thinking – mustachian style!!

      Reply
  • casserole55 April 17, 2015, 7:36 am

    I retired December 31. I stumbled upon MMM about one year ago, and realized that everything was in place for me to retire any time. My husband and I both earn money singing (for me that was already an extra part-time endeavor). And post retirement, I ended up being able to do the part of my job that I liked best from home as a contractor. My new life is just as wonderful as MMM describes. I wake up naturally without an alarm clock anywhere between 7:30 and 8:30 am. I have my coffee and tool around the internet for about an hour. Then something physical happens, my body knows it’s time to work, and I am happily ejected out of my chair and into my “office.” I do my contract work (deleting all the BS emails about time sheets , inter office politics, and meeting reminders), do some finance stuff, travel planning, do some stuff to cultivate my friendships. When I’m hungry, I fix some food. The afternoon is for exercising, and learning whatever music I’m working on. Then I make a fantastic dinner, and we relax until my body tells me it’s time to go to bed, and I have 8-9 hours of anxiety-free sleep! We are earning enough money to cover most of our monthly expenses. The “stash” pays for our ACA healthcare premiums, real estate taxes, and our annual fuel bill. That’s about 1% spending vs the usual 4% rule. Pinch me – is this a dream?

    Reply
  • nick April 17, 2015, 8:18 am

    This is great. Really like the two rules.
    My wife and I are on the path to FI, and she recently left her job. We have been talking about what she should do in the mean time, and the rule of “Make work / income decisions as if the wage was $0.00” is great.
    Helps to focus on doing the most meaningful things without the confusion of money as a motivator.

    Reply
  • Clare April 17, 2015, 10:12 am

    MMM, I just discovered your site a few days ago. I’ve been reading old posts voraciously. But I think this brand-new post is my favorite of everything I’ve read.

    I’d heard about early retirement before, but didn’t think I was interested in it. After all, I don’t want to stop working. What I want is to be able to quit my day job and make my living writing fiction.

    But I understand from some of your older articles, and this article makes it explicit, that we’re talking about the same thing. What you call “early retirement” I might call “quitting to go freelance.” The point is the same: doing what you love, not being chained to a desk and a commute and a manager.

    Thank you for the inspiration and the motivation!

    Reply
  • Vawt April 17, 2015, 10:17 am

    I would definitely still do some work in my genre of finance, but it would be more about helping small businesses or coaching individuals about money and personal finance. It would still be productive and useful, but probably not profitable (unless I only focused on those that could afford it, but then it wouldn’t be rewarding!).

    Reply
  • Mr. Enchumbao April 17, 2015, 11:53 am

    Very inpiring entry! I’m totally on board the FI train and getting others on board as well with our blog. It’s amazing the comments that I hear at work when people are “ready to retire” in their 60s and the ones that stay behind wonder: “What are they going to do with their time? They’re probably going to be bored without work” Really?!? Get me to FI right now and I can tell you all the fabulous things I’ll be doing with my time other than sitting at a cubicle. I have a great job with an awesome company but a golden jail is still a jail!
    We paid off our investment property which now subsidizes most of our rent payment so we know the feeling of not worrying about the next mortgage payment. Like you said in the past, money starts to become something in the background.

    Reply
  • thirtysum April 17, 2015, 2:42 pm

    I agree with this approach to life, and early retirement is the way to make it happen for a lot of people.

    But can’t you live freely without being financially independent? “I make all income decisions as if the pay were $0.” There are many people out there that do just that, even before they’re FI. It may mean a slower path to retirement — meaningful jobs are often low-paying — but I would argue that making decisions based on how quickly they will get you to FI isn’t living freely. Yes, you’ll probably get to live to see the day that you’re FI (and see it sooner), but why not live more freely every day in case you don’t?

    Reply
  • Rodburner April 17, 2015, 10:18 pm

    Awesome post MMM,I’m at the halfway point to FIRE,can’t wait to retire and go to work at what I want when I want.Holding two journeymen trade tickets means lots of part time work/shutdowns to keep me from being bored and gives me the chance to apprentice a few more young adults.Great Blog!

    Reply
  • Dan April 18, 2015, 8:33 am

    For a lot of people who stop working out of necessity and start working for pleasure, they may actually see their incomes go up during “retirement.”

    Amen.

    Reply
  • Petr April 18, 2015, 8:57 am

    “When you take money out of the equation, it is much easier to make decisions that really bring you a better life.”

    I will use this as my favourite quotation. No need to wait till one is financially free, but I can imagine it is much easier then because you can really do it without any suffering.

    Thanks MMM.

    Reply
  • Claire in the Midwest April 18, 2015, 4:55 pm

    I found the directive to spend as if it cost nthing intesresting. On the one hand, for years I bought BMWs etc and had hankered after an SUV, X5 or X3. Since trying to retire early and having bought a prius C I am forvever happy with it, do not want that SUV at all thanks, even if I win 10 million on the lottery. But if I need to fly transatlantic to visti family in the UK, I would get a business class flight at 10x the cost if I had the lottery win. Once there the spend on accomodation would depend on the situation – for London 300 dollars or more, but without lottery win probably 150. In the country villages visiting family maybe 100 bucks would see me comfortable regardless of lottery win.
    So there are some things I would shell out for, has MMM done a 10 hr flight and would he like to have a reclining lounger if he has 10 million to spare insread of 2 million?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache April 18, 2015, 6:38 pm

      I think I answered that airplane question in another comment – I already feel wealthy enough for the business class seats, but I’d have to mentally budget almost TWO plane tickets worth of pollution for the indulgence. So my first choice would be to optimize away the trip in the first place, second choice would be the economy seats combined with a good sleeping pill. I made it to Australia and back like that back in 2001.

      It’s obviously a rough philosophy with plenty of inconsistencies, though – I still waste plenty of fuel on exotic trips. The key for me is to at least CONSIDER the environmental cost as one factor.

      Reply
    • Kathy Abell April 25, 2015, 9:44 pm

      After remembering what it was like flying across the Atlantic from the west coast of the United States, last year we bit the bullet and flew premium economy to London via Air New Zealand. Don’t think we will go back to flying standard economy for international flights. We flew premium economy again this year on Lufthansa to Frankfurt, but noticed the seat cushioning left a lot to be desired. So even though we had plenty of room to stretch our legs and arms, our backs were sore from the uncomfortable seats. Too bad both of us are just too frugal (er, cheap?) to splurge on Business Class, much less First Class. Guess I have not yet reached that point of making purchasing decisions based on $0 cost. *sigh*

      Reply
  • Claire in the Midwest April 18, 2015, 5:20 pm

    MMM is not a new phenomenom with this continue working after becoming independently wealth. Think it goes vack to the Greeks but since my piss poor education did not teach me that I will use the 1800’s in Britain and America as an example. There were the gentry or independently wealthy folks who sometimes became very busy in a creative way; obvious example is Darwin who certainly did not need to ever work for a living and he spent coutless hours as a scientist. The main reason was he was just really interested in it and loved doing it. In his day there was actually a job decsription for the wealthy of parson-naturalist where the wealthy could do the odd Sunday sermon as a clergy man and the rest of the time do scientific studies. Nowadays we pay people to invent things in colleges and for profit companies, but it is the truely independant folks we need more of. If you work for say a chemical company who wants you to prove that surface bacteria are everywhere to sell its hand sanitizers, you are not at all furthering mankind but distorting the truth to sell your chemicals and creating spurious information that could hamper the truth for decades. (Surface bacteria are necessary to prevent unfettered growth of the really bad bacteria). Myself I cant see that I am probably not going to invent anything cool after retirement, will probably be busy optimising my life – i.e. walking around being active as apposed to sitting in a cube, growing better food, finding good recipies, taking afternoon siestas (shops in Italy closee from noon to 3,30). Just had a thought – dont see many Italians on this blog – guess there lives are better balanced and they dont have as much need to retire from this all or nothing dumb ass work culture.

    Reply
  • Gerry April 18, 2015, 11:47 pm

    Hey, as usual very good blog, interesting comments section.

    Always enjoy your outlook on life and have similar philosophy. At my place of work (yes still working although t is my ‘dream’ job and will likely phase out of it to a either tutoring role or start as a ‘non-profit tree trust’!) I try to get others to link into your blog. At my work place we had a ‘restructure’ , basically a excuse to lay off a few more staff in the name of ‘efficiency’, they asked us for ideas. I went to a meeting suggested that everyone follow my example and do a 30 or at least 32 hour (4 day ) week. Just about got threw me out of the room …main comment ” We have mortgages to pay you know! , now at least 5 don’t have a job…..go figure!

    So yes paid off the house and some savings, although about 14 years ago my partner stopped working full time as well and we have both had part-time jobs to support family (basically one full time job between us), we definitely were making a lot of spare income that we invested firstly in our house to get mortgage free and then bought in a locality for schooling , now two children and 13 years on!

    One thing I would comment on is that children do drain the fiancees fairly quickly from time to time (more than I thought originally) mainly school additional fees, events, sports etc.
    Just wondering how others finding this and some mechanisms to cull the drain while making their lives OK as well.

    cheers
    Gerry (form New Zealand – South Pacific)

    Reply
  • Handman April 19, 2015, 12:13 pm

    I changed my definition of retirement a good while back from “not working” to “doing what I want”. I am one of those “early-retired doctors”. I am an orthopedic surgeon, so a sort of combination engineer and carpenter and still find it very rewarding despite being FI. Working keeps my creative juices flowing and allows me to keep my license current so I can volunteer overseas, which is greatly satisfying and keeps me grounded. The smile on a patient’s face is hard to put a price on. Thanks for your very insightful comments!

    Reply

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