Are You Obsessed with Early Retirement?

I started this early retirement gig almost seven years ago, and for the first six of those, I thought I was the only one out here.

I was definitely alone among my coworkers – When still employed, I discussed the idea occasionally with friends at the office, and the idea was met with universal rejection: “Oh, you’ll never have enough money”.. “I like the idea, but my wife would never go for that kind of lifestyle”, “That may work for some, but I’ve got kids and/or a chronic health condition requiring expensive insurance”.

So when I became Mr. Money Mustache earlier this year, my eyes were opened quite a bit. I was pleased to find this whole community of people, discussing exactly the same things I had wondered about myself. There was even a whole established set of traditions and goals, with concepts like “your number” and acronyms like FI, FIRE, SWR, and YMOYL. In the olden days, if someone wrote “Oh, my friends won’t get to FI as quickly as me”, I’d assume they were talking about some sort of race to Florida.

Along with this education about the customs of the early retirement community, I also learned about some of its problems. The one I found most intriguing was the fact that many financial independence seekers are obsessed with early retirement, almost desperately counting down the days until they reach the wealth level they have determined they need to retire.

So I thought we could compare notes on the matter – those who have already crossed the threshold and those who are on their way. Is there anything we can tell each other? Any advice from us Wise Old Retired people that might make the journey less arduous? Any tips or traps that occur once you cross the threshold?

To do my own part, I’ll give you a list of the things I’ve noticed about the early retirement lifestyle so far. I’ll start with the fun parts, which would probably be labeled as “Financial Independence Porn” by the reader/commenter I like to call Wolf.

Things that were pretty much how I expected them:

  • You really do stop using your alarm clock, and adopt a deep belly laugh to be used on people who ask you to be somewhere before 9:00 in the morning. Not that there’s anything wrong with getting up early to accomplish something fun or useful, but in general, great productivity becomes something that can wait until after a great breakfast.
  • Vacations do happen much more than they used to, even though you probably don’t keep track. As a worker, I felt like Mr. Executive for getting four weeks of annual paid vacation. This year, I feel like we haven’t traveled much, but adding it up we are at about ten weeks, and are just about to head out for another trip this weekend.  Similarly, reading, eating well, exercising properly, and other things you thought you’d do when you have enough time, really do come true.
  • The great feelings about not having to commute and deal with office politics or performance reviews or boring work really do stick around. I thought I loved my job at the time, but after quitting I didn’t miss it for a day, and I still frequently think about things like moron-laden conference calls and think, “WHEW! I am GLAD I do not have to do that shit any more.

Things that were Not as I expected they would be:

  • You’ll still do work – LOTS of work, in very unpredictable areas:
    As a person who is motivated enough to break the mold to become wealthy and leave a cushy job very early, AND an MMM reader to boot, you have a naturally curious mind.  You like to read, and you are good at getting things done. When you quit your job, you’re not going to just idly sit back and consume for the rest of your life. You might take a few months off, but at some point you will need to produce something again. It might be art or music or writing, or working with people in some way, but I’d be quite surprised to hear of a self-made early retiree that stops doing anything at all. The thing about doing things like this, however, is that it is often labeled “work”, and you end up getting paid for some of it – like it or not. Because this happens so frequently, many early retirees (myself and the Artist Formerly Known As Mr. Early Retirement Extreme included) find that they don’t use their retirement savings nearly as much as they expected. In fact, they end up contributing to them more over time rather than drawing on them.
  • Work and Activity level varies greatly from month to month:
    Our ancient ancestors experienced lives of great variation: enormous hunts, periods of discovery and invention, and death-defying migrations.. mixed in with times of great feasting and laziness and of course plenty of famine. In the modern working environment, things are very different because everything is modeled on an industrial production system with smoothly flowing inputs and outputs. I believe this is a somewhat unnatural role for humans, especially at the ridiculous level of 40 hours per week. You can sometimes approximate the restful times by slacking off at work. But on a salary this can be stressful because deep inside you know you are doing less than your best and perhaps lying about your productivity or cheating yourself out of a potential raise.In retirement, there are times where a project has you up all night, or where you work even harder than a whipped office worker on one of your projects. But there are other times when you have very little going on, and you accomplish much less. It’s much like an expanded version of the weekends of a non-retired person. These lazy times are the most dangerous, because if you aren’t challenged, you’ll start to feel tired and dissatisfied with yourself, which will make you not feel like starting anything challenging, which can become a downward spiral that ends with you sitting endlessly at a computer playing video games, sporting pale skin and skinny arms and a growing set of love handles and man boobs*. How do you handle your leisure time right now?
  • You still end up being “just a little bit too busy” much of the time:
    There’s always something better that you should be doing with your time, and no matter how hard you try to work at things on your to-do list, you will still find that you suck. Because of this, you will sometimes find yourself turning down social events or vacation opportunities, or missing out on things that you wanted to get done, because you don’t feel you have time to do them. Time management is still a challenge, even when you have more time to work with because your job is gone.
  • You don’t have to retire to start having a good life:
    For every corporate worker who hates his job, there is a SWAMI like the MMM reader named Poorplayer who often offers wise sermons in the comments of this blog. If you had a job that you enjoyed as much as he loves being a professor, or as much as I love building things, you’d never need to quit it. So one option you have is to switch jobs immediately – start searching, send out resumes and make calls and use social networking, and be surprised at how much power you already have over your own situation. Even if you’re totally convinced that sticking it out in your $120,000 office job for two more years is worth it because it gets you independent so much earlier, you can still start making other changes. Try to go part-time or work from home. Get a new position in the same company. Write a list of everything you’ll do when you retire – and then start doing some of those things right away instead.
  • The Biggest part of Financial Independence is not the Size of your ‘Stash – it’s the size of your Frugality Muscle:
    The more expensive your lifestyle is, the longer you have to work to build up an enormous investment account. Compounding this effect, this usually means you have an addiction to big spending and may be a bit of a fearful wuss about ever having to spend less. People with this fear obsess endlessly over the “safe withdrawal rate”, and select one that guarantees that regardless of the timing of future stock market returns or recessions/depressions, they will never have to decrease their spending and in fact will always raise their spending along with headline inflation numbers each year.
  • I suggest you take the opposite approach: acknowledge that you are in full control of your material desires and your spending, and that you can adjust to whatever life throws your way. If the price of oil skyrockets, you’ll adjust your life to buy fewer oil-intensive products. If the boom years of the late 1990s return, you’ll quietly set aside the gains for future use. If someone important to you needs your help, you might cheerfully decide to cut your spending in half for several years until you’re done helping them. Changes like these are simply another form of challenge, and challenge is something that you thrive on, rather than cringe away from, due to the earlier point about the man boobs.
  • On a deeper level, Mrs. Money Mustache and I both found that we discovered new things about life from the very process of consuming less – things that we never would have learned if we had maintained the high incomes and spending rate of our peers.

To bring it all back to a single strand of Mustache: I believe that the best cure for Early Retirement Obsession is to start acting more like a retired person right now. The further you can push your boundaries out of the current comfort (or discomfort) zone, and into the life you envision for yourself as a retired person, the more you’ll start changing into the futuristic person you want to be. And share your thoughts and questions with all of us as you go along.


* This is obviously just the male side of it.. perhaps a female Mustachian can comment on the Lady equivalent of what happens when you get lazy and stop accomplishing anything.




  • Will December 14, 2011, 6:39 am

    This is an interesting post and something I have talked to my wife about at length. (We’re here, what do we do now?) I got a pretty clear perspective from Jacob’s site/blog of what he was doing in his ERE time, but it’s nice to see from the perspective of someone retired early what was expected and not expected about pulling the trigger.

    I am personally hoping I can make time to get into better shape and start making music again BEFORE I retire so I will just have more time for both when the day finally arrives for us.

    • Oh Yonghao July 31, 2014, 6:45 pm

      Before reading this article about a month ago I just bought a trumpet off Craigslist and started playing again. It’s been fun getting back into daily practice of slurring notes. Hope you’ve figured out what to do now.

    • Rad January 10, 2020, 6:32 am

      Of five siblings, I earned the least, but retired at the youngest age. We still had a nice house, nice car, ate good food. Frugality will do that.

      When I retired, we moved to a house that had just been renovated inside, but still needed a bunch of little things done. That will keep me busy for a while. I don’t have to rush. I can spend a week properly building shelves in the garage instead of hurrying to finish them Sunday night. I made a list of things I need to get done. The list grows at the same rate that I try to shorten it. Next summer, new siding.

      Another thing is family. We moved to be closer to our adult kids (and grandkids). When my single daughter hurt her leg a few weeks ago, we were able to stay with her several weeks to help her out.

      I also like to do yard work – mowing, trimming bushes… An older neighbor a few doors down was closing up their lake cottage in the fall. They asked if I could mow the yard a couple times before winter sets in. Tiny yard, twenty minutes. I was going to do it for free, then they handed me $40. I don’t need the extra money, but I’ll take it. I did rake it a couple times without telling them.

  • Lilacorchid December 14, 2011, 6:54 am

    I think the lady equivalent of man boobs is when you gain enough weight to start hearing, “When are you due?”

    • mugwump December 14, 2011, 8:54 am

      HaHa! That assumes you are retired young enough that it is still an option! But of course that is what we are talking about.

      • Kathy P. December 14, 2011, 9:23 am

        Muffin-top and saddlebags?

        • oskar December 19, 2011, 2:10 am

          I thought the female verson was when you could not see where the boobs stop and the tummy begins? When all bumbs just turn in to one big one…:-) Men get mor bumby when not moving enough woman experences the opposite:-)

          • Laurie April 28, 2013, 7:17 pm

            The lady version would be a FUPA! ha ha

        • homehandymum January 30, 2014, 2:11 pm

          Unplucked facial hair, dirty jeans and t-shirt waaay past their wash-by date and endless hours facebooking and pinteresting.

          Also, no clean socks in the house, and the only food is coffee and toast.

  • olivia December 14, 2011, 7:46 am

    Thanks for this post, I am pursuing ERE too. I have had a few staycations this year and I have experienced a taste of exactly what you describe of the downward spiral where you aren’t challenged but at the same time don’t feel like doing anything. None of my projects excited me. That is probably the part of ERE that will be hardest, aside from just getting the money, is the great responsibility of now being in charge of ALL of your time rather than just the time your employer lets you have. I know if I don’t set goals or make a concerted effort I am going to turn into that lazy person that plays video games all day and I do not want that. But all other forms of work just leave a bad taste in my mouth. I am thinking perhaps it is because I am so burned out on work that no other J*b sounds like it could even be modestly appealing. Maybe that will change after a few months off.

    I have been starting to work on my “bucket list” so as to make the “waiting” less painful and that has been modestly helpful. Why should I wait to be the person I want to be, I can start turning into that person today!

    • rjack December 14, 2011, 7:52 am

      I think if you are burned out there is a period of detoxification that you need to go through where you may do nothing of consequence. This could last a few months to a year depending on how severe your burnout is. After that, you are more refreshed and will naturally feel a desire to do “something”.

    • Freeyourchains December 14, 2012, 1:49 pm

      Just pretend you are back in College when you had 20 more hours of free time . You played pickup soccer games, or took on a sport. You walked through the library for leisure occasionally, and you socialized in Digital Media Clubs or Computer Programming clubs with other’s whom wanted to network and build upon each other’s skills, let alone to make new friends. You sprint biked to class for 50 min or to that exam. Studied in the most isolated locals, and passed by so many others in a dense, fun, secure, atmosphere with like minds all around you.

  • CG December 14, 2011, 7:59 am

    Is the obsession with the escape into FI reflecting the frustration level of work and debt imprisonment?
    My FIL was a person who counted down the days and retired “early” at 60. He worked for the SSA.
    My father has never considered being able to retire until this year. Maybe because he’s the single income earner at a factory job. Maybe because he raised 5 children on a low income. Mostly I think it’s because he and my mother are accustomed to being a certain amount away from the edge financially. After the tight years of raising their kids and having no debt they decided to stay close to the edge by buying a house with a mortgage and cars with payments. They have no savings. But they live their life fairly economically and with lots of hobbies and travel paid for in cash.
    So many people make money decisions with their feelings. They usually aren’t even aware that they are making those decisions or that there is another way. And so many think they should have fun and spend now because the future is so uncertain.
    Our move to CO from NJ next summer has finally got them thinking about selling all they have, ditching car and mortgage payments and getting an RV to live in full time. My older brother(lives in NC) and I have been pitching this idea to them for years. They could roam as much as they wanted but would always have hook-ups and the welcome mat out at our houses.
    So that brings me to the idea that motivation is the main reason people “get it” or don’t “get it”. Retirement for my FIL was about getting his time back. My parents must need the motivation of family connections. With their children moving all over the country and raising children of their own, the best way to have time with everyone is to go to them. My motivation for FI is to have more time with my husband. I hate that his co-workers see him more than his family does. My dad was not very available when I was growing up. I want things to be different for my kids.

  • iterations December 14, 2011, 8:31 am

    Obsession has been helpful for me. It has helped me commit to the necessary steps (that initially I thought would be painful) to get on the right track to early retirement. The wonderful thing is after taking those steps, I realize that they aren’t actually painful at all, and haven’t been a burden for me in my day to day life. I spend WAY less money than before, but my life is just as good. That is a nice feeling and a free-ing realization.

    I’m focused like a laser beam (directional AND coherent!)

    In the past two years, I’ve increased my income, I’m fully aware of my spending, I’ve very very aggressively paid off my mortgage (I own my house completely as of two weeks ago!) so that my fixed housing costs are now only property taxes, insurance and utilities. We have a baby on the way (our first), so the MMM blog entries on that topic have been very enlightening. I was on track to pay off the house in 3 years, but when we got pregnant I got my wife on board and we tackled the mortgage together and paid it off before the baby came.

    Luckily I had naturally been exhibiting some mustachian tendancies for years (my house is 1 mile form my job and 1.5 miles from my wife’s job), we own one car that has been fully paid off for 6+ years, etc… now I feel like I’m in a position to really do it, now it is just the waiting game to build the ‘stache to appropriate levels… thanks for keeping me entertained!

    • IAmNotABartender January 16, 2015, 8:11 am

      We are much less Mustachian by nature, but, in the few months we’ve been trying to become more, we’ve already uncovered about $750/mo of extra payments on the student debt. The obsession has made it exciting, and, like you said, it hasn’t been uncomfortable. We’ve still got a long way to go – some of which will happen over the next couple years, and some of which will happen once we move back to the mainland and buy a house. But this blog is what finally made me realize that it’s possible!

  • mugwump December 14, 2011, 9:08 am

    I took the slow path to early retirement; didn’t start working productively until 29, had about 9 years of un- or under-employment, and finally spent 10 years working 3/4 time at a job I really enjoyed. I retired at 55, 3 years ago.

    What I have noticed; the obsession is definitely a by-product of being bored or unhappy. I think much less about money than I used to. I also worked a gig similar to my old job for a couple of years, at greatly reduced hours. Now I have stopped that gig, and find I still need to get out of the house on a regular basis. I am old enough to qualify as a senior auditor at a local university, and that provides mental challenge, social stimulus, and an excuse to get out of the house, without the need to commute on snow days.

    I really agree about the need for flexibility. I decided on a 4% withdrawal rate as a signal when I had enough to retire, but really we never know what is going to happen to the economy or to us personally. The only real long-term financial security is having a saleable skill, and the knowledge to leverage what assets we do have. The best we can do is to keep our fixed expenses under control, stay flexible, and keep learning.

  • qhartman December 14, 2011, 10:29 am

    After taking a month off when my first daughter was born earlier this year I came back to work and realized how much I disliked my job and how desperately I wanted to be able to be at home and spend more time with my wife and my new baby girl. About that same time I discovered MMM, and have since become obsessed with the idea of early retirement. If I’m a little bit lucky and I manage to stick to my plan, I should be able to semi-retire by 45, even with being haunted by some financial decisions that I now know were pretty dumb. 50 should be easily doable, even without the benefit of extra good luck.

  • Chris December 14, 2011, 11:06 am

    The problem comes when people assume that achieving some goal or benchmark in their lives will somehow prove a permanent solution to all their future problems. However, it seems that all people need perpetual successes throughout their lives. Retirement solves a money problem, but we have more problems, it seems, than just money ones.

    With some additional introspection and reevaluation, I’m satisfied with a bit of physical activity, the odd challenge, a good book that makes me think and lots of idle time. At first, “doing nothing” was pretty hard, but now I find it easy enough.

    If keeping challenged is the hardest thing in your life, you’re living life as easily as it can be. We can always dump our freedom and re-join the rat race. But if anyone thinks the rat race is a solution to boredom, they’re a bit on the wacky side.

    I hear you on leaving the house before 9 am. Heck, with a 2 year old, we aim for about 10 am until 1 or so then some more idle time. Been FI since I was 20 years old, just didn’t really know it until a few years ago.

    • iterations December 14, 2011, 11:15 am

      “If keeping challenged is the hardest thing in your life, you’re living life as easily as it can be.”


      I also agree that some people confuse an achievement or a benchmark with a way of life. Achievements are nice little things to observe, appreciate, and move on, but it is the long-term, the steady-state, that is true success.

    • george December 18, 2011, 11:23 am

      Agree, actually I find that not planning my life is my personal challenge, and getting rid of the I should be…..

      I think that once people make frugalness a habit, rather than a focus and have experience in making plans and reaching the goals in steps, FI is a simple process, so long as there are no negative world events.

      Once you have stepped off the rat race, I think you need a routine, an interest, and a reason to leave the house.

    • financial anarchist / aka palmera January 3, 2012, 12:15 am

      FI since 20 years old?! I’d like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  • Tiger December 14, 2011, 11:33 am

    How did you deal with the social stigma of going from high powered executive to retired at 30? Besides answering the question “what do you do?” has your circle of friends changed from your days of being a high powered executive to today when your that unemployed/retired 30 year old. Would like to hear more about the social side of your early retirement.

    You joke about never being anywhere before 9 but you are also the badass who brings his son to school all winter long via your bike trailer so I’ll assume you still have his schedule to your life. Last question how can your carefree 10 weeks+ vacation be reconciled with your child’s school year and of course his coming extra-curricular activities.

    • Mrs. Money Mustache December 14, 2011, 12:11 pm

      You’re right — now that our son is in school, MMM takes him to school by bike at about 8:15am. I go pick him up at around 2:45pm. He just started kindergarten this year, so this is new for us…

      I’ll let MMM respond about the “social stigma” and the title of “high powered executive” — haha. I really don’t think there was any social stigma at all… it’s not like we talked about our plans to leave work with many people. Our circle of friends has changed a bit, but mostly because of where we live. When we moved, we made new friends here and we tend to keep things local.

      As for the 10+ weeks of vacation per year, we didn’t have the school year to contend with before, so we took more vacations. This year, we spent 6 weeks of that was in Canada for the summer and we are traveling over xmas break and the upcoming spring break as well. At the beginning of 2011 we were away on a month long winter trip, plus several camping adventures in the spring/summer.

      Actually, kids get so much time off school that I often wonder how working parents do it!

      • Debbie M December 14, 2011, 5:45 pm

        Oh, oh! I have the answer to “What do you do?” “Whatever I want!” And then list some of the current projects.

        • Cara December 15, 2011, 11:59 am

          I have another answer to “What do you do?” “About what?” Yeah, it’s a bit snarky.

  • Lee Lau December 14, 2011, 11:48 am

    I retired when I was 33. I’ve been retired for 8 years now. Like you and your wife I was lucky to marry someone with the same values of thrift (many called that plain ol being cheap back then).

    I got many quizzical looks because that age is considered to be the prime of your career and earning power but the effort of making enough money to get to early retirement was frankly exhausting and stressful.

    To me retirement means that I have enough assets yielding passive investment income that I could sit around on my ass all day and do nothing. Because I’m type A (so is my wife) I can’t really do that so I still work here and there. The difference is that I don’t have to work but enjoy the work I still do. All the above is just background because you kind of asked for it.

    One theme you constantly mention is containing expenses. I buy that.

    I don’t recall that you expanded on one other method of containing expenses. For example, I love skiing and biking. I started reviewing bikes and skis. Manufacturers give me skis and bikes to review. Voila, I have new skis and bikes. At no cost! I return them after review – disclosure but get to use them extensively as I have to for review purposes. Another example, I like travelling to places. Started doing travel – writing and people apparently enjoy the articles. Tourism associations now subsidize the travel.

    If you have certain expensive vices/hobbies and don’t necessarily want to give them up explore every opportunity to cut your costs relating to those hobbies. The easiest thing to do is to give up the hobbies of course. But I thought I would throw a creative option into the hopper. After all, if you’re reading this you’re probably an “out-of-the-box” thinker.

    • John Fritzen December 14, 2011, 12:12 pm

      I have enjoyed your trip reports. Great photography too.

    • skipro3 December 19, 2011, 12:43 pm

      I answered an ad to become a ski instructor. There are 3 types of ski instructor; the guy that’s trying to buy groceries, the guy who is trying to earn a little extra (maybe to fund ER) and the guy who wants to ski free and is willing to teach when everyone else has a class already. I’m the third. Works great. Show up and if there are too many instructors, come back in an hour and see if they need me then. I’ve gone weeks without having to teach a lesson, and when I do have to, well, I just introduce myself and say, “welcome to my office. How do you like the view?” Ha

  • Ann December 14, 2011, 11:53 am

    With all due respect, from someone who enjoys reading your blog… but I don’t consider you as ‘retired’, MMM. Semantics IMO… You are working, albeit for yourself which is great, but you’re still working to ensure your continued ‘early retirement’ as well as you son’s future. Personally, I have no interest in having my own company or owning rental properties. I am quite happy in my job and make a very good living, and I appreciate that you mention this option in your post.Too many blogs out there shoot people down if they happen to enjoy working for someone else. ‘Work’ is also an enjoyable social environment for me, and it’s fulfilling to see the continued success of our company as a result of our cumulative efforts. Yes, I do have meetings with morons on occasion (I happen to have one in 10 minutes lol), but there are lots of smart/admirable people in the corporate world, and I have meetings with them too :) cheers! and to your continued success, MMM :)

    • Mrs. Money Mustache December 14, 2011, 12:17 pm

      Retired is just a word. MMM works for himself when he wants to in order to have fun and to feel challenged and invigorated. He doesn’t have to work at all to ensure continued early retirement. That’s the difference. I work too, also because I enjoy it and it’s a great way to balance my day. Again, I don’t need to work. In fact, I’m thinking of quitting my work and diving in to a totally work-free (and computer free) life.

      Everyone’s “retirement” is unique. I think that once you leave work (we both left our jobs because we felt financially stable enough to do it, despite both enjoying our jobs), you really get to learn what a good balance is for you. You experiment with different things and try to figure it out. It may even change over time. If you’re lucky, you find a good balance and try to stick with it. That may or may not involve paid or unpaid work, but as MMM points out in his article, it will probably involve some kind of work.

      • Chris December 14, 2011, 12:50 pm

        First order of “work” is for this darn community to come up with a word that works in two words or less to describe “what we do” to he layman.

        I tried a few things, used to explain the ways I fed myself i.e. investment properties with some part time renovation work and some online projects. That took too long. I boiled it down to “I live off investment income.” Works for most people, but it’s still sloppy. The spoils of this ERE movement is going to go to the person or group of persons who can nail this term and then describe the movement properly in book form. Then fame and fortune.

        I’ve told Jacob so many times that he was on the cusp of this going over the tipping point and would be hugely famous for it. Maybe that’s why he bowed out. Anyway, it’s there for someone to take advantage of. The terminology is the biggest thing we have to solve and it’s been said so many different times and places as to be ubiquitous. I’m out of ideas personally. Perhaps it needs to be a word invented from scratch.

        For the record, I’d like to contribute in some way as I do want to continue to grow my “stach.”

        • rjack December 14, 2011, 1:57 pm

          What is wrong with “Financially Independent”?

          • Chris December 14, 2011, 2:16 pm

            Well, as mentioned it precludes you from doing anything for money. If you’re FI, then why do you still work…? and so on and so forth. A word that describes ERE needs to be final and end conversation rather than start a debate. For whatever reason people will simply not allow another person to do anything productive when they are FI or retired or anything else that describes our movement. ERE is great, just that people have no idea what it is. It’s not popular enough.

            • MMM December 14, 2011, 5:30 pm

              Chris – I like your challenge to come up with a super catchy name that shuts people up and explains everything in one or two words.

              But so far, I’ve had excellent results with “RETIRED!”. Financially independent sounds a bit dorky to me, and I don’t like acronyms like FI. But Retired is sweet, because everyone knows sort of what that means – it means you quit your main career and now do whatever you want. It is important not to confuse lifelong freedom with a lifetime prohibition on ever earning money again. And the word “Retired” is shocking enough, when spoken by a person under 50, that it shows the world that Mustachians mean business.

              That’s why I totally disagree with Ann’s questioning of my retirement label (even though her comment was a nice one). This is the Mr. Money Mustache blog, and thus I get to make up the definition!

        • George Carlson December 15, 2011, 7:40 pm

          How about we use the word “Stached”?

          Person A: “So, what do you do for a living?”
          Person B: “I’m STACHED!”
          Person A: “Huh, what does that even mean?”
          Person B: “It means that I live off my investment income.”

          We are in business once this conversation happens a couple of million times or someone makes an awesome youtube video.

          • MMM December 15, 2011, 9:02 pm

            I like that one, although I usually spell the word ‘Stashed, to represent the stashing away of cash.

            In real life, when talking to people other than close friends or family, I actually try to hide the whole early retirement thing, just because I don’t want to feel like I’m telling people “I have a bunch of money!”

            “What do you do for a living?”
            “Well, I’m mostly a Dad right now”
            “Oh, a stay at home dad, that’s nice!”
            “Yeah, and I do some part-time work on the side when the boy is in school”.
            “Nice, I understand that perfectly”.

            • BobTX June 4, 2013, 11:55 pm

              I’ve been really wondering about this. My wife and I are extremely frugal, but are only recently ramping up income with her about to begin a profession that will bring in money like we’ve never had, that carries a title etc. that will make people think it very odd indeed for us to be retired 4-5 years later (or plan, we’re partway there just from what we’ve earned prior to her finishing her training).

              I’m naturally an extremely open person with people, even ones I don’t know very well. I have a feeling that this type of conversation could get awkward quickly though.

            • Ziggy September 27, 2013, 2:13 pm

              Tell the person you are unemployed. They will probably buy you a drink.

        • Brian March 30, 2012, 12:50 pm

          Just say you are in the import/export business. People will think you are mafia.

          • TunafishTuesdays March 19, 2020, 9:50 am

            Good one, Brian! Or how about “waste management” for that chilling Sopranos touch?

      • Adrienne December 15, 2011, 1:50 pm

        Interested in hearing about your possible “computer free” life. Would that include this blog :( Would actually like to hear more from Mrs. not less.

  • Marcia December 14, 2011, 1:10 pm

    Okay, I’m not in early retirement. In fact, I’m firmly ensconced in the rat race still.

    But I do want to make a comment about the belly laugh of having to be somewhere before 9 am.

    I have a friend named Isabel, who retired last year. She didn’t retire particularly early (at 60). But she had a pretty nice life. Husband who is a college professor, 3 kids. She taught French in high school. Because of her husband’s job (marine biology), there was a lot of travel to exotic places, taking the kids.

    She’s a quilter (as am I). She taught all of her classes in the mornings. However, the school readjusted her schedule and made her switch to the afternoons. At first, she was very angry of getting out of her “zone”. But it was the best thing for her.

    She does her BEST work in the morning. She gets up at 4:30 am and runs to the gym to lift weights, then runs home. That didn’t change. But now, the early morning hours she was able to devote to her art – her quilting. She became much more productive and artistic in the morning.

    The afternoons were spent teaching French, which she’d done for 30 years.

    Then one day she realized that she had enough sick time left that she could just retire 3 months early, and she did.

  • Hilary December 14, 2011, 4:20 pm

    My husband and I are not FI yet but I have retired, largely because my work contract ended and wasn’t extended. I found the first summer great. I had time to think, start decluttering the house, focus on getting healthier and try out blogging and internet marketing. Then when winter came I just collapsed inside myself. I wasn’t bored, or depressed. I just stopped and slept. It took till midwinter to realise I was just hibernating. I would start thinking about sleep when it got dark and start waking when the light slipped through the curtains. Now in summer I’m up just as dawn occurs still – just 3 hours earlier than in winter.

    When I decided that trying to increase my income through the internet wasn’t going to work for me – I’m really not geeky enough to deal with the practicalities, and I got bored with the interminable spammers and people who just didn’t get “it” – I went through a time of wondering just what I would do with my time. This occurred during my second hibernating winter. Coming out the other side of it I also discovered ERE and MMM and found my home, as it were. I love the frugal stuff. We are saving almost as much on one income as we were on two (‘m working on getting our savings up from 50% to 75%) and I get to be useful as Nana to my grandchildren for my working daughter.

    I am working as a volunteer in several agencies. First I am a book sorter for the SCF book sale. We sort, price and pack literally hundreds of thousands of books during the year for the big sale each August. This gives me access to all sorts of books and I can borrow them for nothing or if I want to buy them I can at the usual sale prices (low, low, low). Secondly I wanted to learn first aid. I found out that if I became a first aid first responder I could get both my training and experience for free. I only have to volunteer a certain number of hours a year. Advanced training comes free as well. The only problem is the travel distances that I have to do both to training and to the places where I have to volunteer. That will push the car mileage up and petrol costs up.

    Thirdly, as a volunteer at the Opportunity Shop I see stuff when it comes in and can get clothing and any other stuff I might want at half the already low price.

    I find volunteering is lovely after the snide back biting and back stabbing of a supposedly wonderful job. Here we have to be nice to each other and the environment is so much more conducive to being happy than all my previous work experiences. I get my intellectual stimulation online and from my reading and have long periods of time alone just being. Life is good.

    • Mara December 25, 2014, 7:44 pm

      Hi Hilary,
      That was an interesting story. If you are still reading the blog, how are you doing now in 2014?


    • EarningAndLearning April 28, 2017, 8:41 pm

      So many great ideas here, thank you! I also want to learn first aid, I’m going to do some volunteering with St Johns Ambulance, thanks for the inspiration!

  • Chemist December 14, 2011, 4:42 pm

    Hi MMM,

    I have been reading the ERE for a while. I retired six months ago and has not missed work even a little bit.
    It is the discussion like this which make the people aware that there is another life, beside that “I owe and owe so back to work I go”.

  • Debbie M December 14, 2011, 5:59 pm

    To answer the title question, yes I am obsessed with early retirement. So much so that I’ve decided to quit my job in two months even though I am not yet FI. (Okay, really it’s a combination of burnout + too much work + new boss with incompatible personality = I’m turning into a jerk.)

    I’ll have a pension due in 6 years by that point. I’ll have about half the money I’ll need for that six years available to withdraw penalty free from my Roth IRA if necessary. And I’ve also got about 4 months worth of expenses in vacation leave saved up. Plus a huge dividend income averaging $15 per month. Yeah, baby.

    I’m not ready to sell the house and car yet (at least they’re paid off). But I’ve got lots of experience in part-time jobs (pizza making, tutoring, teacher certification exam scoring, social worker interview transcription), plus my boyfriend will let me iron his shirts for $2 each instead of bringing them to the dry cleaner. There’s no guarantee that I’ll get any of those jobs (except for the shirt ironing), but I don’t care anymore. I’m going to wing it, which is totally not like me.

    Based on previous experience and that of friends who have taken sabbaticals, I expect to still not have time to do everything I want and to end up sitting around wasting time if I don’t make myself a little fake schedule to keep me engaged. Sounds good to me.

    • Chris December 14, 2011, 6:55 pm

      I’m not sold on “retirement!” Neither is anyone else. They just look so clueless at you. Thinking, hum, this guy probably inherited a bunch of coin or won the lottery, nothing that ERE entails. Retirement is shocking, yes, for sure, but descriptive? Accurate? No. If you want a good place to start, why not try to DEFINE the word first, then we can come up with something that seems to fit the description nicely.

      One of the biggest changes for me in ERE was to just slowwww down (even more). Having a kid now reopens all life to re-enjoy, so that was a nice coincidence. I’ve had comments about how relaxed I seem to be. I walk slow, do things slowly, etc. I guess I just don’t have to really be anyplace in particular so that has a huge affect.

  • Nick December 14, 2011, 7:15 pm

    Obsessed? Maybe. I think I”m more obsessed with slowing down and focusing on what matters to ME, rather than what matters to others that I just need to do. It’s really liberating having a blog and posting about whatever the heck I want. And if people come to read it, fantastic. If they don’t, oh well. So if I retire early and get to live that way in all facets of my life, how great is that?!?!

    So yeah, maybe I am a bit obsessed – it just might be more about freedom than retirement. I plan on working until I literally can’t. But how I work will certainly change over time – or at least that’s the plan :)

  • charmer December 14, 2011, 9:00 pm

    Do you think it is possible to “lose” yourself in your job? I have known a few people who could have retired much sooner but didn’t because they tied their identity/self worth to their job. It was a difficult thing for me to understand. I thought everyone would retire as soon as they could.

    I have been obsessed with early retirement. I now find myself in a spot where I could retire (age 34) or at least slow down and I’m finding it difficult to do (for reasons I’m not sure I understand myself). I’ve had a laser focus getting myself to this spot. Now that I’m here, I’m not sure if I should carry on just a little bit more (the security thing), or is my identity/self worth tied to my job, do I want to explore consumerism now that I feel more secure financially? I think another thing is that for the longest time, I could quietly work at building an adequate stash; retiring now makes public what my private thoughts were for so long. I feel a little unnerved explaining to people something I’ve kept private.

    For those of you who were “type A” or tenacious enough to retire early….was it easy to turn it “off” after you retired. Why am I struggling with this?

    • MMM December 14, 2011, 9:43 pm

      Yeah, I definitely think that the risk of losing your real independent self grows with the amount of time you spend in a single career or job.

      I was only an engineer for about ten years (and some of that overlapped with my education), and that was already growing quite repetitive by the end of it.

      When I think about the people I worked with who had done the same job for THIRTY years, I found it somewhat mind-boggling. I mean really: a thirty year career where you move up through an entire industry’s ranks and move on to start one or more of your own companies – sure, that woudn’t be boring. But thirty years in a series of cubicles dealing with the same products and procedures the whole time: surely they had lost part of their souls by that point and were incapable of seeing a life beyond the walls.

      • Sarah H. December 19, 2014, 12:09 am

        It’s like Shawshank Redemption. First you hate the walls, then you grow used to them, and finally you grow to depend on them…

    • Lee Lau December 15, 2011, 11:11 am

      It was hard to turn it off.

      I liked the work I did. Didn’t know till I retired but what bugged me were dealing with some of the people I worked with (had an office with employees). Retirement allowed me to start from new. Basically I closed down shop and “sat on the beach” for 6 months where I found out that sitting around doing nothing but counting money coming in bored the tears out of me. Now I cherrypick only people and work I want to do and I mix it up. Some of the work I do has to do with the former career, much of it is with different things.

      So yeah it’s entirely possible to lose yourself in your job. Clarity comes with looking at it from the outside and its hard to do when you’re on the inside, all imo.

    • Danielle June 11, 2012, 7:00 pm

      I’ve had a few jobs that were so intense that when I left, it felt as if I had been “underwater” for all that time, and I had to get to know myself all over again. If you are brave enough to take the plunge and leave your job, it may take a while to figure out who you are. But it’s worth it.

      Besides, you can always find another, similar job if that’s what you want. It’s worth finding out.

  • Chicken December 14, 2011, 11:05 pm

    I am obsessed with early retirement. The thing is, we probably have enough savings to pull the trigger right now, but I’m too afraid. I’m afraid of the uncertainty. How much is enough? What if we don’t have enough in the long run and run out of money? What if I end up like my father, who “followed his passion” in 1974 and today is destitute and had to go back to work at the job he detested in 1974?

    I can’t wrap my head around it, so I just read these blogs and keep working.

    • rjack December 15, 2011, 7:22 am

      Chicken, I’m in about the same situation as you are. I find using FireCALC gives me confidence about when I have enough. If my stash would not have failed at any time in the last 130 years, I feel secure. I realize that there is a small chance that something could happen where I would fail, but I would just try to adapt to the new circumstances the best that I could.

      • Chicken December 16, 2011, 10:01 am

        Thanks rjack. Excellent suggestion. I went to the FireCALC website with low expectations of success. Much to my pleasant surprise, I can increase my odds of success from 80.2% to 93.4% by decreasing my spending by $5,000 per year. That’s with 50 years of distributions! Time to flex the frugality muscle (or, in my case, actually FIND my frugality muscle)!

    • george December 18, 2011, 7:49 pm

      I also have the motivation of fear – but slightly different. First of all I tried to explain to someone that I have always lived off less than the unemployment benefit just in case I lost my job. So really I was busting my gut for no improvement in my life.

      Then I had the fear- how stupid would I feel if i went to the doctor tomorrow and found I had a life threatening illness. To have spent one more day in my old work would have increased my risk for ill health and would have been just one more wasted day.

  • Ramses December 15, 2011, 12:47 am

    Anyone who associates retirement with “finally sitting around, doing nothing but drinking margaritas under a palm tree, consuming TV all day, consuming entertainment created by others, consuming, consuming, consuming, and generally being a lazy individual until they finally get to their grave.. is an excellent candidate for the 40+ years of full-time work before-you-can-enjoy-life-plan that was created by the system.

    If a person can’t live on a $1200/mo social security income, then I am really at loss for words. I recall seeing an interview with a homeless by the invisiblepeople guy on youtube, and the homeless individual complained that he couldn’t survive and had to live on the streets because social security *only* gave him $800 per month.

    The key to retirement is very simple: spend less.

    At 40k per year I consider myself very wealthy for a very simple reason. I make a whole lot more than I spend. It is true I can’t afford the newest and latest hybrid car, or to purchase a large home with a single payment.. but that’s ok, because I don’t feel the need for those things. My necessities are covered. I can identify my needs from my wants. I don’t find myself longing for physical possessions. I have a whole line of reasoning in this subject. Perhaps I should put it in writing.

  • Chris December 15, 2011, 7:49 am

    Yes! I’m completely obsessed with ER as of late. I recently had 6 weeks off work after an overseas deployment and used it as an opportunity to test what it would be like to be retired-I loved it. I slowed down and took my time at whatever I was doing. I didn’t use an alarm clock for 6 weeks. I spent long relaxing mornings drinking coffee and geeking out on the computer at whatever topic happen to interest me that day. I took time to ride my bike to the grocery store or Lowes vs driving my car. It was pretty sweet.

    It took me about two weeks to get back into “work mode” when I started back. The good news is-I have a great job and make good money. Yes, it’s stressful and fast paced (too fast), but I have 7 years left and I’ll have a military retirement with a lot of great worldwide experiences and some great benefits. In the mean time, I’m trying to “retire in my mind.” It really does make a difference when you start to let go of your ambitions at work and stop competing with your peers-it has started to open up a new world for me. It makes work a bit more enjoyable and less stressful.

    Finally, I’m finding the closer I get to FI, the less stress I feel about work as well. I tell myself all the time, if I get laid off, no big deal, I’ll just sell or rent my current house and chill for a while until I find another job.

    Here’s to being obsessed!

    • Jan December 15, 2011, 9:21 am

      Nicely put – I’m starting to detach more from work myself mentally, still doing a good job, still connected to others, but not caught up in all the other stuff that goes on… it’s very freeing. I can look at my teammates and think “they can have it, good luck to them, I have enough.” A big part in being able to do this is finally having all our debt paid off, including the house. Nobody owns us! It took a lot of time and effort, but so worth it.

  • No Name Guy December 15, 2011, 10:51 am

    Obsessed? In my case, motivated is perhaps the more appropriate adjective.

    And with proper motivation, it’s amazing what a person can do. Most of the limitations a person perceives exist only in ones mind. When we free ourselves from these preconceived notions of what is and is not possible, an entire world of opportunity opens up before us. One example: The mission is to cover 190 miles on foot through rugged mountains over snow for miles on end, carrying everything you need for 12 days, while climbing the highest mountain in the lower 48? Impossible my self of 15 years ago would have said, and it would have been for the me of that era – I had too much mental baggage. 5 years ago, after much eye opening over the preceding 10 years it was quite doable – difficult and physically demanding, yet thrilling and spectacular and entirely possible with careful planning and a focused, persistent effort and most importantly, the WILL to do it.

    FI / ER is merely one of those opportunities that has always existed, yet it takes the wiping away of the preconceived notions of what it is to “retire” to make it visible. (Note: I’m dropping the 2nd E in that since early retirement is only “extreme” to those with the preconceived limitation that retirement can’t happen until one is in their late 50’s at the earliest). I’ve always tended toward the frugal end of the spectrum – the concepts of FI / ER as expressed by Jacob and MMM have crystallized my thinking. Now, I’m fully motivated to obtain FI / ER within a few years. With that motivation, with that goal, the actions I take may appear to an outsider to be obsession. To me, it’s just getting to where I want to be.

    • abc December 19, 2011, 1:35 pm

      The JMT is a fantastic hike, but do it in summer. I promise you will enjoy it more.

  • Dmitry December 15, 2011, 12:39 pm

    THIRTY years in a series of cubicles. Hmm…Something to ponder.

    I’ve spent there only about 14 years by now – with some interruptions like going to school or simply goofing off.
    Disagreeing (slightly) with Mr MMM, I don’t find it mind-boggling. I find it mind-numbing. That’s how it feels to me these days. :)

    Even before I discovered ERE community and alternative views on “highly prestigious” corporate jobs, I had a nagging feeling that this whole setup kinda sucks…Especially when you get to have a rare day (or afternoon) off through an unforeseen circumstance – and you think, ‘Wow, it sure feels nice to take a bike ride or a walk and not be stuck in a cube’.

    Of course, my bitterness primarily comes from dissatisfaction with my job (I’m an IT guy, developer and such). There are all kinds of jobs which people may do for a long, long time and enjoy doing them. I just never made my choice of this job consciously and was rather sucked into it through pretty specific circumstances. So I wanted to make a point of importance of doing due diligence and research when picking an occupation – and certainly of NOT allowing others to make this choice, however closely they may be related.

    And yes, I am quite obsessed with ER! Already made some steps this post suggests, before even reading it: trying to simulate retirement though conversion to independent contractor (consultant) at work. I find myself with more free time but poor management thereof, uncovering motivation issues amongst other things. Good advance warning – I have more things to work on.

  • poorplayer December 15, 2011, 8:17 pm

    First off, my thanks to MMM for his kind words. But true credit must go to the Master himself, who has created this friendly yet badass blog for all of us to share. I am not by nature a person who spends his time commenting on blogs, so the fact that MMM has created a blog worth offerings comments is IMHO a remarkable achievement. I have gained far more than what I have contributed.

    To the question – I don’t believe I am obsessed with retirement – I am obsessed with living, in whatever form that comes in. Retirement is one form of living. But I am also passionate about what I do, and so far as I can tell, that passion hasn’t abated too much. Like this afternoon, I had the most pleasant two-hour conversation with a student about music, opera, film noire, and a host of other interesting topics to us both. I was comfortably dressed in my jeans, sneakers and a flannel shirt. We shared some Christmas cookies I had gotten from a co-worker. And – get this – I was WORKING! So in many ways, I can’t see the difference retirement per se would make in my own life right now. So I am not obsessed with it. I think about it, I plan for it, I am ready at the drop of a pin to do it, but I don’t quite know what I’d do differently yet. And to be as blunt as I can about it (hopefully this doesn’t scare anybody too much or feel too morbid), I am as ready to die at my age as I am to retire! That’s life. So why obsess about it?
    I see this whole concept of ER and FI as boiling down to one word – freedom. I am obsessed with freedom. Pure, unadulterated, unmodified freedom – that is what I am obsessed with. And to me, the finances of that never mattered. I quit at least two jobs and one graduate school because I wanted my freedom more than what those situations offered. Living frugally all through the years gave me the freedom to raise three children. Rejecting the evil of consumerism meant the freedom to find peace and pleasure in the simplest of things. And luck has played a large part in all this. I think this site is about learning to be free, humanly free. In a variety of ways and styles, MMM is talking about freedom. There are probably as many ways to “get yourself free” as there are stars in the sky, and we are all damned lucky to be living in a time and a place when freedom was never easier to find. Find what sets you free, and pursue it.

    • MMM December 15, 2011, 8:35 pm

      ^^^ Most Mustachian Comment Award!!!

      I think I shed a tear down into one of my sideburns while reading that one.. nice work.

    • Chris December 15, 2011, 8:47 pm

      Yes! FREEDOM is what it’s all about!

    • Tanner December 15, 2011, 9:04 pm

      +1 to Freedom. Hit the nail on the head.

    • EarningAndLearning April 28, 2017, 8:34 pm

      Great comment, I am moved and inspired!!! Yes, FREEDOM is what I crave, the freedom to do nothing, or do whatever I want! And rejecting consumerism is indeed a path to freedom, many kinds of freedom!

      And I love how many of you Mustachians admit to being, even brag about being, obsessed. I think I need to GET obsessed – any goal this huge & long-term needs laser focus & thinking about it from all directions. Ok, ready, set, obsessed!

  • BNL December 15, 2011, 8:59 pm

    I enjoyed the post as always. As an obsessed wannabe early retiree, I appreciated the lessons you shared, both good and bad. They all made sense, most of them are things I’ve predicted for myself. (I guess that’s good, less surprises)

    The piece I struggle with today is your last recommendation:

    ” I believe that the best cure for Early Retirement Obsession is to start acting more like a retired person right now. ”

    I’m completely disconnected from the old version of me with endless ambition on career growth and money making. I’ve found myself so lacking in ambition that I’ve actually been questioned by others on my personal agenda, suspicious that I’m up to something. Yet, at the same time, I’m leading a 100 million dollar project with some cut throat people and I keep getting sucked back in. I feel like Al Pacino in The Godfather “Every time I think I’m out, I get pulled back in.” I’m working 12+ hours per day and stressing over it, despite not consciously caring about mine or the project’s success.

    Where as 2 months ago I was working 15 hour weeks, guilt free and loving it – now I’m working 15 hour days and stressing. On paper, I don’t care about the project or my success, but I personally can’t deal with failure (or perceived failure).

    So my question, for me but also for others like me, is how you recommend the naturally proud and competitive to let go of day-to-day competitiveness. If the job we own (although temporarily) requires 12+ hours per day just to be competent and merely keep up with email, how do we naturally proud act “more like a retired person?” I’m trying, but unable to play the part these past few weeks.

    • MMM December 15, 2011, 9:18 pm

      Oh man, that is a great question. Mrs. M. suddenly has a similar problem with the cushy part-time job she has held working (remotely) alongside her folks in the old family business. Someone quits, workload suddenly skyrockets. But the fate of many people depends on her doing a good job, so she has had to lead a very unretired lifestyle for several weeks now.

      I would probably do the extra work just as you are doing. Deliberately slacking off in a critical situation feels too dishonest to me. I’d keep track of my overtime hours in hopes of reclaiming them later (I used to collect them into 8-hour chunks, each of which would become an extra vacation day I would get to use later, after clearing it with higher management, of course).

      It’s a cold winter in Colorado this year anyway – might as well work through it, then have extra vacation to show for it when the spring comes :-)

    • Chris December 15, 2011, 10:30 pm

      Hang in there Brave, your so close. All I can say is I know how you feel.

      BTW, great article today on perception of the world around us.

    • Nick December 15, 2011, 10:33 pm

      If you’re competitive you could always compete in retirement – find other ways to scratch that itch. It could be as simple as trying to live the (insert preferred adjective here) retirement (i.e. travel the most, exercise the most, bike across the country, etc.). Or it could be about finding and following your passion (i.e. play a pick-up soccer game in every state, run a marathon, etc.). Two cents.

    • rjack December 16, 2011, 6:03 am


      “…but I personally can’t deal with failure (or perceived failure).”

      What would happen if you failed? Do you have the correct definition of success and failure in LIFE as opposed to just WORK?

      We Americans are great at the Protestant work ethic, but we suck at managing leisure. In fact, some people to leisure (vacation, hobbies, etc.) into compulsive, frenetic activity just to avoid the guilt of relaxing.

  • bigato December 16, 2011, 8:05 am

    I have a job where I work 6 hours a day monday and I get quite a good pay. More than 9 times the minimum wage. But I do hate the job and the boss. I am obsessed. In less than two years I will have enough. But i hate being here. Switching jobs now to something i like i would probably get minimum wage or twice the minimum at most, and i would work 8 hours a day. That would be the closest to being retired but does not seem wise to me! I’m almost out of free time because i teach jiu jitsu through the week. Still get no money from that. I do it because I want to keep training. Maybe I start to get some money next year, but surely it will not be a lot. Less than minimum wage. That may be an answer, as I can already live on brazilian minimum wage. I hope to be able to reduce expenses even further after retiring. But I want to be able to focus and forget about the time that I still have to wait. My situation may seem easy to most of you, but I really hate my bully boss and the part of my job that keeps pressing me to sell shit to customers.

  • jlcollinsnh December 16, 2011, 9:40 am

    personally, I’ve never been obsessed with retirement early or otherwise. My obsession has been having “F-you money”

    It’s what allows me to work when that suits me and sit on the sidelines when I choose.

    So far I’ve sat on the sidelines from 1990 to 1995, for the summer of 1999 (would have been longer but a job I couldn’t resist fell in my lap that fall), from 2002 till 2006 and from last spring until now. current plan is to stay retired going forward, but who knows?

    Mr. MM your description of what “retirement’ is actually like closely matches my experience.

  • Pachipres December 16, 2011, 2:45 pm

    I have to admit, before you came along, I had lost my way. In 2000 I read YMOYL and The Complete Tightwad Gazette and I stayed frugal(too frugal because one of my dh resented me somewhat) for seven years. Then I went the opposite direction for awhile spending way beyond my means. And now I have a more emotionally healthier outlook on frugality. And then you come along with your blog and now I am determined more than ever to get me dh to go down to three days a week by September 2012. We’ll see if this can work. Thanks for your blog MMM!

    • Pachipres December 16, 2011, 2:49 pm

      Oops that was supposed to be “one of my dds” not “one of my dh’s :-). No, I only have one dh :-) -no polygamist here:-)

  • Monevator December 16, 2011, 2:55 pm

    Interesting question. When I set up Monevator I was partly motivated because my father felt he couldn’t retire, despite putting huge amounts of his disposable income into various pension plans over the years, because he had to hit certain lengths of service targets to get a reasonable return (he felt) on his investment.

    He basically had no control over his retirement-funding money – the company had taken care of it all for years, with a few tweaks on the tiller. He also didn’t really understand anything at all about the stock market, bonds and so forth.

    Anyway, he got diagnosed with something, and wanted to retire, and didn’t for a long time, and eventually did a couple of years before 65 (official age) and never regretted forgoing whatever he had to forgo, and then things turned bad, as they tend to do for old people.

    That came after I started the blog, and it only added to my resolve to be in as much control as I could over my old age. Not just “what slippers and what hot chocolate shall I drink?” or even ensuring I have access to my own TV and pets for as long as possible, but also the time, place, and manner of my retirement.

    That said, I quit work for a while a few years ago after selling out of a start-up for a modest amount of money (not quitting-working money, just ‘taking stock’ money). It was conflated with the sensation of having failed to some extent with the startup, but anyway, it felt awful and demotivating. I’ll probably not do it again, and in fact I don’t intend to retire.

    I’m very glad I came up with the bonkers name Monevator instead of ‘retire today’ or similar for that reason — because I now believe financial freedom is the name of the game.

    I want to be free not to do anything for money — but I want to want to do *something*.

  • Financial Samurai December 16, 2011, 7:49 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! What do you think about Jacob’s ERE decision to go back to work?

    Also, do you feel you ever get bored and have the itch to start a company or go work for a company ever?



  • Carrie Hetu December 19, 2011, 3:59 pm

    I watched my Dad retire at the normal age of 65 and a week later was diagnosed with Cancer. Beat it a year later had to go through 8 months of chemo for another type of cancer while he lost his sister to colon cancer.
    His retirement is spent shuffling around to doctor’s.

    My mom got ill when I was one year old….almost died many times and nobody thought she would live to see my graduation of high school let alone grandchildren and yikes great grandchildren ( she has 3 now!) and will turn 70 this year yet again health really keeps her from living.

    I almost lost my 2 youngest children at different times my daughter at 4 months old and then again from 3-6 years old and my son at around 5 years old and then tested for muscular dystrophy at 10 years old.

    My husband had 2 heart attacks at age 38 and I now am procratinating going to the doctors for ……health complications.

    I would say I am VERY OBSESSED with having hubby retire early while we can still enjoy a good life and be around those we love the most…… I have never been so driven in my life to make something happen!

    • Monevator December 19, 2011, 8:30 pm

      Good luck Carrie. Sounds like your family deserves a break, I hope you can make it happen.

  • Jan January 11, 2012, 9:45 pm

    I often hear friends say….”I will be happy when…..”
    Your suggestion to initiate these executions prior to “this time” is genius. Life is happening right now, not later. Period. We can synonymously plan and save for future endeavors (future retirement) while not procrastinating actively living in the present. We can be happy whenever we choose. Thanks so much for your insight.

  • eliG. October 25, 2013, 4:14 pm

    It’s great to turn to this site and read an article like this that brings me hope about retirement and a better way to live life, thanks Mr. MM!! My wife and I are now saving about 40% of what we earn that’s up from 20% since i sold my car and started pedaling to work. And after we sell leased car and buy a used one(following you’re used car buying advise of course) we should be saving between 50-55% of what we make! and that should be within the next 3 months.

  • Ms. Miserable January 17, 2014, 8:40 am

    I read your blog but came across this one quite by accident googling something else. Oh, I so want to retire. I’ll be 57 this month and realize I played too much and saved too little over the years. Then one day I woke up and said “f*** this s***, I don’t want to work anymore, sick of the games, gossip, and general bs. “I used to be a people person, but people ruined that for me”. I am a classic introvert. Meaning, I’d rather contemplate the universe than have meaningless, pointless chatter all day which is about what the work day amounts to. I have to have my solitude and alone time or I will go insane. Two days at the end of each week isn’t enough. I can’t take it anymore; but I have to. I’m putting as much into savings and retirement as possible on my little bitty Receptionist salary. It seems impossible to ever retire but it is my ONLY goal in life. I’m a free bird and have an adventurous spirit and do not like to be caged or imprisoned. My job is a prison sentence and on top of that the city I live in is an aesthetic nightmare. I am in tears at the end of each day wanting so bad to break free of this. Short of a miracle, This Is My Life. Barf. I DO believe…I DO believe…

    • Angela M February 12, 2014, 9:44 pm

      Ms. Miserable,
      I sympathize with you, and encourage you- while you are working, living frugally and putting as much into your ‘Stash as you can- to create and relish simple pleasures.
      At work, can you take a lunch break? If so, can you turn it into an enjoyable time? Could you read a great book, listen to music on earbuds, or eat lunch outside? A simple pleasure for me is taking 30 minutes for lunch: eating for 15 minutes, and spending 15 minutes doing yoga stretches in an empty room, listening to music I love, or taking a walk. These activities help center me, refresh me, and bring me out of my Work-Self focus. Is there something you can enjoy doing on your commute or lunch hour?
      Likewise, can you spend some weeknight/weekend time doing enjoyable things? Some of the most uplifting activities cost little or nothing…. taking a walk on a local trail, eating a picnic on a sunny day at a park, or volunteering with a local organization.
      When I get down, I remind myself of everything I have to be grateful for- a job that enables me to take care of my family and work toward retirement, a place to live, food to eat, caring family and friends. I tell myself there are millions of people much worse off than me!
      Gratefulness helps me be content, while striving toward my life goals. Reading articles online helps too. ;)
      Just by finding this blog (regardless of the point in your life that you found it) you have discovered a resource that most people do not have. Chin up! :)

    • David April 6, 2015, 5:58 pm

      It sounds like you need a career change and probably a location change , too. I can’t suggest anything because I don’t know your abilities. I also don’t know if you’re tied to a mortgage. Don’t be afraid of what you will give up from this job to take something else. Change your handle to Ms. I’m Not Miserable Anymore.

  • Mr Michael Musctachio May 28, 2014, 6:35 pm

    My wife doesn’t understand why I’m so obsessed with early retirement. I’m 35 (about 5 years from FI but 8- 10 yrs from retirement) the closer I get to retirement-the more time I spend preparing for FI. -She’s an school teacher so for her work is supposed to be fun , she asks me all the time why I will feel satisfaction for not working. I like my engineering job but it is stressful’. So I’m giving myself extra time 1-2yrs past my expected retirement date- to get buffer money because when I stop working- That’s it!- no side jobs- no obligations- I don’t want to have to worry about finances ever again. When I go through the pearly office gates for the last time, I never plan on using the R word- instead I plan on telling friends/family I took up part time consulting for my current employer. Just something basic so I do not have to explain ERE theories to people who don’t get it. I also don’t want to have the expectation that I will be bailing out other family members that are irresponsible w finances that live month to month. If you don’t make a big deal about being retired most people will assume you are self employed anyway. I think currently there is a lot of opportunity to stay active through retirement- I plan on volunteering at my kids school 1-2D week/ develop service projects at church/ exercise/ take online classes. I feel that part of the preparation for being retired is being able to identify/ develop opportunities to keep busy to keep active/ social and develop skills so that you continue to grow.- Good luck everyone and keep the eyes on the prize.

  • kathryn August 21, 2014, 9:38 am

    My husband and I retired 4 years ago, he was 46..me 50. Not as young as MMM, but it was only 6 years from the decision to achieve FI. We were always moderately frugal. We used the equity from our paid off home to start our journey as landlords. In the span of 6 years, we bought 40 units ( a combination of apt buildings, houses, and mobile homes) Hubby looked after the properties, and I worked at a factory. Before quitting, we did a trial run, and only lived on the rental income. Some months are tighter than others, when considering vacancies, maintenance and repairs, but our mortgages are P&I so they are being paid off. When the mortgage rates decreased, we kept our payments the same, and took off time. (We are Canadians)
    Now we travel 7.5 months a year, housesitting in Australia. My husband picks up a few months of employment because he enjoys it, and it funds our time over there, so we don’t even need to touch our rental income. We manage our properties via our property supers, and then give them the summer off when we return, and take over the day to day details of being a landlord. Very stressful, at times.
    We also have the same dilemma..when people ask what we do for a living. Usually we just say retired, but for those 4.5 months back in Canada, it really is a 24/7 job. This is when we do all the major repairs/maintenance to the properties.
    Our food budget is almost nil, because we put all our purchases on a credit card that gives us grocery points…free food :)
    Anyways, we are really enjoying retirement..and that it holds.

  • David April 6, 2015, 5:36 pm

    I never thought about early retirement until I found this blog site and a couple like it. I started reading this a couple months ago and recently came to the conclusion that I “retired” in my early 40s without realizing it. Since paying my mortgage at age 41 I haven’t worked full time. That was 15 years ago. I could live a modest lifestyle from investments and passive income but there are some jobs I enjoy enough that I will continue to accept them until my body screams NO MORE!! Now I work 20-25 hours a week for about 15 weeks a year doing my own thing. From November-January I work 12 hour shifts at the local ski resort as a snowmaker. It doesn’t pay much but it’s the most fun job I love doing. Snowmakers either figure out real quick they can’t handle it or they love it. There’s no in between. I skipped it one year and it was the worst winter of my life. It’s like a hobby with a paycheck. Most of my work is like hobbies with bigger paychecks than snowmaking. Basically I can live off my investments and I work to fund my adventures. I think the whole early retirement thing is about enjoying life and doing what you want to without being a slave to a job. I’ve been doing that for years. I just never thought I was retired.

  • chris December 5, 2015, 11:58 am

    We can echo David’s experience. With our house paid off, sizable savings and a modest lifestyle we decided it was time for my husband to leave a miserable job that didn’t pay enough to get us to true early retirement for more than ten additional years (he was 37 at the time and struggling with his health, partly due to stress). Now he has his own small business, he loves his work and he makes much less but ut is enough to support the family, invest and keep a nice cash stash. He sets his own schedule, never misses a school performance, sleeps until 9 am everyday (a total night owl…I handle kids going to school. He got up at 7 am for years while I slept in with the babies and toddlers (they are also night owls!) so now he gets his sleep in peace.
    It is the best of both…Work he loves and control over his time.

  • Greg January 3, 2016, 10:38 am

    MMM, I’m one of those folks reading through from the beginning. This is a really interesting post, but your last paragraph really resonates with me. Because I am 54, and just getting on board with this, “retirement” will not be at all “early”. But it’s vital that I start getting myself and our life re-oriented so that it will work. We are already reasonably frugal, spending only moderately (mostly because of limited resources) but have a too-large house, too-large mortgage, fair amount of credit card debt, medical bills, and one more year of expensive private university tuition to pay for.
    That doesn’t mean that I can’t start taking action. Because of this blog we have started to re-evaluate all sorts of spending as well as our approach (and attitude) about our debt. I decided that 2016 is the year we erase credit card debt and sell the house. Time to start working toward FI!
    Thanks MMM!
    Now, back to reading through the site!

    • Matt (Semper Fi) July 19, 2016, 10:48 pm

      Good job, Greg! I’m a little older, too (44), and came across this blog maybe 2 1/2 weeks ago. Absolutely fascinating, and I have given myself the deadline of the big “50” to tell the school district to suck it! Hahaha. I may go just a tad longer so that I can get at least a piece of a pension, but the whole 30 years? Hell to the no, man! Good luck to you!

  • Doc November 5, 2016, 7:20 pm

    Hi MMM and community,
    I’m late to the blog but now reading through from the start. Thank you for all your helpful thoughts about FI/RE. I just quit the most time-consuming of my jobs thanks to this blog–and that job also had the longest commute and the most stress. It looks like we will likely be able to Stash even more away once I drop down to 3 days of work per week! Thank you for the motivation.

  • Maggie November 14, 2016, 5:43 pm

    What I love about everything I read here is how decent everyone is. No sarcasm or judgement of anyone. I am so happy also to find discussion about living within means. That’s entirely missing from all the ‘pension advisors’ who tell us what percentage of our income we need to make to retire. I hadn’t even thought that that’s only part of the equation and that if we can be frugal that percentage goes down. Sniff – is that freedom I’m smelling? Yippee


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