260 comments

Mr. Money Mustache vs. the Internet Retirement Police

All_Bottles“He’s not really Retired.”

“It says right in the blog that he does construction work. Also he manages his own rental houses. And has a blog. That doesn’t sound like retirement to me.”

“That Brief History of the ‘Stash stuff doesn’t add up to me. I think he’s making it all up.”

“Yes, he has a nice nest egg. But I suspect he’ll be working for a good part of the year.”

“Who the fuck”, you may ask, “are these people?”

That’s what I asked more than a year ago, when first alerted to the presence of a large number of people who I’ve never met, who were carefully and yet completely inaccurately speculating about the life and times of Mr. Money Mustache.  Lucky for me, the answer came immediately, in this brilliant poem/comment that Jacob from Early Retirement Extreme posted on this blog:

The “internet retirement police” (IRP), which you’ll meet in various online forums, have established five main directives:

In principle you can only participate in certain pre-approved retirement activities such as beach-sitting, staring out the window, and receiving visits from your grandchildren.

Traveling is also okay, as is eating “delicious food”, just make sure you don’t cook it yourself, see below. Think twice before doing anything that’s not on this list! The IRP is watching you.

The IRP does grant one exemption should you become bored with the activities above. You can work for a nonprofit organization. Make sure you’re not getting paid though even if you have to plead your case with the CEO to put in special exemptions. Accepting money obviously means you didn’t do your retirement-math and that you ran out of money a couple of years after retiring. After all, what other obvious explanation could there be? (Besides the obvious ones) If you can’t find a way to work without pay, it’s best to head back to the beach towel and sit on that.

Just to be clear: You’re most definitely NOT allowed to be a kayak-instructor in your retirement. While it may sound like a fun job that you picked yourself even if you didn’t have to, the keyword is J-O-B. You can, however, spend a Saturday morning dressed up as an elephant handing out fliers and free lemonade at the entrance. And if you really must instruct in kayaking, please avoid doing something more engaging than blogging about kayaks (and if you do blog, try not to make the blog popular… because … then the blog would be a job!).

Next, I feel like I should warn MMM readers lest they stumble into the retirement pitfall of saving money by living frugally. You can’t do that! According to the IRP saving money IS a full time job and—try to follow this—since you can’t have a job and be retired, you are not allowed to save money in retirement. You see, if you save money by doing your own cooking, you’re now WORKING as a cook, thus no longer retired.

The IRP would like you to take this to its extreme logical conclusions, e.g. you’re working as a money manager if you handle your own investments, you’re working as a gardener if you mow your own lawn, you’re working as a chauffeur if you don’t hire a driver, you’re a pro-blogger if you have a blog, and so on.

Disclaimer: All examples are taken from real world cases as presented to me by the IRP. They’re not kidding!

Jacob wrote that comment hastily in the discussion section of First Retire, Then Get Rich, but I immediately Tweeted out a link to it, sending a warning shot across the bow of the Early Retirement Police Boat. And now, at long last, we are going to sink it for good.

At issue right now, is the definition of “Retirement”.

“You’re not retired – you admit to doing an awful lot of carpentry”
 If I can somehow suppress my urge to build things and sit inside, THEN will I be retired? What about if I work only on my own house? Retired, or no?

“You’re not retired if you have a rental house”
  If the tenants never call me for any reason (as has been the case for the past two years), THEN am I retired?”.. or if I sell my rental house and transfer the money to a REIT which offers equal yield, can I be retired then? What if this is less fun?  What if I subsequently do a bunch of research on REIT funds and allocate my investment across several, rebalancing occasionally?

“You’re not retired if you have a blog that makes money – even if it’s about early retirement”
 If I take down the remaining ads, THEN can I be retired? Or is the work involved the issue? Would I be retired if I had a robot that wrote the blog for me, but I collected the revenue?

Or what if I still did the writing, but I did it only while sitting on the beach while being fed intravenously? Would I be more retired than if I wrote it from my couch at home as I do now?

“It’s a shame we don’t have a better name for all this stuff we’re doing as Mustachians. Retirement doesn’t sound right. Financial independence comes closer. Can we invent a new word for it? How about Removed?”

News Flash: the perfect word has already been invented. Are you ready to hear it? Here it is:

Retired.

It’s perfect just as it is. It’s just like “Financially Independent”, but it sounds more amazing and it uses 75% fewer syllables.

“Retired” means you no longer have to work for money, and you are aware of this fact. You can then proceed to do whatever you want, as long as you do it consciously and of your own accord. If you meet this condition, and you feel retired, congratulations, you are.

Retired probably does not mean you sit at home watching TV, venturing out only for medication or a motorized-cart-aided round of golf.  This is a subset of retirement, but only a very special case of it, for those with very advanced age or limited mobility.

Retired means different things to different people. But one of the rules of Mustachianism is that if someone tells you they are retired, you do not question them. You congratulate them.

Retirement may or may not include any of the following lifestyle attributes:

  •  the complete abandonment of alarm clocks, and a soft chuckle specially developed for anyone who tries to make you be somewhere before 9AM.
  •  a general lack of awareness of what day of the week it is
  •  a work ethic that ebbs and flows with your natural human cycle. There may be times of extreme productivity and late nights, and other times of  dormancy.
  •  work and areas of interest that change over the years, some of which might earn you money, and some of which might be neutral or even involve spending instead of earning money.

Or it can be completely different. The only rule is that you theoretically must have sufficient savings (or other assets) that you could live indefinitely off the passive income they provide, and these savings must give you the freedom to realize that any work you do is totally optional.  You don’t actually have to live off the income, it just has to be there.

So there it is – the official definition of Retirement, of which Early Retirement is just a special case.

Why does Mr. Money Mustache get to define it?
Because I have the biggest Early Retirement blog. If the Internet Retirement Police would like to supersede my definition, they will have to start their own blog, calling it something like www. mrmoneymustacheisnotreallyretired.com, build it up to be more widely read than this one, and then propose their own definition. Only at this point would the torch be passed and the definition of Retired be up for discussion.

Thousands of the Mustachians who read this blog are already Retired. Most of them still do some sort of “work”. And all of them have fists brandished in case the Internet Retirement Police dare to show their faces around the Internet again.

 

Further Reading: Jacob @ Early Retirement Extreme responded to this article a few days after publication.

  • Ladymaier February 14, 2013, 10:55 am

    You go with your badass retired self, MMM!!

    As for the IRP, all I can say is “Haters gonna Hate”, and the haters are unfortunately everywhere.

    It’s up to you and the rest of us to keep proving the IRP wrong.

    Reply
  • Mike Long February 14, 2013, 11:20 am

    “Retirement may or may not include any of the following lifestyle attributes:

    -the complete abandonment of alarm clocks, and a soft chuckle specially developed for anyone who tries to make you be somewhere before 9AM.

    -a general lack of awareness of what day of the week it is

    -a work ethic that ebbs and flows with your natural human cycle. There may be times of extreme productivity and late nights, and other times of dormancy.

    -work and areas of interest that change over the years, some of which might earn you money, and some of which might be neutral or even involve spending instead of earning money.”

    For whatever it’s worth, I feel like the above is a great way to live your life whether you’re retired or not. And it’s somewhat possible to do if you have a few different skill sets and you’re willing to work for yourself.

    In fact, I just put in notice at my soul sucking job, and I’m going to attempt to do exactly that. I’ll do various work as an internet marketer, hypnotherapist, and hot dog vendor (I’m building a cart to be ready for the weekend fair circuit this summer).

    On top of that, if I need to supplement my income any more than that, I have a good working relationship with an account manager at a staffing firm, and I can always pick up a little temporary work to fill in the gaps.

    I’m 43 and I have no savings, but no debt either.

    I’m effectively at “Net Zero” halfway through my life. (Hey MMM, I might make an interesting case study on that point alone!)

    Also don’t have a college education, so high paying jobs are generally out of my reach. Even if I started saving for retirement today, I wouldn’t get anywhere until nearly “standard retirement age” anyway.

    So why not enjoy the life I have now and live it in the way that suits my personality and ebbs/flows the best? It’ll be fun – something I wouldn’t necessarily want to “retire” from anyway until I was literally too old/feeble to do it. :-)

    Thanks MMM, for clarifying what had been swirling around in my head for the past few years and giving me the push to go for it!

    Reply
  • Mrs. Money Mustache February 14, 2013, 11:25 am

    Reply
  • Doug February 14, 2013, 11:28 am

    The problem is these IRP’s are living in a world that doesn’t exist any more. In their imaginary world of living in the past, people work at one company their entire lives for 40 years, retire with a pension, then sit around and do nothing for the rest of their lives. More people are moving around to different jobs and more are temp jobs so if they are efficient mustachians they can actually enjoy time between jobs rather than dread it. Some people who are officially “retired” come back to the work force for short term assignments.

    As for myself I took a buyout from a company at age 34 in 1995 and have been working temp jobs ever since. I have taken the time between jobs to pursue other interests, hobbies, and travel. In my case, that blurs the boundaries between being employed and retired, a concept that some people understand but many more don’t. If more people worked on and off this way, it would go a long way to solve this nagging unemployment problem facing the more mature economies of the world and we would all be better off. Presently I am “working” at building an income producing portfolio so I won’t need to worry at all about having enough income to live on in years to come.

    One final word, I don’t feel AT ALL guilty about those times not working in conventional paid employment past, present, and future. In so doing, I’m freeing up a job for someone who needs the money more that I do. That’s especially true of younger people who have a ridiculously high unemployment rate.

    Reply
  • I like semi February 14, 2013, 11:32 am

    It’s because they feel duped … Not sure why it matters but there’s a big difference between leaving career/salary and opting for other “part-time, fluid, I-do-it because I like it” money-making projects and being independently wealthy. You’re being disingenuouswhen you give readers the impression that you’re the latter when you’re really the former. And while it’s really nobody’s business, you make it so through authoring a blog. So what are you complaining about?

    Reply
    • Mrs. Money Mustache February 14, 2013, 11:38 am

      Oh goodie! A non-believer. :)

      Have you read the blog? If you CAN pursue a traditional retirement (i.e. not work for the rest of your life), are you not then Retired?

      How are people being duped, exactly? I’m confused by your comment… We stopped working because we don’t have to anymore. We could sit here and not earn any extra money for the rest of our lives and be just fine. We are trying to help others do the same and also become happier and have more fulfilling lives in the process.

      How is that being disingenuous?

      Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache February 14, 2013, 12:29 pm

      Indeed, I think this “I like semi” person is just repeating standard IRP Dogma.

      There is NO difference, financially speaking, between what we do now, and living on passive income from our assets alone (two paid-off houses and a bunch of index funds, both in 401k and taxable accounts which more than add up to meet the definition of “independently wealthy”).

      If we only lived from the passive income and followed Jacob’s guidelines above to avoid IRP citation, there would still be a surplus. It would continue to build up through or lifetimes, and eventually it would all have to be given away to charity.

      Since we occasionally earn money now, there is a bigger surplus. It continues to build up, and we just have to give it away more often and earlier, to avoid inefficient hoarding of resources.

      It makes no difference in the sustainability of this early retirement lifestyle, because the savings were enough for a comfortable life, plus a good safety margin.

      Your point would be valid if we had retired with half the savings, however.

      Reply
  • aw February 14, 2013, 11:41 am

    You get a similar reaction when you answer the question,”do you have kids?” with: “Hell no. Kids are an option. The world has too many consumers. I’m most proud of what I didn’t do – reproduce.”

    Hope that didn’t sting too much. It’s just my opinion and my choice.

    But, I said this not to piss off the parents out there, but to point out that it’s how you answer the question that determines the response.

    Just watch a politician in action to understand that concept.

    If you don’t want to get a response that makes you twitch, then lie. Or “spin” the answer so people don’t get all in your face with their curiosity and confusion.

    So, the spin to the question “do you have any kids?” could be “No, we couldn’t.” Sort of true. “Couldn’t ’cause we didn’t want to.”

    If you don’t want to upset the herd with your independence, spin the answer so it doesn’t confuse the sheeple that have never heard of such a thing as early retirement/financial indepedence.

    Or, just get used to the “what the f*ck” response when you proudly tell them the truth about being retired!

    Reply
  • Financial Black Sheep February 14, 2013, 11:46 am

    I like “Financially Amazing” better. Sounds like you don’t give a crap about what other’s think and can pay for what you want. That is what I think when I throw money at my debt, or school or savings. Forget how others are living whether they have jobs, retired the regular way, whatever, I would rather be financial amazing. :D

    Reply
  • Grayson @ Debt Roundup February 14, 2013, 11:49 am

    This one is great. I am so tired of others telling me how to run my life. Though I am not retired, I get to hear about the issues with the way I deal with my money and my choices. Who in the hell gave you the authority over my money? Jealousy brings out the “jack” in “asses”!

    Reply
  • Lindsey February 14, 2013, 11:49 am

    I understand why Mr. MM is always getting questions about whether he is “really” retired, but I am puzzled as to why the rest of you keep getting questions or feel like you have to justify your lifestyle. I have been asked only a very few times about how I manage to live without working a conventional job, and my response is simply a hard stare and eventually the person realizes how inappropriate and rude it is to ask people for information about their finances. I have met early retirees who brag about not having to work and that will lead to questions, but mostly people don’t snoop into one’s finances.

    I did have someone come into my office the day I quit working for good, paper and pen in hand, and asked me for information on how I could quit a job at 40 and not be looking for another job to support myself. I was happy to spend an hour and, since then, several park brown bag lunches, mentoring the person but I consider it an honor to help someone else become income independent.

    Reply
    • AEBinNC February 14, 2013, 3:18 pm

      Very cool. I’m glad you were able to help someone else toward freedom.

      Reply
    • ZootsTwin February 16, 2013, 6:22 am

      “I did have someone come into my office the day I quit working for good, paper and pen in hand, and asked me for information on how I could quit a job at 40 and not be looking for another job to support myself. I was happy to spend an hour and, since then, several park brown bag lunches, mentoring the person but I consider it an honor to help someone else become income independent.”

      ==================

      THIS.

      I’m 46, and a couple of years away from being able to leave my own soul-sucking job–and this story is SUCH an inspiration to me to keep on keeping on with my financial plan (and even step it up–I’m getting married, which will change the financial picture and likely the timetable as we become a DINK household later this year).

      I’ve helped some folks at work climb out of debt through explaining how budgeting can be their friend, and I, too, considered it an honor. Thanks so much for sharing your story–it gives me such energy and such drive to get there myself, sooner rather than later.

      Reply
  • Sarah February 14, 2013, 11:50 am

    this all reminds me of a story I read years ago…

    A Simple Life Well Lived

    The businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The businessman complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied only a little while.

    The businessman then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The businessman then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time? The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos; I have a full and busy life, señor.”

    The businessman scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and I could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats; eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the processor and eventually open your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City where you would run your expanding enterprise.”

    The Mexican fisherman asked, “But señor, how long will this all take?” To which the businessman replied, “15-20 years.” “But what then, señor?” The businessman laughed and said, “That’s the best part! When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.” “Millions, señor? Then what?” The businessman said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

    The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said, “Isn’t that what I’m doing right now?”

    Reply
  • lurker February 14, 2013, 11:54 am

    freelancer?

    going wherever thy lance leadeth thou!

    Reply
  • Patrick February 14, 2013, 12:08 pm

    Yeah! This post is the very definition of badassity.

    I was actually pumping my fist while reading it.

    I still freelance every day in order to earn my keep, but my “work week” is under 8 hours. Compare this to my old office job at 40+ hours per week and tons of stress. I also have enough assets built up that I could choose to not freelance at all.

    I’m retired!

    Reply
  • Jamesqf February 14, 2013, 12:11 pm

    Sorry, MMM, but you are being just as much an irrational complainypants as those internet retirement police you’re complaining about. If not more so, because they at least have the dictionary on their side.

    The plain fact is that you are simply not retired, by any rational definition, including the dictionary one, any more than I am retired. We’re in another state entirely, which I might dub “free-form work”. We’ve ditched many of the constraints of the 9-5 corporate world, to do work we enjoy on a schedule we set to allow plenty of room for other things.

    We may, or may not, be financially independent in the sense that we could continue to live without the income we derive from our work – I am now, but wasn’t when I started on this course – but we’re no more retired than a writer, performer, or anyone else who’s engaged in more traditional forms of free-form work.

    The best part of this, from my perspective at least, is that we’re also freed from the specter of traditional retirement: being cast out as useless just because our personal calendars have turned over a certain number of pages.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache February 14, 2013, 12:38 pm

      Nice try, James Q.F. You’re trying to argue about the definition of “Retired” again.

      Read the article again. WHO gets to set the definition of “Retired”?

      That’s right, it’s Mr. Money Mustache.

      Better get started on your blog, buddy. You’ll never catch up and surpass me, and thus earn Retirement Defining Rights, by just sitting around writing complaints on my blog.

      ;-)

      Reply
      • Chucks February 14, 2013, 6:59 pm

        I kind of have to agree with James here. The Internet Retirement Police are wrong that MMM is not retired, but MMM’s definition is also inadequate. MMM’s definition of retired doesn’t fit with the colloquial usage at all. By MMM’s definition, a trust-fund baby is “retired” on birth. Really we mean financially independent.

        I think the term “retired” means an intended permanent cessation from SOME occupation with the ability to maintain roughly the same lifestyle without obtaining more employment. You can be a retired engineer, doctor, etc., but you can’t be retired if you continue the same job or if you’ve never worked at all.

        Reply
        • writing2reality February 15, 2013, 8:15 am

          Chuckles… sounds like semantics to me! I have certainly met some “trust-fund” baby’s who have been retired from birth, and do whatever they feel so inclinded to do. Much like any other “normal” retiree.

          Awesome MMM! Without a doubt the IRP are also card-carrying members of all sort of negativity, which ultimately stems from their own lack of financial freedom, or ability to RETIRE.

          Reply
      • Da55id February 16, 2013, 8:40 am

        Now that you’ve successfully redefined retirement it’s time to tackle hubris.

        Reply
  • SK February 14, 2013, 12:19 pm

    MMM, You are doing so much good work on this blog that I think you are adding more value to the economy than hundreds of people working formally in the economy. If one MMM can do so much, I can’t imagine what would happen if there are many and the whole concept goes mainstream. One problem I see today is that since USA is one of the richest countries in the world and most people here work long hours, for more years and spend a lot of money, this concept is catching on in Asian countries where traditionally people were frugal.

    Reply
  • sideways8 February 14, 2013, 12:26 pm

    When someone is unhappy with their life and/or is jealous of yours, they will always find something wrong with what you’re doing. It’s much easier to criticize someone else than it is to get off of your ass and start creating your own awesomeness!

    Reply
  • jethro watckins February 14, 2013, 12:52 pm

    First I went Primal, now I’m going Mustachian. Such a natural progression. Financial and physical health = what a combination

    My wife and I just reduced our spending allowance from 1000/month EACH to 400/month EACH and will now be retired, I mean financially independent, in 7 years instead of 15 (42 years old instead of 50). Doesn’t mean I’ll walk out and tell everyone i work with to fuck off, but knowing that I could is awesome.

    7 more years…to find ways to further reduce our expenses and try to get it down to 6, 5, maybe only 4 years away….

    Then what…..hmmm

    Quick question: what about your family who knows your retired and they need money and know you have it. How do you deal with those situations without feeling guilty?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache February 14, 2013, 1:27 pm

      For family members and friends who actually “need money” – i.e. are suffering irreparable harm due to a shortage of money and have no way of earning enough of it themselves, I solve it by giving them money.

      For people who “need money” because they spend too much on restaurants, cable TV, and driving around instead of biking, I don’t feel any guilt about not giving them money :-)

      Reply
  • Christine February 14, 2013, 1:30 pm

    I couldn’t help it.. took the domain!

    Reply
  • Simply Rich Life February 14, 2013, 1:34 pm

    My guess is that people are confusing “early retirement” with “dynastic wealth” which is a strange mistake because they are spelled differently. From that perspective your writing would seem shockingly inaccurate. I mean you didn’t even start one company that monopolized a major industry!

    Retiring is a good word if you consider its other meanings which include “withdrawing from something” (in French, retirement is almost the same as “retreating”). For example there are great philosophers who “withdrew from” their primary occupations to think and write more which is how we ended up with all those books.

    It is simultaneously reasonable, achievable, and surprisingly rare to withdraw from an ordinary career after a short time.

    Reply
  • Mark February 14, 2013, 1:38 pm

    Great Post, (mostly) Great Comments.
    I guess I’m semi-retired in the sense that I could quit my job and live for 3-5 years. And every year that number increases by 2-3.
    And my investments now produce enough to cover ~20% of my living expenses.

    Reply
  • woodnclay February 14, 2013, 1:50 pm

    I’m just enjoying the pic of the retirement booze stash!

    Reply
  • ael February 14, 2013, 1:53 pm

    Much ado about nothing. Ask yourself if it really matters what people say either direction. One’s actions are what matters and in this case only to the person and family involved. There is too much useful thinking in this blog series to be concerned with this trivia.

    Nevertheless, the discussion does raise a long standing question in my mind: How will the MMM’s deal with medical costs 40 years from now (Medicare? Do you have enough quarters in already? More savings from work? or have you truly enough “stache” now ?)

    Reply
  • Alexandria February 14, 2013, 3:00 pm

    To be fair to *some* of the IRP… I have always found the early retirement genre to be kind of obnoxious. This blog is one shining exception. I think the ER blogs/mindset often come across very preachy, though I also understand is probably very reactionary. Anyway, when finding this blog, my feeling was kind of like, “Well why didn’t the others just say it this way!?!” I think you are very open that you can/do/should work enough to cover your living expenses (even if only when you first retired). The problem a lot of the other ER bloggers get into is trying to create an image that life is perfect and that usually means trying to gloss over just how much they are working. They just aren’t coming across as genuine and I applaud anyone who points out the B.S. Lord forbid people use them as an example to retire prematurely and mess up their entire financial future.

    I have no doubt most of them (IRP) are just total a-holes. No jealously on my part, and I have certainly been attacked by the IRP in my life so know what that is like too, but let’s keep it REAL. You KEEP IT REAL and I appreciate that. I have never had one thought either way about what you do and if you earn money doing it. Clearly you have done very well financially, and I suppose that is all that matters to me. As long as you are honest and things add up, and there is not an abundance of financially reckless advice… So I also have to THANK YOU for that. I tell anyone and everyone about this blog. It doesn’t matter if you want to retire early or not – this is good stuff. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  • AEBinNC February 14, 2013, 3:13 pm

    Sorry MMM, dealing with the IRP sounds like a first world problem to me. Blowing off a little steam is to be expected so I don’t fault you for it. I’d get pissed too if people were telling me what to call myself or saying I was a liar. Don’t feed the trolls it only encourages them.

    I’m looking forward to your next article about kicking more ass.

    Reply
  • BenDarDunDat February 14, 2013, 3:14 pm

    I think this country has a huge weakness in what I consider ‘retirement knowledge’. One of the things I didn’t like about ERE was that I didn’t feel it was an accurate representation of a sustainable retirement. What I like about this blog is that it shows a sustainable early retirement for a family.

    Half of retirement, financial independence – whatever you want to call it, is monetary, but the other half is lifestyle. There’s no classes in college or high school regarding either. I think its why so many people who are perfectly able to retire, continue to work at jobs they don’t enjoy. In short they simply don’t know how to do anything else.

    Reply
  • Emmers February 14, 2013, 3:25 pm

    Apologies if it’s been said already (126 comments, **what!?**) but I think the “golf carts and medication” view of retirement exists because that’s what it *used* to be, and people are having trouble adjusting to the fact that the world has changed. You no longer retire at 70 and die at 80 — you retire at 55 (or younger) and live to be 100, and if you’re lucky your physical decline doesn’t even start (well, not in a major way; most everyone will have *some* loss of ability earlier) until your eighties.

    Reply
    • kathryn October 4, 2014, 6:48 pm

      I’ve been reading this blog from the start, and it has taken me a month to get to this point. My husband and I also retired 4 years ago at 50 & 46, respectively. We have rental properties in Canada which fund our retirement, and we also vacation in Australia 7 1/2 months a year. While in Australia we housesit, which covers our accommodation. We outfitted our van to be comfortable in, while not housesitting, and travelling around.
      All in all, life is great. Summer all year round.
      I was thinking about what MMM said about how nice it would be if everyone was retired (paraphrasing) in one of his posts (not sure where it is now)
      Trusts were mentioned here. We have 4 kids, who are all adults now, and we never spoiled them…well, not as much as some. What are people’s thoughts on if, after all of us retired people,we started trusts for our future generations? If we only wanted to fund the ‘basic’ plan, and if they wanted a more comfortable lifestyle, they would need to supplement it. If everyone did this, we wouldn’t need a welfare system.
      Or is it always better to make people save for their own retirement?
      I was like this for college for our kids. If they wanted to go, they had to pay for it. It would drive me crazy knowing I had sacrificed, while they were partying, not studying, or didnt eventually use the diploma.
      I’m not suggesting working longer to fund a future generation, just if we had excess funds, because we earned income while retired, or became even better at frugality.

      Reply
  • Matt February 14, 2013, 3:47 pm

    Even millionaires and billionaires continue to work, even many of the older ones. Not all of them, but I would say most don’t spend 365 days partying, sleeping and staring at the ceiling. People just aren’t made to do nothing. The younger you are, the more true that is.

    As far as the word “retirement” goes, everyone understands the general idea: you don’t have to work for money anymore. Whether you choose to do paid work, non-profit work, volunteering, part-time, full-time, or nothing at all doesn’t really matter. Same situation, different circumstances. To each his own.

    Congrats to MMM and all the others who can choose to work or not.

    Reply
    • Jamesqf February 14, 2013, 5:56 pm

      “As far as the word “retirement” goes, everyone understands the general idea: you don’t have to work for money anymore.”

      Well, no: that is not the idea of retirement that most people have, because there at a lot of fairly hard-working people out there who don’t HAVE to work for money any more – they could just bank what they have and live a life of complete idleness. This includes people like Warren Buffet and the rest of the billionaire guys at Google, Facebook, and so on; it includes a lot of successful sports & entertainment people. Do Mick Jaeger or Bruce Springsteen really need the money they’ll earn from their next tour? Does that rookie NFL quarterback who gets a $5 million, 4 year contract really need to work a 5th season? Heck, didn’t Obama have enough to retire on without running for a second term?

      No, retirement is when you stop working, either from choice, or because (as with e.g. airline pilots) age laws force you to give up a job you enjoy.

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache February 14, 2013, 7:11 pm

        Uhh.. I hate to embarrass you in public like this JamesQF, especially since you work in the tech industry…

        But it looks like you typed that whole comment into the wrong blog! This isn’t your new blog you’re writing on – it’s still mine. See the fancy Mustache coin logo at the top? That’s my logo.

        In order to get any traction with your ridiculous attempts at redefining retirement, you’ll have to do it on JamesQF.com or whatever. If you need help in getting it started, see the earlier article on “how to start a blog”.

        I’ll do my best help you out from my side by deleting any additional IRP-type comments that you accidentally post here, instead of there.

        Sorry to be so candid, but you’re asking for it here!

        ;-)

        Reply
      • lentilman February 14, 2013, 7:28 pm

        Have to take issue with your examples. Buffet is just doing what he wants to do. Mick and Springsteen are just doing what they want too. In fact, Bruce spent tons of time touring with Obama for no pay as a way to bring out the vote in 2012. Nothing to do with money at all. The other examples are people who are getting glory and competition (QB) or power (POTUS). Again, nothing to do with money.

        A better example would be to point out the waiter (who really wants to be a singer) who continues to wait tables. Or the telemarketer (who wants to be an actor) who keeps cold calling 40 hours a week. Or the programmer (who wants to be a rock climber) who commutes and codes everyday. These are people who are not retired.

        Reply
        • Mike August 11, 2014, 6:08 pm

          I think the example is fine. You ask Warren Buffet when he’s going to retire, he’ll say “never, I love my job every morning I jump out of bed because I can’t wait to get started”. http://money.cnn.com/video/magazines/fortune/2012/11/16/f-buffett-legacy.fortune/ This compares with his friend Bill Gates who did retire, so that he could focus on running his multi-billion dollar charitable foundation.

          The problem with Jamesqf’s statement is he says “retirement is when you stop working,” when even by a traditional definition, it’s when you stop working in a particular career. There is no restriction on what you do after you retire.

          Reply
  • Steve H. February 14, 2013, 4:23 pm

    I hear ya brudduh. I retired early the old fashioned way. Cop for 25 years. Saved all those years too and retired at 51. The pension is so generous I don’t need to touch the savings, kids are still in school. House paid off. Life is good.

    I think the IRP and people in the real world harrasses all of us no matter what. People hate when I tell them I am retired. I get “what do you do all day, sit around and do nothing” , ” you should start another career, you’re so young” There are a lot of “what do” questions and “you should” suggestions from people who I don’t even know.

    I think people try to justify why they do not, and cannot retire more than they are interested in what I do or should do with my time in my own retirement. I don’t believe I ever got a congratulations from anyone now that I think of it. It’s been six months and I took this time to do nothing. NOTHING! I go to the gym, take care of my kids and help out my aging mom. Late sleep and long coffee breaks fill the voids. I am so giddy every morning when I wake up, I just may spend an extra two months on this schedule.

    I have a wood shop and metal shop waiting for me. I have many projects and enough time to pick and choose them and finish them on my own time. If any of my interests happen to generate income, so be it. I’d consider my retirement even more splendid if that happens.

    By the way, congratulations on your early retirement MMM.

    Steve

    Las Vegas

    Reply
    • Chris February 14, 2013, 10:48 pm

      Awesome.

      PS-Congrats on your Early Retirement, truly Badass!

      Reply
    • AEBinNC February 15, 2013, 7:49 am

      Congratulations from me as well.

      I’m slightly surprised the IRP gives you a hard time. You currently do “nothing” except drink coffee and take care of your family. Which is actually quite important but are standard retirement activities. The other things you mentioned, the wood shop/metal shop, those too are very standard retirement activities. Lots of old guys “tinker” in their shops and wander the isles of the hardware store. It seems like most people should understand your retirement lifestyle immediately.

      One thing I’ve heard is that people who retire early often die at a younger age than those who have a job their whole life. Maybe that’s a topic for another article or topic on the forum.

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache February 15, 2013, 9:10 am

        Whoa, easy there AEB! While I like to cultivate a leisurely vibe in my lifestyle descripiton, I’m not sure that “nothing” description is quite right! Sure, I have a coffee each day and I hang out with my son whenever he’s home. But I’m wearing work boots right now, about to walk over to the construction site where I’m building a huge master bedroom addition for/with a friend. While I only do big projects like that once or twice a year, it’s important to note that doing hard work is still compatible with being retired. That just happens to be my favorite way to socialize and get some fresh air.

        Reply
        • AEBinNC February 15, 2013, 1:09 pm

          MMM, I only said nothing because that’s how Steve described it himself. I think that taking care of your family is the most important thing a person can do and would definitely not refer to that myself as nothing.

          No disrespect was intended.

          Reply
        • Erica/Northwest Edible Life February 17, 2013, 2:39 am

          Um, MMM not to tell you you might have spinach in your teeth but I’m pretty sure AEB wasn’t referring to you at all with his comment.

          Reply
      • Stephen February 15, 2013, 9:55 am

        AEBinNC wrote “One thing I’ve heard is that people who retire early often die at a younger age than those who have a job their whole life. Maybe that’s a topic for another article or topic on the forum.”

        From the largest study on mortality and early retirement:

        “On the contrary, if we take into consideration the amount of days spent in hospital during the last 2 years prior to retirement, early retirement in fact lowers mortality risks significantly by 12% for men and by 23% for women.”
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19467567

        AEB, your bitterness is showing.

        Reply
        • AEBinNC February 15, 2013, 12:41 pm

          That’s good news to me. I’ve often heard it repeated that those who retire early don’t live as long. It wasn’t something I spent a lot of time worrying about but it was on my mind. I’m sure that people who retire but continue to workout and pursue interesting things live longer than people who retire and spend all of their time watching TV.

          Reply
          • WOWOinMI February 19, 2013, 7:09 am

            Or maybe people who are in poor health tend to retire early for health reasons. There may be a connection between retiring early and dying early, but I suspect the IRP has it backwards.

            Reply
  • AussieJulie February 14, 2013, 4:24 pm

    IRP sounds like a nursing home.

    Reply
  • Ed Mills February 14, 2013, 4:26 pm

    MMM, thank you for defining “retired” for the world; your definition is good enough for me. When I am not working I sure feel “retired” enough to do my own thing: run and work out, cook, drink wine, read, study, blog just a little…it’s awesome. Of course explaining this to the working dead, debt slaves, and workaholics is usually futile. Unfortunately, most people cannot even imagine what it’s like to be free enough to spend time pursuing their interests.

    As of a month ago, I went from “retired” to “unretired” when I took a mid-year teaching job at a public high school. I took the job to blow out some retirement accounts before hitting another phase of my retirement. I plan on saving at least $25K from my 4.5 month work commitment, so financially it’s worth doing. However, knowing that I don’t need the job and that I will (most likely) be leaving in May makes going to work very doable. Sure, work takes a lot of my time these days, but I don’t find myself worrying about work at home. It doesn’t make sense to worry about something that will end in a few months any way. Working while retired sure has its advantages.

    Reply
  • dan23 February 14, 2013, 4:28 pm

    I think what is actually going on is once you are doing something that makes money in your “retirement”- there are a large number of people (who are probably not regular readers) who basically don’t “trust” that you don’t need the money you are earning (either 1) the actual dollars or 2) the safety factor) to be financially independent.

    Something they might be comparing it to, is if they or their friends had enough money to quit (say they had a pension that covered their expenses) but engaged in “just one more year” type thinking before they quit their jobs, they would not consider it retired.

    I think its hard to make people see the distinction (which depends on what you claim is going on in you head vs what they believe is going on in your head) in any one post. It is much easier for regular readers who hopefully already trust that you are speaking honestly to them.

    Reply
  • AussieJulie February 14, 2013, 4:39 pm

    also who died and made (IRP) the boss/Police (and are they getting paid for it).

    Reply
  • Melissa February 14, 2013, 5:50 pm

    I used to talk about saving for retirement quite a bit and my family hated it! They had the “fold up and watch cable t.v. all day” idea in their heads. My boyfriend even got mad at me for talking about it “too much”. It was, and is, a big goal of mine! And I never, ever, meant I would quit working. My retirement is just as MMM describes: doing something I love. I could never give up working/learning or even making some money. I love to make money (who doesn’t?!). At any rate, it’s nice to have a group of people who understand a goal I’ve been after for years–fuck you money. And then, I’ll do whatever the heck I please, all damned day.

    Reply
    • AEBinNC February 15, 2013, 7:35 am

      I see a lot of comments on here about not being able to take the job you want until you retire. If you have minimal expenses, couldn’t you take your preferred job right now, even if it was lower pay?

      In some sense this might be the best of two worlds, enough money to be comfortable, but not having to wait 5, 7 or 10 years to get there. Of course that means it will take longer to earn your complete freedom. The upside is that you start doing something you love immediately, rather than a decade from now.

      I think that’s going to be my strategy, take the tools from MMM and ERE to reduce my expenses. Then try to find some freelance work or rental property so I work 20-30 hours a week rather than the current 40.

      Reply
    • Kaz May 3, 2013, 11:43 am

      Making money IS my hobby.

      Reply
  • Jen February 14, 2013, 5:50 pm

    No need for IRP – I have my own retirement police at home. Whenever I mention early retirement, my husband’s first remark is: ” But I don’t want to be sitting around all day! I’d rather go to work and keep myself busy.” Right. And redefining this term is not easy for him or for many other people.

    Reply
    • Self-Employed-Swami February 15, 2013, 12:35 pm

      My husband has the same opinion of retirement, that he clearly got from his Mom. I once made the mistake of telling her that I was planning on retiring at 50, and she asked what I would do all day.

      He shares the same opinion of ‘retirement’ but I’m sure he’ll be alright with it, when we can afford to travel, and his siblings are still paying mortgages.

      Reply
      • Michael March 13, 2017, 8:55 am

        I get confronted with the phrase “work ethic” whenever I talk about early retirement.

        Reply
  • CALL 911 February 14, 2013, 6:26 pm

    To the people arguing about retirement, I’m confused. Educate me please.
    Lets say I’m retired and I love classic cars. I even have one. It’s a basket case with good bones. I take everything apart, and put it back together. It’s fun! Now I have a flashy ride. I hear about another, even cooler basket case. I buy it. I take it apart. I put it together! It’s fun! Now, everyone in town knows about my flashy cars. Someone approaches me about buying their basket case – the coolest car ever! But I don’t have room for another car. The first one was fun, learned a lot. Now I want the much cooler one! Can I sell the first one at market rate – say $50k, or do I have to sell it for what I paid for it, plus parts – say $8k? If I “profit” $42k on a hobby (one which was never intended to be paid), am I still retired? Basically, the real question I have for you is; Does intent matter?

    Reply
    • Chucks February 14, 2013, 6:46 pm

      After consulting a professional Internet Retirement Policeman and investigating IRP code, profit from hobbies is permitted ONLY if it is unintentional and spent on vacations AND/OR ice cream and baked goods for grandchildren. The fact that you were engaging in a hobby which could reasonably be expected to generate profit is very suspicious though.

      Reply
    • Nords (The-Military-Guide.com) February 14, 2013, 7:34 pm

      I think the answer comes from whether you’re doing the labor to pay your bills or whether you’re planning to donate the proceeds to charity (and take a healthy tax deduction).

      Reply
    • CALL 911 February 15, 2013, 2:29 pm

      I appreciate the advice. I’m nowhere near this situation, but if something similar comes up, I just want to sure of the rules of “retirement”. Thank you for your excellent replies

      Reply
  • Sandy February 14, 2013, 6:50 pm

    When I say that I plan on retiring by 40, I get the side eye too. It all depends on what “retire” means to you. To me it means not HAVING to work for someone else.

    Reply
  • GubMints February 14, 2013, 7:52 pm

    I don’t know why people confuse the definition of Retirement, it’s not rocket surgery…

    You’re retired as soon as going to work on Monday AM is optional.

    Reply
  • Rich M. February 14, 2013, 11:58 pm

    Wow, I just found out I have been retired since the age of 24 with this definition.

    Reply
  • guitarist February 15, 2013, 7:32 am

    I’m half tempted to start a business as an instructor to teach people how to stand up and get their thumbs out from their asses.

    But then I’d be accused of not being retired…

    Reply
  • Dan February 15, 2013, 7:59 am

    I don’t know how I stumbled across this blog but it’s the best I have read and I can’t get enough of your articles. let me “bow the fuck down” as I am 36 and sitting here in an office at work as I type this. Luckily for me, I am not in a cube so it looks like I am working even when I am clearly goofing off.

    Another problem I have is I do like my job and they pay me a lot for relatively little stress, but I see extreme value in even less mandatory work because both my wife and son have been vomiting this week, this is a heavy work load for one parent to have to handle all alone. My net worth, not including my house is 580k, I suppose I should retire ASAP but we have some work to do on the expenses. In the meantime, I read this site and I drool. Thank God I work with nice people or otherwise this would be unbearable.

    Reply
  • Johnny Moneyseed February 15, 2013, 9:08 am

    You can personally prescribe to whatever definition of “retired” or any other “controversial” word if you don’t agree with the alternatives. But its a mindset and a lifestyle choice. MMM doesn’t have to work. That means retired. You can do the whole 9-5 til you’re 65 routine since that is the predefined, accepted definition of the word. But who wants to work that long?? Its 2013, and we have other options, and great resources to help us.

    Reply
  • Stephen February 15, 2013, 9:42 am

    The dictionary is no help.

    Merriam-Webster defines retirement as “withdrawal from one’s position or occupation or from active working life.”

    Oxford: “the action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work.”

    Now define withdraw, position, occupation, active, working life, job, work, career, and employment. The dictionary definition isn’t as clear as the IRP want it to be.

    Like Jacob said, if you define retirement the IRP way, as ceasing from absolutely all work of any kind, then many people who are definitely retired would not qualify, so that definition is broken.

    It’s a matter of degree, and MMM is definitely retired to the degree required by the dictionary definition, having withdrawn from his career and now doing whatever he wants.

    Reply
    • Mrs. Money Mustache February 15, 2013, 10:30 am

      Exactly. Both MMM and I left our jobs. We Retired. We don’t do that work anymore nor will be ever do it again.

      Since then, we’ve found that doing occasional work is very rewarding – in fact, it has become a mandatory part of our Retirement (as I’m sure it is for MANY retired folks). Much of this work is unpaid. Sometimes we get paid (like with this blog). What happens to that money? Does it get spent to support our lifestyle? NO. In fact, there’s too much of it and we need to figure out how to do something great with it. Something that will hopefully help a lot of people, a community, and change lives.

      The really important part about Retirement is learning new things, connecting with people, etc. I spent the last 2 days learning about Thesis 2.0. Did I get paid for this? No.

      Because MMM talks so much about working hard and enjoying work in this blog, it might be misrepresenting what is really happening around here on most days. Things are very relaxing, sometimes too much so that we need some added stimulation. Between the hours of 10 and 2, we might do the occasional work, but being parents is the main thing we do. We always eat breakfast together and have lunch together everyday. We go on walks during the day. Sometimes we even go out to lunch. I go to crossfit during the day 3 times a week, we volunteer at school regularly, I sit at my computer and learn a new skill occasionally. We take care of household things, do groceries, make dinner, etc. MMM is currently helping a friend on a construction project during the days. He loves it.

      We never ever work unless we really want to. The work is usually never long (maybe 1-2 hours and for MMM that is usually writing a blog article). We absolutely do NOT have careers of any kind.

      We go on long vacations, spend time with family, go on hikes and bike rides, etc. We sit around and read. It’s all the same as what a “real” retired person would do.

      We have ONE rental house. We haven’t dealt with anything related to that house for probably at least a year. Money comes in from that, but we don’t do anything. It’s just like an investment.

      Being creative, having goals and ambitions, being excited about entrepreneurial activities, etc. does NOT stop the minute you are retired. In fact, those things GROW. They grow a lot. They grow so much that you can’t wait to do things and become better, to live your life in your own way. You can’t stop that from happening, especially if you’re Retiring Early. There’s still so much life left and so much to do.

      It’s pretty Awesome. But there’s no doubt that it’s still Retired.

      I’m actually amazed that regular MMM readers are commenting here and saying otherwise. It’s pretty ridiculous. Who wants to sit around and do nothing in Retirement? Only the people who work too long and don’t realize that there’s more to life… by the time they retire, they don’t know what to do with themselves anymore. When you Retire early, you have plenty of time (and energy) left to figure that out.

      Reply
      • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple February 15, 2013, 11:02 am

        I am also surprised that others are arguing that you aren’t retired. I mean, if only one of you was retired and the other working, you’d probably be considered a “SAHP”.

        You can work and be retired. If you aren’t beholden to anyone. And it’s fun to “work” and learn new things too.

        I am not retired, but I think about it from time to time (we could both be retired now if we left coastal southern CA for a cheaper place to live. For now, I’d rather live here.)

        My stepdad is retired. He couldn’t WAIT to retire. What does he do now? Well, he’s got acres of land to maintain, a house and a cabin to work on. He collects cans. There is no real recycling in his rural area, so he has a “route” that includes friends and relatives and a couple of golf courses where he sets out recycling bins. He keeps them in the barn, sorts them, crushes them, and takes them to the city to recycle (and pockets the money). Yes, he makes money, but it is fun for him and he’s only 65.

        I guess he’s allowed to be “retired” at that age.

        My FIL is retired (he was a lawyer). He loves to spend money on gadgets and is always complaining about not having enough money (cheating on your wife and ending a marriage after 43 years will do that). Yet he refuses to work! He has several lawyer friends who offer to throw a little business his way. A few cases a year would go a long way (he’s a personal lawyer, wills, etc.) Absolutely refuses.

        Reply
      • Johnny Moneyseed February 15, 2013, 11:55 am

        This entire comment made me smile. You rock Mrs. MM!

        Reply
      • rjack February 16, 2013, 10:14 am

        Mrs. MMM – I actually find your comment more inspiring than the post and the post was pretty good. Maybe you should post more often.

        Reply
        • Mrs. Money Mustache February 16, 2013, 10:47 am

          Awww… thanks guys! :)

          I have been thinking about writing a “what do we do all day” post, but I pretty much laid it all out (but in a totally unedited and messy format) in this comment. Ha!

          I may still be slightly traumatized from the last time I posted (just kidding, sorta), so I’m sticking to more factual posts for now — like “how to start a blog”, which was mostly my content, as well as the $10 iPhone one.

          I might cook something up in the future just for you though. ;)

          Reply
          • Jeremy Doolin February 18, 2013, 8:16 am

            Please do. The Mustachian lifestyle for a married couple is a very powerful way of life. My wife and I are both still within the first year of reaping the benefits and looking at early retirement.

            As such, I (and my wife) always love to hear what MMM’s Tag Team partner has to say. So by all means, please share your thoughts when you feel compelled. We enjoy it.

            Reply
      • Dan February 18, 2013, 7:23 am

        Between the hours of 10 and 2, we might do the occasional work, but being parents is the main thing we do. We always eat breakfast together and have lunch together everyday. We go on walks during the day. Sometimes we even go out to lunch. I go to crossfit during the day 3 times a week, we volunteer at school regularly, I sit at my computer and learn a new skill occasionally. We take care of household things, do groceries, make dinner, etc. MMM is currently helping a friend on a construction project during the days. He loves it.

        I have to say, your lifestyle must make it particularly easy to have a rewarding personal relationship with your significant other. For some people, finding enough time to grow a relationship can be a real challenge and this should really be expounded more as yet another benefit to the ERE lifestyle. Self-inflicted stress from trying to “keep up with the Joneses” and always earn earn earn (because people spend-spend-spend) can easily destroy relationships.

        I know I for one, would enjoy reading an article on this site about that side of things, hint hint :)

        Reply
      • meagain February 18, 2013, 2:30 pm

        “In a world where no one is compelled to work more than four hours a day, …Young writers will not be obliged to draw attention to themselves by sensational pot-boilers, with a view to acquiring the economic independence needed for monumental works, for which, when the time at last comes, they will have lost the taste and the capacity. . . Since men will not be tired in their spare time, they will not demand only such amusements as are passive and vapid. At least 1 percent will probably devote the time not spent in professional work to pursuits of some public importance, and, since they will not depend upon these pursuits for their livelihood, their originality will be unhampered, and there will be no need to conform to the standards set by elderly pundits.”

        -Bertrand Russel, In Praise of Idleness

        Reply
  • jlcollinsnh February 15, 2013, 12:07 pm

    This reminded me of your classic “complainypants” post. I liked that one, and the word itself, I just figured out a way to link to it in my last post.

    Mmmm…

    wonder how I can use this one….

    Reply
  • Kathleen, Frugal Portland February 15, 2013, 12:44 pm

    think that domain is still available?

    Reply
  • Trevor @ 5 gallon ideas February 15, 2013, 2:10 pm

    In this article (which is excellent, by the way) you state that the only rule for being early retired is to have passive income that matches or exceeds expenses. I’d like to submit that even your ONE RULE can usually be THROWN OUT.

    For example, my own passive income only meets about 25% of my expenses on average and I take on various casual projects at my leisure for on average an hour a day to make up the rest. You do something similar with your construction business.

    As you’ve said in a previous post, you have earned more money per year retired than you’ve spent. I’d like to submit that this is true for a significant percentage of early retirees! So why do you need 100% or greater in passive income to retire? Why not just have enough saved up and retire on that without a defined plan?

    Reply
    • Mike August 11, 2014, 5:19 pm

      I agree, the rule is too restrictive in this respect. I think the classic example is a couple that retires from their corporate jobs to open a Bed and Breakfast in a beautiful natural area. They may depend on the income from their work at the BnB to cover their expenses, but they are also retired and living their dream retirement lifestyle.

      They also meet the traditional definition of retirement.

      Reply
  • Anna February 15, 2013, 2:52 pm

    I know a couple of guys at work that are at the cut off point- they could tell the boss to suck it, walk away, and never worry about a paycheck again. They stay because they like keeping mentally active, and they enjoy the friendships.They’re very happy, relaxed, with absolutely no distress at all over any the little problems or office politics that have the rest of us freaking out. If that’s not retirement, it’s sure as hell close enough for me!

    Reply
  • Dividend Mantra February 15, 2013, 5:25 pm

    MMM,

    Great stuff. Brandish that fist!

    The idea of retirement as slothing around on a beach or couch somewhere for the rest of your life because you are somehow precluded from ever earning money ever again is completely ludicrous.

    So if you retire early and want to help others and write a book on how you did it, you are no longer retired? You’re an author now? What if you give the book away for free? Now you’re not earning any money from it…so you must still be retired, right??

    This is so closed minded. Really quite unbelievable.

    Glad you posted this. This is something that really bothers me. If you earn money, even if it’s a hobby that you’d otherwise partake in for free, you’re no longer retired. It’s like the word retirement is completely focused on economic activity for these people, instead of the freedom and actions that are available with retirement.

    To me retirement means being free. Free to do whatever the hell you want, for money or not.

    Best wishes!

    Reply
  • kc @ Gen X Finance February 15, 2013, 6:54 pm

    I think the definition of retired is so screwed up. We think of our old grandparents sitting around a dying a slow death. But come who world wake up, there are many forms of retirement. There is the world view of work a job, invest your paycheck in your employers 401k plan, then eventually you might have enough to stop working full time when or more likely than not your employer will fire you early because you are to old and slow and your employer wants to get out of paying you a pension.

    People need to wake up and start living more like a mustachian, then they realize that life does not cost as much as corporate america would like you to believe and that you can only retire when you are half dead already, there are other options and ways to enjoy life.

    Reply
  • Joshua Spodek February 15, 2013, 7:14 pm

    “The only rule is that you theoretically must have sufficient savings (or other assets) that you could live indefinitely off the passive income they provide, and these savings must give you the freedom to realize that any work you do is totally optional. You don’t actually have to live off the income, it just has to be there.”

    People can define words however they want, but all a definition does is let you put different labels on things. I suggest that what’s more important is how you live your life — your values and if you live by them — independent of what definition your life fits or not.

    I think the key value in that definition is freedom. I would add a feeling of security too, though the definition doesn’t mention it.

    You can get freedom and security through other means than passive income. Personally, I’ve chosen to have enough savings to last me way more than enough time to get a job if I have to and then to live my life how I want in that time.

    You could say I don’t have the security of someone who could live off their assets, but many people who could live off their assets in 1929 found they no longer could in 1930. Or who worked in Enron months before its collapse, at the time considered a paragon of success, compared with after its collapse. Or before a war began compared to after.

    In other words, whatever your assets and passive income, you still have risk. Anyone who thinks they have none is only fooling themselves. The question is how much.

    I bet I could produce statistics everyone here would agree with that I have as much security, based on my skills and experience, as they do with their assets and passive income. So I’m not “retired,” but I bet my life espouses everyone’s values as much as anyone.

    I know people who have virtually no assets, yet travel the world. Whole cultures don’t even have concepts of assets and income, yet people in them live lifestyles we might envy.

    Consider an immigrant who works night and day to give their grandchildren opportunities they never had. They may never be “retired,” but they may feel more pride and happiness in their achievements than many readers of this blog.

    Again, I’m not arguing with the definition. I don’t care what word someone else describes my life with and I suggest you don’t either. I just suggest you focus most on your values and the emotions you live by, which that definition puts second.

    If you love your life and wouldn’t change a thing about it or a decision that led to it, who cares about passive income? If you don’t, I suggest no amount of passive income or savings will fill that gap.

    Reply
  • Danny February 15, 2013, 7:26 pm

    About a month ago I read an excellent article which relates to this one: http://www.bankers-anonymous.com/blog/what-is-wealthy/ . One quote that stuck out to me was the following, “If you have enough assets plus passive income to cover your personal lifestyle expenses for the rest of your life, and that money allows you to work at something you love – without concern for the amount of compensation – then you are wealthy”. Based on this definition, it’s safe to say that MMM has not only retired, but is wealthy too. To that I say congrats to you and others who have reached this mark!

    Reply
  • Carl February 15, 2013, 9:50 pm

    I like FINANCIALLY FREE. You’re not “retired” from all forms of work, but you are retired from the “rat race”, because you can go whatever pace you want (or just sit and watch the others run by, and not give a shit).

    Reply

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