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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Unconventional Journey towards Unconventional Retirement

Posted by Tim Stobbs on May 5, 2011

This is a guest post by Martin, who is preparing for retirement within the next 5 years; no later than his 40th birthday.  He is married, has 2 young children and lives and works in rural Alberta as a regional finance manager for a large energy company.

Relative to those around me, I’ve lead an unconventional life.

It started out common enough.  I grew up in a rural middle class upbringing, uneventful yet memorable at the same time.  Perhaps time has softened my perception of it a bit, but I have no complaints.  Like most small town teenagers, the desire to break out took hold of me; carrying me off to university, arming me with commerce degree.

Following the path of so many others at the time, I migrated to Calgary and began my career, but not before stretching my boundaries during a half-year backpacking adventure overseas (again, not overly unconventional).  Like every other young college grad in the downtown towers, I worked hard trying to learn the rules of the corporate world and unlock the path up the ladder.

It was during these first few years when disillusionment started to creep in.  It was a combination of many things about the big city and the corporate world that seemed misaligned with my personality, beliefs and values.  I was slowly realizing that doing things the conventional way was not going to lead me to ultimate happiness.  Not knowing how to change the scene I was in, I continued on.

I’ve struggled for a long time to characterize what happened next.  I hate to call it luck as it implies that I had nothing to do with it, but it was more luck than anything else.  I received an unsolicited offer from a former colleague to work overseas in the Middle East (on a rotational basis; one month working followed by one month off).  It couldn’t have come at a better time and it thrust me headfirst into the unconventional.

Over the next four years, my wife quit her job, we moved out of the city, simplified our life, travelled the world and reacquired a sense of purpose.  This re-grounding lead us to having children and settling back into a more conventional rural life in the foothills of Alberta’s Rockies where we live and work today.

Through a combination of good earnings, fortunate real estate decisions and valuable stock options, we always knew we were well ahead in the game.  Along with our very modest lifestyle and retirement plans, we knew that early retirement was on our horizon, just not as close as we are planning for now.  The tipping point came a year ago while I was enjoying a leave of absence after the birth of our second child.  I decided it was time to engage the idea of early early retirement, and begin searching for sources outside of the rhetoric of the mainstream.  I found that blogs such as this offered the most honest and genuine perspective on the topic.  I dove in and became much more informed on the process involved in unconventional retirement planning and became energized and focused.

As our plans stand right now, we are within 5 years from early early retirement.  Five years out would put us at 39 years old with our kids being 8 and 6.  The items I’m currently working at are expense analysis, quantifying the cost of kids and their effect on our cash flow and hobby/interest development.

My job and career will not allow me to ease into retirement by going part-time.  I am going to go from dedicating 55-60 hrs a week (include commute time) to my employer to gifting that same time and more to my family, friends, community and myself.  I’m not foolish enough to think that it will be a seamless transition.  One of the activities that I would like to get back into is writing, starting with guest posting.  I’m very appreciative of the opportunity and am looking forward to sharing my thoughts from my own journey.  Hopefully, I can inspire others out there as I have been inspired.

Unconventional Journey towards Unconventional Retirement

This is a guest post by Martin, who is preparing for retirement within the next 5 years; no later than his 40th birthday.  He is married, has 2 young children and lives and works in rural Alberta as a regional finance manager for a large energy company.

Relative to those around me, I’ve lead an unconventional life.

It started out common enough.  I grew up in a rural middle class upbringing, uneventful yet memorable at the same time.  Perhaps time has softened my perception of it a bit, but I have no complaints.  Like most small town teenagers, the desire to break out took hold of me; carrying me off to university, arming me with commerce degree.

Following the path of so many others at the time, I migrated to Calgary and began my career, but not before stretching my boundaries during a half-year backpacking adventure overseas (again, not overly unconventional).  Like every other young college grad in the downtown towers, I worked hard trying to learn the rules of the corporate world and unlock the path up the ladder.

It was during these first few years when disillusionment started to creep in.  It was a combination of many things about the big city and the corporate world that seemed misaligned with my personality, beliefs and values.  I was slowly realizing that doing things the conventional way was not going to lead me to ultimate happiness.  Not knowing how to change the scene I was in, I continued on.

I’ve struggled for a long time to characterize what happened next.  I hate to call it luck as it implies that I had nothing to do with it, but it was more luck than anything else.  I received an unsolicited offer from a former colleague to work overseas in the Middle East (on a rotational basis; one month working followed by one month off).  It couldn’t have come at a better time and it thrust me headfirst into the unconventional.

Over the next four years, my wife quit her job, we moved out of the city, simplified our life, travelled the world and reacquired a sense of purpose.  This re-grounding lead us to having children and settling back into a more conventional rural life in the foothills of Alberta’s Rockies where we live and work today.

Through a combination of good earnings, fortunate real estate decisions and valuable stock options, we always knew we were well ahead in the game.  Along with our very modest lifestyle and retirement plans, we knew that early retirement was on our horizon, just not as close as we are planning for now.  The tipping point came a year ago while I was enjoying a leave of absence after the birth of our second child.  I decided it was time to engage the idea of early early retirement, and begin searching for sources outside of the rhetoric of the mainstream.  I found that blogs such as this offered the most honest and genuine perspective on the topic.  I dove in and became much more informed on the process involved in unconventional retirement planning and became energized and focused.

As our plans stand right now, we are within 5 years from early early retirement.  Five years out would put us at 39 years old with our kids being 8 and 6.  The items I’m currently working at are expense analysis, quantifying the cost of kids and their effect on our cash flow and hobby/interest development.

My job and career will not allow me to ease into retirement by going part-time.  I am going to go from dedicating 55-60 hrs a week (include commute time) to my employer to gifting that same time and more to my family, friends, community and myself.  I’m not foolish enough to think that it will be a seamless transition.  One of the activities that I would like to get back into is writing, starting with guest posting.  I’m very appreciative of the opportunity and am looking forward to sharing my thoughts from my own journey.  Hopefully, I can inspire others out there as I have been inspired.

Comments

7 Responses to “Unconventional Journey towards Unconventional Retirement”
  1. Let me be the first to congratulate on your philosophical breakthroughs and great early retirement plan. Usually when you see the “I’m retiring by 40,” article it’s written by someone who does not have 2 kids! The real estate and investment deals you made must have been very good ones indeed!

  2. Ahmed says:

    I read this blog with great interest, I have an open mind, yet I really don’t “get” how you people are “on track” to retire at 40, and a few others at 35 years of age. And some of you have familes and kids. I have my suspicions and don’t believe you are sharing the whole picture. I don’ understand how you can save/invest enough (assuming you are all making a middle class salary, get taxed, etc,etc). Yes, I know you all talk about being frugal, saving money, not using expensive mutual funds with the high MERs, etc, etc, but still. Assuming you have not won a lottery, obtained a windfall, and assuming you started your working lives in your early or mid twenties (i.e. after finishing school) I don’t get how you work only 10 or 15 years and have that be it.

    Especially this writer, with 2 kids and a wife to support. How do you plan on funding your kids post-secondary tuition?

    I notice a number of you live in Alberta, and it’s no secret that you pay less in tax than other Canadians, and are enjoying a good economy in your province. I don’t think this is the only reason, but I can’t help but wonder if somehow plays a role.

    Again, I don’t get how you do it.

  3. Ahmed says:

    If what you are saying is true, at least you have the decency to admit that it is mostly luck that has helped you, because it is. As someone who bought in 1990 and sold early 2001 in Ontario(11 years is a fair amount of time) I came out with a loss, not a profit on my house.

    Despite your real estate luck, and your “valuable stock options”, I still don’t get it, especially when juxtaposed with the realities of some young people I personally know (a couple of years out of school, student debt, no savings, high living costs, low/mediocre paying jobs despite going to school, etc).

    Maybe we should all move to Alberta where things are obviously more rosy.

  4. jon_snow says:

    Ahmed, I share a bit of your opinion regarding extreme early retirement by those who have young children…

    Anyway, I don’t have kids, but my wife and I make 8k per month, and live on 3k… so about 5k a month into our ER fund… no fancy investment strategies for us. Its SAVE, SAVE, SAVE.

    Can’t speak for anyone else, but thats how we are going to pull off early retirement in our mid 40’s.

  5. Brian says:

    Great post. Right there with you on this. I never wanted an unconventional life either but I’m heading down that path. Don’t be afraid to take the plunge!

  6. Kevin says:

    Ahmed,
    I agree there is some luck involved but I found the harder and smarter I worked the “lucker I was” I too was able to retire the Calgary area with 2 young kids by 43(I could have done it earlier but we like to travel). I was able to do it with investing in real estate, a very good income (in oil and gas) and smart spending and paying off debt. I was mortgage free by 34 year old. I was able to save and increase my next worth 2 mil plus 10 in yrs. I do consulting work now not because I need to but because I enjoy it. To me that’s what retirement is all about not working for money but doing the things you enjoy and spending time with family and friends on your own terms.

    Good for you Martin…keep it up!

  7. Canadian Dream says:

    Ahmed,

    I don’t know the exact details of Martin’s situation but perhaps I can address a flag that went for me while I read your first comment. What is a middle class income? What range would you consider in that amount?

    The saving part of any plan is about keeping your expenses low and making as much income as possible. Thus giving you a very high savings rate. Once that rate breaks the 75%+ range your time to be financially independent drops to under a decade. Also your market return becomes less and less important. That’s how people can pull the plug in their mid-30s…it typically requires a damn good income to pull off like $80K+, but it is completely doable.

    Hope that helps,
    Tim

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