What’s the Point?

I was chatting with someone the other day regarding my plans for early retirement and he asked a basic question: what’s the point of early retirement?

Ironically, the person asked that in a more general sense and I of course pointed out that the reason why people go after early retirement is hugely personal.  There are thousands of reasons to go after this goal, but in the end the only one that matters is your reason.  Why do you want to retire early?

There doesn’t have to be a single reason why.  In fact, I think the most successful people planning to retire early have more than a single reason.  The more reasons you have the more motivation you can bring to your plan to help you see it through.  Getting to early retirement is very much similar to training and running a long distance.  At the start you can’t go more than a few blocks before being exhausted, yet over time you get go further and further towards your goal.  But unlike running, the changes to get to an early retirement may span a few decades.  It isn’t an easy feat to do, so you have to be very sure of why you are doing this otherwise you can give up on that dream.

To me personally the best way to summarize my why is: freedom.  I love that feeling on vacation when you do what you like, when you like within a broad context of the amount of time and money you have put aside for the trip.  I just want to expand that feeling to have nearly unlimited time and a modest amount of money to do things.

For me the time is worth more than the money.  Also putting it into context when I am on vacation, like right now, I tend to focus on doing things that interest my family and me.  A lot of the time these things don’t have to be very expensive like a hike in a provincial park to see a few waterfalls then swimming at the base of the falls.  Of course this doesn’t mean I don’t spend some money on things that we want to do, we just keep in mind the fact we can’t do everything at once.  Besides, I sort of like taking things easy while on vacation.  I hate rushing around so the idea of jamming in as much as possible in a week isn’t fun.

Yet there are other reasons to seek out early retirement for me that include but aren’t limited to:

  • I like to write, but know it doesn’t pay that much. So it takes a lot of time to write a book, but your hourly rate usually sucks.  So I can’t afford to do it full time right now.
  • I dislike waking to an alarm.  Really, I never sleep in that much so why should it matter if I’m 20 minutes late some days for work anyway. (Work has a different opinion, so I keep the alarm clock for now.)
  • I dislike working full time at my day job.  I don’t hate my work, it just loses some of the fun when you have to do it for the majority of your week.
  • I love to read books and watch movies, which with a library is a fairly affordable way to entertain myself.  Add in Netflix and I could happily stay entertained for years.
  • I like to slowly fix things.  Doing a little project over two weekends rather than cramming it into a long weekend.  I like to get things right the first time and have time to think about the project.
  • Savings is natural to me.  Early retirement just defines a bit more of a goal for that money.

Are these great reasons?  Not really, but they don’t have to be as long as they make sense to you.  Find your own reasons and don’t worry if they seem silly.  After all, you only have to convince yourself.  So what are a few of your own reasons?

7 thoughts on “What’s the Point?”

  1. My main reasons for retiring at 45 back in 2008: Freedom, both personal and economic. I hated the commute to my old job, even 2 days a week (I was working PT for the last 7 years, 2 or 3 days a week, sometimes telecommuting).

    And very recently, I have had some health issues. But being retired means that I can devote all of my time and effort to getting myself back to good health (which I have done) without having to worry about having to go to work even 2 days a week.

  2. At 43, I’m not fully ‘retired’ per se, but have recently undergone a major lifestyle change which entails doing physical work that is both enjoyable and healthy for much less money. Prior to doing this, my blood pressure was at an alarming level and my doctor nearly put me on meds for it. Several months after quitting the high-stress office job, my blood pressure is back to normal and I have the most energy I’ve had in years. I’d rather live frugally with good health than continue to kill myself slowly for a few extra bucks. That’s the point, at least in my world!

  3. The reasons you listed are almost identical to mine, actually. I’m only 30, but already I feel the urge to have total control over my time. I also dislike having to feel rushed in the morning and in the evening to complete things, and there are so many projects and skills beyond work that I’d like to achieve that are restricted by a 40-hour per week schedule.

    The guy who probably asked you ‘what’s the point?’ probably views retirement as sitting on the couch and doing nothing most of the time. In my view, retirement means quite the opposite. I actually plan to keep ‘working’ but at the times that suit me best, having acquired the freedom to pursue whatever interests/hobbies I have at the time.

    Luckily I do enjoy my current job, but that doesn’t mean that I am not looking forward to putting an end to the 9-5 routine.

    Anyway the traditional view of ‘retirement’ (work a while and then suddenly stop) is starting to be archaic in today’s economy. I think Tim Ferriss makes a fair prognostic when he speaks of ‘mini-retirements’ in his 4-hour Workweek book.

  4. I love that feeling of inner peace and calm inside my chest when I wake up the first morning of a week or two or three vacation. Unfortunately the feeling ends and towards the last weekend of said vacations comes the feelings of anxiety and dread about the upcoming workweek. Sometimes I feel like I want to puke my guts out the first morning back . then I get back to my practice and its business as usual. i am good at my job but I do not know why I feel the way I do when I return to work nor can I stop it.
    Anyway I would like to get off that cycle and just have the peace of freedom. I have a max of 47 months to go but could go sooner . I have tried to establish a rapport with someone who has successfully ER’d but no luck in getting responses as I would like some tips and pointers. Like how will I know I have enough ? I do not want to trade the stress of work with the stress of worrying about whether we have enough to sustain us for life!
    Yhose are my reasons!

  5. I jumped at taking early an retirement package at 55. I had two reasons to abandon my original plan to work until 60. First, my surviving parent at the time needed more attention and secondly, I knew my job(middle management) was giving me stress, it was the type of job that you worry about what could be going on during your vacation absences to give me more work and headaches when I returned. I was reaching the point of hating to go to work. That’s a sign to throw in the towel. I’m now 66, no regrets and financially comfortable.

  6. Retired in 2004. I have always wanted to retire, I knew this when I was 14; when I had my first job. I thought, this working for a living sucks; there must be something better. Anyway, I took a year off in 2004 to do home renovations. Then went back to work until I retired (again) in 2012. Now, an opportunity has presented itself; and I am buying a small restaurant. The big reason for retirement, to me, was to do what I wanted; when I wanted. I’ll do this for a while and see how it goes. Being financially independent is the best. I’m 49 now.

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