I was chatting the other day with someone about my plan to retire early and they noted that if things go wrong that “You may never earn this much ever again.”
To which I frowned and then replied, “But that doesn’t matter. I’ve NEVER spent my entire salary, so who cares if I fail and go back and earn less? I don’t.”
You see that is perhaps why I’m a LOT more relaxed about my plan to retire early than most people. I’m not obsessing about the fact I’m currently at my peak earning potential in my life. That I believe is the logical flaw that sucks in a LOT of people who fall into the one more year syndrome. They erroneously assume you have to keep working since you can potentially never earn this much income again. They confusing having to work again in the future with having to have the same income and/or career.
The issue comes down to this, even if things go horribly wrong and I have to go back to work for a while I am under no obligation to go back to my current career or pay range. Honestly, I earn currently north of six figures and only spend a bit over $30K a year. So in reality if I have to go back to work to save some more money my actually target is to earn more than $30K a year to allow some savings while paying the bills. So any job that pays $31K or more will work. It’s just a matter of how much do I want to save and when I quit again.
Of course this ignore the reality that we already have substantial assets and I would likely notice things going wrong sooner than later. Thus in fact I won’t even need to earn more than $30K to pay the bills, the fact of the matter is earning ANYTHING would result in me saving some money. So even some mindless minimum wage job at half time would be enough to help build up my savings again. It would just be at a slower rate than I’m doing right now.
So yes, I’m currently riding my peak earnings towards my early retirement date and if that is the case, so be it. I can give up the really high saving rate and roll the dice on my current plan. Yes, I may lose and have to go back to work at some point doing something, but if I win I will have an additional 25 years of time to do things that interest me. I know what I’m choosing.
So what about you? Would you spend an extra year or two working at my current job to buffer against ever working again or take the risk of having to do some work in the future? Would you care if you worked again in the same field or not?