- Early retirement can be a bit of a mystery – how does one achieve and maintain such a lifestyle?
- I talked to several early retirees, and they had a few surprising things to say about early retirement, both good and bad.
- No one tells you that early retirement may incite criticism from friends and family, or that it doesn’t take as much money to be comfortable as you may think.
Early retirement invites a lot of talk.
Saving enough money to span for decades can seem impossible, and making it last that long appears to be even more out of reach. And, many ask, what is one supposed to do with their time during early retirement, anyway?
It seems unattainable to most people and that makes it seem a bit mysterious. After talking to several early retirees, I’ve found that mystery isn’t completely without reason – there are many things about early retirement that people don’t know until they get there.
The good? How much money you need to retire may not be as much as you think. The bad? You may face some criticism from others who don’t understand your decision to retire early.
Here’s what you didn’t know about early retirement.
You’ll probably be criticized
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Mr. Tako, who retired at 38 and writes the blog Mr. Tako Escapes, previously told Business Insider that he didn’t expect to face such criticism when retiring early.
“The amount of mental fortitude required isn’t something I think gets talked about enough,” he said. “The ability to withstand significant criticism of your life should not be understated when a person retires early. Expect your friends, family, and online peeps to criticize this choice, especially if you’re younger. It really brings the ‘haters’ out of the woodwork.”
There is no right time to retire early
In hindsight, many early retirees wished they didn’t wait so long to plunge into early retirement– even if they didn’t have as much money saved as they would have liked. Some even said that money shouldn’t be the deciding factor when it comes to retiring early.
“I wish I knew that it’s OK to take the leap before you think you’re ready,” Joe Olson, who retired at 29 with his wife, Ali, previously told Business Insider. Together, they travel and run a blog called Adventuring Along. “You will very likely be fine, and if you aren’t, there are so many opportunities in life, you can go earn more money later if it’s needed.”
Chris Reining, who retired as a self-made millionaire at age 37 and runs a blog, also wished he retired sooner. “The funny thing about money is you always feel like you need more – even when you have enough, you never have enough,” he said.
Whether you hit your savings goal or not, you’ll probably never feel truly ready to retire early – but that shouldn’t stop you anyway.
You may need less money than you think to be comfortable
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If you have a low cost of living and potential for investment growth and passive income, how much money you need to retire early may not be as high as you think.
When Reining was planning to retire, he was aiming to save enough for the “4% rule”: you can comfortably withdraw 4% from your investment accounts each year, while adjusting for inflation and without running out of money.
However, he ended up retiring early when he could withdraw 3% from his investment accounts a year. After year two in retirement, he was withdrawing just 2%, all because he was living below his means.
“Becoming financially independent isn’t about how much money you have, it’s about how much you spend, because how much you spend determines how much you need,” he wrote.
You probably won’t stop making money
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An early retirement isn’t synonymous with an end to your cash flow – many early retirees continue to make money through investment growth and passive income.
Justin McCurry retired at 33 with an investment portfolio $1.3 million, which has grown to more than $1.7 million over five years thanks to strategic investments. He also earns monthly income through his blog, Root of Good.
J.P. Livingston, who retired at age 28 with a nest egg of more than $2 million, brought home more than $62,000 in passive income through affiliate commissions and ads on her blog, The Money Habit, after its first year.
“It’s hard to be awake for 60-plus hours a week and not find a single enjoyable way to earn some money,” she previously told Business Insider.
Money isn’t the focus after you retire
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According to many retirees, money doesn’t really matter once you retire early.
“I always thought that I would spend my early retirement doing entrepreneurial things, but now that I have enough money, doing things for the sole purpose of getting more money doesn’t make sense anymore,” Brandon of the blog Mad Fientist, who retired at age 34, previously told Business Insider, adding that he wished he knew how “unimportant and insignificant” money would become after retiring early.
Instead of money, finding enjoyment during retirement depends on maximizing your time and creating a new lifestyle.
“If you view money as the goal, then you miss the point,” Grant Sabatier, who retired at age 30 with $1.25 million and runs the blog Millennial Money, wrote in a post published on Business Insider. “Money is infinite, but time is not.”
Adjusting to early retirement may take a while
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Being able to spend your days leisurely, whether you’re lounging on the beach or swinging in the hammock with a good book, is one of the most coveted parts of retirement. But it may be harder than you think to get into the swing of the easy life.
McCurry previously told Business Insider that he wished he knew it would take him at least six months to calm down, relax, and slow down after retiring.
“I felt like I had to be productive for at least part of the day,” he said. “Eventually, I realized that this is the rest of my life – time to enjoy it! I upped the time I spent in my hammock, caught up on my Netflix queue, and read a bunch of books.”
Early retirement isn’t for everyone
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If you’re not adequately prepared, you could be looking at a loss of Social Security income, healthcare issues, and mental and physical decline. There are also a few challenges that can occur if you’ve been emotionally invested in your job for years, such as loss of social interaction, boredom, loss of identity, and a lack of challenge or purpose.