Questions to Ask Before Retiring Early
You may have heard of FIRE movement.
FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) is a lifestyle movement whose goal is financial independence and retiring earlyWikipedia
While retiring early is certainly appealing, especially if you really hate your job now, this is really not the message I want to get across today.
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against the FIRE movement. In fact, I do admire some of the crazy achievements the FIRE bloggers have had – retiring at their 30s.
Financial independence is also something I really aspire to. It basically means you no longer need to work or depend on others to pay for your living expenses because you generate your own passive income, the kind of income that you do not have to work actively for it.
The point of today’s article is to start talking about early retirement which we need to plan for. And I am not talking about the financial aspects of retirement.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself and think through.
#1 What Do You Want To Do After Retiring?
Well some may think it is obvious – duh, I want to stay beside the sea sipping martinis while watching the golden sunset.
Sure, it does sound great. But could you do it everyday?
If you have managed to retire early in your 30s, it would mean 60 years of hanging out at the beach assuming life expectancy to be 90 years.
“Who am I?”
While we are working, our job often becomes our identity whether you like it or not.
The longer we invest our time, develop our careers, hone our skillsets, build our portfolios, etc etc, the more we will form an identity out of our profession.
We get a sense of accomplishment when we achieve something. We get a sense of pride showcasing our products or designs or inventions.
Once we quit our job and retire, will we stop being lawyers, doctors, engineers, teachers? Will we cease to be who we were?
Our jobs gave us challenges and problems to solve. Our jobs gave us difficult people to work with and tricky situations to manage. It kept our minds sharp. It provided mental stimulation.
Once we quit our job and retire, what problems will we face? A leaking pipe to fix? A crossword puzzle to solve everyday? The magnitude of the problems might be very different than what we used to face. Will we get bored easily?
Community, Friendship, Companionship
The people that we interact regularly are people who we work with. They can be your source of camaraderie, inspiration, hatred, envy or companionship.
We can find like minded people who will understand us. We can find mentor like figures who can inspire us. Or we can find jerks who motivates us to retire early.
Once we quit or job and retire, do we still belong to a community?
Our daily routines gives us a sense of stability, in the midst of this ever-changing world. Whether we have a 9-5 job or work as a freelancer or professional, our jobs have some sort of routine that we can fall back to.
Once we retire, not only does the daily routine change, there is also always this uncertainty that we might run out of our retirement income or deplete our nest eggs.
What To Do?
Hence, it is important that we think about what we are going to do in retirement.
Is there a project that will challenge us or give us enjoyment? Will we belong to a community or have friends who will share the next phase of life with us? Is there something that will give me a sense of purpose? Is there something that allows me to become who I am really am?
Thinking about it is a good start.
#2 I Know What I Want To Do. What Is Stopping You From Doing It Now?
You know your life purpose. You know exactly why you want to retire early – to devote the rest of your life doing it.
That is great! But why wait 10 more years to do what you want? Why not start now?
Is it an issue of lack of time or lack of resources (money) to do it now?
You can start small now. Think of creative ways to start without having to involve too much of your time and/or money.
If you always wanted to travel the world. Why not start with taking mini short vacations to travel while working? Plan out mini trips.
If you always wanted to be a finance expert who want to empower others financially. Why not start a blog now(like me)? Take baby steps, try it out. Maybe it will work and you can quit your job and be a full time blogger and does motivational talks gigs.
If you always wanted to give to the community. Why not start involving with an NGO or volunteer? You can take a day or two to do it. Maybe you will find fulfillment and go fulltime working for non-profits.
If you really really hate your job. Why not look for other jobs? Learn a new skill, develop something or start your own side hustle. And if it works out, you can quit and devote your time in doing work that you enjoy.
My point is that you have time and energy when you are young and if you are fortunate to have a stable job, make some time, invest something to pursue your dream with the security of having a job to fall back to.
If it does not work out, start again, try something else.
If you only wait till retirement to start pursuing your dreams and if it does not work out, you will need a plan B.
#3 Will You Enjoy The FIRE Process?
In order to accelerate your early retirement, most FIRE people advocate saving a huge portion of your income, 40-60% of your income. So that probably means cutting most of your expenses and living way below your means.
This does not sound fun. Unless, you are excited about living frugally.
Less suppose a worst case scenario.
If you live a spartan life in hopes of retiring early and just barely before you reach your accumulation goal and enjoy the fruits of your labor, something bad happens – you fall terribly ill or die. You did not get to savor your retirement.
Will you enjoy going through the FIRE process? Or will you regret it?
If FIRE gets you excited. It gets your creative juices flowing trying to find inventive ways to save money. If you get a sense of acheivement accelerating your portfolio. By all means go do it and enjoy the process.
But if you hate the process. Just like a person on a diet only to lose weight and hating every moment of it. Soon, you may start having chest days and suddenly you start sliding back to your old diet and gained even more weight than before. Trust me, this happens all the time.
There is a concept in finance called the time value of money. Money now is worth more than money in the future.
Why not look at time the same way as well? Time now is more valuable than time in the future.
So if you hate the FIRE process then my suggestion is do not rush retirement. Appreciate the present. Slow down. Take your time.
Treasure each moment you have now with your loved ones. Spend if needed. Buy experiences with love ones, cut down on superficial stuff that only brings momentary happiness.
Treasure the opportunity of having a job now. Many others in unfortunate places struggle for jobs to feed their families.
And if you are not happy in this moment, try do something else that you will enjoy.
Even if you are unhappy due to external circumstances beyond your control, accept whatever you cannot control, start doing something to change the things within your control.
I am not trying to pour a wet blanket over your FIRE aspirations. But rather, I want to challenge you to think it through whether this movement is for you.
There are many benefits of FIRE, there are many inspirational stories out there about FIRE – you can always google it. But it may not be for everyone.
FIRE personally is not something for me because I am a take-everything-in-moderation kind of person.
I want to achieve financial independence and I want to retire some day. I just do not want to go to extremes (to me it feels extreme – saving 60% of my income) just for the sake of quitting my job at 30.
I want to master my trade or at least try getting good at my job. I want to produce a masterpiece that I can be proud of.
I still do not know what I want. I want to start doing something now, even if it is just something small and grow it.
I want to appreciate my love ones. I want to squeeze a bit of time here and there. Create happy moments within the monotony of work life. Create memories to treasure.
I want to enjoy my present situation. I want to do a little something to improve it. And I want to be prepared for retirement in the future as well.
What do you want?