Why Retire at 35?
I’m pretty nonchalant about using Financial Independence and Early Retirement interchangeably. They aren’t the same thing of course, and achieving financial independence doesn’t mean you have to quit your job. However, as far as our goals are concerned, one leads to the other.
Why Retire Early?
Deciding whether or not to stop working once you no longer need to for financial reasons is not a problem for some people, like the DJ. Not working has long been a goal of hers, and all the prerequisites, such as school and work, are in a sense a means to an end.
As for me, I’m not sure it’s that clear. Seeking financial independence as a goal is naturally attractive on its own: the sense of security, and freedom that comes from the idea of not having to rely on an employer to fund your life. Early retirement on the other hand is a lot more ambiguous, and maybe scary, but that is what makes it exciting.
There is nothing I am running away from: I don’t hate my job, usually 🙂 I like the work I do, if not all aspects of the job (I think it’s important to differentiate between the work you do, and the job you have). Without the need to work for a living, I could see myself continuing to find reasons to develop, create, and improve things for fun, if not for profit (though I am sure that could follow). Even now with a full-time job, I have been known to find excuses to escape away for a weekend of hacking in order to try playing with a new technology or do something I think would be cool.
It’s the traditional job aspects that I realize I dislike: things like paperwork, meetings, mundane tasks, and schedules exist for their own reasons, good and bad. I respect why these things may be necessary in order to make something profitable or use-able by a customer on time, but attending to those details is not what excites me.
It might be that I’m being overly optimistic about the things I enjoy now and what I’ll want to continue doing. If it turns out we achieve financial independence, quit our jobs, and I spend my days puttering around in the garden, walking the dogs, and taking a few extra naps, that wouldn’t be a bad way to spend life at all. In fact, I’d probably be doing more of that now, if it wasn’t for having to be in an office during certain hours so that the right TPS reports can get filled out.
With that in mind, I view Financial Independence and Early Retirement as opposing sides of the same coin. Financial Independence represents security and freedom, while Early Retirement represents flexibility and a source of new challenges.
Retire at 35: In Pursuit of Nice Round Numbers
Retiring at thirty-five happens to be a nice stretch goal that works well for us financially and personally. Just as importantly, everyone likes nice round numbers. Moreover, in this case it’s nice to have a goal to strive to, however arbitrary it may be.
I think that by thirty-five you can have sampled different aspects of life and ways of spending your time. This leaves you in a good position to decide how you want to structure your life.
Assuming, for the sake of round numbers, you finish childhood and mandatory education at 20 that gives you:
- Five years for college
- Five years for grad-school
- Five years for working
Don’t you love nice round numbers? Of course you might distribute those years differently but the idea remains the same. By thirty-five you would have spent your time and energy in different situations, institutions, locations, and working towards different goals. You should thus have an idea of what motivates you, what you are good at, and what you want to do with the next phase of your life.
I am sure my thinking on the subject will evolve over time. I would love to know what others think, and how they decided when/if they will be ready to retire, independently of financial independence.