Would you rather retire or keep working


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I’m only 43 years old right now (Ok, fine – I’m pushing 44!).  But this is still prime time to continue on with my career.  If I were to keep working, I could build up an even bigger and more secure nest egg.

So why don’t you do that?  Why did you leave your job and retire early?  Are you stupid or just lazy?

Haha, talk about cutting to the chase!

I actually love when others ask me questions about our plans because it gets the conversation going about financial independence.

Personally, I don’t feel like everyone needs to retire early from their jobs.  If you enjoy what you do, more power to you.  But I do feel that financial independence should be a goal for everyone.

Even if you love your job and don’t plan to ever leave, @#$% happens.  Things change and you may decide later that you don’t want to work there any longer.  Or maybe you get hurt and can’t do your job any longer.  Whatever the reason, it’s important to get your finances in order now versus later.

Generally, the conversations with others about our early retirement go pretty well.  Occasionally, the discussion becomes some motivation for others to do the same.

Sometimes, though, I can tell that the questions I get are a little condescending… as if I just did this on a whim without thinking it through.  Although no one has outright asked me if I’m stupid or lazy, I can sometimes sense the judgment is there.

So let’s talk about why I decided not to keep working in my career…

 

Our net worth when I retired…

We should first start off by discussing our net worth.  Although I was a little hesitant to share information like this years ago, I realized that it’s important to openly talk about it for a couple of reasons:

1) It can be motivational for others.  We tend to treat discussing personal finance as taboo in society and, to be honest, I don’t understand why.  The best way to know how to improve our finances is to learn from others – both from ways we should be doing things and ways we shouldn’t.

2) It helps put our financial status into perspective for readers of this site.  It took me a good number of years to comprehend a couple of important points about money on this journey.  The first is that being a FIRE Millionaire doesn’t mean you’re rich.  And the second is that you don’t need to be rich to be financially independent.  Understanding both of those points is fundamental in realizing that you don’t need to be Jeff Bezos or Warren Buffet to become free.

When I quit working at my job at the end of 2018, our net worth was $1,098,482.91 as of 1/1/19.

If you’re newer on the journey to FIRE (financial independence / retire early), that might seem like a nice chunk of money.  And I’m definitely not implying that it’s not.  For regular Joe’s like us to hit millionaire status should help you see that this is possible though.

However, a million bucks ain’t what it used to be.  And to support a family of three???  Please.

But, that should be enough to support our current lifestyle over the years.  And if it’s not, I’m not worried.  If the #$%^ hits the fan and things really go awry, I can always fill the income gap with a part-time job somewhere.

 

Where we stand today…

As I write this, Personal Capital is telling me that our net worth is currently $1,206,217.

It actually went up.  We now have more than $100k more in unrealized gains in our portfolio than we had when I stopped working at my job.

That’s not a big surprise considering how well the stock market performed the first quarter of this year.

And that’s with us drawing down on our stash for our expenses.  Not only that, but we’ve had to front-load a number of our expenses in preparation for the second half of this year.  For example, the place we’re staying at for the first month in Panama has already been paid for along with several other expenses.

Regardless, even though we’ve had a good run in the market, I still find that amazing.

But that’s the whole point of the 4% rule.  Our portfolio may sometimes go up and sometimes go down.  Decades from now, when all is said and done, there’s actually a good possibility that our portfolio will be bigger than it is now… that’s hard for me to appreciate sometimes.

On the other hand, if we didn’t change or adjust our spending habits along the way as needed, there’s also a small possibility that we run out of money… ouch.

 

How long would I have to keep working to hit FatFIRE?

If I were to keep working, I could easily pad our stash to ensure that I wouldn’t be forced to pick up a side job… ever.  Instead of rolling with the 4 percent rule of thumb, I could build us up to a point where we might be able to only have to take out 3-3.5% of our money annually.  That’s much safer.

Or, if I would keep working, I could take us to the next level.  We could have gone from FIRE to the even more exciting… FatFIRE!

That would mean our indulgences could go up big time!  We could go out to dinner every day and take cruises several times a year (we love our cruises!).  We’d be able to give our daughter nothing but the best from start to finish!

That’d be pretty sweet, right?!

The only cost would be that I would just have to keep working a little longer.

We’ve budgeted in to afford expenses of a little more than $50k per year using our different investments (including rental property).  However, even with this being a bigger year because of the big move and everything involved, I’m anticipating that we’ll spend significantly less.

But let’s just say that we wanted to be able to afford $100,000/year in expenses.  We could live like royalty on that!

According to the 4% rule, we’d need to have a portfolio of $2,500,000.  That leaves us with about $1,300,00 shortfall.  That sounds crazy far at first.

But using a retirement calculator and a conservative personal savings rate(at least for us), we can ballpark it out.  If I were to keep working for another eight years, we’d nail the goal and then some…

Eight years.

 

So why not keep working?

Funny enough, that last sentence answered it all.  Eight years.  That might not seem like a lot of time over a lifetime, but it really is.  That’s a lot of time sucked away and for what?

Although sometimes it’s hard for a lot of folks to understand, we don’t need more money.  We have enough.

In other words, I don’t consider us rich, but we have enough that we can afford all our regular expenses without straining.  And that’s with living a comfortable lifestyle, too – enjoying occasional dinners out, wonderful vacations and cruises, and not really wanting for anything.

So are we safe with what we have?  Hopefully.

But here’s the thing – it would take a lot for things to go south for us for it not to work:

  • The stock market would have to really hit the toilet over the next 5-10 years.  That’s generally brought on by some fun called sequence of returns risk.  And although that can happen, we’re mitigating that by keeping about 5-6 years of expenses in cash (see our net worth breakdown).
  • If things got really bad, that would have to mean that we don’t adjust our spending accordingly.  What the @#$%?!  Of course, we’d spend less if our money was depleting faster than our portfolio allowed!  That would be crazy not to!
  • We’d have to never see another dime from ventures we haven’t built into the plan.  But, I really can’t imagine that – I’m still a young man (keep your wise-cracks to yourselves, Millenials and Gen Z’ers!) 😉  I already plan to do some fun things along the way that will bring in at least some kind of income like writing a couple of books and continuing to build up this blog.

And if it all still went down the crapper, I’m truly Ok with getting a part-time job.  Hell, I may even want to get a job at some point just to get out more.  But I think we’re so much in the ballpark with what we have that I don’t anticipate this will ever become a necessity.

So, why not keep working and saving?  There’s no need.  Enough is the key in my life.

Unless you love what you’re doing, then at some point, you just need to pull the trigger and call it quits or change careers.  There’s a lot more to life than being stuck in the rat race every day doing something you don’t enjoy.

We haven’t even started our next adventure of moving to Panama and I’m already loving every day of this newfound freedom.  With just the small things in life like enjoying daily workouts, spending so much more unhindered time with my family, and getting a stress-free night of sleep daily, life has been wonderful.  And my time writing posts for you guys is less rushed and more meaningful.

Freedom to decide each of your days is incredible.

So for me, the question really isn’t “why not keep working and saving”, but rather “why would I ever want to keep working”?

 

Go ahead and hit me up and let me know whether or not you agree with my thoughts on stopping at enough or continuing to work for more.

 

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

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Jim @ Route To RetireFinancial Independence / Retire Early (FIRE), Investments, Life in Early Retirement, Saving, Spending