Hello, and welcome to Not the M Word! I know you can’t see me right now but I am actually beaming with joy that you’re here and (so far) reading the stuff I write.
This blog is for you if you believe there’s more to life than going to work for someone else so you can buy shit you don’t need until you die. Or maybe that’s what you WANT to believe but you’re not quite convinced. Maybe you feel that acknowledging those thoughts would just make you a whining Millennial (Ooh! Dirty word, I know) that will embarrass your parents, and eventually you’d fall on your face and die penniless and alone.
That’s fine too, this is still for you. Welcome!
Wanting Out of the Rat Race Does Not Make You Lazy
It’s not about freedom to lay on the couch and eat cheesy puffs forever, it’s about autonomy and time. The ability to choose work you’re truly engaged with. The ability to spend more time with the people you love, doing things that expand your mind and relationships while your hips are young enough to tolerate a hike in the mountains and your lady bits are still (sort of) where they’re supposed to be when you don a swimsuit. Time is a limited resource, and even if you don’t want to be monetarily wealthy, we all want more time.
It’s Time to Rethink Retirement
For a lot of people, “retirement” immediately conjures up these images:
- Old people (pay attention to the age of the actors next time you see a commercial related to retirement)
- No longer working whatsoever
For the purposes of this blog (and I think you’ll find the same thing on any other FIRE blogs you read), anytime I say “retirement,” I am referring to the milestone in my life at which I will have the freedom to walk away from my 9 to 5 if I choose to do so.
The reality is I’m way too much of anxious person to do nothing, and I think that while most of us think the idea of having nothing to do is appealing, most people go stir crazy within a matter of months, and I’m planning to be no different.
So again, it’s not about quitting work–it’s about choosing work that you like, because you want to. If money were no object, how would you entertain yourself? Many of us can answer that with a few things, but often the ways to make money off of those activities aren’t the most lucrative, and in a society that constantly screams at you to spend, spend, spend… We get trapped.
This is Not Impossible for You
Will it be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done?
Will it happen quickly?
Don’t count on it.
But it CAN be done. There are people (Millennials, even!) that have already done it. People with kids have done it. People with student debt have done it. People living in expensive cities have done it. There is no reason that you cannot be one of those people if you’re willing to get your mind right and do the work.
Success at anything and everything starts with YOU. Don’t give up before you’re even started.
Don’t Be Derailed by Misconceptions and Incomplete Information
In my experience, there are two big reasons that people will immediately shutdown at the subject of early retirement, investing, or accumulating wealth. It’s not their fault (or yours)–we’ve been taught a lot of misleading information about money, or worse, we’re taught nothing at all. The things I hear and see most commonly are:
#1: Life is Short. I’m Not Going to Deprive Myself of Joy.
I hear you. Neither am I! While accomplishing these goals, at least at first, will take some rethinking as far as your spending, that doesn’t mean that you have to be SO frugal that you feel guilty about buying a burrito. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, so if you go the next 8 years begrudgingly refusing yourself tacos only to get run over by a bus on Year 9, then yeah, that’s pretty ridiculous. None of us know what the future holds so obviously you must plan within reason.
The level of frugality can vary across all of the different folks that have achieved FIRE, because, good news–there is more than one way to skin a cat.
#2: This is About as High as My Salary Will Ever Get
I’d push back on that and ask why, because often times that isn’t the case (something I’ll be posting about soon), but for now I’ll take the bait and assume that’s true.
a) You have other ways of making money aside from your main job
b) You don’t have to make six figures to pull this off
#3: I like my job. I love what I do. Why would I really need to retire?
Okay sure. I actually like what I do, too. I mean I have bad days like anybody else, but it pays me well, I have flexibility with my schedule, there’s beer at the office and I can wear yoga pants to work without anybody batting an eye. What’s not to like?
But let me ask you this: If you woke up tomorrow and had a billion dollars, would you keep going to that job?
You have to be really honest. Visualize it. Meditate on it for an hour until it’s so real that you can actually smell the mahogany. Would you go to that job?
I don’t think so.
Maybe at this point you’re like, “No man, I totally would. I freaking love my job.”
Good for you! This makes you a very special snowflake and I absolutely think that you should do you. For the rest of us, though, it’s probably a different story once we think about it long and hard.
But for you, special snowflake, I see your dream job and I raise you this: Even if you love it, are you making enough money to retire without worry? If a medical catastrophe happens, or if your house and cars get swallowed up by a sinkhole, is your financial foundation such that you’d feel safe and secure, able to let this roll off your shoulders (aside from the emotional turmoil at losing the cat and all of your photographs)?
IF you answered no, or IF that would be a financial catastrophe and not just an emotional one, I invite you to consider that FIRE is more than a retirement strategy.
Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy peace of mind, and without that, how can you truly be happy?
Your Journey is Your Own
Everybody has their own reasons. Their own method, their own financial portfolio, their own special snowflake situation. You have to find your “Why” for yourself.
This blog isn’t meant to tell you what to do. I’m here to share my thoughts, discuss what I’ve learned, and hopefully learn from you, too. Please don’t hesitate to reach out!
If you made it this far, thanks for reading, and I hope you stick around.