I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.
-Henry David Thoreau
Is it weird that I read the Huffington Post’s “Post 50″ page? I mean, I’M 34. I should probably be reading up on planning my perfect vintage-y wedding, or how to beget genius kids, how to buy mid-century modern furniture, how I should dress to get my dream-job…something… well, something more 30s-ish. (Ok OK, I DO like mid-century furniture.)
Anyway, instead I peruse early retirement forums, travel and personal finance blogs AND my guilty pleasure, Huff Post 50. It’s internet crack for someone like me. Check it out…there are TONS of idealistic articles about retiring early and retiring abroad, which, if you know me, are two of my favorite ideas. I get starry-eyed flipping through the “Best Places to Retire” slideshows or “How to live like a millionaire in South America” articles. They make is seem SO easy. Anyone can do it. I’m a dreamer for sure.
Why am I like this? It seems the rest of my friends and colleagues are content just toiling away their lives. Most haven’t even thought about retirement. And sometimes I wonder if I’M missing something. Do I just not have a job that I love? (I actually like it). Maybe I don’t make enough money? (Not a ton but not TOO bad). Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by having lots of time off? (Probably). But then I remember that I AM missing something. I’m missing OUT on life on MY terms. I’m missing out on the aforementioned marrow:
On time with my family.
On hikes with my dogs.
On crafting and creating.
On starting my own business.
On writing more.
On enjoying the Seattle summer sun (that’s as valuable as gold people!)
Sure, I get to do all these, in the time I squeeze out at the end of the day, or after all the housework is done on the weekends. But essentially, every day I’m in the office, is a day that I’m NOT spending doing the things I love. Forty daylight hours lost every week, and this, while I’m young and healthy. So…no wonder I’m obsessed with early retirement. Everyone should be.
However, any retirement calculator will tell you… this will be tough. They all say I will be short by thousands of dollars per month unless I wait until I’m 62 or 65 or maybe 67. BUT…I think there is some fault in their calculations. First…if all goes well, I will not need the same income or even 80% that I have now, in retirement. For one…I plan to have the mortgage paid off. Hey, there is an extra $1600 per month! Two, Dave and I will probably continue SOME kind of work and do semi-retirement for awhile. Another couple thousand. And to top it all off…we could EASILY spend part of the year –maybe the whole year–in another country. So…that’s rental income! Or…just sell the house and invest the money. Southeast Asia? $2000 per month is more than enough. Mexico or Central America? $3000 should do the trick, EASY.
I’m not an accountant. Or a tax attorney. Or a mathematician. I’m probably considered a fairly huge idiot by financial standards. I did take out about a gazillion dollars in student loans, after all. Not to mention the stupid PMI on my mortgage. Sure, I’ve made mistakes. Everyone has. But I’ve turned a corner. I’m on a new path now. I just don’t understand why so many people around me think that we MUST slave until we are 65. Unless they all love their jobs. Or they just don’t feel the soul-suckingness of it all like I do. Or perhaps, they just can’t stand the thought of cutting back.
Who knows blogosphere? Maybe I’m too negative. Maybe I’m depressed. Maybe I should just suck it up. Maybe. But I’m gonna stay the frugality and savings course regardless and MAYBE, just maybe, I’ll cut out a little early.