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I’ve mentioned in passing that Ken and I would very much like to retire early. In the lingo of the blogosphere, reaching FIRE (Financial Independence / Retire Early).
I’ve never really gotten into the WHY behind that decision though.
Neither one of us are what you’d call “workaholics.” We both make very good salaries (albeit in a high-cost-of-living area), but neither of us defines ourselves by our work. I think it’s one of the reasons we made such a good match when we first met ten years ago. Sometimes I feel a little selfish about not wanting to work a full-time job. After all, I spent a lot of money on an undergraduate degree (those student loans are almost paid off!), and having a prestigious job was always something that sounded appealing to me when I was in college. Now, I simply view my job as an ends to a means. It provides the money that I want for my hobbies and travels. And more than that too, it provides the money that we’re saving to be able to live off of when we do leave our jobs.
So, beyond the whole, “I just don’t want to work,” thing, here are some more details about that.
The Big, Heavy Reasons
I could die at any moment. Spending the “prime” years of my life tied to a 9 to 5 job with only a few weeks opportunity every year to take a vacation and spend time with my family is a fairly miserable prospect. My mom died in a car accident, so perhaps that’s why I’m overly paranoid about the whole sudden death thing. More than 13 years prior to her death in an accident, my mom was also diagnosed with breast cancer. She survived and never experienced a recurrence of the cancer. I’m crazy high risk for breast cancer too, and who knows, maybe my prognosis wouldn’t be as good.
My mom died on the scene of the accident, but not instantaneously. She managed to tell my dad that she hurt her leg and wondered out loud if anyone had called an ambulance. I don’t know if she knew those were her final moments. And I often wonder what was going through her mind at that moment. Good memories? Regrets? Or maybe just survival instincts. Either way, sometimes I imagine myself in that situation. In a wrecked car, feeling myself drifting away. I don’t want to spend those moments wishing I had spent more time with my family or had more adventure. I would want to realize that my days were filled with as much enjoyment as I could.
I could become disabled at any moment. Okay, I promise this list will move onto lighter topics. But, at the age of 64, just two years after he retired, my dad was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. For those of you who don’t know about RA, it is a dreadful disease. It’s not like “old person” arthritis that just affects certain joints that have worn out. It affects every joint, and the treatment for RA makes my dad extremely susceptible to infections. Within a two year period, my dad went from being an active dude with virtually no mobility problems to a hunched over, limping old man. It’s been devastating to see. That could happen to me. And I could’ve spent my “healthy” years staring at a computer screen doing stuff I don’t really even enjoy. My grandmother suffered from macular degeneration. So, I could start to go blind at any moment. I could fall and suffer from unbearable back pain the rest of my life. All sorts of random things. While I’m healthy, I want to be doing what I wan!
Let’s move onto some more joyful topics, shall we?
The Fun, Light Reasons
I WANT TO SEE EVERYTHING. RV around the United States for at least a year. Spend at least a year living in Europe and traveling all around there. Maybe spend six months in Asia? As you can tell, Ken and I do our fair share of traveling already. But each trip always just feels so rushed. It would be nice to travel slowly for a change!
I WANT TO DO EVERYTHING. Learn to sew. Learn to play the piano. Learn to play guitar. Decorate cakes. Make homemade bread. Learn to rock climb. Learn martial arts. Study lots of foreign languages. I want to research my family tree. You get the idea. Not exactly things I can just fit in on evenings and weekends, especially given other household demands during off-work hours.
I want to spend more time with my family. I hate that family time always has to be jammed into weekends that never seem to last long enough. I want to spend more time with my family. I’m so thankful that I have a flexible work environment. They don’t blink an eye when I say that my dad has suffered some sort of additional medical setback that requires me to travel out of town to get my dad back on his feet. But, I feel like that’s the only time I see my dad these days, is when he’s sick or in the hospital. I use up a lot of my Leave time to see him during those periods, that I don’t get to spend much time with him when he’s feeling healthier! (Having him come spend time at our house isn’t much of an option. We don’t have a full bathroom on our main floor, so he can’t traverse our 13 steps to our upstairs to shower. So, he only sticks around for as long as he can tolerate not showering, which is only a few days, tops. I’d also like to spend a lot more time with my nieces and nephews.
I want to give back to my community. I’m fairly embarrassed to admit that I haven’t done any sort of volunteer work since college. We tend to take the “easy” way out these days and just donate money to causes we care about. I’d like to have the time to volunteer for causes I care about.
I suppose that all my reasons can be summed up that I want to do what I want, when I want, and not be tied to unwanted burdens.
I’m going to be starting a new series of topics here on the blog, including how Ken and I manage our finances to put ourselves on the path to retiring early. We’ve already been covering this a bit in talking about our new investment property. I hope you enjoy it?
What would be your goals and dreams if you could retire early?