How It Started
I started thinking about early retirement two months into my first real job. I knew that the working life, at least in that career, was not for me. Even though I eventually moved to a related field that was much more suited to my abilities and temperament, my interest in early retirement remained.
In my first decade of work the gap between my income and expenses wasn’t large enough to make early retirement a real possibility:
But saving money was always a priority. At the worst times the only saving I did was through the equity portion of my mortgage payment, but usually I was able to save some money each month – if only a hundred dollars.
A Dream Becomes Closer to Reality
Then for the first time in 2008 early retirement became a real possibility because:
- I married an equally frugal person.
- I sold my house and finally had a significant (for me) amount of money in the bank.
- My salary was a reasonable level – about the median for the area.
Suddenly at 31 years old I was saving half of my take-home pay – the general amount needed for a retirement in one’s forties. So save lots of money, retire early, live happily ever after? Not surprisingly there’s more to it than that.
The Time Versus Money Debate
I face an ongoing debate about how much I should work for my corporate employer. Should I work as much as I can in order to fully retire as soon as possible? Or should I work less now, possibly enjoy my current life more, but retire later – in my fifties? I still haven’t decided.
There are two main reasons I want to retire early:
- My cold intolerance. Other northern dwellers will understand that winter in Winnipeg is not very pleasant. In January and February I want to be anywhere but here. And if I was retired I could escape to a warmer climate whenever I chose.
- The lure of freedom. Even with jobs I generally like, I still have to show up and do things I don’t always want to do. Who doesn’t want the freedom to do whatever they want, whenever they want – even if that involves some type of work? To me freedom remains more valuable than money.
Where I am Today
Even though I’ll probably never decide how much I should work, or know exactly what I’ll do if I retire early, I save as much money as I can without sacrificing my current happiness.
I cannot recommend this enough; having a cushion of cash gives you security like nothing else. You don’t have to worry about losing your job or a sudden expense. You know that most unexpected events can be solved with a large savings account, or have nothing to do with money at all.
Currently it seems unlikely that I’ll retire from all types of work until I am quite old. I’ll always need something to keep my mind occupied. But I do hope to eventually leave my corporate job. And whatever I’m doing I won’t be doing it in Winnipeg in January.
Do you have early retirement plans? What does retirement look like for you? Are you happy with your job or are you looking for a way out? Let’s share our plans.