Why Can’t we Pull the Trigger and Retire?
June 1, 2020
Are you still working even though you are able to retire if you wanted?
I started the Rock Your Retirement show in 2016. Since then it has been downloaded over 220,000 times. Potential sponsors have reached out to me. And I've been asked many times why I started the show.
It started as a personal project but has grown to much more than that. But since you asked, I'll try to explain it.
I believe in the FIRE movement. In case you haven't heard of it, FIRE stands for Financially Independent, Retire Early.
I've had good examples of this. My dad was able to retire when he was fifty but kept working until he was fifty-five to provide more of a cushion. So I've seen people in my life retire early according to US standards.
And he was so glad that he retired when he did. He and his wife were able to travel the world for many years. They were spending our inheritance and we didn't mind. Literally cruises around the world that lasted for months. They were Rocking Their Retirement for sure.
He taught me to save 10% of my income no matter what. Save it for retirement. So I did. And I became a financial planner and tried to teach others to do that also. But honestly, most didn't. I had more money saved and invested than most of my friends. While my friends were buying new cars every few years and drinking $15 glasses of wine at expensive nightclubs I was being frugal. Squirreling money away for a rainy day.
But there wasn't a FIRE movement when I was younger. I was weird. No one could understand why I didn't want to buy a new car. When I found the FIRE movement I was shocked. Many of these young people are saving 30, 40, or even 50 percent of their incomes. I hadn't even thought about that. But even if I had, I wonder if I would have retired.
I could have retired many years ago. If you look at what the FIRE movement says, which is to save 25 times your living expenses, we are way beyond that. But I'm still working. And I don't know when I will stop working.
I've been self- employed since 1990 so I don't work for “the man”. Many people in the FIRE movement use the word retirement to mean that they stop working for someone else. I'm using the word retirement to mean stop working for pay. Not to use the income you bring in for living expenses. And that's not what's happening.
Is it because I'm self-employed that I can't retire? I asked some other people who can't seem to retire the same question. Why do you continue to work?
Julia Menez of Geobreeze had this to say:
At first, my husband and I didn’t even realize there was an official name like “FIRE (financial independence retire early)” to describe the direction of our lifestyle. I spent my early twenties studying for actuarial exams and rarely made time to go out to parties or restaurants, so my salary largely ended up in savings. Even after I finished up exams, we lived a frugal lifestyle since I enjoy cooking at home and our main source of entertainment is traveling for next to nothing through travel hacking.
My husband and I are both fortunate enough to have high salaries; we live off of the lesser of our two incomes and invest the rest. As our net worth grew, we discussed the idea of early retirement, and how we might spend our time if we quit our day jobs. Neither of us even disliked our jobs — I had just landed my dream role at work and leaving the workforce after only a couple of years as a credentialed actuary felt like a waste of all of that exam effort. However, the idea of FIRE was fascinating, and we figured having a high savings rate couldn’t hurt.
We already lived off of one income; we could even live off of just our investment income if we moved to a lower-cost area. To test out the early retirement lifestyle, I transferred to a full-time work from home arrangement.
That first year of working from home in Boulder,