Celebrating 25th Retirement Anniversary-The Secret to Success
You were in your early 30’s when you decided to ‘retire.’ Did you actually think of it as retirement at the time or did you just want to drop out of the rat race?
We understood that we were retiring, with the idea that we would not be returning to work. If we had to, we would, but it was not part of the plan. It was a little unnerving to be making such a clean break because we were out on our own with little emotional support from family and friends. Our retirement in 1991 at age 38 challenged the belief systems of everyone we knew.
You’ve become iconoclasts on the new concept of retirement. In addition, you’ve also written about a lifestyle of simplicity, as well as international travel and living. What is the most important theme you want people to learn from your experiences?
Don’t let anyone destroy your dream and learn to be self-sufficient, self-motivating. If you want something badly and it makes you happy, don’t look to others for approval. Move in the direction of your dream.
Additionally, we’ve tracked our spending since our early years of owning a restaurant when we were in our 20’s. This has given us a sense of control over our finances and that brings self-confidence. If you track your spending you always know where you are financially, and if you know your net worth you can calculate what percentage you are spending. A rule of thumb is to keep your spending at 4% or below of your invested capital. If the market changes or your life circumstances change, knowing where you are with your money output is priceless.
When you started your retirement, what did you want to achieve above all else?
Above all else, we wanted our freedom.
We had been working 60-80 hour work weeks with very little personal time or time with family and friends. While we consider ourselves to be productive people and we loved our jobs, this amount of time focused on work began to feel like a grind. I am sure many readers understand this feeling as we were not unique. We longed for large stretches of time before us that were unstructured so we could do as we wanted, when we wanted. So we traveled, read books, took classes, played music, took photos, and met new people – all on our own time schedule.
This pleased us greatly.
As with most endeavors, there are detours, stumbles, and challenges along the way. What are the greatest lessons you’ve learned in the last 25 years?
It’s a lifestyle, not a vacation Live your newfound freedom as a lifestyle instead of in constant vacation mode and that will give you stamina and your wallet longevity.
The stress doesn’t stop, it just changes form Retirement life is not completely without stress. There are family issues, bills to be paid, perhaps car or home maintenance and the very important task of keeping yourself young and engaged with life.
The trash still needs to be taken out.
Keep things simple. Life has a way of becoming complicated. Wanting to cram years of fun and ideas into a few hours can make for stress you don’t really need. We encourage you to keep things simple.
Retirement is a work in progress, and you’re in charge. While you may have done your homework on the retirement front, there’s still the chance that your dream lifestyle might need some tweaking. If you find that this is the case, you are not a failure. You are the captain of your ship and can decide what to change if something might fit better. Life is not static. Leave room for some serendipity.
Don’t take life so seriously, have fun with it! It’s later than you think! This last point is so very important. No matter where you are on the continuum of life, it’s later than you think. We can’t tell you how many friends we have lost in the last few years – those who were only in their 50s, some in their mid-60s. All this planning and focus on the future and not a moment to enjoy the present is unfulfilling.
Today is the day to smile. Find a way to laugh heartily. Try something new. Refresh yourself. Have no regrets. Because it’s truly later than you think.
Is there anything you would do differently or wished you had known at the beginning?
In terms of our style of retirement, I’m not sure that we would have done anything differently, as we are happy with our lifestyle. However, I do wish that I would have known beforehand that we would have a successful retirement so I could have relaxed about it a little bit more. We were so on the cutting edge and with not a lot of people to look to as mentors so there was that thread of underlying stress of “could we thrive in early retirement?”
That’s where self-reliance, self-motivation, and self-confidence all comes in. We left no room for failure.
Who do you write for? Do you want to help people approaching retirement or younger people who may be caught in an unfulfilling life?
Our readership spans those who are in their 30’s and just starting families and who are looking ahead, people in their 40’s and 50’s who are wanting to retire in the near future, and those who are in their 60’s who want a fresh look to their retirement dreams.
Our message of freedom and self-reliance has broad appeal.
What’s the main piece of advice you would give to each of these two different groups of people?
For everyone, we say don’t let anyone steal your dreams.
For our younger readers we always say to save as much as you can as early as you can. Learn to live simply, don’t go into debt and to track spending. Learn the language of finance and don’t depend on anyone else to make your dreams come true.
For those nearing retirement we help with organizing – Do you want to live abroad or move to a lower cost of living location? How much is your annual budget? Could you live car-free? How does one keep in touch with grandkids and family? What about access to healthcare or assisted living?
We suggest to these people not to let fear rule their future, to try new things and to allow flexibility with how their retirement dream shows up.
If you want to know more about early retirement and how to make that work, we suggest taking a look at our website, RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, subscribe to our free newsletter or to write to us directly at TheGuide@RetireEarlyLifestyle.com