If you’ve saved up 25x your annual living expenses, you’re ready to retire, right? Or is it 30x? 33x, maybe?
Truth be told, you could have 100x your annual expenses, the ability to live on 1% of your assets, and still be woefully underprepared for retirement. As Jim Wang realized when he sold his first website for millions, there’s a lot more to it than money.
He reflects on the challenges he and other potential early retirees have faced, sharing how he is personally preparing for retirement and the considerations everyone should have before taking the big leap.
Over the past five years or so, there’s been an explosion of “early retirement” headlines. It seems as though everyone is rushing to share the latest story about that person or couple in their early to mid-thirties who retired with [insert six-figure net worth here] and “you won’t believe how they did it!”
Imagine never having to work again. You can enjoy a life pursuing what you want instead of what your boss wants. Wake up without an alarm, sleep when you want; it’s pretty much complete freedom.
If you are in a position to retire, whether it’s early or “on-time,” there’s a good chance you will not be ready.
If you ask me whether I’d retire or not, my answer is that I wouldn’t. Not because I don’t like leisure, I just don’t view retirement in the same way the mass media portrays it.
In 2010, at the age of 30, I sold a personal finance blog and effectively “retired.” I had to go to work as part of the contract, but that was more of a contractual courtesy than a financial obligation.
The problem was that I wasn’t ready to retire. I shared my thoughts about early retirement on Our Next Life and how I felt completely unprepared for what happened next. There was an emptiness there, online title loans IN and it scared me.
Everyone’s Retirement Is Different
I grew up in an age when it was expected that you would work well into your sixties before retiring to a life of leisure – forty-plus hours a week at a job that, for most, was a means to an end. You made money so you could “make a living” – be able to pay for the things and the experiences you wanted.
Often the job was just that – a job, for which you had no emotional connection. If you were one of the fortunate few, it was more than a paycheck and offered some fulfillment as well.
But the idea was that you worked for forty years at a company so you could save up enough to retire – then you retired. This was the model of “retirement.”
However, that’s not what retirement will be like for me, so I have to reframe how I think about it.
I won’t retire to a life of leisure because the flexibility of my current life already offers me plenty of leisure (not counting the pandemic!). I would love more leisure but I don’t need it 24/7.
You Have to Go Through the Emptiness
It’s like being lost in the forest. Would you rather be lost in the forest with absolutely nothing? Or would you prefer a list of ideas to help you when you’re lost – like, go towards the water and follow it, or retrace your steps?
So, before you retire, build a list of things you want to spend time doing. Make it long. Make it ridiculous. Make it seem frivolous. It doesn’t matter. This list is your map.