Are early retirees rule followers?

42 thoughts on “Are early retirees rule followers?”

  1. I think I fall in the Questioner camp, I really don’t like spending time doing things I don’t agree with or doesn’t produce concrete results.

    I would think most early retirees would not be obligers (I think there more obligers than any of the other three if I remember correctly)

    I could see them being upholders though, once they put their mind to something or set goals they stick to it. Important trait to have for FIRE

  2. I’m an Upholder with some Questioner leaning. I like accomplishing my goals. Usually, I go with the rules, but I’m willing to break them when it makes sense.
    Most early retirees are probably Questioners. They don’t mind breaking the rule and following their own path. If things went better in my career, I probably wouldn’t have gone for early retirement.

  3. Even though I follow rules of society, i.e., stopping at a stop sign, I’m a classic rebel. And it makes so much sense to me based on my decisions over the years and what appeals to me in life. I hate obligation. I’m internally motivated by my own roadmap, not someone else’s!

  4. I’m generally an upholder, but I wonder if on some degree I slip into each depending on the situation. Your car scenario being a great example of questioning. I can also be a rebel or Obliger given the scenario.

  5. Yeah, pretty much 🙂

    I like the test: “Would you want what you just did on the front page of the New York Times for your mom, grandma, and your third grade teacher to see?” Keeps you pretty honest and doing the right thing even if it’s in a fuzzy case.

    So I stop at stop signs because I wouldn’t want people to know I drive like an asshat. I might do the California roll like you mention – roll down to 0.5 mph then slowly accelerate, especially if there’s literally no one around as far as I can see.

  6. Funny – my wife just finished this book and we were discussing it recently. She and I agree that I’m solidly in the Questioner group. I think my natural inclination to question things has been a large contributor to why I was able to retire at 44.

  7. I’m FIREd and definitely a Questioner.

    For example, I bike all over downtown Philly but I question some of the traffic laws for bikes. I mentally turn all stop signs into yield signs and all red lights into stop signs. Otherwise, the cars behind me get pissed off and I hold up traffic. Or the cars start honking and trying to pass me when there is no room to pass.

    1. You definitely have guts biking through Philly! Motorcycles are dangerous, but I’ve seen some truly scary stuff with bicyclists in the cities I’ve been in. More power to you!

  8. I’ve always been an Upholder and it’s infuriating. I want to see the world in rules and boxes, but uh, it’s not actually like that. I think there are a lot of benefits to questioning the rules, but I still find it really challenging. Falling into the FIRE lifestyle was tough because I had to shift what “rules” I follow.

  9. I’m definitely a questioner as well. I don’t like breaking rules for the sake of breaking rules, but if something doesn’t make logical sense to me I’m going to do my own thing. Shrugs It has worked out pretty well so far and has let me get off the conveyer belt more than once.

  10. I’m mostly a Questioner as well, with some Rebel tendencies… My prediction is that the FI community has a higher proportion of Questioners than the general population. We probably have a few more INTJ’s too…

  11. I’m a Questioner. My hubs is an Upholder. I told him recently after he told me a story to “…always question everything”. He doesn’t believe me though because he wants to see the good in everything, but though I try to as well, I always question everything. Hilarious about your wife, because my hubs does the EXACT same thing – don’t turn there, go the speed limit (even if I am under), you’re too close to the curb!

    1. Hehe…looks like we both live our lives on the edge! Yup, my wife often says, “You can’t do that”, to which I say, “Actually…it seems that I can!”. 🙂

  12. Definitely a solid Questioner here. LIke you, I’ll California Roll thru stop signs when it’s really late, or really early and noone is around. I understand rules and abide by rules – if they make sense, lol.
    I tink being a questioner is what helped us get to this situation. Okay, I actually did very little to get us where we are other than being a financial contributor, but thinking that there has to be a better way, and not subscribe blindly to society’s “norms” and rules got us thinking outside the box. Outside the box is where FI and ER exist, so, yeah good thing we did some questioning. 🙂

    1. I think being a Questioner is a good middle ground between following every rule and breaking every rule. It takes introspection, but hey, it works. 🙂

  13. I’d say almost anyone in the FIRE community (or any blogger for that matter) is a questioner.

    We have all stepped outside the norm and made the decision to do something a little different. Questioning what the accepted path is. Defying what is normally expected of us by others.

    Beyond that, would probably say that I’m an Upholder. If I see someone breaking the rules and can’t place their motivation into the “Questioning” category…I get a little uncomfortable.

    P.S. Gretchen Rubin writes great stuff! Really enjoyed The Happiness Project.

    1. Thanks Nick – I think you’re right, especially when it comes to money and lifestyle design. We’re probably all questioners at least in this case. 🙂

  14. I appear to be an obliger. Something that I sometimes wish I wasn’t.

    Still, I have managed to do well, not follow the crowd into debt too much, and get myself into a position to be financially independent.

    Good article.

    1. Appreciate the comment! You probably do have some questioning tendencies in ya too. You definitely didn’t follow the rules when it comes to debt and financial independence. 🙂

  15. It’s funny you bring this up – my wife had read a bunch of Gretchen Rubin’s stuff in the last year and we ended up talking about which personality we were.

    I’m a questioner without a doubt. I’ll follow any rule that makes sense but if there’s not a good reason behind it, I have a tough time sticking to it. That’s exactly the way Mr. Money Mustache was able to open my eyes to FIRE in a single blog post 🙂 Show me that the rule (of assuming you have to work until 65) is stupid and I’ll ditch it in a heartbeat.

  16. I like the categories, I can see myself and my family as each category. I’m definitely a Questioner, my parents had trouble with discipline because I needed to understand WHY things were a certain way. ‘Because it’s a rule’ did NOT cut it. Were you like that as a kid also?

  17. I oscillate between Upholder an Questioner.
    I have seen people break the rules for things they thought were ok, which definitely were not ok to me.

    Random made up example: if a friend decides to park on a bike lane because “it’s only going to be for 30 minutes, no big deal”, I can already picture the danger/annoyance for bike riders and that makes me uncomfortable.

    As a result, I always imagine that the rules are here for a good reason, and I try to uphold them, because 1) it is very easy for me to imagine that I cannot think of all the possible scenarios in which me breaking the rule could annoy somebody else, but also 2) because I cannot be angry at other people for breaking a rule they think is not important, if on the other hand I break other rules that don’t feel important to me. If everyone is up to “choosing” which rule to follow, I feel this leads to chaos and society cannot work.

    With that being said, I am also constantly trying to think of what I would not like people to do to me, and try not to do the same to them.For example my kid is supposed to wear a uniform to go to school. He hates it, and the reason we’ve been given for it all sound like BS to me (and I hate the brainwashing-related theme it gives to the whole thing), so as soon as his mother is not watching, we take it off before going to school. I would have hated to wear a uniform too, because of all the “confirm to the group” signal it is sending.

    In the end, I guess I’m a bit like you: I try to uphold rules if I think they benefit society. I heavily question them if I think they’re here for some sort of control of the population (by the government or other…)

    In the case of early retirement, I fail to see how me retiring early is going to negatively impact society, so I’m doing it without a single bit of remorse 🙂

    1. Amen to that! Though, there are those out there who actively believe that early retirees ARE hurting society because they aren’t as active in producing and paying taxes like they once were. And, I think that goes back to your point – we can’t think of every scenario that might result from breaking a rule.

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