Working ’til retirement scares me to death

48 thoughts on “Working ’til retirement scares me to death”

  1. My fear arose after my industry and income imploded post-GFC. My expenses were bloated and I had lost control of the ability to always earn more. Respect the good fortune you have and prudently save while you can. Don’t underestimate what you may need in the future and end up short. Find what truly motivates you and establish reasonable financial “needs”.

    I love your focus on family and being present for life. Great perspective for us all.

    1. Thank you very much for your comment and for sharing your personal experience, Ian. Given those circumstances, it’s quite easy to see why your fear arose. You offer some very sage advice. Thank you.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the perspective and the focus on family. Honestly, I had to go back and tame the focus on family a bit. Like I mentioned, more time with my family is motivator numero uno for me. Also, being more present is something I am very committed to and constantly working on. Thanks, again!

  2. Awesome article. Working for the government I always made the assumption that I would work until I was 60. However, I knew that I didn’t want to work after I was 60. It wasn’t until I started writing a blog myself that I thought, wow it’s possible to retire before 60 based on the 25x rule. So I am pounding the payment trying to get there 🙂

    1. Thanks, Rob! I think that is probably a common assumption for most government workers. I have interviewed for a few government jobs in the past and perhaps, if I was offered one of them, it would have impacted my views on early retirement. The benefits are definitely a plus.

      It’s amazing how writing a blog can force you to think more intentionally and critically. I am only just beginning, but I have already experienced it. I’m glad you had your epiphany and are now putting in the work. You are doing a great job and I really enjoy reading your posts. Thanks, Rob.

  3. Hahah, BRO it’s not rocket science with the microwave!! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing Cody, this will give you great traction early on in your blogging career.

    I found the early retirement community through Financial Samurai. I mainly found it because I was looking for ways to build wealth effectively. Nowadays, I’m blogging but always interested in seeing how other people are doing around the world.

    I don’t have a set date, because I think I will always want to work (help people out/build things), but I’d love to have my own company. I’m working on it right now with my blog!

    1. Haha. I’m glad you enjoyed that bit. I couldn’t make it up if I tried. Seriously, at least twice a week, homeboy burns the popcorn and it permeates the entire office.

      I’ve never taken the time to sit down and hash out the specific reasons I want to retire early, so it was a pretty cool process and overall experience. I am super appreciative and grateful to Steve for lending me the platform to share the message. I’m happy to see it appears to be resonating.

      I love the Financial Samurai site. There is a wealth of valuable information over there. I can get lost in Sam’s posts for days.

      You are off to a really great start with your blog. Blogging is a great vehicle for helping people and creating, all while owning your own business. Keep putting in the effort. Thanks, Erik.

  4. My first exposure to the early retirement movement came in 2010 when discussing with a friend his plans to retire at 43. Then as now I was pursuing financial independence not early retirement. Still I found it intriguing because while I had thought of wanting options, it never occurred to me to retire before my plan of 55. I haven’t changed that overall position, but it has led me to be more willing to consider it after FI if something changes in my career or life.

    1. Thank you for your comment and for sharing how you came to learn about the early retirement movement, FTF. I love how “personal” personal finance can be. Early retirement, however one chooses to define it, is not for everyone and financial independence is certainly a worthwhile goal to pursue. However, retiring at 55 is still pretty darn early in the grand scheme of things.

      Financial independence will definitely afford you the option to tap out earlier than planned should something change. Those kinds of options are priceless. Thanks, again.

  5. I didn’t come across the world of early retirement until a year ago. When I first came across it, a huge lightbulb went off in my head. It still baffles me that I didn’t think about it on my own. Prior to this, I always thought of early retirement as sometime in your 50s.

    I use fear as a big motivator for myself. I have a great situation right now with a high paying job at a fantastic company doing work I love. But I recognize that could all go away in an instant. Another similar job will be hard to find and the chances of finding another company like mine that is a true meritocracy are slim to none. That motivates me to reach FI as soon as possible. Not because I hate my job and want to quit as soon as possible, but so I have options in the event something happens that changes my situation.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. It sounds like we discovered the early retirement world right around the same time. I know exactly what you mean. I wish I could have thought of it on my own too and sooner, at that.

      Nice to see I’m not the only one using fear as a motivator. Wow, your work situation sounds pretty fantastic. That’s awesome and good for you for recognizing things can change and for working hard to reach a position of having options. FI definitely provides options. Thanks, GFY.

  6. Hey Steve, that Cody guy writes pretty well, doesn’t he! Awesome that you “gave him your stage” as a brand new blogger. With posts like this, he’ll soon be a Rockstar! Welcome to the game, Cody, and congrats on the Guest Post. At your age, just focus on spending less than you make, the wider the spread, the earlier the retirement!

    1. Hey Fritz, this Cody guy really appreciates your kind words! I’m still finding my blogging voice, so if you have any feedback or suggestions, I’m all ears (or eyes, rather). You’re absolutely right, super awesome and kind and generous of Steve to take a chance on a newbie like me. I definitely have Rockstar aspirations. Thank you for your comment and sound advice, Fritz.

  7. Fear was definitely a motivator for me. It wasn’t really about the work; in spite of all the negatives, there were parts of my job I really valued, especially when I felt like I was doing important things. But the opportunity cost piece — that’s what got me motivated. There are way too many things I want to do in this life to be constrained to an office job with a couple weeks of vacation each year. I had always planned on making some non-traditional career moves, including taking time off. Finding the ER community helped me figure out the financial numbers I needed to make it a reality.

    Nice post and nice to meet you, Cody. Looking forward to following your blog!

    1. It’s a pleasure to meet you as well, Matt! Thank you for your comment.

      I’ve yet to have a job where I felt like what I was doing was actually important or truly making a difference, so I think that certainly factors into my desire for early retirement. I’m right there with ya on the opportunity cost. Time is one of our most valuable assets and the time spent working is time we do not have to do all the other things and there are SO many other things. I look forward to following your blog as well. Thanks, Matt.

  8. I am reading this as I am about to go to work….and it makes me want to call in sick….cough cough.

    Time for money is the constant constraint I see occurring right now in my life. I dream of RV living but while we have a young son my wife says we have to wait. Plus I joined a company with a killer pension. Pensions are still the dream for many. An era that is missed. For me, pensions seem to be a golden handcuff. The rationality for retiring early versus the rationality of a pension oppose each other.

    1. Haha. Most days, I have a vision problem and just can’t see going to work. I’m actually thinking about playing the sick card tomorrow so I can hang out with my baby boy on his first birthday. Can you write me a doctor’s note?

      I am in the time for money constraint boat as well. I know spending more time with your son is a huge driver for you too, so I definitely understand where you are coming from. I too have dreams of RV living (Steve definitely does not help with this, nor does Michelle at Making Sense of Cents). I have such a romantic idea of it and it seems like such an awesome, freeing lifestyle. I have worked my wife down to the point of agreeing to quasi-extended RV travel, but not full-time. Apparently, she likes houses or something like that.

      Ah, the beloved pension. Not so slowly going the way of the buffalo. I agree, pensions can definitely act as a golden handcuff, but are pretty awesome if you are fortunate enough to have one. My mom’s pension has made all the difference in my parent’s life and retirement. I think it comes down to the opportunity cost of the pension. The pension will never be able to give you back the time you exchanged for it.

  9. My brother “early retired” at 30 – even before the Internet and Mr. Money Mustache! He took all his 401K money and cashed it in (even paying the penalties and taxes – against the advice of many) and bought rental properties. He’s been his own boss ever since – and now they are all managed for him. He works actively with the management company – but it takes only a few hours each week to maintain his portfolio. He’s 56 now. I just announced my early retirement (again…) today! Your fears should be real – I broke the golden handcuffs… It’s not an easy thing to do. Checking out your site now!

    1. Hi, Vicki. Thank you so much for your comment and for sharing about your brother. Wow! That is a great story. Good for him! It sounds like it has worked out well for him. I have rental real estate aspirations as well.

      Congratulations on your decision to retire early. I enjoyed reading about your thought process for reaching your decision and look forward to following along on your site.

  10. I know way too many people who are convinced that retirement is just an age. To quote Chris Hogan, “Retirement isn’t an age. It’s a financial number”. I too have been working since I was 16. I worked all through high school. Worked through college. It’s been in my family history to just work hard all your life and then spend your final decade or two relaxing. But I’ve working hard for so long already! And so have so many people. We’re working through our final student loan and after that we get to start talking about what it’ll look like to achieve financial freedom. Awesome post! This PF community is doing amazing things to motivate and change peoples lives.

    1. I love the quote! It’s so true. It sounds like we have a similar background and work ethic. I worked through high school and through seven years of night school. My family history is similar as well.

      Student loans are the current bane of my existence and the monkey wrench in our financial plans. Congratulations on getting yours knocked out soon. That will remove a shackle, for sure.

      I agree, the PF community is amazing. I really feel like I have found my tribe. Thanks for the comment, Brandon. I just subscribed to your blog and look forward to your posts.

  11. This was a great guest post, Steve! I too do not want to spend the best 40 years of my life trading my time for money. As with most early retirees, I plan to make some money during retirement, just not in traditional 8-5 desk sitting hours. I sincerely hope that this message continues to resonate with millenialls that early retirement is possible. There are many many articles out there that ER is a dream, when in reality it is more possible now than ever.

    1. Thank you for your comment, JD. I’m with you, I have a whole host of ideas and projects I’d like to work on after walking away from my job and if they eventually produce an income, all the better. I think as more millennials (or anyone, really) find out about early retirement and see the countless examples of how it can be done, the movement will continue to take hold. Thanks, again.

  12. Great post, really love the message. I am also not able to think that I will have to work until my late sixties. That is not a life that I’m looking forward to, even though this is the common “reality” that many people in our society think we have to accept. However, there are so many great examples online. Living proof! It is definitely possible!

    1. Thank you, TW. I think you hit the nail on the head with “ … many people in our society think we have to accept.” Like Brandon said above, too many people are convinced retirement is just an age because it’s what society leads us to believe. Up until a short while ago, I was one of these people. It is always interesting to read the comments on the articles about early retirement that get picked up by the mainstream media. So many people are so engrained with the notion that you cannot retire before a certain age, that they completely loose their minds and go bananas when someone is exemplifying the opposite. Thanks, again, for your comment.

  13. My dad retired at age 55. He didn’t necessarily know about FIRE, he still worked 30+ years. He was in the military out of HS, and then worked for the same company and retired with a pension. He passed away at 72 of a heart issue. I’m so thankful he retire at 55, because if he didn’t he would not have had many years to enjoy himself beyond work. In those 17 years he played golf, softball, traveled, and even picked up a P/T job, not because he needed too, but because he wanted too. It’s a great reminder to me that you just never know what life with throe at you and you don’t want to be stuck behind a desk or computer for 40 years.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment and for sharing about your dad, Brian. I really appreciate it.

      Your story about your dad is a GREAT reminder that we just never know what is in store. I’m really glad your dad was able to retire at 55 and enjoy 17 years of retirement bliss. It sounds like he lived life to the fullest and made the absolute most of his retirement years. A great example, indeed. Thanks, again.

  14. I hate when people pass away right after or right before retiring. My mom passed away at the age of 42–she always had to work. That was so sad to me that she couldn’t even have time to really enjoy her time on earth. Fear is a really, really powerful emotion, and it takes a lot to overcome it, to be honest. But, like you say here, fear can be used to motivate you to make positive changes in your life, like retiring early.

    1. Oh, I know! It is so sad. Oh my goodness. 42?!?! That is way, way too young! I’m very sorry to hear that.

      I just had a cousin pass away in a car accident the night before Thanksgiving. He went to the grocery store to buy some last minute Thanksgiving groceries and never returned home. He was 43. It definitely caused me to pause and realize just how precious and fragile life is.

      Thanks for sharing and for your comment, Mrs. PP.

  15. I’m pursuing FI in another state (for job prospects) and terrified of my parents and grandparents dying before I move back. I am scared that I’ll waste some of the best years of my life in an office. I also know though I’m too risk adverse to break out on my own. With the internet, we could all be building online businesses and get our dream life now (or start working towards it) if we’re willing to rough it in the beginning. Insightful post.

    1. Thank you very much for your comment, Julie. Your fears are legit, for sure. I’m fortunate to have almost all my family within a 20 mile radius, but can understand your fear. I can definitely relate to your fear of wasting some of the best years of your life in an office. I feel like I already have and I want to break the cycle as soon as possible.

      You bring up a great point about risk aversion. I think it’s all about taking calculated risks, yet knowing yourself and your tolerance level. I’ve taken some calculated risks in my life which have worked out well and one big one (job-related) which absolutely did not. You can mitigate the risk of breaking out on your own by building income on the side and gradually moving more in that direction. Your side income is steadily increasing, so it appears you are well on your way to eventually reaching a position to make the move to doing your own thing full-time. I look forward to watching your side income continue to grow. I really enjoy the monthly reports.

  16. I think I’ll do SOME SORT of work until death – because I’m active person and I like to contribute. Today most of the “work” I do is pro-bono, and that is likely to continue or expand.

    Now, the idea of working till death because its the only way to pay bills… that would scare me to death also.

    1. Thank you for chiming in, Brad. I appreciate your comment.

      I think a lot of people believe when someone mentions early retirement they inherently mean snoozing in a recliner at 4pm or playing golf all day or something similar and usually equated with the quintessential Floridian traditional retiree. From what I’ve found in the early retirement community, most people want to continue to contribute and work on their passion projects, which may or may not produce an income. I definitely fall into this camp as well. There are all sorts of projects I’d love to work on, but I just don’t have the time because of my job.

      I completely agree. I cannot imagine how awful it must be to have to work until you die out of sheer financial necessity. Thanks, again, Brad.

    2. Thank you for the great comment, Steve from Arkansas. It sounds like you had a really great career. I think you might be an anomaly based on the numbers I frequently see citing how many people dislike their jobs. You are probably a double anomaly (doubomaly?) for spending your entire 38 year career working for the same company. Very cool that it worked out like that for you.

      You provide a great example of planning ahead and being prepared and offer some really great advice. Congratulations on life being even better now than your best year working, which from the sounds of it, was pretty darn good.

      “Retiring early may not be for everybody, but being able to should be!” Love this! Thanks, again, for sharing.

      – Cody from California

  17. Honestly I loved my job for almost all of my 38 year career. One company that entire time. I looked forward to Monday mornings because work was one of my favorite hobbies and I was so good at it! I know that makes me a unicorn on this site. Eventually though things changed, I changed, and it stopped being fun. Because I had saved and invested like a FIRE believer I already had way more than I needed to walk away at 60. So I did. And in the year since life had been even better than my best year at work. All to say that even if your career is too good to leave early, save like it isn’t, then if it goes bad, you can simply walk out the door. Retiring early may not be for everybody, but being able to should be!

  18. Cody, excellent post and congrats on your first guest post! You echo my feelings exactly. It’s a big reason I started Run The Money as well. I bought into the retire early concept shortly after college as well.

    I was working nights and weekends during busy season as an auditor for a big four accounting firm. It’s like “I went to school and took on thousands of dollars in student loans for this?” No thanks! And it’s not like I wanted the partners’ lives either. The days only get longer the further you move up! Again, hell no.

    I have a government job now, but still. This isn’t how I plan to spend the rest of my life. I’m done with the cubicle farm!

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Dave! I’m really glad you enjoyed the post.

      Nights and weekends are never fun, especially with kids. I had one job like that and it sucked. I’ve asked myself a similar question before. If only we knew back then what we know now. You are one smart cookie to look at the lives of the people whose positions you were working towards and asking yourself if that was the kind of lifestyle you wanted for your own life. I think if more people were insightful enough to do the same, they would realize the ladder they are working so hard to climb just might be leaning against the wrong building.

      I like that even with the government job, you still have plans to exit early. Enjoy the benefits now and bounce when you are ready and able. Pension schmension.

      Thanks, again, for the great comment!

      1. Thanks for the reply. It’s nice you’re writing to each commenter!

        I should clarify I worked that first job for about a year after I graduated in 2006. So, I figured out quickly — and before marriage and kids — that public accounting was a big hell no for me.

        To your point, I think many students leave college in debt and clueless. I had job prospects, but none I essentially wanted. I was 21 and had not the faintest idea of real life. There was no “adulting” (I hate that term). Confusion and dead ends ruled the day!

        1. I’m glad you figured it out quickly and were able to get out when you did rather than stay and be miserable. Haha, I’m not a fan of that term either.

  19. Great post! I share the same feelings regarding how we are spending the precious time that we have. I really don’t want to look back someday and have regrets. That is the main thing I’m trying to avoid! I also hate watching the beautiful summer days go by sitting in front of a computer doing work that I’m not interested in. Especially when the nice weather season is so short where we live. Thus we grind!

    1. Thank you, Mr Defined Sight. I’m with you. Our time is so precious … and finite. I can totally relate. We have beautiful weather here in Southern California (although our summers, at times, can be a force to be reckoned with) and I always feel like a caged animal longing to be free on those days. Grind on, Sir.

  20. I first came across early retirement in my late teens. Unfortunately I was still naive and wanted instant gratification. I wish I put into practice just a few of the things I read about, like avoiding all debt, saving at least 30% of my income, and delaying gratification. Let’s just say I’d probably be able to retire now (I’m in my 30s). But it wasn’t meant to be.

    My biggest fear is staying mediocre. I don’t want to spend the next thirty years working in a cubicle. Each day I realise there are more things I don’t like about it – one of the biggest is that someone else decides how much I’m worth.

    I don’t think I’ll ever retire in the traditional sense if I end up making money from what I love doing most – writing books.

    1. Thanks so much for the great comment, Kati. That pesky instant gratification will get us every time. That is unfortunate, but for whatever reason it wasn’t “your time.” I often wish I had learned a lot of this stuff when I was younger too, but I may very well have found myself in a similar situation. Thanks for the perspective.

      Staying mediocre and not realizing your true potential is a legit fear. One I share. All the best to you as you continue on your financial journey and work to make your dream of getting paid to write books a reality.

  21. So you are really retiring? Or perhaps you are shifting to full time blogging (YouTube and all)? Nothing wrong with that-good luck. It occurs to me that if you don’t want to go to work in the morning then you have the wrong gig. Oh you say you love your job? Really? I found my niche more years ago then I care to remember. The years went by fast because I didnt feel like I’m wasting the best part of my day and I’ve watched every one of my kids soccer games. I found balance between life and work that’s the key.

    I am retiring thought in July not because I don’t enjoy the work but because I’d like to start a new adventure. Oh and No one has to work 30 years if they are inclined to retire early. You just need to brown bag your life and build a pile. It is all about discipline.

    1. Thank you very much for your comment, Ray. I am a longggg way from being able to retire, but if I could become a full-time blogger, I’d be happy as a clam. I’ve recently figured out my dream “job” is to be a full-time blogger / internet entrepreneur / stay-at-home-daddy. That’s not asking for too much, is it?

      I’m glad you were able to find a job you really enjoyed and were also able to strike a balance between life and work. You are very fortunate and probably an anomaly, I would imagine.

      Congratulations on your upcoming retirement. I wish you a bunch of success, as well, on your new adventure. Thanks, again, for taking the time to add to the conversation.

  22. I discovered early retirement in much the same way you did Cody. I also tried my hand with several MLM companies and what hooked me in more than anything else was the idea of freedom and lifestyle design. I hopped from one MLM to another and spent thousands of dollars because at the time, I thought that was my only ticket to freedom. (I went to the conventions too haha!)

    I got around to reading the books those companies were recommending. And then somehow stumbled onto the online personal finance community while reading more self-development content online. It was Michelle’s blog, Making Sense of Cents, that actually got me started. I was 22 years old when I was introduced to the personal finance world and since then, I have been obsessed.

    I am so thankful of what I’d learned so far since I read that first blog post. I am positive I would not be in such a healthy financial situation if it wasn’t for this community!

    1. Thank you very much for you comment, Jaymee. A lot of the MLMs present a pretty compelling vision and tug on all the feels to bring people in and help them “catch the vision.”

      The books and other growth and development material recommended can be life-changing. That really proved to be the case for me. I love the overlap with self-improvement and personal finance in the online community. They really do go hand in hand. Michelle’s blog is awesome and what she has accomplished with it is incredibly inspiring.

      Count yourself fortunate to have discovered all this good stuff at such a young age. Unfortunately, many people don’t “get it” until a lot later in life, if ever. Thanks, again, for the really great comment.

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