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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Why you shouldn't try to retire early

If you are on a quest for early retirement like I am, you will consistently come across plenty of resistance to the idea. I'm not sure what problem people have with others taking their own path in life, but the strength of the resistance you will receive can be startling if you aren't ready for it.

It may be because you expose their consumerist lives as the pointless slave existence that it truly is, and they aren't ready for the red pill. Or it could be that they really really would love to be able to retire early too, but aren't willing to accept that it is their personal choices and lifestyle that makes the difference, so they would rather pretend it is out of their control. Similar to how a lot of out of shape people insist they simply 'can't' lose weight, even when their behavior and lifestyle is the polar opposite of the in-shape people.

The Early Retirement Extreme Forums had a thread a while back where some members listed many of the arguments they had heard against early retirement. I am going to give brief rebuttals against these arguments.

Not really so you can argue with the sheeple, but more so that you have internal answers and your mental frame isn't shaken. Of course if you are a glutton for punishment or simply enjoy stripping bare the lack of purpose in your colleagues' lives, go for it.

 Before I give you the list of common objections to early retirement, realize that most of them can be refuted with one simple core argument: Everybody plans and expects to retire at some point, and spend the rest of their days living off of income generated by work that was done earlier in their lives. Whether this is at age 65 living off a retirement fund and social security, or at age 30 after saving 85% of your earnings for 5 years is irrelevant. Any delineation between the two would be arbitrary. Any argument that could be used against retiring at 30 could just as logically be used against retiring at 65, or ever.  So realize that many of these objections are defeated by that simple argument already, and will need no further rebuttal.

Here is the list of common objections to early retirement as offered by members of the ERE forum (my responses are in red):

1) Once you cover your own expenses, you are morally obligated to continue producing to help other people who are less productive. You are lucky and privileged to be productive, and you shouldn't forget this.

First of all, refer to prime argument. Second, almost nobody in America has a 'productive' job in the real sense anyway, so it is actually MORE productive for the economy to invest your money in real assets and businesses than to just buy stupid plastic shit from china that is headed straight for the landfill. 

2) Raising kids on a frugal budget is selfish because it denies them important things that cost a lot of money.

All relative. Even most normal sheeple don't spend EVERY penny that they possibly can on their kids. So are they being selfish because they are spending less on their kids than other parents are? Any spending level below which was 'child abuse' would be totally arbitrarily set. 

3) Wouldn't it take like 50-100 million dollars in assets to actually live off your investments?!

You can retire when you can live off 4% of your stash. Whether you do that by having a bigger stash, or being able to live off less doesn't matter. Both work.

4) If you realy believed this was the right way to live, shouldn't you be trying to convince everyone else to live like this too?

It's a personal life choice, it isn't necessarily about right or wrong. I may think it's stupid to waste all your money and work for 50 years to earn more, even when you have no time to use all the shit you buy. But that doesn't mean it's sinful, it's just not how I am choosing to live my life. 

5) That's just plain lazy.

again, see prime argument.  Nobody is at maximum capacity. People will only ever accuse you of being lazy if you are doing less of something than them. And even though there will always be people doing more than them, they will never call themselves lazy. It is no more lazy to retire at 30 instead of 65 than it is to go home after 8 hours at work when technically you could have worked 10 or 12.

6) You say you want to be free of money as an influence on your actions, but now you're spending *more* time concerned about money, not less.

I am not attempting to live without money. Just to have more freedom in my daily life and not be bound to one income source that dictates exactly how I spend my time day in and day out. It really has never been about being free from the influence of money completely. 

7) The desire not to work for money is indicative of a short-sighted need for immediate gratification. (I found this one particularly baffling)

Yes, baffling, since early retirement requires constant DELAYING of gratification to be able to save and live frugally. 

8) Working is the only way to derive meaning in life. Life without work is pointless.

I pity the fool. 

9) If everybody stopped working it would be the end of the world as we know it (you got that right!), therefore you can't stop working.

If my aunt had testicles she would be my uncle. What's your point? Nonsensical 'what-ifs' Argument.  

-The Money Monk

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