Guest Blogger: Akaisha Kaderli
Ever wonder how it was for us in the beginning of living life without a paycheck?
In 1991, 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. We were not taking a break from work, we were leaving the working world all together. 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 at age 38 challenged the belief systems of everyone we knew.
After all this time, the most important thing we want you to know is: Don’t let anyone destroy your dream. Learn to be self-sufficient and self-motivating and you can create the life you want to live. If you desire something strongly and it makes you happy, don’t look to others for approval. Move in the direction of your dream.
Additionally, we want to inform you of the value of tracking spending. 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.
What we wanted to achieve
Above all else, we wanted our freedom.
We had been working 60-to-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 of you 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.
The greatest lessons we have learned from almost 3 decades of financial freedom
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. Being retired doesn’t mean you are stress-free. 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.
Would we have done anything differently?
In terms of our manner of retirement, we probably would not have done anything differently, as we are happy with our lifestyle. However, it would have been wonderful to have known beforehand that we would have a successful retirement so we 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.
Advice to those who are considering FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early)
For those who are younger, 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 do 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 say organize yourself – 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.
Do you know what motivates you? Do you know why you want to leave the world of conventional work? Where are you on the road to retirement?