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January 12, 2014


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You lived in SB? That's our favorite city in the US! I went to UCSB. :)
Thanks for sharing your experience. It's interesting that you planned for early retirement as soon as you got the job you aimed for. For me, early retirement kind of snuck up on me. I liked working until the last few years. It just wasn't fun anymore (too much stress) and I had to get out of there.
Life is much more enjoyable now that I have more time to spend the way I want. It still feels like there aren't enough hours in the day, though.

Retired Syd

RB40: Yep, my husband and I both graduated from UCSB. It used to be one of my favorite cities too. But the last couple of times we were down there we noticed the vibe downtown seems to have changed dramatically. They seem to be struggling with a big homeless problem among younger adults. Very sad to me.


I've hated working since the day I was born! I detest it. Working keeps me away from living my life! That's the way I see it. Working keep me away from the life and creativity I enjoy.
I, however, knew I would never earn enough money to retire early, so I sharpened my skills on how to live well with less and took it from there. Whether it's $100 or a million, I know how to make 'it' work for me. And NOT the other way around.
As long as I keep materialism at bay, I'm good to go.

Kelly @Try New Things

Hi Syd. I think the best reason to retire early is not to escape but to look forward and get excited about doing all the things you were too busy to do before. And that is what you did. Work was fun then and now freedom to do things or to do nothing is fun.I feel lucky to be in the freedom phase.

I wrote a post about balancing the guaranteed 'now' with a possibly non-existent 'later'. And I know we all need to make this call for ourselves but even optimistically the odds favor leaving work sooner than later, if there are things on your wish list.So you made that call a little earlier! Good for you. :)

Retired Syd

Cindi: Did you have one job that stands out as the best--I guess the one you hated least?


I don't know that I've ever been asked the "why" question. Perhaps because friends and colleagues before early retirement heard me planning and plotting it for so long that they took my goal for granted, although most were skeptical that I would achieve it. And post-early-retirement friends have been able to see for themselves that I am active, engaged, and happy, so the answer to the question seems obvious to them.

Although I liked some aspects of my career as a molecular biologist (lab tech) — especially the very bright and interesting people I worked with — the work was often routine and, in later years, the corporate politics got to be wearing. I gradually came to realize that I'd rather have the freedom "to do what I want" rather than be forced "to do what I must", and that giving up the security of a comfortable paycheck would be worth it. After a number of rounds of downsizing at two different companies, some as survivor — no fun when your friends get the axe — and some as downsizee, I discovered that "security" is not common in the biotech industry. The stress of working for unstable companies can be quite intense and not very pleasant, at least to me.

I also was tired of living in cities and surburbia and wanted to move to peace and quiet of rural wilderness, but biotech is only found around cities and universities. So I scrimped and saved and planned and plotted and dreamed of early retirement until I was able to pull it off at age 45.

Now, fifteen years later and busy with a prodigious slate of volunteer work that I can do when I please, if I please, I have no regrets. And if I croak tomorrow I will have had a good run. How many wage slaves can truly say that?


I suspect that time doesn't feel like it's going by too fast when you're in your teens and twenties because your obligations and responsibilities outside of work are somewhere around zero. You often don't have a house (or live in a small place) or car, so don't have to worry about maintenance. Most don't worry about retirement $ at that age, so no worries there. Most don't have kids, so your time outside of work is all your own. Your body is resilient, so you can go without sleep for a night with not a lot of side effects if you want.

I didn't get the FIRE bug or concept until 2001. Really hadn't heard of normal people doing it over time until I read YMOYL about then. Which is strange because 2 of my uncles ER'd as multi-millionaires in their late 30's or early 40's but did it off of cashing out due to booming land prices. I think I assumed that unless I hit a jackpot like that, it wasn't possible? Weird that an accountant (like me) wouldn't consider the tremendous power of compounding salary + interest.

I worked about 1/2 of the year last year (not at all in the summer - yay!), and that was a Goldilocks "just right" level for me right now. Will be working 2 weeks on, 2 off until June this year which is also just right for this year. More importantly, I can see the time coming where I'll be quite happy just leaving work altogether (I think it will happen when the youngest son graduates HS in 4 years). I was really torn on that a few years ago so am glad I eased into things in the last few years. It helps that I see little to no achievement (of things that matter to me) at work whereas I mostly do in the many of the things I do outside of work. It took awhile though to start being okay with bringing the hobby side of life back.


Seems to be the common thread....so many other things one wants to pursue. I took an early retirement from teaching at 50 just a year ago. My life was the same as yours.....started working very young, very driven, had great work relationships. Whenever I hear of folk who retire and go back to work because they're "bored" or feel like they lost their "purpose/identity" I am mystified. I have to believe that for some people work defines them in a way that it never did me. I loved my job, loved the kids and worked hard but as soon as I could swing it financially, the ticking clock and my list of interests called louder and louder. I am perfectly content and busy. I still have a stack of books I can't find time to read. There are some things I want to accomplish that are physical in nature as well and I feel that in my 50s I will still have the health/stamina to accomplish those goals. LOVE it!

Retired Syd

dgp: I share that view that if I croaked tomorrow, I've had a good run--even after only 6 years of retirement. (Although, I'd like to have many more years of this run!)

Jacq: I see the appeal of having a more balanced work schedule, or a semi-retirement. I did love the part-time job I had in 2010-2012--but I never really was able to strike (and keep) the Goldilocks level of balance, unfortunately. That's a tough one and one you seem to have mastered.

Retired Syd

Kelly: You're right, and I probably made an unconscious calculation of that balance as well.

Crystal: I'm glad to hear once again that I'm not the only one that can't seem to get to everything I want to get to!


Although I first began looking at an early retirement in 1998 when I paid off my mortgage, it wasn't until 2001 when I really ramped it up. It was in 2001 when I stopped working full-time and began working part-time so I figured I got halfway there. It was the worsening commute which, in 2001, pushed me to working part-time.

After 27 months of mostly telecommuting, the company ended it so I had to do more commuting to the office. I knew then and there that it would be my eventual undoing as I again ramped up my early retirement effort.

In 2007 and 2008 the pieces began falling into place for my early retirement. In late 2008 I realized that dream and retired at age 45. It has been a great 5 years. No more commute!


Syd, unfortunately, no, there is not one job I liked at all. My first job out of high school was working as a bond clerk for Merrill Lynch on Wall Street. NYC and wearing stockings every day on the subway in the hot summer months made me sooooooo uncomfortable. I hated it!
I've had many, many jobs over my lifetime. Six months at a time. LOL.
I did have one job I was great at and I lasted for almost 8 years, as a budget administrator for a very prestigious law firm. I won't go into detail but it ended rather abruptly and badly. Let's just say nary a day went by that I wasn't sexually annoyed (my phone extention was 38 and many of the employees, as well as the partners referred to it as 38DD) I needed the job. I was divorced. I had 2 daughters, a mortgage and tuition payments, so I kept my mouth shut. When I started getting up in my 40's the sr partner wanted me out. He did some nasty deeds to get me to quit. Like put my job in the Sunday paper, tell me about it and then wait to see if I showed up on Monday morning. I didn't quit. I hired a Labor attorney instead.
Let's just say the law firm won't be pulling any crap on any other woman again. And I didn't have to work much longer afterwards. Think $$$$$$$.
Nope. Don't like to work for anybody.

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