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November 25, 2009


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Syd - Happy Thanksgiving. I love your blog -- it is my favorite - I love the writing style and the honesty. My husband and I have a dream of early retirement - hopefully in the next two years. I agree with you, life is all about choices.

Canadian Dream

Thanks for the links. I really enjoyed this post because I was talking about this very thing to a reporter early this week. It really does come down to choices.


Retired Syd

@Rocco: Thanks so much for the nice comments, now you've made my Thanksgiving even better! Good luck on your retirement plans!

@Tim: Are we going to see your name in print? Hope you will put a link to that article in your blog!


Choices Choices...YOU ARE so right.

If only more people had thought about what they were doing and made those choices instead of just letting it happen to them.

I see people everyday making BAD choices..paying the minimum on credit cards and buying time shares!!!

Perhaps it helped that our fathers remember/ed the great depression.

How's that for OFF track and that's why you are a great writer and I am not!!!


Syd, re your conversation with the acqaintence, the fact is that you were able to retire early because you had a very well paid job. There's no mystery behind it.

Retired Syd

@Tom: Well my real point was that there are plenty of people with well paying jobs that can't retire (many of them with far better jobs than mine was). The point is not how much money you make, it's how much you don't spend on lifestyle upgrades. (Think of all those Wall Street investment bankers who were totally devastated in this downturn. Even with all those years of fat bonuses, they had nothing left for that rainy day.) As well, many with far smaller salaries are retired today (go over to Early Retirement Extreme--he lives on less than $5k/year). People at ALL income levels are retiring, and on the flip side, also declaring bankruptcy. Go figure . . .

Kari Lubitz

Well I think you know how much I would like to retire. Me personally, not my husband. Michael would actually prefer to work for nothing, but I am sure he is an anomaly. I also think you could predict what I am about to say. I did not see any mention of children--in our life, the most expensive lifestyle choice. We had em and we love em and we will be spending upwards of $90,000 next year for private high school and private liberal arts college. There was also the support of a mentally ill sister and a few other expensive choices made (yes, I do love those Four Seasons). I totally agree that it is all about the choices--we all have them and hopefully we can all feel really good about them, because I think feeling good and being happy (no matter how much or how little you have) are the key. Cheers to you for having goals and reaching them.

Kari Lubitz

Sorry Syd, in reading back through your lovely pink links, I did notice the "not have children" link/comment. Ha, I clicked on the link and read the guest post about kids. Not very enlightening to a couple with 20 years marriage under our belts and two nearly adult "kids", but we did want kids so it is not really relevant. I do personally like the comment about wanting to be done with other people's infants and children after a visit... we always wanted that too!!! In the end though, I am thinking NOT having kids may be a littler bigger factor than being able to buy a bigger house in a lesser school district. By my calculation, we are well over a million dollars in and we have yet to even pay for the college application fees :).

Retired Syd

Kari: I was thinking the same thing today, wondering what the impact of not having kids really meant if you quantified it in dollars not spent (and therefore years earlier retirement.) I went to a couple of websites that estimated roughly $250k per kid total cost (which was without private educations, as you note.)

Certainly the choice not to have them means earlier retirement. Having said that, the cost of kids never entered my mind when deciding that I didn't want to have them, just as I suspect is the case for people that do want them.


Well Syd, this is actually two confessions. The first is that you've made choices, some intentional and possibly some unintentional that led to an early retirement at a pretty nice standard of living. And you are right, how much you make has less to do with when you can retire than choosing to live below your means. I'm a librarian and my husband is a teacher. We'll retire closer to regular retirement age but we've had a little more time along the way than those in high powered jobs.

But your second confession - that you watch FOX News - has me confused. Not because we probably have different politics, but because I find their tendency to see just one side of an issue frustrating. Though MS-NBC more closely matches my politics, I find their lack of nuance equally irritating. I'm honestly curious about why you like FOX News?

Retired Syd

@Chris: We have the same politics, I suspect. If you read the link to my Fox News post, you will see the answer. Part of it is that I watch it to let out some steam--I actually enjoy yelling at the TV. I usually hang around CNN and MSNBC, but after awhile, it gets too boring hearing peoples' opinions with whom I totally agree, so I tune into Fox to get my blood boiling. A strange sport, I know.

So "like" is not really the appropriate word . . .

John Quinn

Like you Syd, I enjoy a larger house. I retired the first of the year at age 56 and have been traveling in a small RV which is OK because I'm outdoors hiking and only use RV to sleep and cook. My house seems gigantic after spending a month in the RV but I like having a separate office, family room, dinning room, and exercise area while at home. My home is efficient with three levels and 3900 sq. ft. We had it built 22 years ago and it is paid off. However, being 22 years old I never had much maintenance until now. I have $10,000/yr in retirement budget for house maintenance in since I will need new roof, painting, windows, and landscaping. I never looked at my house as an investment, only a place to live. I never add it to my investment assets since I will always need a place to live. It never bothers me if value goes up or down since I will always be trading a comparable for a place to live. Keep up the great post, Syd!


Fox News...say it ain't so!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm only half kidding. Actually, I don't watch any tv news other than 60 Minutes and Frontline, and about 5 minutes of CNN per week. I purposefully stay away from MSNBC and Fox (yes, I know CNN is biased to. But, they seem slightly less biased than the other 2).

It is interesting that my parents are the opposite of you and your husband. They opted to stay in a small town and buy a small house (lot of land) which was cheap compared to larger houses in regional cities, and have kids. They could retire right now (my dad technically is), but my mother went back to school late and is enjoying the success she is having in her career. Thus, she doesn't want to retire yet.

Retired Syd

@Chad: It has been my on-again-off-again goal to stop watching all cable news shows (especially Fox!), and sometimes I pull it off for a month or two. Then I go on a binge, honestly, I don't know why I put myself through it. (While I'm at it, I should have admitted that I also flip to CNBC all too often--talk about a total waste of time!)

I envy people like your mom, who get such enjoyment from their careers. Maybe that's one of the benefits of going back to school late, you have a much better sense of what career would really make you happy.


It's for sure all about the choices that you made "then" that let you be where you are now. What's absolutely amazed me and caught me offgaurd about being retired is the vast number of new things that I get to make choices about these days. It's exhilirating and sometimes overwhelming. Right now I'm working through choosing which things that I used to spend time on - or even have a passion for - should be left behind so that there's time for new things. Choices.

Vintage Ring

See..If you have a real expensive diamond ring and you'll go to the pawnbroker you will sure could go on to the retirement phase :) I hope the husband will notice it..

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