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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Why Early Retirement Is Not A Status Symbol

Well, I wasn't going to say anything about this, but after seeing it over and over everywhere I turned for personal finance ideas outside of my own, it's more than warranted now.  I've had just about enough of the "early" retired using the fact that they're no longer part of the "rat race" as their claim to fame.  Here's an example from J Money's Budgets Are Sexy site.  So "Mr. 1500" retired at 43 and now gets to enjoy 40 mile bike rides into the mountains and hours at the library.  Dang, I'm missing out!  Similarly, we have other popular personal finance bloggers using the fact that they've "retired" early as their status symbol.  I'm not going to name any names, but you know who they are.

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Many of these personal finance bloggers got to retirement earlier than the rest of us by hoarding every last penny they earned while working.  They budgeted fiercely and lived minimalist lifestyles for multiple years.  It's not a bad idea if you're unhappy working as an employee.  They had high paying jobs in tech or other high paying professions.  They also shared their approach with others and now many people emulate them.  Why?  Because they make it seem as if reaching this goal is the greatest thing in all the world.  With each other's help, they made early retirement into a credible status symbol.  Meanwhile the actual wealthy people of this country never truly retire...they work their assess off to make more money and to leave behind a powerful generational legacy.  Wealthy people want to be talked about (positively) well past their death.

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Find Fulfillment And Ride It Out

I'm here to tell you that if you feel happy and fulfilled in your profession, then great!  You too are as successful as these "early" retired bums.  Why would people feel happy and fulfilled at their jobs, right?  Yuck!  It's called having a job that makes you feel like you're contributing to a special cause, something that meaningfully aligns to your own sense of purpose on this planet.  If you're aren't so lucky, the easiest (and hardest at the same time) solution would be to quit your job.  Go out and either create or find what's going to satisfy your mission in life.  See, you only live once.  You have one lifetime to give it everything you got.  Unfortunately, many people are squandering this opportunity daily!

It may be taken as me being facetious, but I truly love what I do, teaching young people at an urban school.  I can't tell you how privileged I feel simply to be around them.  This blog catapulting me to a point where I wouldn't need to work anymore would not be enough for me.  It's too passive.  The bloggers who use early retirement as a status symbol may see writing articles as qualifying as a service to mankind.  I don't.  I mean, there's thousands of sites offering information that similarly help people with their financial needs.  Meaning, if I were to stop blogging about success, entrepreneurship, finances, etc., no one would be affected by it.  Others would simply fill in the void.  On the other hand, my work with teens inside and outside of school (as Teacher Homie G) would be missed if I were gone.

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You Must Not Be Fooled

You must not be fooled into the path of these middle class early retired bloggers.  Keep working hard for as long as you can if the work is enjoyable.  Of course you must save for retirement, but not at the expense of living a normal lifestyle.  If your job doesn't fulfill you, but you don't have any way of leaving it, because perhaps you are very risk averse and entrepreneurship scares the pants off you, then I suggest you try out some of the following,

1) Be a mentor to a younger employee at your company
2) Be a Big Brother or Big Sister at your local Boys and Girls Club
3) Find a local non-profit with a cause you believe in and volunteer
4) Get involved more with your Church, Temple, Synagogue etc.
5) Write a book that either entertains or helps people
6) Volunteer at a local school, perhaps as a tutor or coach

There's more to your humanity than reaching a financial goal like early retirement so that you have more time to f-around.  Excuse my language.  Yes, you'll get to be able to spend more time with your loved ones, and you'll get to have more time to do the things you really love doing, but also consider that you're on this planet with others and they may need you.  In other words, don't stop being of service to your fellow man (or animal).

No one is going to care that you retired earlier than others when you die.  You'll have fewer regrets, however, if you took an active role in helping others while you were young and strong.  If you can say that you used your early retirement to be able to champion a cause by directly working with people, then you will find an inner peace like a monk at a monastery.

Thanks for reading!  Until next time.

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