When I first realized that retirement before 65 could be a reality, I instantly thought of a phrase that we’ve all probably heard countless times before.
Time is greater than money.
How many times have we all heard that and nodded in agreement or subconciously thought “Of course, duh”? Or perhaps we just rolled our eyes at this cliched catchphrase because we all knew it was true? I know that I have done both of those things. Smugly agreeing that time is certainly more valuable than money like it’s the most obvious thing in the world, while other times being the one to roll my eyes and think to myself, “Of course I know time is more valuable than money. No need to beat a dead horse.” I thought I was living a life that embodied that mantra.
Then one day, just like that, when I least expected it, I got knocked off my high hose and everything I thought I knew about time, money, and how I was living my life changed. The early retirement forums opened my eyes to a way of life I didn’t think was possible. You can retire in your 50’s? I didn’t think people did that unless they won the lottery or inherited huge sums of money. Then I dug a little deeper and that some of the people on those forums were retiring in their 30’s and 40’s. I was blown away. How was this even possible? I wanted to know more. Needed to know more.
The financial side of how to reach early retirement was one thing. There were no get rich quick schemes here. Just a group of people who worked hard, saved their money, and watched where they were spending it (that last part on watching where you spend your money is one that’s taken a long time to sink in for me). I certainly learned a lot about 401k’s, Roth IRA’s, annuities, social security, required minimum distributions, HSA’s, and other financial terminology and jargon that had previously been lost on me. But the real eye opener was lifestyle and values early retirees embodied. These were people who were changing their lives, delaying some gratification now in order to gain ultimate freedom down the road. Sure, they were forgoing some things now in hope of a better tomorrow. Nicer cars, expensive vacations, designer clothes, and fancy electronics may not be at the top of their priority list, but the trade-off was being free from the shackles of a job and Corporate America at an age much younger than the average person, with resources that most people won’t have even when they retire at 65 .
I found myself perplexed. Confused. Unsure. After all, I had spent the last two years in a graduate program that was designed specifically to develop and train managers to be a part of Corporate America. But here in front of me was another way of life that I had never considered. Another way that spoke to me more than anything I had learned in graduate school ever did. Quite frankly, it looked better than the path I was on. I started to examine what I really wanted. Did I want to be shackled to a cubicle day in and day out for 40 years? How did I really want to spend my time? Did I really like putting together those powerpoint presentations that went to the board? Or would I rather be catching up on my video game backlog, exercising, learning how to cook better, spending time with my loved ones?
I looked at my weekdays versus my weekends. My weekends were packed with so much more enjoyment and living then pretty much any day during the week. I was able to pursue hobbies, work on goals that mattered to me, spend time with family and friends, the list goes on and on. I was also catching up on day to day things that I couldn’t keep up with during the week when I was trapped at work. You know, the standard day to day things like grocery shoppoing, laundry, cleaning. Catching up on those things was further cutting into my free time to purpose my hobbies and the things that really interested me. I realized that no matter how much I enjoyed my career, I wouldn’t be going to work every day if I didn’t have to. It was then, at that moment, that it hit me.
Time was greater than money. No matter how many times I had heard that phrase before, I now understood it for the first time.
I was on the road to FIRE. I didn’t know how I was going to get there, or even how to get there. But I knew it was my final destination.
So where does this blog come in? It’s my way to talk about the things I’m learning and share them with you. If I’m lucky I’ll inspire someone the way I’ve been inspired. It’s also an opportunity to share some of our progress from a financial point of view. I also hope to learn from those of you who have found your way here. Money is such a taboo topic in our society and financial education is nowhere to be found. Hopefully this blog can help that, even if just a little bit.
I hope you get something out of this, and I’d love to hear from you as well. Welcome to the inner workings of my own personal financial resolution.