arrete finally signs on
I've been too busy with my volunteer activities to sign on before. Now, if I were still working, I would have had plenty of time.
I retired 4 years ago at 50 after 10 years in the full-time workforce (student and stay at home mother before that). No matter what I did or how hard I tried, I never found a job where I did much meaningful work. My volunteer work, while stressful, is much more rewarding and, I think, useful.
I started on the road to early retirement by first reading Your Money or Your Life. While the concept of trading your life force was interesting, I didn't think much of the how to invest your money part. I did start keeping a detailed budget, which I do to this day. It's very comforting to know exactly what you are worth and how much you need to live on.
Looking for a more sophisticated view of saving for early retirement, I happened on intercst's homepage, and the rest is history - except for one point. I was convinced I had to be able to live on my after-tax savings, and getting them up to where I could live on 4% looked impossible. Finally, my husband pointed out that at some point I would be living on my retirement accounts, too, so that I should add them all together, and then take 4%. I retired the next month.
I felt weird for awhile, because as some else said (andrew61?) I don't personally know anyone else who retired at fifty or before. But I'm over all that, and have plenty to keep me busy, and it's stuff I want to do.
One note - if something wasn't a high priority before retirement (like housework) you are not going to become a housework paragon after retirement. You'll always find something more interesting to do.