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The Optimum Age to Retire?
Old 11-20-2004, 06:48 PM   #1
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The Optimum Age to Retire?

Financial considerations aside, here is a radical thought:
Maybe younger isn't always better. Clearly this will differ from person to person, but I wonder if incredibly young ER's fully appreciate the achievement. I suspect that ER may be sweeter for those that have had to plan and struggle a bit longer for it. Not that I advocate anyone should suffer a miserable job any longer than necessary. *I would pull the plug at 8:00 AM monday morning if it were possible * *
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I've had plenty of struggles in life...
Old 11-20-2004, 10:37 PM   #2
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I've had plenty of struggles in life...

... but few of them are as sweet as the struggles enjoyed DURING early retirement. Just as you shouldn't save sex for old age, I think that the younger you ER the better.

I think that ER gives you more choices than work. The earlier you ER, the more choices you have.

I'm almost sure that it's an urban legend, but I've heard of a high-school senior who's going to ER on his parent's college fund.
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?
Old 11-21-2004, 02:25 AM   #3
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?

Quote:
Part of what gives satisfaction in life is overcoming a series of obstacles.
An easy path might seem boring to one still equipped for a rougher road...
ER isn't for everyone. Some people have the personality to enjoy it, and others are happier working. Everyone has to decide for themselves what is best for them.
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?
Old 11-21-2004, 06:14 AM   #4
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?

The key to this is defining what retirement really means. I think of retirement as the stoppage of something you are doing for the purpose of doing something you enjoy.

For example, most people "retire" Monday through Friday at 5pm. They get that good feeling that they can stop "working" at 5pm so they can go home and do something more enjoyable. When they "retire" at 5pm on Friday, it gives them an even better feeling because now they can be retired for the weekend.

Many here have just expanded on that idea in that they want a higher free-time to work-time ratio.

So on that premise, the optimum age to "retire" is as soon as you are born. The purpose of life is to have as much fun as possible, and that is what everyone strives for. For most people, going to work is an obstacle to that pursuit unless they first find something they enjoy and make that their job.
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?
Old 11-21-2004, 09:11 AM   #5
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?

Quote:
The key to this is defining what retirement really means. *I think of retirement as the stoppage of something you are doing for the purpose of doing something you enjoy.
Cheers.
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?
Old 11-21-2004, 01:33 PM   #6
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?

Quote:
The purpose of life is to have as much fun as possible, and that is what everyone strives for. For most people, going to work is an obstacle to that pursuit unless they first find something they enjoy and make that their job.
I'm not entirely sure this is true. It is how I direct my life, but am I part of a very lucky small group of people in human history to be able to live this way? Or has this always been possible for people in general?

I don't have an answer, but it's something I ponder from time to time. I've always heard people who say to do what you love, but it seems easier said than done when it comes to living that way. I think I've made it--not to retirement but to being able to be choosy about my occupation--but I don't know if it's luck or my making the right decisions.
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Re: I've had plenty of struggles in life...
Old 11-21-2004, 02:51 PM   #7
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Re: I've had plenty of struggles in life...

Quote:

I'm almost sure that it's an urban legend, but I've heard of a high-school senior who's going to ER on his parent's college fund.
I believe that has been referred to as a "trust baby". Now what is the crossover age for retirement where below that you are a trust baby, and above it a retiree?
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?
Old 11-21-2004, 03:46 PM   #8
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?

Rock, I do not the thrust of the issue is to be retired but to achieve financial independence. Retired, as in not working, is different than being FI where you can choose to work or not, take a year off to travel, or try on a job just to see how it fits...whatever.

But then again, I wonder if it is even worth the struggle to achieve total FI. In another topic, I talk about getting to the point where you can support yourself working only three days a week and enjoy four day weekends every week.

I think most of us could achieve that goal in half the time, or less, of total FI. And, then, you have all that free time to enjoy when you're still young enough to surf, ski, train to run marathons, or just take a hike. R/
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?
Old 11-21-2004, 06:50 PM   #9
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?

Quote:
Financial considerations aside, here is a radical thought:
Maybe younger isn't always better. Clearly this will differ from person to person, but I wonder if incredibly young ER's fully appreciate the achievement. I suspect that ER may be sweeter for those that have had to plan and struggle a bit longer for it. Not that I advocate anyone should suffer a miserable job any longer than necessary. *I would pull the plug at 8:00 AM monday morning if it were
possible * *but I've been doing the same occupation for over 25 years (I know, big deal) Part of what gives satisfaction in life is overcoming a series of obstacles.
An easy path might seem boring to one still equipped for a rougher road...50 seems like a nice round, totally unbiased number *
Gotta disagree. Younger is far better; at least for me. This achievement oriented gal is ready to kick back and coast a little.

I have done just about everything in life the hard way because it was more challenging. Had to make straight As in school. Had to be a National Merit Scholar. Had to beat assimulation into my immigrant parents so that I could enjoy more "American" socials. Had to get accepted in an Ivy League college. Had to go with the hardest major. Had to go for the most stressful challenging job out of school. Every decision and action was about getting ahead and accelerated path. And its full of obstacles, challenges, and requires rigous planning and very hard work.

I expect to be a incredibly young ER in @35 or so, and you betcha, I understand the significance of the achievement. It wouldn't have fallen into my lap, it was a long journey when ends early because it was started early. 8)
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Ouch, Windedhare, that was my motivation too.
Old 11-22-2004, 05:52 AM   #10
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Ouch, Windedhare, that was my motivation too.

You made that a little too clear for comfort. It's all been about the challenges.

My best friend (from high school) has an older brother whose life I envied. I let him addict me to the challenge drug. He went to a great college-- I knew that because when he came home on vacations I'd see him lounging around in sweats with a three-day beard drinking beer at lunch. That's my kind of higher education! He had plenty of entertainment money, he had a hot car and hotter girlfriends, he'd stay out all night, he got to work on cool research projects with neat equipment and great employment prospects-- it was all irresistible. This life just wasn't easy to find in 1970s Pittsburgh. (It probably didn't exist.)

Just a short year later I was working 20-hour days at that college and wondering what the heck I'd gotten into. It started a two-decade vicious spiral of challenge, stress, & hard work.

I could have quit anytime and I was certainly encouraged to. But at every decision point, my primary guidance was "If I don't try to do this now, then I'll always wonder if I could have." I couldn't envision any path other than plowing straight on through the obstacles and working even harder for "my" goals. I just couldn't see any alternatives because I didn't know how to look. The challenge (especially challenging authority!) became more important than having a life. (In retrospect I'm very lucky that I ended up in submarines instead of SEAL training or USMC infantry...)

Starting a family is, for many, the point at which you realize that you've irrevocably bitten off more challenge than you can chew. In our case it was a fussy high-needs kid who never slept more than 2-3 hours at a time and was endlessly demanding of our attention (in a good way). I guess most kids are like that but we weren't willing to experiment with a larger sample population. During the subsequent six years of ever-worsening chronic sleep deprivation, I sensed my own mortality and realized that no career could compare to the kid-raising challenge.

So my inner compass slewed around and pointed straight to family. Career was on the opposite bearing, and the back half of it was spent finding ways to end it as quickly as possible for FI, ER, & parenthood. They were usually mutually-opposing goals.

The root cause of the conflicts was an inability to see alternatives. When you're working, you don't really have enough time for quiet contemplation. You ERs understand, but you Young Dreamers can't recognize it until you're in ER. I don't mean 20 post-lunch minutes at your desk or an hour on a Sunday morning before the house wakes up. I mean weeks and weeks of quiet, boring, undirected, no-deadline living while doing your own thing and letting the buzzing in your head quiet down. Financial independence is critical to this step; unemployment makes it worse. After your head clears (and after you sleep off your chronic fatigue!) you can start reviewing your life and deciding who's gonna be in charge of the next part.

That's when I realized that my life's challenges had all been set up for me by external sources, mostly the Navy. I'm not blaming that organization-- in fact I owe most of my FI & ER to the structure & discipline that it's pounded into my high-school personality, and the sea pay didn't hurt a bit. In a military career, it's best to be one of the survivors.

But I didn't really glimpse career/life alternatives until we started a family. I didn't have a clue how to do anything about it until I ER'd. I remember griping to one boss about my quality of life and he asked "What would you do if you weren't in the Navy?" I replied "No clue, nothing else interests me more." He responded "Whatever you want!" It took me another 13 years (and at least three months of quiet contemplation) to understand what that means...

Some of you old-timers remember my arrival on this board with my "I'm ER'd, now what should I watch out for?" questions. After 2+ years of ER, I'd like to think that I've taken my life's reins for the first time and I'm finding my own path. I believe that a key component of ER is pursuing your OWN challenges on YOUR terms. You don't have to wonder anymore if you can do it because you understand mortality (and frequent doses of ibuprofen). You may never stop chasing a challenge, but you can decide when and how much. For some of us it may be the first time we've ever tried to do that without full throttle & obsessive effort...

So I don't think ER corresponds to an age. It's a state of mind where you're ready to pursue the ultimate challenge-- leading a self-directed life where you're responsible for your own achievements & entertainment. I think that's very hard to find in a typical workplace, especially if you don't own the business, but I'm happy to be proven wrong. I think that most of us won't be ready to ER for at least three decades, but it definitely shouldn't be delayed.

And try not to make the process any harder than it has to be.
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?
Old 11-22-2004, 06:11 AM   #11
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?

Good post Nord's

The disconnect(space program) and mental shift didn't take place until I had been unemployed for a year. Even then - it took going back to the old plant as a temp after two years to really hammer home the change in mind set.
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Re: Ouch, Windedhare, that was my motivation too.
Old 11-22-2004, 06:28 AM   #12
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Re: Ouch, Windedhare, that was my motivation too.

Great post Nords!

Quote:
Starting a family is, for many, the point at which you realize that you've irrevocably bitten off more challenge than you can chew. *
I dont have this knowledge yet, but I know myself and I know parenthood will be the biggest "challenge". I am smart enough to realize that at this point I need to re-wire my head to prepare for the responsibility.

Quote:
So my inner compass slewed around and pointed straight to family. *Career was on the opposite bearing, and the back half of it was spent finding ways to end it as quickly as possible for FI, ER, & parenthood. *They were usually mutually-opposing goals.
I think of FI,ER, and parenthood as a zero sum game. I hope that they are all achieveable. Maybe not all at one at the same time, but not going stop me from trying.

Quote:
I mean weeks and weeks of quiet, boring, undirected, no-deadline living while doing your own thing and letting the buzzing in your head quiet down. *Financial independence is critical to this step; unemployment makes it worse. *After your head clears (and after you sleep off your chronic fatigue!) you can start reviewing your life and deciding who's gonna be in charge of the next part. *
Yep, two years ago, I realized this is what I need-- and maybe a sabattical can do the same trick. But then again, when I am out, I want to be out for good. Definitely want to have this head clearing time for an entire year before we even begin the family. My mind has never been quiet. and I dont want the unborn to have to listen to all that non-stop noise currently in my head! :P

Quote:
I'm not blaming that organization-- in fact I owe most of my FI & ER to the structure & discipline that it's pounded into my high-school personality, and the sea pay didn't hurt a bit. *In a military career, it's best to be one of the survivors.
I think key to successful ERs (you guys) is that we know take responsibility for the results of our lives. We do not blame our parents/society/etc, we realize we have control and take appropriate action to shape our lives the way we want it to be.

Quote:
And try not to make the process any harder than it has to be. *
Now THAT hits me square in the stomach! ;)
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?
Old 11-22-2004, 08:57 AM   #13
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?

Nords,
Great post!
You've hit at what I think is the hardest thing about ER --whether you do it for the challenge or not -- and that is having to take responsibility for crafting a life out of the thousands of choices out there.

Most people can't deal with that much choice or responsibility -- they just want a few choices. So they willingly give up masses of their freedom for a 'deal' that says, do this stuff we tell you to do and do it well; you'll get enough money and status to feel good about yourself and have lots of goodies.

Real freedom to create your life requires huge discipline, strong values, perhaps a strong spiritual/religious grounding, and a sense of purpose not defined by work/career. Where do you get support for this in this day and age? It isn't generally available in the pop-consumer culture. (I found it in lots of eastern religion stuff, but that is still pretty counter-cultural here, though that may be changing.)

in my view, what is key about your post and Winded Hare's replies is that you are talking about the problems of the lifetime overachiever learning how to slow down and find new, wholesome ways to stay engaged and challenged. It has always been a bit surprising to me that there aren't more posts like this on an ER board, because a common way to get to ER is to be an overachiever, but lots of the posts here seem to be about people who took a slow-and-steady, LBYM, save-your-way-to FI kind of approach, being capable and competent at work, but not necessarily going overboard on the Type A. Or, the former-Type A overachievers posting here are so well along in their ERs now that they are all mellow and well-adjusted.

I think there are millions of type A overachievers out there who have enough money to ER but need to know more about the psychological aspects of transitioning to a new set of values, total freedom to create a life, unstructured days, etc. Is ER just another challenge? If so it is a 'wierd' one for an overachiever. My challenge to myself during the first few years was, "dare to be mediocre", dare to be 'ordinary'. It wwas good training for me ego that always wanted to be special and great.

Would love to see more posts on helping the overacheiver slow down and detox -- I think it would help a lot of potential ERs.

ESRBob
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?
Old 11-22-2004, 09:43 AM   #14
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?

When I quit my last job at 40, I had originally planned to take a 6-9 month sabbatical, and then move on to the next Grand Challenge.

I had a wonderful long summer vacation, and then I started futzing around with The Plan. * I came very close to acquiring a small company, but the deal fell through. *After fairly intense negotiations, lots of dealings with lawyers and bankers, running projections and building strategic plans, I realized that my summer vacation was a lot more fun than that stuff, and I ultimately decided to rule out running another business.

Just to ensure that I had some fall-back options, I lined up a couple of interviews. *This was after about a year of owning my own schedule. * Just being back into a corporate setting, listening to marketing speak, seeing the tension between the various parts of the organizations, the false sense of urgency, and the rows of cubes and offices was enough to make me cross going back to work off my list of options.

So, my advice would be to take a break. *Enjoy a real life for a while. * Then revisit the corporate world, and the toxicity that perhaps wasn't obvious when you were working will come into sharp relief.
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?
Old 11-22-2004, 02:50 PM   #15
 
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?

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Just being back into a corporate setting, listening to marketing speak, seeing the tension between the various parts of the organizations, the false sense of urgency, and the rows of cubes and offices was enough to make me cross going back to work off my list of options.
Yes -- a false sense of urgency -- ugh!
I retired from a work environment in which the terms "crisis" and "emergency" were used too often to obtain a higher priority for someone's mundane project. I reminded people that an "emergency" is when your dad has a heart attack or your kid is run over by a truck.
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?
Old 11-22-2004, 03:23 PM   #16
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?

Yeah, there was a brief period about 20 years ago when I actually enjoyed "firefighting mode" and saving the day. It gets old pretty fast when it becomes a chronic condition.
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?
Old 11-22-2004, 03:28 PM   #17
 
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?

The term at our company was 'disaster' - Everything became a 'disaster' eventually. Even the job
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?
Old 11-24-2004, 06:04 PM   #18
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?

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Financial considerations aside, here is a radical thought:
Maybe younger isn't always better. Clearly this will differ from person to person, but I wonder if incredibly young ER's fully appreciate the achievement. I suspect that ER may be sweeter for those that have had to plan and struggle a bit longer for it. Not that I advocate anyone should suffer a miserable job any longer than necessary. *I would pull the plug at 8:00 AM monday morning if it were
possible * *but I've been doing the same occupation for over 25 years (I know, big deal) Part of what gives satisfaction in life is overcoming a series of obstacles.
An easy path might seem boring to one still equipped for a rougher road...50 seems like a nice round, totally unbiased number *
The optimum age is 37
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?
Old 12-11-2004, 11:34 AM   #19
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?

I retired on the 1st day that I was eligible for medical benefits (on my 51st birthday) and have never looked back. That was six years ago! Don't know how I had enough time to get the important things in life done before.

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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?
Old 12-11-2004, 02:13 PM   #20
 
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Re: The Optimum Age to Retire?

It's interesting to ruminate about when I might have been able to ER if I had gotten the idea very early in life.
Never crossed my mind (truly) until I was approaching 50.

JG
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