- Personal Finance
How Long Until You Retire
Not Ready to Retire Yet
Before I jump in to the article itself, I just want to say how good it feels to be writing again. I'm looking out towards a rainy day with a cup of coffee in front of me wondering how it took me over 2 months to pick up the pen again.
I've checked in every day to read the forums, see my favorite authors' latest works, and watched my daily views halve and halve again. I won't spend more than a paragraph moaning about all the time I put in before... The biggest lesson by far is seeing how much less I wanted to write once I saw the lack of readers. My writing here on Hubpages started as the scratching of a long ignored writing itch, and somehow became a more commercial endeavor that fed a small piece of my own vanity and ego. And once it became clear that all those things would no longer be a significant factor, I went on a writing vacation. For 2 months. And I return rested and excited to begin again.
I'm not ready to retire yet, from my full time job nor my part time writing hobby. I'm having too much fun and I have too many bills to give up yet.
Retirement is only days away
Retirement is really only days away
I owe a great debt to Even Steven Money and his article on 12,000 days until retirement. After all, retirement and everything around it is typically measured in years. We typically think of something like this:
- You spend 12-13 years excelling at K-12 learning so that you get into a good college
- You then spend 4-8-12 years pursuing higher education opportunities
- You then spend 30 years in the workforce, probably changing companies 5-10 times in the process
- You then spend the rest of your years in something called retirement
- Your retirement savings in an IRA or 401K need to do their compound interest thing for years and years. And the more years they have, the harder those dollars work for you
- And ultimately, my conventional retirement is a good 15-20 years away
**Note that I mentioned conventional retirement because I am utterly excited at the prospect of cutting expenses and making money to the point that work becomes an option rather than a necessity. Early retirement at age 50 with part time work to occupy me sounds A-ok.
Either way, I've made my point. Retirement is always framed in years. But that makes no sense whatsoever. What if we think of retirement through the "days lens"?
Retirement One Day at a Time
During my 2 month sabbatical, I spent a lot of my time working, and a lot of my free time was spent reading. I made a point of waking up earlier so I'd have reading time in the morning, and I also read in the evening before showering. My daily routine became something like this:
- Open your eyes, it's time to go to work
- Brush your teeth
- Drink some water, you're clearly dehydrated
- Stretch your muscles, your body hurts
- Chant, you need to hone your life condition
- Read, you know so very little
- Work, you need money
- Read, you know a little more than before
- Shower, cleanse your body and soul
- Sleep and repeat
The new daily routine got me re-focused on the day to day existence. So when a friend asked me for advice on retirement 15 years away, I suddenly found myself thinking of daily advice:
- How much are you making today?
- How much are you spending today?
- Have you optimized both of those things?
- What would you do if you weren't working tomorrow?
- How much is a day worth to you?
And so on and so forth... Because unless we wrap our head around big problems, and see the smaller steps to the solution, we inevitably face analysis paralysis. And I've spent too many years in that motionless place.
I make almost twice what I spend every day. I've optimized every bill, I pack my lunch, and I've sacrificed those treats that mean little to me. My coffee is a non-negotiable need, as is my Hulu Plus and the gas in my car. If I wasn't working tomorrow, I'd wake up late and then replace the Work part of my daily routine with Writing. And to me, every day is worth a whole darn lot because I'm tangibly closer to my retired life when I close my eyes at night.
Keep it really simple folks. You have 365 days in a year.
- 1 year = 365 days
- 2 years = 730 days
- 3 years = 1095 days
- 4 years = 1460 days
- 5 years = 1825 days (think about that the next time you set a 5 year goal, or take out a 5 year car loan)
- 10 years = 3650 days
- 15 years = 5475 days
And on to infinity. Major money magazines would have you believe that you need to pump money into retirement accounts in your 20s and 30s, and that's fantastic if you can manage it. Your individual dollars grow on your behalf of thousands, even tens of thousands of days! But by the same token, you have all of those thousands of days to work a little harder here, cut a little bit there, start a new side business here, and maybe even retire early there.
The point is that you shouldn't try to grasp a goal that's thousands of days away. You have to be at least somewhat present each one of those days to get there. And if you're really engaged and present on a daily basis, you're cutting the retirement cake way ahead of schedule.
That'll be me you see at the TGI Friday's with the gold watch, fancy paperweight and a two-layer chocolate cake with chocolate ganache in the middle, with a 5_ at the front of my age.
I believe that being frugal and making smart money choices is like any other exercise. As we continue to practice good habits in saving money where possible, finding deals for what we want, and having a good time at it, then we become better at dealing for a living.
I'm committed to sharing my experiences with getting the most out of using credit cards, saving and spending tips, and I might even add a slice of perspective without trying to be a psychoanalyst like some other personal finance folks out there.
Please let me know what you think and if you'd like to hear my take on a specific topic.