I was reading an article the other day that stated people are going to have to work well into their 70s and even 80s before they’ll be able to afford to retire.
Like that’s going to happen for most people. Are they crazy? Sure, if you are the CEO of a big company and have a small army of assistants, working until 80 doesn’t sound too bad. Heck, it’s the sort of work you do if you are king. Your hands never get dirty and people kiss your butt all day long.
How many 80 year old professional Firefighters do you see? I think back to all the guys I worked with back when I was a Firefighter. Many are dead, mostly from cancer and heart disease. By the time these guys get into their 50s and 60s, they are getting knee and hip replacements. One of the guys on my crew has had 5 knee replacements and his current ones aren’t doing very well. Many of us suffer from COPD and other vague debilitating conditions the doctors have a hard time classifying. There’s a reason the profession has early retirements. If they didn’t, almost everyone would either die on the job or retire through disability.
A handful of professions allow early retirements. If you do retire at the earliest possible opportunity, it’s usually at a greatly reduced income level. For example I’m friends with a guy who retired at the minimum age with 50% of his former income. After paying for medical insurance, his income is closer to about 40% of what it once was. He’s adjusted. His house, fishing camp, and vehicles are paid for. The house is heated with firewood he cuts himself. There’s very little he can’t fix or build from scratch. His hobbies are fishing and hiking; both are pretty inexpensive.
Then there is this guy at Early Extreme Retirement. He lives on a bit over $7,000/year and does not suffer. Lots of good advice on his site.
I’ve another friend who works a factory job in KY. He’s socking money away like crazy to the point where he’s living on much less income than his peers. They make fun of him, but he’s going to retire well before they will -if they ever do. His aggressive savings plan does two things. It provides him the money to retire on, and he gets used to a lifestyle that requires a lot less money.
There are people who sell everything and move to places with a very low cost of living. Some are moving onto cheap sailboats. There are people who are putting their funds into things that reduce their cost of living: solar panels, gardens, small livestock -the whole back to the land gig. Other people have moved into old trailers on junk land.
People move to places that don’t require a car in which to function. They either bicycle, walk or use public transportation. Expenses are cut to the bone so they can live on savings, tiny pensions, or maybe a minimum wage part time job. There are plenty of creative solutions out there if only you look outside the box a bit.
Why do it? Freedom. The ability to do something else with one’s life. Maybe a chance to ponder life’s big questions. Some do it so as not to contribute to a corrupt system. Nothing wrong with that motive. Life is too short to spend the bulk of it satisfying the whims of other people.
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