Author Topic: Is 25 Too Late for Early Retirement?  (Read 5807 times)

E_Ransom

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Is 25 Too Late for Early Retirement?
« on: October 30, 2014, 02:29:47 PM »
Foreward: The title is misleading, I realize, as this post is not about retiring at 25 but starting work to retire at 25. And yes, to those of you in your 30s, 40s, and 50s, I know. This sounds like complaining. I apologize. However, I thought this a question that might apply to more than just me so I wanted to get it out there.

Diving into this community, I've seen a lot of people in situations worse off than me. Out of control debt, medical issues, family troubles, the Devil's own bad luck. Reading the epic actions of others in the face of life's challenges always makes me say, "Shut up complaining E! You're riding in a gold-lined limo compared to some." But it's easy to forget when Mustache Envy starts.

Yeah, I'm sure most of us have had it. You can tell yourself "I'm doing good," until THEY come along. You know. The 21 year old with a retirement fund bigger than your annual paycheck. The 18 year old with a better paying job than you. The 24 year old with "a couple of years" to retirement. And there's no classic "born with a silver spoon" excuse here. These are kids who know their stuff and earned it! You can tell yourself "I'm doing good," but when you stack up against the titans, you don't have to tell yourself anything. You can feel the difference. Even MMM himself can seem like a better version of Bill Gates or that kid who started Facebook.

When I was in high school, I knew exactly what I wanted to be. I knew I wanted to go into libraries and anything else would be the same as digging ditches. For work, for a career, nothing else would satisfy. Nothing. But I knew it'd be tough to break into. I knew it'd be 6 years to get that MLIS and then a few more to break to a good position. 24 at the earliest, if I happened to end up as personal friends with the director of a great library.

So it happens that, while I know I've got it decent compared to some, when I look at myself (25, a sparse 14k in the bank, still looking for THE job) I start thinking, "Christ! I haven't even started and I should be half-way through by now!" The walls get a little closer. "Retired at 35? If I'm lucky! Hell, might be as late as 40. It's like half my life just washed down the hill in the last rain."

The key factor here, and the one I want to zero in on, is that feeling of starting late. That sense of the other racers having alread looped the track but you somehow missed the pistol. That's what got me thinking about this question: Is 25 (or, rather, any time between the early 20s and the early 50s) too late to really retire "early?" Is 25 too late for a good start? After all, I'm still calling my next job "my first big step." I still think of it as "the start of my career."Is this opposed to the Mustachian idea of early retirement? Is it condemning one's self to a paltry couple decades of decent living as opposed to half a life of really living?

If it is, is early retirement just something that people who take up the harder fields have to accept as unobtainable? Like how choosing to maintain a monogomous relationship means willingly sacrificing the wild romp of bachelorhood and playboyism to a deeper commitment. It's no use (and, honestly, no fun!) trying to make a complaint out of the sacrifice. It's inherent in the work! Besides, when I frame the question like this and ask myself "Do you want to work in libraries so bad that you'd willingly give up a retirement at 30 to do it?" I find myself saying, "Yeah! Hell yeah. What else is there? Bring me the policy and budget. Let's go!"

I'd like to hear the opinion of all other Mustachians, not just those who feel the same as me (though, hey, if you've got similar questions, add them in). Even if it's just someone chiding me for asking a question that's not hardcore. I like the criticism!

coffeehound

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Re: Is 25 Too Late for Early Retirement?
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2014, 02:47:06 PM »
Here's the word from someone in her 40s, who's still paying off student loans and working toward RE:  RE means different things to all of us.  For some, it means retiring before 65, or 60, or 55, or 50. 

There are ALWAYS people out there who heard the starting gun and took off before you did.  ALWAYS.  Have you heard the starting gun?  Are you saving 50%+ of your income?  Or are you just standing there, looking at the empty blocks? (God, I love track & field metaphors)  If you're still in the starting blocks, that's okay.  Acknowledge it, but STOP comparing the speed at which others have run the race to your time.  Get moving, and stop worrying about how you measure up to others.

FACEPUNCH:  In a word, complainypants.




FarmerPete

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Re: Is 25 Too Late for Early Retirement?
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2014, 02:49:27 PM »
Sounds like you aren't late to the race, but you're running before the pistol has started.  Get a job.  Then worry about retirement.  Read about the mistakes people make and avoid them.  You may be in a very good starting position, much better than most who start their race.  Just take it one step at a time.

sol

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Re: Is 25 Too Late for Early Retirement?
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2014, 02:53:08 PM »
I didn't even get out of graduate school until I was 30.  I intend to retire at 40.

MMM style retirement takes ten to fifteen years of working.  The age at which you start or finish isn't really relevant.  There are peeps here who have seen the light at at 50 with zero savings, and use these methods to retire at a very traditional 65 years old instead of working as Walmart greeters into their 80s.  Don't sweat the age comparisons.

Bob W

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Re: Is 25 Too Late for Early Retirement?
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2014, 03:00:18 PM »
You're funny.  lol   

Why don't you write us an essay on why 25 isn't too late for early retirement and submit it first thing in the morning?


Philociraptor

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Re: Is 25 Too Late for Early Retirement?
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2014, 03:07:43 PM »
25 year old here, started this year. You are well ahead of the game thinking about retirement at 25, your average person doesn't start thinking about it until their 40's or 50's.  Get your spending right, get the job, and take it day-by-day.

galliver

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Re: Is 25 Too Late for Early Retirement?
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2014, 03:09:28 PM »
Just turned 26, still in graduate school. ER doesn't appeal to me at all right now. I'm not thinking about it. That is not why I read the blog or the forums.

I find FU money/FI a fascinating concept, though. The idea that you can live simply (but well) on the "trailing edge of luxury," that money in the bank gives you the power to make smarter decisions, that it gives you the freedom to tell a crappy job/boss to go suck it, to take a year off to climb a mountain/live in Europe/raise your child/care for a family member even if you will go back to the workforce in the end. It also gives you the freedom to take a lower paying job, because you don't "need" the $100k/year to support your lifestyle.

I look at my career, primarily, as a way to contribute to the world/humanity/civilization rather than primarily a source of money. At least, when it comes down to deciding "what do I want to do with my life, professionally?" the question of "how fast can I stop doing it?" is very very low priority over "what do I think needs to be done, that I can do well?"

I guess what I'm saying is I think your metaphor is fundamentally wrong. It's not a race. It's like a park with a whole network of trails and many entrances and some people are jogging and some people are walking their dogs and some are watching their kids on the playground. There was also no starting signal, people just wander in at their leisure and do their thing.

Mr. FI

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Re: Is 25 Too Late for Early Retirement?
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2014, 04:03:44 PM »
I have thought the same thoughts you have. It's a position of envy--I wish I could just quit my desk job and start traveling right now. But that can't happen since we just started on our path in January. However, my thoughts have now started to drift from the idea that I have to work this job to get to ER faster to thinking I can find a job I love, or become self-employed and that will give me what I want ultimately--to use my time doing something important. Then it's no longer about getting to 5 o'clock, it's enjoying the now.

Working towards ER or FI or whatever gives us the tools to invest for our future, curtail needless spending now, prioritize our time and energy, to find out that we CAN ride our bikes to work and enjoy it, that we DON'T need cable and that cooking at home is better for you, and it's fun. It's about simplifying and being adaptable to life. Lifestyle inflation is a killer and it's depressing. I'm happier now at the same job than I was 6 months ago. And I continue to improve on how I spend, how I value my time and I'm taking action to find and do what's important to me.

That's all this really is. You have plenty of time. Enjoy the now. If working in that field makes you happy, being FI is just icing on the cake knowing you'll be able to quit and travel if you want, take more chances in the field, or whatever. You're already better off than 80% of Americans just by reading some articles here.

Pooperman

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Re: Is 25 Too Late for Early Retirement?
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2014, 04:07:56 PM »
I am about to turn 25. I found MMM recently, and I will say this: let's get this done! No complainypants attitude. Do or don't. It's never to late to do it.

trishume

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Re: Is 25 Too Late for Early Retirement?
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2014, 04:24:30 PM »
Something I noticed not related to your question, but related to something you said in it. I urge you to think deeply about the attitude behind your statement "still looking for THE job".

Sorry to get all motivational speaker style but: Don't wait for the job, make it come to you! Put effort into becoming very good at your chosen field and ensure that you are on top of your game. Never stop improving, libraries may be your passion, but it's talent that will get you a fulfilling job.

You may already be the best damn librarian out there, but there's no sense in stopping there. Look for other things that can enhance your effectiveness at whatever you want to do, for example you could learn basic programming so that you can automate manual tasks in minutes that would take others days of manual work.

Not only will this help you with your financial goals (talent=>$$$) but it will also make the years leading up to retirement seem like less of a slog.

I may have misinterpreted the attitude behind your statements, if you're already thinking like this then good job!

Either way, read this book: http://sivers.org/book/SoGood

Zikoris

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Re: Is 25 Too Late for Early Retirement?
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2014, 04:26:03 PM »
I sympathize. I've been working since I was on my own at 18, but only got serious about ER when I was just about to turn 25 (I'm 28 now). Worse, those first years of full time work were terrible - shift work, on call work, hard labour, incredible boredom (i.e. inspecting pills for defects in a pharmaceutical factory), injury/illness, commission-based stuff, the works - and it often feels like it was for nothing.  I didn't even do any travel during that time. Nothing to show for it except I'm a pretty good ballroom dancer (funneled a lot of money into that), have lived in a bunch of places, and have never asked anyone for money/bailouts.

arebelspy

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Re: Is 25 Too Late for Early Retirement?
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2014, 04:37:38 PM »
Your age upon which you're FI (and can ER if you wish) depends on two major factors:
1) How old you were when you discovered the idea (via MMM, ERE, whatever)
2) How much baggage you had when you did (large student loans, mortgage on house larger than you need, multiple kids - not that this is a bad thing to have, but it's something that could definitely slow time to FI, etc.)

If you discover it at a young age without much baggage, you can FIRE quickly (5ish years).  If you don't even hear of the concept until you're 40 and have the typical American lifestyle and debt at that point, you may not be able to ER until 55 (15ish years).

That being said, all you can do is TAKE CONTROL with wherever you're at.

Regarding your specific age 25 number: at age 25 (mid-2010) I had a net worth of approximately $0.

I was well aware of the recent ER movement (that had been around for decades or even longer, but become popularized online via ERE a few years before that), and had been aware of it for a few years, but hadn't pushed too hard for it, and had made no progress due to some stupidity on my part (bad stock investments) and bad timing on my part (bad housing investments).

Still, as of today, I'm 29 and I plan to ER at age 30 with over 1MM in net worth, all done on two teacher's salaries (myself and my wife) with no outside help (e.g. no inheritances, lottery winnings, etc.).  That should happen sometime in the next 6-18 months, barring something catastrophic I can't well imagine.

So can you still ER if you're starting at 25?  Absolutely.  That's exactly the age I got serious about it.  But you have to take charge, and understand that you're 100% responsible for making it happen, whatever stage you're at at that time.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

fireferrets

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Re: Is 25 Too Late for Early Retirement?
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2014, 07:09:17 PM »
Hey Ransom,

There's no need to worry so much about how anyone else is doing. Checking others' progress is only to keep you motivated, not as a benchmark. You gotta do what's best for you. In fact, if you follow the stellar recommendations of your fellow Mustachians on this site and practice frugality, you won't have to think about ER on a daily basis at all. It will sneak up on you and before you know it the pieces will fall into place. Hang in there, you will do fine :) Live every day to your fullest and you will find success and happiness.

Grid

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Re: Is 25 Too Late for Early Retirement?
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2014, 08:17:47 PM »
I'd just like to echo the comments about running your own race.  It may be fun to think about how you're doing compared to others, but you will be much happier when you reach FI if your focus has been on why you want to be done with renting yourself out rather than how others are handling their financial situation.  As a fellow 25-year-old, I stand to learn from my own advice here as well.

I'd like to add that since being introduced to the concept of FIRE over a year ago, my thoughts have run from setting strict goals and setting a plan for when I'll FI, to realizing that every Mustachian idea is not for everyone.  Now I'm setting life goals about contributing to humanity as a whole, which has led me today to realize that I'll probably work most every day of my life, with the achievement of FI allowing me to fully explore, without worry, some of the more philanthropic pursuits I have in mind.  I could be a researcher, a teacher, a librarian... the list goes on.

train_writer

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Re: Is 25 Too Late for Early Retirement?
« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2014, 02:17:52 AM »
It is not a race! (yes, with yourself).
I think you can embrace yourself, you know what you want at a young age and you are about to find a job you actually like or maybe a job you didn't think of and is similar likable.

It is not FORBIDDEN to like your job or your current life, while not FIRE. It is just, by finding this site, you learn that there are concepts like FU money for times you find other priorities more important than a job, or your job just stinks.

Personally, I have no idea if I can or will FIRE at a certain young age, but the concept of FU money and getting your numbers straight has empowered me in both hobbies and the work place.

Bart1ma3u5

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Re: Is 25 Too Late for Early Retirement?
« Reply #15 on: October 31, 2014, 06:31:49 AM »
I agree with the posters who say it is not a race, everyone is going at their own pace.  To me the concept of FIRE is mainly about enjoying every bit of your life to the fullest and FIRE just happens to be one of the best ways as you can spend your time doing as you please. I am turning 25 today and have a net worth of slightly over $0 so I am also starting later but have every confidence in the possibility of retiring early if I choose to.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Is 25 Too Late for Early Retirement?
« Reply #16 on: October 31, 2014, 07:05:09 AM »
Early retirement is dessert, enjoying stress free life because you live below your means instead of at (or above) them is the meal.

ScroogeMcDutch

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Re: Is 25 Too Late for Early Retirement?
« Reply #17 on: October 31, 2014, 08:19:05 AM »
When I was in high school, I knew exactly what I wanted to be. I knew I wanted to go into libraries and anything else would be the same as digging ditches. For work, for a career, nothing else would satisfy. Nothing. But I knew it'd be tough to break into. I knew it'd be 6 years to get that MLIS and then a few more to break to a good position. 24 at the earliest, if I happened to end up as personal friends with the director of a great library.

I will get to your question, but only quoting part of your post as it is something that is very valuable. If you take a step back, and see what FIRE and Mustachianism is all about, it is about doing things that matter to you, while leaving things that do not matter to you. Finding your passion, and being able to work in your field of passion is a godsend. Many people are stuck in jobs they secretly (or openly) hate, and that's what that corporate rat race resembles. They get stuck in the following loop - work more - earn more - feel less happy - buy more - temporary fix - get further into debt - work more and so forth. That keeping up with the Joneses.

They can break free from this by focussing on what is important, and for them, the freedom to be able to stop working is of very high value as they do not enjoy the work.

So, some of the people you see on the path to FIRE, may have been working 7-8 years in jobs they hate, with people they dislike, for a company they would rather see gone. While you, even if the job pays a bit less, may be able to accomplish FI in 10 years, doing a job you love, with people you hopefully like and share a passion with, for an institution you believe in. Trust me, many of the first group would want to trade with you in a heartbeat. That is also what you see listed in their "when I FIRE - I will play the guitar, become a DJ, start painting" and so forth.

So is 25 too late for FIRE? Simply put, considering the retirement age is 65 (?), I guess you're way ahead of time to retire early if you'd want to and to become financially independent. Is it too late for ERE? I guess if you'd be willing to make sacrifices like Jacob over at that blog, you'd also be fine.

Part of the takeaway of the Mustachian philosophy in my opinion is that life is not a race, and you should try to enjoy (most of) it deliberately. You have the opportunity to seize life and go ahead and enjoy 100% of it, including your work. Consider yourself very lucky.