I’ve probably been talking about early retirement for about as long as I have been gainfully employed. When I started first working after college, one of my older brothers pointed out that my starting two weeks paid vacation amounted to only 1 year off for every 26 years worked. That got me thinking right away about saving enough to retire BEFORE I hit the 26 year mark. With the end of my 26th year on the job coming up on August 14, 2016 – my plan is to exit with a few months to go.
Since I’ve had it in my mind for so long, it isn’t a surprise that I have been sharing my dream with family & friends for many years. Of course a lot of people talk about retiring early, but few get close enough to actually make concrete plans to leave before age 50. (About 2% of people retire @ 50). In our case, we started talking about early retirement with our financial planner when I was in my late 30s. We set a goal of retiring in 10 years, even though that seemed like it was a pretty big challenge at that point. I’m sure I mentioned the dream to quite a few people at that stage of our life – although few would have thought much about it at that point.
About 18 months ago, we established a specific date at which we would build our plans around. We didn’t announce it to the world in any way, because talking about it with a date make it more of a specific short-term commitment, versus just a general long-term goal.
My parents were over for the afternoon watching an NFL playoff game when I first mentioned it within my family. It was about a year ago. I asked my Dad what he recalled about retiring (in 1993) and how he decided the time was right. He retired at age 60. He said he would have been happy to go a few years earlier but the company retirement plans made it worthwhile to stay until that age. The good news was the company’s stock was rocking at that point and it was a good time to exit. His advice was to think about how to keep a bridge into the business world, even as you leave your “day job”.
Last summer I started sharing specific plans with a few of my brothers when we were out golfing. We golf the last Friday of the month and I shared with them that I was writing this blog and planning for retiring in 2016. My oldest brother and I had talked about financial goals for many years, so I don’t think it was a complete surprise, but a fun thing to talk about when you are out on the links. My golf game could use more time on the links was the general conversation 🙂
I also started telling some friends last summer. It’s a bit of an awkward conversation to have without sounding like you are bragging. At the same time, it is a big change in your life and hard not to mention to those that you are close to. With friends, I would just say “Hey – guess what? I’m on my ‘last lap’ at work. I’m planning on early retiring next year.” Almost to a person people would say “good for you” – and ask for a few details.
I think the closer you are in socioeconomic level with others, the easier it is to chat about it. Because of this, it is easier to talk about it with neighbors because while you aren’t as close to them as some people in your life, you live a similar lifestyle. A few people have wanted to share where they are at and even get together to ask for advice over a cup of coffee or a beer. I like hearing where others are at and am happy to compare approaches or even some numbers.
I have had few ‘awkward’ chats about retiring early. A minority of people will shut down or say some odd things. I wrote about those reactions in this POST.
At this point, I have chatted with dozens of friends over the last year outside of work. I always reinforce that I might still change my mind, I might get cold feet at the very last minute, or I might be doing something I will regret later. There’s no sense in acting like I have all of the angles figured out in advance. In fact, I often say I have no plans after retirement.
I also warn people that I haven’t shared my plans at work. Talking about plans to early retire when you are at work is a risky proposition and I have (mostly) avoided that. When you are more than 25 years into your career and have significant leadership potential to the organization, speaking up will doom you if you choose to change your mind. The company needs to know you are with them for the long-haul or there is a long line of others that can take your place. Although I am now less than 3 months from pulling the trigger, I have still only shared plans with less than a handful of colleagues (none of which have yet seen this blog).
For the most part, it is fun to talk with people about the ‘dream’ and hear what they are thinking. This blog has become a great forum as well. I have met so many peopleonline with a similar goal, so I look forward to reading other’s comments & posts.
How much have you shared your plans with friends & family?
Here is page with links to other posts in my FIRE MILESTONES series.
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