This past week, I had the chance to host a table at a ‘New Alumni Breakfast’ with 170 graduating seniors at the same high school I graduated from back in the 1980s. My son also graduated from there a couple years ago and I got asked to be involved in the Alumni Association when I stopped working.
One of the ‘table questions’ the students were assigned to ask the table hosts (me) as about what we do for work and our career journey. The hosts were also asked to impart some advice for the students as they head off to university or start working.
The students were very surprised & interested, of course, that my wife and I retired before I turned 50. In fact, many of the other alumni were also interested in that too (“are you the guy who quit working and writes the blog?” another adult asked me).
I shared a brief version of our journey to financial independence & retiring early (FIRE) but gave the students the same advice I’ve shared here: if you save 50% of your income, you can retire after just 20 years work. I wrote up the math behind the approach in this POST.
The students seemed to be amazed to think that they could graduate from college at 22 and be retired at 42. Some of the seniors commented they will be going to college for relatively high-paying careers in engineering and computer science. For them, living on saving half their income would be easier early in their careers than others. Others liked the idea of saving one spouse’s income if two people were married. All of the students thought we as s society spend way more money than we need to on silly purchases that don’t have lasting value.
I think this simple ‘live WAY below your means’ early retirement savings plan is a good ‘gift’ to share with high school & university graduates this time of year. It’s not perfect – there are always challenges in life – but I saw it open up the eyes of these students to a new possibility. Rather than just save 10-15% and retire in your 60s – the rewards of trying something different could add up to amazing!
What FIRE advice would you share with a graduating senior?
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