The solution to too much or too little weight is solved with generally the same strategies. There are three things needed to maintain an ideal weight: diet, exercise and sleep. Do it right and you stand a good chance of living a long time. Do it right and you increase your chances at high levels of health and happiness. Do it right and your level of happiness should go up significantly. Do it right and you will truly be wealthy.
People pay me a lot of money for advice. It’s called consulting. Questions on taxes and money are what start the conversation. But once we get under the hood it becomes clear there is another motive. The real questions involve medical issues, raising children, starting a business and retirement.
It would be easy for me to give a short pat answer. It wouldn’t do much good, but I could do it. Instead, I ask a series of questions helping the client to come to her own conclusions. Some crazy tax guy from the backwoods of northeast Wisconsin will never have clever enough words to convey the right message. I have to help the client find there way there on their own. If I say “Yes” to the best business idea ever and the client is not ready or in the right mindset, they will fail.
And it always comes around to the finish line, aka, retirement. When can I retire? Should I retire?
I could give you a simple formula if you want. Better yet, skip the whole post and scroll to the bottom for the quick and easy answer, for all the good it will do you.
However, it might be better if I share a story and ask a few questions first.
It didn’t exactly start with Mr. Money Mustache, but the FIRE community solidified around Pete and his work. Pete retired at the ripe old age of 30 and set a new standard in early retirement.
News feeds have a litany of stories of 30-somethings living the good life as they travel abroad. Coupled with the stories of people paying off a gazillion dollars in debt in four and a half minutes and it starts to look easy.
Except it isn’t that easy! It’s actually damn hard. Personal circumstances play a vital role. Where you live, your health and education opportunities determine at least a part of the outcome.
The early retirement community is alive and well in one of the greatest economic booms of our age. The government is working hard to create more jobs while the people want meaningful work and more time with family, friends and for pursuing other personal interests. Except for the most hardened, retirement is a goal that will be reached eventually whether you are ready or not.
The early retirement community has a lot to teach to those racing toward the finish line. There are serious risks involved, however. Without serious planning and thought, retirement can be hell on earth. Sitting around all day without meaning or purpose saps all joy and pleasure. Retirement is meant as a tool to explore wonderful new worlds filled with beauty and awe. Dream travel and the business you always wanted to start are now possible. You’ll have time to write that book; start that podcast; climb that mountain. Or, it could be anxiety, loneliness and fear.
A common question in the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) community involves how much money you need to retire. Before I became a card-carrying member of the community I would hear the question something short of a dozen times per year. This blog means I hear the question a lot more these days. And people still don’t believe my answer.
There is a great misperception over how much money is needed to cash a check and walk your own path. I’ve consulted with 70 year old men worried they don’t have enough to retire. In the FIRE community younger people are more interested in the same question with a different set of rules.
Social Security changes all the rules. The 4% rule is wildly off the mark because they forget two simple facts; facts we will cover right now.
When you think of the most powerful, motivating speeches ever given, Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address comes to mind. In less than three hundred words* Lincoln encompassed the issues facing the nation. As great as the speech was, it was backward looking (Four score and seven years ago) with hope to the future. Lincoln was able to clearly articulate his message in a few minutes. He struggled up to the moment of addressing the crowd as Gettysburg. It was the planning and preparation that lent to the quality of the message.
Closer to home we might consider the commencement address Steve Jobs gave at Stanford in 2005. At fifteen minutes, Jobs communicated a narrower message with significant reinforcement of his theme. Once again, serious planning took place prior to the presentation. Jobs was legendary in his drive toward excellence. He could speak before a crowd extemporaneously, but preferred formal presentations he could and did practice again and again until everything was choreographed to perfection. Errors were ironed out. He practiced so much that when he was live he could continue without missing a beat if technology failed while he was on stage. A Steve Jobs presentation
When I was a boy I was diagnosed with the disease. Later doctors tried a cocktail of medications to tone down the highs and lows. Lithium did nothing. Prozac and similar drugs were ineffective. They even tried scary drugs that really messed with my head. Eventually the medications were ended and I attended therapy to understand my triggers and methods to control an episode.
Here is the funny thing. I never had an overwhelming debt burden in my life. I grew up poor on a farm in rural Wisconsin, but we always had food, family life was good and I never felt like we were poor until I got older and the outside world reminded me what I am.
Later I married the best woman on earth and she blessed our household with two incredible daughters. Home life has always been good for me. I got lucky. With a predisposition for mania followed by depression, I found a way to create a life that minimized triggers. Like I said, lucky.
The event of my life happened on April 2, 1987. It was the most unlikely of events and was totally an accident. Unfortunately you can’t enjoy what I experienced. The modern world no longer tolerates that kind of thing.
The spring of 1987 was a calm part of my life. I owned my own home, I had money and I was living the dream. Only one thing was missing.
My lust to learn goes back to my childhood. With plenty of free time I could read from sunrise to sunset. I would walk to the corner café for a cup of coffee and dinner most days. I would putz around the place and yak with the local farmers as I swilled my coffee. To prevent my underwear sticking to my ass or crawling up thereof I would hop behind the counter and pour coffee. The patrons loved the conversation so the owner comped most of my meals and coffee.
As much as I was enjoying