These thoughts are inspired by a post from a US blogger I follow on four things he gave up to retire early. According to him the four things given up were power/influence, big beautiful house, international travel, and guaranteed financial security. I will comment on these four and two more of my own.
I feel that I had my time of “power and influence” in the workplace and have been there and done that. I peaked in my career relatively early (in my thirties) in achieving a senior role and holding it for eight years in a growing and successful small-medium company. I wasn’t so keen to keep doing that so felt able to drop back into supporting roles in mostly larger companies for the second half of my career. I then felt able to drop out of working altogether after thirty years of it. I had moved away from having or wanting power and influence long before I stopped work.
Houses and travel are all about choices and trade-offs when working. Paying off the home mortgage felt like a better choice than buying a bigger house when striving for financial independence. We did, however, make it so far up the property ladder and had some good luck on the timing of things. As with the career we peaked early on housing (in our thirties) and didn’t strive for more thereafter. As house prices got much higher, with the differential price of a bigger house rising, that was a disincentive too. We were settled in our big enough house and were not motivated to move to a bigger house long before I stopped work.
On travel we have travelled a bit internationally, and can do a bit more in the future. We probably should have done a bit more when we were working so I regret that a little. We can’t travel more in our thirties anymore because that time has gone. We can only consider it for our fifties or later. Travel was not a big priority for us at the time, so I only have a little regret. I think I retain some (but not all) choices on travel now I’m not working. Whether working or not these choices would narrow anyway as time moves on.
Security can be considered on different levels and can be elusive whether working or not. Things change. I feel I have financial security although there is no guarantee. As I gained more financial security, the security of a job was not something I especially sought in my later years in work. Earlier on I had seen a three month notice period as a benefit, later I came to see it as a burden. At the end I only had one month’s notice to give in order to make my exit.
Healthcare provision in our country (the UK) gives our family some protection and confidence that is maybe lacking for those in other countries. We haven’t taken out health insurances and have no issues at present. Residential care costs towards the end of life pose a potential concern. I believe these would be manageable but they would reduce the value of any inheritance we leave.
What I did feel that I consciously gave up was the opportunity to earn more money. The one (or five) more year syndrome if you like. I did consider the amount that five more years of my take home pay would represent but I then decided that it wouldn’t make a lot of difference to my life at that point. Five years on I hold to that view. In striving for financial independence, I did not have an expectation of a lavish lifestyle and I still don’t. By having a more modest lifestyle it has been easier to get to financial independence and easier to live with it.
A second thing that I consciously gave up was the opportunity for further challenge and recognition in the workplace. I am still interested in challenges but I recognise that I am now seeking them outside of the workplace.