I’m still amused by a comment about Early Retirement Extreme I just read on reddit. Granted reddit is the archetypical site of the “tl;dr, but have opinion anyway”. Perhaps this is why the comment was so funny.

On the other hand, it also shows the challenge of this site to enlighten the public opinion to what would be the third alternative; the two others being 1) go to college, get a job, buy a house and car, fill them with stuff, spend the rest of your life working to pay them off, or 2) sell cheesy crappy e-books on the web to fund your awesome lifestyle design. (Oh, how I wonder where they got that idea from? Who popularized it?! Don’t tell me!).

Most reddit people (recently earlyretiremenextreme.com has gotten mentioned there quite often, here’s a particularly awful example) think that if I don’t belong to the former, then I must belong to the latter by the law of the excluded middle.

What’s interesting is thus to see the progression of what someone who spends 10 seconds, then 20 seconds, then 30 seconds, on this site thinks about it… it goes like this

  • It’s yet another one of those “Stop buying crap, buy my $10 crappy ebook”-sites.
  • Okay, it’s a good ebook, but it’s still a job.
  • Okay, it’s not a job, but he’s still eating lentils.

I’d imagine the subsequent steps would be

  • Okay, he’s not eating lentils, but he still lives in an RV.
  • Okay, he spends as much on living in that RV as someone living in a house in Portland or Pittsburgh, but he spends a lot of time fixing things instead of buying them.
  • Okay, so it only takes a couple of hours whenever he has to fix something and it only needs to be done once a year or so.

Oh, how I have seen so very many people go through these phases. I wonder if anything can be done to speed up the process and perhaps skip some steps? I am especially worried that some of you guys “suffer” from the same problems?

People are very quick to judge and always attempt to fit what they don’t understand into their known boxes.

I mean “box” in the same way as box is used in in-the-box thinking and out-of-the-box thinking. Many often defend their boxes and think their box is the only relevant box. For you early retiree [wannabes], just think of how often you’ve heard the following phrase:

If you don’t like your job, why don’t you just find a job you love?


I don’t want to retire, I’d rather just find a job I love.

This is a bit like trying to insinuate that someone who doesn’t like traveling simply needs to find some country to travel to that they enjoy; that it’s not the traveling in itself that’s the issue but the specific destination; that it’s not having a job itself that’s the issue but simply a specific job; that everybody loves ice cream and if they don’t they just haven’t found the right flavor yet.

Now if you’re a square peg who doesn’t fit into a round hole and you realize this, suggestions that “you somehow just need to find a different round hole and try that” aren’t very helpful.

What’s the solution to this? I don’t know. I think once everyone has a friend, colleague or family member who is financially independent so as to be familiar with the third option of being an investor instead of a working debt slave, then these issues will go away.

Another method is to divert attention away from the low spending to the high asset side. I’ve had some success with this. After being somewhat more vocal about my investment activities and dividend streams, I now get very few comments about being “unemployed” or “suffering/sacrificing”. On the other hand, this has had the side-effect of some now believing that I’m financially loaded and able to throw money around frivolously. I guess I can’t win them all. But I keep trying.

Originally posted 2011-09-20 04:52:47.