Note: I wrote this post in 2008, but I think it is equally valid in 2010. Back then I was yet to retire. Now having retired, I have solved some of the problems I discuss below such as what to do and who to do it with.
In many ways I consider the problem of early retirement solved. I [think I] have shown what kind of choices that must be made, how to make them, and what it takes to reach financial independence in a handful of years. Following that, anyone can either accept or reject the conditions.
It was never my goal to make Early Retirement Extreme a popular or “reaffirming” hand-holding voice telling everybody to “just follow these simple steps” and everything is going to be alright. Rather it has been to challenge established views of “how we have always done it” and break the mold. This means that posts hopefully will be useful to a minority who “gets it”, useless to a somewhat smaller majority that don’t get it at all (“What you mean you’re not giving me a method to both retire and consume like everybody else at the same time, you must be crazy!”), and mostly irrelevant to the great majority who prefer not to make too many changes in their life
This leads me to my main point which is that I think I have said most of what I think can be said about how to retire very early. In other words, I am at x=3 on this S-curve and therefore I should start thinking about the next problem.
The next step is in figuring out what to do with FI. The traditional view of retirement is that one stops working after 30 years and find new interests. Social security and traditional retirement plans are all based on this premise.
For the younger crowd the problem is somewhat different.
We seriously have to worry about outliving out funds. Our savings are no longer a nest egg. It’s a bona fide hen that lays eggs! We also have to worry about what other people think about us not working for a paycheck when everybody else define their identity through their vocation e.g. “What do you do for a living?”. Career people have most of their social life at work. In fact most people choose to spend most of their life at work so they can enjoy a higher level of material affluence in their house. This means that most of the day, few people are around. I had the “problem” of staying at home for a few weeks a couple of weeks ago because I was waiting for computer access. I tell you, there are almost no people around between 9 and 5. There was a funny old dude on a segway (it looked as dorky as it sounds). Housewives walking their dogs. The post man. How do early retirees that won’t qualify for retirement homes in another 30 years get a social life? Another problem is that people who are able to retire early are often ambitious high achievers. I know at least one example where the choice of ER was due to the burnout resulting from this pursuit of achievement. Retiring means having to achieve something else instead and what would that be? Watching all the reruns of Star Trek The Original Series? Beating Halo 3? It’s a problem I haven’t solved.
So far writing ERE has been easy because the subjects were all about things I already understood. Now I feel I’ve reached a point where I should start to move on. This means that ideas are now being developed in real time which means that they will be slower in the coming as well as appear less organized.