Do You Miss Out On Or Finally Live Life With Early Retirement?

Early retirement is almost a religion in some corners of the internet. People like Jacob from Early Retirement Extreme and Mr Money Mustache have grown large followings behind their philosophies of their ideal early retirements.

I truly believe that they have picked the best retirement option for themselves and their families. I don’t think everyone else in America would agree that the lifestyles exhibited by these people are ideal for every single person.

Why Extreme Early Retirement Isn’t For Everyone

Retiring early is no easy task. Due to the early retirement date, you don’t have nearly as much time to let compounding work for you.  In order to amass the large amount of assets you would need to retire in your 30s or 40s, you’d have to earn a ton of money and spend a very small percentage of your income. Neither of these conditions are easy to achieve, but they’re both completely possible if you put your mind to it and make smart decisions.

In order to reach early retirement the way many personal finance blogs depict, most people find a high paying job and live off a very small amount of their income. We’re not talking about living on 50% of their income, normally it’s 30% or less. Due to their high incomes, 30% is still a decent chunk of money, but I wouldn’t consider it a middle class lifestyle by any stretch of the imagination. 

Early retirees will keep up this lifestyle to save and invest to reach their financial independence point with no breaks. But what exactly is a financial independence point? It is the point where their assets will provide enough income to cover their expenses and never run out.

When you reach financial independence, your expenses will have to remain the same small amount you lived off of each year while building your nest egg. You would already be used to living this lifestyle, but their lifestyle will never increase unless they go back to work to earn more income or invest more money.

Some people are perfectly happy living that lifestyle, but I have to wonder if they ever feel they missed out on opportunities throughout their lives. You wouldn’t likely be able to splurge to go on a vacation of your dreams because you were too focused on reaching retirement early. You might not have a child or more children because they’re too expensive and don’t fit into your financial plan. When you finally get to early retirement, do you live a fulfilled life or are you empty now that you’ve hit financial independence and are just now realizing what you may have missed out on?

The Amazing Side To Early Retirement

Of course, it isn’t all doom in gloom. Once you’re financially independent you can change your mind and find a way to earn income that you’ll truly enjoy. You can use that extra income to support the extra activities you may have missed out on earlier due to financial constraints. Some opportunities will pop up again later in your life, but some may have permanently passed you by. Is it worth it to sacrifice so much to reach financial independence ahead of schedule and retire early?

Many would argue yes. Why? You no longer are constrained by the requirements of your job. You now can do whatever you wish whenever you want! You can walk your kids to the bus stop every morning and pick them up from school every afternoon. You can spend 80 hours a week working on art projects in your garage. You can do whatever your heart desires without a worry about making money, assuming you can stick to your early retirement budget.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to be financially independent and have no money worries for the rest of your life? Or are you worried that you’d miss out on too much of your life? Let me know what your thoughts are on early retirement. Is it worth it or not? Share in the comments below!

Like What You See?

Join the other readers who have signed up for our email newsletter! No spam, just periodic updates to help improve your finances!

About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. I’m not sure what early retirement will be like, but I am sure I will like it! For us, it’s more about having options in life. I’m sure we’ll continue to work in some way, even when we don’t have to.

    • I’m sure you will too, but I agree that I’m sure I’d like early retirement. I’m just not willing to live with next to nothing to make it happen as soon as possible.

  2. We retired early compared to most people….at ages 55 and 53. Best thing we ever did. We are blessed to have a good pension, but we also saved in our 401k, IRA and taxable vehicles so we could generate interest and dividend income to supplement the pension. Social Security, for me, will kick in a tiny amount later this year. The freedom you have in retirement is a blessing beyond description.

  3. Frugal living just isn’t for me either. When I think of financial freedom, I don’t think of counting all my pennies so that I stick to a $1000 per month budget or something along those lines. That’s not exactly the price of freedom I want to pay. It’s almost the reverse.

    That’s part of the reason I’d rather wait just a little longer until I’m in my 40’s to actually call it quits. Sure it will take longer. But the nest egg will be respectively bigger, and that means way more freedom for us!

  4. I wouldn’t live off 30% of my income in order to retire early, even if I had the money. I think there is something to be said for enjoying the present. Besides, we couldn’t anyway, not with our careers and with four kids in the family. We need that money now to manage life.

  5. I like the idea of ER and support working toward it, but not at ANY cost. I think you can strike a balance, by living on WAY less than most “middle class”, but still spending on things that you enjoy. The problem is an over-consumptive lifestyle has become the norm, pushing the income requirement higher and higher. If you can cap your spending and still be perfectly content, you can get to freedom sooner.

    For me, probably not gunna be there sooner than 45, and even then, I’ll most likely pursue income elsewhere, doing something that can help others.

  6. My father was a seaman before, when he turned at the age of 40’s he already planned about his retirement. His plan was to buy some rental property and some investment, but unexpectedly he died at the age of 49.

  7. Bryce @ Save and Conquer says:

    Even after I found my career job, I lived like a broke college student for years. I maxed my retirement accounts and saved extra in taxable accounts. My main purpose for doing this, though, was not to retire early, but to save 20% for a house. Houses in the Silicon Valley were not cheap, even back in the 80s and 90s. Our family is still frugal, but nowhere near as frugal as I was while saving that down payment.

  8. fivefive says:

    Seldom does someone follow one plan all their life. In my early 20’s I worked way too much and didn’t live a satisfying life. (no doubt I made loads of money). In my late 20’s through early 30’s I worked too little and lived too expensively . I spent the next 10 years digging myself out of spirit crushing debt. I worked more than most, stopped using credit, but still gave myself an expensive treat now and then to maintain a balanced life.

    The right mix for me for many years now, has been to work a little more than I need to get by, Live cheaply as far as the routine expenses of life. Spend more on the things I enjoy now and then. I drive late model average cars (GM, not BMW). I love eating out with friends and family. My treat but I limit myself to once a month. Generally I can count on being treated once a month.
    Simple plan: I put enough (6%) in my 401K to get the max company match. I put a like amount into a Roth IRA.
    I’m 53, my only debt, the mortgage will be paid off months from now, I plan to retire at 55

    • Sounds like you’ve experienced both sides, the potential of early retirement, the potential of traditional retirement, then the decision to retire 10+ years early! Congrats on making it work, sounds like you’ll be in pretty good shape!

  9. Early on I lived life to the max, brand new cars, always eating out, expensive furniture, and the most expensive house that I could mortgage. Then I downsized and became less wasteful. I live in a smaller home, drive late model used cars, only dine out once or twice a month. I’m much happier now, I’m debt free and sleep better for it. I don’t feel deprived in any way.
    Everyone has their own idea of what “too frugal” is. I worry for those that think doing without blockbuster annual Euro-vacations and a new Lexus is too much sacrifice.
    I enjoy your blog and appreciate how you explore both sides of issues.

Share Your Thoughts