Early Retirement Dude, aka ER Dude, is one of the well know characters to the FIRE Community. ER Dude retired before early retirement was even a thing. And yet he managed to prove to everyone that early retirement is not only possible, but worth it. With no internet forums or FIRE guides to follow, he came up with a retirement plan all by himself. It wasn’t easy but he had a strong motivation – to escape the “Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat” cycle and to focus on what really matters in life.
He started saving up and investing, which soon brought the desired result. He reached his full financial independence at the age of 36 and decided it was a good time to call it quits. He walked away from his prosperous job in financial sector and never looked back. 14 years later, he’s still going strong! He lives a happy balanced life surrounded by his loved ones. We got to share his retirement story and were told what early retirement is all about.
1. Many argue that only people who don't like their job think about early retirement. Was it unsatisfaction with your job that motivated you to pursue financial freedom or were you driven by something else?
Dissatisfaction, yes, but it was a lot more complex than that. I always say that people who don't have a strong vision for their post-retirement life won't retire. "I can't imagine what I'd do with myself if I wasn't working" is a scary thought. To overcome it you have to know what you're working towards--what you'd rather be doing. And it's better to be working towards something positive rather than away from something negative. I went through that, and I think everybody who's serious about FIRE does too.
2. It's been 14 years now that you've retired - does retirement look just like you imagined it to be?
Yes and no. Retirement is like the old line from John Lennon's song "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)": "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." That's true for everybody, of course not just FIREees. My retirement is on the balance a happy one, which is what I hoped for, but its actual circumstances are much different than the ones I envisioned. You just can't know the future. Simple as that. You want one thing; the odds are that you'll get something different. And new opportunities are always presenting themselves.
3. Do you think early retirement is for everyone?
No. If you love your job, why would you leave it? I can think of circumstances where it'd make sense for you to--nursing a chronically ill family member, for instance--but a strong motivation to retire is obviously dislike of one's job, and if you don't have that, you're much less likely to work towards FIRE. Remember, though, what I said about how it's better to work towards positivity than to work away from negativity.
4. Thinking back - do you think you quit your job at the right time, or would you have left yourself a bit more time to prepare?
It was the right time. You can always find a reason to keep working. It's a natural consequence of fear. I was terrified to end my career, but my model said I was ready. After working on it for so long, I had faith in it.
5. People don't usually mention the downsides of early retirement. A study carried out by British Institute of Economic Affairs confirms that retirement increases the probability of suffering from clinical depression by about 40%. Many people who retire early can also feel alone and purposeless. Did you find yourself feeling down when you quit your job or did your transition from working to retirement went smoothly? If you did find it hard to adjust, how did you manage to bring yourself back on track?
My transition to early retirement went very smoothly. That said, I've written on my blog about how I have bipolar disorder II. I wasn't medicated or even in therapy while I was working, and I had terrible depressive episodes. Suicidal, even. I attributed them to being ground down by my career. To a great degree I was mistaken, but oddly enough I'm grateful for those episodes now. They kept me motivated. And I don't think I'd ever have been diagnosed if I'd kept working. In the corporate world, there's too much pressure to bury your personal feelings when they get crossed up with the corporate mission. I mean, think about it. You look around at the smiling faces in the office, but you know many of them are hiding a lot of job dissatisfaction. You're seeing masks.
Sure, I was surprised when the episodes persisted after my FIRE. I kept myself on track in ways both healthy and unhealthy. For example, I worked out a lot but drank too much. I worked on my post-retirement plans a lot, but I wasn't living in enough in the moment, etc.
As far as feeling alone and purposeless, I think everybody goes through that. There can be a lot of idle hours, which is a big reason why so many FIREees take up "side gigs"--although I hate that term. Achieving FIRE takes a lot of hard work, and you don't magically lose your drive on the day you quit your job.
6. What does your day-to-day life look like? Do you have a side hustle?
A typical day: I get up at 8:30-ish and see my kid off to school and drink coffee and spend a couple of hours writing. Then I lift weights, go to my jiujitsu lessons, and/or go running. Late lunch, an hour or two of whatever needs to get done around the house, and then my kid gets home. Dinner and family stuff, which varies widely. My family usually goes to bed around ten, but I'm a night-time person, so I'll stay up gaming with my friends until midnight or one. It might sound isolated, but since my best friends all live in other cities, gaming with them is a great way to socialize with the people who are most important to me.
Since a good bit of my writing is for my blog, you could say it's my side hustle. But like I touched on, I hate the terms "side gig" and "side hustle." In an ideal situation, the term oughtta be "hobby" or "labour of love." If you monetize that, then more power to you.
7. What's the best thing about retiring early?
The best thing about being FIREd is that you don't have to abandon the dreams of your youth. I see a lot of middle-aged friends doing that. But FIRE itself is a youth-dream that makes many other youth-dreams realistically achievable.
8. What's your plan for the future?
That's a really good question. Stay engaged in life, I guess. Keep my brain sharp and my body healthy, enjoy my family, raise my kid to be the best person she can be. These are all big-picture items.
I have many small-picture plans, almost all of which involve travel and physical fitness.
If you'd like to get some insights on how to start a FIRE journey check out his blog (don’t worry, you don’t have to be a Financial Guru to know what he’s talking about, he keeps it funny and simple). Follow him on Twitter at @RetireEarlyDude and Facebook @EarlyRetirementDude
To see this article in Polish, click here
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