Meet Fritz Gilbert, an early retiree and an award-winning blogger. Fritz and his wife reached their financial independence at the age of 55 in 2018. Before quitting his job, Fritz spent the last 33 years working in corporate environment. Now, as a successful retiree, he works on sharing his experience with others.
Now, Fritz and his wife live closer to nature, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. They hike, go for long walks with their dogs and enjoy spending time with themselves. Fritz also spends time sharing his experiences through his blog and helps others throughout their journey to achieving FIRE. He participates in podcasts, features in many FI related articles to talk about his journey and exchange knowledge.
1. What motivated you to retire early?
I've always "Worked To Live" vs. "Lived to Work", and have always dreamed of being able to retire early to enjoy the freedom that comes from not being dependent on a paycheck. Life is short, and my wife and I both wanted to maximize the years that we were healthy enough to do whatever we wanted with our time. Early retirement fit this dream, and we have no regrets.
2. How did your friends and family react to your plan to retire early?
I've been transparent about our plans to retire early, while also being aware that many folks don't have the opportunity. I avoided boasting about our ability to put ourselves in a position to retire early, and instead played it low key. Our friends and family have been very supportive of our plans, and we've sensed no negative reactions from those who matter the most in our lives.
3. What steps did you take in order to be able to retire early? Did you find it hard to stick to your financial regime?
We've lived below our means since I earned my first paycheck out of college, and we've continually increased our savings rate with every raise. We've avoided lifestyle inflation, and lived a life of Stealth Wealth. Even with those principles, it still takes decades to build sufficient Net Worth to be in a position of true Financial Independence, so we patiently waited as we watched our portfolio grow. Patience is one of the hardest parts of the journey, but we stuck with our plan and gave compounding the time it requires.
4. Does early retirement look like you imagined?
Early retirement is even better than we imagined, and we had high expectations. The complete Freedom to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, is liberating beyond description.
5. How would you describe your typical day?
Our "typical" day varies, but a general theme is: Wake up without an alarm clock, relax and take our time getting out of bed. Enjoy some leisurely coffee in the morning, walk the dogs on the trails behind our retirement cabin in The Appalachian Mountains, then head to the gym for an hour or two before lunch. Spend some time in the afternoon doing our individual projects (each spouse should focus on finding some things which give them Purpose in retirement), with a quiet meal at home before relaxing for the evening. We also weave in travel in our RV, where are days are filled with hiking with our 4 dogs and spending time in/on the water (swimming/kayaks). I also enjoy fly fishing, photography and writing.
6. 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?
Having thought extensively about our retirement for ~3 years before we achieved Financial Independence, we were in a great place to retire at the time that we did. I strongly encourage anyone approaching retirement to think as much about the "softer" sides of retirement as you do about the financial aspects. Once you retire, you think a lot less about the money side of life, and a lot more about how you're going to live your Life Of Freedom.
7. Did you find yourself feeling down when you quit your job or did your transition from working to retirement go smoothly?
I was a bit apprehensive about how the transition was going to go, having watched several friends struggle through the transition. Fortunately, our transition went very well, and I've not struggled at all with the adjustment. I attribute the amount of planning and thinking about what our life was going to be like in retirement as the primary factor in having a smooth adjustment.
8. What's the best thing about retiring early?
Absolute Freedom. For the first time since we started kindergarten, we're free to do whatever we choose, whenever we choose to do it.
9. What advice would you give someone who looks to retire early?
Spend as much time thinking about the softer aspects of your retirement life as you do about finances. Also, be patient as you work through your final years, and realize the benefit of having Financial Freedom for the rest of your life is worth the endurance required to put yourself in a position to retire early.
To see this article in Polish, click here
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