Ready To Retire Right Now? Find Out If It’s Time To Quit The Rat Race

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2007-10-2343

I thought I’d try retiring at 50, but I’m now actually aiming to do it in my forties.

Retirement (early or otherwise) means different things to different people. To some, it means an extended long vacation with leisurely trips and travels to far flung places; to others, it’s sitting in the backyard with a book, watching the grass grow and learning to relax. To me, it means having the time to do the projects of my choosing, without feeling the insecurity of financial instability. Oh, and learning to relax is cool too.

So my spouse and I have come to this solid goal: that I’d be quitting my job within the year. I’ve been wavering on this thought on and off for the last few months but now, I’m psychologically ready to pull the plug off my corporate career. These decisions have caught me by surprise as I never thought I’d be thinking about this way so soon. Not a couple of years ago I was happy with work status quo, enjoying what I was doing and building my 401K. I was happy enough that I didn’t want things to change, satisfied as I was with how my job and boss were treating me.

Soon enough, things change and we have to roll with the punches. Kids are getting older and needing more parental contributions at school; more family activities are taking place with additional extended family relocating in the area; the job is starting to get pretty stressful and my health is not liking it. And the big surprise is that we got introduced to a secondary income through this blog and other web projects we’ve been working on.

All that has lit a bulb in me, telling me that it’s possible to escape the rat race once and for all. Don’t we all need the flexibility afforded by our own self-structured work schedules and lifestyles? Then of course I heard of Super Saver at My Wealth Builder and David at My Two Dollars making such dramatic life/work shifts and now I’m doubly eager to do it as well.

Are You Ready To Quit The Rat Race?

Quitting your stable job for other pursuits can be a scary thought because of the changes and uncertain financial future involved, but many people have made that transition and have never looked back. There are many ways to determine if you’re ready to retire from the regular work force. Do you agree with any of these points? If you do, you’re emotionally ready to stop working for the man. I’ll take my own test and check off each condition to see how ready I really am.

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You won’t sorely miss the social bonds or interactions at work.

I’ve made some great friendships during various employment stints but have noticed that those relationships don’t exactly have longevity. Once I leave a job to move on to another one, I sadly lose track of my former colleagues even as I forge new friendships at my new place of work. I derive most of my social connections from very old friends and a big family that I’m lucky to have living close by.

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You don’t need the structure that work offers.

I appreciate the structure that work gives me: getting up early in the morning, doing the commute, walking the several blocks to work, do whatever work is handed to me and then do the reverse when I clock out in the afternoon. But I can replace this structure with a new one! Wake up early, take kids to school, go home, exercise or walk around the neighborhood, do my various projects, pick up kids from school, take a nap, chores. Retaining structure is a good thing so that you remain productive, and if your scheduled is filled, that’s a good sign.

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You have a lot of other stuff to do.

A few years ago, I was pretty unsure of what I would do in case my job was yanked out from under me. I thought I would simply find a new job to replace the last one. If I stopped working, I didn’t have quite enough “stuff” to fill up my time — which I describe as tasks that would count as keeping me productive. That’s not the case today as my growing family has taken up that time along with creative pursuits that I only started to address recently. I’d have to thank my blogging experience for opening my eyes to many creative outlets that fortunately are also income generating. The nine-to-five job is no longer as interesting all of a sudden.

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You have higher priorities.

There’s this phenomenon called “mommy guilt”. Once you have kids, your priorities and your life will change. A lot. Given the way things traditionally work, it is common for career moms to struggle quite a bit with figuring out their priorities, more so than men have to.

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You realize that your job has a cost and is triggering higher expenses.

We incur a lot of work-related expenses and costs that would vanish once we get off the job. Many corporate jobs require certain attire and keeping up appearances, and there are also commute costs like gasoline, parking fees or mass transit tickets. You can also include dining out, convenience meals and health related costs in the list because a lot of health issues can be caused by work related strain! But the biggest expense of all is child care for those dual-income folks, unless they have family who can cover for them — a rarity in itself in this part of the world. Is that job therefore really worth as much as it is? I’ve known people who end up spending on treats like massages, nights out or even scheduled exercise sessions to neutralize their stress in the office. Without the time-consuming job, you can also save money by doing things yourself rather than outsourcing services you once paid for because you were too busy to do them.

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You want to be “healthier” by seeking a better work and life balance.

No more work stress?! Yes I’ll take that! Work has taken a bit of a toll on me lately. I’ve been increasingly experiencing fatigue and other health issues that are tied to juggling too many things at once and which have been requiring some attention and resolution. I need to give up something to get more rest, which leads us to the next point.

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You have other sources of income to live on.

Something has to give, and since my time is mostly spent on job, business, household and family matters, the only feasible thing to cut out is an activity that takes me out of the home, takes up most of my time and is providing some inflexibility in my schedule. What else fits the bill best but my “day job”. Though it provides the most stability in terms of income, I don’t feel like it has the same potential for growth in income that is afforded by my entrepreneurial projects. So even if it could take a while for the home business to replace the job income, it may be a worthwhile trade given where I plan to apply my time — to stuff that really matters to me. By giving up my job, I can spend more time on family, home and other self-fulfilling activities I’ve always wished I had the time to do. The question of course is whether we’re ready and willing to take the risks of losing income stability given the status of our nest egg today. Can our current nest egg sustain us? We’ll find out when I cover this in a future post.

Looks like I’ve checked my way through all these conditions. It’s no longer a question of “if” I’m leaving corporate life but “when”. Now that I’m all set for that lifestyle change, how do I plan to accomplish this? Please stay tuned to find out!

Copyright © 2007 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Chief Family Officer October 23, 2007 at 9:37 am

Oh, wow, I can’t tell you how wide my eyes got when you said you’ll be quitting in a year! I think it’s wonderful and wish you tons of luck!

nina October 23, 2007 at 10:38 am

Congratulations! I wish to quit my work sometime before I reach 40.

david October 23, 2007 at 10:49 am

A bold and worthy goal! Having a job can be expensive too from driving your car back and forth to having breakfast, lunch and maybe dinner as well as the occasional drinks and snacks to pull you through the job.

Nancy October 23, 2007 at 11:01 am

Great post. I have 2 young kids & wish I could do that too. All the best to you!

These days everyone is looking for early retirement.

To Your Success
Nancy

Laura October 23, 2007 at 11:06 am

Fantastic goal! I wish you the best in that endeavor. You should feel proud that you can consider this option, as it means that you’ve ben working hard towards the goal.

marcog October 23, 2007 at 1:40 pm

Congrats. I quite my job. lets see…

Mrs. Micah October 23, 2007 at 1:42 pm

I’m 22, can I retire yet?

Mike-TWA October 23, 2007 at 1:44 pm

Wow! A bold decision indeed and nothing like announcing it on your site to keep your feet to the fire. It sounds like a fantastic one to me. Best success!

David2 October 23, 2007 at 2:14 pm

That is great, congrats. Hope it all works out, and I am sure it will!

Smart Money & Money Management October 23, 2007 at 3:17 pm

Kudos on following your dreams and pursuing what truly makes you happy in life.

My 2 cents when people hesitate in such situations – what is the worst that can happen? If you don’t like your early retirement – you can always go back to the 9-5 routine.

Damien Riley October 23, 2007 at 3:44 pm

In public school teaching, people in their late forties/early fifties are often offerred what’s known as “the golden handshake.” This aves the district money by offering them a lump sum to retire early. I’ve seen a couple people take this and they are doing very well, enjoying retirement. I’d be 49 before I could even be offerred this, but that is still rather young I think.

60 in 3 - Fitness and Health October 23, 2007 at 4:48 pm

My wife and I have been considering this lately. We both want to enjoy our lives more and spend less time at work. We’ve checked off most of these items, although for me, losing the work relationships will hurt. I’ve formed some very long lasting friendships through work and I’ll miss that. Not enough to keep me working though :) Still, our plan is at least 5 to 10 years off for now.

Gal

Brip Blap October 23, 2007 at 6:45 pm

Don’t think that we’ll let you forget this! We’ll be counting the days now until we get a “see ya later!” post. Seriously, good idea. If you can structure your family in a way that doesn’t require that corporate income I can’t think of any way, shape or form in which quitting your job isn’t a good decision. I’ll be right behind you in a few years – we’ve already got my wife out of the corporate world so I have a steeper hill to climb – but I WILL climb it :)

Good luck!

Shadox October 23, 2007 at 8:17 pm

Congrats on the brave decsion. Wish I could do the same, but I am unable to check my way through that list of yours.

If you change your mind, jumping back into corporate life may not be a simple thing.

Super Saver October 23, 2007 at 8:51 pm

SVB,

It seems like you’re right at the tipping point. It doesn’t sound like it will be long before we hear the announcement of retiring in your forties :-)

Silicon Valley Blogger October 23, 2007 at 10:55 pm

Wow, thanks so much for all your wishes and support! Now I feel further invigorated towards meeting such a goal (as Mike-TWA put it!)

Smart Money, you are right, the worst that can happen is simply for one to get another job if things don’t work out — though it could be more of a challenge as Shadox mentioned, especially in the technical realm when things progress very quickly. But my plan is to keep myself up to date in technologies I’m actually more interested in learning, rather than do work that I’m not enthusiastic about. We’ll see where it takes me!

Damien – Just one more reason why it’s so cool to be a teacher :)!

Gal – I agree that the toughest thing about leaving corporate life are the bonds you make there (if there are any ;)). But a new routine will soon make you forget how it was…perhaps!

Brip Blap – I am eager to see how you do with your own plans. I think a good number of us finance bloggers are going down similar paths. I have to say I did not think this would have happened if I hadn’t tried my hand at maintaining a site. Now my goal is to rebuild my job income with “alternative income” and I’ll be thrilled! This should be an adventure.

PinoyTech October 24, 2007 at 6:19 am

My target goal of retiring is age 30.

I currently am building a new blog, launching a laundry business and thinking of going into a food business. I am still 24 and retiring rich and young is one of my ultimate goals.

I guess it’s good luck to both us ;)

ben October 24, 2007 at 8:32 am

Thanks for the post. I am currently in a transition like the one you describe. My spouse and I have always felt that we don’t need two full-time incomes to live the way we want to in our location (midwestern US). I spent the last 12 years doing full-time work while she got a couple degrees and did some part-time work. Now she has the full-time job and I’m leaving mine.

It is quite a scary moment. Not only am I leaving a solid and stable income plus all the benefits of the workplace (a university in my case), but also the relative ease of a ‘job.’ When you start to contemplate charting your own path on your own terms, you quickly realize how safe and easy it is when someone asks you to do something, you do it, and then they praise and pay you for it.

We have saved up a nice nest egg that will get us through whatever time it takes for me to find novel independent ways of replacing the income. Although we are also currently only needing her income, so it’s not a rush. Mostly I want to pursue personal artistic projects, but some writing and maybe programming is also in the future.

Thanks for your post and as someone right in the middle of leaving for similar reasons (my last day is next month), I can only urge you to continue down your current path!

Millionaire Mommy Next Door October 24, 2007 at 10:14 am

Awesome, congratulations! It’s funny– since my early “retirement”, new opportunities keep knocking, including those for making more money. It seems that when you open up your life, mind and time, it allows the space to be filled with exciting new opportunities. I can see that happening for you, too, because you’re keeping an eye on your priorities and seem eager to learn. Enjoy your journey!

Silicon Valley Blogger October 24, 2007 at 11:14 am

PinoyTech: yes, good luck on your endeavors! It’s wonderful to have ambition and determination, especially in gobs, starting young. Oh, to have the energy of youth once more! ;) Sometimes I feel — the spirit is soooo willing but the flesh can sometimes be weak (I’m talking more in terms of age here…lol).

Ben and MMND, I sometimes take the approach of calling to the heavens and asking for a sign. There are days when I feel — should I? Shouldn’t I? The stability of a regular income has a great pull, especially since I do still enjoy the job somewhat. It is more life circumstances and the lack of time to balance it all, and perhaps the stress levels that cause me to take stock of things this way. This job I currently have is wonderful in so many levels: decent flexibility, good pay, strong benefits, bonuses, fairly interesting work and exceptional people to work with. But my commute is long and tiring, and trying to wear so many hats both home and at work has also affected my health somewhat. So it may turn out to be a more emotional choice than I first thought, especially now that I am weighing this option so seriously.

Your words are very encouraging and will help me move forward!

JM October 24, 2007 at 12:13 pm

This doesn’t strike me as ‘retiring’ so much as ‘quitting your job to be a stay-at-home parent’. To me, ‘retiring’ would necessarily involve my spouse quitting her job too, so we could, you know, enjoy retirement together.

Please don’t take that as a criticism. I am envious that you are able to take stock of what is important to you and doubly so that you have the wherewithal to act on it. Its just my definition of retirement is different than yours.

Patrick October 25, 2007 at 7:43 pm

I think this is wonderful! Good luck with your goal. :)

One quick thought: I might not spread the word around the office too much – you may find yourself shut out of projects or opportunities, or worse, they may find a way to let you go earlier than anticipated which may throw your plans off…

Congrats on your decision!

ben October 27, 2007 at 5:39 pm

This job I currently have is wonderful in so many levels: decent flexibility, good pay, strong benefits, bonuses, fairly interesting work and exceptional people to work with. But my commute is long and tiring, and trying to wear so many hats both home and at work has also affected my health somewhat. So it may turn out to be a more emotional choice than I first thought, especially now that I am weighing this option so seriously.

I so know what you mean. Similar thoughts are what kept me in my job for so long. My job is a “good job.” It’s not even just a cliche’ good job, but it really is decent. People are friendly enough, the work is useful for the world, I am paid very well, I’m relatively autonomous, etc. BUT, the thing is, I just don’t want to do it anymore. And in fact, when I look back over the years, I’ve felt that way for a long time. And when you keep doing something you don’t want to be doing, it eats away at your soul.

I believe we only get one shot at this thing called life. One spin on the Earth. How much more of it will you spend doing what you’re doing now? That’s the question that finally got me to make the change. When I’m on my deathbed will I look back to today and say ‘boy, I’m sure glad I stayed in that job for another two years’? No way. How about you?

You are already so out of the mainstream by even thinking how you are. Good luck with charting your own path and for whatever decision you make.

Lisa October 29, 2007 at 9:34 am

Wow, great article. I especially appreciated the section on “You realize your job has a cost and is triggering higher expenses.” This is something I’ve just recently contemplated and realized that after I deduct all of the extra expenses I incur from working, I’m making about $6 an hour! The last point is the only one I can’t check (other sources of income) but I’m working on it!!!

Retired Syd November 18, 2007 at 1:10 pm

I will be very interested in hearing your thoughts as you move toward this goal. I am 6 weeks away from my own retirement (at age 44) and am very excited about the future. I love reading the thoughts of others that are considering, at such young ages, ditching their jobs and trying their hands at retirement.

Keep us posted!

Tom October 16, 2008 at 8:52 am

Yeah I checked every item in your list also.
But hey, why assess your ‘needs’ (and the costs they imply) in term of your present location?
I was 41 when I bought a small place in Bali, though a lot of people might have considered me semi-retired my whole adult life. I make $ contracting in the western world if I need to, and pay SE Asia expenses. It’s gotten so easy now, with communications thru the net one might not have to physically ‘go back’.
Mind you, I wouldn’t browbeat people who aren’t actively dissatisfied with their present situation.
I was though, at 22, and I admitted it to myself, put the backpack on, and that’s made all the difference.

sandra spear January 4, 2009 at 12:05 pm

i am just tired of busting my butt, and not being appreciated.

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