Traits Of Early Retirement


As I’ve expanded my diversified income into another area, Android apps, I’ve started making significant passive income. More importantly, I’ve come to realize that there are three types of people:

  1. Those who desire passive income, but immediately and completely rule it out based on their perceived capabilities (self limitation)
  2. Those who consider it, maybe even try it, but soon quit – sighting various reasons like “I lack the required skills”, “other people just got lucky” and “I’ll totally do it as soon as I have time” (self limitation)
  3. Those who set no boundaries on personal capabilities and whose curiosity drives them to keep trying

You may be born into a category, but it’s not a death sentence. Personally, I was born into #1 but moved to #3 at about 32 years old.

If you stumbled upon this blog you are most likely desiring financial independence and possibly seeking an extreme early retirement (like me). So let’s explore that…

If you are #1 above, you will not achieve FI early. Regardless of what you are willing to save, you’ll be lacking the ingenuity to adapt with your current skill set and learning ability to take care of yourself and family. To exaggerate this point, picture a 30 year old man that has saved heavily, but failing to learn new skills and always avoiding manual labor. He may have saved up a ton, but the first home-maintenance disaster will send him back to work in order to pay for services that he did not budget for. Worse, the fear of a home disaster will never let him leave work in the first place.

The second group is the fantasy group. Those who want to learn, those who are easily taken advantage of… They are easily influenced by advertisements like “get rich with your blog” and “make money writing Android apps” but they personally limit their ability 0n actually doing it themselves based on various reasons (technical knowledge, lacking a strategy, too busy right now, etc). While I don’t categorize everyone together, if I must then I consider this group the group that sees the light, finds too many problems,and exerts energy on why something can’t be done. These people are so close to achieving freedom, but not there yet.

The third group is the group I love and desire to join. These people never lose the curiosity of a 2 year old (which I had for about a decade, but am now in recovery). These people don’t ask “why” but instead ask “why not.” These people are constantly learning new things, both money-making and not. This is who I’ve only recently become.

So what is this all about? It’s simple… If you are category #1 or #2, you are very unlikely to achieve an extremely early retirement. That’s OK, ERE is not for everyone. But if you want to reach an extremely early retirement, I suggest you deeply analyze yourself and find a path to category #3.

9 Responses to Traits Of Early Retirement

  1. krantcents says:

    I achieved financial freedom at 38 years old. I now teach in public school because I want to. I love what I do.

  2. I was just talking to someone last night about how I could tell a friend of mine would be successful because he has, talent, opportunity and work ethic. He came back with, ‘well there are people who have the same talent but don’t have the same luck.’ I think your opportunities come at the junction of talent and hard work. Those that won’t work to get what they want will end up getting exactly what they don’t want.

    • I think it’s less about hard work and more about decision making. I’m lucky to have made a lot in my career, but at the same time I really pulled in my retirement when I made the decision to change my life by setting my own priorities,rather than the ones shoved down out throats by the consumerist culture. I worked years to save money, but it was 2 months of life changing decisions that pulled my retirement in by over 20 years.

  3. Jesse @ BP says:

    I’d like to think I’m in group 3, I never consider my lack of skill a barrier and my whole career was developed through self-learning, but I know I do quit things often enough to fall into group 2 as well.

  4. I’m moving closer to #3, but I disagree with your ERE assessment. From what I understand, ERE is all about minimizing expenses. If you get your expenses down low enough, then it will be much easier to retire early. If you get your expense down to $500/month, you can probably stop working and don’t need much passive income from now on.
    The reason you (and I) need passive income is because our expense is not as low as Jacob’s.

    • “ERE is all about minimizing expenses.”

      That’s not all it’s about. There are two factors, and minimizing expenses happens to be the harder factor. But ERE is really about matching expenses with passive income (letting your money work for you, rather than you working for it).

      But that’s independent of my statement that #3 is a requirement for ERE. The reason I state this is because becoming #3 (exterminating self-limitations and having an abundance of curiosity) is a trait that I believe you must have in order to:

      1. Have the open-mindedness to break away from the accepted path of college->cubicle work->sould being crushed->retire->death.

      2. To stay active and curious enough in retirement so as not to get bored. My dad, for instance, retired at 55 and returned at 57 because he was bored. Then again, he was not #3 and did not learn a single new hobby, make new friends, or volunteer his time in retirement. For him it was unfulfilling.

  5. Great article. I seem to be #2, but I am striving to be #3. I tend to get hung up on my limitations, and use that as a cause for giving up. I like the idea of constantly asking, “Why not?”, instead of psyching myself out before I even get started.

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