Why Retire Early?
When I ask people why they want to invest, why they want to work with me, why they want to take their finances seriously, so many people say, “I want to retire early. I want to make sure that I’m good for the future.” But it’s really important to really focus on What early retirement would look like for you. Because if you’re disciplined and strategic, especially if you work with a money coach like me, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can achieve financial independence and early retirement.
I want to talk about the 5 reasons why I decided to pursue financial independence. And also discuss how flexible financial independence is.
1. Being Work Optional
Work optional is when you are working, but not feeling like you’re working to survive. Instead you are working to thrive and do something that’s in alignment with you. Retiring early/semi retirement means having the option to cut back on your hours, do contract work, not work 40-70 hours a week at a job you hate, and having options. I love being a business owner. I’ve already had my own business for two years. It’s been a whole journey. Do I want to have my business forever? Yeah. Have I looked into possibly seeking out other gigs in addition to my business? Yes, because I have been thinking more about buying property, getting a mortgage, and with the level of income that I’ve had that I paid myself from my business, I applied for a mortgage loan.
I’ve only paid myself $16K this year, and I was surprised to see how much a loan company offered to give me. They offered to give me $120k because I also have good credit and I’m debt free. This year I’ve generated about $57k in my business and I’ve only paid myself $16k because I’ve reinvested a grand majority of that into my business. But if I really want to buy property and I’m looking at Southern California, I will probably need to get a 9 to 5 to show these mortgage companies that I have stable and secure income (in THEIR eyes).
Sometimes you just got to play the game in order to build wealth and get what you want as you realize that your goals are changing. Three months ago I was not into buying property, but now that I’m dipping my toes in it and exploring and uncovering the blocks as to why I was preventing myself from pursuing property ownership, it’s become a new money goal. Our goals are allowed to change all. And it’s up to us to realize why we are stopping ourselves from pursuing them in the first place. Being work optional is a reason to retire early.
2. Exploring Your Interests
Early retirement doesn’t mean you’re not going to work. It just means that you can be more selective with work that’s aligned with you and it lets you explore your interests. In my twenties, when I worked all these exploitative 9-5 jobs, I was a cog in the wheel of the nonprofit and for profit industrial complexes. I gave so much emotional and mental labor that I wasn’t compensated for.
I came home too drained after a day of teaching to even want to paint and create and write. Now that I’m in my thirties and have just had more time to myself, I’ve realized that I am a very creative person. This year I’ve allowed myself to draw and paint. I hired a writing coach to help me start the book writing process. And realized that I actually want to create a graphic novel because drawing is something that is a huge part of me.
I’ve been finally able to explore my creative side thanks to my early retirement. I used to think that I had to slave away at work and then when I retired at 65, THEN I’d get to paint. So if you’re already thinking about something that you’re going to want to do in your sixties and seventies, early retirement allows you to achieve those things NOW. Having financial freedom, my investments, and my business income have let me time travel and start doing the things that my 65 year old self thought they’d be doing now, because I don’t have any more excuses.
When you retire early, you have time on your side. You have time freedom. It’s a desired commodity. You can always create more money, but you can’t get your time back.
Time freedom is something that has been really important for me in my early/semi retirement. I’m semi-retired because I still work, yet I’m able to take a month off of my business and come back to it and have that flexibility. I’m prioritizing my creativity because we live in a capitalistic system where being an artist or being a creative is mocked and laughed at because it’s not seen as a viable way of making income.
In Taipei, Taiwan, during my month off, I was just doodling while waiting for my veggie steamed dumplings. The English-speaking owner noticed my drawings and said, “Wow, you’re such a good artist. Are you an artist?” And I was like, “Yeah, I’m creating art right now.” And then she asked:“Do you get paid for it? Do you make money from your art?” And instead of taking it personally, I just thought, “Oh, this person has bought into the capitalistic idea that art is made for consumption and art is only valid.” Artists aren’t just valid if they can exchange money for their creativity, though. I don’t sell my art, but I still do consider myself an artist.
The way I speak is art. When I speak Spanish, it’s art. The way I cut paper and collage is art. How I view the world is art. The way that I pick up my markers and draw, whether it’s something that is within my mind or I look out the window and I create something. No one can draw the way that I draw. No one can draw the way that you draw. So diving into my interest, whether or not they make money, has been a huge motivator for me in my financial independence journey. Time freedom’s allowed me to explore the creative side of me that I thought I wouldn’t have access to until I was 60 or 70. I’m 32 and I already have unlimited amounts of access to my creative self.
I used to also unconsciously prioritize creativity for the end of the day, because I’d bought into that capitalist idea that creativity isn’t making me money. Therefore, I have to do my “money making stuff” at the start of the day, like checking emails. Then I realized that my creativity can be prioritized to the beginning of the day. I’m a morning person. I have most of my energy at the start of the day. So I gratitude journal five things I’m grateful for when I wake up. My therapist told me to do this a year ago and it’s literally rewired my brain and helped me become a more optimistic person that takes responsibility for my life, no matter what happened. So, why not also prioritize my art now that I have the time freedom and financial freedom in order to be able to do that?
It took a lot of reflection to realize how I was structuring my day in a way that wasn’t prioritizing my art and creativity, because I didn’t first have the goal of creative freedom as a motivator for financial independence. I thought I was just going to be chilling at the beach and relaxing, but obviously that did not pan out in Mexico ( I lived in Playa del Carmen for almost 2 years). I still didn’t feel like that creative side of me was being stimulated there, though.
When I’m traveling is when I’m most inspired. Alive. Stimulated. I challenge you to think about what your day would look like if money weren’t an issue anymore, if you weren’t worried so much about money. The more money you have, the less you can blame money on your problems. And the more it’s about introspection and critically thinking about how you’re prioritizing your day. Are you structuring it according to what capitalism thinks you should be doing?
3. To spend more time with loved ones
I don’t have a home base as a digital nomad for now. But I DO have friends all over the world. Early retirement lets me buy one way tickets and go to places where I can visit friends. I go with the flow because that’s what financial independence allows me to do. People always ask me how long I’m going to be in a place, and I’m like, “Hunty, the whole point of this is so that I don’t have to fixate on an itinerary because I literally have no place that I need to be.”
The only place I need to be is the Dinah Shore Queer Festival every year in Palm Springs, California, where I can go shake my ass for four days,twerk upside down, and make out with all the hotties in the pool. It brings me joy! So spending time with loved onesthat you feel like you want to spend more time with is a big reason to retire early.
4. To Travel The World While You Can
Before COVID, I had been to almost 30 countries. I took the ability to just buy a ticket and travel wherever for granted. A lot of us did. And then when COVID hit, I felt a lot of grief because I knew that this was going to last a long time, and I felt very sad because I was grieving that part of me that was a traveler that always was looking forward to the next place and devouring the world while I could.
And so I shifted my focus from that to starting my business, applied for an remote MBA, and I got a full ride and then moved to Mexico. Even in Mexico, though, I really didn’t travel a lot. I went to Nashville for my business coaching live event, (yay for tax write offs for my business!). I also went to my friend Evie Prete’s bachelorette (she’s a salary negotiation coach) in Merida, Yucatan. That was an awesome trip because I got to meet so many other cool, inspiring women. That trip really made me realize that I DID miss traveling.
Most of the countries I’ve been to I travel to alone because I’m not trying to wait around for anybody either. Life is short. You don’t know when there’s going to be the next global pandemic. So instead of waiting to see if your friends do or don’t want to go, I would just say book the ticket and figure it out. You can always meet people where you do decide to go. Trust yourself. You are going to have lonely days and it’s going to be okay.
I’m writing this in Taiwan, which just opened to foreigners in October 2022. People speak Chinese here, but it’s not the Mandarin that I was learning in Duolingo. The pronunciation here of the Taiwanese Mandarin is different. So even when I would try to say things, they still couldn’t understand it because tonality is everything. It’s been hard being here for a little over a month now, but I’ve learned SO much about myself. Being in a place where I can’t just strike up conversations with strangers and form relationships has reminded me of how important feeling a sense of community is. But I realize that I also took for granted all of the places that I was able to visit and form relationships.
As a fluent Spanish speaker, I got to meet so many cool people in Latin America, but I realized that I’ve been to Colombia three times. I love Colombia. That’s my favorite country. I was limiting myself and staying within my comfort zone, though. I realized that I was holding myself back and playing small. There are so many countries that I do want to see.
Taiwan’s taught me that it’s okay if I don’t speak the language and if I don’t make all the friends all the time. Here I have had back to back days of solitude and I’ve had to learn to be okay with feeling lonely and feeling the sadness, but not repressing my feelings and not feeling bitter towards feeling lonely and sad. There’s always that voice saying “You should just be grateful. You should feel lucky that you’re even here. A lot of people don’t even have the chance to travel. So stop bitching and stop being sad.” That’s not the voice that you ever want to listen to and fixate on. Yes, it’s going to be there. But the more that you can recognize that it’s just a voice and societal pressure, the easier it is to not fixate on it.
Capitalism wants you to feel like you have to make the most of everything, and produce, and consume. That’s scarcity. It’s okay to feel sad. It’s going to pass. Everything is temporary. Nothing is permanent. Happiness isn’t permanent, sadness isn’t permanent. Being single isn’t permanent. Being in a relationship isn’t permanent. While traveing solo, even though I feel lonely sometimes, there are amazing moments where I feel like I belong here. The universe guided me here for a reason. What’s the lesson that’s trying to come through all of this? And how can I take responsibility if I am feeling lonely? What can I do to address this need instead of saying to not be lonely anymore?
I see it as a need within my divine consciousness that just needs to be addressed and parented because as adults we’re basically re parenting our inner children that have been hurt and aren’t healed yet. We’re never all completely healed, though, y’all. We’re all healING because life keeps happening. So to address the feelings of loneliness, physical contact is something that’s very important to me.
I’m a hugger. I love holding hands, and it’s not always sexual and romantic. And I value platonic friendships and love as much as I value romantic relationships. I don’t think that romantic relationships are better and I don’t agree with capitalism placing them on a pedestal, which is ultimately for consumerism. The wedding industry. The diamond industry. Valentine’s Day. And monogamy and polyamory and all of these things. Capitalism wants us all to just buy into monogamy, to believe in a scarcity of love.
I’ve never been in a polyamorous relationship, but polyamory is something that I respect a lot because I feel like people who are in polyamorous relationships have to be willing to communicate their needs and be open. So to address feelings of loneliness, I’ll go and I’ll get my massages. In Mexico, I’d get weekly beach massages. In Taiwan I get one or two foot massages a week. Every time I do that, I never regret it. I always say I’m treating myself. I just love how it feels to be in a massage parlor. It just feels very primal. The essence of humanity is humans caring for each other physically. I prioritize self care because I’ve learned to have more compassion for myself. A year ago, I was an angrier and more resentful person.
This year, thanks to business coaching, learned taht I’d never learned how to just FEEL my feelings instead of repressing them. Growing up in an immigrant household, I was never taught to feel my feelings. Being quiet and repressing your feelings made you “well behaved.” You couldn’t say that you’re angry or sad or bored. I was taught to not think or talk about how I was feeling. So many taboos. Instead of feeling my feelings, I was told to distract myself. But distracting yourself doesn’t address your needs and feeling your feelings. Feeling your feelings is the very scary but necessary starting point at which you can start really fulfilling your needs and living in a more aligned way!
5. Unexpected Health Issues Can Arise
In America, there’s this idea that you need to work your ass off until you’re 65, and then you can live your life and then you can see the world. But guess what? You don’t know if you’re going to be able to be as physically active, if you’re going to be able to walk when you’re at that retirement age. I’m 32 and I’ve already starting to have surprise health issues. I’ve always been a very active person. But I’ve had random, scary health issues arise that have made me feel grateful for prioritizing travel and seeing the world while I can.
For example, I had a massive blood clot when I was 26 when I was working as a stockbroker in Indiana. I had just quit my job but I don’t trust the U.S. health care system, and I thankfully asked my employer to extend my health care coverage for the month of August. Then, I got a massive blood clot out of NOWHERE. That way, I avoided a $26,000 hospital bill.The doctors had no idea how it arose, but it happened, and it took me out. For several months, I took blood thinners.
The second surprise health issue, was that my knees went out this year. I’ve always been a runner. I used to run 45 minutes to an hour a day on the beach. I’d wake up first thing, get my coffee, go for a run, swim. I was very active every day, just pushing, pushing, pushing myself. But I wasn’t stretching beforehand and I wasn’t doing the correct strength training.
One day, I woke up and I could barely get out of bed. My knees were hurting so much. It was wild. My knees went out and I STILL haven’t been able to run nearly as much since then. I share this because you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow or in 10, 20, or 50 years. Those are the reasons for me to retire early.
I’d love to meet you and chat about how I can help you invest your extra cash to retire early. Book a call here to get started with 1:1 money coaching.