Anxiety appears for many who are nearing or at their Financial Independence Retire Early target. Being a little afraid to retire early is normal. I certainly felt something hidden behind all of my excitement. But anyone reaching this FIRE milestone has an incredible asset. It is an asset that grows regardless of market conditions. Once it’s recognized it should ease any sleepless nights about pulling the early retirement trigger. Yet it is an asset nobody really talks about. The best part is it’s a retirement fear-erasing asset that we already own. I only found out about it after my first early retirement. Having this knowledge gives me a lot of early retirement confidence.
Being at Least a Little Afraid to Retire Early Is Only Natural
Here is what I believe based on my own early retirement experience. With all the planning, budgeting, debt elimination, saving and investing, we only really KNOW one thing. That one thing is living our life as a worker bee, living the taught and traditional career-driven, job oriented existence. We create a frugal lifestyle focused on all the right things but it is alongside needed salary producing work.
Even after running our portfolio numbers through retirement calculators with successful funding results, we can still hesitate making the leap. For me, even though I longed for rat race escape, I still only really knew that one way of living.
I did take into account all of my many vacations from that career oriented way of living. I figured it gave me a taste of rat race freedom which certainly provided excitement about making my escape. Yet with all my positive calculations and retirement lifestyle planning there was still some hesitation to ditch worker bee life.
There are also anti-early retirement advice and articles from so-called retirement experts to feed anyone’s early retirement anxieties. Headlines like: Early retirees regret retiring or Long Life spans means people should delay retirement are attention grabbers.
All of it is of course great advice for most people. It is certainly something to consider in our early retirement planning by having counter-strategies to avoid regrets. But for those of us on FIRE, the unspoken asset we have provides a retirement advantage over the average consumerist retiree.
People Who Are On FIRE needn’t be Afraid to Retire Early – Our Super Asset
The super asset I am talking about is the knowledge and experience that we gain on our journey to financial independence. Nobody really talks about the value of the skills and knowledge that gets us to FIRE. There isn’t a little box to check-off on retirement calculators either to improve retirement success rates. Yet these are crucial learned and practiced skills that will aid us in our early retirement. It is an advanced early retirement asset.
I didn’t recognize its value until after retiring. Had I given it respectful thought I would have had far less hesitation in pulling the early retirement trigger. It has been over 6 years since my first early retirement. I just wanted to share what I believe to be an unspoken early retirement asset.
This asset grows with experience
Something every early retiree should do is stay curious and always increase their knowledge. We keep learning and grow our early retirement knowledge-asset regardless of market conditions.
Stay actively engaged
Any early retiree who didn’t just fall into a pile of money and quit their job has been actively involved in their portfolio and budget. That doesn’t end when pitching the rat race. Skills learned will continue being used and grown. When anything looks challenged, decisions will be made and actions taken just as learned and done before retiring.
The skills of living below our means
Living below means seems to be a huge problem for a large part of the population. If we skillfully avoided lifestyle inflation while in the rat race, then we are far ahead of retirees who have later said they regret retiring when they did because they overspent. Our brains have been conditioned to change our spending or add to our income stream (see below) if we find our income becomes unable to meet our expenses.
Ability to side hustle or as I call it, retire often
I know from experience that all of our ambition and abilities don’t just end with early retirement. That drive that gets us to FIRE doesn’t go up in smoke. It just changes its focus. Understanding that the definition of retirement isn’t the absence of work but instead is the absence of needing to work means we have no problem being open to opportunities of passion and interests.
There are no guaranties and we know it
We not only know it but accept it and are able to be successful with it. Risk has always been there on our FIRE journey. We do what we need to do. It separates us from the consumerist debt-ridden hordes. We have learned to take calculated risks to make it to early retirement and that skill continues throughout our lives. We know that things can happen beyond our control. But we won’t crawl under a rock and wither. We will take necessary action just as we did during the years before reaching full FIRE.
There all kinds of reasons to be cautious about giving our final notice and retiring early. It’s only natural when walking away from the only lifestyle we really know and have known for our adult lives. But we needn’t be afraid and suffer through sleepless nights once our FIRE target comes into full view.
Use all of your FIRE- knowledge to counter any thoughts of early retirement gloom and doom and erase any fear. Celebrate when seeing your retirement funding calculations as positive. Throw in a few worst case scenarios. Then know that YOU are one of your biggest assets in early retirement to add to your early retirement confidence.