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Work wise i'm a bit fortunate to still work at a good company and managers, so it's not a big deal to continue working, although the work can be repetitive and lack of challenge, i consider that a blessing. Still, once you know the date it seems hard to keep still, but the anxiety seems more from the retirement itself (what would I do), rather than the current work. I think for people who are fortunate enough to not worry about financials after retirement, our real challenge is the lifestyle choice and psychological change we need to adapt to.
Assuming you are doing pretty well and are happy with your current standard of living, what would you need to maintain your standard of living in retirement? Knowing you are on track to accumulate a nest egg to support that lifestyle is a big win. Gold medals go to those who have accumulated enough assets, or passive income streams, to be in a position to retire well.
But I have bills due! One mindset that makes saving money easier is to pay yourself first. It was a concept I first read about in Rich Dad Poor Dad and I thought it was really interesting. The author essentially stated that he would save as much as possible before any bills were due and would leave just enough to make sure he had no late payments on bills.
I’ve always considered $10M to be a pretty decent goal that could fund a lifestyle + raising children without worries. Unfortunately I’m 32 right now so I won’t be able to hit that by 35. With some diligent saving, reasonable investment returns and some good performance at work that might be possible by 40. If I hit $5M at 35 I would start considering quitting my job more seriously. I grew up in the midwest, if I went back to somewhere with a lower cost of living, $200k on a 4% withdrawal rate would probably be sufficient for a pretty good life. Especially if combined with a less stressful side job even if it only made $30k-$40k/year. I’m just very risk averse and even though I save far more than I spend, I’m motivated by money (yes I know that sounds terrible but it’s honest). So it would be hard for me to quit a highly lucrative job just as my earnings are really ramping and exchange it for the unknown of semi-retirement.
You are suggesting that because the risk free rate of return is 2.5% anybody who is not obtaining that return is not invested “properly”. However, risk is a real thing and it affects investment returns, and everybody invests with different objectives in mind. I would argue that anybody pursuing financial independence that is 100% invested in ten year bonds is not properly invested because the return from that portfolio will likely only keep up with inflation (if that). Whereas somebody who is pursuing financial independence would be better served in a balanced portfolio including stocks, bonds and maybe other asset classes. This portfolio is more than likely to return less than 2.5% in any given year, but is a more “proper” asset allocation to meet his objectives than is investing 100% of the portfolio in 10 year bonds.
This last stage is a concept that is rarely discussed or achieved. While I define permanent freedom as the point at which your income exceeds your expenses, such a definition is shallow and full of important assumptions. For example, if you know that you require $1,500/month to live a barebones lifestyle, and you can safely withdraw between $1,500-$1,600/month from your investment portfolio, you have technically achieved financial freedom. But have you?