one of our favorite bloggers, cait flanders at blonde on a budget, has recently been writing some extremely personal and powerful posts. major kudos to you, cait, for sharing. it helped us realize that we can share this story…
blogging anonymously for sure has its pitfalls, and one of them is that it creates an additional barrier to sharing our real selves. we’ve explained why we don’t share our numbers, so that’s not why we’re anonymous at this point. it’s because our entire early retirement plan hinges on being able to stay in our jobs for at least two and a half more years. if our employers find out our plan, it won’t be good for us. it could ruin everything. so anonymity is pretty critical at this point, as much as we’d prefer to be open about all of it.
but we’re going to try to break through that today, to share why this whole early retirement vision feels so crazy urgent to us. why we’ve already made some big sacrifices to make it a reality, and are prepared to make more.
starting from the perspective of the female half of our next life:
when i was growing up, i was really close to my dad. he was my inspiration, and he always saw so much potential in me and encouraged me to dream big. he is essentially the entire reason i am where i am today. but when i was in late elementary school, my dad started changing. he became more distant, his posture began looking strange, he was spending more time isolated or resting, and was seeing a lot of doctors. after seeing more than a dozen of those MDs, it was determined that he has a neuromuscular disability that is incurable and only barely treatable. understandably, that news caused him to face down some major depression, which took years to treat. thankfully, he fought to stay positive in spite of things, and we’ve remained close over the years. but his disability has continued to progress, and he now looks and acts quite a bit older than his age.
unfortunately for me, his disability is genetic, and i run a pretty solid chance of inheriting it. also unfortunately, there’s no reliable test for it (yet), so i don’t actually know what’s in the cards — or, frankly, if i’d want to know if the test was available. the disease, if i have it, is likely to begin showing itself in the late 30s, and progress rapidly between ages 40 and 50. meaning: i still don’t know if i have it, but if i do, virtually all of my mobility could be gone by age 50.
in other words: i may not have a lot of time to enjoy the things that i love.
being able to be active is super important to me — to us. we love seeing places that you can’t see by car or tour bus. the views you have to earn, the solitude you have to work for. what if my future is one in which i’m limited to roads and sidewalks — or wheelchair-accessible ramps?
the truth is that none of us know how long we have. we can only hope, plan and make what we believe are good decisions about our health and well-being. but having a potential disability hanging over my head for all of these years has for sure helped clarify my priorities.
i don’t want to work forever. i don’t want to know that i spent my good years at a desk, and not out living life to its fullest. if i only have another 15 years or so of mobility, i want to make sure that i’m out in the world for as much of that time as possible, and that’s a big part of why we’ve been cranking so hard on paying off the house and saving for our post-work lives. it’s why we left a city we loved to be in a smaller place with more affordable housing and easier access to mountains and lakes. we moved away from some incredible friends and the most rewarding side hustle imaginable to jump-start our retirement savings and get closer to our goals.
and, though i always tell myself that i didn’t really want kids, the truth is that, when you know you might be carrying the genes for a disability whose effects you’ve witnessed first hand in someone you love, you become a lot less interested in passing those genes on. a lot of people tell us we’re missing out by not having kids, and maybe they’re right. at least not having kids has helped us save faster for our early retirement vision, which helps when we’re staring down the ticking clock.
though we’ve come sooooo far in our quest to retire early, it’s definitely frustrating that we still have years left before we can quit. our plan is to quit at the end of 2017, when i’ll be 38. and by then, i might already be showing symptom’s of my dad’s disease. i’ve already had bouts of his depression over the years (that also runs in the family), and i hope that having control of our time will help with that over the long-term. but the day when we send our last work email really can’t come soon enough.
of course, if it turns out that i didn’t inherit his disease, i’ll be thankful to have had the threat of it with me for all these years. if it hadn’t made me feel this sense of urgency, i don’t know where we’d be now. we still both really don’t want to work forever, so maybe we’d be on a similar path, or not. all i know is — i hope i don’t get my dad’s disease, but either way, retirement day can’t come soon enough.