we hit a big blog milestone on monday — the 1000th reader comment (2000th if you include our responses). we’ve been at this for about nine months, and never could have anticipated connecting with you guys in such a big way in such a short time. so thank you. we hope you all know how much your comments, questions and friendship mean to us!
lately, in perusing new blogs, we’ve both come across a seemingly frequent but also puzzling (to us) phenomenon. when aspiring early retirees are telling people in their lives about their plans to retire early, they’re getting negative responses. some of it is the usual stuff (“isn’t retirement for old people?” and “but won’t you get bored?”), some of it is the typical incredulity (“impossible!” — i like to imagine that they shout that one with a french accent), but the last one has us utterly befuddled:
the assertion that the accumulation of assets required to retire early constitutes pretty much the worst quality we can imagine: greed.
never mind that we can’t totally fathom this negativity that so many other bloggers are experiencing, and have found pretty much everyone we’ve told to be supportive, and maybe even a little envious in some cases (and i’m sure there’s some healthy amount of doubt in there, too, about the feasibility of it all, but folks tend to keep that to themselves) — that’s a post for another day.
the idea of early retirees being greedy just seems to misunderstand the nature of early retirement so fundamentally that it requires not just a rebuttal, but a manifesto. over the top? maybe. but let’s go with it. :-) tell us in the comments what you’d add!
early retirement is about “enough.” not too much, not more, enough. with greed, there is never enough.
early retirees determine the smallest amount we can save to sustain ourselves for life, we save that amount up, maybe we downsize, and then we stop trying to earn more, for good. with greed, it’s forever upsizing.
greed is about hoarding more than you need, for status or ego, or trying to quench an insatiable thirst. early retirement forces us to take a long, hard look in the mirror, let go of that need, and extinguish that thirst. it’s not always easy. we’re forced to change ourselves in big ways. but it’s worth it.
greed means working forever, striving forever, for goals that don’t change the world or make people’s lives better. early retirement means working for money only as long as necessary, and then refocusing our life force on things that truly matter to us. things that are neither monetary nor material.
greed is taking from others, trying to push to the front of the line. early retirement is getting out of the way entirely, making space in the line for someone else.
greed is throwing money at problems. early retirement means investing our hands, our hearts and our time in making the world a better place.
greed is “want.” early retirement is “need.”
greed means seeing money as the end. early retirement means seeing money as the means to a very different end, a life of freedom and fulfillment and fun.
greed is paying people to do everything for us, becoming helpless. early retirement is doing things our selves, becoming self-reliant.
greed is status and symbols and titles. early retirement is giving up all of that. we measure our worth by who we are as people, what kind of friend we are, not what our business card says, or by what kind of car we drive.
early retirement is about enough. when we’re old and gray, looking back on our lives, we aspire to know that we had enough time, because we spent our limited supply of days well. we spend as many of them as possible not reaching for more money. focusing on family and friends and joy and love instead. measuring our wealth in smiles, hugs and laughs, not strictly in dollars and shares. unlike greed, that’s something worth aspiring to.
what would you add to this manifesto? and who’s with us?