Am I Failing at Early Retirement?

Has your shrinking retirement portfolio left you considering part-time work to ease your anxiety? Inspired by a blog post from Go Curry Cracker, we discuss BaristaFIRE, time freedom, what it means to be “unemployable”, and what work we might consider post-retirement. Be sure to see the links below for the show notes and to the blog post referenced in the video.

Show notes may be found below the video

Show Notes

Essential Background:

Failing at Early Retirement, a Go Curry Cracker blog post, was the inspiration for this episode. As we discussed in the video, in the article you’ll learn how author Jeremy took on some seasonal part-time work as a UPS driver, and what he learned from the experience.

We talked a lot about BaristaFIRE in today’s episode. The linked post from Financial Samurai is a comprehensive look at this path, and is a good primer for those seeking more information. In addition to the financial calculations provided in the article, there are numerous supporting tools available online including this BaristaFIRE calculator from Walletburst.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is a great IRS program for US taxpayers who qualify for free federal tax preparation. If you’d like information on VITA including how you can volunteer like Jason is doing, be sure to see the IRS Tax Volunteers page.

You can find information on the tools we mention in each episode along with additional information in the Resources section of this site.

4 Replies to “Am I Failing at Early Retirement?”

  1. I think the bottom line is, early retirement is not a competition that you only win if you retire 20 years earlier than everyone else while never earning another dime until you die.

    In a sense, it’s not unlike becoming a parent – the event has a certain element of irreversibility around it, but what matters most is whether you’ve got the big things right – it typically helps to choose the right spouse, just like FIRE will be tough if you did the withdrawal math wrong and without a basic understanding of well-diversified portfolio design. But you don’t fail at parenting if you feed your kids pizza every once in a while, just like your habit in grad school, and you don’t fail at early retirement if you do some work occasionally.

    1. Well put! Thru hikers have a common saying: “Hike your own hike”. I think it works equally well when it comes to designing your retirement. It’s not a contest!

  2. Let me share some practical experience. I am about Jason’s age, worked in leadership roles in the same industry for ~20+ years and retired in Q1 2022. I would argue that the term “retired” means different things to different people. For me, it wasn’t necessarily about not working ever again, but having the flexibility to do things on my terms and having lots of control over my time. I liked my jobs in industry but have an inherently low tolerance for the BS that comes with working in corporate leadership roles. I also had a persistent sensation of never having time for the things that are important to me when I was working. While I have prepared for the financial side of retirement 5 ways to Sunday for almost a decade (and have the spreadsheets to prove it) I have recently started a small consulting shop that throws off enough to be significant with very low hours, and I can choose who I work with and when I do the work. Some would argue that’s not retirement, but for me it fits the bill of how I want to spend my time currently. It also offers some level of reassurance and redundancy on the financial end – the portfolio is designed to support the family, yet we have a separate stream of income in the years when most of the vulnerability due to sequence of return risk shows up. I will also say that I noticed how much my job defined me personally when it was gone, and it will take some time to wean oneself off of that. My advice to others would – don’t be dogmatic about it and retain some flexibility.

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