The Early Retirement Blog Movement Is A Big Mistake

This will catch some heat from many in the personal finance world, but here it goes! The early retirement blog movement is a big mistake. To many early retirement blogs are spreading the wrong message. The message that should be spreading is to achieve financial independence!

Financial Independence Rocks

Having the freedom to choose what to do with your day is the ultimate. This is what America is all about rock, flag, and eagle baby! This site is all for finding ways to achieve financial independence. The early retirement blog movement on the other hand is all about working for a short period of time, optimizing everything in your life, and then retiring as early as possible. This often means retiring as early as 30 years old!

Why would you want to “retire” at 30 years old! Have we all really become that lazy? Or maybe we all truly hate what it is we do for a living. Maybe it is because those who can retire at 30 had to sacrifice and grind for so long that they believe the grass will be greener once they are no longer working. Whatever the reason I think the early retirement blog movement is harmful. I find it hard to believe that these people who are retiring this early will be happy 30 years down the road. Instead financial independence is what we should strive to achieve. Once obtained we can shift our energy towards something we care more about in life.

Human Nature

What is it about human nature that makes us feel like once we have the bare necessities covered we should pump the brakes? In the personal finance world, it is comments like “I will only work another four years and then retire early.” Or, “I will save a million dollars and live off 40K a year into perpetuity”. This is insane! Stop limiting yourself, instead rewire your thinking. Figure out how you will get away from thinking that you need to sit in a rocking chair for the next 60 years. Start discovering why you are on this earth and then pursue it.

If you are lucky enough to have talent, opportunity, and fortune come together to retire at a very early age, give back. Retirement is nothing I envy, I envy those who live a full and passionate life. When leaders like Elon Musk sell a company why do they not retreat off into the tropics to rest on the beach for the rest of their lives? They understand that they have more to offer! So do so many of the people in the early retirement blog community, yet they choose to leave the workforce.

Find something you love and are great at then continue working after you achieve financial independence. These people will make the difference in the end and be remembered. Be the change you want to see in the world. If collecting your dividend checks and being left alone is what you want out of life no one can tell you different. My hope is that most people in the early retirement blog community are searching for more and will pivot after reaching financial independence and continue to add amazing value to the world.

What Are Your Thoughts?
  1. Do you want to retire early?
  2. If money were no object would you work at all?
  3. Do you think those retiring early today will regret it?

Spread The Wealth!

50 Comments on “The Early Retirement Blog Movement Is A Big Mistake”

  1. I’m sure there will be a lot of discussion about that post! I highly agree with you and I also think that the early retirement movement is bad for our community. I mean, if you are able to retire at 30 you are smart and passionate about the things you do. You should utilise these skills to improve a company and maybe at least a portion of our world with your actions. Sadly, you stop working at all and limiting yourself for the rest of your life to live on a small budget.

    I think financial independence is much more important. If you achieve it, you can start working on the stuff that you care about the most and be 100% free in your decision making. You can create a new company that makes the world a better place or continue the work you already do if you like it.

    Sure everyone hates to get up early in the morning and go to work but that doesn’t mean you have to quit at all. Enjoy your life with mini retirements, creating your own company, contribute through volunteering or just work less. I’m definitely not the person who wants to work 40h/week for the rest of his life but brilliant people shouldn’t stop working that early.

    To answer your questions:
    1) Maybe, but I think early will be 55 or so.

    2) Sure I love to work! I would develop software even if I don’t need the money. I would also try to increase my audience of my blog and have an impact on people. And lastly, I would do much more when it comes to investing in rental properties and dividend stocks.

    3) Maybe and maybe not. Probably some of them. But the thing is we can’t tell. I don’t want to make a decision to live on 40k per year for more than 30-50 years. I would like to be flexible. The people who retire at 30 will remove a decent amount of flexibility. Sure, you can go back to work. But after 20 years of absence you will probably have a hard time to get back on track.

    1. Hopefully by achieving financial independence everyone can find something they like to do so much that they don’t mind getting up and out of bed early. Maybe they find something that allows them to sleep in until noon if that is their thing.

      My long term goals are to find more and more balance each year. I want to eventually be working a job or running a business that does not make every day feel like “work”. I appreciate hard work but I like everyone else start to get sick of feeling forced to do anything.

      I would not be fulfilled retiring early and stressing out about clipping coupons and safe withdrawal rates though, that is not the life for me.

  2. Amen to this. Seeking FI to Retire lacks purpose. Without purpose, what’s the point? I think more bloggers should be encouraging FI to give back in the way of; creating jobs, start a social business, starting non-profits, running for office, becoming teachers, or whatever else helps bring more positivity to the world. To waste a young and healthy mind on the golf course or sitting around in retirement isn’t good enough for anyone.

    Would love to see more conversation around this point DM. Thanks for bringing it up.

    1. Glad you are with me on this one. From my perspective when I first got out of undergrad my opinion on the work world was people were forced to do it. This gave me an unrealistic view of what work can be about. So when I first started on my personal journey it was all to just avoid working.

      The last couple of years though I have shifted my thinking. Moving away from the life is about me how do I avoid society and “retire early”. Instead now my focus is on continuing to learn, grow, and be a part of as many things as I can in my life. This is what makes me really happy.

  3. A bit ironic that you might get some heat (or FIRE) from the FIRE community 🙂

    This stuck out the most to me: “Retirement is nothing I envy; I envy those who live a full and passionate life.”

    That’s what we’re trying to accomplish – regardless of how we define it (it’s always evolving).

    On your other questions:

    (1) Do you want to retire early? – Yes, but similar to Sir Budget, likely in my early-to-mid 50s (currently 33). Regardless, I’d still have a project or just do something else besides my current “real” job.

    (2) If money were no object would you work at all? – Yes, I would.

    (3) Do you think those retiring early today will regret it? – Potentially, but they at least have the option to try it. Depending on your definition of retirement age, it might be too late for you to stop working and then go back if you needed or wanted.

    Balanced Dividends Recently Posted:

    1. That is a good point that it is always evolving Mike. I feel the same way in that with each year that passes I become a different person with a different view.

      I think it is wise to realize that at some point we all will need to retire (physically). This community is obviously very focused on that so traditional retirement will most likely not be a worry for readers. I just think it is so amazing how many smart people are in this space and I hope they use their skills for something else when they reach FI.

  4. FI gives us the opportunity to emulate Gandhi and ‘be the change we want to see in the world.’ This is one of your most thought provoking posts DM! Thank you for bringing the conversation to the forefront. The altruistic and philanthropic pursuits of a person with FI can and do have meaningful and long lasting impact in countless ways.

    Bill Gates and Warren Buffett founded The Giving Pledge in 2010. As most of you probably know, the commitment is to leave half of your wealth to philanthropic causes when you shuffle off this mortal coil. In seven years over $365B has been pledged.

    Maybe a couple of us will hit the billionaire club. However, if 5 million of us all donated $100 the net effect is life changing. The result of thoughtful and intentional financial independence is the ability to grow and give.

    1. At all levels there are ways to give back. Maybe in the beginning when you are trying to save a lot you give your time. Then as time goes on and you are in a better position financially you can give money.

      Whatever it may be giving back will change a person. To many people who hoard all they have never get to experience this. Most of the time whenever I give back I end up feeling guilty because I feel so good after the fact. The point is to help out others but you really are helping yourself as well.

      Important to think about this over the Christmas weekend.

  5. Great post DM! I am definitely all for FI and retiring from my main gig earlyish (between 50-55). My main goal is to get to a point where me and the wife can do other jobs without having to worry about what the pay is. Helping others more is also a major focus once we have the freedom/time to do so.

    Here’s to Financial Independence Do Other Things! FIDOT!

  6. Shit. NOW you tell me???!?!? 😉
    Good reminder, Damn Millennial. It truly is Financial Independence that greases the wheels of the happiness equation. Just look at the Danes. They don’t retire early, because they don’t have to. They get leave, plenty of vacation, and have no worries about healthcare and social safety nets. Here in the US, we seem to despise any notions of communal “hive” support, so early retirement becomes the next best option. To your point, you better make sure you know how you’ll spend your days – once out of that cube your productivity should bloom, not wither.

    1. A agree Cubert. Moving towards financial independence you feel like you can make moves that make you happier along the way. Many people who don’t ever save anything don’t experience this. Being able to leave a bad situation for another job, or take a risk with a career change is a luxury of working towards FI. Taking these steps you could get into a position were you don’t feel like your job is the cubicle 9-5 that we all dread.

  7. I am with you in the “no early retirement” camp. I agree on just how many opportunities there are out there to explore. Financial independence helps with the feeling of security to try all the types of new avatars that one might dream about.
    Personally, I need something productive to do and even the feeling of having earned money. I would rather keep reinventing myself in different fields for the thrill of experiencing new things thank sit back to lead a frugal life.

  8. Hey DM! I’m totally on the same page here!!

    I don’t realize that I sometimes use the terms “early retirement” and “financial independence” interchangeably.

    When I first stumbled upon “FIRE” blogs, I always had the impression that they meant to say “be financially independent so that you can pursue your passions. Once you’ve managed to do that, start giving back to the community because you now have resources to help others.” Maybe I interpreted “FIRE” the wrong way, but heading straight to that rockin’ chair never crossed my mind haha.

    I honestly couldn’t imagine “retiring” early and not do anything meaningful. I would turn super depressed if that happened.

    I think Warren Buffett sets a great example. At age 87, he still says that he’s not retired and he’ll never stop working because he loves it! It’s also quite humbling when he said he doesn’t want to be remembered as a legendary investor, but rather a good teacher or a mentor. Now that’s inspiring!

    Overall, this was a great post! I really hope that most peeps aren’t really thinking about retiring off to the beach sipping on a pina colada forever… that would be crazy (IMO)… and I’m not here to judge or mean it in a bad way!

    1. I do think that the terms often get used interchangeably with each other. There are just so many FIRE blogs that I feel like it is important to clarify to readers what the difference is. When I first started working my honest goal was to have enough money to not do anything. That is an unhealthy sad existence. Why would I want to shut myself off from the world and just collect a check in the mail. I want to strive to continue to better myself every year. Financial independence can give me more confidence to know that if I screw up in some way I have something to fall back on.

      Happy Holidays!

  9. First and foremost, I do want to achieve financial independence and then I will pursue something meaningful to work on.

    If I am working on a job that I am passionate about, then I don’t really care if I get paid or not. Since I already reach FI, getting paid is just icing on the cake.

    I am in agreement that if we are in a position to give, either our time or our money, we should give back to society generously.

  10. I completely agree with you. I think we should all be lucky enough to find something we love doing that we’d never want to retire.
    (obviously as we grow older, the pace of work should slow down).
    Retirement causes a lot of psychological problems. I believe it’s human nature to want to be needed. That’s why a lot of newly retirees go back to the office after one year. they don’t know what else to do and can’t stand the lonlineness!

    And I have bigger dreams in life than just surfing all day down by the beach 🙂

  11. Hi DM, I agree Financial Independence Rocks and everybody has there own idea about retirement. I work part time so I have something to do and places to go. The money is nice perk as well !! I hope you have a nice holiday season. Cheers Steve

    1. Agreed Steve. I am sure that working part time is a great compromise for you and helps you find your balance.

      Happy Holidays!

  12. I think people like the word FIRE because it is catchy. FI isn’t as catchy without the RE. That being said, I agree with you. And you’re super brave for being a millennial and saying that people shouldn’t retire at age 30! Haha 🙂

    I agree financial independence is also my goal and then work part time. It’s very powerful knowing that you don’t HAVE to work but you’re doing it out of enjoyment it instead.

    I want to ‘retire’ early because I want to be able to take care of my mom and mother in law and my children. So yes. I aim for in my 40’s. But by ‘retirement’ I am happy to work part time or something- the main important thing is having flexibility in my day.

    I think whether you regret it or not is your own personal preference and I can’t speak for others.

    1. Haha yeah I had to use the 30 number to make a point. This community is filled with young high earners with no kids so that is truly a reality for some people. Of course it is on the lower end of funds saved. I just think in a lot of the forums and comments on sites like mine people are running away from work. It is so odd to me to hoard everything you have and then want to leave the work world and go live off of 40K a year and farm your backyard.

      Everyone is entitled to their own opinion just sounds unfulfilling to me personally.

      Nothing wrong with your goals very noble of you. I think that taking care of family is something that would qualify as a “why” item after you retire.

      1. So you don’t have a problem with retiring early you have a problem with what others see as a fulfilling life. Living on 40 k and farming is unfulfilling so FIRE Bloggers r sending wrong message?

        1. Those who are farming their back yards and living off of 40k a year certainly don’t give me any problems.

          Just not my cup of tea, we can coexist 🙂

  13. Maybe I’m missing something, but isn’t that exactly what early retirement is? To free yourself up to do something you’re passionate about, rather than working simply to pay the bills? I have no plans to sit around, I’ll be working to better myself, to become better read, to improve my fitness. I’m also reading about movements like earning to give.

    1. I think yes and no. Early retirement is how you describe it but most people aren’t looking to do anything once they reach it. Most people are so exhausted by the time they get there I think they truly just want to be left alone. I am arguing more for a balance. Earn and invest to fund a lifestyle you love. Find a job or start a business that gets you excited. Life is all about experiences!

  14. We’re all saying the same thing here. Folks with FIRE blogs like myself are not saying they are going to retire to nothing. What they’re really saying is that they want to retire from their current W2 job. Because the facts are the facts, the majority of people, especially in America, do not like their current W2 job and would rather not have to do it for the rest of their life. So all we’re saying in the early retirement part of the FIRE equation is to get out of the current W2, and continue working pursuing things that you actually like. If they happen to make money, great! If not, that’s okay too, because being financially independent means it doesn’t really matter. That’s the position I’m in, and it honestly couldn’t be more awesome!

    So in the end we are actually spreading the right message, it’s the semantics. Retire from the W2 that you don’t like and into the work that you’re passionate about!

    1. The message is important and needs to be spread. I just think that to many people stay in the W2 they hate and save each dollar to get to this next phase of life. Instead I think if someone is really miserable in their current role but saving a ton that they make a change. Take some risk in the career path and try to find something you do not despise as much. This might make the next decade of your working life way better!

      Money provides the option of choices which is a beautiful thing.

  15. I totally agree with you. How many people who claimed to have retired actually retire? The worth of living is doing what one likes to do. When one stop working, the body system begins to decay gradually. You must have heard a slogan that says “retired but not tired”. That can only be said by someone who only retires from working for money but still active to do what he enjoys. Thanks for this enlightenment.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. We all must find purpose in our lives. The world is full of interesting things to do so it is up to us to find what matches our personality best.

      Happy Holidays

  16. Very interesting! I think when most people think of retirement, they think of leaving a job that takes most of their weekdays. Most of us have to go to work and earn a paycheck and we use some or hopefully most of that to fund our retirement. Retiring at 30 could be to stop what you are currently doing and maybe get a job or engage in a hobby a lot more often that you enjoy more because you have the financial freedom to do so. I think the concept of motivating people to “retire” early is designed to jumpstart their savings and planning.

    I myself am a looonnnggg way from retirement and don’t plan on retiring from my field early because I enjoy what I do….most days 🙂

    1. That is great that you enjoy what you are doing! I think you are in the minority of most people. My goal like a lot of others is to have options. Feeling like you must do anything is a terrible feeling!

      I also believe it is important to know when to shift away from a high earning job and towards something you are more passionate about. To often we are trained to make the most money we can early and often, not a bad strategy to reach financial independence. Only problem is when do you let off the gas and enjoy life. Tough questions!

  17. Hi DM, Happy holidays. I like this post because I subscribe to your way of thinking. My motto is “save, invest, be financially independent, but never retire”. Once you earn financial independence it’s about finding what you love to do, not what you have to do to maximize your salary. No heat from me. Tom

    1. Happy holidays to you as well Tom!

      Love it, I think you and I are on the same page. It is tough to know what that number truly is! For many I think it may be a lifelong quest.

    1. Thanks Jason. I thought more people would disagree with me on this point. What I learned is exactly what you said most people plan to shift to doing something they care more about when reaching FI.

  18. Hahaha I LOVE it. Immediately when I saw your post’s title, I had to dive in. I appreciate individuals who aren’t affraid to stir the pot.

    But you do have a good point. Becoming financially independent is the ultimate goal for everyone interested in personal finance. Whether that comes at 30, 40, 50, 60, or 70. To each their own, but you also definitely nail it that we ultimately need to chase what makes us happy and find our best way to contribute back.

    Cool topic and thanks for posting!

    1. Hey Sean, glad you liked it!

      I think it is a life long quest to find what it is we should do with our days. Having financial independence gives us a greater opportunity to find it!

  19. Love this post! And I could not agree more. Often, I need to explain to people that I don´t want FI so that I can relax and retiree. Personally, waking up in the morning, having no tasks and no work would kill me. However, I´ve written a post about my reason for FI before, and I told my readers the following:I want FI so that I can be more bold in my career, make harder choices since I don´t need the money, be more creative and become motivated by goals and dreams not profit.

    Thanks for a great post

    1. Those are solid reasons for seeking FI. All those reasons make me believe you certainly will achieve it.

      I think being bold with career is a huge benefit. To often someone sticks around a job because it is needed for survival. Once you have multiple streams of income flowing in you feel a burden lifted off your shoulders.

  20. I have enjoyed reading early retirement blogs, and I haven’t found too many that retire to sit on rocking chairs. Actually I haven’t found any that are not giving back to community in some way. So I actually disagree with your post. In fact I challenge you to direct me to blogs where the writers have goal to retire to sit on rocking chairs or their equivalent for 60+ years. Direct me to a blog on FIRE that encourages not working after retiring. The definition of retiring is to leave ones job, not stop working.

    My husband and I retired 12 years ago. We r now 39 and 44. We can’t imagine having to make time for secular work. We do volunteer wrk a few days a week, we have a few rental properties that average maybe 4-5 hours a month. Everyone has a different comfort level in terms of how much they can live off of. However I think blogs detailing FIRE through frugality are valuable for everyone to examine if their current way of living truly makes sense. When we retired, we lived off of off between 30,000-40,000 initially with no mortgage. Since then investments have grown, so we do have more income, but find our living hasn’t really changed. We can afford a little more luxury on trips which is a nice perk.

    So To answer the questions I love being retired. I never want to trade work for money again, and I have never regretted early retirement, in fact I feel like it keeps getting better.

    1. I would think that the definition of retiring would be to leave the workforce. Otherwise you would just be switching jobs whether you are working for yourself or someone else.

      That is fantastic that it has worked well for you congratulations! I love that you choose to volunteer your time now that you have more of it. I am not here to put down anyone that may want to retire there is nothing wrong with it. More so then anything I think that as I grow in life I realize you need to be working towards something. When I set out on my own personal FI journey I was working to get away from everything! I didn’t find that to be beneficial.

      Again congratulations on being retired for 12 years that is a really impressive accomplishment!

      Happy New Year!

      1. You r right retiring is leaving the workforce. You no longer trade time for money. But it does not mean not working. Your title of this article is that early retirement is a big mistake seemingly because you have the misunderstanding that early retirement means you stop working, don’t do anything as the picture for your title shows. So you may not mean to put anyone down, but you surely did.
        So financial independence means you don’t have to trade time for money. You may choose to do so, even on a semi retired basis. But early retirement is for those who are financially independent and choose to quit their paying job. FIRE bloggers are the ones who have done this, and now some are raising families, writing books, blogging, developing apps, building a home, or making a homestead even. FIRE bloggers are offering something different from what we have been programmed to think. We don’t have to be in the workforce 45 + years. We can do it differently. We can change our thinking. Contributing to community and society and not be paid for it! This is the message of FIRE. Absolutely worthwhile.

        You didn’t direct me to FIRE bloggers that encourage doing nothing in retirement? I would be curious to know how you came to your conclusions.

        1. It is worthwhile to contribute to society! I am glad that FIRE has enlightened you. Again congrats on your early retirement.