If Retirement is So Much Fun, Why Do We Wait So Long to Get Started?

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

Well, the weekend is over and it’s time to get back to work. I hope you enjoyed a couple of days of rest. And if it wasn’t restful, I hope it was exhilarating. We spend five days each week doing the things we have to do, so it’s only fair that we should be able to spend the other two doing the things we want to do. At least part of the time.

Imagine what it would be like to sleep until you feel like getting up, and then take your time getting started each day. As you sit down for your first cup of coffee, instead of dreading the morning commute, you would run through a mental list of things you could do today. You know, fun things. Sure, there would be some errands in the mix. But imagine if your time was truly your own.

For most of us, that time comes much later in life. After we’ve done all the other things we need to do, we’ve worked our mind and body until there’s not much left, and that mental list of things we could be doing each day is interrupted by medical appointments. Once we reach that age, getting in a car to go somewhere is usually not very exciting. It’s just one more chore we have to do.

Yet, for most of us, that’s what we have to look forward to. Work for 40-50 years until you’re too tired to do anything, then cut your pay in half and sit around the house watching 24-hour news. That and sifting through the newspaper to find out if there are any familiar names in the obituaries.

It’s no wonder most young people don’t plan for retirement. Who wants to put all that on paper, and then work for several decades to achieve it? It’s a lot more fun to take those vacations while you’re still young. And why hold off on buying that fancy sports car until you’re too old to drive it? A bigger house? Get it now, before you have to pay somebody to keep it clean.

It’s that mentality that puts a lot of younger people in poor financial shape and leads them into retirement with a fraction of the savings they’ll need to survive. But, like most other things in life, we always count on things somehow getting better by the time we reach that age. The house will be paid off, we won’t have car payments, and old people eat a lot less food. Besides, there’s always the lottery.

On the other hand, I’ve met a lot of young people who decided we’re doing this all wrong, and they’ve managed to squeeze in retirement about the time most of us were just getting started in life. Instead of waiting for somebody else to tell them how much they’re worth, they decided for themselves. And, wouldn’t you know, it’s a good bit more than the rest of us get paid. Go figure.

But it’s not about how much money they make. After all, there’s only a certain quality of steak you can buy, no matter how much you want to spend. And fancy cars spend about as much time in the shop as any other car – they just cost a lot more to fix.

And here’s the thing – it doesn’t take a major windfall or rich parents to put early retirement within reach. It just takes a little extra. When you don’t have enough to pay your bills, $100 might as well be a million. But after the bills are paid, that same $100 gives you peace of mind you didn’t have before. Another $100 raises the comfort level. Double that, and you can take a nice vacation.

Most of the people I know who retired early didn’t start out making a fortune. They found a way to make a little extra, and then applied the same principles to turn that little bit into a little more. They kept doing that until the day came when their side income surpassed what they made on the job, and early retirement became a choice they could make.

Some friends were talking the other night about their doctor, who’s still working at the age of 85. He doesn’t need the money – he works because he wants to. If we’re lucky, we’ll have that option. Maybe our mind and body will still be strong enough to keep going long after others our age have been forced to stop. I sure hope so.

The important part of all this is choice – doing what you choose to do, when you choose to do it. And while that may sound like a bit of a pipe dream, that existence is closer than you may think. All it takes is a little extra. Find a way to do that, and then just keep doing it. The opportunities are there. The life you want is waiting. All you have to do is decide what’s most important.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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