How I Retired by Age 30

This past May, I sat in the lobby of my office building waiting for Shacky to pick me up. It was the Thursday before Memorial Day and many of my co-workers were excited about the long weekend. One guy passing through the lobby felt especially excited:

“I took Friday off as well, so I get an extra long weekend! I can’t wait for the time off!”

I was excited too, but for a very different reason. I knew that as soon as I left that building, I would never again work a single day of my life.

I was 29 years old.

How is That Possible??

Let’s start with the definition of “work”.

Technically speaking, we all work whether we get paid for it or not. We clean our houses. We raise our kids. We train for races. We go to our jobs. All of the above is work in the sense that it takes effort. We’re not sitting on our asses. And neither am I.

My definition of never working again is simple:

I will never again get paid to do anything that I wouldn’t be happy to do for free.

For many, that rules out most aspects of our jobs, and that was the case for me.

I did like SOME aspects of my job. I loved reading and writing and researching (I worked as an editor). When I went home in the evenings, I would do more of these activities for free. So these are all things I still do.

It’s not work because I absolutely love doing it, and I do it regardless of whether or not I’m being paid (sometimes I am paid, most of the time I am not).

Running is another thing that I do for free and also love. Some of my races are sponsored, and some are not. Regardless of whether or not I am sponsored, I will still run. It doesn’t feel like work.

Which raises the next question:

Where Does Your Money Come From??

After 29 years, I have $20 thousand in savings. Both Shacky and I can easily live on $15 thousand/year. This means I have a little over one year to survive without a job and without going into debt. This is what I consider my buffer.

Beyond that, it really comes down to a drastic change of perspective as far as how I view money.

1. Value time, not money.

I mentioned that $20 thousand equals a little over one year. For me, the ONE YEAR is what matters, not the monetary amount of $20 thousand. One year of complete freedom is far more valuable than ANY monetary amount.

This perspective devalues money to what it really is: a means to an end. What is it you really want? It’s not the money. It’s the freedom. It’s the time off. It’s the running mountains in the middle of the day, happy and carefree. Twenty thousand is a fairly cheap price to do what you want, when you want for one entire year.

But of course, burning through savings is not a permanent or realistic way to live. So this is only a buffer to give me peace of mind. My plan is NOT to burn through my savings. Which brings me to the next points:

2. Cut expenses.

There are really only two ways to have more money:

a) Make more.

b) Spend less.

Since making more would involve “work”, my only option is to spend less.

Our society is set up to keep us in a never-ending cycle of making more money so we can spend it on things we don’t need. Read Jason’s great post about this HERE.

We are marketed to at every turn, and convinced that we “need” the latest products in order to survive and be accepted in society.

The truth is that we actually need very little to survive:

We need shelter.

But we don’t need to buy a house, maintain a house, renovate that house, or pay rent. We also don’t need to buy a bigger house. An extra bedroom. A spare bathroom. Interestingly, these are things that many of us feel we “need”.

I have to credit the months I spent living in Cuba for permanently shifting my perspective on want vs need. These weeks I ate from the hospitality of the poorest families I have ever seen and bathed with a bucket full of cold water and a sponge. Believe me. There is very little we need to be happy.

Shacky and I are buying a small RV where we can live comfortably, never pay rent, and remain mobile. We won’t have a car, but we’ll carry a couple of bicycles in case we need more flexibility with transportation. The RV will be tiny enough to drastically limit our belongings. We will be forced to keep only what we are constantly using and truly need.

We need food.

But we don’t need fast food or eating out. We also don’t need a ton of food storage. Every day, we need food for one day. And that is all.

Shacky and I are semi-foodies, so chances are this is where we will splurge a little, occasionally buying things we don’t need but very much enjoy.

We need clothes.

And we already have them. More than enough. In fact, we are giving away most of our clothes and only keeping the few that we regularly use.

We have chosen INKnBURN to make up most of our wardrobe. These are high-performance, durable clothes that we know will last us for years to come. We are done growing. We don’t need to spend a penny more on clothes.

And that’s it.

Shelter, food, and clothes are our basic needs. Food will be the only on-going expense. Shelter is a one-time buy, and we don’t expect to spend more on clothing.

Because we do already own a lot of things like iPods, Kindles, etc, we will be bringing these along. Whether or not we choose to replace them in the future will depend on whether or not we can afford it, or can get them for free. But we understand that they are not needs.

3. Just because you need something doesn’t mean you have to pay for it.

There’s one more point to be made here. Our society has set us up to believe that money is the only reasonable way to acquire what we want or need. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Over the years, we have gotten thousands of dollars in goods and services without spending a dime. Rather than paying money, we pay by exchanging other goods or services. Trading or bartering.

For example, I can help promote a product in exchange for free swag or a sponsored race entry. Because I am not making a huge financial profit, I am adamant about only promoting products that I truly believe are great and that I use on a regular basis.

Basically, I accept swag for products that I would (and do) promote for free already. I get free products such as clothing or race entries this way.

I am also a Registered Nutritionist. I am trained to work with individual clients to assess them, set up meal plans, and help them reach their health goals. This is a valuable service I can exchange for something else that I need. Maybe food.

Last but not least, manual labor is another option. Shacky and I have always wanted to help out at a farm. One possibility for us is to exchange farm labor for healthy, organic food. We’re both young, able-bodied, and eager to help work the land.

Between slashing our expenses to pretty much only food, and negotiating exchanges and trades, Shacky and I can survive on surprisingly little each month. And we’ll have everything we need.

That said, there are still some situations where you do need some cash flow.

What About When You DO Need Money??

1. Savings

I already mentioned this above. We do have a buffer that, if necessary, we can dip into.

2. Advertising

I have recently started selling some advertising on my blog. This will be a very small income, but then again the monthly income we can live on is minuscule.

3. Freelance Writing

Again, I don’t make a lot of money on freelance. But even selling one article a month is a good cash flow for us. Because I can afford to sell so few articles, I can really focus on writing what I want, and sell it to exactly who I want.

4. Book Sales

I am currently writing a book that I will be self-publishing. I have about three book ideas that some publishers have expressed interest in, but I am still leaning toward self-publishing for the freedom.

I want to be able to give my book away for free if and when I want. This is something that would be frowned upon through a publisher.

I expect book sales to be low, but trickling in. Thankfully, we need very little money to survive. This means that I could essentially be making money through book sales while I’m running in the mountains, and have the small amount of cash flow that I need on a monthly basis.

5. Dog Running

One of my favorite things to do in the entire world is trail running with dogs. I run my own dog Ginger on a daily basis and would run any dog anytime, anywhere. It’s such a rewarding experience (and one I do for free).

So we’ve just partnered up with a great dog running business based in LA to help expand their business to San Diego and run dogs for them. Getting paid to run trails with dogs? Pretty sure it doesn’t get much better.

I’ll also have the flexibility to choose my clients, as well as when and how often I “work”. The key is to seek a small income from doing the things that I already love and already do on a regular basis.

Why Would You Do This??

It’s simple.

I value freedom and self-sufficiency, and not much else.

I also want to enjoy my life while I’m young and healthy and full of energy.

The trade-off is that:

  • I will never be rich. The more I make, the more I will give away.
  • I will never have a home to decorate. The trails and mountains will be my home and they are already decorated.
  • I will never have a long-term plan. I will live day-by-day and pursue my whims as they come.
  • I will never have a bucket list. Because why wait? We’ll make it a “To Do” list.

And finally… I will never work another day in my life.

Special Mention

I should also mention that living the dream would be impossible without Shacky, who had done a lot of the legwork as far as researching our new lifestyle and finding us an RV for our purposes.

Also that fact that he’s willing to come along for the adventure is huge, and even more rare is the gift of finding someone you don’t mind living in very close proximity to for a really long time.

We’re currently in transition mode, giving away what we have left in the house and planning to be in the RV full-time this September. Neither of us will keep a job.


You CAN Do This Too!

It doesn’t have to be as drastic as giving away your possessions and moving into a tiny RV, but you can downsize. You can minimize your expenses. You can evaluate what it is you truly need. And you can have more freedom.

Work less and play more. Don’t be like the 90-year-old who is skydiving for the first time. By the time you’re 90, it should be your millionth time.

Take that leap today. Life is short.


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35 responses

  1. Great post. I work as the Social Media Coordinator for I get paid to interact with runners on Skora’s facebook, twitter, pinterest, as well as talk to current/potential customers, write for their newsletter and blog, form a running team, test concept shoes, etc etc. AKA do what I love to do anyway!

    I am not into sacrificing the first 65 years of my life for the last 30 years of retirement.

    PS. Would you like a pair of shoes to review Vanessa? Please msg me if you would like to talk more about the brand and our shoes!

  2. What about medical expenses? True if you were in India or Mongolia, but in the US it is really really expensive to even get a consultation. I hope you are not sacrificing health insurance.

      • I love what you’re doing, and especially your motivation for doing it. I feel the same way :) Best of luck, I really hope it works out for you.

        btw, not sure if it’s the same across Canada, but BC Medicare costs my family ~$130/month, plus there were issues in keeping it after living away from Canada for more than a couple years. You may want to look into it.

  3. I can see you running trails with several bags of dookie swinging around haha! Sounds like a sweet deal. I like your comments about the swag. My oldest son has the same size foot as me and the other three have tested out shoes too. So I spent some time giving my opinion to “buy” shoes for my spawn.
    We take work as it comes along. Always contract work. I will most likely not be employed by someone else ever again. I can’t say never since I may want to work when I’m older. I have really loved working some of my jobs foe a couple of years anyways.

    I wish you all the best and please stop in Des Moines someday :)

    • They were definitely our first inspiration! Then the idea started forming and we learned of others who were making this happen, and decided to do it ourselves :)

  4. As always, a great post. We’ve been going through some self induced downsizing, too and I think it is a really good idea. It was actually sparked by your post about “second shit” and got me thinking that I had too many things just sitting around, cluttering my space. It is really about developing new habits and a new perspective on what is important.

    Run free, Vanessa!!


  5. I love this. Every bit of it! Angela and I live very simply and I don’t foresee us ever being wealthy because we will always do what we love (which doesn’t bring in much money). But you are taking it several steps further and I so admire that! Living in an RV, running trails all day — that is the life! We always talk about how silly it is to work, work, work at a job you despise all the way up until you’re 65+ so you can have a comfortable retirement. That seems so ass backwards to me. We are healthy and young and should enjoy that. I will not wait until I am 65 to live my life. Angela is about to start a 4 year doctorate program so we won’t be taking the leap any time soon, but maybe one day…. and if so, you two will be our inspiration. :)

  6. Other needs: Gas, car insurance and car maintenance and repairs. Keep us posted on your new found adventure. If you and Shacky are ever in need to a warm meal, come find me. Are you taking Ginger with you?

  7. Great ideas! I’m sort of doing the same thing, other than the mobility part. I live in a place that I’m really liking for the time being, but just lease places short term so I can head out if need be. I never even really noticed that I was doing anything different as I transitioned from college to my current state. That is, until my family pointed out that I live on a pittance of a salary and don’t complain. Maybe since I never had a “secure” life to leave, if just life as usual. Best of luck to you! Worst case scenario is just going back, right?

  8. You’ll have a blast living free. I lived in my truck for 5 years 2 months 19 days, went from a big fatty to an ultrarunner and am now in chiropractic school. I had to move into a room because I broke my ankle in a fall climbing and couldn’t safely crawl around the truck. It’s a great life, day-to-day fresh food and all the freedom imaginable. I’m constantly tempted to do it again but an RV instead of a truck is much more manageable. Have a great time!

  9. Sounds like a GREAT plan, Vanessa. It’s indeed possible even here in Italy: I’m in the process, with the difference that I live in a house placed in a heavenly area… Keep sharing, namaste!

  10. I applaud your courage in giving this ‘alternate’ lifestyle a real go. It sounds like you’ve done your research, and so long as you don’t find a way to get yourself into debt, there’s not much downside to taking this leap. As long as you’re smart about it, the worst case scenario is that it turns out you don’t like it as much as you thought you would. But there’s only one way to find out, isn’t there?

  11. I’ve been thinking about your post now for two days straight. You are doing the right, and the new thing. You’ll see, you’re ahead of the curve. Many others will follow.

    I have kids, so I can’t do it just like you and Shacky are, but I’m moving in that direction. Certainly when they are out of school, we’ll be free, but I hope to be more free than I am now long before then. There is no job security anyway, so why kill yourself for a life that no longer exists? Freedom is the ultimate aspiration when you grind everything down to its base meaning. That is why our parents and grandparents worked so hard–to be free. But that was in retirement and in their old age. It’s a trick. BE FREE NOW.

  12. Wow this definitely gives me a lot to think about. Being 29 myself and accumulating so much “stuff” that my mom and I have 2 yard sales a year. We surely could exercise more restraint in this area.

    You are lucky to have a partner to go along on this adventure.

  13. Awesome post! I’m definitely looking forward to reading more about this adventure! I’m especially interested in what is hard to get rid of or what you choose to keep and of course the financial side of things as you get going.
    If you ever end up in Juneau, AK look me up for a free meal and running talk! I love running with dogs too :)

  14. This sounds awesome and makes me wish the 100,000$ in school loans I have for my BA were not there so I can run off into the hills with my hubby :) Alas… I will work crappy jobs for the rest of my life to pay off the opportunity of going to school, even if that opportunity didn’t really earn me that great of a job like I thought it would.

    However, I LOVE what you said under “You can do this too!” – we can economize and enjoy life experiences more than just accumulting “stuff” and I plan to start working on that today! Thanks for this awesome article!

  15. Great stuff!!! I lived out of an RV for the first 4 months on my run across America and then a baby jogger for the last 3 weeks. I have been doing it on a bicycle the last 2 long rides. The freedom you describe is the best. You are so right about keeping expenses low. People are marketed into believing they need all of these things that end up weighing them down. I can’t tell you the amount of people who look at me and tell me that they wish they could do what I do. I just look back at them and them and tell them “you can”. Everyone does want to be free, it is too bad that so many aren’t.
    You guys are awesome!!!

  16. RE: Canadian Health Care. There is a rule that defines you as a non-resident and you will no longer qualify for health care. It is called tha 183 day sojourner rule. If the days you are out of the country this year, plus 1/3 of the days you were out last year, plus 1/6 of the days you were out the year before add up to more than 183 you are no longer a resident. I mentioned casually to an Alberta Health Care person that I travelled a lot and they made me provide all my travel records for the prevous 3 years to prove I still qualified for Alberta Health. What a pain!
    On the living simply front–the happiest days of my life were the 3 years I lived in my van–you are sooo on the right track!

  17. Lately I’ve thinking how it would be to let all my obligations go and just live the life I really want.

    If it was up to me I would even live in a cave but I don’t think my lovely wife would like that :o)
    In my opinion it’s hard to take the step to be only dependent of your own in the current society we’re living in.

    As you stated, that only a bit money is needed, I’m 100% with you.
    I barely buy anything (there isn’t anything I need) but it doesn’t matter how much money I got (less or more…). At the end of the month everything is gone and I don’t even know where. But I don’t care.

    You are living the life that in my current state I can only dream of.
    Hopefully with a change in the near future.

    A truly admirer!

  18. I like your definition of retirement, but it’s not really retirement in a traditional sense if you still need to work to make your sustainable expenses. . . this from an old guy who is retired. . . I retired at 49.

    Being a Canadian you can be one who supports health care and those expenses by paying into the system working more or living off it with socialized healthcare. . . if you’re using more than you’re paying you’re living off a system which of course requires others to work to pay for it. . . but we all do this even “retirees” in most situations. . . most retirements rely on some kind of ponzi scheme that “respects the old” and pays them for living longer, but staying out of the way.

    Anyway I kind of like your attitude, but of course it’s from your honest perspective which is from your point of view and experience. Some of the things you experience and have learned in other posts are of course based on what you’ve learned from others. Some of the problems we all run into as we age or meet others with their obsessions and needs is pretty common. I’m going to give a few examples, but these are not necessarily typical.

    There are those who worked their jobs, but may have had an attitude or the fortune in their career to have a pretty cushy job. They had the skills to work but at a pretty easy pace. I worked in computers so I saw a lot of computer folks and analysts who were in a technical field and they earned pretty decent money and had pretty good benefits if they stayed in a good place. A good place for me was working “for the state” where I live. I found out a lot of interesting things from people who were kind of ordinary. There was one gal in our shop who had a sign on the wall and it was about the “benefits of the job”. She was quite smart, but also liked to party a bit, had a great laugh, was a little loud. . . perhaps part of the bar/party crowd, maybe someone who would make a good hobo by your definition. . . in any event one of the things she had as a benefit of the job was “the option”. I said, what is the option? She said, while we are here we can “work or not work”. In other words her skills and ability to do work quickly allowed her to maneuver into one of the many almost dead end jobs that were not really producing or required so little work that she didn’t need to work if she didn’t want to. There is to much to say or complain about with work in Information Technology, and I could go into a diatribe about how some just are not competent and don’t work much but avoid work or use things like threats of lawsuits to keep from working. It’s all in the bag of tricks which includes for some “the race card” or other tricks. In any event I saw a lot of it, but remained one of the top 1-% producers as far as being able to get work done. Those in the top 10% could do their work quickly and efficiently, but also could do their work fast and pad the project to the expected time. So the top 10% producers in programming could coast, and have a lot of free time between assignments or “during assignments”. My attitude in the job was kind of destructive to those who wanted to put on a “good show” and be “hard workers” working as hard as they could while at work and then playing as hard as they could on their off time. I had a “Polish” friend who claimed their subculture was like they. . . we work hard but play hard. Some of these workers would work very hard and even be hard a**es towards others. If the others didn’t work as hard as these, they would constantly complain, because others were not “working as well as me”. We had both competition and co-operation. Co-operative types knew their strengths and weaknesses and sought to maximize their strengths and do what they could do best. If it was programming mainframe assembler, or whatever, they’d strive to do only that. The best managers knew the strengths and weaknesses of each team member and gave them assignments to meet their strengths and avoid their weaknesses. The worst managers had unrealistic expectations of everyone, because they were unhappy with their own pathetic lives and wanted everyone to slave away like themselves or pick on a person of the week to fire. The goal of the worker in cubical “heaven” was to find a good manager and stick under their protective wing and hope for retirement to arrive.

    For me it finally arrived as an early out offer from the State. And I took it. I took it to get away from the job and have some freedom but also to become a kind of slave to a kind of bondage with my family situation. I had a mother who was very sick chronically. This is a big toll on my father who is pretty old, so I figured I’d retire and work on helping them out. My job was more like retirement than my retirement would be. The stresses at home were so bad at times my escapes and little trips, usually weekend trips away were very freeing and refreshing. Now others retire conventionally and don’t get what they hope for. An example is my father who retired near the age of 58 or so, the typical age and lived for over 30 years, but found out my mom’s health degraded almost all of those 30 years. The first years were minor problems, but the last 20 years were major issues. So he retired and hoped to do all those things retired people do and they did things like live on the cheap in this area things dumpster divers do for example. Seniors who love to find things cheap. But his great retirement plans were ruined by poor health and chronic pain issues with my mom. She’s really debilitated and stuck in one room in a chair with her feet up in the air, in constant pain. So we kind of serve her as a kind of willing but unwilling set of slaves and almost ICU nurses of a sort. . . it’s a real grind and pain. As she is often awake or demanding in the most crazy way for almost 18 hours every day and sleeps little, it’s a real toll. When she naps or sleeps we get a little bit of normalcy.

    Now I point out this because retirement, that is true retirement is “sustainable” from a financial point of view. Sustainable and green, means sustainable from a natural point of view. But from a social and financial point of view we have safety nets as well. To truly retire you need residual income from constant money. It has to be from some kind of royalty from a patent, or payment from the system or social security, a retirement plan or a lot of savings as you pointed out. You’re retirement being based on 1.5 years savings is only a partial retirement unless you get your expenses down and add to the income somehow as you pointed out. But you’re retired early. For a spell. A guy where I work retired early and was a freelancer. He left the craziness of state work where I worked and went off as a teacher to Florida. He returned as a programmer, but then retired again and programmed as a consultant, only to return to an offer to work as a consultant. His leaving and returning, caused a break in work history. He made good money, even bought and owned property in Florida and Michigan. He’s a great worker. And he’s a really nice guy. He’s about my age. When the early out came around, he was working at the same shop I was at. Others bought expensive houses and condos as well and could not take the early out, because they had to much expenses. I calculated that I’d lose $90k in take home pay over 5 years by retiring early, but I worked for 26 years at a shop. Sometimes my work was exciting sometimes boring. In a sense all programming and computer work is boring after 6 months for decent programmers, because we learn how to solve basically every problem and we can become more of a software road repair person than an architect of great structures. We repaired and patched things. So that’s the grind of the job. I left a great job, with a great boss. I had a great cushy job and money coming in that was pretty good. When I left I found the world of retirement, but spend a lot of money and didn’t have a lot of cash for retirement. That’s okay, expenses are cut back, but it’s difficult to learn how to downsize when you wasted a lot of money doing all the things you wanted to for brief vacations.

    With seniors, that are elderly, they may be of course shaped by their needs and past environment. My dad is really old and lived through the Great Depression as did his sisters. And his older sister was a caregiver and loaner of sorts. A good worker a hard worker. Her mind was starting to go as she was older. She seemed to be a kind of item hoarder at the end of her life, but in a good logical way. It was due to her forgetful mind, but also as a matter of preparation. Seniors may not feel good enough to travel to the store and may be ill a lot, so they may stockpile a pantry and keep things around, because they can’t get out of the house. So they may stockpile a few things that don’t make a lot of sense, for example laundry soup and toilet paper. They will stockpile canned goods and other things to eat. This is because they are on a budget, don’t mind cooking at home and sense a value in things. . . almost like a hyperinflation wedge. So they have logical reasons why they do things and seem to be materially bound with huge houses or filled houses with goods. It’s a trend you’ll see with some seniors and totally explainable, when you understand their experience and past. There is a kind of “reaction formation” that we end up having at times when we run away or look for freedom. For those who had a lot, they get tired of the chores of having stuff owning you, instead of you owning it. After all to be responsible, we have to take care of all that crap. And we should wash our cars, polish the paint and fix up any dent. We should mow the lawn, keep nice flowers in the garden, etc. Make the house look good and keep the property value up and everything in order. To create order requires energy and work. So we get caught in all that stuff. And of course we have others pushing us to do that. But for those who had not much or experienced nothing to begin with or were poor, they long to be free of the “lack of things” and having little. So they will often seek to escape and retire to a kind of wealth of items and things. We see this with survivors of the siege of St. Petersburg in Russia or anyone who experienced the Great Depression. Some of course became hobos, which is a term from the Great Depression. Others were poor and survived at home or with the help of others. My dad for example was basically homeless due to a marriage breakup and the Great Depression as well. And he and his mother and siblings ended up living in a rented house with almost no furniture. His friends near their teens later were hunting for coal that fell off trains to heat their rooms with a coal woodstove in the kitchen, but not enough coal for Detroit winter months. They lived in want as kids and some didn’t get any Christmas gifts. WWII ended the depression. It ended it with the industrial needs of the War and the destruction of many countries through the ravages of war. When it ended the result was a boom from those in North America, because our industries were away from the bombing. Every other country involved where war was, suffered and was behind for quite some time. A forty year period of prosperity ensued for the USA that was unique, because we had a head start. Those who choose to work could amass a lot of goods and wealth if they had a good job and had the luck of working for a company that lasted and had a good retirement plan. Social Security helped as well. So those people had good material lives. Now the 2008 recession/depression happened. It could have been worse than the Great Depression and still might be in the future, we don’t know the outcome of that damage or even the cause other than greed and manipulation by people who as a group wanted to be collectively rich in real estate. High prices of fuel and resource expenses also caused the 2008 failure. People were paying as much for gas as their car payment. Truckers were losing jobs in droves and the economy was running on a real estate bubble economy and cheap credit from the Fed.

    Wars drained our economy as well. The war in Iraq. Without a real payback to the USA per se. It wasn’t like we’d get cheap oil from that war, although it might have happened in some cases. Iraq is the last great reserve in the Middle east with known reserves to keep prices down. Alternate oil and fuel resources come from other sources as well. Fracking, and tar sands in Canada for example. There is some truth, but maybe not all truth to the Peak Oil theory of resource depletion. In some cases they are right about the nature of the world and energy being true wealth. In other cases they are wrong in their predictions of doom, because resources are shifted and wasted in China which is gearing up with massive amounts of cars and autos being produced and used there. If peak oil was correct in their predictions based on world wide use from say 2008 or so, gasoline would be over $6 or $8 a gallon, right now. But it isn’t. So something strange, like price or supply conspiracies are going on as well. Price manipulation is likely happening. In any event, true wealth comes from energy and the ability of high tech devices to do our work. When you look at the nature of true wealth, we can’t retire unless the modern world and devices do most of the work for us. The average salad in the US travels 1500 miles. Meaning the ingredients use cheap fossil fuel to arrive at our dinner plate. The average salad in Canada travels 3000 miles.

    We can try to live green and sustainably as well. Eat locally, but the energy used locally to do things at a small scale and deliver your goods or do low quantities of farming for green farming and locally produced, doesn’t really compete efficiency wise with the industrial system of farming. That’s why organic foods cost more than industrial farmed growing foods. The entire system of our world is in a sense sustained by cheap oil and cheap resources and the great machines of society that have been built, mass industrial scale creation and complex systems to create all these modern things we enjoy.

    There is really no way to truly be free from the systems we can at times rail against in our hope to be a true hobo, for those who want to be one. We are still tied to the systems that exist and all caught in it. To be truly free, and natural, to go back to nature is more a creative fantasy than a reality for most of those trying or hoping to be free and green. It becomes a question of living light and in a sustainable fashion. I find it best to think of things and break it down into economic terms but I’m rambling all over in my post. I’ll write a few conclusions.
    1. Living light is okay.
    2. But some guys like my friend at work, worked 30 years as long as I did, and they don’t have a retirement yet, because they didn’t stay with an employer or save the money to retire. They did the nomadic and creative thing, but suffered because they didn’t put in the time for sustainable retirement income. So they get to work until they are very old. They had a chance at retirement but let it go.
    3. You can with enough creative talent or ability work as if you’re retired while your working and retirement will seem to be more like work when you leave. I know that’s what happened to me. My work was more like retirement than my retirement, but that’s my choice.
    4. When you are truly retired, people will line up with “work for you to do” because “you’re retired” and “have nothing to do”. Nothing to do, can be something to do, so don’t forget to rest and say “no” politely.
    5. True, good modern workers, who are Americans have this “if you don’t work don’t eat” mentality the work ethic ingrained into them. When they retire they feel a sense of guilt as if we don’t deserve to eat and have the things “given to us for free” because we get a check but don’t have to work. It sounds like heaven, but to those who enjoy work and get a sense of value from working, even titles and that value is in that title. . . males especially. . . we can feel lost because we are retired and have less value. We aren’t a “programmer”, “instructor”, “doctor”, “fireman”, “police officer” or whatever any more. Our title isn’t “what we do” anymore. Our title is “retired” which many equate to “freeloader”. I had people tell me I shouldn’t retire and try to give me a guilt trip because they still had to work and supposedly pay for guys like me. . . can you believe it? It’s true.
    6. Retirees live on a fixed income. It’s a good idea to live like that before you retire and see what the budget impact is so you’ll be ready.
    7. It’s hard to give up spending habits. I spent money like a drunken sailor, while I worked and saved very little. I didn’t care really and a lot of that was geared toward giving and hobbies. I did basically anything I wanted to do as a single person. So I had fun while working. But giving up spending habits when you retire can be difficult.
    8. Living light can be fun and a challenge. It’s difficult to do with a vehicle that costs a lot or uses a huge gas expense. Some people who try to live light, on a sailboat for example finds the vehicle costs, dock fees, etc so expensive they need almost a full time job income to “live light” on a boat for example.
    9. Think about sustainable and green for different environments and you’ll find out there is really four things you need to concern yourself with (in the USA). There is a social environment, which is family and friends. . . to sustain that takes time and interaction, real face time, not internet facetime. There is the security safety net, if you’re not safe, nothing you have health or stuff is secure. That costs money. There is the health safety net, if you don’t have good health and healthcare, you’re screwed when you have a problem. There is the monetary safety net, sustainable economic cash flow. You have to have all those safety nets covered to be truly free and retired. They all require resources so people who retire have more options but we aren’t truly free, because the world really isn’t free it’s a struggle at times and hopefully a fun one at times.
    10. Work that is efficient for most people is boring and can be. That’s it’s nature. When your being creative most people are often learning and making mistakes, so if we worship being creative and experiencing the new, it’s inspiring, but not typically work or the typical “grind” that many experience in the modern day. People ask me if I like the creativity of programming for example. After a year or two I realized I could do anything in programming and it was just a job. So although things can be creative and have a sense of creativity, many end up having boring jobs. Those who experienced a lack of jobs or money learned to appreciate this, and possibly due to surviving WWII, they were really happy to even have a boring job and just do boring things. After all they survived and some even stopped Hitler from putting us all into ovens. If the Allies had lost the war, many of us would have never lived, because the Nazi’s were killing everyone on an industrial scale, to make the world perfect and efficient for themselves.
    So if you see an old WWII vet thank him for the world you live in. If you wonder why they work so hard and are happy to do even boring work compared to the younger people who want to wander, just watch some old shows about the war and what they went through or talk to them and you’ll discover why they work so hard and still enjoy that work or their retirement.
    I’ve rambled on, I guess that’s a perk in being retired and having a laptop and a lot of time to write a post.

    I’m not sure I put down everything I set out to type, I’m not going to work to reorganize this post, that’s to much like work.

  19. Cool article! I, similar to yourself am an early retiree. I’m mid thirtees for what it may be worth. Anyhow, things I’ve learned after my first 6 months of freedom? You don’t get bored. You do get offered jobs, but not shitty full time jobs. The jobs no one else can afford to do like one or two days a week type things which I’ve been doing for extra cash and joy. Most of all I’m learning you are so different from everyone else that you simply cannot stand conversing with work oriented people who take extremely petty things extremely serious. You become a much deeper person, which is good but perhaps not so great in a social regard. I’m loving my early financial independence and don’t think I could ever go back to being a wage jockey.

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