I don’t want to retire early and here’s why

While listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Listen Money Matters, I realized something that makes me unique from a lot of the personal finance bloggers out there. One of the questions Andrew and Thomas answered was regarding early retirement and how to invest for that type of situation. It then dawned on me…

I don’t want to retire early. I don’t even want to retire at 59 1/2.

At the age of 30 I’m just in the beginning of a career that I find an enormous amount of fulfillment in. The mentors that I look up to have been in their field for 20-30-40+ years and continue to be challenged every single day. The scientific community is full of people who dedicate their life’s work to a single hypothesis or theory, and that pursuit fuels them to work incredibly hard to discover something new about the world we live in. I love my job and the further I progress through my career the more I realize this is the right fit for me.

One of the downsides of being a graduate student with the hopes of pursuing an academic career is that the pay can be somewhat abysmal. Right now we’re focused on graduating, paying down loans, and trying to save a teeny tiny bit for a house, but are hoping that even a slight bump in our salaries will make our monthly budget not seem so tight. Unfortunately, the average post-doc salary is $45,000 and that is after 5+ years of higher education. The good news is that we are getting paid to go to school and make a decent stipend that allows us to live comfortably as DINKs (dual income no kids) for the time being. Retirement isn’t even on our radar yet, but I also think that we as millennials are going to be viewing retirement very differently than our parent’s generation.

When we talk about retirement most of us think of one of two outcomes: sitting on a beach or pursuing your passion. Well, I’m pursuing my passion right now (albeit with little pay), and I don’t have a desire to sit on a beach for the rest of my life (although lots of vacation time is welcome!) so I’m pretty happy with working as long as I can. That doesn’t mean that I won’t contribute to retirement, but I think that I will probably re-frame it to match my goals. I want to live comfortably, provide a wonderful home and education for my children, and get to enjoy life to the fullest. Early retirement may be the dream for some, but for me, well, I’m content just where I am.

Do you want to retire early? What does that look like for you?

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10 thoughts on “I don’t want to retire early and here’s why

  1. This is something that I’ve determined as well. I love the concept of financial freedom/independence, and the ability to say “FU” if I ended up in a situation I absolutely despised, but what the heck am I supposed to do when I’m 40? Pursue that passion I guess.

    I’m interested to know how you anticipate solving the two-body problem with both of you in grad school, post-doc’ing, and then looking for academic careers. That’s one thing I’m happy about here… I’m a non-rank academic right now, and it works for us because my fiancé is not in this weird PhD world so he can be the trailing spouse.

    1. Great post. I wish I had a job or a career I was as passionate about as you. My girlfriend loves her career like you. She is a teacher. I, on the other hand, am not a fan of my employment. The main reason why I want to “retire” young is so I choose how to spend my time. It is difficult to see myself retired in the traditional sense, sitting on a cruise or going fishing everyday. I want to be able to work on my own projects and find something I am passionate about to spend my time. Becoming financial independent will allow me to retire from working for others and begin to work for myself.

      1. I feel very lucky that I have a career I love, which is also unusual in this day and age! “Retirement” also can be exactly what you pointed out – not just sitting around on the beach but also pursuing your passions without the worry of financial constraints. Thanks for the comment Matthew!

    2. That’s a great point – maybe some day down the road I will want to say “FU” to my job and then I’ll be stuck either hating that job or without a lot of resources at my disposal.
      Luckily for us we are in the same field, but will definitely have to make tough decisions regarding job offers and moving locations down the road. Mr. M&M is leaning towards a career in industry and we’re hoping that we can both find post-docs in the same area. It will definitely be interesting to see how it pans out though!
      Long story short: we don’t have a plan for that 😉

  2. I can’t imagine retiring early and not working! I’m a busybody, so I imagine I’ll always be doing or working on something. But with that being said, I would love to have mostly passive income at that stage in life so I can have the option to pursue other things if I want 🙂

  3. We both plan to retire at 55 or so, which is early to some, late to many personal finance bloggers ; )
    We have a life plan and we’re perfectly content the way we’re living right now. Things may change later on but for now this is our plan

  4. I think it depends on what you define as retirement. If retirement means doing nothing and sit on the beach all day, I would say no thanks. That gets old very quickly. If retirement means achieving financial independence so you can decide what you want to do, then yes please. Achieving financial independence will provide so much more options and freedom to you. You can still work at the job you love when you achieve FI.

    1. I completely agree! Financial independence can look like a lot of different things depending on who you are and what your goals may be. And it would be awesome to have financial independence & work at my job – which I hope to achieve one day. Thanks for the comment!

  5. Finally got some free time to catch up on checking out blogs 🙂 I can see I’m going to like yours — young underpaid academics! Great!

    I would like the freedom to be able to retire when I actually want to, which certainly isn’t right now and might not be until…who knows when. So I’m working hard on my retirement account right now. But that’s more with the idea of giving myself options in the future than with a specific goal. If I get sick or just hate where I’m at or want to do other things, I want to be able to do whatever. I doubt I’d be able to afford it until 65 or so unless things drastically change in my financial situation, in any case.

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