Podcasts, Work

Retiring at 41?

Yesterday I listened to a podcast episode from the Friends on FIRE podcast. (I don’t often listen to this podcast, but I guess I follow them on Instagram, b/c I saw a post there that intrigued me.) It’s a financial podcast, geared toward the FIRE movement.

(Also, disclaimer- we are not “FIRE movement” people, so I’m probably not really their target audience. 🙂 )

Anyway, the episode was all about how the co-host and her husband are both ready to pull the trigger and retire this May….at the ripe old age of 41. !!!!! Keep in mind, they have 3 kids/ are in the middle of the child-rearing years.

Because we are not “FIRE people”, this is something I can’t even really fathom, but that’s beside the point.

When I heard her say it, my gut, immediate reaction was, “I wouldn’t WANT to retire at 41.”

But then my own reaction surprised me a teeny bit….I mean, wouldn’t that be the dream? To not have to work anymore? AND her husband is retiring, too! Free to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted?

I don’t know. Something about it just automatically rubbed me wrong, personally, for me. Surprisingly, my reaction wasn’t one of envy, but one of, “Not for me. Not yet.”

I guess when I think about it, I generally like working! Work provides an obvious structure to my days, and our life. I’ve always liked structure and routine. I have also always enjoyed getting a paycheck. 😉

Also, I spent a LONG time going to school, from K through college graduation. The main purpose was an education, obviously, but also to use it for something good. Which I think I am doing, with an interesting, fulfilling career, in transplant medicine- a very cool field.

I’m not sure exactly what we would do all day everyday if we retired at 41. No doubt, I could find meaningful ways to spend my days. However, maybe it’s because I work from home and have a flexible job now, but for the most part, I currently feel like I have “enough” time to work AND do interesting things with my life.

This might be the defining difference from her situation to my situation. I haven’t 100% finished listening to the episode yet, but it sounds like she has a “Corporate America” job (which I do not). She references feeling too often lately like “life is short” and wanting to really soak up time with her kids (ages 10-13), her extended family, etc.

At the moment, I don’t feel like my work is impeding me from having a deep, full relationship with my kids or “soaking up time” with them. We see our extended family a lot/ plenty, too. We travel quite a lot and we each get many weeks of vacation time per year. I see the kids every morning, every night and every weekend, and we spend lots of quality time together. On top of it all, I have at least some personal time, too, to write on this blog, or exercise, or volunteer, or read a book.

Even Ivan, who works in the office and is gone from ~8:15- 6 pm every day, never seems to really be lacking for time too much. I never sense from him that he feels he “needs to work less” or anything. (Perhaps a key factor- he doesn’t travel for work, so he’s home every evening and weekend, too.) And I think he really does like his job, too, most days… 😉

Of course, things are busy in this season, and do I always have “enough” time for everything I want or need to do? No. Are there times I feel totally frazzled and overwhelmed? Yes. But on the whole, I think we’re doing pretty well.

Maybe this podcast co-host and her husband have a very different work/life balance than we do, due to the nature of their jobs. I’m not sure. I’m sure they must have good reasons for wanting to both retire at 41! To be clear, I’m not judging them at all, simply reflecting on how I personally feel about it, for me and my life.

Then, there’s the financial side. We save a good amount for retirement, but we also spend plenty on “now” experiences that we enjoy, like travel. So let’s just say…in our case….the egg ain’t ready to hatch yet. lol.

Even if it were, from age 41 to ?? you’d still have to be doing something to actively manage those investments/accounts for all those years/ ensure you continue to have enough money going forward. I don’t know, that sounds kind of stressful to me. I think I’d rather just keep working and earning and saving for now. Because like I said, I’m happy with my life as it is. I don’t want to have to live frugally just to not work.

(I was thinking more about the financial aspect last night, and I think maybe I’d be cool with quitting my job if I could somehow be guaranteed X # of dollars every month, for life, PLUS I could also have a huge nest egg that would be guaranteed to somehow never deplete or disappear. So like, maybe someone really, really rich could just adopt me or something, and then I could just not work (or ever have to think about managing my retirement funds). Hahaha.

Anyway, I need to listen to the end part of the episode. I just looked, and I think there are actually several episodes on this topic! So I’m sure she expands more on their future plans. Maybe this is just them “retiring” from Corporate America, but eventually they want to start a business, or do something else, like a low key “fun job”? Or maybe not! Maybe they’ll just live out the rest of their days as true retired people. I’m not sure. Either way, it’s their life, and she seemed very happy and excited about it, so, that’s great!

Whew, sorry, that was a bit of a brain dump. If you stuck with this long post, what do you think? Would you want to retire at 41? (I’m 38 1/2, so for me, that’d be just a couple more years of work…). And if you’re into the FIRE movement stuff, check out this podcast! They seem like good people. 🙂

Speaking of work…Here is Ethan, applying for his first job!! He’s only 13 but applying for a summer agriculture job (with 2 of his best friends) at a local seed company “identifying rogue corn”, among other tasks. Since it’s agriculture, they hire starting at age 12. Woooo! Bring on the paychecks. Haha! (I started working at age 14 (at McDonald’s), and I loved working as a teen! So I hope my boys have good experiences, too.)

Daily Gratitude:

I am grateful for tupperware/ food storage containers. (Sorry, these just never seem to match the theme of my post. Oh well. It’s truly what was on my mind this morning as I put some hard boiled eggs away. 🤷‍♀️)

21 thoughts on “Retiring at 41?”

  1. Occasionally when someone I know is retiring, I do have a little pang of jealousy, but like you I do enjoy my job, it’s really not typically that stressful and I get a lot of time off. I find it hard to understand people I know who ARE 65+ and still working though – like don’t you just want some time to chill? But maybe they see work like you do, just as a way to structure their days and give them some connection to others. I am definitely looking forward to retiring, and maybe at like 55 I would be ready, but not at 41 (which is in a year for me).

    I DO think if, like you said, I was guaranteed a reasonable amount of money to live, etc, maybe???? But presently I do like filling my days with my job, and don’t feel like anything is missing in my life. The hours that I work are the hours my kids are in school (give or take a few) and it really just doesn’t stress me out??? I do think that there are a lot of people who might have a really hard time setting firm boundaries with work and it creeps into their home life quite a bit, whether it is actual work or just thinking about it. I do have some periods of time like that but it’s rare.

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    1. Just got this comment too! I’m so glad I saw this- you make some excellent points. I also feel the exact same way about people who retire extra LATE… don’t they just want to relax??! I also agree with you on retirement age- I feel like around 55 would be my ideal I think. We sound like we have similar perks to our jobs, not overly stressful, time off, flexible around kids schedules, etc. So maybe that’s why we are on the same page about this. 🙂

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  2. Well I am 41 currently and wouldn’t even consider retiring. Like you, I enjoy my job and the structure that work gives me. One of Phil’s coworkers decided to be a SAHM after they had their 3rd child. She came back for a couple of months and then said – enough, I’m done. Phil joked to her that we would both be miserable to be SAHM/SAHD. Like you, I feel like I get plenty of time with my kids… we get several hours in the evenings and lots of weekend time and that feels like enough for us I guess? Maybe I will feel a bit different when they are older and don’t require so much hands-on management? And we also take vacations and I think will travel more with them when they are older, too.

    I’m all about the FI part of FIRE, but not the RE. We met with a financial advisor in 2020 to have him run an analysis on how much we have saved. He used a lot of very complicated models to tell us if we were on track and how much longer we would need to work. It was a really useful exercise for us, especially since we both work in the same industry and it’s very volatile. So that gave me a lot of comfort to know that we are on track to being able to stop working well before retirement age – but I don’t think either of us really plans to do that? It’s hard to say at this point. One thing that I think about is health insurance. I very much appreciate the health insurance that my company provides. Yes there is a cost associated, but if I tried to get a similar policy on my own, it would be SO EXPENSIVE. And good insurance is so important to me with my expensive RA meds. And the boys have had their share of things like ER visits, tubes procedures, seeing ENTs and a pediatric urologist, ultrasounds, etc etc. So I will also need the Cadillac of insurance policies and I think it’s important when you have kids, even if they are healthy as you never know what might happen! So retiring at 41, not having healthcare, or a steady income coming in sounds SO STRESSFUL. But I am a very very risk averse person and I like the comfort of a paycheck! So I’m on the same page as you on this topic!

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    1. Yes, great point about the health insurance piece! I’m sure this couple has something figured out in that area, but I agree with you- it’s nice and simple having excellent healthcare through my employer.

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      1. Oh and I forgot to comment on Ethan’s job. It made me think of a job I did for a couple of weeks one summer for my dad’s cousin who was a farmer. He hired a bunch of tweens/teens to walk through bean fields and chop down what was probably referred to as rogue corn with a machete! But I have to imagine the job Ethan is applying for is different? I only did it for about 2 weeks, I think, and it was EXHAUSTING and very physical! Very cool that he is getting his first job!

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      2. It actually sounds kind of similar to what you’re describing! 😬 Hopefully he doesn’t hate it! Haha. Oh well, it’s just for one summer and it’s not even the whole summer- just certain weeks during the growing season. It’ll build character. 😉

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  3. Nope! I haven’t even found my dream job yet. Our financial planner has fun software that shows we’ll have about 90% of current income saved by 65. Plus no mortgage by then 🙂

    Miss Lor is going to do concessions at PAC and I had a lot of fun helping her with the paperwork and what to say. The interviewer in me loves thinking of the questions that might trap you lol.

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  4. This question is always at the back of my mind! Like Lisa I like the FI part but I cannot see myself playing golf all day. I would only “retire” if I had more than enough money to still go on vacations, pursue a lot of hobbies. And I would find something productive-ish to be busy with too, like fight climate change, help underpriviledged people, etc. While I do wish I worked less, I really like my job and being able to influence people’s careers through being a (at least I think) good manager. My husband wants to retire if he can, but it’s to start a business, and also have a lot of time to play golf.

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    1. Yes, I feel like no matter how well prepared someone is to retire early, you’d still have to live fairly carefully/ frugally…and I just don’t really want to have to worry about that! I don’t see enough benefit in NOT working at this time to justify that. Rather just go on working and living as I am, I think.

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      1. One other thing- to me it’s the same concept as being a SAHM, in some ways. I always have said I’d never want to be a SAHM unless I could still spend freely, travel, go out to dinner, go places with the boys, etc….and when my boys were little, being a SAHM would have required a big change in our lifestyle/ cutting a lot of those extras I really enjoy. I know for many people it’s “worth it” to tighten the belt/ spend less so one parent can stay home, but I just didn’t see it that way, for us/me.

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      2. I agree! I was a SAHM mom for a year (but I knew it was only for a year) and hated watching our finances so much to make sure we didn’t overspend. You know what? I totally listened to that podcast episode plus the ones that came after. Makes much more sense when you hear the details. Still not something I would (or could?) do but good food for thought.

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      3. Good to know!! I finished the first one yesterday but I also want to listen to the one titled “how are we affording to retire at 41” or whatever it was called.

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  5. I got into the FI movement reading for a while when I was figuring out personal finance but as you said, I love my job and fortunately and unfortunately find part of my identity through what I do at work, so can’t imagine retiring now. I have so much to do to contribute to the world. Obviously financial reason is a valid one. many of the FI families live very minimalistic which is fine if that’s what they prefer. I prefer not to have to worry about money so even financially doesn’t make sense to retire already. I am curious to know if any of the people who passionately love their job (beyond for living) would ever want to go to the FI route, or are they mostly people burned out from work that choose that path.
    good luck to Ethan for his first job. I started working at that age too.

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    1. That’s an excellent question and I’m curious about that too (how many people who retire early are “burned out” in their current job, vs people who love their job/feel content with their work/life.) balance).

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  6. And then it depends on what they’ll be doing during “retirement”. I have found that people use the word loosely and sometimes they are just retiring from a full time job with the intention of pursuing other goals such as a home business, investments or just a new career interest.

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    1. I’ve wondered about that too! It does seem that many people in these situations are also pretty Type A/“go-getter” types, so they might find they actually miss work and accomplishing things professionally after a while…

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  7. I guess most of the thoughts shared here are based on the assumption that the podcast hosts will live a truly retired life henceforth, meaning do nothing to earn money etc. Also being a SAHM also does not automatically mean that your finances are tight, you have to live a minimalist life etc. And there are many reasons people take a decision to be a SAHM or to retire early. My husband had to retire early (at 41) because of his health conditions. His health improved when he stayed home and in the past two years he has slowly started two lines of businesses. He has limited staff and the work is flexible enough to take care of his health.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that it’s not the end of the world if someone does retire early. Sometimes only after retiring, and having that free time on hand, we start to look at things differently and opportunities start to pop up here and there. Yes, it’s risky, but this adventure is more thrilling to me than an extravagant travel adventure (I love those too 😄)

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    1. Oh, for sure! Definitely not the end of the world- and for some people, it’s probably absolutely the best/right choice!! Every situation is so unique, so there definitely isn’t one right way. 😃 I’m so glad that stepping away from work for a while was such a positive thing for your husband’s health. Health is #1- without it, nothing else matters as much. 🙂 You also do sound like you’re always up for an adventure. I love it! 🙂

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  8. You know, I like working, and like you, I think my work has a positive impact on the world. Or will eventually! I would be bored to tears if I retired – and, since I can think of few OTHER things I’d rather do (at least right now), this is not something I would choose. Plus, there’s the tiny matter of, you know… money. 🙂 I hope to live a bit more fully in the coming years – travel, adventure, etc. -but I will need to work to support that. And I am okay with that! It sounds like you are, too. 🙂

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  9. I do enjoy my work, it gives me purpose, but sometimes I wish I could do other things with my time, mostly because I always feel there is so much I’d like to do and so little time to do it (even if I probably do plenty with the free time I have).
    Alas, if money was no issue, I’d happily find ways to fill my time meaningfully without being employed… LOL but it’s not an option for me and I definitely have no desire to completely cut out all fun to make early retirement happen (who knows if we reach retirement age… I know people who worked hard until the last minute only to die in the first year of their golden years).
    Besides, I am already past 41. LOL

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