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Early Retirement…Are The Sacrifices Worth It?

The question on Quora

“What’s your take on Early Retirement strategies like frugality and minimalism? Are they worth it?”

My answer

Are they worth it? That depends on your goals in life. If you want to have ten children, for example – like, having a big family has been a dream of yours for a long time – then retiring early will be difficult. Giving up a dream of a large family in order to retire early would probably cause you to live a life of heavy regret.

Not worth it, in my opinion.

However, if your priority is to retire early and you’re wondering whether disciplining yourself to live frugally and simply now – sacrificing your wants – is worth the future reward of financial and time freedom, I think it would be for most people.

My husband and I retired in our early forties and moved, along with our son, to five acres in a rural mountainous area. We achieved this by two things: first, by living debt-free; and second, by living on half of my husband’s take-home pay and saving and investing the rest.

We didn’t enroll our son in a dozen different classes every year (we homeschool, but lived in a city with a great Park and Rec program as well as dozens of opportunities for things like martial arts). We didn’t have cable T.V. We didn’t take expensive vacations. We didn’t eat out. (Though that was more because of my health-nuttiness than anything else, but it did save us money.) We’d purchased a house that was half the cost of what the lender had been willing to loan us. We drove our cars into the ground (I’m still driving my 1997 Honda Civic!). We wore – and still wear – clothes until they wear out. We didn’t go to the mall for fun.

I could go on, but I’ll stop there.

A lot of that will cause many people to raise an eyebrow. To say, “No way! I could never do that! I’ll just work until I’m 70.”

If you really want something, you’ll do what it takes to get it. If you think you can’t, you won’t achieve it – whatever “it” may be.

And since my husband and I were already naturally frugal, taking the extra steps to reach our goal of early retirement wasn’t a big deal.

As a result, my husband no longer has to work at a stressful job (I had quit my teaching job when I was pregnant to stay home with our son). We can go where we want, when we want, because we create our own schedules. Our choice of home is based on where we really want to live, not our need to be close to a job.

We could be spending several thousand dollars more a month than we do. (In large part because we invest according to The Permanent Portfolio – and I highly recommend the book by that title by Craig Rowland.)

What do you think – was living frugally and minimally worth it for us?

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