Sunday, October 13, 2013

First retire, then get rich

The title is a reference to this Mr. Money Mustache post.

Last week I discovered an awesome new blog called Saving Money In Your Twenties. Over there Ashley is blogging about a whole bunch of Mustachian things like saving money, brewing beer, cutting her own hair, and yes, leaving the 9-to-5 grind behind. I was inspired to read through her archive, where I learned how to find free parking in many cities while traveling and how to make a cheap and delicious quinoa stir fry, among other things.

Afterwards I was inspired to blog about how cool I think it is that she's quitting her full-time job to move to upstate New York and figure out empirically if she can make a living doing something other than working full-time. I'm not going to steal her thunder: for the juicy details, you should go read her blog. Suffice it to say that she saw an opportunity and she decided to jump on it.

It's unusual that someone quits their job without having another job lined up first. This isn't at all related to criminal law, but I explain this fact by a lack of means, motive, or opportunity. I think many people have sufficient motive to quit their jobs, based on nothing more than the frequency of job-based complaints. Means and opportunity must be the limiting factors. How many of us have a year's worth of expenses saved up (means)? I know I don't.  I'm still lacking enough savings to be able to comfortably quit my job if I wanted. And how many of us have a proximate reason to try to do something else with our lives, which might negatively impact our future employment (opportunity)?

I have given some thought to taking an extended amount of time off of work. Besides a great deal of relaxing, I'd have more time to pursue my hobbies, like home brewing, contributing to the open source community, and practicing security analysis so I can get better at investing. I'd also be able to take on some new hobbies, like writing a book (I've heard publishing on Kindle is pretty straightforward), or maybe a new blog project or two.

A number of these hobbies have a chance of bringing in income. I'm interpreting Mr. Money Mustache's post on "First retire... then get rich" in this light. Sure, you can retire once you have enough money to live off your passive income. That's a given. But you can also temporarily retire once you have enough savings to fund your expenses for a few months. It will mean living off principal, but it will give you an opportunity to do something else with your life years before you could otherwise.

On this note, I'm excited for Ashley, and I'm looking forward to following her journey.

P.S. Yes, I understand MMM's post is addressing a different point, namely how a lot of common retirement advice is "work as long as possible and save as much money as possible because you might run out of money before you die". I think he has an interesting point, and I think it's even more interesting when that point is stretched to its logical conclusion.


  1. HOLY COW. This is the nicest thing ever! Thanks so much for the write up of my blog! I hope me testing out the "unemployment" waters can provide some good info for you to take that step one day soon, if that's what you decide to do :)

    I think you're headed in a really great direction. If you can, you should start (now) pursuing some of those hobbies that have a chance at bringing in income. Less stressful to start them while you still have a steady paycheck than when you're trying to make ends meet :) And maybe you'll start pulling in some good income and can take some time off from your traditional job sooner!!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement. I can't wait to hear how things go for you. Keep on blogging!