WpgGuy wrote: ↑
Sat Jan 20, 2018 4:03 am
I have a slightly tangential question, somewhat dark. I’m late 30s, but on track for a pretty early retirement if I want it (maybe 42?). I recently came across the story of a colleague who past away very young from a sudden disease after doing everything right in life (given under a year to live :/). This got me thinking, and kind of re-evaluating... perhaps feeling a tad less invincible.
So my question is this: how did you all factor in the unknown risks of “black swan” terminal health events, vs the benefits of a larger retirement nest egg? I’d feel awfully foolish if I spent 7 or 8 years working to make firecalc happier only to get unlucky health wise.
This all kinda made me really think hard when enough is enough, but not really sure how to think of this kinda thing. The temptation is to think “it won’t happen to me” (rationally I know it’s a remote event), but if it ever did I’d at least like to think I lived my life to its fullest. For those who elected to work more, were you at peace with the possibility (however remote) that you may never get a “retirement” by rolling the dice?
Right now the “sabbatical” idea (to test drive retirement) sounds quite good when I hit 42...
A sabbatical is always a great idea, but it's not a good test of retirement.
I took a year between college and med school to pursue something I loved with a community of people that I enjoyed. That was among the best years of my life.
I took another 1-yr sabbatical at 34 after selling a business. It was another great year.
However, I always knew that I was going back to work during my sabbaticals. That's very different than life in retirement.
At 41 I "retired" due to extreme burnout. It didn't matter whether I was ready or not. I had to get out. I lived on about $56-57K/year (in today's dollars). Based on what I know now about safe withdrawal rates (but didn't know then), that should have been sustainable for the long-term.
I had an interesting, happy, and largely stress-free life for the next 11 years before I became seriously ill and almost died. That was a shocker -- for me and my family. I had always been fit and trim with regular exercise habits and a favorable family history of good health. Didn't matter. I was unlucky.
I am so glad that I stepped off the treadmill to look around. I wasn't ready to die at 52, but at least I believed I had done what I could to lead a full life to that point. I would have been overwhelmed with regret if I had spent my entire adult life with my head down in a desperate sprint.
No doubt your perspective will be different if your career is less demanding.
If your career is very stressful, and especially if you don't have dependents at risk, then I highly recommend turning life upside down with an early retirement. If you're like me, you'll find that there are many things that you can do and want to do when you are younger but not when you are older. On the other hand, when you are older you many find that work has greater appeal -- as long as it doesn't consume your life and health.
Given that you can earn enough wealth to even consider early retirement, it's likely that you are the sort of person who will have many options for a return to work later in life -- if you want it or need it. At least, that's been my experience.