PS: Your life doesn’t magically change when you retire!

Good morning!

So USAA hit me up the other day asking if I’d like to partner with them on their #LifeUninterrupted campaign, and after reading the inspiration behind it I was sold on the spot:

“For most people, retirement isn’t about luxury cruises and trips around the world. It’s about making sure their life can go on as normal once they retire. It’s continuing to do the things that make them happy without worrying about financial interruptions. Put simply: Keep living life as you know it”

YES!! 100%! It’s not a magical day where your life changes overnight – it’s just the time when you no longer have to worry about money anymore! And if you’re doing it *right*, you’re already enjoying a version of that “retirement life” up to that point – it’s just relegated to your nights and weekends until you can finally pull the trigger…

There’s a line people say that when you come into a lot of money “it doesn’t change you, it only amplifies who you are as a person,” and I feel the same can be said for retirement.

You’ll still be YOU when you hit that magic number, just a better version of yourself because now you’ve freed up the time to spend even MORE energy toward the stuff you love and enjoy! Which you then smoothly transition to! But if you’re not doing jack with your life up to that point or work IS your life, well, then you’ll only have more jack to look forward to and will probably become one of those people who think the FIRE movement is dumb, haha…

In which case, read this  –> It’s Not About The Money, It’s About The *Lifestyle*

The trick, of course, is knowing *when* you can finally pull that trigger, and we all have our opinions on how to calculate it.

Those of us in this FIRE community like to tout the 25x Rule which says having 25x your yearly expenses banked is a good starting point which you can then adjust from there, depending on your comfort levels and desired lifestyle. Some people prefer to live larger in retirement than they are now, while others think they can cut back even more and be just as happy.

This community has no shortage of different FIRE flavors to choose from, and it seems people are only coming up with more as the days pass ;) Here are some of the more popular ones:

  • Lean FIRE — when you’re comfortable living off a lot less in retirement
  • Fat FIRE — when you’re shooting to live off a lot more in retirement
  • Barista FIRE — when you keep a side gig going even though you’re already retired for additional benefits/income/fun <– What I’m personally shooting for
  • Fart FIRE — when you try to hit whatever FIRE suits you as fast as you can so you don’t end up sacrificing all of your time in the process (“fart” means “fast” in Swedish I’m told ;)). This one comes from Mr. 1500 Days who adds, “living without the distraction of having to earn money allows you to get closer to who you really are. A more authentic version of you.” And considering he’s currently living that dream right now, I believe him!!

Here are some resources around the FIRE strategy if this is the type of retirement that speaks to you the most (FIRE stands for “Financial Independence, Retire Early” btw – for anyone new here. With that first “FI” part there being focused on the most since as you’ve probably noticed many “retirees” in our space don’t actually stop working forever ;) They just re-direct their time to more passion projects!):

And then of course there’s the more traditional/non-FIRE type of retirement planning for those who don’t buy into the whole 25x yada yada yada, which is also fine. Because as we all know there are multiple ways to cross that finish line!

For these types of people, a slew of calculators and planners are much better equipped to answer the age ol’ question of “when can I retire?” – and in a much less aggressive way :)

Here are some good resources if you fall more into this type of party:

[And this is totally unrelated, but a reader just emailed me this morning about some features USAA has in their member portal that I had no idea about! And I’ve been a member for over 20 years!! The next time you log in, look for “Savings Boosters” on the far right side (under “My Tools”, and then “Budgeting and Goals”) and you’ll see all kinds of app-like features you can activate to help save more… The automatic “ATM Rebates” one is a good one!]

At any rate, hopefully some of those resources up there help you along your journey whichever side you fall on ;) You know the one I’m shooting for (hint: it rhymes with WIRE), but again there’s no right or wrong way to manage this stuff outside of the one that’s right for you. And really you won’t even know how certain it’ll pan out until you’re actually LIVING IT! Haha…

So in the meantime, keep tweaking your *current* life to get it as retirement-esque as you can, so by the time that fateful day DOES eventually come (and it will!), you’ll already know what you’re going to do as you’ve been doing it all along…

You’ll of course come across a dozen other little perks to look forward to in retirement too, but better to be enjoying your passions NOW where you can grab ’em vs wasting away your life for “later” to come! It doesn’t always have to be so black or white – enjoy the colors along the way!


j. money signature

PPS: If you know all this stuff already but just need a good boost of inspiration, try out one of Cait’s Adventure Tuesdays and see if it sparks anything :) Sometimes it’s the littlest actions that end up snowballing into bigger ones! Not unlike saving itself!

[As mentioned above, this is a sponsored article in partnership with USAA… who I’ve been personally using for over 20 years now and highly recommend!]

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  1. Eelis Vatanen May 14, 2019 at 5:54 AM

    I read the title and thought “well that can’t be right. Sure it magically changes! I’m no longer tied to the daily routines!”

    I’m looking forward to my life ‘magically changing’ when I FIRE in five years. Perhaps we have different specification for retirement. I do believe with everything that you say in your post – that you’re already doing the same things you will be doing after fire (or at least you should be). But you’re forced to do less of them.

    I have a friend who travels the world with his wife, since they have the money they need to do that. I would love to do something like that, but I can’t, since I’m tied to a job (that I like). I’d love to move twice a year (maybe just once a year), just to grow roots to more places, but I can’t. I think once I FIRE I will be doing some of that. I count that as a ‘magical change’.

    But I’m probably a little different in that respect. Most people will continue living a very similar life, vacationing from their retirement like they vacationed from work etc. For me, I imagine the change will be different.

    1. J. Money May 14, 2019 at 7:03 AM

      You’re right it’s definitely harder to travel extensively while working, but hopefully you’re still able to enjoy a little of it in the meantime yeah? I’m sure your friend was doing it well before he retired, though I agree it makes for some much better motivation to pull the trigger faster if that’s your goal :)

  2. Life Outside The Maze May 14, 2019 at 7:48 AM

    This post matches my experience with FIRE pretty well. For me, it took claiming my financial independence to start to change some of my decision making away from trying to get ahead and build income and more toward being who I said I would be one day if only… I have often posed the question of whether one can claim the independence before hitting an FI number and most who have done it seem to concur that if you understand the sexy-ness of budgets and therefore know your number and you also have a plan to get there that you are confident in, then you can actually start realizing some of the benefits of being FI before ever hitting said number. Because life doesn’t magically change when you hit FI but I do believe that you change with the certainty that you are on a path to be financially secure with the addition of time.

    1. J. Money May 14, 2019 at 7:59 AM

      Hell yeah!!! I’m still a ways from being able to retire *financially*, but mentally I’m already there! Haha… which I attribute to years of lifestyle tweaking and constant learning/experimenting/money management for sure.

  3. Nate May 14, 2019 at 8:13 AM

    The magic for me will be not being tied into a certain number of PTO days. We’ve been prioritizing vacations over the last couple years as our kids have gotten old enough to make going on vacations worth it. As I’m planning my vacations, it’s been limited PTO days rather than money that’s kept us from doing everything we want to do. Of course, once retired, I’ll need to be more careful of money if I’m not working at all. So I guess that’ll be a trade off.

    1. J. Money May 14, 2019 at 10:16 AM

      Haha yup… Although in theory you’d have more time to research and find deals to make them happen cheaper than you probably can now, so that’s a plus :) Could also work for the airlines part-time like I did and just rake in the benefits!

  4. Joe May 14, 2019 at 9:31 AM

    Right on! Everyone should strive to live the lifestyle they want to now. You should be happy with your career, get paid a lot, have the respect of your peers, and spend as much time with your family as you want.
    However, it’s very difficult to get the work/life balance right. Most employers demand a lot from us. That’s where FIRE comes in. Once the money is out of the equation, you’ll be free to do what you want.
    In my case, life did change magically after I retired. I have a lot more freedom and time. That’s the magic of FIRE.

    1. J. Money May 14, 2019 at 10:23 AM

      If you had to do it over again, would you have “lived more” during your working years or no? I often think back at my hustling days and glad I did it then vs now when it’s harder w/ kids, but I also recall missing out on a lot of stuff and how much it consumed me too.. Mad Fientist often talks about the toll obsessing about FIRE had on him and how miserable he was before pulling the trigger, so you’re right that the balance can def. be a tricky one!

  5. B.C. Kowalski May 14, 2019 at 11:33 AM

    Watching my dad retire was very instructive. I had moved back home at the time to finish my last year of school (graduated college at age 30 – woohoo for the non-traditional life!) so I got a front row seat. I know he said coming home Friday night after his retirement party, sitting on the back porch, he said a wave of relief washed over him when he realized he never had to go to work again. But I think it took him a couple of years to really get into his groove as he tried different things. It didn’t seem like he truly planned for what to do with his time. I think he’s found his stride now.

    I plan to write about this more extensively in my own blog — I learned a lot watching him retire. We started new phases of our lives at the same time: retirement for him and full-time work in an actual career versus whatever job would hire a guy with “some college.” There’s a few lessons I’ve learned from his foray into retirement.

    1. J. Money May 14, 2019 at 1:51 PM

      Would love to read that article when it’s done! Will you pass it along to us?

  6. Francis May 14, 2019 at 2:43 PM

    Great piece and I especially resonate with the quote that you open with. Though I can imagine, in hindsight how much better life would have been like in my 30s having FU money and being right at FIRE. The worry back then was a really a misuse of my imagination.

    I don’t care too much for the “Barista FIRE so I go with “recreational employment”. I went back to work to continue to make a difference in my field and I might as well get paid for the contribution

    1. J. Money May 14, 2019 at 3:10 PM

      Haha… You must really enjoy what you do! :)


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