The advantages or not of retiring early—2

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Sam Dogen retired at the age of 34—back in 2012. Having  $3 million in hand allowed him to have the financial freedom he needed.

He tells his story in two posts. One tells of the benefits of early retirement he didn’t expect and the other of the downsides of early retirement that ‘no one tells you about’. 

He grew up in a ‘middle-income household’ and worked hard. But he ‘got lucky by landing a high-paying investment banking job and in some of my investments’.

He says he’s always lived a frugal life and stayed on top of his finances.

In case you’re won $3 million dollars generates about $80,000 a year income.

Dream come true

‘Early retirement has been a dream come true’, he says. ‘I gave up a healthy six-figure pay cheque, but I gained something priceless in return: Freedom’.

Before retiring, he’d become burnt out and disenchanted with his job. In contrast, there’s no pressure and no unproductive meetings in his retirement.

Instead, he’s travelled to more than 20 countries with his wife, written a book on how to negotiate a severance payout and coaches high school tennis.

In 2017 he became a father for the first time and freely admits, ‘Being a parent has been the toughest full-time job I’ve ever had’.

So what were the downsides?

On his list are things you might experience if you retire early:

You may suffer from an identity crisis because we are so often defined by our work. ‘What do you do for a living’? is a common question.

And after spending a decade or more on a job it may take time to regain your identity.

Then there’s the problem that some people may treat you like a misfit because retiring early is unconventional. For whatever reason, ‘people won’t always give you the same amount of respect as they would to a working-class citizen’.

You may have to work around the problem of getting really bored with an extra 10-14 hours of free time each day. He found he had to work through a period where he wasn’t productive and far less motivated.

Then, he discovered he wasn’t that much happier in retirement. There was a happiness hit when he successfully negotiated a good severance payout, but then, ‘I reverted back to my normal post-retirement baseline of happiness’.

And the upsides?

Hogan calls them ‘surprising benefits’. They included: the bags under his eyes disappearing; he felt younger and was less stressed; and some chronic pain he’d had is now gone.

He’s pleased he’s had time to renew his relationship with his parents.

He’s also become more self-sufficient, to even learning to do maintenance around the house. If he can’t find how to do it on YouTube, he heads down to the hardware store to consult with an expert.

And he did find what he calls more enjoyable forms of income such as writing for his Financial Samurai site. He admits that he might technically be working, but it’s a hobby rather than working to make financial ends meet.

One more point: ‘Early retirement taught me how to stop chasing happiness. Instead, I found happiness, joy and meaning in the present’.

Is this your dream?

It certainly sounds like the dream, but it isn’t for everyone. Dogen suggests you weigh up the sacrifices you have to make to retire early before making it your goal. Ask yourself, is it worth it?

Then there’s the question of knowing what you’ll do in your early retirement—what are you retiring to?

These are good questions to start with if you’re thinking of early, early retirement.


See also: The advantages or not of retiring early—1. That’s where Dave Hogan says he’s glad he didn’t retire early.

Bruce Manners: the author of Retirement Ready?, Refusing to Retire, and founder of

Category: Attitude, Early retirement, Lifestyle, Retirement

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