A New 85 Year Old Client Has Provided More Inspiration Than She’ll Ever Know

by Evan

I had a couple of crazy days in the past few weeks balancing work, this site and my small trust and estates solo law office.  It was towards one of the end of those crazy days when my 85 year old client blew my mind with something she said.

I knew the day was going to be crazy:

  • I went to work till lunch
  • Left at lunch to head to the County Clerk’s office in the next County for a copy of a deed which was not online (50 miles)
  • Drove back home with my copy (50 miles)
  • Drove with The Wife and Boy to see what is likely to be our new home (11 miles)
  • Drove Home
  • Drove to Client (26 miles)
  • Drove home (26 miles)

It was during my client meeting at 8:30pm or so that the client said:

It was her goal to be retired as long as she spent working

Wow.

Maybe the Early Retirement Movement that Morphed into the Financial Independence Makes Sense?

On one hand I loved the life and spirit my client had.  She was truly 85 years young with a wit and sense of humor that was just fun to be around.  In our first meeting I learned all about her family, her predeceased husband, her career, etc. But, on the other hand, why was it alright that she worked from 25 to 55 just to be “free” from 55 to 85? Why is this the social norm?

Almost exactly two years ago I stated quite matter of fact that the I didn’t Understand the Early Retirement Extreme Movement.  At the time it seemed that the most vocal proponent was Jacob Lusk, who actually responded to a lot of my arguments against the movement in the post. Side Note: Jacob has gone back to work since that post but because he has chosen to not because he needed to.

There seems to be a new blog running as voice of the movement, Mr. Money Mustache.  While both men were “retired” from a job a few decades than what common culture tells us in normal they have very different lives.  Jacob lived with his wife (who did work) in a trailer with no kids, while MMM lives in a 2 bedroom home with his wife (who does not work) with their boy, ‘Jr. Stache.’  MMM also seems to refer to it as Financial Independence rather than Extreme Early Retirement and does not live a life filled with crazy extremes I would never even imagine implementing.

Notwithstanding my clear affinity for one blog over the other (and the name change from Early Retirement to Financial Independence) my client’s statement really bothered me that night and has continued to sit with me since that night.

The uneasy feeling was exacerbated later in the week when I sat down to review two separate clients for my day job one who made $700,000 gross and $1,000,000 gross but neither would be considered high net worth individuals despite their ridiculous incomes.  If these people can’t reach financial independence what shot do I have? It was only when I figured out that they didn’t save/invest a dime outside a maxed out 401(k) that I was able to refocus.

My takeaway: I want to hit that goal, but I certainly do not want to wait till 55 to start the other half of the clock. 

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14 comments

krantcents October 24, 2012 - 4:55 pm

I never made $700K or $1MM either, but I managed to achieve financial independence (at 38 y.o.)! It isn’t how much you make, but how much you save and invest. If I had made that much money, I probably would have achieved it earlier.

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Evan November 14, 2012 - 3:33 pm

I thought you were a teacher? or recently retired from teaching?

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Brandy October 24, 2012 - 5:05 pm

I want to be financially independent by 40. I might decide to work longer but I want to save enough to feel free.

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Evan November 14, 2012 - 3:33 pm

How old are you now?

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Jenna October 24, 2012 - 5:30 pm

Although living to 105 if your stay physically and mentally healthy sounds like a good challenge.

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Evan November 14, 2012 - 3:33 pm

The way I treat my body I don’t think it is happening.

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Ted October 24, 2012 - 8:00 pm

I won’t go into the best ways to achieve early retirement; neither will I make any statements on the benefits of working later in life. Just for once I will side step finances and put it in simple human terms. For many, it’s boring being retired.
I’ve seen it many times, where as someone that was fortunate and driven enough to achieve the goal of early retirement, simply cannot stand it. Even more so given that they are often industrious types that achieve the end goal of retiring early. Driven people do not enjoy sitting idly by.
It can be argued that with the security of a pension, you can then go on to make a new life in business or putting your time into something you love, but for many, they regret retiring if the intention was to have an idle life.
Were all unique and what suits some does not suit others but speaking for myself, I will work till I drop no matter when I can claim my pension. If I stop, my mind will stop, my enthusiasm will die and I may just die with it. That’s what keeps me alive, but I can only speak for myself. There is no advisory here from me as everyone is different.

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Evan November 14, 2012 - 3:35 pm

I completely hear you Ted! I don’t think I’ll ever retire but there is something powerful in knowing that you are working because you want to. I think “Financial Independence” is a better term than “Early Retirement”

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Adam Hathaway October 26, 2012 - 11:52 am

Evan dont forget that if you love what you do you dont actually work a day in your life. I have no problem with never retiring as long as I love what I do. I am moving towards this goal and have not reached it yet but have a clear picture in mind of what it will look like when I get there.

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Evan November 14, 2012 - 3:35 pm

Like Ted Above, I think for me it is in terms of “Financial Independence” rather than “Early Retirement”

I would love what I do that much more if I knew I didn’t have to be there – but that is how I am (I do really love my current job)

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Dominique Brown October 28, 2012 - 10:44 am

Though I am already on track to my journey to financial independence, I still don’t plan on retiring soon. I don’t think I can spend the rest of my life sitting around and doing nothing even if I already have enough money for my retirement. Even after my retirement, I still plan to take on small side jobs just to keep my mind working. In essence, I will never truly retire.

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Evan November 14, 2012 - 3:36 pm

All about Financial Independence – are your plans/calcs still the same with baby Brown on the way?

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eemusings November 14, 2012 - 3:53 pm

Wow. That’s an impressive goal and a nice way of thinking about things.

That sounds a bit much for me. I think more of a 70/30 split would be about right. I’d love to work about 3/4 of the year and have three months off.

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No Nonsense Landlord June 8, 2015 - 8:52 am

It is incredibly difficult to be financially independent by 40. With rental property, you have a chance. Otherwise, start a self employment career, it may be better than a cube farm.

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