Listen up. I don’t care how old you are. I’m in my twenties. You could be in your forties. But here’s the deal… Stop wasting the best years of your life working and waiting for retirement. My parents’ generation started working by age 18 or 21 and set out to continue working until age 60 or 65. That’s about 40 years of life given to work, usually an 8 to 5, 40+ hours each and every week. For everyone that has done that, I hope you found great pleasure in your work.
Now don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy my career now, but if I didn’t find enjoyment in it I’d be quick to move on to something else. I’m just starting out in my working years but I don’t want to look back when I’m 30 or 40 or 50 and wish I worked harder and saved harder in my twenties. I want to work hard now, stash away plenty of money, and live on way less than I make. Unfortunately, my household debt is about $90,000 and at the moment it seems like it will take forever to get it paid off. But that shouldn’t stop me, and it shouldn’t stop you.
If you’ve ever read Mr. Money Mustache, you probably picked up on the fact that he’s retired, and he’s way too far away from the typical retirement age. His aggressive approach to personal finance is to save as much as you possibly can for about ten years or so, and after that you can live comfortably off of your savings and investments for the rest of your life. Too good to be true? No. A lot of hard work? Absolutely.
Nobody wants to sacrifice for ten years, let alone ten months, ten days or even ten minutes. When we see something we want, as a society we’re essentially told that we can have it. A sports car? A huge house? A diamond ring? All it takes is signing your life away to a bank. Virtually anyone could walk into a car lot and walk out with a brand new car, and all that your credit score will determine is how screwed over you will be by the bank or dealership financing your dumb purchase.
Maybe you don’t want to take a radical approach to your finances, but some people are, and are able to ’retire’ early. They are able to do what they want, when they want to, and any work they do is because they truly enjoy it. I want to be a part of that club, rather than working my entire career away. I fully expect to be working in the typical workforce style for another ten years or so, but every financial decision I make during that time will hopefully lead me to be able to make more LIFE decisions later on. We will never look back and wish we worked more. So why not try and figure out how to work less?
Maybe, what people should really be doing is focusing on finding work they really care deeply about. If you aren’t happy at your current job, start making decisions to get to be where you want to be. If that means going back to school, start preparing for it. If you live somewhere you hate, then move. Stop blaming your employer, or anyone else. You are responsible for your life, you make your own decisions, and you and only you have the ultimate control of who you are and your character. We aren’t all going to be rich and famous (who really wants that?) but plenty of us can get out of debt and forever change our families.
Stop wasting the best years of your life, and start figuring out how to get where you want to go in a much shorter timeframe.