Planning And Enjoying An Early Retirement? Seeking Alpha Readers Say Yes, Yes, Yes!

by: Dale Roberts


I recently wrote an article on my planned early semi-retirement.

As can happen often on Seeking Alpha, the comment section was better than the article.

Readers who have planned an early retirement and even those who had it forced upon them, overwhelming report that "it's a wonderful life".

Thursday was my last day of full time work at a "job" that I loved, for a company that I truly appreciate due to its commitment to a mission, and a commitment to its clients. It's nice to be able to get up in the morning and go to work knowing that you'll be doing good deeds in an industry that is not known for its good deeds. But it's time to move on to continue that mission in a different way, and perhaps on a large scale if things go to plan.

Last week I submitted this article Saying Goodbye To Your Pay Cheque, It Ain't Easy. The article was very well received with many warm "good lucks" and well wishes and "good on ya's". But much more importantly, the personal stories of the retirees and early retirees was truly inspiring. It was one of the best comment streams I've read on Seeking Alpha. And yes I'm a little biased as it was on my article, and it covers a subject matter that relates to my personal situation and predicament.

Those who have experienced early retirement and cared to comment offered nothing but glowing recommendations of planning that goodbye to a regular pay cheque moment and the ensuing new found freedom.

The first comment was one of the best from rockbash ...

Dale don't fret. I have "retired" as a physician now 4 times. I currently work 3 days a week and enjoy the best of life. No more call, no more weekend work. Just a few days a week under my terms. You can find this job. They are out there as the job market is wide open. It is all about enjoying that sweet spot in life from 50 to 75ish.

I can appreciate doc rackbash's back and forth and 4 "retirements".That certainly speaks to the obvious flexibility once has when they design their own path. There's no rule saying you have to stay fully retired, semi retired, or in full employment. Going back to work full time is not in my plans, but I would not rule out that prospect if the perfect opportunity came along with a wonderful blend of a satisfying role (with a purpose) and quality of life.

And it gets better perhaps, this from Kevin Conway ...

Don't worry. Be happy. At 43 I left a Fortune 500 VP position...tired of the 60-80 hr weeks, endless meetings, travel, BS, etc.....with a young family. Cost me millions $ in pay but with that freedom I did what I wanted, started a small consulting company and had more time for my investments.

I am 70, been investing for 50 years and can not spend what I have....pinch myself every morning and ask " Is this real and how did this happen?"

Again, I've made a hobby out of cutting my pay cheque and moving to freelance or consulting work over the decades. On my deathbed, I don't think I'll look back and suggest that "I wish I'd worked more and spent less time with my family". I've also left a lot of money on the table, hence my very modest retirement portfolio.

And from another early retiree Tom Graber ...

I did the same thing when I turned 55 after accumulating a nice portfolio ... enough to untether from a company check. By following a dividend investing regimen and reading the insightful wisdom of Seeking Alpha contributors, I’ve managed to grow my portfolio, while pursuing “the good life”.

I'm with Tom on those big juicy dividends. I will be counting on those regular dividend cheques to replace some of that pay cheque. Fortunately my Canadian holdings pay some very generous dividends. Once again, here's an article on my Canadian Dividend Growth Wide Moat 7 that will be doing some of the heavy lifting.

And centerfield 12 echoed the article's main theme. Do we want to sprint to the finish line? For many, those last few years might be a serious mental grind ...

Congrats, Dale. I made the same decision at age 55 and just recently had my last day of work. Left a high-paying SVP level career making serious bank. But between taxes and the usual day-to-day grind I’d had enough and didn’t want to continue that slog for another 3-5 years and retire near 60 as a bitter old ...

And on that wonderful anxiety and anticipation of what's to come. The following quote includes a roller coaster reference is a wonderful analogy. Planned retirement is scary in anticipation but you are quite certain that it will be fun and exciting for the rest of the ride. I can tell you that I had a roller coaster ride of emotions leading up to the apex, but yesterday, my last day, was a nice celebration and I was content and filled with optimism.

You mentioned that leaving behind the paycheque was an odd feeling. For me I like the word scary but not in the sense of impending doom but rather the scary feeling of approaching the apex of the first hill on a really good roller coaster. You know you'll be fine but that knowledge doesn't lessen the feeling in the pit of your gut. I do love roller coasters so this should be fun.

And Ron Thompson offered this gem of a quote ...

There are people who use up their entire lives making money so they can enjoy the lives they have entirely used up...

Frederick Buechner

I'd have to suggest that the above quote might be the thought that sums up the potential benefits to planning your retirement and life on your own terms. The quote is so elegant.

And the comments were not short of common sense and actionable advice. This from CT Programmer ...

I think you hit the nail on the head with "living below our income level". My wife and I are 50, and we have done that for 25 years now. We're not living in poverty ... we just spend way less than we make. Sure I can lease an Infiniti. But why when a Nissan is $5-10K less.

Of course things can change in early retirement on income front (tax rates) and on the spending front. We can monitor and somewhat control those two buckets. On the auto front, my wife and I drive older vehicles that need regular maintenance. But we have not had car payments for many years. We carry no mortgage. Eliminating debt and having lower spending needs is one of the keys that might present the opportunity to plan your early retirement by design. It starts with knowing your spending needs and creating that personal cash flow statement.

This from amegalo ...

Dale when I retired , I concentrated on replacing my take home pay. I didn’t focus on the gross number that the company paid me. I got a good handle on expenses by category and that taught me what I really needed to cover as expenses. Good luck, you’ll settle in.

And many did comment on how easy it is to fill their time. This from alrugg ...

The first few months were exhilarating with all this new found freedom. Now with my schedule filled up, I don't know how I had time to work 40 hours per week, LOL.

I look back with fondness on my career and sometimes I miss it, until I talk to a former work friend and then I no longer miss it. (office politics, northern VA traffic, unhealthy stress, severe lack of free time).

I can tell you I will not miss driving to the office. I am happy to replace that drive in traffic to a drive to the East Coast of Canada to spend a few weeks with my daughter. I will be on the road to Prince Edward Island in a few days.

And ironically OpsRes will be retiring very soon and the first travel venture will be very near where I will soon settle in for a few weeks of writing and hanging out with my daughter ...

It looks like you are going to precede me by about a month. Starting in early July I will be giving up a perfectly good paycheque and embarking on a new adventure. First up will be to spend the next two months across the Northumberland straight from where you will be. We had the opportunity to "test drive" the beach house for two months last summer and loved it, the hardest part was that we had a return flight back to our jobs. This summer there will be no return flight booked.

I'd recommend readers click on the original article and have a read of the full comments sections. You can skip the article, honestly, it's all there in the comments. The article is written by someone about to enter the retirement by design. The comments are mostly from those who have lived it.

The main takeaways might be that one should plan their exit with great care. One should understand the income level vs spending needs in that retirement stage. And most importantly, one should fill their days with purpose and that might include a nice combination of family time and time for friends, travel, work, volunteer time and loads of good exercise and good foods. But what was inspiring from the comment stream was the level of satisfaction that almost all had experienced from their planned or designed early retirement.

I thank Seeking Alpha readers for all of that. I was certainly the winner in the exchange.

Author's note: Thanks for reading. Please always know and invest within your risk tolerance level. Always know all tax implications and consequences. If you liked this article, please hit that "Like" button. If you'd like notices of future articles, click the "Follow" button.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: Dale Roberts is an Investment Funds Advisor at Tangerine Investment Funds Limited a subsidiary of Tangerine Bank, wholly owned by Scotia Bank; he is not licensed to provide professional advice on stocks. The opinions expressed herein are Dale Roberts' personal opinions relating to his experience as an investor and are not those of Tangerine Bank or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute investment advice or an offer or the solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any securities. Past performance is not a guarantee and may not be repeated. Investment strategies are not suitable for everyone and you should always conduct your own research or speak to a financial advisor.