Why You’ll Probably Never Run Out Of Money

As strange as it may sound, earning financial freedom is a lot easier for certain people than claiming that freedom once they have earned it. And if the following statement rings true to you, you may be suffering from this same hardship:

“I think I’m close to having enough money to jump into early retirement, but not quite. 

So I’m just working one more year and starting one more side hustle and buckling down extra hard to be more certain.”

It sounds rational, right? After all, you can never be too careful, as the saying goes. 

But the problem is that these people keep repeating the mantra regardless of how much money they have, and regardless of their actual living expenses. No matter how bright their financial picture is, they always find a way to undervalue their savings and overestimate their future expenses, just in case of the unexpected.

And by tilting the balance ever further in the direction of “safety”, they forget about what should be on the other side of the scale, which is “making the most of your finite time on this lovely planet.”

This happens way more than you might think. Every week, it’s in my email inbox and my in-person conversations with people I meet. This fear is even prevalent among some of my real-life friends, so let’s look at a couple of thinly disguised examples from that group to see some of the symptoms (and a possible cure for) this famed affliction of One More Year Syndrome.

Alina’s Anemic Withdrawal Rate

Alina is a currently-single doctor in a stressful but well paid area of practice, age 50 with one grown child. She has about $2 million in investments, and currently spends about $50,000 per year, a level which includes pretty much everything that is important to her.

 According to The 4% Rule, Alina’s nest egg will provide a pretty reliable income of roughly $80,000 per year for the rest of her life. Or to put it another way, her planned spending of $50k is only a 2.5% withdrawal rate from that 2 million. Since 4% is reasonably safe, 2.5% is a preposterously safe withdrawal rate.

But wait! There’s more. In the interest of being conservative, Alina has deliberately ignored several other key pieces of her own financial future:

  • All future social security income (over $2000 per month for the last 2-3 decades of your life) 
  • A highly likely inheritance from her parents who, while wise and vibrant and still doing great, are in their early 80s. 
  • And she’s also assuming that she will never couple up with another partner someday and share household expenses, despite the fact that she’s an attractive and sociable person with many options in this department.

Her response to this feeling of extra caution? Just crank it out for another year or three in the furnace of the operating room, and hold off on any luxuries to save up another few hundred thousand, just in case. 

Dave’s Deceptively Bright Future

My other friend Dave is ten years younger, with a lower income but equally scrappy and very entrepreneurial. He has been a star performer in a very underpaid full-time job for over fifteen years. His total annual spending – including a mortgage on a $430,000 house here in Longmont – is only about $45,000 per year.

Although Dave lives in high-cost Colorado, he has carefully accumulated eight rental apartments back in his hometown (a midsized city in Ohio), which very conservatively deliver $2800 per month of net cashflow, while also increasing his wealth by a further $3000 every month through principal payoff and appreciation.

He also has a couple of side jobs, helping various members of our local HQ Coworking space with their businesses, which bring in a further $1000 per month. 

And then the kicker: Over the past seven months, Dave and I teamed up to renovate the main floor of that somewhat costly new house into a very high-end Airbnb rental. We recently pressed the button to make this place go live, and it became an immediate success with virtually no vacancy, now bringing in another $5000 per month (!?), while still leaving him with his finished walkout lower-level apartment as a place to live. 

So, Dave is living in his own basement collecting $5000 every month, while spending only $2000 on the mortgage. In other words, he is living for free and getting paid an additional $3000 for the chore of owning this house, a trick formally known as  the “Mustachian Inversion”

If you add all this up, he has a total business income of $8800 per month ($105,600 per year!), which absolutely dwarfs his $45,000 spending even without taking into account the salary from that crappy full-time job which he has been wanting to quit for so long.

 When you add in the additional $3000 per month of mortgage principal payoff and appreciation of the rentals, my friend’s side hustles are netting him $140,000 every year. And his bank accounts reflect this: there are sizable cash reserves and maintenance and contingency funds for every rental unit, plus a well-funded personal 401k plan and every other bit of responsible financial preparation you can imagine.

You may be slightly jealous of Dave because he is all set to kick back and enjoy the proceeds of all this hard work for life. He could cut his income in half and his wealth would still increase rapidly forever.

But remember, on top of all this he still has that full time job which is demanding about 10 hours of his time every day, with several hours of Zoom meetings packed in throughout, eliminating the possibility of slacking. 

Dave is a great sport and puts on a brave face, but all of us in the local friends group can tell that he is nearly buckling under the stress of this shitty, stressful job, especially combined with his overflowing salad bowl of side hustles. 

“Dave, you stubborn dumbass, you need to quit that job yesterday”

is the loving message we have been trying to get into his head.

“Yeah, I know”, he says, “But I’m just holding on for one more year, just to pad the accounts a bit further. What if the Airbnb slows down? What if my rental houses experience some vacancy? What if I want to help my nephew with college ten years down the line?”

Alina and Dave are both leaning upon the old rule of “You can never be too safe”, and many people agree with that statement, because how could you argue with such plain folksy wisdom?

But this rule is incorrect. It is indeed possible to be “too safe”, because safety comes at a high cost – and the price is your own life. 

If Dave enjoys perfect health and lives to age 90, he still only has about 600 months left to live, or an even more precious 240 months of “youth” before hitting age 60. And Alina’s remaining 120 months of youth are even more dear. 

With both of their financial situations already so cushy, why oh why are my dear friends trading away this time for jobs they don’t enjoy, just to get that last shred of unnecessary safety?

Why are they letting these jobs compromise their friendships and relationships, cost them sleep, miss out on camping trips and international adventures and just plain lazy Tuesday brunches with the people they love the most? (most of whom are already retired and currently having brunch without them?)

The real answer of course is not money, it’s fear.

But if you dig deeper, their fear is still about “running out of money”, even though it is almost mathematically impossible at this point.

To train away this fear in myself and others, I like to conduct a thought experiment. And that is to force yourself through the numbers (using a spreadsheet) of these two things.

  • If you quit your job right now, what would a good, typical, and improbably bad scenario look like for your financial future?
  • Then in the case of the “bad” scenario, write down, step by step, what it would really mean for you to run out of money. 

This can be a crazy thought experiment, but in many cases it will also reveal just how much of a ridiculously fortunate fortress you have built for yourself. 

Because unlike you, most people in the US really are almost out of money. They have virtually no retirement savings, monthly spending that meets or exceeds their income, and an array of car loans, student loans, and credit card debt that grows every year. A full ten percent of households have a negative net worth, and even the median net worth is under $100,000 meaning half of us have only a 1-2 year cushion between ourselves and being dead broke.

 If the average person quits their job, any shreds of net worth would be depleted almost immediately. At this point, the landlord and the collection agencies come calling, and they would truly end up with no food or shelter beyond what is available through welfare programs. It’s a rough place to be, but this category includes tens of millions of people in the US.

But for most Mustachians considering early retirement, the situation is completely different. And to prove this point, let’s try to get Alina to go bankrupt.

(note: I made all of the spreadsheets and graphs below in “real” (inflation-adjusted) dollars so they make more sense from our perspective of today. In reality, all the numbers (both spending and investments/income) will get bigger over time depending on the rate of inflation, but the net effect is the same)

Alina: The Worst Case Scenario

Instead of “one more year”, she quits her job now.

Even though the stock market tends to grow along with the economy, let’s assume we enter a never ending period of stagnation where stocks barely even match inflation, and she decides to live only off of the dividends of her $2 million portfolio, which are a paltry 2% at the moment, or $40,000 per year.  

But despite her conservative investment management, she insists on keeping her spending at the full $50k. She never rents out an apartment in her house, never finds any pastimes that generate any income, never switches from Whole Foods to Costco, keeps up the international travel, and always keeps a new-ish car in the driveway despite the fact that she has no more commute. 

The US Social Security program somehow gets canceled despite the fact that our aging population carries the bulk of the voting power and would never vote away its own retirement income, and her mom and dad decide to donate all their remaining wealth to charity rather than leaving it to Alina and her sister. 

In the event of this ridiculously contrived example, she would end up drawing down $10,000 per year from her savings, which means her wealth would drain down to, uh-oh, 1.99 million after the first year. And the trend would continue like this:

Uh-oh. So the worst things have happened in many areas of her economic life, and Alina lives out the next 40 years of her life and dies with only $1,395,000 in the account. What a harrowing close call!

But what if things turned out worse than the worst? Despite our best efforts to make her go bankrupt, she still died a millionaire. So we need to get a little more Mad Max in our scenario:

Alina: Fury Road

The US decides to cripple its own economy forever so there is no more innovation, no productivity, and all dividends are halted and yet our 330 million citizens all decide to go along with it. 

Amid the chaos and the dune buggy machine gun battles which rage day and night in the street, her wealth drains by $100,000 every year  and she is down to a single million by age 60. But she keeps up the spending and refuses to make any changes. She’s broke by age 70 but just sticks to her favorite activities which are rewarding and engaging but never produce a penny of income.

Her mortgage checks start to bounce. The bank eventually enters foreclosure but she remains glued to that house. After another year, the foreclosure is complete and the sheriff arrives to drag her wiry 71-year-old frame out of the house, kicking all the way.

Alina is eligible for social programs, but rejects them all. She has a huge network of friends, but doesn’t accept any of their offers for help or employment. 

She checks into a nice all-suites hotel and starts paying all her bills with credit cards, maxing them all out including some cash advances to keep the money flowing. With the usual tricks of balance transfers and delayed-repayment plans, she keeps the party going for two more years, until all the credit cards have been canceled and sent off to collections.

At age 73, Alina is finally out of money. She cannot buy food or shelter and she has finally arrived at a reality that homeless people currently experience every day right now. But we had to make up an absolutely ridiculous and frankly impossible story to get her there.

I’ll spare you the long story of Dave’s decline, but it’s equally impossible. 

Dave’s Doubtful Demise

If he quit his job today, stopped airbnbing his house and just enjoyed the whole thing and never even rented out the lower level, forfeited his six-figure 401k account and social security and everything else except the rental properties and the $1000 from local gigs, this would happen:

What the heck!?

We threw Dave into the worst of situations, something far beyond just quitting his crappy day job and arguably impossible. Yet not only does his cashflow continue to increase, but  his net worth skyrockets by about $50,000 per year, ending up at almost $4 million dollars (inflation-adjusted too) by the time he kicks the bucket at 90 years old. 

In reality, that purple “other income” column is likely to be triple what the spreadsheet says, his 401(k) account will definitely continue to exist and grow, and many other good things will happen. 

More Realistic Projections for Both Of My Friends

If you’re a pessimist, you may have looked at all of those numbers above and said, “Hmm yeah they made it, but it was a little close”. But remember, these were worst case scenarios. It is foolish to plan everything in your life around the worst case scenario, because it will often result in you having the minimum possible amount of fun.

So instead, you need to at least include a conservative estimate of what is most likely to happen. And I’ve done so for both Alina an Dave, creating these graphs of the results

Alina grows exponentially richer over time, due to having a large stock portfolio that she never really touches.
Dave does incredibly well too, even starting from a much smaller initial net worth.

So, both of these friends can not only quit working, they can also start splashing out more money on whatever they want. Congratulations to both of you!

 Both of them, and more importantly a large percentage of MMM readers, possibly including YOU, are beyond the point where they could ever run out of money even if they quit their jobs today. 

And they need to see this wonderful truth for what it is, so that they can confidently act on it, so that they can stop giving away precious months of their lives away to their employers, to amass still more chunks of easy money, to add to a pile that they will never, ever, ever need.

And then they can start experiencing actual reality of early retirement, which is as follows:

  • Your spending ends up a little bit lower than you expected, despite your best efforts to splurge on yourself and be generous to others.
  • Your investments do keep going up over the long run, exceeding those conservative forecasts you made.
  • You do end up making bits of money here and there (in Dave’s case shit-tons of money), even though you absolutely don’t need it.
  • As the decades pass and you settle into this pattern, you realize that money is not one of your worries. Life as a Human Being still presents plenty of challenges, but holy shit, thank goodness you quit working when you did because it was completely unnecessary. Looking back, you probably should have done it several years earlier.

If any of this sounds familiar, congratulations – you will never run out of money which means you need to stop letting it rule your life. 

Quit your job.


Sheesh. What are you waiting for?!

Epilogue: Mr Money Mustache Chills out for a Splurge too:

Writing this article reminded me that I too can still be a victim of excessively frugal habits. Sure, my house is beautiful and I have great food, cars, tools, bikes and everything else. But when it comes to travel, I start playing silly games with myself. 

For example, my boy and I are heading to Canada later this month to visit the family. And against all logic, I noticed the Nagging Voices of Cheapness starting to chatter in my head.

“These plane tickets were only $210 each – can I really justify paying an extra $80 for a bigger seat at the front of the plane? And sheesh, how can I get around the $150 roundtrip Uber ride (or $150 roundtrip driving+parking) to the airport, that’s ALMOST AS MUCH AS THE PLANE TICKET! Should we spend an extra 3 hours roundtrip to save $100 by taking the bus?” And then what about our transportation once we’re in Canada? Bus? Car rental? Train tickets? How does the $7.00 per gallon gasoline factor into this given that we need to travel over 800 miles during our time there?

Blah blah blah. The correct answer is “Shut up, Mustache! You should do whatever you think is most fun and least stressful, without thinking about the money.”

For me, this means driving my nice electric car on the speedy toll road to the expensive Denver Airport parking lot so we can walk right into the terminal with no shuttle. It also means sitting in a good plane seat, and then taking the least stressful and most fun form of transportation once I get there.

Why? Because the difference between the cheapest and most stressful trip, and the most expensive one in this case, is only about one thousand dollars.

Even if I did this every single year for the rest of my life, I’d blow $50,000 on luxurious trips to visit my family (and I could drive my Mom to her 125th birthday in style!)

And based on my own worst-case spreadsheet, I am never going to wake up and think,

 “Damn, if I just had one thousand more dollars, or even fifty thousand dollars more in this net worth column, I’d be a happier person”

So I get to relax, and enjoy my trip, and guess what I even did this:

So I’ll see you in retirement, and maybe even in Canada later this month!

Further Homework for Spreadsheet Lovers:

I have shared a copy of the Google Sheets spreadsheet I made for these examples and graphs here. You should be able to “file->make a copy” to get an editable version to mess around with. Mine are pretty basic and leave out some details in order to avoid getting any more complicated than they already are, but feel free to add more if you like,

In the Comments:

Are you too fearful, or too optimistic, or somewhere in between? If you have already quit your job, how did you get the confidence? If you’re still stuck in One More Year Limbo, what would it take to get you out of it?

  • Madelyn July 18, 2022, 10:18 am

    Such great motivation amidst all the chaos; I cant wait to reach that level of financial security. Thanks and enjoy your vacation.

    • Kendrick July 20, 2022, 4:08 pm

      It’s great to see so much support in these comments! As a young 20 year old working in tech, I’m super glad I found this resource sooner rather than later.

    • Jon from The Fire Guild July 28, 2022, 2:04 pm

      Fear is the enemy of FIRE! The stories of self-liberation here are inspiring and a reminder that there is no good exchange rate for your time when you’re working on other people’s nonsense.

      But I see a bunch of fear in some comments on the one big thing keeping many people tied to their unfulfilling jobs: employer-provided health insurance. So it’s a good time to review the MMM articles on this topic.

      Full disclosure: I’m the Jon who helped with the second article and our experience with DPCs and Sedera health-sharing has been stellar. In the six years that my family has been in health shares we have invested the savings from high health insurance premiums into the Vanguard S&P 500 and that savings has become almost $80,000.

      I’ve talked to a lot of people about this topic and it’s not for everyone, but for some it’s the missing piece to FI.

      • Finn Bell October 25, 2023, 5:29 pm

        Thanks for the info, Jon from TFG. I will check/re-check out these articles from MMM. You’re right – the health insurance is a big deterrent for me to pull the trigger. Not the only reason, but definitely one of them that I’ve always questioned.

  • Ecoli July 18, 2022, 10:25 am

    Wow, you totally punched me in the face with this one. Trying to cure my case of OMY, this was what I needed to hear. Thank you! As an engineer, you know that redundancy, while good, is also expensive. At some point, the cost is not worth the additional risk reduction.

    • Tracey July 18, 2022, 8:40 pm

      You might like the book ‘Die With Zero’ by Bill Perkins (who is also an engineer).

      • Steve (NWOutlier) August 22, 2022, 1:00 pm

        I want to read/listen to this book so I understand; but based on the title, here are my comments.

        the rungs of success are getting further and further apart, we need to leave a step for our kids to move forward.

        putting the next generation at zero is not helpful; I know it’s a gift, but – we need to give them a step up.

        I think that’s all for now – but I do need to read/listen to the book first.


        Steve (NWOutlier)

        • Matt August 25, 2022, 2:51 pm

          Hi Steve, that was my thought exactly at first but from watching a summary, I think the author suggests give the money to the next generation whilst you’re still alive to see them benefit! I haven’t read the book either though…

          • Frugal Steve August 29, 2022, 11:20 am

            Hi Matt, You are right on the money. My wife just brought that book home from the library and had me read it (I think in an effort to help me shrink my cheapskate bone). I just finished it and from my perspective the book isn’t necessarily pushing us to spend our money with reckless abandon so that it’s all gone. The main idea is trying to recognize that our most important resource is the time that we have on earth and that we need to put our focus around optimizing how we use that time and how we use our money during different phases of our life. It would be such a waste to save all your money until the end and then not be able to spend it on the things you want to (like luxury seats on airplanes or renting a car that makes your experience more enjoyable) because your health no longer allows you to do those things. What cost in experiences are you paying by working that extra year or two right now to “sweeten the pot” and losing those years of your life that won’t be the same when your older. It’s a balance.

        • cody August 28, 2022, 10:58 pm

          Yeah, the title is catchy and immediately causes this kind of reaction to nearly everyone. However, it’s a great book and actually has a whole chapter directly dedicated to this point (Titled: “But what about the kids!”). And makes a good case for “leaving any inheritance” is the worst way to purpose your funds/nest egg.

        • Natalya December 22, 2022, 8:36 am

          Hi Steve, I completely agree on living something for the children part. This book does not suggest we should not. But besides that, it is actually financially more sound to start passing inheritance on in chunks, rather then them getting hit with insane estate taxes all at once. My husband’s grandmother started giving yearly gifts in chunks of 10K to her 5 children years before she passed. In 2023 it will be anything under 17K that would be considered a gift. So at the end, the rest of the money were passed in form of stocks. And while she was giving gifts through years, that money went to help with grandchildren education, down payments on homes and building nest eggs. Not everyone is very careful with money, one of the kids spend the money as soon as they got it, but the other 4 did very well. Hope some of this info is useful.

      • Derek August 23, 2022, 10:05 pm

        THANK YOU FOR THIS RECOMMENDATION! I read the book and it’s totally changed my perspective. I’ve been sharing it with friends and family. Such a great book. I can’t believe it’s not bigger, or that I hadn’t heard of it before.

    • Cubert July 20, 2022, 2:25 pm

      Ditto that face punch. Ouch.
      What’s holding me back from quitting isn’t so much the money. FI has been reached. It’s got more to do with the identity a career tattoos one with. Getting past the “who am I now?” is the riddle of keeping a productive and social routine. Work creates that for you. Without a job you’ve got to figure those routines and relationships out – can’t just be a hermit and play X-Box (or write blog posts) all day…

      • Scott C July 21, 2022, 7:57 am

        So starting planning your retirement. I was a highly successful officer in the military with all sorts of job tattoos and I retired 2 years ago (54) and never looked back. I don’t miss all the identity “perks”, I have daily routines and pursue fulfilling activities. Make a plan and go execute it. Good luck and congrats on FI.

        • Giuseppe August 12, 2022, 1:18 pm

          Can you provide the list of your daily routines and activities? Inquiring minds would like to know… oh and for a friend.

      • Blake July 26, 2022, 2:23 pm

        You can start redefining yourself before you end your career as well. No need to wait!

        What other titles do you already have? Husband? Father? Grandfather? Musician? Athlete? Woodworker? Tinkerer? Nonprofit board member? World traveler? Gourmet cook? Beer connoisseur?

        How do you want people to know you? If you aren’t already doing those things, take the first step today!

        Once you’ve answered those questions for yourself, and taken action where you aren’t already doing something, it’s just a matter of psychology to realize that your career doesn’t define you.

        I was a Chief Engineer before quitting last month at 36. I worked for more than a decade to reach that pinnacle, but never pigeon-holed my identity in my personal life. I’m still an outdoor adventurer, volleyball player, drummer, husband, father to a 6-year-old, and MANY other titles. I now have time to become better at all of those things that are important to me too!

        Good luck on your journey and congrats on FI!

        • Cubert August 4, 2022, 3:34 pm

          Thank you for the inspiration! This truly gives me food for thought.

      • SachaFiscal August 4, 2022, 4:04 pm

        A book that helped me was Ernie Zelinski’s “How to retire happy, wild, and free”. In particular there was an exercise to make a Get a Life tree. Basically writing down all the things you like to do, used to like to do in the past, and would like to do in the future. These ideas have probably been swimming around in your head but to actually write them down has an impact. I found a pdf of the tree online here if you don’t want to get the book: http://cornerstonefinancial.ca/Get-a-life%20Tree.pdf

  • PortugalTheMan July 18, 2022, 10:28 am

    I am still yet to start my (hopefully not too long) working life as I head to university this year, but that feeling of insecurity and uncertainty is very much alive in Europe too! In Portugal where I live, due to our recent history (and present), I notice that some of the people I know that could retire comfortably and not run out of money (mostly due to rental properties) just can’t kick the habit of amassing “one more property”, and extending their professional careers for longer than they actually need. One book I like to recommend to people which I heard a lot of good things about and am planning to read is “Enough” by John Bogle which talks about when we should recognize that our wealth is enough.

  • Ben July 18, 2022, 10:39 am

    This is the first time I have ever gotten on the blog and there are no comments yet, so here is my first comment ever. Thanks for a great blog, I have read all the entries, but not looked much at your other stuff yet. The importance of brunch with spouse or friends is just commonly underestimated. I will eventually explain it better to my dear lady, but in the meantime I am going another 2 years since my side hustles are weak and I tend toward procrastination when not in a regular job. Thanks for all the great and fun stories!

  • Juan July 18, 2022, 10:52 am

    I’m still at a 6% withdrawal rate or so. So, not as secure as your friends on the example. That being said, if I’m being honest with myself, I’d probably be struggling with 1 more year syndrome when the time comes, so I’m trying to be proactive about it.
    Thanks for another great post. Always enjoy seeing new stuff from you. Cheers!

  • Jessica July 18, 2022, 11:49 am

    I’m firmly in the “one more year” camp while my husband ( the one with the high paying job) is in the “want to retire asap and we’ll be fine camp”. As I look at our stock portfolio ( down nearly 20%) and the costs of everything rising so drastically recently, it feels very scary. We’re both late 40’s. Own outright 2 homes, one which is rented out that gives us 2k a month net. Have healthy savings and investments. Another major concern is health care – we’re healthy now but if he retires we lose his insurance. We all know stuff starts happening as you age that can be very costly. We are way too young for medicare. It’s a scary decision!

    • Ed K July 18, 2022, 12:48 pm

      I agree with this. I think the article makes some great points, and I am glad for MMM efforts in illuminating the mindset to help us all get there sooner. But be mindful of the things that aren’t mentioned or accounted for in the “math” – rising costs (50k/yr ain’t gonna stay that way) and eventual old-age costs (prescriptions, etc) for starters. Don’t forget if the gov’t can’t afford SocSec one day, we’ll get taxed to make it up, which will likely include taxing extra on those with retirement nest-eggs.
      Aside from all these very real negatives, such decisions are generally easy for a single person to make – when it’s a couple, you have to respect each other’s wishes and find common ground, which is always a lot harder than it sounds.
      For my wife and myself, although the “math” might work, we also have to consider other non-math things like what kind of message we send our kids if we don’t work (like 99% of parents do) when they’re still in high school. Not very motivating for them to witness this. It’s bad enough there’s a whole movement of kids that don’t leave the nest until they’re in their 30’s. Also, not working 9-5 tends to make one a little less goal-oriented on a day-day basis.. I realize the mentality for people like MMM – this isn’t an issue, but let’s be frank – it is for a lot of others.
      Best wishes to all facing this (not-so-easy) decision, and may the choices you make, make you happy!

      • Stacy July 19, 2022, 2:10 pm

        Potential healthcare costs are the biggest fear-factor in our planning efforts. My mom died at 68 yo after a 10 yr, very costly, battle with kidney cancer. And it was costly in spite of having both Medicare and Federal Employee Health Benefits (clinical trials and additional imaging beyond what insurance would cover). My dad died at 75 (just 7 mos later) ultimately due to a stroke he he had 10 yrs earlier – he could not have survived those 10 yrs without a caregiver (not covered by insurance) and was heading into a care facility (also not covered by insurance) had he not died before that happened. Our Next Life is another blog that takes a more conservative approach to FIRE, and she gives tons of consideration to potential health issues.

        As for worrying about the example you set for your kids… I don’t have kids, but I see FIRE as a way to set a *good example* for my nieces and nephews. Make good decisions about your career and spending/saving, and then you can exit the rat race early and be the captain of your own ship. None of them are following my lead, as yet, but I’d rather be setting this example than what they have mostly been exposed to.

        • Kirsten July 20, 2022, 4:51 pm

          I agree that FIRE is a good example to kids. Also, as a mom of two teenagers, I am glad to have the extra time to spend with them. They still need me, even if they don’t always realize it. So I’m here – hanging out, ready to talk or help out when they ask.

      • tryharddaniel July 19, 2022, 2:37 pm

        This was a really thought provoking take.

        It would be cool to hear a response to some of the points you made

      • Denise July 21, 2022, 8:10 am

        This absolutely is me. Only I managed to get out at age 55.

        The enabler: what in the UK is called a “final salary scheme” series of pensions (guaranteed income at a fixed percentage of final salary with an adjustment for length of service).

        The driver: utter misery that led to work-induced depression. I knew that, even if I ran out of money (and our social security and adult social care provision in England is better than the US), it would be worth it, to have the best remaining years of my life free of that misery.

        But now, I’m finding that (although not the “OMY Syndrome”), I definitely suffer from the underpinning scarcity mentality. And I’m appalling at really looking at “what if…?” scenarios. This post has really challenged me to address this. Off to download the Google thingy to work on…


      • Ted July 26, 2022, 7:44 am

        Yes. The public is torn. My wife enjoys her work. I pulled the trigger this year. Most people are 401k and not a dinosaur pensioner like me. That being said, fear is not an emotion to be trusted. Future Events Appearing Real! Yes, here we are in the 70s again. And we will be again. It’s buying time right now for the investor. When people are afraid, buy, when people are greedy, sell. We retired people are a weird lot. We see the world in reverse. When things get bad we see opportunity. When things are good for most, we are patient. You will never have enough money to cover all of the “what ifs”. Your mind can go to ridiculous scenarios that just ain’t gonna happen. What if I get sick? Insurance sells people love that question. What if there is a terrible virus that creates a zombie apocalypse? Firearm sells people love that question. I came up with two ridiculous scenarios right off the top of my head. I read these doctors talking like they are not expendable. I struggled with that. It’s a trap. A young teacher took my job and is a “Rock Star”. Does that make me jealous or sad? No! I thought I was irreplaceable. That no one could replace me. Wrong. I hate to say it, but you may never be sick. There may be a Peterbuilt that has your name on it and later your face print! That 3000 pound suv, which sucks, literally, may not see you on your bike. That darn car A pillar which makes drivers literally not see you.
        So in the mean time you stay in a job that is slowly killing you. Yep. Your diet would be so much better if you made your food at home. You are stuck in traffic again, when makes you feel like you have no control of your life. You get home exhausted, so you plop on your soft couch and eat too much of high fat high salt goo. You watch Fox News or CNN which tell you all kind of exaggerated frightening, infuriating bad news. Turn that depression rectangle off. The TEE VEE blares, you better work, you better work, YOU BETTER WORK. You climb onto your purple mattress, not able to sleep, your mind is racing with scenarios. Civil War…Famine….Housing Market Crash…….Trump Re-elected…….Biden Re-elected……..blah………blah……blah. Wash Rinse Repeat.
        The truth is things always get better, then worse, then better, then worse. We retired early weirdos just see it all as business as usual.
        You are not going to be in a run down trailer, eating cat food, with cancer and no care, with rats nibbling at your toes. Not when you are a savvy Mustachian.

    • Mary in Orlando August 31, 2022, 7:19 am

      Healthcare is a huge concern. My hubby who is slim and fit and doesnt drink or smoke came down with an incurable Blood Cancer that costs about 500k – 1 million a year to treat. The cancer center saved his life, no doubts there. I am terrified to quit my job and have him lose our wonderful insurance. Medicare only pays 80% and he’s too young for medigap insurance. So I keep working despite being debt free with over a million in accounts. So I keep working even as I approach age 60. I suppose we’re in the minority. most folks wont get something so costly. But it does happen.

  • Dale July 18, 2022, 12:12 pm

    Been reading the blog for a number of years.

    Along the way I have been trying to work up the nerve to seriously contemplate quitting working … also for a number of years. A middle of the road compromise for some of us it to stay in positions we enjoy or where feel we are doing something worthwhile, yet not kill ourselves over-doing things in the process. The conundrum admittedly is recognizing that you might be doing something MORE worthwhile in another capacity, but even with what you tell yourself are moderated preoccupations with work, you are denied that exploration and possibilities.

    It’s helpful to try and put it into words in response to your post.

  • Financial Fives July 18, 2022, 12:16 pm

    Finally someone in our community with a large platform and following, telling it like it is! So many “advisor”, media, and talking heads drive fear into people making them think they better not take too much from their investments, or they “might” run out of money.

    The example with Dave is so many people in reality. They think I should just add a little more cushion, or think the economy will crash to the points where stocks to go zero and their homes will be taken from them. Seriously?

    This is why so many millennials and Gen-X are inheriting huge sums of money, because people who thought they would run out didn’t even come close. Hopefully they can end that cycle and use their money to enjoy life, and also give back to their community/causes.

    Enjoy the Model Y, hope to read about how you liked it. Maybe MMM will buy one too?

    • JC July 22, 2022, 5:04 pm

      There’s a fine balance between too much and too Pollyanic. This particular entry tends more towards the latter to me. I think it “feels good” to people to be told that just because things aren’t great right now that you have to hold off on retiring. Having the ability to shrug off an additional 1k in vacation expenses isnt something a lot of normal people can do, so it really isnt a great example IMO. It is true that you shouldnt toil away to the end of time hoping for a 100% chance of success. But likewise, it is nor unwise to save that 1k you might have spent for a future vacation when the markets are down 20% and inflation is at a 40yr high. You have to use common sense.

  • veronica July 18, 2022, 12:28 pm

    I pulled the plug on my cushy full time job in March 2018. It was terrifying. I wasn’t quite at 25x of my living expenses when I did it, but I was very close. However, I so needed to change my life that I just took a deep breath and kept repeating a favourite mantra – “leap and the net will appear”. Perhaps I have too much faith in my ability to be resourceful and problem solve should things go south. Some of it was luck, but I worked hard to put myself in a position where Fortune would favour me. Fast forward 4+ years and I’m living the dream and have zero regrets.

    I think what really helped me was. over many years, cultivating a habit of doing stuff that scared me. Like shit in my pants scared me. From small (learning to ride a motorcycle) to large (moving to a foreign country where I couldn’t speak the language and didn’t know anyone), it was all excellent prep work for combating One More Year Syndrome.

    And really, has anyone ever said on their death bed “I quit my job too early”?

    • Tony July 18, 2022, 10:04 pm

      In my career I’ve encountered a lot of people on their death beds. A recent one was just a year older than me, so still in his 30s. He obviously was fit and lively less than a year ago before he got diagnosed with a rare cancer. That one really put a damper on the whole OMY thing.

      Time > money. If people do continue to work once it’s unnecessary, it should be doing something that they find profoundly rewarding, and certainly not something they hate.

      I wager in the absolute worst case scenario I could use all of my outdoor gear and skills to live a 1%er homeless life. The luxury of that existence would be immense compared to our ancestors of even just 150 years ago.

    • babybbbb July 25, 2022, 10:24 am

      I’m curious! What foreign country did you move to?

    • Eliza July 28, 2022, 10:59 pm

      “I quit my job too early” is a simple question to answer if you relinquished all ambition in your career. Certainly, if you hate your job, AND have resigned to the fact that there is not a more fulfilling, meaningful, or otherwise glittering career move around the corner, quit now.

      There is a much more complicated question at play for those with OMY syndrome, which has nothing to do with risk calculations, or running out of money or inadequate health insurance.

      The real challenge is coming to terms with the Meaning of Life. Specifically, the meaning of your own unique life, and what you are hoping to achieve in your career, and the legacy you will leave behind.

      We have a finite time on earth, and for some the quote “Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the souls you can, in every place you can, at all the times you can, with all the zeal you can, as long as ever you can” overrides reaching the pinnacle of having “enough”.

      Resigning from your job can feel like you might be resigning from your life. Sure, we can come up with meaningful hobbies, interests or volunteering which serves some greater purpose than just “enjoying retirement”, but are we reaching our maximum potential to do *all* that we can?

      What I’m struggling to come to terms with is whether I’m fulfilling my potential to serve in areas like climate change or gender inequality. Continuing to work in these fields could have a greater impact (particularly because of the agency and influence a paid position offers) and the additional income could be donated to these causes.

      So to answer your question, has anyone ever said “I quit my job too early”, there is a real possibility I could say this 5, 10 or 50 years post retirement (if I retire at 36).

  • frugalchick July 18, 2022, 12:38 pm

    I like this post, but both of your friends are doing exceptionally well (and have future funds coming in like an inheritance or money from airbnb). What about those of us who, sure, are doing OK in comparison, say 1Mil? How can we have that piece of mind?

    • intristang July 19, 2022, 1:12 am

      I’d say if you have $1M, you, too, are doing quite well. If you are worried, I’d look at what expenses (if any) you can reduce or get rid of. Additionally, I’m going to assume you live in the US? Would you be open to relocation somewhere cheaper like Portugal, Spain, Mexico, etc? Net-net, I think you’re doing great.

    • MatthewB July 19, 2022, 7:50 am

      As someone closer to you than the examples, my main take-away from this article was to setup a forecast sheet and start plugging in real numbers and generating some optimistic/pessimistic projections so I can really solidify understanding where exactly I am, and how much further I have to go. So that I’m not just saying “so many more years” without a clear finish line.

      Looking at it as “1 million isn’t enough” is just another aspect of the “one more year” mentality. You need to dive a bit deeper and start thinking of give/take and best/worst case scenarios and find where your comfort level is. Your conclusion might be “5 more years”.

      Roughly –
      1MM = 28k-40k annual draw-down (at 2.8% – 4.0%)

      I certainly can’t (or don’t want to) squeeze myself that low right now, but a large portion of my consideration is my mortgage. Once that goes away what’s my annual expenses? When do I get to that point? What would my balance be then? Or, if I choose to retire with a mortgage, what’s the number I’m shooting for? How far am I from that number?

      I don’t know how old you are, but if you have 1MM in retirement assets, you’re doing really well. If you’re young, then that’s going to grow substantially. If you’re old… well, maybe you’re close to social security and nationalized healthcare and that changes the calculations pretty soon. You’re quite possibly at “could retire” now – if you think of “retire” as in “stop chasing the most money possible, and start doing a job you actually want to do”. Retire – at least for a lot of the people following this blog – is more a mindset than a specific “don’t work at all” circumstance.

      What are your assumptions and fears? When do they stop being an issue? Is that at a specific number, or a specific date? Forecast it out, and figure out how many years you need.

    • Edmund July 20, 2022, 1:44 am

      Yes, a better title for this article would be “Why someone with $2m or 8 rental properties will probably never run out of money”.

      • John Norris August 20, 2022, 1:20 pm


  • AH July 18, 2022, 12:45 pm

    MMM – Are you coming to the GTA on your trip? Are you planning to have a meet up? We would love to come, if so.

    I first stumbled on your blog almost 4 years ago after reading a NY Times FIRE article with you and others in the movement and it was a turning point for me, I’ve been lurking ever since. It raised the possibility that maybe I don’t have to have contingency plans for my contingency plans, that maybe I don’t have to have Plan B all figured out.

    My husband and I are both engineers, mid 40s, a little younger than you, so I found your story very relatable. I had become increasingly disillusioned at my job. We are pretty close to the Alina example. At first I wondered if I was a SWAMI, but then I read your post about Money and Confidence are Interchangeable (March 2018, similar vein to this one) and that was more accurate.

    The short story is that I quit my job in February 2020 (what timing!) and have never looked back. Now, my husband has put his notice in and his last day is next Friday! Of course there’s some trepidation, so this article is exceptionally timely in bolstering our confidence and we’re excited to embark on our mustachian adventure!

  • Marc July 18, 2022, 12:50 pm

    Another great one.
    I dig the do not work stuff and travel most of the year. But the part getting from saving money on plain, train and automobile to spend a bit more for comfort. That is the hardest part. Let’s see how I do with the ticket to the yearly winter trip in South East Asia.

    Hopefully you write more posts like this one so finally even I will understand.

  • Woody July 18, 2022, 1:13 pm

    At 61, the biggest expense will be healthcare until Medicare eligibility. Probably $20K per year for me and spouse.

    I see no way around this. Any advice?

    • Blake July 18, 2022, 4:26 pm

      Take care of your health with diet, sleep, and exercise. Those are the biggest things you can do to affect your long-term health outcome and improve your healthspan (how long you live free of disease and disability). You won’t get around the insurance premiums that way, but you may avoid paying high deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs.

    • MatthewB July 19, 2022, 8:04 am

      This is definitely a big frustration point for early retirement options in the US.

      Depending on what you think of as “retire”, that might mean working part-time to get access to health care – or to compensate for the increased draw.

      For example, a lot of older people with outdoors affinity seem to work REI for this reason.

      Also, did you model out the increased costs and the actual impact to the long-term projections? Depending on how much you have saved, maybe that extra draw-down for 4 years isn’t actually that big of a deal? Sure, you’re not following the established best practices, but maybe you’re well off enough to not need to worry about it?

      Same calculation for early vs. late start on social security – is it better to draw down a bit more aggressively from your 401k for the 5 years to bring your social security up from 70% at 62 to 100% at 67? (I’m sure this is very well answered already).

      These are really hard for me, and I imagine anyone coming out of the “save everything you can!” treadmill mentality. I know it’s going to be a big hurdle for me that first time I withdraw from my retirement accounts…

      • Woody July 19, 2022, 11:11 am

        Yes, I think you are right. The extra draw-down over 4-5 years paying for market-rate healthcare is not enough to make a difference. And I need to overcome the “save everything” mentality.

        • EJ October 25, 2022, 8:39 am

          I am in camp manipulate your income to get health insurance subsidies but here are a few more ideas if that doesn’t work to lower your costs.

          1 – I’m sure it’s beyond considering for many but if you get divorced until you both are aged 65 you can have significantly higher income (~85K instead of 60K) and qualify for the same ACA subsidy because the poverty level for 2 singles is set so much higher than for a couple.

          2 – If you can’t manipulate your income for 4 years to qualify for subsidies because of business or rental income, incorporate your business and have health insurance as a business expense. That would at least save the taxes.

          3 – If you are both healthy consider a bronze level plan. If one of you ends up with a chronic health condition you can switch the next cycle and only end up out the max out of pocket for 1 year. Careful research is recommended to ensure you don’t pick a plan with major gaps like excluding name brand drug coverage even when there are no gereneric equivalents.

          4 – Get any known medical expenses taken care of before quitting (orthopedic surgery). Get the double bonus of using up any sick time and having the corporate Healthcare cover the procedure.

          5 – Consider medical tourism for non-emergency issues especially those outside traditional insurance like dental.

          6 – Consider a religious Healthcare cost sharing group (but only if you don’t like the divorce of convenience idea). Cost sharing groups are riskier as they don’t seem to cover preexisting conditions and don’t have many other guarantees of ACA plans but can have way cheaper premiums.

    • Rounding the Bend July 19, 2022, 9:27 am

      Keep your income around $60k (by limiting withdrawals from 401(k)/IRA) and get about half of the healthcare premiums back via the APTC (advance premium tax credit) that is part of the Affordable Care Act.

      Also, recognize that Medicare isn’t free. You’ll pay premiums for Part B, Part D, and should also buy a Medigap plan. Make sure your retirement budget includes these expenses.

      If you can limit your income and quality for the APTC, you’ll find that healthcare expenses from now to age 65 are about the same as age 65 and beyond.

    • Bill July 19, 2022, 12:42 pm

      One consequence of individual 401(k) plans instead of company pensions is that all of us have to “self-insure” for every retirement uncertainty (health, healthcare costs, investment performance, lifespan, inflation, etc). While most mustachians are going to find that they’ve over-saved/under-spent, numerous non-mustachians are facing retirement at the mercy of a rather shaky social security system, or an even shakier system of elderly indigent care

      Yep, but that’s just one huge uncertainty, I’m 62 and retired at 60, in Jan. 2020, right before the whole Covid and stock-market crash uncertainty hit the fan. Talk about uncertainty! My solution for dealing with the 5-year gap until medicare kicks in, is to keep my expenses (and income) low enough to qualify for the ACA subsidy. With a paid-off house and car, I’ve set my “income” at the top of the 15% tax bracket. I figured that if I had to pay unsubsidized out-of-pocket for health insurance, that I could spend more carefully or work part-time if needed.

      Of course another huge uncertainty was political, would we even still have the ACA if our supposedly stable USA Gov’t had collapsed via a violent coup? Who could have predicted that would be a significant risk at the start of 2020?

      Also since retiring two years ago I saw two major uncertainties become certain, surgery for prostate cancer “expensive” but mostly covered, this was already rather certain as I was the only male in my family left with that body part remaining.

      The other certain uncertainty was the passing of my parents a whole lot sooner than their apparent health would’ve indicated. I thought for sure I’d have at least 15 more years of sage advice. The 2020 Secure Act means that I have only ten years to spend (or convert to Taxable Income) the inherited IRA funds that my Dad meticulously saved and strategized, that I had been certain that I’d be able to delay both inheriting and paying taxes on. It’s looking pretty certain that the Secure Act withdrawal requirements will push me over the income limit to qualify me for the lower-tier medicare rate, quite the opposite uncertainty problem. Could have been worse, if the Secure Act 10-year limit and my own RMD’s hit me at the same time, instead they are conveniently sequential.

    • dandarc July 21, 2022, 8:59 am

      If you are in the US, learn how ACA premium subsidy and cost sharing reductions work. Fully retire (or downsize jobs to where you’re not making a ton of money) and then you are much more able to call your shot on income and reduce this particular cost substantially.

      Since the cap on health insurance premium costs, and the criteria for cost-sharing reductions (turns silver plans into gold and platinum) are based on percentage of your AGI, managing your income for tax purposes has a very high return on that learning / managing the paperwork time aspect.

      If you’re still working and making a lot of money, just recognize the amazing situation you’re in and pay the $20K for something very valuable.

    • Connie July 21, 2022, 5:41 pm

      I “retired” in January (really just quit my job with no expectation to look for another one unless I want to). I found that I qualified for subsidies through Covered CA (ACA in California). My premium for a high deductible plan for myself only is $240/mo, way less than I have had to pay in the past. We’ll see what Congress does for 2023. It’s possible my subsidy won’t be as generous.

      Four more years until I hit 65.

    • emassat July 21, 2022, 6:49 pm

      An option to avoid the $20K/year healthcare costs is to”Barista Fire”. I drive a school bus, 2 hours am, 2 hours pm., regular schedule(unlike many service/retail jobs)No weekends or evenings unless you want extra hours driving sports/activity bus trips. I chose to work for a local school district, great benefits with much lower out of pocket costs than buying through ACA exchange. Pay in my area is $21/$24 an hour and includes free, paid training. Biggest perk is having lots of vacation time, including summers off. Keeping the medical insurance costs low and earning what I need to keep,within 4% until SS kicks in and/or portfolio expands more is what I need to have a job with relatively little stress yet provides the structure, movement and sense of purpose I need.

    • Connie July 22, 2022, 7:08 am

      This year I “retired”. I was able to get a subsidy on my health insurance through Covered CA (California’s ACA plan). I pay $240/mo. for a high deductible plan. I’m not sure if Congress will renew their contribution which made insurance more affordable. Hopefully! I have four more years until I qualify for Medicare.

    • Ted August 2, 2022, 9:33 am

      There is a way hypothetically. With the Affordable care Act you could reduce the cost of health insurance by living on less. There were subsidies, one at living on less than 63000 a year and two living on less than 24000 a year. Something like that. Anyway, the challenge would be only spending up to these amounts to get the benefit. My wife is a medical administrator and says that this coverage is Spartan. However, I have an acquaintance that was an engineer, is financially savvy, and this is what he does.

  • Blake July 18, 2022, 1:39 pm

    Thanks for being an inspiration and giving people confidence to take the big leap into an amazing new life!

    I just quit my job in June after 15 years at the same company. It was a huge decision to make, but even in the middle of a bear market I am happy I did it and am sleeping well at night. The opportunity cost of spending all of my prime hours with coworkers while missing great activities and experiences with my family had become too high, and my plan was solid. The fact is, those of us who reach this point at such a young age are resourceful and intelligent enough that we will make necessary adjustments if any part of our plan is not turning out well, and we’ll end up with far more money than we imagined using all of our conservative estimates.

    I moved my young family to beautiful southern Colorado and now have complete control over my time and get to do all the things I wished I could get around to in my earlier life. I even launched a website where I can help others reach financial independence too!

    It’s time to give back and to live life to its fullest.

  • Gary Grewal July 18, 2022, 2:19 pm

    Finally someone in our community with a large platform and following, telling it like it is! So many “advisor”, media, and talking heads drive fear into people making them think they better not take too much from their investments, or they “might” run out of money.

    The example with Dave is so many people in reality. They think I should just add a little more cushion, or think the economy will crash to the points where stocks to go zero and their homes will be taken from them. Seriously?

    This is why so many millennials and Gen-X are inheriting huge sums of money, because people who thought they would run out didn’t even come close. Hopefully they can end that cycle and use their money to enjoy life, and also give back to their community/causes.

    Enjoy the Model Y, hope to read about how you liked it. Maybe MMM will buy one too?

  • jeff July 18, 2022, 2:19 pm

    Google sheets tip, if you replace “edit” at the end of the url with “copy” it will link directly to the make a copy page. As a bonus, you won’t get 100’s of “Request for Access” emails.

    Was hoping we would hit our number this year but the year had other plans. At least we were able to buy a house before rates went crazy. Still in a good position but we will need another year or 2 to feel comfortable. Post economic recovery sounds like a good time to pull the plug.

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 18, 2022, 3:51 pm

      WOW, what an incredibly useful tip Jeff, thank you so much! (I have now updated the link and it works)

      I had deliberately set it up to be shared from a spare gmail account so I wouldn’t see the requests, but this is much better and will be useful in many situations.

  • Reade July 18, 2022, 3:09 pm

    Great article MMM this is very helpful. I know in my head I know I have enough to never run out of money but I’m on the two more year plan. Not sure how I can convince my wife to ever quit. She plans on working for 10 more years. I think I’ll put together my own worse case scenario spreadsheet and show it to her . BTW I will be in Boulder next week on business, is it ok to drop by the MMM HQ in hopes of meeting the legendary MMM and fellow Canadian?

    • Dave July 19, 2022, 4:18 pm

      This article just validated why I retired 5 years ago at 54.

      • Kent July 30, 2022, 8:59 am

        With ya, Dave. 9 years ago for me at 54.

        • Reade July 31, 2022, 7:24 pm

          Ha, if I stick with my two year plan I’ll be 54 as well. Must be the magic number.

  • Mo July 18, 2022, 3:36 pm

    I quit the job this year with just 25x my expenses. That 25x was calculated while the market was down 20%, so hopefully it will look better when the market bounces back.

    Still, I have my eye out for enjoyable earnings opportunities so I can build the nest egg up for those extras. At only 25x, with decades of lifespan, I don’t quit have Tesla money. Still, I am in a good position to improve my life now.

  • Erich July 18, 2022, 3:52 pm

    I love this post! I am not to the point of FIRE yet but still find myself mulling over “what if” scenarios in my head. As always, MMM hits the nail right on the head and delivers the message: “Everything will turn out fine. And if it doesn’t you are a resourceful person who will figure it out anyway”

  • Ben July 18, 2022, 4:27 pm

    Great article Pete. Your math is spot-on, neither of these people ever needs to work again in their lives, and of course they could easily pivot from the jobs they’re doing now and hate to something they enjoy and still be earning some money, making it all even safer. That said, I’m not sure we want to encourage a surgeon to quit right now, or ever. Is there a replacement out there? Is there a reason for working besides just earning money? We don’t know what Dave does, so it’s a lot easier to just yell “QUIT ALREADY!” in his face, whereas with Alina it almost begs the question of “do we pay surgeons too well?” Hopefully there are eager young people ready to take over her practice.

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 18, 2022, 5:40 pm

      Yeah, you make a good point Ben – Doctors do a lot of good in their career, and society takes a hit every time one retires. On the other hand, Alina has been at it for over 20 years now, and in that time has done about 30-40 years worth of work hours (especially if you include all of the medical school and residency time which I definitely do).

      As I have learned more and more about various doctor careers from friends, I have been surprised at some of the traditions that are baked into the profession that don’t seem to make sense in a modern context.

      For example the whole idea of grinding people down and having unsustainable work hours, especially early in the career. These are exactly the opposite of the conditions we need to function most effectively as a caregiver and decision maker. I’ve heard the argument that “You need to see as many patients as possible early in your career to develop proper intuition”, but even this could be optimized within an 8-10 hour work day if we placed priority on maximizing variety rather than just maximizing hardship.

      When you combine this with the unnecessarily expensive training (I’d argue that since it’s a public good, medical school should be subsidized down to the cost of a regular in-state diploma for anybody who is good enough to get in and maintain good performance), and burdensome state-by-state licensing, it’s a field that could use a good clean-slate reinvention.

      If we could let more doctors set their own part-time schedules and enjoy the type of positive work environment that I got as a 20-something software engineer, I think we’d see less desire to retire early.

      • semi-retired-doc July 19, 2022, 5:13 am

        A few points I would like to share.

        Regarding surgical training, it sounds really easy to say “this could be optimized within an 8-10 hour work day.” And, without seeing the training first hand I would have agreed with you. But the reality is that patients do not follow a nice schedule when they are sick. They are going to show up and need surgical care during off hours. Sometimes several patients at once and sometimes no patients at all. If you are not available to be there to take care of the sick patient, you don’t get that experience.

        About 15 years ago an 80 hour work week cap on residency training was introduced and the quality of surgeons deteriorated. It takes a few more years of practice outside of training to these days to get a surgeon to where they need to be. Unfortunately it is the reality and I for the life of me can’t figure out how to make it work better without being on call and available to operate and take care of sick patients. Please understand, I agree that surgical training is brutal as is the life of a general surgeon past residency.

        My other comment is about me. I am a semi retired physician and choose to work part time and wanted to share my reasons:
        1) I still feel like I am doing something positive for our community
        2) Although the practice of medicine has deteriorated in my field, particularly over the last 3 years, I still have some really good days that make it worthwhile.
        3) By still practicing medicine I have relationships with other physicians and the hospital system that allows me to really help my friends and family in a time of need far better than if they were outside the system.
        4) I’m going to say it. More money is better than less money. Over the years, our wealth has grown and with it our discretionary expenses. Our monthly expenses are punch worthy. We are debt free. Drive cars to the ground and we don’t eat out at expensive fancy restaurants. Most of our spending is discretionary and on experiences. Plenty of those experiences cost money and we are happy to pay for them because it is within our means. We figure, as long as we spend less than 4% of our wealth, we can retire at any time and therefor we grew those discretionary expenses accordingly.
        5) Fear. I’m going to admit it. I am afraid to retire completely. I’m afraid of losing those hospital relationships that ahave been so helpful to my friends and family. I am also afraid that this recession may be similar to 1966/67 where the 4% safe withdrawal rate failed. If true it would force us to cut spending which we prefer not to do if we don’t have to. It is not that making those cuts would be difficult. It is that if I still more or less enjoy the job and feel like I’m doing something positive then why cut those expenses?

        I have asked myself this one question before. If my wealth doubled overnight would I still work part time. I can honestly say, very unlikely. But, here I am still working, technically, for money I probably don’t need.

        • KS July 21, 2022, 8:32 am

          Dear Mmm,

          Another surgeon here. Practicing for 20 years.

          My parents were doctors, worked into their mid 70s until they died. I am hoping to be different.

          I concur with the doctor above. We have an antiquated MD training system, based on the tradition. Nonetheless, it takes enormous amount of time, intelligence, experience and empathy to make a good clinician and a surgeon. I’m far from perfect, but I’ve seen worse in the other doctors in the community.

          Medicare is proposing a paycut of 4%. It is slowly becoming an unsustainable business model. Many doctors are refusing to accept Medicare patients. It will come a time when the US medicine deteriorate so much that you may have to leave the country to get good medical care at reasonable cost, ie. Medical tourism. We need to prepare for that time.

          I do intend to practice part time, as work is not work, when I find the meaning of life in it. I hope MMM agrees with me. Thank you always for your affectionate punch in my face with your blog article. KS.

        • Derek July 21, 2022, 9:24 am

          As a doctor, are you aware of all the research showing that learning — especially of motor skills — is far superior with lower stress levels and more sleep? I’m not sure it’s fair to compare 100-hour residencies to 80-hour residencies. The brutal “cut-you-down” approach in medical residency completely scared someone like myself away from any career as an MD. I think the whole profession would be better with 4x as many practitioners working 1/3rd the hours and making 1/3rd the pay.

          • KS July 21, 2022, 10:02 pm


            Yes, in the ideal fantasy world. We don’t have enough nurses and we don’t have enough doctors. We don’t have enough medical schools or nursing schools to make it any less constraining to the system. We have a premed student working in our office, because she couldn’t get into a medical school with 4.9 GPA.

            Not to be all doom and groom. I think all of the above is more good reason to eat healthy and exercise (or just MOVE) as MMM advocates. … and be ready for a catastrophic health event just in case. Get The cheapest bronze Obamacare plan if it what it takes, and be flexible to go to Mexico and turkey for some medical care.

        • HeadedWest July 23, 2022, 1:57 pm

          Another reason for OMY is something many people are reluctant to discuss, so I’ll say it: I’m not just working for myself, I’m working for my kids. I want them to have comfortable lives and financial freedom like I have (or would have) WITHOUT having to work through 10-15 years of corporate law firm hell that I went through. Or eighty-hour weeks at a tech firm. Etc.

          I’m not going to buy them Range Rovers, but I do want to help them buy a house if they’re priced out of the market in the city where we raised them. And if they are laid off from their job, I hope their primary emotion is not to worry about their financial situation.

          One more thing: I had an emergency appendix last year and I’m very, very glad the surgeon on call hadn’t retired early :) I’m sure your patients would say the same. Maybe if my kids grow up to be doctors, I’ll discourage them from retiring early…

      • Maria July 20, 2022, 11:00 am

        I am a physician in Europe. While our training ist still hard, my workweek absulutely never exeeded 50h. And I felt these 50h to be pretty rough already. I find that too much time spent working makes you somewhat numb, robot-like. Is this what we want from a doctor? It has always baffled me that in the US, Doctors are put through the wringer. Granted, while a doctor in Europe earns a good salary, it is nowhere near as high as an US Doctor. But then, my studies where also free, you just had to graduate top of your class to be admitted.
        All that to say, I also feel that it’s a field that could use a good clean-slate reinvention.

      • MKE July 26, 2022, 9:07 am

        I have had the misfortune of being injured and dealing with doctors lately. While I have had the benefit of cutting my $20,000+ medical insurance premiums in half, the rest has been a nightmare. Huge out-of-pocket expenses to pay arrogant, apathetic clowns for “care” that in a free market couldn’t garner five bucks. The doctors have done more harm than good to me.

        That harm is baked in. The first priority in any choreographed experience with a doctor is to make you suffer. Unnecessarily long waits, faked “busyness”, and exorbitant charges. Once they have attacked you at your most vulnerable, they may or may not give you some medical help.

        In my life, as well as that of most Americans, I will pay more to cover doctors’ salaries than for any other expense. That’s assuming I maintain insurance, and never in my life see a doctor or require any form of care. The reason American healthcare costs more is because it costs more. Studies have shown we pay doctors more here for substandard results. There’s no other meaningful difference.

        This is by design. The AMA’s mission is to keep the number of doctors down and their salaries correspondingly inflated. The doctors I have personally known and observed seldom work more than twenty hours a week. Of course they SAY they work more. Do not mind their bragging, they lie out of habit. Get to know a few and observe and see reality. Believe your eyes, not the lobbying.

      • Evan August 4, 2022, 10:47 am

        Yes to all of this.

        However, as a nurse who worked in an ICU at a large academic institution for 13 years, there is a reason we train doctors the way we do, and it’s not for the regular times; it’s for times like we had this past couple of years.

        Physicians are many times the last line of rationality in healthcare. When, as a healthcare provider, your life is threatened in the hospital and you are overwhelmed with patients, society needs someone who can keep their head among the intense psychological and physical pressures.

        It’s not necessary in most circumstances; but once every 50 years or so, a pandemic happens. It’s not a bad idea to have someone who’s “battle-hardened” (so to speak) by their training to make the critical decisions that affect an entire population. Even some physicians couldn’t handle the pressure; but fortunately, we had some who could.

        I gained a lot of respect for the training my physicians received when I was a charge nurse in an ICU and saw how difficult it was to practice when caring for patients who were on the unit because they were your coworkers who had been working beside you a couple of days earlier.

        Medicine, and nursing, are professions. They’re not about money; they exist to serve society. We pay doctors handsomely because they serve an essential part of keeping society together, and we want to compensate them for the suffering they experience to keep society going. Not just during the everyday scenarios, but in the once-in-a-lifetime scenarios like we had this past couple of years.

        Yes, physicians’ lives are brutal due to working conditions. Perhaps a better solution could be found. But I learned why-we-do-what-we-do when I needed someone who could be trusted when the healthcare system was crumbling.

        That said, twenty years is long enough, medicine is a profession; Alina has served long enough if she wants to enjoy her life now.

      • prof September 1, 2022, 12:25 pm

        “Doctors do a lot of good in their career, and society takes a hit every time one retires.”

        They do good, but so much of the drama in the U.S. arises from a deliberate shortage (cartel, basically) that the AMA pushed hard in the ’90s, and have not let up on. Google it if you don’t know. We’ve had the option for decades of having many, many more highly trained doctors.

        So much of medical training reinforces and is used to justify this artificial scarcity, which also helps boost MD salaries and healthcare costs. Doctors don’t make nearly as much in other countries, which have better health outcomes.

        Half my family is doctors and I train MD/PhDs at an academic medical center. There are so many games.

      • EJ October 25, 2022, 9:06 am

        Not to be the voice of negativity, but I see confirmation that Alina has been a highly paid surgeon for 20 years in MMM’s comment, rather than a later in life career change. The low end of highly paid doctor starts around 300K+generous retirement contributions to my knowledge. I know it is way late but any chance we can get an explanation for why Alina does not have way more saved? 120K a year at a terrible 5% return instead of the 7.5% S&P 500 after inflation return of the last 20 years is still just about 4M. That savings rate assumes no saving as a resident and leaves a lot of margin to pay student loans, and assumes no retirement contribution from the hospital.

        Ultimately I can’t fault the encouraging friends for saying 2M can way cover the still very luxurious 50K lifestyle. But I would be nervous about retiring if I had only recently cut my living expenses in half or more.

  • GJ July 18, 2022, 5:26 pm

    I appreciate your take (and numbers) on this; it will give me some things to mull. over.

    Having walked a handful of family members through end of life decisions in the last decade, I’ve seen multiple approaches and their results.

    On one hand, I’ve seen the hoarders who passed with a large bank account that they never used to improve their own lives or the lives of those they love and a house full of “collectibles” that became an all-consuming burden for their children for two years. It’s hard not to feel judgmental.

    On the other, I’ve seen friends give birth to children with genetic disorders who may never be independent, colleagues receive diagnoses of long term, progressive diseases and moved my own parent into a $5k/month adult family home. With poor options for long term care insurance, some days it’s hard not to feel like we are all one accident/diagnosis/life plot twist away from financial ruin.

    I’m still trying to find that balance for myself.

  • Stephanie July 18, 2022, 7:44 pm

    I took the leap and quit my job at the wild age of 31 and now am almost a full year into my retirement or as I like to call it my early reset. I hated my previous 2 jobs due to issues in management so leaving I thought would have been easy. It took an emotional toll when I told people because it felt wrong and I had never been unemployed in my adult life.
    I took the philosophy that I’m young and will likely find something to supplement my income with so no reason to sit in a job I hated anymore. By the time I hit my 1st full year, I’ll have visited 19 national parks, have visited 4 foreign countries, read/listened to more audiobook in a month than I would in a full year and been very active meeting up with fellow FIRE friends around the world.

  • Eric B July 18, 2022, 10:16 pm

    Wait, you have “cars” (plural)? What happened to going car-free? How long did that last?

    … and is one of your cars a Tesla? ;)

    • Heidi Alexander July 19, 2022, 8:46 am

      I believe the Tesla was a rental. The column has certainly changed and reflects his accumulated wealth. It speaks to a different audience than before. I’ll return to the older posts for inspiration. I admired his stance on cars. I was car free for nearly a decade. It was liberating. Now I live in suburbia and need to commute to my office job.

      • Mr. Money Mustache July 21, 2022, 10:32 am

        Hey, take it easy on poor old MMM here. I still have the same 1999 Honda construction van and 2016 Nissan Leaf (bought brand-new for a net cost of about $13,500) as I’ve had for many years.

        The luxurious electric Leaf has racked up a grand total of only 15k miles on the odometer over these six years – even that has only been achieved by a copious amount of lending it out and sharing it with friends who live here in the neighborhood.

        I still agree though – these cars (especially the $800+ in annual insurance and registration costs) are a total optional luxury. If I didn’t have such a financial surplus and needed to cut my annual spending below its current ~20k level, I would sell them and then just rent cars when needed.

        • Eric B July 21, 2022, 11:54 am

          In a previous post you said you’d left the Leaf behind, so I was assuming you had bought a new car to restore your plural status, and I was hoping to catch you deep-crimson-multicoat-handed.

          Regardless, 15k miles in 6 years is far better than I can claim, so you deserve a salute instead of a skewering. My apologies.

  • anon July 18, 2022, 10:59 pm

    I fell for the “one more year”-itis for a little while, until I forced myself to write down a specific *unchangeable* number for my net worth that would be a “just quit already” signal. There was no option to change the number because “oh, inflation might go up” or “oh, one of my stocks went down” or “oh, what if this or that happens”. Nope. No exceptions. Number hit, resignation sent, and now I am so, so incredibly relieved I quit when I did instead of making excuses to shift the goalposts.

  • intristang July 19, 2022, 1:08 am

    Great article. It’s really hard to argue much when you projected a “worst” case, a Mad Max post-apocalyptic case, and then some likely scenarios as well. I hit FI in Nov 2020 but continued working through May 2021. Ultimately the numbers outweighed my fear (and I just hated my job). When your portfolio is making (yay!) or losing (boo!) more in a _day_ than *both* your bi-weekly paychecks, working just stops making as much sense. I really hope more folks take the plunge and quit sooner than later! Last thing I’ll note is most readers/people in the FI community will grow restless and end up generating income (outside their portfolio dividends/cap gains) which reduces time to FI!


  • Codefreeze July 19, 2022, 3:06 am

    I have a slightly different problem – it’s not so much a fear of running out of money – I’m a big believer in The Spreadsheet, and The Spreadsheet says nope, you won’t run out of money. My issue is more “What If?” What if I suddenly decide that the thing I most want out of life is to move to a beach house, or a farm in France, or to start a donkey sanctuary, or whatever, and that takes more money than I have. That keeps me working “Just in Case” something springs to mind, that requires a bunch of money. Yeah, sad I know… :)

  • Arthur July 19, 2022, 3:10 am

    Yes, rationally you are right, and your maths is sound. But emotionally, I cannot get out of the “one or two more years” mode, at the moment, Last November, my net capital was at 30 times my annual expenses. But since then my net capital has been going down to 25 my annual expenses due to the market decline and due to my stupid buy-and-hold strategy (or should we call it stubbornness?). I feel that in order to retire, I will have first to regain confidence in the stock market, gain confidence that we will be able to manage inflation, and then rebuild my capital again to 30 times my expenses plus maybe some buffer for stock market crashes and inflation. The main point here is being emotional confident, and this confidence has been damaged by the overall economic action in the last months… But anyway, thank you very much for this text – I will get back to it later…

    • Derek July 21, 2022, 9:29 am

      Arthur, it sounds like you would enjoy the book “Fear of a Black Swan” by Larry Swedroe, where he recommends moving your portfolio to 80% bonds at retirement age and then increasing the stock allocation as you age to reduce “sequence of returns risk” (especially if you’re the type of person who is going to freak out that ‘buy-and-hold’ is ‘too stubborn’ because of a high equity allocation).

      Pfau and Kitces have a similar paper https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2324930 using the term “rising equity glide path.”

  • Becca July 19, 2022, 4:20 am

    We retired in 2001 with $1.6M (not counting the value of our paid off home), ages 48 and 53. In 2022 we have a net worth of $4M (not counting home value of approximately $1M (no mortgage)) plus $5k a month in Social Security. We lived more frugally in the early years of retirement but now we spend whatever we want, maybe $150k per year having fun, giving to charity, and spoiling our grandchildren. We have been mainly invested in stocks paying good dividends and have weathered many ups and downs in the market.

    You mentioned “youth” ends at 60, but we are living our best lives now at 69 and 75. We have been very fortunate to have had great health these last 21 years of retirement. I partially attribute that to being retired….not having the stress of working and having the time to pursue activities that keep us fit.

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 19, 2022, 8:42 am

      Amazing story and thanks for sharing Becca!

      • dixie August 9, 2022, 4:36 pm

        Yes, great success story by Becca and spouse. Glad to hear it, too. Good health is crucial. Hope it continues for them and all of us, because that’s not always the case.

        Notice MMM does not include extended nursing home/assisted living costs in any of his “worst case” scenarios. Too young to consider them, i suppose, or maybe fodder for a future blog? Not a sermon, just a thought,

  • hans4797 July 19, 2022, 5:46 am

    I would immediately quit my job in the scenarios outlined above without question. However, my case is slightly different. I have a paid off house with approximately 600k in investments with about 25-30k spending per year. I do spend a good chunk of change on fuel which would basically disappear if the job went away. However, healthcare will likely go up. I work in a job that isn’t meaningful to me but it isn’t bad. I might be falling into this trap myself but I don’t know if I want to be right on the edge and cut it that close. Maybe, grind it out for about 2 years then call it quits (can save roughly 65k per year). Or, quit right now and get very part-time work (that is fun) to pull 5k or more per year. Has anyone taken the plunge recently and can offer advice?

    • Spencer July 25, 2022, 8:27 am

      I have tentative plans to do a soft “retirement” in 2 years when I will have about $600k in investments and a paid off house (your comment spoke to me with those figures!). My wife will continue working part-time which will contribute about $25k and subsidize health insurance, but I will take 1-2 years off to do my own thing, with plans to go back if our money becomes too tight or I find myself unhappy with the extra time. Or it can be extended if we like the new arrangement and money is doing okay!

      I think you could take the plunge and give it a try! Worst case you go back to work after a hiatus.

  • beau6303 July 19, 2022, 6:25 am

    8 apartment complexes for Dave? How many units total? And how is his net worth only 300k in your spreadsheet? Are you excluding the equity in the rentals ?

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 19, 2022, 8:41 am

      In this case it’s 8 units spread across 3 little buildings. The net worth is low because they were purchased with only 20% downpayments in an area with WAY lower house prices than where we live now. (In Ohio and other Midwestern US cities it’s quite common to find relatively nice duplexes in the $150-200k range, with 2-3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms on each side.)

  • David July 19, 2022, 7:12 am

    I agree with this article in spirit, but I think the pessimistic hypotheticals are unnecessarily outlandish. What if Alina (or someone she loves) has an accident or serious medical issues? This wouldn’t require any historical geopolitical shifts, just a not-uncommon effect of aging. A decade of serious healthcare expenses (in-home care, etc) could easily upend her entire financial scenario. Maybe these are worth the risk, but there’s no need for zany Mad Max fantasies — real people wrestle with very real unexpected challenges all the time.

  • Sean July 19, 2022, 7:35 am

    Not sure what Dave does for a job but if he was a Java programmer my company would hire him in a heartbeat. I get that his job is draining and that quitting might seem like the best option but why not look for a better work environment, less hours and stress, and get a big old pay raise at the same time.

    We offer all remote work, few online meetings, a relaxed schedule, zero travel, zero chance of return to office BS, and a great salary (not competitive with the silicon valley $$$ but allows you to have a good life). Anyone reading this who’d like to know more, just hit reply.

    • DogLover July 25, 2022, 10:58 am

      I’d like to know more. I am in a completely different field (healthcare informatics) but know some java basics. Are you looking for entry level applicants or someone that has actual working experience in java programming? Though I’d ask in case there are others like me out there.

  • Don Corleone July 19, 2022, 8:08 am

    For people in the USA: Open your mind and live outside of the US in retirement. Forget about expensive healthcare and real estate, and driving everywhere. When picking a place to retire, don’t limit yourself to just 50 states…

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 19, 2022, 8:36 am

      I agree! And this is partly my fault because I write these articles in such a US-centric way.

      I’ve only lived in two countries so far, but very soon (once my boy is grown) I’ll be spreading my wings a bit and getting some experience in different countries. Once this happens I can write blog articles about everything I learn out there. But of course there’s no need to wait for that, there are many more experienced, competent writers than me who have already written books, blogs, YouTube channels etc. on US expat living already and we should all be seeking them out.

      It’s quite similar to the situation now when San Francisco Area people write in wondering how anyone can possibly retire on $2 million when houses start at $4 million, or how to live on only $30k per year when the car payments and insurance on your two luxury cars are already more than that: the key is to stop focusing on just the tiny world we are currently familiar with.

      So, thanks again DC!

  • Jim Roegiers July 19, 2022, 8:27 am

    Thanks for the optimism here. I have been struggling with my “pessimistic” spreadsheet for weeks now. About 4 years away, maybe sooner?

    One comment. The $50K per year in Alina’s spending (and $45K for Dave’s spending) will not be $50K in 10 year, or 20 years or even 30 years. Inflation will have that $50K skyrocket to a huge number. This fact will really mess with your spreadsheet, as it did mine. Any thoughts on what to do here?

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 19, 2022, 8:32 am

      Hi Jim, congrats on being so close!

      As I tried to note in the article I did my best to make those charts in “Real” (aka inflation-adjusted) dollars. How did I do it? By assuming that stocks and dividends keep up with inflation which they typically do, but not actually inflating the numbers in the spreadsheet, it allows us to look at everything in 2022 dollars.

      The same thing happens with rental properties: you will tend to raise rents at roughly the rate of inflation, which means your income increases to match. The baseline value of the properties ALSO keeps up with rising prices (or slightly better if you have bought in a good area). But your mortgage payment remains fixed and anchored in 2022 dollars so it will feel cheaper and cheaper.

      Even better, but not accounted for in these spreadsheets: Dave’s free cashflow increases over the years. To keep things simple, I assumed he just stuffs this money under the mattress but in real life he would OF COURSE invest it in more and more index funds, which would create an even faster exponential snowball of wealth.

      • Jim Roegiers July 26, 2022, 9:59 am

        Thank you for the explanation! I greatly appreciate it.

  • Tim July 19, 2022, 8:38 am

    I left my engineering career five years ago and I don’t regret leaving early. I knew on the math I was tight since I was at a 4.5% withdrawal rate but you know what…I planned to do some kind of work in the retirement years. So now I’ve got a part time job at the library and I still don’t use most of my investment income anyway. Life is SO much better without full time work. I honestly think people are too conservative and if you are willing to put a little work into your post career life you can get out WAY sooner than you think. Good luck to everyone and see you all on the other side.

  • JK July 19, 2022, 9:09 am

    Great timing on this blog post.
    I’m 50 and have a net worth of $2.8M, down from a little over $3M before the latest market downturn. We own two homes that are paid off, 3 paid for cars and zero debt. Our expenses are a little over $5K a month but would drop drastically if we sold our main house and moved to our second home in a more rural place. Once we sell the main house, we would have roughly $2.3M in investments to live off of with about $1M in after tax funds with the rest in pre-tax accounts. On top of that, I can receive a $2100 pension at the age of 65 or $800 a month at 55 (if I resign before 55). Of course we also will receive social security.

    By any measure we could probably pull the trigger and retire but I have always managed our personal finances from a position of fear. This all started when I was young and watched my parents struggle to pay the bills. I can remember being 13 watching my mom sort through a stack of bills and decide which were the most important to pay. I can still recall the stress I felt at that young age. It had such an impact that I used to save up my paper checks (they were paper back then) to see how many I could accumulate before depositing them in the bank. This helped me feel in control.

    Fear is a real thing that some of us do a better job of dealing with than others. My dad died at age 67 and with my health, I think that’s a reasonable age to assume for me. I guess my goal is to face the fear and make a logical decision about the rest of my life.

    • JP July 19, 2022, 8:15 pm

      I get it. I’m around your same age and situation. But when I did the math, we aren’t going to run out of money. And anyway retiring from your job doesn’t mean you’ll never earn another dime through something! Don’t be that person that never gets to do all those things you want to do, or your health doesn’t hold up when you do get the time. You are like me and you just can’t pull that trigger, the time is never going to be exactly right. Just do it.

  • Ed July 19, 2022, 1:25 pm

    Sorry for the dumb question – long time reader, first time writer – when you say your friend “has about $2 million in investments” – do you mean total (i.e., 401(k), IRAs, Roth, and regular brokerage accounts)? Or do you mean only brokerage?

    I ask, b/c in my mind, I keep retirement accounts separate (b/c I can’t touch until I’m 60ish) from my brokerage/savings, which I would need to retire early.

    Thank you,


    • Mr. Money Mustache July 19, 2022, 1:35 pm

      Hi Ed, that’s a total figure across all accounts, but it doesn’t really matter how they are allocated – you should count ALL of it towards your retirement, even if you’re retiring early.

      Why? Because you can always prioritize using the taxable accounts first, then there are lots of other tricks for any in-between years, including penalty-free early withdrawals if it comes to that:


      • Sara March 27, 2024, 12:26 pm

        Just discovered your content and loving it. I’m from Canada. I’m in a position where I have maxed out my RRSP and TFSA in US ETFs and figuring out what kind of assets I should put in my non-registered USD account to minimize on taxes.

        You suggested to withdraw retirement income from a taxable account (aka non-registered account), but why?

  • Rob July 19, 2022, 4:12 pm

    Just pulled the trigger and quit my job as a corporate attorney this past week. I’m in my mid-30s. Moved the family from NYC back to Colorado earlier this year. I was guilty of this thinking in the past, but eventually got to a stage where I didn’t see the point of working in a job I didn’t like. For me it became very easy to pull the trigger when my annual expected investment returns started approaching my annual income from the job.

  • Matt July 19, 2022, 5:08 pm

    “If you’re still stuck in One More Year Limbo, what would it take to get you out of it?”

    A <3% mortgage would have done it for me. Any advice for those of us just now coming of age to buy a house in this market? Feels like we've been left behind in the recent equity run-up and subsequent rate spike. Without inflation-proofing my housing cost pulling the paycheck's plug seems far too risky.

    Currently sitting just under 1MM net worth @ 26, able to take advantage of SNAP and ACA subsidy if retirement income is managed correctly.

    • Derek July 21, 2022, 9:33 am

      You inflation-adjust your spending while looking at any projections, right? Well, if that spending includes rent, you’re automatically inflation adjusting it. Also, 1MM net worth means you have plenty to buy a house or condo in 95% of the US. There’s not a lot of great reasons to spend more than $200,000, since that level gets you a luxury Miami Beach condo with a view. And $400,000 can be used to buy a pay-for-itself Airbnb rental duplex.

      • Matt July 25, 2022, 1:20 am

        Inflation is ultimately destructive with respect to wealth. The longer an inflationary period goes on for, the weaker of a financial position someone without assets will find themselves in (assuming >$0 net worth). We are currently in a high-inflation period with an unknown end date, hence the increased risk.

        Also, I think you’re very off base on your housing cost assumptions. I suggest you take a peek at Redfin. The median Miami condo sale now sits at ~$500k. This is without filtering for “luxury”, “with a view”, or “by the beach”. Where did you get $200k from?

  • icalle July 19, 2022, 7:21 pm

    haha so I totally would have been a OMY camp if I checked the stock market situation before announcing my retirement to my boss earlier this year. I don’t check on it every month, this was pre-war in Ukraine and everything was running smoothly. I broke my news early to give my management plenty of time to make plans. Then mere weeks later the bad news started coming in: markets were down, a war started, inflation, gas prices… I was second-guessing my decision, but once you said something at work, you gotta stick to it. And the nerves calmed down over time, especially after reading someone’s point that if your math still makes sense when the markets are down 20%, then you are really set for retirement. Funny enough, people at work all marveled at my “gutsy” decision, but not a single person asked how I am doing it in my late 30s. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing of not being nosy :))

  • JP July 19, 2022, 8:04 pm

    Got laid off about 10 weeks ago. I can tell you, if you are even thinking about it, do it. Why on earth would I want to go back to that? The income thing is working itself out just fine so far, as MMM says. I have a couple of kids near college age, and there are other considerations, but trust me they can all be worked out. And no way do I want to be sitting around at 60 years old saying I can bike at Moab because my health isn’t up for it anymore. We may be perfectly healthy until 80, but there are no guarantees. My buddy dropped dead at 33. I’m not going to sacrifice the present for a promise d better life far in the future.

    • Derek July 21, 2022, 9:34 am

      Hey JP, Sorry about your loss. I had a good friend die recently at the same age, and it really put some of my longer-term priorities in order.

  • Chris B July 20, 2022, 6:49 am

    In my case, I went from being within $50k of a 4% retirement at age 43 to suddenly losing 3+ years of savings in the first half of 2022. Having FIRE within arm’s reach and then having it yanked away has hit like an unjust prison sentence. I’ve been grumpy, demoralized, and a bit obsessed ever since. The very positive idea of FIRE may have become a toxic thought for me. If I quit today, it would be at an unsafe 6.5% WR so that’s a no-g0.

    I’m trying to redirect myself toward productive outlets like cheap hobbies, the exploration of side gigs, exercise, etc. but instead find myself doing bargaining-stage things like checking market statistics and financial “news” for signs of a comeback.

    Any advice on getting FIRE out of my head?

    • Derek July 21, 2022, 9:37 am

      Given sequence of return risk, you’re more likely to succeed retiring now (in a market decline) than you were a year ago (at a market peak). Would you have preferred to lose 20% of your stash a few weeks after FIRE? Check out https://www.kitces.com/blog/should-equity-exposure-decrease-in-retirement-or-is-a-rising-equity-glidepath-actually-better/ for some thoughts on rising equity glide path.

      If you’re that close, why bother getting FIRE out of your head anyway? You could read MMM and Early Retirement Extreme, cut 10% off your spending, and choose a new “fun” job or side gig that would make up the 2.5% in withdrawal rate.

  • Servo July 20, 2022, 9:16 am

    Since I’ve found your blog and sans the biking thing I’ve done my best to follow the letter of the law, minimizing expense and maximizing income, I’ve gotten to roughly $400k in net worth, mostly in the last 2.5 years (at least $300k of it from investments, started at 97k in Jan 2020). However, with a spouse now who has an auto-immune disease, I have higher expenses in retirement than I planned for in my spreadsheet. We don’t own our own property yet because we were focused on income maximization, and renting in the PNW has afforded us a nicer place than buying would have (we’re not the type to rent rooms out of our own home, an in-law perhaps, but those are + $2M here).

    I’m not so much at the fear of not having enough once I leave my primary job, more the fear that my super conservative calculation for hitting our retirement number isn’t going to be accurate with the recession and inflation, and that our needed number with the increasing cost of healthcare way above the standard inflation rate, how are we going to manage that expense while we wait on Medicare?

    I would love to be in a position where I could hustle harder with properties and whatnot because we’re down to my income only now with the wife’s health issue, but most of our cash is in retirement vehicles and the expense to buy properties in WA is simply too high. I’m looking to see about shifting jobs, but that my existing company has a pension is really weighing on my decision – it might be too good to pass up. I hadn’t planned for that income in my assessment and an extra $2k a month in perpetuity along with SSI might be what I need to sustain the gap in my spreadsheet and reality.

    • Derek July 21, 2022, 9:40 am

      You should definitely take into account the SSI and/or pension and think of it as a bond. The book Lifecycle Investing does a good job explaining the concept.

      I’ve done Airbnb of rooms in my house, and other than the stress it caused my relationship with my then-wife, it was nothing but pleasant in terms of the guests and additional income.

      Realistically, you could move to any other area of the US and find an Airbnb-ready duplex, like the one described in the article, or you could move to a cheaper cost of living country. I’ve been in Mexico 2 years, and the healthcare is fantastic — a next-day appointment with a specialist was $65USD. A luxury 2 bedroom / 2 bath condo with a view is $100,000USD to buy or $600/month to rent.

      • Nathan August 17, 2022, 1:43 pm

        Derek, just curious, where are you living in Mexico? I’m considering FIREing relatively soon, and Mexico is on my short-list of places to check out for setting down roots.

  • Jordan W July 20, 2022, 10:01 am

    A job provides much more than money with regard to safety. It provides a safe structure, a schedule, a basic goal, easy socialisation etc… As an introvert with not much in term of hobbies, no kids and no desire to travel my main fear is what would I do with my life once I retire. I tried working part time hoping that the free time will fill itself up but it appears it was wishful thinking. I just spent more time on the internet and the like. This is a real struggle for me. I can quit but what for? (I am not depressed I just have a rather low drive).

    • Derek July 21, 2022, 9:41 am

      This is a common fear of work-aholics (especially the nervous type) that is almost never realized in real life, and you can check the forums or other FIRE blogs for evidence. Are you able to find something to do on weekends and vacations currently? Voila. Maybe you should quit because you only have X months of youth left!

      • Jordan W July 21, 2022, 1:53 pm

        I would not call myself either work-aholic or nervous. I think it is a more common problem than most people realize. There are numerous post in the MMM Forum about finding purposes, meaning, what to retire for etc… These might not be as visible as the others but they exist. It has even been showed in numerous studies that the risk of mortality increase significantly in the first year of retirement!

        The FIRE blogging community might be a bit biased as these people tend to be higher achieving individuals to begin with. For example the Frugalwoods have an homestead, a blog, rental units, 2 young kids, wrote a book etc…

  • Matt July 20, 2022, 1:47 pm

    At 30 years old I recently retired from my full time job as a police officer and just work part time now. I made sure I didn’t become a product of the one more year syndrome by taking on more of a Slow FI lifestyle. One thing that does still induce fear is the idea of a medical issue or emergency that my private healthcare plan wont cover well. I would say healthcare is the number one reason most people don’t leave their jobs based on fear of the unknown or facing bankruptcy from medical bills. It would be great if our country could reinvent a system where healthcare wasn’t tied to employment.

  • Rube July 20, 2022, 2:00 pm

    Great post. And I agree, which is why I will get my last paycheck end of this month at age 46!
    I believe we have enough in all reasonable worst-case scenarios and I already did the “one more year” for the last two years. At some point you need to take the decision it is enough and time is getting more important than more money.
    Now it is time to spend a year with the family and travel to various places around the world, learning new languages, do volunteer work and enjoy the freedom!

  • John July 20, 2022, 2:26 pm

    We’ve got 2.75M in investments.
    We own our 400k house outright.
    My wife FIRE’d 6 years ago. I just can’t seem to do it. Our yearly expenses including Health Insurance are around 60k.

    I have no idea what is wrong with me. I keep one-more-yearing because it just doesn’t feel safe to retire.
    On the bright side, I’m 100% work from home contract now. I’m on the ACA so we can get used to an HMO vs. the PPO we always had. This has been kind of a test year I guess.

    I keep thinking “now that I’m so expensive work will use me less” but they just keep giving me way more hours than I want and paying the invoices.

    maybe next year…

    • John Norris August 20, 2022, 1:55 pm

      John? That’s my name too! I retired in 2015 at age 57 with 0.15M in investments and zero property. My yearly expenses including rent and health insurance are about 33k. It helps that here in the UK health insurance is zero if you rely on the NHS. Which I do. Income from various pensions almost equals my spending.

      So, John, WTF are you waiting for???

  • Tim Vandehey July 20, 2022, 4:34 pm

    I’ve been taking a different path, one made necessary by the fact that my wife and I made some intemperate spending decisions in our past and I started saving for retirement late, but also enabled by my self-employment. My plan is, simply, to work until I hit my Required Minimum Distribution age of 72. Because, you see, I’ve been a freelance writer since 1995, and at 57, my career and earning power are hitting their peak right now. I ghostwrite books for people, and because of this I earn a great living, travel for my job, get published, and control my time (I just got back from nearly 3 weeks in California and Kauai). It’s work, but its awesome work that I’ll never stop doing, and it’s going to put us in a position in the next 3 years or so to pay off our house 15 years early, buy an income property, get rid of all debt, and diversify our investments. The other part of that plan is that while I plan to keep working, I plan to work LESS as my earning power grows. I guess my point is, if you love your work, instead of quitting it, dial it back. Work less. Get paid more if you can. There are a lot of ways to skin this cat, especially if you control your time. Time is EVERYTHING, the only commodity none of us can get more of.

    • John Norris August 20, 2022, 1:58 pm

      Tim, I retired at your age once my pension income equalled my spending (33k in today’s numbers).

    • Brian August 29, 2022, 11:54 am

      I generally think this website is a modern day version of “Walden” by Thoreau. Thoreau addresses this point early on and says this “Walden” is not for people who enjoy their work. In that case, there is no reason to quit. I later read his biography and found that Thoreau actually worked a lot after his Walden experiment but he was always doing things that interested him.

  • CitygirlGoesWild July 20, 2022, 4:37 pm

    Thank you so much for this article. You nailed it: it’s Fear vs Life. I retired a few years ago. Scary, I’m a cautious person. But you know, there’s nothing scarier than missing out on life. My finances are a little tight, but whenever I start to worry, I remind myself of the stress my corporate job used to cause me and how much I love living life on my own terms. For anyone debating to take the plunge: trust me, it’s worth it. Only one life to live.

  • Dean July 20, 2022, 4:40 pm

    Bravo! Excellent article! I’m retiring in 2 weeks at age 54. The thinking that prompted me to retire is much like the process in this article. I did the math, and realized that if I live to 102, I could spend more each month (and adjust for inflation) than I currently do without running out of money. I have several ‘back-ups’ in my plan to deal with potential worst-case scenarios. The bottom line was that it dawned on me I could work for 4 or 5 more years, and if I did, I would miss out on enjoying life with my wonderful partner for those years, just so I could die with more money in the bank.

    • Blake July 26, 2022, 2:27 pm

      It’s completely worth it Dean. I just retired in June and now have the time with my family to do things I never could have dreamed of when I was working. For instance, I moved to a small town in Colorado that doesn’t support the industry I worked in, and I get to be outdoors and see wildlife every day. I can now spontaneously plan a 5 day tour of southern Colorado for my wife’s birthday, which we are on right now!!


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