One of the first things I learned from early retirees was as long as they remained frugal and practically gave up spending money foolishly, they could remain retired. But what kind of retirement do they have? They travel but they stay in hostels or couch surf. They own homes but they’re small. They eat well but they limit their food choice. Some have their own gardens or chickens or whatever. They wear clothes but shun fashion. They furnish their abodes but pray at the altar of minimalism. They drive cars but they’re old clunkers. Better yet, they ride their bicycles back and fro.
I ask you………is that the kind of retirement lifestyle you want? It may work for the young but will it work in your 60s, 70s and 80s. I can’t envision myself trekking through Australia, lugging a back pack, chomping on field nuts and limiting my AirB&B spending quota to just $50 a day. First off, my legs hurt, my back hurts, I’m not as strong as I used to be and I like to take two naps a day. In other words, I don’t want a FIRE retirement. I want a good old-fashioned, take-it-easy, luxurious retirement as per my retirement coffers will allow.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if you spend lavishly in retirement without having the cash to back up the lifestyle, you’ll go broke in no time. The secret to a successful retirement, IMHO, is to try to envision what kind of retirement lifestyle you want and then aim towards that goal. I personally am very happy living on a $25,000 to $30,000 lifestyle provided its a debt-free lifestyle. If I were burdened down with a mortgage, car payments, equity lines of credit and maxed out credit cards I’d need a hellava lot more money than what I projected. In my case, saving and leaning towards a higher annual retirement income lifestyle was nearly impossible. This was the biggest adjustment I had to make in my retirement planning. I had to face my own truth. I had to adjust to my own reality. Retirement money management is a constant balancing act for me because I know how darn well fast and quick one can fall of the wagon and lose.
There’s only one person in your circle of friends that you want to impress with your retirement lifestyle. You look at that person each and every morning when you get out of bed, ramble to the bathroom and stare into the mirror. It’s you. You want to impress yourself, pat yourself on the back and tell yourself you’re doing good. That’s because you chose your retirement lifestyle long before anyone else thought about such things. You’re not going to play the blame game. Instead you’re going to learn how to make the best of what you’ve been given, spruce up what you’ve chosen and radiate your best foot forward.
To quote Steve Adcock, a succesful and well grounded early retiree (IMHO), who blogs over at Think,Save,Retire, lifestyle affects your retirement stability:
My rationale was simple: it is a person’s lifestyle that ultimately determines how long he or she can survive without a full-time job post-retirement. Meaning, a more frugal lifestyle will generally enable earlier retirement than a less frugal lifestyle, regardless of income. A person’s “fitness” is his or her ability to retire based on savings and spending post-retirement. The problem is a person’s level of savings is only half of the early retirement equation. The other half is dictated by our spending and how quickly we use our savings after we finally decide to retire. Lifestyle is a big factor in completing this equation.
If you want a successful retirement, regardless of what your ability to save or have saved was, retirement lifestyle is the key. “the less money that we spend (both before and after retirement), the easier this whole early retirement thing will ultimately be – regardless of your income or savings”. Steve Adcock.