Is it ever too late to retire early?

Too late for financial freedom?

 

First post.

This blog is going to be about early retirement. Financial freedom. F.I.R.E. (Financial Independence, Retire Early). Earning more, spending less. Savings. Investments, maybe. I’ll write about all that later. 

I suppose I should share details of my net worth. My history. Life, work, earnings, savings so far. Income and expense reports. Spreadsheets. That’s how it’s done. 

I’ll come back to that later too (if I’m honest I only have a vague idea of my numbers right now anyway). Before I start worrying about the nitty gritty I need to ask myself a question.

Have I left it too late to retire early?

My situation (roughly):

  • Late 30s
  • Mortgage with partner – reasonable LTV on a £130k house
  • Self employed – income varies but it’s not high.
  • Pension – I have a tiny amount in a scheme from my early 20s. 
  • Savings – under £20k
  • Debts – mortgage and student loan.

I realise that this is all very vague; I need to look more closely and figure out the details asap. But it seems that I am a long, long way from financial freedom and starting out late.

Is there still time to turn this around?  

The honest answer is – I don’t know. I have read FI blogs about people who started their FIRE plan at my age and later and made it. They investigated their assets and found themselves in possession of large amounts of equity and huge pension pots. They cut Sky TV and reduced their phone plans and car payments and frivolous spending and stashed away huge monthly chunks of their high five or six figure salary for a few years until they were free.

I see people starting on this journey in their twenties and I can see how much better is would have been to have started then. I also see those who have worked so hard to increase their earnings and are now reaping the well-earned rewards – not by ‘treating’ themselves but by stashing their excess money hard and fast. 

I love reading these stories; they’re inspirational fascinating and full of clever financial planning and positive thinking. (I think that’s what I enjoy most about FIRE planners – the can-do attitude and willingness to take charge. I’m not a big fan of ‘I can’t’ when it really means ‘I won’t’). 

And then I wonder about the rest of us – those who didn’t start early and have not built up a well-paid career. No big pension, little or no home equity, lower than average earnings, commitments, debts. What about them? What about me?

Can we still achieve financial freedom and early retirement?

Well, yes, of course we can. A 50% savings rate (that’s 50% of your income in savings every month) leads to FIRE in less than 17 years. Starting at 40 still brings FIRE to well below the state pension age. I can do 50%. Maybe. And many people seem to find they save more and need less that initial calculations suggest so that age might reduce further.

However, I have to be honest here – the idea of retiring in my mid fifties still doesn’t sound that amazing to me. The truth is that I don’t want to wait that long. It feels far away (though I probably felt the same about 40 when I was in my mid twenties). I want to do things that I’ve already put off for too long. Live life. So I’m going to have to get creative.

I can’t be make myself younger (if I could I think money worries would be a thing of the past!) so I’m going to work on the rest. That’s what this blog will be about.

I’m lucky, really. And I might be nowhere near FI but I’m in a great position to start.

I don’t have a good career or a well paid job, but I do have the freedom to work when and where I like. I can learn new things. I’m in charge of my earnings, and my future earnings. I don’t have huge equity but I do have a low-interest mortgage. I don’t have a lot of overspending to cut back on but I also don’t have bad debt, or huge financial commitments. Really, I have a great deal of freedom and choice. 

I’ll be figuring out the figures and assessing my finances in future posts. For now, hello and welcome to my blog.

4 Responses to “Is it ever too late to retire early?”

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  1. Ms ZiYou says:

    Hi – welcome to the UK FIRE blogging world.

    I’d say it’s never too late to start. Moreover, you can’t change the past but you can influence the future. And once you start diving in and trying things you’ll be able to find the right balance for you.

    Maybe that’s retiring at 55. Or perhaps you concentrate on increasing income to make 50. Or work more hours. Or take in a lodger. There are so many levers out there, and you are free to try them all and keep those that work for you.

    • ThisTime says:

      Thank you for the welcome MsZiYou. I love your blog – it’s a recent discovery for me so I’ve been reading through it slowly.

      You’re right about there being so many levers to try (I really like that way of putting it). I have plenty of ideas and I’m always trying new things so I don’t know if I’ll get ‘there’ but I’ll definitely get somewhere!

  2. weenie says:

    Hello

    Great to see another UK FI blog.

    I’d say it’s never too late – I didn’t come across FIRE until my mid-40s.

    I’m still not 100% certain that I will ever achieve full FI (there are different definitions) but I’m in a far better financial situation already now, than if I had never started on the path to FI so even if I couldn’t retire early, at least I’d have a more comfortable retirement.

    You already have a great deal of control over your work and earnings, something I don’t have.

    I look forward to reading more your plans and following your progress!

    • ThisTime says:

      Hello weenie, thank so much for commenting! Your progress reports are so inspiring – it’s really great to follow other people who have started in their 30s and 40s. I don’t know about full FI either but you’re right – something is certainly better than nothing and part-way is better than not starting at all!