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The Paradox of Early Retirement

Tom Hendrickson May 10, 2015


At Dividend.com we talk a lot about building wealth over the long term by employing a consistent strategy of buying income producing stocks. What we will talk about today relates to the “why.” Where does this strategy take us, and why do we want to get there? What does “there” look like? Is it a point in time, a mentality, what is IT?


There was a great piece in the New York Times that I caught just a few weeks ago, despite being published back in early March, the full piece is found here

The upshot is this: successful people, by definition are driven, hungry, hard working and resourceful. All of these qualities combined provide a recipe to reach, in a strictly financial sense, the ability to retire earlier than average. The article focused on corporate titans, entertainers and pro athletes, but it applies to a lot of business people and corporate higher-ups, beyond Beyonce and Warren Buffett.

The make up in these individual types provides them with a certain financial prowess—allowing for retirement ahead of the average age, which is typically 60 – 65.


The Paradox


So the paradox is this: when you’re driven, hungry, hardworking and resourceful, you have a higher probability of being able to retire early. However, when you’re driven, hungry, hardworking and resourceful, you probably don’t want to.

So here’s the crux: what is “retirement” then?


Retirement is a State of Mind


For those who financially reach the point where they have the choice to work, I think that’s retirement. I think for more and more people it’s not a point in time, or a day. It’s less and less, one day you’re “not retired”, and the next day you “are”.

I’d propose for this group, that retirement is at best a mentality, and perhaps a mirage. For many, it doesn’t exist.

I can say with almost 100% certainty, I’ll never retire. Traditional retirement is a scary proposition for me. Less engagement, lesser or more trivial challenges, less team camaraderie. I love those things, giving them up seems as foreign as living on the moon.

Of course, we’re all wired differently, and that’s entirely OK.


The Point


My point is, why you’re looking to build wealth over the long-term is entirely a personal decisions and there is an entire spectrum of potential reasons, all of which have equal validity. However, I’d propose that for a lot of us, those of us who are disciplined, methodical, thoughtful, and hardworking at the craft of investing for the long-term, may very likely be headed to retirement as a mentality, as opposed to a point in time.

Heady stuff, but nice to pull our heads out of the weeds of earnings seasons, dividend increases or cuts and fundamental analysis and ask some ‘big’ questions.

If nothing else, I hope this gets you thinking about how you answer the “why”.

Have a great weekend and talk to you next week, valued members.

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