Frugal Living: Is Early Retirement Actually Selfish?

Free Photos: Möhnesee sauerland germany water see landscape | Adrian Pescar

Hello, everyone! I trust that everyone had a happy New Year’s! Today I wanted to talk about the whether or not early retirement is selfish. I was at my side job at good old Jimmy John’s yesterday and most everyone I work with there are 21 years old and younger. But there are 2-3 other people that are managers that I’d say are in their mid to late-40s. Anyway, as you can probably guess, since I’m new, everyone wants to get to know me (and vice versa) to develop that comradery, so naturally, they have lots of questions.

One of the questions that I get a lot is, “why are you working here? You have a masters degree and what sounds like a pretty sweet job that pays well.” Every time I’m asked that, I always talk about wanting to save extra money so that I can potentially retire even earlier than I already have planned. Now, as you can imagine, the people younger than 21 generally don’t really have a concept of saving for retirement so their responses are normally along the lines of “cool” and then they’re onto the next question. Oh, how I wish they were a little more interested in that particular subject! I’d love to discuss the information I have with them to also get them in the right direction for their eventual retirement as well! But so far, that’s not how the conversation has gone with the younger crowd.

Now, the older crowd of managers that have also asked me the same question about why I’m working there have definitely responded to my goals of early retirement! However, it’s not with the usual skepticism that I’m used to. It’s not with the “you’re crazy! Early retirement is a pipe dream” response I’ve grown accustomed to either. Their response was both refreshing and thought provoking. One of the managers responded to my early retirement goals with, “don’t you feel like you’re being a bit selfish with your goals? Why wouldn’t you want to be a productive member of society?”

Despite how refreshing the new reaction to my goals was, it sort of set me on the defensive at first. I didn’t realize that not working after having saved enough to make my own way for the remainder of my life would be considered not being a productive member of society. I honestly didn’t have a well thought out rebuttal to his reaction. The only response I could ascertain at time was, “how is no longer getting paid for a service I won’t be providing selfish? How does that make me a non-productive member of society?” Honestly, things started getting busier around the store and I had to go on a few deliveries and by the time I had gotten back into the store the conversation had dissolved enough to where it was no longer important to the other parties involved. But it nagged at me the rest of my shift yesterday and all night. So I decided to write about it to organize my thoughts on the subject.

Free Photos: Railway track in Sverdlovsk Russia | pixabay
All aboard for the early retirement train!

So is early retirement actually selfish? I’ve decided it is and it isn’t. It is because you’re considering your own future and not the company or companies you would be contributing to had you not retired early. Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this. You’ve saved your way and you’re not mooching off of anyone if you’re doing early retirement right. Quite frankly, this is the only argument I could really muster in my thinking in the last day that could honestly say that early retirement is selfish. I’ve found a few more reasons why early retirement ISN’T selfish though!

So I don’t think it’s selfish for several reasons. 1. You’re no longer selling your time. You’re not working and you’re not expecting some company to pay you for work you didn’t do. 2. You did your time and now it’s your turn to do whatever you want. You don’t owe anyone anything and they don’t owe you anything. 3. Who says you wouldn’t still be a productive member of society after you retire? Volunteering is still a possibility but not a mandatory clause in the scope of early retirement. 4. There are some things that no matter how frugal you are, you’re still going to be a consumer of. If you’re paying your own way and still a consumer of certain things, how are you not being productive? 5. I honestly believe it is SELFISH to NOT retire early if you have the means to do so.

Those are my main reason for early retirement not being selfish. But number 5 probably surprised you a bit. Let’s talk about why I think it is selfish to not retire early if you have the means to do so. First off, I’m sure most young millennials these days have experienced the catch 22 when searching for jobs. There are job advertisements for ENTRY LEVEL positions that require 3-5 years of experience. You can’t get the job because you don’t have the experience. It’s ridiculous! So well-educated people that trained for a particular field are sometimes stuck working menial jobs that will literally lead to nowhere because their field is saturated with people that were hired in when the job experience expectations weren’t as high simply because there used to be a shortage of qualified people.

Then there are the people that have been at a company literally forever making it difficult for people younger to move up the promotional ladder because the positions just aren’t available. I can only sympathize with these types of people if they legitimately haven’t saved enough for retirement. I can’t sympathize with people that work for no other reason than they’ll be bored if they don’t work or continue to work “just because.” These are the people that are keeping the experience demand so high for entry level positions thus making it difficult for the younger generations to break into their field of study. These are the people that have the ability to help lower the unemployment rate. Frankly, these are the people that are doing a major disservice to society. And this is why I think it is selfish not to retire early if you have the means to.

This post turned into more of a rant than I intended for it to but I think you get the general idea of what your rebuttals can be if someone calls you selfish for wanting to retire early. It’s not selfish and you’ll still be a productive member of society even after you retire early! Keep your head up and stay strong against the nay-sayers!

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