Lessons from Early Retirees

Thomas Morris

Early retirement, investments … how is this at all relevant to a marine blog? And where does environmentally conscious living and a frugal lifestyle fit into this picture? Read on to find out…

Photo: Thomas Morris @ulti_moose

Photo: Thomas Morris @ulti_moose

I remember finishing high school, and thinking “where to next?” Feeling the pressure from my father to choose a path of “commercial relevance”. I felt lost, as engineering, or medicine, or business was of zero interest to me. And, it is well known that careers in biological sciences don’t make “top earners” lists. And quite frankly, “passion for the ocean” doesn’t pay the bills.

But, honestly, if you find you have a passion for the environment, certain qualities are pretty common amongst us. Tenacity. Ambition. Imagination. Hard work. These qualities often allow people with these interests to survive by finding some unique niches in this world (for examples see our “into the industry” articles). So, has that feeling of being lost from 10 years ago subsided? Not quite. But as #adulting becomes ever more relatable, how do I pay the bills and secure my future, while still living, eating and breathing my passion?

After doing a bit of research, I stumbled on an interesting new phenomenon; Early retirement. When early retirees leave high school, they get a degree in a high paying technological field (like software or app development). These people then work incredibly hard for 10-15 years earning what is considered a decent salary and saving approximately 70-80 % of this income … then retiring on that “stash” in their early 30’s. This gives them time to then enjoy life, build a family, travel and follow their interests in a full time capacity.

While working, these individuals live an incredibly frugal lifestyle. Finding cheap accommodation (e.g.: flat/house sharing, living with parents, motor homes), limiting or cutting any extraneous expenditure (e.g.: going out, buying new cars/clothing, travel, food) and finding deals where ever they can (e.g.: shopping at farmers markets, only buying during sales or in bulk). All extra funds either pay off debt as quickly as possible or get stashed away in various investment accounts that earn an average interest of 8 %, often more.

Ok, I admit, I have certain reservations about this. 10-15 years doing something I’m not interested in, living a bland lifestyle with no “fun” or experiences in the prime of my life. It sounds completely ridiculous. What kind of person would I be after that experience? Working as a cog in the greater corporate world. That must impact you in some way? Mentally? Physically?

However, as a child I remember having to suffer through my vegetables to get to the more delicious pieces of food on my plate, and the absolute paradise those moments were when I knew the worst was behind me and the next few bites were going to be pure bliss. That same feeling of bliss entices me to at least consider the above lifestyle.

So, let’s break it down. By living a considerably simplified existence; by reducing your possessions, changing small aspects of your lifestyle and overly analysing every monetary expense, you could drastically increase your savings. If these savings are then invested intelligently, they could work for you in securing a future while living your passion.

Take for example, investing in a bicycle. I purchased a second-hand bicycle and have been using it to travel to work. Normally I would have taken the bus, but within 2 months, I saved enough on unused bus fair to make back the purchase on the bike, and in the last 4 months I have saved a considerable amount of money … that will probably assist in paying for the second year of my PhD. Not only have I saved money, I have reduced my carbon footprint by not utilizing vehicles. I’m also so much fitter and exercise is known to improve state of mind considerably. It’s a win-win for me, the environment and my savings account … not to mention the security in knowing I can continue with my passion.

My secondhand bicycle that’s done so much more than get me to work. Photo: @ULTI_MOOSE

My secondhand bicycle that’s done so much more than get me to work. Photo: @ULTI_MOOSE

If we take our tenacity, ambition, imagination and hard work and apply it to our everyday lives in reducing our impact environmentally while benefitting our pockets and bodies, we can incorporate our passions into our lives more completely as we’ll have the little bit of extra funds to do the things that we are passionate about.

There are thousands of adjustments (like buying a bicycle) that have considerable impacts on your life. Leave a comment on our social media sites or on this article letting us know what your adjustments have been.