–Written by Cel
Several months ago, we were approached by a couple that runs a YouTube channel called Exploring Alternatives. Their channel is about Canadians who have “alternative lifestyles”: people who are “living in small spaces like tiny houses, vans, RVs, sailboats, and who are exploring long-term travel, minimalism, zero waste living, renewable energy, and much more. ”
As we are frugal, relatively minimalist, and are shooting for early retirement, they wanted to do a video about us, which we happily agreed to. It took a while for it to be filmed, edited, and ready for publication, but it came out earlier this month. Here is the link to the video, which is about 9.5 minutes long.
We are pretty happy with how the video turned out! Except for the part where it looks like my pants zipper is unzipped. I’m not certain, but I’m about 70% sure it actually was zipped and it just looks like it wasn’t (those pants have a bad tendency to bunch up and look like they’re unzipped sometimes).
The parts with the cooking turned out well, as did the grocery shopping background shots. One of the employees at Sunrise Market even watched the video and recognized us the other day!
We got a lot of positive responses, including some couples from other places who contacted us to tell us about how they saw a lot of their own lifestyle in our story (dual income, frugal, minimalist, travelling, etc.) Of course, there was also some negative feedback. Disregarding the outright trolls who just called us ugly and such, the naysayers tended to bring up these issues:
There’s no point in retiring early if you have a boring, miserable life.
Seeing this kind of statement makes me pity the person who says it. Anyone who says this is unable to imagine having fun or doing things that are fulfilling, without spending a lot of money. Going for a hike or a bike ride costs hardly anything. Reading a book is cheap or free (if you get it at the library). Hanging out with some friends at your place or theirs for some food/drinks/games is very cheap. Even video games can be cheap. That doesn’t mean you have to have no hobbies that cost money. We spend almost $10K a year on travel, for example. But it does mean that you can’t have all your hobbies be expensive ones.
The point isn’t to sacrifice now so you can retire. The point is to set up the life you want to live now, and then figure out how much you need to make that happen. We personally don’t like alcohol, so we don’t buy it. But if we did, we’d be buying it now rather than sacrificing it now just so we can retire and then start buying alcohol.
Why would you want to waste your life by retiring at 35?
Retiring early doesn’t mean you have to sit around and watch TV. It just means that you aren’t chained down to a job that you probably dislike (or at best, tolerate) in order to pay the bills.
Think about it – how many people do you know would continue working at their jobs if they weren’t being paid (but they had also won the lottery, meaning that money wasn’t a concern and they could do whatever they wanted)? Maybe for some people, the answer is yes, especially if you work a “passion” job like artist, musician, etc. But for almost everyone else? The answer is no.
Ever wanted to become a writer, but didn’t have the time because you had a full-time job and other responsibilities? Now you can – and it doesn’t matter if your writing only brings in $100 a month (or ten dollars, or zero dollars), because you’re already retired.
Ever wanted to join a cultural organization and learn a new language, but didn’t have the time? Now you do.
Ever wanted to volunteer to help out a cause you’re passionate in, but didn’t have the time or energy? Now you do.
You make a lot of money, and it’s not possible to retire early if you make an average income.
It seems like a lot of people are ignorant about what an average income actually is. We make around 80K a year combined for two people. The average income for Canadians 25-34 years old (our age range) was $44K, in 2017. And of course, we live in Vancouver, which is a relatively high cost of living area by Canadian standards.
This would be impossible in America, which doesn’t have free healthcare.
While healthcare is an issue, American salaries and cost of living tends to be more favourable than Canada – particularly compared to Vancouver specifically. There are many Americans who have attained FIRE, and not all of them are earning six figures. If you are unlucky and have a major illness or accident and need to pay a lot of money for it in America, then yes, you probably won’t be able to retire early. But for the majority of people who are not that unlucky, it’s still achievable.
This would be impossible with kids.
Having kids costs some money, but it doesn’t make ER impossible. It might mean that you retire at 45 instead of 35, but that’s still a lot better than normal.
Off the top of my head, here are a few examples of Canadians that have retired early with kids:
At the end of the day, there’s an almost infinite amount of objections that a person could raise. But the fact is, becoming FI and retiring early is possible, and people from all walks of life and in a variety of circumstances have done it. Yes, if you’re a paraplegic high school dropout with no real skills, it’ll be very difficult if not impossible to retire early. Most likely that isn’t the case for you though. So instead of focusing on why you can’t do something, you should be thinking about how you can do it. Odds are, there is a way. You just need to look for it.