- His story of deciding to retire at 41
- What his life is like now 3+years later
- What he knows now that he wishes he knew then
- What he’s learned about priorities, uncertainty, and change
- The pros and cons of semi-retirement as an option
- How the FIRE movement is evolving in the pandemic
- His book Choose FI – and the experience of writing it.
- Advice on an early retirement plan
On Life in Early Retirement
“Day-to-day life, it really couldn’t be any different. So we were living in this small town in Pennsylvania. Now we live in a ski town in Utah. Back then I was working a 40 plus hour week with a commute a half hour each way. Now, I still do some work. I write the blog and I’ve written a book since I left. So, I do some work, but it’s really all on my schedule because we live in a ski town. So in the winter, we ski four or five, sometimes six days a week. And in the summer I’m out hiking, mountain biking, doing things kind of every day. And, my family and I, we kind of fit work in around life. Whereas before I felt like we were just kind of always trying to squeeze life in wherever we could around our work schedules. So, from that perspective, it’s, it really couldn’t be much different.”
On What He Knows Now That He Wish He Knew Then
“I was certainly writing about the softer side of retirement, like purpose and meaning and structure, and all these things that we’re talking about. But I kind of wish I would’ve spent even more time on that part because I think the financial part gets a lot of the emphasis in retirement planning. There’s a lot of stuff you can’t know as far as like future market returns and interest rates and inflation and all that stuff. But you know, you can kind of play in and have contingencies. But, I just found that there’s just not a lot of information [about the softer side of retirement] I think it’s very individual for everybody on how you’re going to adapt and adjust and find purpose and meaning – and find that structure. Everybody’s a little bit different and I wish I would have focused maybe even a little bit more on that – or at least maybe had a little more grace for myself, as far as like having a little bit less expectations for retirement and just kind of going with the flow a little bit more.”
On Risks and Mitigation in an Early Retirement Plan
“I think a lot of times you can mitigate those risks. And another strategy that I kind of use is just taking little bite-sized steps…on something like retirement, which is so overwhelming. And so, doing something like semi-retiring and doing something like my wife dropping down to part-time work. We still made some massive changes. I let my license go. I’m not a physical therapist anymore. We moved across the country. Those are…kind of one-way decisions. But we also gave ourselves a lot of Slack and leeway, just by making more moderate and gradual changes in other areas. I mentioned how I love being in the mountains and I rock climb and I’d done high-altitude mountaineering and I’m a skier. And I think people look at that as this high-risk thing. But I think when you’re doing those types of activities, it really teaches you risk management and risk mitigation. And there’s a quote I love: “Getting to the top is optional and getting down is mandatory.” And it kind of just reinforces that whole idea of risk management and remembering what is most important – and what things can you not afford to lose. And then you can mitigate those risks – and you know the Mountain is always there. You can always go back to it, but your life? You only get one time.”
Chris Mamula regularly writes about financial independence while expanding the conversation around what retirement is and can be at CanIRetireYet.com. His articles have been featured on MarketWatch, DoughRoller, and Business Insider.
He achieved financial independence and retired from his physical therapy career in 2017, at the age of 41. In addition to writing, he now focuses on being a dedicated husband, stay-at-home dad, and dirtbag/ski-bum depending on the season at his home in the mountains of Utah.
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