By August 8, 2007

Retire by forty?

When my father was a child, he was given three choices on what he could be when he grew up: a banker, a lawyer, or a doctor. “I want to be a cowboy, or a firefighter,” he said. “No, son. A banker, a lawyer, or a doctor.” My father chose the first option, earned his MBA, and then took a consulting job with one of the Big Five (before they were the Big Five, which was before whatever they are calling themselves now) doing consulting for banking computers in emerging Latin American markets. He was very successful, but it took its toll on his marriage to his high school sweetheart and three children. My father’s wife begged him to change jobs and stay at home more. He needed the money to support the family. Basically, he left for another rotation and came home to a divorce. I am convinced they still love each other to this day, but just couldn’t get what they needed from each other.

When I was a child, I was helping my father at a historical building he was renovating for office space. He had quit consulting work, bought and sold a bank, and was now trying to something more material, something he could step away from at the end of the day and say, “I did this.” Anyway, he asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. “I dunno, dad,” I said. “A stormtrooper, maybe.” Actually, I have no idea what I said, but I just remember his response. “Be whatever you want to be, just be great at it.”

I fell into Internet development. I was in the right place at the right time and made an easy transition from digital publishing to online content generation and Web site development. I never would have guessed that instead of being an Imperial soldier I would be building Web sites and proselytizing usability. At any rate, at the end of my twelfth year, I have to wonder, “what am I going to do for the next dozen years?” Captain, sorry if you’re reading this, but it probably won’t be what I’m doing now.

This fall, I am going to be debt-free this fall (except for the house) for the first time in six years. Without children or a wife to support like my father, I am afforded more flexibility in what I want to do, and to the extent of which I do it. I am going to turn thirty-two this month. With any luck, by the time I turn forty I’ll be able to work because I want to, not because I have to.

All of last year I consolidated my consumer debt. This year I intend to sock away a great deal of cash; hopefully the year after I can start investing, and so on. Keep your fingers crossed, and hopefully I won’t cave and buy a fleet of cars instead. 🙂

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2 Comments on "Retire by forty?"

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  1. Ed says:

    Assuming salary of around 120K (because any of my buddies better make that much), after taxes of around 78K. Assuming normal expenses (including mortgage) of around 4K per month. Net remaining – 30K per year.

    8 years investing – 240K. Assumed growth of income stream of 30K per year over 8 years at growth of 8% that leaves you approx 335K.

    If you save 40K per year instead – 446K

  2. Configuratrix says:

    Good for your dad (his response to you), and good for you, for approaching consumer-debt freedom!