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D.Muthukrishnan (Muthu), Certified Financial Planner- Personal Financial Advisor

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Rethink early retirement

Posted by Muthu on December 3, 2014

Eight years ago, at the age of 34, I called myself retired. I decided never to work for an employer again. We had our own house, no debts and a financial corpus- if put to work was capable of meeting our expenses and also provide a small surplus for investment.

Why I wanted to retire was I hated my job and my boss. Boss can be changed by changing employment. What to do with the nature of the job? Though I had a successful career in BPO, my heart was not in the job. I longed to do something related to investment, equity and personal finance. The only job opening I would have got in this field would have been in sales. I felt that it’s very difficult to adhere to personal values and ethics if I work in a sales role in financial services industry.

Any sales job in financial services industry has steep target- which is in multiples of one’s salary. I was fine with selling. But I wanted to sell what is good for clients. I didn’t want to earn at the cost of clients. This was not possible in a sales role in financial services industry.

Please note that I’m not against selling. I’m only against mis-selling. I sell and would continue to sell what is good for you. I’ve aligned my interest with that of yours and would do nothing detrimental to your interest. What I am doing now, being a personal financial advisor using mutual funds to build and manage your wealth is my dream job.

I’m digressing and this piece is not about mis-selling. I chose to be on my own at 34 because I had no other way of doing what I wanted to do. I realise now that my intention was not to retire but to do what I wanted to do.

I see people saying that they want to retire in their thirties or forties. The longevity is increasing and many can hope to live till their eighties. What you would do for the rest of your life, which may be another 30 to 40 years after early retirement? Not doing anything meaningful for that long a time can be really killing! If you’ve find something which would utilise your time and energy well, then it’s fine. Otherwise doing nothing can be very boring and not exciting.

The right way is to aspire for financial independence as early as possible. This would ensure that you can do what you like. If you do not know what you like, at least you can avoid what you hate. Flexible work hours, spending more time with family, time for reading, time to focus on fitness etc. are some of the perks you gain from financial independence. As you would you’ve noted the crux is that you get better control of your time. If you know what to do with that time, it can be a blessing. Otherwise, having time and not knowing what to do can be a curse; a curse much worse than working longer hours.

So change the focus to early financial independence instead of early retirement. With financial independence, you are free to do what you like which also includes what you’ve been doing currently. Financial independence need not change you externally but it will bring a complete shift internally.

Personally, God willing, I would like to work for another 20 to 25 years. I like what I’m doing and enjoy every moment of it. I’m willing to evolve along with the market dynamics and changing regulatory environment. I’m willing to continuously learn and equip myself for the job I’m doing. Broadly, I want be in personal finance helping people build and manage their wealth through simple and effective tools like mutual funds.

Now I’ve no intention of retiring early. In my early days, I confused financial independence with retirement. Now I’m clear! The idea of writing this piece along with my personal story is that I see many getting confused with financial independence and retirement. Early retirement can be a curse for many. But early financial independence can be a blessing for all.

So don’t aspire to retire early. Instead aspire to achieve financial independence as early as possible. With this, ability to have control your time would automatically happen. Having control over your time is as important as having money. Once you reach that stage, then you can decide what to do with your life; more importantly what not to do with your life.

All the best.

3 Responses to “Rethink early retirement”

  1. Shivprakash said

    Wow! What an article .. Mind blowing . thanks for sharing wisdom

  2. Murty said

    That’s very interesting. So, you had freedom for the past 8 years. We would like to know your financial model for living. What would you get out of writing this blog?
    No doubt, you had your own home, before starting this blog…

  3. srinivas said

    Excellent article. I read it on fundsindia. I really enjoyed the way you presented the contrast between independence and retirement. Maybe you can write another article giving baby steps on how to become independent.

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