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Retiring Early Is Un-American

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Tim Iacono via The Mess That Greenspan Made blog,

It wasn’t immediately clear that the usage of the word “Un-American” in the title above was appropriate, that is, until reading this definition at Wikipedia:

Un-American is a pejorative term of U.S. political discourse which is applied to people or institutions in the United States seen as deviating from what are widely perceived to be fundamental American cultural and political values

Now, there are clearly no politics involved here. Rather, it is the deviation from well established cultural values, namely, ratcheting up your lifestyle at least as fast as your income rises, that makes those who choose to spend much less than they earn during their working years a candidate for retiring early as detailed in this USA Today story.

As with most journeys, retiring early starts with a few simple steps, the most important being this: You have to calculate - there’s no getting around it, really - how much you’ll need to fund your lifestyle for as long as you (and your partner) will live. This won’t be easy because you don’t know just how long that will be.


But what you do know is this: Retiring early means calculating more years into the equation - say, 30 instead of 20. For the average American household, that could mean saving an extra $400,000 or so on top of what you might already need for a traditional retirement plan.


Once you know your “number,” there are only two other steps to commit to memory: Start saving and stop spending. Put another way: Live not just within your means, but well below, says Rick Miller, president of Sensible Financial Planning in Waltham, Mass.

Living “well below” your means really is un-American – it goes against the fundamental American cultural values of consumerism and debt.

I’ve often said that a large part of the U.S. economy is driven by people buying things they don’t need with money they don’t have and, while some may point to that as being a great post-World War II success story, it results in millions upon millions of people who might never be able to call it quits as part of the traditional work force.


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Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:15 | 5061175 Oldwood
Oldwood's picture

Of course that number is changing. Soon below your means will mean below the ground, as in dead and buried. There is a base level of "means" required to sustain life.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:20 | 5061204 Vampyroteuthis ...
Vampyroteuthis infernalis's picture

Mmmm, I will never get the chance to retire since there is nothing left to build a retirement nest egg. Does that make me a good American?

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:25 | 5061226 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

Stop yer whining.   

If  go massively into debt like my generation did  you can have all the wealth in the world.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:47 | 5061326 MillionDollarBogus_
MillionDollarBogus_'s picture

If more folks lived withing their means, and debt was paid off, sites like ZH would have nothing to report, and would go away........

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:53 | 5061346 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

Dying early is totally acceptable, though.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:57 | 5061360 666
666's picture

I'm very un-American. My rule in life was never get into debt and always put something away in savings with each paycheck, no matter how small. Because of this, I'm now retired with few worthless possessions (aka junk), a roof over my head, food in my pantry, bullets in my ammo can, etc.

Oh, I'm also very un-American because I absolutely despise our current government.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:04 | 5061406 Omen IV
Omen IV's picture

nonsense there would always be fresh hate Putin to report 

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:25 | 5061227 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture


Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:36 | 5061272 Meat Hammer
Meat Hammer's picture

If I go into $50,000 worth of credit card debt, which I don't plan to pay back, in order to buy PM's, what does that make me?

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:39 | 5061284 BKbroiler
BKbroiler's picture

smarter than the company that granted you the card.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:39 | 5061287 McMolotov
McMolotov's picture

Someone with a boating accident and some pissed off creditors in his future.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:45 | 5061308 Meat Hammer
Meat Hammer's picture

Ooh, I should charge me a boat, too!  I-I-I mean, I need more debt for a reason to keep working and be more 'Merican. 

Thanks, McM!

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 20:25 | 5062203 Keyser
Keyser's picture

That's a good little lemming, now back to work or no soup for you!!!!


Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:13 | 5061429 pakled
pakled's picture

It would seem to make you bulletproof to the 'un-American' charge.


Can't possibly be accused of living under your means.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 21:07 | 5062431 layman_please
layman_please's picture

with that you would expanded US money supply by $50,000. looks like a work of a central banker or a government official.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 23:29 | 5063244 AGuy
AGuy's picture

A long vacation in debtor's prison? At least you have a three meals and a roof over your head with top notch security.




Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:15 | 5061178 Honey Badger
Honey Badger's picture

Have more than you show, speak less than you know.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:37 | 5061277 Meat Hammer
Meat Hammer's picture

Great fucking quote!

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:45 | 5061310 mtndds
mtndds's picture

Brillant quote!!

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:01 | 5061380 himaroid
himaroid's picture

I think I'll make some labels to stick on all my whiskey bottles.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:17 | 5061186 Loucleve
Loucleve's picture

The Four R’s:
Rejection:   Quit paying, quit obeying, quit playing
Revolution:   It is inevitable, so prepare, as they are.
Retribution:   The guilty must answer for their crimes against the American people and the Constitution.
Restoration:   Restore the American people, country and Constitutional republic

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:27 | 5061235 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

You left out Redistribution.  

You ARE going to take the loot of the rich people who are "guilty (and) must answer for their crimes against the American people and the Constitution" and then give it to the Liberatians.  Right?

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:32 | 5061249 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

What should one do with the ill-gotten goods that criminals have gotten through theft and fraud? Serious question? Personally I think this one issue could tear apart the entire system without a revolution if the so called laws were actually enforced.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 20:35 | 5062262 Not Goldman Sachs
Not Goldman Sachs's picture

IF...not gonna happen..

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 07:36 | 5064109 skipjack
skipjack's picture

It's mostly paper wealth. When the system dies, so will their wealth.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 19:12 | 5061751 VegasBob
VegasBob's picture

I'd love to throw my hat in the ring for the retribution phase.

There are plenty of criminals out there who need to be on the receiving end of harsh, traditional justice: Greenspan, Bernanke, Blankfein, Dimon, Mozilo, etc. etc. etc.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 20:32 | 5062242 freedogger
freedogger's picture

That's one way to retire.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:16 | 5061187 syntaxterror
syntaxterror's picture

Retiring early means getting the entire Obolo Handout Lifetime Welfare Package.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:18 | 5061194 Rainman
Rainman's picture

Fuck saving ... gubmint will give you all you need and deserve .

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:23 | 5061219 negative rates
negative rates's picture

A gvt big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:23 | 5061211 q99x2
q99x2's picture

I don't know where these people get all their crazy ideas. I haven't worked for 20 years and I'm going to college. By the time I get my Ph.D. I'll be past retirement age. 

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:54 | 5061349 RaceToTheBottom
RaceToTheBottom's picture

Your mind should never retire, at least before 45 minutes after you are dead.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:22 | 5061213 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

A few more years and the young people will be paying through the nose for MY unlimited hip-replacement surgeries too!


YEAH,  stop yer whining,  I'm ENTITLED too all the OldFart non-socialist free non-obama health care I can consume because I EARNED that!   

LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT you lazy worthless Gen-X'er,   I've got a cruise boat to catch!  

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:25 | 5061222 negative rates
negative rates's picture

You are aware that all those boats don't come back, right?

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:22 | 5061215 SWCroaker
SWCroaker's picture

"Stupid" is another pejorative term that can be applied to those who think saving is "Un-American".   Two clubs I don't *want* membership in...

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:25 | 5061225 August
August's picture

>>>For the average American household, that could mean saving an extra $400,000 or so....

Now that is a real knee-slapper.  An extra $400,000 in savings... for the average household.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:26 | 5061230 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Now I know why they call it a 401k.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:36 | 5061273 Bumbu Sauce
Bumbu Sauce's picture

Doesn't the average American have less than $500 in savings?

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:45 | 5061307 W.M. Worry
W.M. Worry's picture

You're forgetting about the power of compound interest. At .75% your savings will double every 96 years !

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:48 | 5061327 Dre4dwolf
Dre4dwolf's picture

A dollar today , is worth two tomorrow, the time value of money, will wipe out any net-positive effect compounding interest will have in the long run.


Money essentially has an expiration date. . . . well Fiat money does atleast.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:16 | 5061447 Oldwood
Oldwood's picture

I had better start taking care of myself. 96 years huh?

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:33 | 5061234 Dre4dwolf
Dre4dwolf's picture

U know, the beach is free.

Tents are cheap.

Fishing poles, spear guns, and snorkles are highly effective.

Retirement is one Walmart trip and a bus ride away for everyone.



The only problem is, society has tried at every turn to out-law being a natural human being.

If you just setup camp at the beach, and minded your own business, people would eventually come from the government to assault you because you are not allowed to survive, the very idea that you could live like that and be more happy than them . . . drives them insane.


The simple fact of life is, "things" only bring you temporary happiness, most of the things we own, we only wanted because someone else had them, once you yourself have those things, they usually sit around collecting dust until you get tired of them and throw them away.


I guess thats why God gave us the 10th commandment, thou shalt not covet , because the very act of wanting is an illusion, you already have the whole world and everything in it, and you have no idea what to do with it all, to focus on such a small portion of the world such as a nick-nack is insane.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:24 | 5061477 Oldwood
Oldwood's picture

Think about how much land our government owns in our name, yet its not ours. We can't touch it without permission and/or payment. And we are forced to pay for its maintenance whether we use it or not. This should be a symbol, a sign to every American to illustrate that our government, large and all encompassing, is supposed to work for us, to look out for our interests, those principally being in property and the rights to retain such, yet they instead rule us, control us, virtually own us as sure as any slave in 1840 Mississippi. They own our output and they own or property, that deeded directly to us and that which as citizens we theoretically co-own. This is NOT what our founders promised us and is NOT what Americans have been lead to believe for generations, people sacrificing their loved ones in war to preserve our theoretically freedoms an liberties.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:27 | 5061488 Wait What
Wait What's picture

cute. it's all fun and games 'til that 1st rogue wave, hurricane, or cold snap comes through and burst your little bubble of happiness.

a transient life seems easy, seen from far away. try that lifestyle anywhere in the continguous U.S. in January and report what you find... it will likely be brutish, miserable, and short.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 19:25 | 5061821 HoleInTheDonut
HoleInTheDonut's picture

"we only wanted because someone else had them, once you yourself have those things, they usually sit around collecting dust until you get tired of them and throw them away."

Right, that's why I don't seriously look for a new girlfriend.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 20:29 | 5062222 freedogger
freedogger's picture

Well I have proved to myself that I can live in the back of a cargo van over the past's not as cheap as a tent but pretty close. No one knows the better. I'm pulling in good salary too at the same time. Still have the family and the acreage to pay for though.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:33 | 5061238 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

Living below your means is actually living within your means if you think about it. I do this, and take some flak for it at work with superiors because I am not into impressing people. Me, I'm impressed with my ability to save and help others when they need it. I don't need fancy shoes, suits, dresses, coats or jewelry. A good coat for me is the one I have had for 11 year (Northface, black). Looks great to me. Ditto my 10 year old boots.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:43 | 5061286 Dre4dwolf
Dre4dwolf's picture

If you dictate your means according to how much money you make, you are inevitably allowing other peoples PRICES to dictate your living standard.

So in reality, everyone who works for a living, is a slave to other peoples standards.


The issue is not living within any means, but living in a way day-to-day that makes you happy, because if you hate your day-to-day experience what does it matter if you live within any monetary bracket? the richest man in the world has enslaved himself to his own irrational desires, and the more he consumes, the more miserable he becomes, because in the end, everything you want or covet is never as pleasant to have as you imagined it would be, so in reality, reality will always fall short of your expectations and disappoint causing you to be unhappy.


That is why you find some of the simplest people who have the most earthly and natural standard of life, always seem to be happy, because their standards are standards of contentment and they are not only not disappointed with their life,  they are surprised and show gratitude for what they have at every turning point in their life.


Thats how some people can pursue an entire life of greed chasing material goods, expensive homes, cars, boats, whatever, and in the end they commit suicide once they "have it all" because they have finally run out of things to pursue.


Someone sitting on a beach in Hawaii living out of their van who wakes up and plays the guitar every morning, is atleast 10 fold happier. 

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:02 | 5061385 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

There is merit in what you say. I am curious about your gender and age.

I fantasize about quitting work a lot, I admit it. One of the reasons I am saving is that I hope I can retire and live super cheaply. I may not be able to pull it off, but it is my hope to do so. I really know I don't need much. I work right now to insure others, to get my kid launched, and to save for later. If I don't die first like my 64 year old friend did a couple of months ago after retiring in April.

But you are right, it does make me a slave.

I think women tend to want more security (we might even be wired for it, not sure) and being a little older I don't want to be the one of the "folks" needing other people's help. I would rather bankroll that myself. I think men feel more secure that they can go anywhere and get work and have money when they need it. Thus the life you describe. If you are a woman, I'd sure like to know how you work it out!!

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:13 | 5061435 Rainman
Rainman's picture

The only glitch in your thinking may be the kid launching plan. Four daughters here and I thought they were launched too... they keep coming back.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 19:36 | 5061896 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

I am indeed worried about the boomerang thing. I am working mightily now to prevent it, we shall see.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:32 | 5061506 Dre4dwolf
Dre4dwolf's picture

Im a dude, and im pretty sure I can say safely that most men really dont care about material wealth and comfort (give me a hard floor and a blanket to sleep on and im good) the only reason most men pursue material status is because women seem seem to be drawn to it like a moth to flames , but only for long term partner seeking women as nowadays most women aged 18 to 30 are quite permiscuous and giving which in reality lowers most mens drive to aquire wealth actually because you dont really need it (very few men care for comfort of fathering children) in fact I look at it as a potential form of entrapement...  ecause to fall so in love that you would do anything to keep that signifigant other from sadness sounds like madness to me, but life shows by example that given the right specimen all men will fall for the trap eventually. 

My ideal life would be me and some girl on an island home.

The ideal life for the average woman would probably some guy with a benzino a 3 story house and an unlimited credit card to use at outlets.

its not that I dont like civilization , I just think it needlessly complicates things and that the added comfort it provides does not outway the disatisfaction I get from being separated from my more primal desires.

Or something like that, I tend to be more elequint with a butchers knife in the kitche than I am with sentances and describing my "feelings".

I guess everyman at some point tosses away his own happiness to make a female happy , and with luck seeing them happy makes up for the loss in some small way.

I am almost 28 And I probably spend way more time contemplating my own existence than I should.

Sry for the random typos typing on phone atm

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 19:29 | 5061834 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture


I used to do research in nursing homes. When you talk to folks, what you come to realize is that many of them have stopped living and are waiting to die. They sit and they remember. Remembering is so important.

When I was your age, doing this research, I came to realize that the best thing I could do for "old me" was to put some great memories in the memory bank. There is dementia, but aside from that, memories are something that cannot be taken from you.


Sounds like that girl/woman would be lucky if she saw it the way you do. Forgive us, we have been endoctrinated with the idea that we need kids. Many women I know now do not want them. 

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 19:59 | 5062042 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Your comment made me laugh. This is the heart of man and I love the frank honesty. I, like MisC, am a woman of simple tastes. Material wealth is no interest to me and I'd rather have a man drop a field-dressed deer carcass on my porch than drive up in a Porsche. I am also fortunate to have a man who loves me very dearly and yes it is very hard for him to see me sad. When I am, I try to hide it from him because I know he will kill himself to make me happy. This is a great responsibility to bear.

A while ago I came home mad. I ranted and raved about the bitches at my work how they can be so cruel. My husband has watched me do this for years and I thought nothing of it. This time he said " I wish you would stop doing that. Every time you do this, I feel like a loser. If I had a better job and made more money I could ask you to quit and be with me. Seeing you so unhappy makes me sick. You are Quality. You belong on Larry Ellison's arm not with me."

I was dumbfounded. I took him by the hands, sat him down and looked in his eyes. " I had no idea you felt this way and I am so sorry i did this. It was completely unintentional. Everyday I see you work 12-14 hour days doing projects you hate but knowing this will make you invaluable to the company. I know you do this for me and not for you. I am honored to have you as my husband. My anger is a Ben Bernanke's ZIRP which is at fault here, not you. And as for Larry Ellison. Living on an island with a pompous egotistical asshole is my idea of living Hell." He smiled and as he hugged me he whispered "thank you" in my ear.

I think men do have feeling but are unwilling to show them for fear of looking weak or being ridiculed. My husband rarely show his but when he does, I still to listen, realizing I am experiencing a rare and great gift. Perhaps this is one of the reasons he loves me so much.


Fri, 08/08/2014 - 08:04 | 5064192 himaroid
himaroid's picture

I can finally take my missus away from all of the unworthy assholes. Know exactly how you feel Mr M.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:37 | 5061549 Wait What
Wait What's picture

women are the only reason men accumulate stuff. that's a fact. there's no point to having a BSD to impress guys.

if you are a woman, the quote "i would rather bankroll that myself" makes you 1 in... a billion. the rest are just trying to latch on to a guy who will buy them that security. women's lib became a joke once women started to figure out how much work it really entailed.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 19:16 | 5061778 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

I think there are more of us out there than you realize. I can only speak for myself, I wanted a partner. A man who would let me walk all over him is very unappealing, sexually and otherwise. Splitting the bills is great, that boosts my income and standard of living. My husband and I have our own money so that we don't argue about who spends what, it is wonderful. He spends way more than I do, I would freak if we had joint funds. Since we do not, no biggie. He does NOT save for retirement. I will probably have to pick that up. He thinks he will just work through his old age. We will see. But if I am honest, I benefit from the things he buys (but I would never get them myself, electronics mostly). 

House paid. No debt. My only issue with him is that if I did support him (which I would happily do) he would have to stop buying shit!!

My first husband ran up so much debt, the day (I do mean the day) he and I split, I stopped bleeding money. That month, even though I took on all the debt, I started digging out of the debt. It took a few years but I got it all paid. With my current husband's partnership, we have the house paid for too. Now it is taxes, power, and food, if we are smart about it. And with geothermal heating and cooling and an energy efficient house, we are doing great on power bills. This is my idea of a retirement plan...


Fri, 08/08/2014 - 02:29 | 5063737 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

Whenever Richard Cory went downtown,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean-favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich – yes, richer than a king –
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:28 | 5061493 Oldwood
Oldwood's picture

If you are like most of us, your body is wearing out faster than your possessions, so yes, it all still looks good! I find very little I want to buy anymore. Partially as money is harder to come by, but also I just don't want anything.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 19:22 | 5061803 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

My only "spending weakness" is preps for unemployment, collapse, or retirement. Trying to think of what I might need for the future. If I get socks that perform well, I will go back and buy extra for the future. Otherwise, I am like you. I have not "fallen apart" just yet, but time is etching around my edges just a bit, letting me know it will be coming. I don't want to live in fear of the future, I just don't want regrets either.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:45 | 5061594 Professorlocknload
Thu, 08/07/2014 - 19:33 | 5061868 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

Good book. 

Mr. Money Moustache has a lot of good material too.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:27 | 5061239 toady
toady's picture

This is something we're struggling mightily with... I have no problem living under budget/under the radar, but the wife MUST shop/go to town every day.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:42 | 5061300 Leraconteur
Leraconteur's picture

The problem is, obviously, that you married.

I semi-retired at 47. Did not like not working, tried retirement for 2 months, then found something else to do 10 hours a week 7 months a year.

At 47. Sold it all, moved. Forty-seven.

Now to be clear, I don't have millions (if I did, and had an MSc, I would be in Northern Europe working as a German Engineer), but I had enough to be able to chose when to work and at what.

The phrase is ''Fuck You money", IOW, money that allows one to leave a bad situation.

It takes far, FAR, less than all of you think. What is most important is flexibility - no debt, few obligations, and no family, wife, kids, alimony, child support, student loans, and all other non-dischargable hindrances.

I worked 60 hours a week for 25+ years, and lived below my means. Now, I spend my money and enjoy it and barely work at all.

It's up to you, and the main thing is mindset and attitude. Mostly your chains are mental, and values.

If you wanted to, you could leave next month. IF you wanted it badly enough. 

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:51 | 5061337 RaceToTheBottom
RaceToTheBottom's picture

Don't understand your MSc point?  Are you saying that having a MSc is a requirement for working in Germany?

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 19:37 | 5061902 Leraconteur
Leraconteur's picture

For the good jobs, engineering, yes. Germany has many very highly skilled and very highly educated workers.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:13 | 5061434 toady
toady's picture

Yeah, I retired at forty six, so I beat you by a year!

My comment was more about divergent lifestyles than money. Still, it would be nice if she'd stop wasting it. It's a pretty simple case of the old cliche, the wife comes home with ten bags of stuff and says "see how much I saved! "

Meanwhile, I'm so cheap I don't want to spend the gas money to drive to town, let alone buy anything. Once a month with a giant list of things to buy works for me.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 19:35 | 5061893 Leraconteur
Leraconteur's picture

Cool. Right on and good on you, buddy!

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:30 | 5061242 LooseLee
LooseLee's picture

"Living “well below” your means really is un-American – it goes against the fundamental American cultural values of consumerism and debt."

An 'Ameican' who lives re the above is a MORON; These 'Cultural Values' are the Snake Oil pedaled by Bankers and Politicians. Only a FOOL would embrace such a 'value'. That is why 'most' Americans' are IDIOTS.

Sadly the 'truth' is often psychologically painful.

Most Americans need to grow-up (psychologically) and quit striving to fill themselves with the Snake Oil of Consumerism. That, in itself, would eliminate the 'debt problem'.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:31 | 5061246 NoWayJose
NoWayJose's picture

It'll take quite a while to save up for retirement with the banks paying 0.45% annual interest (thanks Mr. Yellen) and the stock market on the brink of collapse.

Under such conditions it does pay to 'spend' money now rather than save it - just make sure that you buy PMs, toilet paper, paper towels, razor blades, long term storage foods, etc...  All this will cost a LOT more than 0.45% if you go to buy it NEXT year.  Doing this is the ONLY way to safely stay in front of inflation.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:31 | 5061247 Recognizer
Recognizer's picture

Wtf am I reading?

So culture is the problem?

Your values are based on owning garbage you can't afford and that's who's fault..?  Culture?

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:33 | 5061252 Meat Hammer
Meat Hammer's picture

Being un-American never felt so good!!!

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:34 | 5061255 B2u
B2u's picture

Huh?  I retired at age 54.  Life is great since I left...enjoying life in the tropics...

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:35 | 5061262 seek
seek's picture

I still live in the same house I bought 25 years ago when I was a 23yo kid with a $40K/year job. It's paid off, and I've never really expanded my lifestyle and can easily retire at 50 now. By far the biggest financial expense I've had has been women, my ex wife and ex-fiancee both tripled my living expenses when they were in the picture.

This shit really isn't that hard, once you realize your expenses must be below earnings if you don't want to be bankrupt. My depression-era parents made financial management obvious.

Keeping up with the Joneses and/or buying shit you don't need is the sure path to destruction.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:38 | 5061279 Recognizer
Recognizer's picture

Early retirement is attainable in 2 steps:


2) Fleshlight


Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:05 | 5061409 seek
seek's picture

Scarily true!

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:39 | 5061282 sdmjake
sdmjake's picture

BTW, CogDis article on 'rethinking retirement' is worth a read.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:45 | 5061312 Iriestx
Iriestx's picture

Early retirement?  Shit, I wasn't expecting to ever be able to retire, let alone early.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:47 | 5061320 Bear
Bear's picture

I have to retire so the next generation will have a job

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:47 | 5061321 RaceToTheBottom
RaceToTheBottom's picture

If Greenspam had retired earlier, we would all be able to at least have a chance on retiring earlier.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:51 | 5061335 Downtoolong
Downtoolong's picture

Living “well below” your means really is un-American – it goes against the fundamental American cultural values of consumerism and debt.

Which unfortunately means that even if you pull it off you will probably spend more years in retirement being subjected to a plethora of government and Fed sponsored scams like ZIRP designed to take your hard earned savings and hand it over to bail out those who took a different path.

But, don’t give up. Once your savings is taken away and the highlight of your day becomes watching Kathy Lee and Hoda each make $20 mil per year babbling for an hour on national T.V. about the most useless mundane shit you ever imagined you can still be un-American and blow your brains out with a .38, thus saving other Americans the cost of your health care in old age.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:56 | 5061363 himaroid
himaroid's picture

All these years thinking I was a great American, when I was actually a tight ass traitor. Except for good bourbon whiskey.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:04 | 5061377 pakled
pakled's picture

Living "well below" your means really is un-American


What's un-American is attempting to guilt-trip thrifty, conscientious Americans employing a degree of vision into veering off their definition of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of you-know-what. 


In other words... fuck off. I can't actually tell from the piece who is making the un-American claim, but whoever you are... fuck off.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:01 | 5061386 zipit
zipit's picture


Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:09 | 5061419 Ranting Troglodyte
Ranting Troglodyte's picture

I think "retirement" is one of those words that schlors a few hundred years from now will note was used (and actually done) for a brief window during the latter part of the 20th and early 21st centuries.


There was no retirement 100 years ago, and there won't be in another 50 years.  You work until you die...just like it always was.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:16 | 5061444 pakled
pakled's picture

Comment B


We're all going to be doing early retirement if the jobs go down the commode with the economy.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 19:18 | 5061519 itstippy
itstippy's picture

It will become unavoidably clear that Social Security and Medicare are severely underfunded.  The only solution will be to means test what level of benefits retirees are "entitled" to.  That will be considered the only "fair" way to save the programs - after all, "they were designed to keep elderly folks from starving, not to supplement lavish retired lifestyles."  That's how it will be presented.

The $400K you scrimped and did without to save for retirement?  The house you worked your ass off to own free and clear?  It'll cost you your Social Security and Medicare benefits until it's spent down to $2K total assets.

The .gov has collected asset data on all U.S. citizens; they know exactly how much equity you have in your house, how much in your IRAs, 401ks, savings, checking, etc.  Any asset that's in the financial system under your name will affect your SS & Medicare benefits.  That's the "bail in" we've all been waiting for.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 19:30 | 5061827 29.5 hours
29.5 hours's picture



Effectively put. Congress has been discussing a "means test" for Social Security for a handful of years now. It is only a matter of time until these privileged bastards enact this next stage attack on our living standards.  That a person owns a house or has a savings account will be used to reduce or eliminate any benefit people are counting on in the future.

This will happen surely--and will be one more way that people who "do the right thing" by working hard, saving, buying a house, owning a small business or working farm, etc. will be screwed.





Thu, 08/07/2014 - 19:51 | 5061976 RabbitOne
RabbitOne's picture

So let me get this straight? The amounts I paid into Social Security and Medicare all those working years don’t count under your ‘means” testing method? The only thing that counts is my present financial position? So the bum that hardly worked or squandered all his money gets “full” subsidy? And because I worked my ass-off and saved every nickel I get penalized!! So then all America should become a bunch of lazy asses!!!


I take a different tack. Start confiscating the net worth of ALL involved in the political process for the last 50 years that made these dam promises. Then I might consider your argument…  

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 20:20 | 5062172 itstippy
itstippy's picture

I'm not advocating means testing - I'm telling you it is going to happen.

You will be penalized for having saved for retirement so that the meager funds remaining in the SS and Medicare programs can be used to keep indigent people from starving.

We've covered this many times in ZH.  For decades the Social Security and Medicare programs ran wonderful surpluses for the Washington elected criminals to squander as they saw fit.  Neither program runs a surplus any more.  In a few years they'll both be running huge deficits, and it will be time for Washington to pay back the money that was distributed to cronies years ago.  Ain't gonna happen.  There will be means testing.  You will be fucked.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 21:55 | 5062726 ricky663
ricky663's picture

Thanks. Can you please give us the link to this?

My own list of Do's / don'ts:

1) eat well and exercise. Don't get sick, and if you do, become a medical tourist (get out of USA to a place like India or Thailand)

2) Don't get married. If you do get married don't get divorced

3) kids are expensive, so exercise caution.

4) maximize your earnings by having your own business (you can aso subsidize your lifestyle by having the company legally pay for some of your expenses)

5) if you have a business, don't have a partner. Partnerships almost always end in an ugly divorce

5) no credit or credit cards

6) after living in Asia for the last couple years, I have seen the scam that is the US housing market. Most of the "value" in the home is sucked out by expensive construction costs, fees, taxes, interest. Don't have a mortgage unless you can pay off quickly.

7) learn about investments, business, and learn how to trade your own account and do it.

8) a good accountant will save you money, and is well worth his fee.

9) buy cars second hand (~2 years old with low mileage seems to be a good starting point), perform good maintenance, and drive the wheels off
of it

From my point of view, the systems of the "west" are designed (intentionally?) to keep you in debt and supporting the state. It is quite expensive to hang there as a result. Exit the system (MOVE OUT) when you retire.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 23:03 | 5063135 Zeta Reticuli
Zeta Reticuli's picture

My wife and I retired to her home city in China. We purchased a new home in a high-rise 3 years before we retired. The two of us live an upper middle class life on a $1300 SS check and we have money left over to travel a few times a year. We do not need to touch our savings. If SS ever fails, we have that option. There is no property tax and utilities are ridiculously cheap. Public transportation is excellent, so we don't have the expense of a car. Medical care at a nearby university hospital is so cheap that it is hard to believe. We live in a coastal city that is modern, safe, cosmopolitan, clean, and beautiful. The air is good here.

I estimate that our dollar goes 5X as far as in the states. As far as politics and freedoms, I just say don't believe anything the American press tells you about China. So many people with strong opinions about China sit on the other side of the planet with only the information that is fed to them by their government and the captive presss.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:34 | 5061529 _SILENCER
_SILENCER's picture

"The things you own, end up owning you." - Tyler Durden

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:37 | 5061534 honestann
honestann's picture

Living well below your means really is un-American.  It goes against the fundamental American cultural values of consumerism and debt.

Irresponsible consumption and debt are vices.  They are certainly not "fundamental cultural values".  Was this author sarcasm?  Not sure.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:35 | 5061535 Anarchy 99
Anarchy 99's picture

retiring to a tropical island and painting naked natives......definately un-stupid.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:40 | 5061566 Atomizer
Atomizer's picture

August 4th. I lost complete power after hearing an explosion. Contacted Electric Company. Within 20 minutes, power was restored by replacing a fuse, not the transformer. My neighbors assured me it was a squirrel that got blown up.

Here’s what Fox News was running shortly after.

Grand Canyon squirrel-kicking video

(PETA)  how do I collect my reward of up to $15,000 for a squirrel taking out my electricity?

/Humor ZH mates

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:48 | 5061613 Fuku Ben
Fuku Ben's picture

Why that's not un-American

That's outright terrorism

Confiscate their assets, indefinitely detain them and water board them until they confess

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 18:53 | 5061638 divedivedive
divedivedive's picture

I suspect very few of you will appreciate what I have to say but anyway -

I stopped working around 55. It was never my plan, I just wasn't enjoying my job/industry (computer programming) any longer. My wife, now 62, is still working. She works from the house most times and likes her work. When we were both working we _always_ socked away at least one of our paychecks. We have _always_ been ultra-conservative with our investments. We were out of the market for all the large downturns but we also didn't ride the upturns as far as most.

We have never paid a penny in credit card debt. We have never driven a car _less_ than 10 years. We really have never had a mortgage (except when an employer picked up the closing costs - and even then the loan was open for perhaps 3 months). We have no kids - we were both working a lot. At least half my career I was a contractor paid by the hour and there were decades where I worked 60+ hours a week. BTW - I am self-taught. I never really made a penny with my degree in Biology.

Looking back - I think the single most important reason we accumulated any money was probably that we were paid 5% interest on our savings - for decades. If that were still the case we would be living LARGE in the US. Now we are still living pretty good - but in Mexico  - where we have a _very_ nice house, still drive a 13 year old car, pay something less than $600 per year for health ins. 

I gave my inheritance to my brother (who doesn't know it) because he has two kids.

The US is making it harder and harder for people like us to live outside the US. It really feels like they are intimidating Mexican banks to the point they are throwing up their hands. I do my own taxes and I feel intimidated with the paperwork I need to file. I am honest but can only hope that I understand/know all the requirements.

So - my advice to a young couple today - forget about having kids, choose good cars and drive them for at least 10 years, you both need to work, cut up your credit cards, start with a small condo/townhouse and when you can afford it buy your first house with cash. But - spend at least one week a year doing something reall really fun.




Thu, 08/07/2014 - 20:20 | 5062168 potato
potato's picture

The only comment i can make about the above is to have ten kids. Humans are the best investments you can ever make. Feed them beans, oatmeal and milk, teach them maths, and they will each make 150k/yr by age 20. Take a 20% cut and you're made.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 19:18 | 5061786 My Days Are Get...
My Days Are Getting Fewer's picture

The concept of "un-American"really applies to Americans living in the USA.

But for Americans living abroad, the greater concept of the "Ugly American" applies.  There is a book and movie about those people - you may have met them - living overseas in a big casa paid for by others; servants; living 10 times bigger in life than they did in Gloversville, NY; loud and boisterous; always right and telling the foreigner what to do.  Sounds like our diplomatic corps.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 19:29 | 5061826 RabbitOne
RabbitOne's picture

The MSM will continue printing these crap ”retiring early Un-American” articles for one reason alone – the government needs the huge tax amounts generated by baby boomers. They are more concerned with tax revenue than the U.S. citizen.


I retired in 2006 at 61 (auto industry) and my wife last year at 55 (US Government). What we found is most of the retirement calculators are garbage and the built in assumptions were false for us. As Divedivedive stated “We have never paid a penny in credit card debt. We have never driven a car _less_ than 10 years. We really have never had a mortgage (except when an employer picked up the closing costs - and even then the loan was open for perhaps 3 months). We have no kids - we were both working a lot.”  Simple assumptions like these make retirement calculators invalid.


Think about it… Our cars combined gas bill is about 20% of the old monthly amount, the savings on not having monster winter heating bills pay for most of the cheap Florida winter rental, and the savings go on and on… These MSM writers assume we all living a champagne and caviar existence…when in reality it’s a sub sandwich and cheap beer while fishing off my cottage dock with 2 dogs and 20 ducks wanting a piece of my sandwich…Ahhhhhh…


Thu, 08/07/2014 - 19:57 | 5062025 Seychelles
Seychelles's picture

To retire early

1. figure out how to earn more...much more...than you are worth.  That means understanding the system you have been thrown into and your own strengths and weaknesses. Optimize their interaction for your long-term benefit.

2. live below your means; modest house and new car only every 15-20 years

3. treat your after-tax savings with great care; earnings are less important than principal safety

4. avoid marriage and children

5. study cultural objects that have quality and that will go UP in value over time; if you must buy "things" entertain yourself by buying these objects

6. make your life as stress-free as possible; live near where you work; live in a safe community with clean air and water and little crime; prepare your own meals and avoid prepared foods

7. do not become addicted to alcohol, drugs or sex

8. get lucky and have good genes so that you are resistant to most health problems.  Avoid hobbies like sky-diving and be a cautious, defensive driver.

9. spend a lot of time thinking about how you are going to responsibly use your freedom and wealth once your discipline and intelligence allow you to get off the gerbil wheel early

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 20:32 | 5062237 divedivedive
divedivedive's picture

4. A good marriage can help you accumlate twice as fast.

6. At one point I needed to commute 60 miles X 2 to get a job which opened the doors for my future. But therafter I had the most calming oceanfront 20 minute drive, My only concern was catching a bridge opening.

8. SCUBA can be a very relaxing passtime.

9. I use Quicken and for years I printed a weekly Net Worth report. I kept the sheets on a clipboard and would thum through the pages to note our progress. We are currently in the process of creating our new Mexican wills.


Thu, 08/07/2014 - 21:41 | 5062638 homiegot
homiegot's picture

In your plan, the human race goes extinct in about 100 years.

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 01:46 | 5063670 Seychelles
Seychelles's picture

Alas, that may be too late to save the rest of life on the planet.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 20:15 | 5062147 Realname
Realname's picture

Fukushima is retiring humanity early.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 20:26 | 5062201 MATA HAIRY
MATA HAIRY's picture

um, the median household worth (excluding home equity is almost certainly less than 200K, even at age 50. And that includes white american households.


Why exclude home equity? Um, because if everyone who was near retiring sold their home, the market supply would flood and prices would drop.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 20:31 | 5062229 SMC
SMC's picture

Living below your means and investing in productive assets that you control results in peace of mind and restful sleep.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 20:39 | 5062272 DOGGONE
DOGGONE's picture

VERY relevant are these histories, look hard:

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 20:49 | 5062344 Kreditanstalt
Kreditanstalt's picture

...and millions and millions of people who might never have remunerative or meaningful work retiring before they even begin...even as the oldsters get wealthier and wealthier...

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 04:30 | 5063862 ParisianThinker
ParisianThinker's picture

Avoir plus de vous montrer. 

Parlez moins que vous savez. 

Les carottes sont cuites. Le système est truqué.

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 05:13 | 5063898 laomei
laomei's picture

living below your means is the way to do it, regardless of retired or not.  life is simply better that way.  buy nice things and only buy things that will be used frequently enough to turn them from an expense into an asset.  maintain them, and when they fail, you fix them, when they are unfixable you strip them for parts to fix other shit or repurpose them... the scrap gets recycled for cash.


buy good food and cook it at home.  if you find yourself attracted to an impulse buy, realize that it's not a real impulse, it's marketing and you are a victim to it.  stop buying shit you don't need and make what you do have last.  SIMPLE.  so FUCKING SIMPLE.  This is how the rest of the world lives and that's the way it's always been until recently.


and the #1 rule to remember, marketing is a lie.  It's all a scam to get you to overpay for stupid shit. ALWAYS.


live below your means and save upwards of 50% of income.  cut out all expenses that are not critical and sure, you won't surround yourself with crap, but when you do buy things, you'll appreciate them more... when opportunity knocks, you are in a position to take advantage of it, and when shit happens, it doesn't hit as hard.

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 06:31 | 5063981 Raoul_Luke
Raoul_Luke's picture

If you find a job you like, eat right, and work out regularly, why would you ever want to retire?  You work until you drop dead.

Social security should be transitioned into a disability program only.  If you are healthy enough to work, why should the taxpayer pay you to sit on your ass all day doing nothing?

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 12:04 | 5065578 A Cruel Accountant
A Cruel Accountant's picture

These guys all retired before 40. You can read their blogs


Brave New World

Root of Good

Mr. Money Mustache

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