In 2011, a self-named blogger started a website: Mr. Money Mustache. It was started by a young man who claimed to have retired from his engineering job at the ripe age of 30 to start a new family. Back then, many scoffed at the idea -- a thing of pure lunacy!
Over the past decade, however, more and more people have joined the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) movement, spurred by this once-mysterious individual. On Motley Fool Live on Feb. 23, Pete Adeney -- the real-life man behind the moniker -- joined the Motley Fool's Brian Stoffel.
In it, he made a surprising admission: though he officially retired at age 30, he probably could have done it sooner -- without ever earning a million-dollar salary. Watch below to see why he thinks that's possible.
Brian Stoffel: What's the whole point of investing, what's the whole point of getting enough money so that you have a little bit more freedom and choice in life? I thought talking to you would be great, and I know that you are a fan of [Morgan Housel's], I'm a fan of Morgan's and so I had to pull Morgan into this conversation as well. So do you just want to give a brief bio, for anyone who might not know who you are?
Peter Adeney: Yeah, sure. I'm a retired gentleman, and the only part that's unusual about that is I retired 15 or 16 years ago when I was 30. Then I've been living this way ever since. The idea was based on investing, but also on having an efficient lifestyle so that I did not invest like many millions of dollars in order to have enough to live forever on this morning afterward. Then of course, over the last 16 years, I've discovered lots of things that are unexpected about having all this free time and it turns out that the point of retiring is not to quit work altogether, it's just to quit the work that's not meaningful to you. Yeah, probably could have done it even earlier if I'd known that.
Brian Stoffel: Well, can you just tell me a little bit more about that? Because I think you talked about the internet retirement police and they're like, "Well, he is not retired. This doesn't count, we shouldn't listen to him." What do you mean when you said you might have been even able to do it earlier and kind of what the lived experience of retiring early is like?
Peter Adeney: Yeah. The lived experience is just like your weekends as you might expect. If you have a taste of what your weekends are currently like, that would be what early retirement will be like. If your weekends are really inactive and you're just watching sports on TV and vegging out then you are not destined for a very successful retirement, so I would suggest you probably don't even want to retire in those situations. What I found out, I was always really wishing the weekend with longer and working on stuff. I'm a carpenter mainly for my kind of passion projects, so I was working on a house and helping other people with their houses and also doing travel and taking care of stuff.
But the internet retirement police, they get mad at me whenever I say I'm retired because it turns out I've continued to earn money, at least in some years in the 16 years after retirement. According to them, that just blows the whole plan, and it means that I couldn't have retired in the first place because I'm only living off this other money that I'm earning, which is totally false. You can do the math on what I retired with and it still would have been plenty to fund this lifestyle. Let's just say I happen to do some stuff that's valuable to other people and it still earns some income. I think that's a great way to take the stress off for other people who are thinking of early retirement.