I simply saved more than three quarters of my income for five years. The math works out. If you save 83% and spend 17%, you need 25*0.17/0.83 ~ 5 years of savings, where 25 is the inverse of 4%, which is a safe withdrawal rate for at least 30 years.
While enjoying frugal living and retirement in his mid-30's, this former physicist starts a widely followed blog and authors a book: Early Retirement Extreme (ERE).
How does this story end? With the hero living a quiet Walden-esque life of contemplation and home cooked meals? No, of course after a few years he un-retires to join a fund as a quant trader/researcher!
What I like to do is solving impossible problems. Or just “hard problems”—problems that people don’t want to wrestle with. I did this in physics and learned a lot. I realized that I wouldn’t learn very much from solving a similar problem in physics and that’s why I quit physics. The challenge would not have been the same. Fortunately, I realized this quickly and I had the money to quit or “retire from my career“.
ERE is another one such “hard” problem solved (it’s only hard, because it’s somewhat out-of-the-box and thus more a question of shifting your perspective than it being any kind of technical challenge). I’ve written enough material here on the blog and in the book to show you how it’s done. I have the same problem with ERE. The challenge is gone for me. Many others are currently on the road towards financial independence and this is exciting for them but for me it’s just vicarious living. Becoming financially independent, the subject of this blog, is a period of transition and obviously one can only transition once. This is why fresh blood is needed.
[Uhh, part of the challenge is maintaining the minimalist lifestyle, well, for the rest of your life...]
... So what am I going to do now? Well, yesterday I got a job offer as a quant trader/researcher. I took it! I think this fulfills all my criteria. It’s a hard problem, it requires no marketing, no politics, no self-promotion, and no management. As far as I can tell, I’m safe from the Peter principle and can focus on research and development without worrying about suddenly finding myself having to sell or manage my stuff.
When I told this story to my wife she thought perhaps the job offer came from a rich former colleague in physics, who did it just to test him (i.e., f#ck with him) and throw a monkey wrench into the ERE equilibrium! ("Ha ha, Buddha came down from the mountain for chump change!") I won't be surprised if in 10 years this guy is complaining that his second home in the Hamptons is too small ;-)