Every 4th of July my large extended family meets at the Oregon Coast for a big family reunion. The kids perform, the adults chat, and everybody eats. A lot. The dessert table is spread as full as the food table. It’s a glorious occasion that has been happening for about seventy years. The event begins with a parade through the room of the kids with tiny American flags while we sing patriotic songs. Because of this tradition, the 4th of July has always been an important holiday to me. It is a celebration of family, freedom, and the country in which we enjoy those things.
This year, I thought about this early retirement journey we just embarked upon, and how these blessings in our lives allow us to do that. The reality is that early retirement is not attainable for a lot of people.
Mr. T and I were raised by upper middleclass families. We didn’t have a free ride to college or anything to that effect, but little things make a big difference. Those differences gave us a big advantage. We say we don’t make a lot. But we do. Though we don’t make $100,000, even collectively, we make way more than minimum wage and we have more than enough money to get by. We were raised in comfortable financial environments in which we were never worried about having food to eat or clothes to wear. And we were taught about smart spending, saving, and giving. Early Retirement is only possible if you make more than you need to live and learn to save the rest. Those are basics a lot of us take for granted. I’m not nervous about opening a bank account. I know how to navigate credit cards without paying interest. Even unemployed, we had a beach house to crash in and no fear that Mr. T would be able to find something eventually. We were able to get an education and pay for it without loans. We haven’t had to financially support anyone but ourselves and our three children. Thanks to our families (a choice which is based entirely on factors out of our hands!) we have not experienced poverty in a real way. The struggles of planning for early retirement are first world problems. And wealthy first world problems. We recognize that. We have been blessed. Is it fair? Absolutely not. And we recognize that as well. We are no better than anyone else. There is no reason we are deserving and others are not. I would elaborate, but I found that between the Frugalwoods’ excellent explanation and the On a Plate illustration, I can’t add anything that hasn’t been said. I second their thoughts. I agree completely.
I hope this 4th of July, you had the opportunity to gather with your loved ones and reflect on your blessings. Because what is the point of financial independence if you don’t have independence in the first place for spending time with people you enjoy?