Racing Towards Retirement Is a Terrible Idea
I had a conversation with my parents the other day that kind of depressed me.
A friend of my mom’s suggested that my brother, who is currently a crew chief in the Air Force, should look to carry that experience into civilian life — continuing to work with airplanes. I said that this was a dumb way to think.
I pray to God that my brother, who will be 23 when he gets out of the military, is willing to leave his four years in the past and become educated in another field — if that’s what he wants to do, of course.
My main hang-up was that my mom’s friend sees these four years as a “waste” if my brother doesn’t use the skills/knowledge after ejecting from the Air Force (no pun intended).
In reality, he could be wasting the rest of his life by staying in this field…
This then prompted my dad to bring up people he has come across in the past that viewed work this way, too.
My dad was in the Air Force as well, performing nine years of service. When he told people he was going back to civilian life, he was confronted with people saying, “Why leave now? You only have 11 years to go!”
Typing that out only made it seem sarcastic to me — viewing 11 years as a small amount of time and the nine years prior a waste if retirement benefits weren’t waiting on the other side.
This seems to be the mindset of many Baby Boomers. You do one job for 40+ years (or for the military, 20 years) and get retirement when it’s all said and done.
The Millennial and Gen Z generations have agreed that this is stupid. Changing companies, job titles, and even careers altogether may be scary, but it turns you into a swiss army knife and increases your flexibility to the nth degree.
These two generations have traded in the safety and security of a 401k and pension for this increase in flexibility and professional growth. But some have taken an extreme course of action that may be just as insane as the Baby Boomer approach.
I introduce to you, FIRE: Financial Independence, Retire Early.