What is Pretirement?
Delaying, or prematurely exiting, a full time career in exchange for pursuing personally meaningful goals, passions or ambitions.
Why pretire instead of waiting to retire?
Traditionally, men and women work from the time they are in their late teens and continue uninterrupted until they are in their mid 60's. They put aside as much money as they can so that they will eventually be able to live out the remainder of their lives in leisure. This is retirement. And for most people this seems like the proper course to follow in life. However the two of us started thinking a lot about it and we thought of a few problems:
1. Death - What happens if we put off traveling, or pursuing time consuming pursuits, until age 65 and then die at 64?
2. Physical Limitations - What if we want to get an RV and visit the US National Parks, but are in too poor of health to hike or swim or bike or crouch in a cave (seriously a week ago we were in Oregon Caves National Monument and an older couple had to skip their tour because the tour guide told them they would have to crouch in the cave). Speaking of caves, one of the coolest things we have ever done are the ATM caves in Belize (post to come) where we had to hike, swim, crawl, climb and squeeze through a complex cave system without handrails or walkways. It was an incredible experience, but would be extremely difficult if not impossible for us if we were in our 60's.
3. More Risks - When we are in our 60's, will we want to risk traveling to dangerous, unstable or exotic places? The older you get, the more risk adverse you become. This is common knowledge, and even academic studies (like this one) show that the older we get, the less social, financial, and recreational risks we are willing to take.
4. Responsibilities - One of the most common things we hear from grown ups when they hear about our travels is, "Good for you! You've got to do it while your young and don't have kids." Responsibilities such as kids, grand kids, a house, a full time job, and much much more can make a 4 month international trip much harder.
5. Grumpiness - This one may seem a little dumb, but it does make a difference. We've all witnessed the elderly rumbling and grumbling instead of enjoying whatever situation they find themselves in. It's our opinion that younger people tend to laugh about unfortunate situations (which will inevitably happen) while the elderly tend to complain and get bent out of shape.
6. High Maintenance - Similar to grumpiness, the older people get, the more high maintenance they tend to become. Hostels suddenly seem a lot less enticing. A 10 hour bus ride is out of the question. More comforts are expected which, in our experience, lead to missing out on some of our greatest travel memories. Some of the coolest people we have met have been while in hostels, Couchsurfing or camping.
7. Financial restrictions - This may seem counter-intuitive, but let us explain. Yes when you are younger you typically have less money saved than you might when you are older, but it's much easier to recover if you go broke at 24 than 64. What I mean is you are on a very fixed budget when you retire because what you have saved has to last you until you die. When you are in your 20's, you can always bounce back and go work just about anywhere you desire. When you are in your 70's you're pretty much limited to working at Walmart or Disneyland as a greeter.
8. Less time for "remember whens" - We love reminiscing about our travels, and are excited to be able to share together, and with others, great stories. Like the time we spent the night on a floating island in Peru, or the time our car broke down in the middle of the Sonoran desert, or the time we slept in our rental car in Iceland and woke up with the car covered in snow (we woke up very confused). But if we wait until retirement to go on these adventures, then we may only have a few years for reminiscing or may not even be able to remember our "remember whens."
These are some of the big reasons why we decided pretirement was the right decision for us, but there were other influences as well. John Fegyveresi, a finisher of the Barkley Marathons, tells about his parents who worked as hard as they could their entire lives, working toward a plan of traveling the world once they retired. Unfortunately John's father died shortly before retiring and their dream was left unfulfilled. This motivated him to get out and live now, and not put off his dreams until he was an old man. It helped motivate us the same way.
One of Colemen's favorite songs is Ten Things by Paul Baribeau. The song is a call to action, one that we think you should follow:
Name 10 things you wanna do before you die & then go do them. Name 10 places you really wanna be before you die & then go to them.
Because right now all you have is time time time,
but someday that time will run out.
That's the only thing you can be absolutely certain about.