My dad has some very obvious mental health concerns, but when I was growing up he always dreamed of retiring. The times I remember him the happiest is him talking about being able to retire as soon as possible.
He worked for the department of justices as a forensic chemist, and signed up for all of the overtime he could to get a larger paycheck. He spent the day working, in let’s be honest, horrifying and traumatic conditions, only to spend the whole night cleaning up meth lab explosions. He was so incredibly proud of himself to save so much money.
What did he do in his off time, when not making money? Absolutely nothing that would bring joy to his life. He had active bulimia, often binging and purging to most likely deal with the trauma and stress from work, watched TV nonstop, and secluded himself from everyone. He didn’t join for fun excursions with his family. He didn’t go out with friends to blow off steam. The only hobbies he picked up were free ones, like dumpster diving (which he did for Xmas regularly).
My dad did retire early. He was able to save enough money to own 3 separate properties in HCOL area in CA, one with ocean views. He has enough in stocks, pension, rent due to him, and his retirement accounts that he literally can’t spend enough money.
But what does he have to show for it? He has no family members he can reach out to. He has no ‘friends’ that don’t benefit from being a renter or contractor from him. He has nothing to do during the day that brings him joy. He doesn’t even have the satisfaction of helping his children, myself with 6 figures of student debt doing PSLF, and my sister a disabled dependent adult.
Since having no true relationships or passion in life, he’s turned to substance abuse and complete denial of any problems, because hey he made his dream come true. Again, underlying issues, but that’s always aggravated by lifestyle choices.
He’s developed dementia. From the years of stress, lack of care to himself, and lack of fostering community. Now he can’t even enjoy the life he saved up for. The man just got 5150’d in a Goodwill, because the only pleasure besides pot and booze he allowed himself was thrifting and dumpster diving. He never learned how to treat himself with care and love to believe he deserved anything better, despite how hard he worked and sacrificed.
This isn’t a message to the 95% of you. Hell it probably isn’t a message to 99% of you. But for the few that resonate with my dad, please reevaluate. FI/RE is an incredible goal, but only if you actually get to enjoy it:
ETA: This post has been somewhat of a grief process for me losing a parent and embarking on a new phase of life. My dad has not been a happy person despite the entirety of his retirement (about 15 years now), so if anyone takes this post to adjust how they choose their own path towards FI/RE, or a variation of it, to enjoy their life, I’m very thankful. Like I mentioned in the beginning, he absolutely had mental health issues, but I absolutely believe that his general lifestyle, whether you call it FI/RE or not, exacerbated all of his problems.
Also it’s ridiculous to me that so many people fixate on me “complaining” he didn’t pay for my student loans. I commented somewhere that I added that to say that my dads way of showing care and affection was to say that he would provide, and work himself to the bone, to give financially to his family for them to be comfortable in life. He obviously worked as hard as he did for FI/RE, but was in complete denial about it or just lying. Now he can’t credit himself for any of the success in my life because he didn’t raise me, support me emotionally, or help me financially to reach my goals like his own parents did (they paid for all of his college and down payment for first home). He knows I reached my goals DESPITE him, instead of because of him, which I know causes him a lot of pain.