Since I set myself on a path to retire early, I’ve had the time to think about why early retirement is a concept that meets resistance from friends and family, while it’s a goal that makes perfect sense to me and others.
I’m an engineer by trade (I’m a software engineer), and I was just thinking this morning on my way to work, that early retirement, or, more specifically, financial independence, is a goal/process that almost feels like it was made for engineers.
Something that us computer engineers have to do all day long is automate things. That’s pretty much the definition of the job (in French, the word for “computer science” is “informatique”, a portmanteau word based on “information” and “automatique” – which means automation – ).
For some engineers, automating is just something that they do because it’s the job, but for most of us, I think this is deeply integrated within our soul: in my case,laziness is the main driver of my constant will to reduce manual labor. Some engineers I know will go to some great length of effort to learn complex shortcuts in their favorite text editor, just so that they don’t have to type more than necessary. Many software engineers would rather spend 2 days writing a script than 2 hours editing an excel spreadsheet manually, because they know that ultimately they’ll have to edit the same spreadsheet countless times depending on their manager’s mood. It’s very typical that if an engineer has to perform a task more than twice, they’ll try to automate it.
I mentioned that for me it boiled down to laziness, and I think this is true for many software engineers. It is often said that good engineers are lazy, and that this is why they are so efficient at automating things: it reduces their amount of work long term.
Reducing inefficiencies/manual labor is basically the core of the job.
Based on that, I feel that reaching financial independence is the ultimate automation task that can be performed! The amount of money you receive as part of the corporate world is pretty much proportional to the amount of hours you spend at your 9-to-5 job. That’s completely inefficient! wouldn’t it make more sense if your revenue, just like the revenue of the company you’re working for, was automated, thanks to your improvements?
As engineers, we seem to worry a lot about spending hours on repetitive tasks, and would instead be willing to spend twice the time on programming if it could mean saving time down the road. Yet, many engineers are missing the irony that they repetitively come to work every morning, sit at their desk on the same computer, and basically do more or less the same job, day after day. They’re saving themselves a handful of hours here and there, forgetting that they could be optimizing and automating their revenue at a much larger scale, by focusing on financial independence.
So here I was this morning, looking at my colleagues (frenetically optimizing their lines of code and automating stuff so they would be able to spend two hours on the next update instead of ten), and thinking:Would I rather spend 2 additional hours at work automating a few lines of code, or spend the same amount of time everyday optimizing my finances, savings, and expenses, in a way that will save me much, much more time in the mid-term future?
So, when colleagues and friends ask my why I spend so much time and effort thinking about optimizing savings and investments, this will be my reply. This is the ultimate optimization task, the one where you improve the large chunk of data that’s going to make a huge difference in your life.
Deciding to retire early last year has made a huge difference on how I approach my daily life, including work, in particular overtime work. I make sure I spend time on the tasks that are going to have the biggest value for me and the company. If spending 1 hour at lunch working on a project is not going to make a huge difference in my salary (and in general, it won’t), I’d rather spend that one hour on self improvement, investments, and things that will make a huge long-term difference for me. within months of starting this process, this has had a dramatic effect on our savings rate and how soon our family will reach financial independence.
How about you? What’s your day job? Do you feel your trade and skills align with a goal of financial independence?