Not everyone can, or wants to, retire early. I assume that if you’re reading this you’re at least intrigued by the idea, or just nosy (like Mrs YFG). I also assume that, like any normal person, you’re aware that everyone is different and starts from different places in life.
Make no mistake, I know it.
- I was born in England, where we have free health care from birth. My paternal grandmother was born in a poor country, was a single mother and immigrated for a better life for her children. My paternal grandfather also emigrated and lost his ancestral home in warfare. My maternal grandparents were brought up in London during the Blitz, my grandfather was a Railway Child.
- I was born able-bodied and with full mental capacity and haven’t had to struggle accordingly. My mother has been disabled since she was teenager.
- I am Mediterranean but essentially Caucasian – the racism I received as a youngster was nothing compared to my ancestors and nothing compared to the prejudice many minorities continue to face today.
- I was born in a working-to-middle class family who encouraged me to save from a young age. My grandparents grew up (for the most part) with very little.
Every day I feel grateful for the headstart I got in life, and the comfort I live in compared to all those past and many of those present.
Add on hard work, saving and living modestly, that gets me to where I am today. I haven’t had it hard, but nothing was handed to me.
- I’m not privately educated, nor born into money. I learned the value of hard work and its rewards by working early in life.
- I don’t have a final salary pension. And I don’t think there will be a state pension when I reach old age (or at least not as we know it today). I will need to be completely self-sufficient.
- I racked up tens of thousands of pounds of student loans going to university.
- I didn’t have any contacts in the City to land me a plum job or internship.
- When I worked I was taxed an effective tax rate of 60% on my income, and do not qualify for any benefits.
- I missed out on investment returns when I was too young to invest and started investing from around 2007. You know how that went.
- Interest on savings is, and will be for the foreseeable future, pitiful.
I don’t list these things as some sob-story. Each one helps me feel even more grateful that my hard work and determination has paid off.
That gratitude has helped me to value what I have and respect what is achievable.