Like most people chained to a desk all day, I dream of an early retirement. I mean, who wouldn’t want to sleep in and then spend the day doing whatever the hell you wanted? But while retirement is the dream, I don’t think I want it if it means I’m a pretentious asshole, like “JP Livingston” (a pen name), a 28-year-old New Yorker who retired at 28.
JP, who writes the blog TheMoneyHabit.org, retired from the investment firm she worked at after graduating from Harvard (of course). But it was during a trip to a Buddhist monastery in Taiwan (seriously) during her college years that Livingston devoted herself to a minimalist lifestyle that allowed her early retirement.
“Going to a school like Harvard can sometimes make you feel like you have to pursue a certain kind of high-powered corporate life to be respected. I had been feeling a lot of that pressure and this experience helped. I remember one night we were visiting a temple in the mountains. I was laying on a very thin bamboo mat on a hard wooden plank at probably 4 a.m., staring up at the ceiling. All we had was basic food, a uniform, and peace and quiet, and I was happy, happier than I was at school many days surrounded by a smorgasbord of opportunities and privilege and leadership and all that. It reminded me that we don’t need much to live a happy life.”
Blach. After a brief stint as a horse-trekking assistant to nomads in Mongolia (I’m not joking) post-graduation, Livingston joined the firm she eventually retired from, and saved while investing and was able to bank enough to leave her job at the ripe old age of 28.
Sounds great, right? Living the early retirement dream. But before we get too jealous about JP’s retired status, let’s consider some factoids about her life:
She lives in a 325 square foot apartment… with her husband and her dog.
Fun fact: 325 square feet is the size of an average U.S. hotel room. Now imagine having to live in a hotel room with your significant other and a dog. No, thank you.
She buys her furniture on Craigslist.
Listen, I’m cool with a bargain, but hell if I’m going to sleep on a used mattress.
Speaking of bedding… her mattress is on the floor because she didn’t want to spend an unnecessary $600 on a bed frame.
What the actual fuck? A mattress frame is exactly $37.99 on Amazon. And if you have a frame, you can put shit underneath your bed – a necessity when you live in what is essentially a closet.
Livington and her husband buy their groceries at Trader Joe’s or in NYC’s Chinatown to keep their costs down.
I am 100% down with TJs, but I’ll be damned if I’m spending my retirement years buying off-brand Wheat-Thins with a foreign-language label.
You know what? If that’s early retirement, I’ll think keep working. I’d rather rise and grind for a while longer and be able to afford enough space that I won’t go crazy with claustrophobia during my leisurely days at home while sitting on a reasonably unskanky couch enjoying name-brand Oreos. Because what fun is not working if you don’t have enough money to enjoy it? .