Retiring vs. Financial Independence

What is the difference between retirement and financial independence? When I was younger I had always hoped to be able to retire comfortably at age 65. While this is not a bad goal, it is no longer what I am shooting for. I am aiming for Financial Independence (or FI) and hopefully well before age 65. There is a movement called FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early). I’m not so sure I am too worried about the RE part of that acronym. Sure, I don’t think I will be drilling teeth my whole life, but retiring isn’t something I really even think about. I spend my time thinking about Financial Independence.

Retirement is not my goal

Why is this? Well, I like working. That doesn’t mean I want to work the rest of my life, but I do want choices. Once I reach financial independence then I can choose if I want to work, or how much I want to work, or even what I want to do. This will help me avoid burnout. Once I’m done being a dentist, that doesn’t mean I have to retire. There are a lot of other things I could do to keep me busy. I could work some, a lot, or not at all. The beauty is that I don’t need to decide that now. I can decide that when I reach financial independence.

Maybe I will quit working for a while, and then get back into it. I want to be able to travel when I want, stay home when I want, just do what I want (even work). Financial independence will give me that freedom. So I will not have a retirement date or party because I will never know if I’m actually retired. Once I am financially independent working will always be on the table if that’s what I want.

I’d rather know the direction to financial independence than retirement

Which one is better? Retirement or Financial Independence

I hope the difference between Financial Independence and retirement makes sense. Retiring hopefully means you are financially independent, although if all you have is Social Security then that is not the case. But Financial Independence definitely doesn’t mean retiring if you don’t want it too.

I will continue to pay off debts, work hard, save a bunch, and stick to my investing plan until I am financially independent. When I reach that goal, will I retire? Maybe not. I’m hoping to be too young to want to fully retire. Perhaps I will continue to be a dentist but have it be on my own terms and only do things I will enjoy. Or perhaps I will change careers and do something strictly for enjoyment and not worry about how much it pays me. Either way, Financial Independence will give me the freedom to choose, and that is something way better than retirement.

-Debt Free DDS

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