It’s commonly known within the FIRE community that the FI stands for Financial Independence and the RE stands for Retire Early.

But there are a lot of folks who love the idea of becoming FI, but they really enjoy their jobs and work brings them a level of fulfillment, so they have no desire to RE.

The White Coat Investor has said as much, and Steve over at Think Save Retire has a great post on this as well.

But we’ve decided we want to RE, and here’s why.

Why Retire Early

It’s easy to assume most people would love the idea of retiring early. But why? What is it about early retirement that is so appealing to so many people?

In general, I think it comes down to 2 things.

1. Autonomy

Most people don’t enjoy the traditional work setup of having to do tasks based on the whims of other people. Those other people could be bosses, mysterious executives, or even customers.

But the reality is, when we’re in the traditional workplace, we are not the masters of our fate. Most of us like the idea of controlling what we do, when we do it, and how we do it, but in a traditional work environment, we generally don’t get those kinds of choices.

2. More Free Time

Work takes up a bunch of our time. Most of our time, in fact. If we’re lucky we get to take some paid vacations throughout the year, but the reality is we spend more time at work than we do with our spouses or families. That’s often a time dynamic that we would love to flip.

And more free time means more time to do things we actually want to do, which ties back in to autonomy.

Maybe that’s being home more and spending more time with family. Maybe it’s traveling. Maybe it’s finally spending time in the woodworking shop in the backyard, or playing video games, or some mix of all of the above.

We all have hobbies and interests that get pushed aside because we spend so much time at work. If work goes away, suddenly a lot of free time opens up.

So What is Our Why?

If I had to jam it into a list (and I’ve made myself do just that), it would look something like this…

1. I Want to Experience My Kids Growing Up

We have a young family, and I would love to be around more to experience them growing up. I also want them to experience me being around as their father, having fun together, learning together, and making memories they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Some of this might actually look pretty mundane, like helping out with homework, being more involved in bed-time routines, going for hikes in the woods, or just hanging out watching movies in the middle of the day. (Kids have summers off and I don’t. No fair!)

But some might look glorious. Like introducing my kids to photography and videography, taking day trips for incredible outdoor adventures, or just dropping into a local market to do some thrift shopping and teaching our kids how to use their own money to buy fun things on the cheap. The possibilities are endless.

What I don’t want is for my kids to look back and realize daddy was super busy at work so we never got around to doing this thing or that thing that was really important to them, even if only in that moment. Or dad was never able to come to my (insert super awesome event here).

I want to be present and experience life with my kids.

2. Supporting My Wife’s Passions

I also want to be a greater help to my wife.

While I’m at work, she’s at home with our 4 kids making the family engine run. She’s amazing at this, but it’s incredibly difficult and exhausting work. There’s really no way to quantify just how much appreciation she deserves from me, and society in general, for bringing her very best to raising our kids day in and day out.

If I were home full time, I could be a tremendous help with making the family run. (Ok, tremendous might be a stretch, but you gotta have goals, right?) We could divide up errands, making it possible for my wife to leave the house kid-free to accomplish things 789% faster than it normally takes with kids in tow.

We could take turns cooking dinner (Or maybe not. I suck in the kitchen).

We would literally double the amount of eyes available to track the rapid movements of our kidlets, and that would make my wife’s life so much easier and fun as we raise our family together.

And beyond the kids, I want to support my wife in pursuing her hobbies and passions that don’t include changing diapers, shuttling kids around in the fam van, and annual doc and dental checkups. Right now she’s doing all those things to support my need to spend most of my time at work.

Instead, we want to transition her full-time-mom position to more of a part-time gig. Then she can focus on other things she’s passionate about – things she’s essentially put on hold for almost a decade to focus on our family. That’s real sacrifice right there.

3. Traveling

And finally, we love traveling and experiencing different cultures and gaining a better understanding of how others live across the world. We also think it’s incredibly important for our kids to experience that as well.

We’ve already been doing that in short bursts with that awesome paid vacation time my my job so generously provides, but we would love to spend a month, or two, or even three in another country and really get a feel for how the local people live their day-to-day lives.

My workplace is super generous, but they’re not handing out 3 months of vacation time like candy.

It’s Time to Go

To make all these things a reality, that means the job has got to go. It’s been fun…ish, but our next stage in life is calling.

Those are the core reasons why we are looking to retire early. What are we doing today to prepare for this dream? I’m working on a future post where I’ll dive into exactly what we’re doing with our money today to plan and prepare for our early exit from the 9 to 5.

Are you on the FIRE path? Are you planning to retire early? What are your main reasons for wanting to RE?