Retire at 40?

I’m way past 40 so it won’t be me! But who watched Channel 4’s 30-minute programme, shown on Monday night, ambitiously titled ‘How to Retire at 40‘?

I won’t go into the programme details myself except to mention that I didn’t think much of it, but there are some interesting discussions here and here, from bloggers who were actually featured (briefly) on the programme and one who missed the cut (unlucky, Huw!).

Watching the programme and seeing the young folk featured on it, I was reminded of how when I blundered into embarked on my own career in my early 20s, the very very last thing on my mind was retirement (although following my older sister’s advice, I joined the company pension scheme as soon as I was able to).


I’m from the traditional/common way of thinking – go to school, go to university, graft for 40 years, retire in my mid-60s.

Nothing wrong with that way of thinking – it’s what many people do. I have been fortunate in that my 20+ years career (so far) has been largely fulfilling and enjoyable, and I have made close and life-long friends through work.

Despite spending most waking hours at work, I’ve been able to enjoy my life, including go on holidays every year, have enough time for family and friends, have hobbies etc. I have always been able to maintain a good work/life balance.

I will admit however that much of my life was fuelled by debt but that was me being stupid with credit cards until I came to my senses and paid them all off.

Throughout my career, I have never minded working for The Man/The Woman, although I guess I’ve been fortunate with my bosses in that they’ve all been pretty reasonable people (most of the time) and people who I respected. I may not be so fortunate in the future.

Be my own boss? No real desire to do that, sounds like too much hard work!

Anyway, what got me thinking about early retirement a few years back was stumbling across MMM and then wondering what I would do if I suddenly started to hate work and be fed up with the 9-5? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to just walk away?


Well, without sorting out my personal finances, my only option would be to keep plugging away another 20 or so years until normal retirement age (67 for me). Ok if you like/love your job; not ok if you have health issues or dread going into the office every day, although of course, you can always switch jobs if this is the case.

I’m hoping that saving and investing hard now will build up a big enough pot which will allow me to choose to stop working full-time at age 55-56 (my stretch target) if I’m fed up with work by then. Some may not think this is early retirement but I consider anything <60 as early!

In the event that I’m not mentally ready to give up work then (like Jim from SHMD) or if I’m just content doing what I’m doing, I might choose to just carry on working and continue to save and invest. That’s the thing – I’ll get to choose.

I don’t think there’s such a thing as ‘too much’ in retirement funds (I won’t be anywhere near the lifetime limit!) but ‘too little’ would be a miserable scenario!

I’m barely two months into my new job and things are looking good so far but I must keep one eye on the future. I’ll be eligible to join the company pension next month so a few more £££s in the pot there.

Another win!

Anyway, ending on a good note: another month and another Premium Bond win for me (any wins for you, FiL?).

I won £50 so I’ll be lumping this in with other cash to be used to buy investments.

In it to win it, like the lottery only you get your money back (subject to inflation!)

Have a great weekend, all!

17 thoughts on “Retire at 40?

  1. Hi weenie

    The only term I could come up with for How to Retire at 40 was tripe and that’s coming from somebody who is FI at 44. I was actually contacted by the show researcher and am so glad I opted out. I’d even go so far as to say the show might have even turned people off going for FIRE. It was that bad IMHO.

    I’m a big fan of the OurTour guys featured. Their motorhome, with a UK ‘tiny house’ to return to, lifestyle is not my bag but the way they go about living and their positivity is something I hope I can replicate when I soon FIRE.

    Congrats on the ERNIE win and I continue to wish you much success going forwards

    • Hey RIT

      I’d agree that the show is very likely to put people off and I like the conspiracy theory you mentioned on Jim’s blog that that was its intention – to keep the masses ignorant of FIRE and to keep them spending, haha!

      Yeah, I’ve checked out the OurTour blog and their lifestyle isn’t for me either but I really applaud what they have achieved.

      Cheers for the kind wishes and your continued support.

  2. Watch almost no TV so can’t comment on the programme. But you’ve identified the key element to being financially independent – you get to choose how you live your life. That might be that you retire early, or continue working – it doesn’t matter, but the choice is now yours.

    Having past that point late last year, I’m still working for now because after a couple of crap years at work, things may be getting interesting again. If they do, excellent. If they don’t, also fine. If the second scenario ends up being the one that plays out, I honestly can’t see myself actively looking for new employment.

    • Hi Chris

      Thanks for sharing and congrats on reaching FI! You are in an enviable position and as you say, if work is fine, then you’re choosing to stay on and just adding to your pot! All the best with your retirement should the other scenario happen!

  3. Hi weenie!l,

    Hope you don’t mind but this is an edited cut n paste of my comments on the show I left on TEA’s blog:

    I think we were maybe expecting too much here.
    Happiness is reality minus expectations and all that!

    I mostly enjoyed the show but yea it was light on content on how to actually retire by forty. Didn’t get the bit about the guys “investing” in the property share. Unless they were planning on doing some Geo-arbing once they sold up and banked their profits then they would just have to buy somewhere else to live and be no better off because the whole of the housing market would have risen as well. But it was a good demo of how to get on the housing ladder I guess.

    The potato guy did say he worked 8 hours a week, so I guess he’s got his process down to be very efficient! If people are paying him for this then I would assume they find it valuable and so he is not just making money for the sake of it, he’s providing a valuable service (to idiots, I guess you could argue, but who are we to judge )

    Shame we saw Huw’s face but they didn’t feature him at all!

    • Hey TFS

      No, I don’t mind the cut n paste, it’s all relevant!

      Yep, agree that the guys house-sharing was a good example of how to get on the housing ladder but not a lot else. I too was flummoxed as to where were they going to live when they eventually sold the house and how that meant they could retire by 40.

      I don’t want to knock the potato guy – well done to him for finding something which people will pay daft money for! But I would have liked to have heard what he was doing with his profits to enable him to retire early, unless this was just a side hustle he was doing while ‘retired’.

      Yep, I so wanted Huw be featured – maybe next time, if there is a next time!

  4. I watched this on catch up and yes, agree it was rubbish. Another light-hearted missing the point show. Could have been so good yet ended up being empty.
    Oh dear.
    Guess is saves all that FI freedom to those of us who really are trying to get to FI and free ourselves from the bind of work.

    • Hi Sparklebee

      Yep, I was disappointed that it was such a big opportunity but a bit glad that the topic made mainstream tv at all.

      I don’t mind that FI freedom is a bit niche and different, but with people not saving enough for their normal retirements never mind early retirement, I think the huge gap needs to be addressed through education. Sadly, that tv show was not educational at all!

  5. Hi Weenie,

    Seems like almost everyone in the FIRE community thought that this was a waste of time and space! As I am also past the 40 point I won’t be able to retire at 40 (I think technically, if I sold up everything, moved out of London and bought a small terraced house somewhere in Wales maybe, then I could, but that isn’t going to happen!).
    They really did miss a trick on looking at how people need to rethink away from purchasing pointless cr@p) such as sending potatoes through the post (I still struggle with this, but there you go!), to actually saving. They didnt spend long enough explaining the 25x rule, or even the impact the savings rate would have – you know people will have heard the 50% or 75% and just switched off, going that is impossible, rather than thinking.
    A real shame, but there you go – 25mins (I skipped the adverts!) of my life I wont get back!
    Congratulations on the Ernie win – seems you are hammering it this year – so far for me I have either won nothing, or the emails have stopped coming through. I probably ought to log in to check!

    • Hey FiL

      Yep, they really missed a trick but they were going for ‘entertainment’ with minimal info. Lots of fodder for the Daily Mail reader types anyway and lots of venting from the PF/FI community haha!

      Agree that people would have just switched off as soon as ‘save 50% of your salary’ was mentioned as they’d just think there was no way they could do that since there was no explanation of how it had been achieved, which could include not succumbing to lifestyle inflation and saving your pay rises etc.

      Yes, looking good for me with Ernie – long may it continue! I can’t wait for the day when I blog about a BIG win! 🙂 Good luck with yours!

      • So true. Saving 50% of your salary by cutting your spending in half overnight is really, really hard. Saving 20% of your salary and then diverting every pay rise before it hits your main account is far easier to do, and it ends up in the same place over time.

        Not making this and the 4% rule clear was just laziness IMO

        • Hey PwF

          Yep, it was lazy tv, or just bad editing, ie the detailed explanation probably wasn’t ‘exciting’ enough and ended up being cut. At least from the comment on Huw’s blog, there was at least one person who was inspired to do their own research – Hurray for Faye! 🙂

  6. well done on the PB win, I won £25 this month myself. I am glad I missed the programme as it sounds like it was all surface and no depth. I think the save 50% part is a journey itself, the first cuts are relatively easy then once you get used to this then you can make the next cut and so on. I have to admit that we are probably never going to make it to 50%, we are hoping to get to 30% though which will be fine for us and once our kids are grown then 50% will be a breeze!

    • Hi mrshudson

      Congrats on your PB win too!

      Agree on the 50% – no one can be expected to start saving this amount immediately (or all the time), you take it a step at a time if/when you can. 30% would be a tremendous effort with kids, all the best with that and yes, once they’re older, 50% should be a breeze!

  7. The retire at 40 program reminded me of someone I met who sort of did the same in reverse. He had an eccentric lifestyle living in a camper van up to the age of 44. presumably living in a camper began to wear thin because he then decided to go for a mainstream lifestyle and began looking for his first real job with a view to getting a mortgage for his first home. I suppose he had his retirement up front and now has to work for the next eighty years! Not for me, but I can see some positives i.e. if he was to die early he will turn out to have been wise before the event. Better than being masocistically penny pinching to fund a short retirement.

    • Interesting but not sure I would want to do it that way – sounds like he didn’t get the balance right while he was living in the camper van and didn’t have the funds to live that sort of lifestyle comfortably. I’m not saying it’s not possible to earn a decent salary from 44 but his earning potential would have certainly taken a big.

      There’s frugal and there’s penny pinching – I can’t see me being happy with the latter!

      • Yes, I agree, just being facetious Like most people I have been able to delay gratification and have gone through the pain of employment before experiencing the pleasures of retirement. I have experienced some feelings of boredom and lack of purpose now I’m retired,, but I suppose I had those when I was working too.

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