Early Retirement

I ordered a book into the library and it finally arrived last week. To be honest, I didn’t remember requesting it, but it looked interesting. Stop working … start living : how I retired at 36, without winning the lottery by Dianne Nahirny. My guess is that I accidentally requested it, when I was actually thinking of Derek Foster’s book Stop working, here’s how you can! (The book title actually includes an exclamation point.)

Both are books about people who retired in their mid-30s. They both profess to be geniuses, and ready to share their wisdom with you, the stranger who just happened to pick up their book. And they both fall into the category of “It worked for me, and it can work for you, too!”

The problem is that it can’t work for the reader. Not necessarily, anyway. Both authors were very lucky. Dianne bought Ontario real estate just as the market was taking off. She went all in, borrowing from the bank and from her family, in order to get into the market. Increases in market value created her wealth. She made some good choices, but it’s important to recognise the role that luck played. Derek invested in the stock market. He borrowed a lot of money and went all in on a bet on Altria. He doubled his money. He also made some good choices, but needs to recognise the role of luck.

Here are the two lessons that I drew from reading Stop Working… First, grab the opportunities that come. Not everyone is lucky, but most people have a variety of opportunities in life. In order to benefit, however, they need to act, either step in cautiously or jump in with both feet, and make the most of their circumstances. The second lesson is to invest in what you know. Dianne enjoyed real estate. She bought real estate, she read about real estate and she worked in a real estate office. It’s not surprising that she made her money in real estate, since that’s what she knew. Derek was trained in stock market-related investing. He invested in the market, learned about the market and, unsurprisingly, made his money there.

I’ve had my share of luck. I won’t advise anyone to “do what I did!” because their circumstances will be different. I bought my house at the right time, leveraged it up and invested in the market. I made most of my money while the market rebounded from the crash in 2008-2009. Looking back, I’m not even sure I could tell you when or how I made most of the money. It doesn’t really matter, anyway. I jumped in with both feet, when I saw an opportunity. As long as I’m alive, I will continue to see life as a variety of opportunities.

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