For some reason, something about both her posts on early retirement did not sit quite right with me, but I was not really able to put my finger to it until now (Sorry, I am a 386 in the world of quad cores, I need a lot of time to process).
In one of her earlier posts, TeacHer Finance mentioned her agreement with the statement of “personal finance is personal”, and that there are no right or wrong choices from a personal point of view. I agree with that, but with a caveat. There may be no wrong choices from a personal point of view, but I do not agree that it is right to represent some of those personal choices as correct or optimal financial principles. To quote Adina J of Timeless Finance:
“Too many people lately seem so intently focused on the “personal” part of the equation, that they entirely lose sight of the “finance” component. Finance is an objective discipline — ask anybody with a Doctoral degree in it.”
Anyway, I digressed.
TeacHer Finance’s attempt at the discussion on early retirement as a wrong goal seems then to me a major inconsistency against her expressed belief. Doesn’t such a stand go against her original belief that personal finance is personal, and there is no right or wrong? Isn’t a discussion on whether something is a wrong goal moot, going by the same general principle?
She says in her follow-up post:
But my main objection to the goal of early retirement is that the person who sets such a goal is cheating herself out of the immense social and psychological benefits that come from doing work that brings her personal meaning and fulfillment.In other words, work isn’t just about money. It’s also about meeting the innate need that humans have for self-actualization, which is why I think that people are kidding themselves when they think that retiring early will bring them the happiness they are pursuing.
I feel that this paragraph seems to be to be going against everything she had previously espoused about personal finance because she is not applying her views only to her; she is applying it generally.
If the post had focused on why early retirement wouldn’t have been good finance, I would probably have no argument (if the mathematics had been sound). But she had chosen to expound on self-actualisation, which is such a subjective matter; how do you argue for a right or wrong in this case? Which I believe was exactly her point when she made the remarks on personal finance being personal.
Actually, if her first post had been couched as “What are your views on early retirement?” and her subsequent follow up had been why she thought early retirement would be wrong for her, then I think it would still have achieved the same goal of creating discussion without the same inconsistency.
I am also seeing enough such inconsistencies in the PF blogosphere, that it really does make me question if other bloggers who hold the same stand really believe in what they are expounding.
Or is it just me being unnecessarily nitpicky?