Chris Reining isn’t your average retiree. He said goodbye to his working years at 37, and is now financially independent, he is living his life on his own terms.
Growing up in a middle-class family in Illinois, Reining says he did well in school, earned scholarships, and attended the school that paid him most. Unlike many other young people, he graduated with only $4,500 debt, which he quickly paid in full once he started working.
Eventually he found a well-paying job working in cyber-security, took out a mortgage and bought a condo, and financed a BMW. But then he started to wonder: is this all there is?
“I finally said, ‘I can’t do this for 40 years,'” recalls Reining.
In his late 20s, Reining started searching for alternatives. He read the book, “Your Money or Your Life,” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. “It helped me realize there’s a way to arrange your life so you don’t have to sit in this cubicle for 40 years and the idea of becoming financially independent became real.”
By 35 he felt he had enough to live the rest of his life on his savings and investments without having to work again. It took two more years of showing up at the cubicle for him to be sure. Then, at 37, he finally walked away.
People who have reached financial independence can make it look easy.
But Reining is blunt about the prospects of making it to what he and others in the early retirement community call “financial independence, retire early” or FIRE.
“It’s not possible for everyone,” he says. “If you’re tapped out by your expenses, it isn’t realistic.”
Also, he says, getting to FIRE isn’t a sometimes thing. “It takes commitment,” he said. “The people who are most successful at it have compelling reasons for why they want it. The people who aren’t going to get there, even though by the numbers they could, are the ones who don’t have a compelling enough reason to make the hard decisions.” It takes commitment and discipline.
“It does take a lot of small daily habits that you need to practice, day after day,” Reining says.
His strategies for financial independence are to the point. Earn more, save more and invest better.
Retired for the past two years, Reining spends his time writing about financial independence on his website.