Retire Early For Your Car’s Sake

Living where you want, vanquishing new challenges, charting fresh courses, wringing the marrow from each bright minute…just some everyday joys of the early-retiree lifestyle.

These are joys un-retired souls yearn for in the deep hollows of their worker-drone bowels.

But for all their latent lusting, Working Stiffs can still fail to appreciate what these joys truly mean. That’s because a Stiff perceives early-retiree riches only in the abstract. The working drone has trouble imagining a life outside the familiar 9-to-5. The Stiff may even fear the liberties of achieving escape velocity from work.

Yeah, yeah, when finally retired, Stiff will rejoice these bounties with all the fevered jealousy of a hyena atop a half-eaten gazelle.

But before that actually happens, Stiff is limited to abstractions. And abstractions evade the suffering mind of an indentured servant. As a result, Stiff’s shriveled cerebrum can be coaxed into indifference or fear, believing without thought or reflection that life can’t be better outside the cubicle den or plate glass office or courtroom or classroom.

Living wherever, besting challenges and blazing new tracks are hard to weigh and count and measure. To the unprepared mind, such intangibility is unwieldy and loathsome. To Stiff’s flaccid mind, intangibility is bad.

And Stiff, in a fit of mental frailty, can begin to perceive early retirement as a weakness or failure rather than an indication of strength and success.

And Stiff can then construct great mirages and narratives that keep him pinned to the 9-to-5 like a thumbtack rivets a tail to the backside of an ass.

It’s sad, and yet Stiff’s flimsiness is commonplace.

So, in deference to Stiff’s woeful affliction and the fact that Stiff’s affliction isn’t his alone, let’s strip abstraction from the dialogue. Let’s stick with the here-and-now, the physical and the flagrant: Let’s speak Stiff’s language; let’s rap; let’s break it down; let’s have some Jersey Shore real talk for a min, brahs.

We can’t expect Stiff to appreciate the joy of stretching a muscle he doesn’t even know he has. We can’t ask Stiff to hear the poetry in a backboard-shattering slam-dunk if he’s never unplugged his ears. We can’t rely on Stiff to decipher Mona Lisa’s smirk if he’s never opened his eyes to the real beauty the world has on offer.

We have to reach out and grab Stiff’s attention like so many day-old donuts in the break room. We have to deconstruct the early-retiree life into componentry he can comprehend.

So now this, Stiff: Unplug your ears and open your eyes. What follows is not the fully assembled, ready-to-eat early retirement taco; what follows is the deconstructed early retirement taco, shredded lettuce only. But it’s all for you.

This is so you, Stiff, can understand some of the value and power of breaking the chains of mandatory work. And so, yes, you can begin to see breaking those chains as an act of valor benefiting those around you.

Think of it this way: If the thumbtack of fear still pins you to the donkey ass that is your worker drone life, and if you won’t break free for yourself, then please consider the well-being of your most cherished possession. If you won’t retire for yourself, Stiff, then please retire for the sake of your automobile.

Your Ride Is Sick, Brah.
Your Ride Is Sick, Brah.

Stick. Shift.

Ah, the gloriousness of early retirement that is not commuting. It’s a wondrous and powerful thing; its benefits myriad and long lasting.

But those benefits for you, Stiff, are most directly linked with the welfare of your ride.

Consider, Stiff: Without a daily-double to-and-fro, your luxury chariot can rest peacefully in its bedroom just off the driveway. It’s much more comfortable there than on the superheated and clogged highways. And dozing there it’s much more likely to appreciate the relationship it shares with you, since you’ll no longer be spending 15 weekly hours flattening its seat cushions.

Absence, as discussed in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, may in fact make the heart grow fonder. We can safely assume that what holds for human wetware also is true for the innards of internal combustion. And we can safely conclude that what’s proven for our mates also is true for meat crates.

Just think of it. You’ll no longer need to flog your car’s throttle it like somebody’s bad dolphin in a Little Mermaid sendup just to get to work on time.

You won’t need to subject your regal ride to the indignity of a proctological fill-up at the gas station every week.

You won’t dislodge her precious suspension when you hit that same pothole again on your commute.

And when you don’t hit that same pothole again, you won’t have to curse audibly over the delicate Bluetooth while helping your child understand why you’re missing yet another soccer game due to traffic.

Instead, in retirement, you can passively admire that shiny, gleaming trophy to the gods of waste as she depreciates with the blind fury of a screaming toddler in your heated and epoxied carriage house. She can appreciate your absence from her insides, and you can just take her in from afar as the piece of practically-priceless artwork you’ve always known she is.

What a beauty she is!, you’ll say to yourself as you admire the wheel bulges and fender flares. What great power she wields!, you’ll think as you pop the hood and stare at her engine block. What fine craftsmanship!, you’ll exclaim as you run your fingers along the stitches of her heated and perforated leather seats. Let me siphon all that excess cash I have sitting in my various offshore accounts to maintain her so forever!, you’ll proclaim.

And you’ll be able to, once you’re in early retirement. Just like formaldehyde does for a jarred frog in a middle school biology lab. You’ll be able to pamper your steely steed with the white glove touch she deserves. You need her for utility and commuting during your working years; in retirement, not so much; she can rest in the garage as she deserves.

And why wouldn’t you tender such care upon her once you’ve entered your golden decades? For she is your finest possession. One of your most expensive possessions, as all practically-priceless artwork is. And, indeed, you sacrifice so much for her during your working years, with tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars showered upon her and her kind. But she is well worth it. After all, you wouldn’t really want to retire a decade earlier but suffer the indignity of being seen in a less glam ride during your working years, would you?

Glove. Box.

Even if you did want to retire earlier, you have no choice but to finance her finery with at least a tithing of your paycheck while you’re working. Prior to retiring, you really need your luxe-crux mate-crate. Who would you even be without her?, you wonder.

And so you, great and aristocratic nobility of untold importance, could have it no other way than to mount your flashy steed twice daily during your working years. That flashy steed which, with sufficiently lurid dual exhaust and thrumming torque and HUDs and LEDs and OHVs to put to shame the paupers’ transportation used by the simple likes of Warren Buffet, befits your particular level of economic prowess and social gravity.

After all, while working at least, you’re as notable and successful as Mr. Buffet. Well, actually more so. And your ride has to be commensurately more expensive. More elaborate. More up to your standards of importance and specialness.

“I was invited to buy this six-figure Porsche SUV!” you exclaim. “I received a special invitation in the mail. It was made of heavy stock and had color photos and it said I deserve this. And it made me feel special. And they spelled my name kinda wrong. And it was for me! And! And!”


There’s no question you need such a street beast when you’re working. You can’t be seen in a vehicle that doesn’t scream to all passersby: “Hey, I’m someone!!” Your specialness needs the advert.

Because, well, your particular brand of specialness maybe isn’t so apparent to those less special than you.

You need the accouterments befitting your specialness. Lest it go unnoticed by the heathens. A regal ride is just part of the required cost of doing business. The cost of success. The cost of specialness. And, yes, that specialness has its perquisites.

Maybe you flash your Omega Seamaster out the driver’s window as you take the long way home from your kinda-made-it-job in your not-invisible Aston Martin, double-oh-special. Let them see my shiny toys!, you scream out the window.

Maybe you accidentally drop your key ring with the giant Mercedes peace sign in the checkout line at Target, er, Barney’s while out for toilet paper, er, a mink. Let them smell the oiled leather upon my backside!, you connive as you retrieve your keys.

Maybe you identify a speck of lint atop your Jag’s curved hood that requires impromptu polishing with your sweater sleeve in the valet pickup line while others behind you are afforded a quiet moment of immobility to admire your fastidiousness and obvious success. Who doesn’t love a moment of peaceful gridlock behind someone fiddling with his car at the front of a traffic line?, you ask, knowing that waiting on you is, indeed, a pleasure.

Yes, you certainly need your special steed while working, when you’re still leashed to your cubicle den. It’s right for you on so many levels. Necessary. Central to your being. And you can easily afford it, Big Timer. Anybody who’s anybody doesn’t count zeroes on a monthly lease bill for, say, bulletproof British engineering or unassailable Italian reliability! Four-digit repair bills are just another way to let the heathens know how little I care about money!, you grin as you hand your maxed out MasterCard to the cashier at the dealership service center.

You don’t mind delaying your retirement for years and years just so you can proclaim to all within earshot: “My commute is more important than yours!” or “These groceries are upper-class groceries that demand only the finest coachwork. I’ve got fresh strawberries in here!” You’re worth it, and she, your steed, is worth it. You’re practically made for each other. Above average in every respect!

After all, you’re not even close to average, All Star. For the lowly plebian, an average new car payment in the U.S. in 2015 was $483. Annually, that sucks down about $10k once gas and insurance are accounted for.

But all those figures aren’t even close to the non-average Aston Martins and Mercs and Jags and Porsche SUVs more appropriate for your garage and driveway and non-personalized parking spot at the oficina. For the above-average spender, like you Spiffy Stiff, with more digits in the checking account than can print on your ATM receipt, the math is much more special.

Take a nicely equipped 2016 GMC Yukon Denali, with its 1.5 acres of sheetmetal and MPGs of about 18. With just a sprinkling of options included, the list price of one of these civilian Panzer tanks is a tick over $75k. The monthly bill: about $1,100, after $7k down. All in with insurance and gas, that runs $1,460 monthly – or around $17,500 per year for the is-that-average?-domestic-bailout-GM-kinda-truck.

Wow, you’re rich!!

If you’re spending $17,500 per year on your #$%^& car, just stop reading this right now, close your browser and harpoon your face through your monitor.

Because there’s nothing more for you here. You’re already too rich. You’re already too special. And you never need to retire! Life’s too good already! You’ve got a fancy car!! Right, Stiff?

Brake. Light.

But maybe, just maybe, the impact of glass on your shriveled cerebrum has knocked some vague, primordial consciousness into you.

And maybe, just maybe you’re rethinking your whole orientation toward cars and meat crates and SUVs and early retirement.

And maybe, just maybe all that fear and indifference clogging your synapses like so much traffic on the Interstate is giving way to reasoned thought.

And maybe, just maybe you’re beginning to wonder whether there might be something to this whole early-retirement idea of doing what you want and vanquishing challenges and making the most of each bright minute by, say, spending 15 more hours each week with your family. Or working on passions that don’t have to pay in cash to be a success. Or discovering new modes of living that can’t be found in the fog of 9-to-5 warfare.

And maybe, just maybe you’ll agree that incinerating $10k-plus per year on a glorified go-kart just so you can play bus driver all day is a pretty stupefyingly bad way of engineering your financial life since it means you’re delaying all those extra hours with family and new modes of living by decades just so you can impress people on the freeway who aren’t paying any more attention to you and your Seamaster and your Jag SUV than you’re paying to what a jackass you are.

And maybe, just maybe you’ll agree that, if it’s not worth entering retirement early just for the sake of your car, then maybe it is worth forsaking your car to be able to enter early retirement.

Hasta pronto, Luchadores! Until then, lay down your limber fingers on those keyboards and lemme know whether you’d ever postpone life freedom for a sleek and shiny ride.


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