A millennial's piping hot take on 'How To Retire at 40'
A take so hot it could burnt your eyelids clean off.
As a huge fan of misery, I decided to watch Channel 4's 'How To Retire at 40'. Going into it, I expected to emerge feeling enraged, sad, briefly motivated, but ultimately envious of these oddballs.
The programme breaks things down into three easy sections:
- Taking a risk
- Super saving
- Trend spotting
Here's how I, a stereotypical millennial scum, perceived the show.
The programme begins with a staggering rhetorical question from Anna Richardson: "Ever dream of early retirement, escaping the rat race and sailing off into the sunset?"
I'll field this one. My dreams mostly consist of getting a half day off work because of good behaviour, Freddos finally being reduced to an acceptable price (10p) and having the ability to instantly teleport myself anywhere in the world. Not once have my daydreams consisted of retirement, any sort of race involving vermin, nor sailing, because I get seasick.
Next, Rhik Samadder reels us in with: "Bad news I'm afraid, most of us are going to have to work until we're at least 67 before we can pack it in".
Thanks for that, Rhik. Anna just painted a delightful picture, inviting us all to indulge our minds in a life without work, but now you've come along and metaphorically shat all over it. 67? Mate, I'm statistically not even going to make it to 67 so your words mean nothing to me.
Next, we meet Bryce and Kristy, who were both wealthy enough to retire at 31, but not wealthy enough to invest in some high definition video recording equipment, evidently. Their trick was to avoid getting a mortgage and instead renting and investing in index funds, which then grew into huge savings.
As the caption suggests, they're Canada's youngest retirees and I imagine they are widely hailed as heroes everywhere they go because nobody understands how they fuck they've managed it, so it's just easier to congratulate them rather than asking for a laborious explanation.
Retiring At 40 Plan #1: Taking A Risk
Anna goes to some type of club where tens of people frequently gather to come up with the next big idea. Personally, if I had the ability to come up with the next big idea, I'd keep it to myself rather than sharing it with a group of money-hungry strangers. Apparently 80 new businesses an hour are set up in Britain, which is alarming because I'm not sure I could name more than five British businesses off hand.
Next, we meet 28-year-old Pippa, who gave up her day job to set up a company that produces nut butter, which criminally isn't called 'I Can't Believe It's Nut Butter', FFS. Pippa informs us that in 2016, she made £3 million from sales. Personally, I think she could've doubled that figure with my aforementioned name suggestion, but what do I know?
Our Pip crowdfunded £120,000 in NINE DAYS to start her company, which is a turbo millennial thing to do, but also very impressive. Part of me wants Pippa to go on Dragon's Den to pitch her idea, then when the Dragons start poking holes in it, she can turn around and let them know that she actually doesn't need nor want their investment, she has simply turned up to gloat.
I've conflicting feelings about this one. Crowdfunding that much money for such a common product is (excuse the pun) nuts. I suspect there are other forces at work. Pippa possibly carried out a very sophisticated bank heist and enlisted the help of noted nut fiends, the squirrels.
Retiring At 40 Plan #2: Super Saving
Former accountant Barney retired at 43, so I'm immediately questioning why he's on this show given that the cut off point is three years before his time. If I may cast your eyes to the size of his latte for a moment, I think you'll find that it is fucking ginormous. I also feel that Barney is exactly the type of person that would tell us millennials that if we stop buying avocado toast and lattes, we too could purchase a house in a fortnight. The irony. It burns.
Barney says you need twenty-five times your annual spending in order to be able to retire. I, like many others, haven't a breeze what my annual spending is, nor do I want to know because I just don't need that kind of negativity in my life right now. One thing I know for certain is that I will probably never have twenty-five times anything unless that number is zero because 25 x 0 = 0.
If you save 50% of your income, Barney tells us that it'll take 19 years to retire, but if you can get those savings up to a beefy 75%, my dude, you will be smelling the sweet success of retirement in 7 years. All of this is a lot of fun to hear about, but Jesus suffering Christ if there's a person alive with that kind of income and saving ability, truly they deserve to retire immediately and bask in their glory of being a savvy little shit.
Retiring At 40 Plan #3: Trend Spotting
Chris and Ollie have gone halves on a £365,000 flat. They split everything right down the middle and will come away with exactly half each when they sell it on in a couple of years. The pair both put in £25,000 to buy the place and are now spending £600 each per month on a mortgage compared to £650-£750 they would've been spending per person elsewhere. Does this mean they'll be able to retire at 40? I feel not.
It seems like a nice idea, two friends putting together £25,000 of their savings to buy a house. However, there's a lot that I don't like about the situation. Have either of them got girlfriends? When they stay over, is there tension? What if one of them dies? Who decides what colour scheme to have throughout the place? Does the taller one help the small guy to reach the higher shelves?
My main gripe is that they never told us how old the lads are, or what jobs they've got. Somehow, Chris and Ollie both had £25,000 going spare, which to me can only have one logical explanation: It's another sophisticated bank heist. Perhaps they work in the bank, so they easily gained access to the money vaults. Now they've pumped it all into a house and their boss thinks they're too adorable to repay it. Those bloody scamps.
Putting 'Super Saving' Into Practice
Nicola, Dave and baby Alfie do something called a 5:2 financial diet, whereby they don't spend money for five days, then spend for two. Nicola says they're doing this so that they can retire when they're 50, at which point I'm questioning the name of this programme once more. My mind is also wandering into a scenario where baby Alfie has to summon all his strength not to buy a flat white on day four of five.
They're saving £14,000 a year thanks to this plan, which is an impressive 40% of their income, but I can't help but feel that it's quite impractical and also very easy to cheat. All you need to do is take out £100 from the ATM on one of the two days that you're allowed to spend, then use that throughout the five days of purchasing abstinence. Technically it's already come out of your account anyway and also life is too fucking short to be miserable.
Putting 'Taking A Risk' Into Practice
23-year old Adrian set up his business for £1,000 and it involves, I shit you not, sending people personalised messages on a potato. As an Irish person, I feel I need to make some sort of famine-reminding statement here, but I'm too distracted by the sheer gall of this man charging a minimum of £3.99 for a potato with some writing on it, and then bragging about how it comes with free delivery.
He says he's got a net profit of £26k, at which point I had to step away from the television for a moment to reevaluate every single choice I've made in my life which has led me to this truly depressing moment. Then, when I summoned the strength to finish this episode off as some sort of sadistic act, I learnt that this chap is only working 8 hours a week. EIGHT. Fuck me. I do not want to live this planet anymore.
Putting 'Trend Spotting' Into Practice
The average Brit is apparently spending £110 a month on takeaways. Spotting this trend, some geniuses have set up an app that allow users to get themselves discounted food at the end of a restaurant's day of service. It's win-win as it helps to cut down on the restaurant's food waste and avoids any loss of sales. I'm finding it hard to fault this one because it's actually a really good idea and something I'd absolutely take advantage of.
Sophie goes to an Indian restaurant and for £3.50 she gets an assortment of food left over from the evening service, which is said to be worth £9 - £12 and pretty much guarantees you a full portion of dinner. She headed off with a decent amount of grub and was on her merry way. They didn't properly explain who this is going to help retire by 40, is it the savvy food purchaser, the app creator or the restaurant owner? Either way, a cheap takeaway will help take everyone's mind off the likelihood that they'll probably be able to retire at the age of 109.
I, a stereotypical millennial, would like to retire immediately but that is in no way feasible.
I'm too much of a wimp to take a risk, nor do I have the funds to do so. I'm definitely not smart enough to spot a trend that could result in me making a substantial amount of money and I do not have the means to be a super saver because I'm not even a regular saver.
To successfully retire at 40, you need to be brave, smart and good with money. Those people are definitely out there and I will eternally envy them.
The man on this show who will allegedly retire at 40 because he has set up a company that sends potatoes with personalised messages written on them is the biggest salt in the wound that I will take from this programme. I would like to retire at 40 just to spite him.
Basically, fuck everything. I'm going to be a YouTuber.
All images via Channel 4