I am so afraid this is the worst time to RE - What do you think?

Hi all

I am finally there. I (39) just had a windfall and ran all the numbers. I should be able to retire with an SWR of 3.4%. I should be happy, shouldn’t I? I should be jumping in joy. But on the other hand I am so extremely afraid. People talk about how the market is overdue for a correction, share prices go up even though corona is nibbling at the economy, national banks are printing like crazy. Some people say that it’s not worth trying to time the market, but others remind me that the biggest killer for an RE plan is the famous market crash in the first two years of retirement.

That all makes me so worried that NOW is not the right time, that I should at least get the SWR down to 3% before retiring. But how long is that going to take?

I really don’t know. What is your take on the whole situation? Am I paranoid and the markets will go up no matter what? Is an SWR of 3.4% anyhow too risky for Switzerland?

Sorry for my worry-dump but once you get to that point where you can make the jump, the cliff just looks so much scarier…



You can also just work part time for a bit and maybe change the job to something that you like more.

Are all taxes including the wealth tax and social security contributions included in the 3.4% withdrawal rate? Is the 2nd pillar included in that calculation?


Hi Fork,

I understand your concerns. My take on these kind of situations is that, since the future is unknown, developing the skills that would allow us to adapt is a safe and fulfilling way to go.

As is, you have a decent safety cushion that should carry you through RE. If you spend the first few years doing meaningful activities that can be turned into income generating ventures, you could get to both enjoy having more mastery over your life and adding another layer of cushion in case your initial RE plan doesn’t work out.

Crises are an opportunity for new business ventures: business fail and there’s a market ripe for newcomers who have set themselves up to be ready to take advantage of it. Getting yourself ready for one such opportunity could be a good hedge.

Or basically, what xorfish said. Make your life how you like it and take charge of your time. You’ll get to keep deciding where you want to go from (t)here at all steps of the journey.

Actually I included all taxes on all levels (considering the SWR as income, just to be on the safe side) and the social security contributions. The 2nd pillar is not included, I expect that does however not create any additional expenses?


Here’s some recommendations:

Sounds to me like you’re there financially, but not not mentally. And that’s totally fine. Take it slow. Think about some possible futures, sleep a few times over it, and then you can (slowly) take action. Make some small adjustments that are reversible and see how it goes. Then you correct course, or continue on your path. Here’s a few ideas on what you can think about:

  • Do you like your work? What about if you know you don’t have to do it?
  • Assuming money is of no concern (say you’re at 2% withdrawal), what would you do? Would you still work a little? Would you travel the world? Would you sit around and do nothing?
  • Play with assumptions: What happens if you retire now and the crash comes tomorrow? What if it comes in 5/10/15 years? Would you need to go back to work? How much would you need to work? Could you?
  • Can you move slowly towards retirement? Maybe over 5 years and slowly work less? You’d probably get your withdrawal rate a bit lower that way and it wouldn’t be a big shock either.

Maybe you’ll find some other hypothetical scenarios you can play through that will help you make up your mind. Good luck on your journey and don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for what you’ve reached so far!


You should include your 2nd pillar as an asset. You will be able to invest it once you stop working.

It seems like you should be fine. Especially if you work part time for a few years.

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Read this thread. In short: A 2000 retiree experienced 2 of the 3 biggest stock market crashes of all time in his first 10 years of retirement and is still on 68% of his initial assets (in real terms, not nominal). So going forward from today, he could withdraw another 17 years with 0% real return. With the usual returns way longer than that.

Can you imagine a worse year than 2000 to retire? I can’t and the 4% rule worked just fine, even better than expected.

You’ll be fine with 3.4%.

Pretty sure that 1968 was a worse year.

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It’s not answering your question directly, but what I’d ask myself is: what does it mean to retire early? What are your expectations?

For me it’s not that I want to stop working. I just want to stop worrying and feel that I am in control of my life. I want to be able to just walk out if I am with an employer that I am no longer happy with or I am assigned a new manager that doesn’t treat me well.

It doesn’t mean that I would walk out, but I would no longer be tied and would feel less under pressure.

If I were in a situation to be able to retire with a SWR that is still not perfect, I would go after a job that I’d like without worrying about the salary, and continue saving what I can to continue to improve my SWR, but probably enjoying life more as I would be less stressed. And for as long as I cannot find this job, I would try to do a side business.


Well you are of course right. But what are the chances in retiring in a similar situation to 1968 or 2000?

Not Zero.

Don’t forget that someone who retires early is more likely to reach their number at a market top than after a crash.


Well obviously. If you want to be 100% sure, your withdrawal rate should be 0%.

Market is usually constantly in a new top.

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I’d pose the question:
Do you want to retire right now or soon?
Do you believe it’d make you happier at this point?
Irrespective of money and your income: Are you happy with what you’re doing right now?
Would you want to change anything about your current job and or life?

From what you wrote in your initial post above, one thing seems quite clear: You yourself do not feel comfortable about retiring early at this point. Now, will (should?) you let yourself get talked into retirement now by unknown strangers through an internet forum?

  1. Try to answer the questions in my first paragraph above

  2. If you really think to want to change your life now - and again, it’s a question you should try to answer first, without looking at the financials - maybe you could try to gradually ease into your way of living and budgeting?
    By, for example, reducing your income (and workload) to the point where it will just cover your current expenses but no more? That is, an amount with which you won’t be able to make savings but don’t have to dip into your nest egg either?

(Also, and this is merely a suggestion - but If I had to make just one suggestion outright, it would probably be this: If you decide to pull the trigger, don’t just reduce hours at your current job, activity and environment. Try to mentally distance yourself a bit and get outside of your comfort zone. How about working in another - lower-wage country. Could be with your current employer, if they have operations there? Or how about giving your career an entirely new spin in a different field? Something you always wanted to try, yet didn’t, because you didn’t know if it would work out and wanted to play it safe so far? Quitting and going back to university to do research? Working for a non-profit or charity organisation? Maybe a hobby or passion that you could turn into a gainful activity? Selling organic grocery at the farmer’s market part-time? Maybe you’re into fine wines or role-playing games, know a thing or two about them and could promote or sell them, for at least some extra income, in addition to living off your stash?
For example, you could think of it like this:
You might be earning 15k/month now. You might have accumulated 2M so far and concluded that at 3.4% withdrawal rate it would give you the 68k a year - or 5.7k a month - that you feel you could retire reasonably comfortably on. If you now got a new job for just a measly 3000 CHF net a month - and that could be part-time or mainly for fun - that would bring your down your required withdrawal rate to about 2% a year. Give or take, depending on the tax situation).


Yes - I think a part-time job is a good way to make people comfortable with a potentially insufficient SWR. Many folks also dont have enough hobbies when they leave a fulltime job - so it really makes sense to stay busy for 1-3 days per week with some part-time job.

(I have fired and I do a bit of consulting work here and there. The cool thing is that I can be super picky and push the hourly rates to obscene levels … if they bite, great – if not, that is fine, too.)


Thanks a lot to everyone for the great insight and support. This truly is a great and helpful community. So I understand it’s really mostly a psychological question. I’m not inclined to do any part time job for now but I’m quite confident that I can if I need to. I’ll probably take the leap and spend the first years living frugally to observe how the market behaves. If need be I’ll go back to work. But I guess I should be fine. I’ll mull it over during Christmas.

Thanks for the support. Apologies for not replying to all your inputs as they are plentiful but I appreciated all of them.


It would be great to have an update in 6-12 months, let us know how it went. Few of us reached thus stage and would learn from it.

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Since you‘re 39 and intend to retire, what are you going to do day2day the next say 30 yrs, if not a part time job?

I couldn’t imagine retiring at 39 without being able to spend 10k/month.

I couldn’t imagine spending 10k/month if I had full mastery of my time and could spend most of it outside. ^^


Is 10k a month (so 3 million) your goal for FIRE?

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