If you're a Millennial, odds are good that you watched your parents endure the misery of being corporate drones so they could keep paying the bills.
Or perhaps you were dimly aware that at times they needed to spend six months or more pounding the pavement trying to find a job after getting laid off during one of the many recessions that took place during your childhood.
If you've lived through this, you may have had fantasies of escaping it and making enough money early on in life to tell the rest of the world to take a hike.
If so, you might find interesting the story of Patrick Pichette, Google's former chief financial officer, who, in March 2015, at the age of 52, announced that he was ending his seven year tenure at the search advertising giant to spend more time with his family.
His account sounded true to me--rather than the usual cover story someone gives for being fired. And his reasoning is clearly consistent with my idea of success as defined by controlling how you spend your time.
In the fall of 2014, Pichette and his wife, Tamar, were on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, watching the sunrise after a night of climbing.
As Pichette wrote, "And Tamar out of the blue said 'Hey, why don't we just keep on going. Let's explore Africa, and then turn east to make our way to India--it's just next door, and we're here already. Then, we keep going--the Himalayas, Everest, Bali, the Great Barrier Reef... Antarctica, let's go see Antarctica!?'"
Pichette countered that he had so many people depending on him that he could not follow her suggestion. "But then she asked the killer question: So when is it going to be time? Our time? My time? The questions just hung there in the cold morning African air," wrote Pichette.
After thinking about her challenge during his late-fall biking trips, Pichette decided that Tamar was right. Their kids were out of the house, he had been working for "25 to 30 years nonstop," and he was about to celebrate his 25th anniversary.
What he did not say--but is most likely true--is that he had made enough money to quit and do what he wanted. He earned over $5 million in 2013, and his Google stock options would have been worth over $100 million in December 2013, had there been a change in control, according to Google's 2014 proxy.
While he still liked working at Google and appreciated all the friendships he had made, he decided to jump on a path to a different kind of success.
As Pichette concluded, "In the end, life is wonderful, but nonetheless a series of tradeoffs, especially between business/professional endeavors and family/community.
"And thankfully, I feel I'm at a point in my life where I no longer have to have to make such tough choices anymore. And for that I am truly grateful. Carpe Diem."
This sounds great--but we can't all become top executives at Google.
What if you're just the average, well-educated, salaried professional. Is there any way that you can arrange your life so that you can ditch the corporate world at 33 and homestead in Vermont for the rest of your life?
Mr. and Mrs. Frugalwoods
That's how a Cambridge, Massachusetts, couple--a highly educated software engineer and a communications manager, who blog under the moniker Mr. and Mrs. Frugalwoods--see success.
As the Frugalwoods explained to Boston.com, they decided in 2014 that they did not want to spend the rest of their lives working in offices--the standard path was not fulfilling them.
But they went beyond merely expressing the sentiment so nicely depicted in the film Office Space. They set a goal of "retiring" in the fall of 2017, when they would both be 33 years old.
Mrs. Frugalwoods told Boston.com, "We plan to move to a homestead in the woods of southern Vermont and live off the land and have a garden and do the things we really want to do."
To retire at 33, the Frugalwoods ask: "How can we not spend any money today?"
They do things themselves--cut each other's' hair, prepare meals, do home repairs, entertain--that most people pay others to do. They buy everything used (including their 19-year-old car), and always accept free hand-me-downs.
And they seek to spend no more than $1,000 a month outside of their mortgages--limiting their 2014 expenses to $13,000.
They were expecting a baby later in 2015 and had spent $20 on the baby as of August 2015--getting the rest of what they needed through the Buy Nothing Project, "a worldwide social movement that began as an experimental hyper-local gift economy," according to Boston.com.
As a member of the Cambridge chapter, Mrs. Frugalwoods got a free stroller, crib, mattress, changing table, and toys, and spent $10 on baby clothes at a garage sale.
When they retire at 33, the Frugalwoods say they plan to explore their interests. Mrs. Frugalwoods will garden and write and Mr. Frugalwoods will woodwork, weld, and study the stars.
They intend to rent out their Cambridge home after moving. Mrs. Frugalwoods concluded, "We have no aversion to making money, we just like being in charge of our time."
Mr. Money Mustache
For a Western twist on Millennial early retirement, consider the story of Peter Adeney, who goes by the moniker "Mr. Money Mustache."
He announced in 2005 that he planned to retire by 30 by saving two-thirds of the $134,000 in pay--about $90,000 a year--that he and his wife Simi earned as software engineers in Colorado, according to The New Yorker.
By 2015, they had accumulated about $600,000 in investments and a paid-off house worth $200,000 with no debt.
So they retired.
The couple now live in Longmont, Colorado, with a 10-year-old son and spend an average of $24,000 a year, Adeney told The New Yorker.
That's about a third of what the "Economic Policy Institute estimates that the typical three-person household in Longmont, Colorado should set aside annually to cover housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes," according to Business Insider.
Even if you don't, as Adeney does, earn $400,000 a year through your personal blog, you may be able to mimic his frugal practices.
It all starts with a philosophy of radical saving.
As Adeney explained on his blog, "Each Ten [dollars] is a critical brick in the Early Retirement castle you are building. If you save $796 per week for 10 years, and get a 7 percent compounded investment return after inflation, you'll have $600,000 sitting around ready to party for you."
To get there, he explains, two earners need to save $398 a week. As he calculated, there are "112 waking hours in each week. Each person has to make 40 successful $10 decisions each week--or one $10 decision every 2.8 waking hours."
He and his wife get around town by walking or by bike. They go through a mere two and a half tanks of gasoline a year--using their car only "when he has to haul a load of more than a hundred pounds," according to The New Yorker.
Moreover, Adeney does his own home construction, the family dries their clothes outside, and they refuse to buy new things--such as Magic cards for their home-schooled son--when they can get them cheaper used on Amazon.
I believe that success is controlling how you spend your time.
And these Millennials have figured out how to manage their finances to be very successful indeed.