Do you have a "Go to Hell" fund?
What is a "Go to Hell" fund? It's a pile of money, easily accessible, so you can keep your respect and dignity in any work environment.
We're living in a time where automation or overseas offshoring of jobs threatens the livelihood of many various jobs.
Imagine if you were given your layoff notice AND asked to stay on the job long enough to train your replacement? Wouldn't you have some words for that employer? I know *I* would!
One problem with IRS regulated retirement plans, is the perception of security and accessibility. Just because you may have $100k in your retirement plan, doesn't mean there aren't strings attached. There are LOTS of rules attached to these plans.
These plans don't make you rich. They're retirement SAVINGS plans - designed to accumulate a retirement fund to take from JOB TO JOB. They aren't designed to enhance your financial capacity to do whatever you want to do.
If you don't have a "go to hell" fund in an accessible place WITHOUT having to ask for permission, meet certain criteria, or pay taxes & penalties... then you aren't FREE! You have to stay working for someone else until you do... or until you retire and just give up on what you would've preferred to do.
(Of course, most who really want that freedom might just say 'Damn the consequences, I'm doing it anyway'. That's true, but wouldn't you rather do it on purpose earlier than feel forced to later - with taxes and penalties?)