I just read yet another article on how retirement isn’t the panacea people think it is (at least for those financially prepared for retirement… ).
People seem to have this idea that they will do everything they want when retire (i.e., all the things they said they couldn’t do while working) and live a life of leisure and bliss.
And then they get bored. (They would admit, I am sure, it’s a nice problem to have; but it is something that needs solving… )
What people want, and what you can have well before your 60s, is financial security.
There are, of course, different levels of financial security (FS).
The first level of FS consists of two parts: 1) eliminating any sense of financial crisis (i.e., if you’re in debt, you don’t get any deeper… ) and 2) you get out of debt*, as quickly as possible.
The second level of FS is living a financially sustainable life (i.e. you have a clear and healthy money consciousness and excellent spending habits), you either have a solid** Emergency Fund or you’re building one and you are saving 10% or more for “retirement” (i.e. you are saving now in preparation for the years when you want to work (for money) less, and ultimately, when you can’t work at all).
The third level includes everything from the second level, but kicks thing up a notch in that you have an outrageous*** Emergency Fund and you save significantly for “retirement.”
The fourth level of FS is where you have enough saved where you could live, albeit very frugally, on a (conservative) percentage of your savings.
The fifth level of FS is where you could live – as you wish to – on a (conservative, at least at first) percentage of your savings.
Most people have a goal of having age 65 coincide with the Fifth Level of FS. Then: “they can stop working and do whatever they want.”
The fallacy is that sitting around drinking drinks-with-umbrellas-in on the beach or playing golf every day or [insert your dream retirement activity] becomes unbearably un-satisfying very quickly.
(For the record, I have nothing against drinks-with-umbrellas-in or golf, I can imagine no better regular activity than an occasional fruity cocktail at the 19th hole.)
Enter a different approach.
Why not do what you want now and earn money from it, and include (un-paid) personally satisfying activities that feed your soul for the rest of your life?
The only difference need be that as you get older you change the ratio of the two types of activity.
Of course, this approach requires that one spends carefully and with awareness and intention.
But that’s an idea for another blog post.
I leave you with the following:
“A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart.” – Jonathan Swift
* There is a debate about whether to “count” mortgage or student loan debt as debt-that-needs-to-be-eliminated-ASAP. (I would say if you’re paying interest on it, to whomever, you’re making someone else rich at your own expense – eliminate it.)
** Solid is a true six months of living expenses, set aside, in a highly liquid and available form.
*** Outrageous is 18 months of living expenses, set aside, in a highly liquid and available form.