For my birthday two years ago, I was told by my Dad to pick out $50 worth of books on Amazon. Like the kid in the proverbial candy store, I browsed Amazon enthusiastically, deciding on my selections. Since Amazon doesn’t have Playboys, I was forced to buy my next choices, which included a copy of The 4-Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated: Expanded and Updated, With Over 100 New Pages of Cutting-Edge Content. (That’s an Amazon link. Can you tell?)
I read through it, and was a little disappointed with the content. Tim Ferriss focuses just about entirely on technology, explaining how everything online can be automated, meaning very little time needs to be spent on actual work. Ferris made it sound like financial independence was as easy as finding a decent product, putting in a couple weeks’ worth of work, and then reaping the rewards forever. Like a lot of financial “get rich” books, I didn’t care for it because the way to accomplish success was portrayed as just too easy.
This blog post isn’t to bash The Four Hour Workweek, or Tim Ferriss. I’ll leave that up to this guy. For all that’s bad about the book, there is some good stuff. I think everyone should strive for passive income. Focusing most of your efforts on things that make you the most money is good too. What has me particularly intrigued about the book lately is the concept of mini retirements.
What Is A Mini Retirement?
In the book, Ferriss brags a lot about the free time he has because of his insanely profitable internet businesses. With all his free time, he does and learns about all sorts of things. The big benefit of the Four Hour Workweek, according to Ferriss, is someone will finally have the free time that they can finally do the things they’ve dreamed of.
For me, this is not ideal.
When I think of mini retirements, I think about what Fabulously Broke is doing. For those of you too lazy to click the link, (damn, that’s lazy. I like it) she has decided to take the rest of 2011 off to spend time travelling to Asia, NYC and California, as well as spending time with her family. Because she’s been so good with her money, she has the freedom to do this. When her travel year is over, she’ll find another consulting gig and life will go on.
Maybe I’ve hit some sort of quarter (plus a bit) life crisis, but this idea sounds really cool.
My Mini Retirement Plan
I am a huge baseball fan. If my baseball love was a Star Wars villain, it would be Jabba The Hut. Get it? Because he’s so huge?
Yep, Star Wars jokes. You get what you pay for people.
My dream trip has always been to take a summer and travel around and watch a baseball game at all 30 MLB stadiums. When I was 19, I almost convinced a buddy to go with me, but he clearly couldn’t afford it. Since then, it’s always been something I’d like to do, but was relegated to a retirement activity.
My fellow chip jockey and I were talking after work the other day, over beers at my place, and the conversation turned to his upcoming retirement, like it has so many times in the past few months. I asked him about all the fun trips he was going to take once he was out of the rat race. After all, he is only 60. He works a fairly physical job, and isn’t all tuckered out at the end of the day. He has a fairly active lifestyle. I expected him to tell me about all sorts of adventures he had planned.
Instead, his answer was almost shocking. All he was looking forward to was taking it easy. He explained that once you get to be his age, all you want to do is take it easy around the house and hang out with your grandkids- sometimes. You don’t have the ambition or energy to embark on anything more than a weekend trip. He figures he’ll find some sort of part time job, and the closest thing he’ll take to a vacation is helping take care of the grandkids while his daughter and son-in-law take their holidays.
His answers made me reconsider my decision to push my baseball trip to retirement.
I’ve spent many hours over the years crunching out the numbers for my baseball trip. I’ve always figured I could do it for $15k, ($100 per day for 150 days) but I’d budget $20k just to be safe. To be able to spend months away from home for such a small amount, I’d have to make sacrifices while travelling. I would have to stay at hostels. I would be taking the bus from point a to point b. Expensive entertainment would be out. I wouldn’t be able to drink, which would be the easiest sacrifice, considering I don’t drink anymore.
If I wanted to, I could come up with $20k tomorrow. I’ve got cash in the bank, along with cash put aside for a new car. I’ve got cash sitting in a brokerage account. I’ve got profitable (and not so profitable) investments I could sell. Coming up with the money wouldn’t be a problem.
I have a mortgage that I pay down fairly aggressively. If I change my mortgage for the few months I’m gone, my payments can get down so it only costs me a couple hundred bucks a month once I factor in basement rent. My passive income can easily manage that. If I really wanted to, I could find someone to live in my house for the few months, giving them a smokin deal on the rent in exchange for taking care of the place.
The point of all this? If I really wanted this trip to happen, I could make it work.
Seize The Day
I’m 27 years old. If I don’t do this trip soon, I’ll end up with a gf/wife and 2.2 kids. While I want these things, there are things I want to do before settling down.
The big thing I’m struggling with is the opportunity I could miss. Let me explain further.
When my co-worker retires, his job opens up. Part of the reason I was hired was to train for this possibility. If no one with more experience than me wants his job, I get it. Since I live in a small town, the chances of someone moving here to take the job aren’t really that high.
This is a surprisingly lucrative job. It starts at just a little under $100k per year. Even though the boss can be annoying, for the most part we get left alone. The company has a decent pension plan. They give 3 weeks vacation every year (except to newbies like me, grr). It’s a decent job, and I think I’d be happy doing it.
The time of reckoning will come sometime this summer. Part of me almost hopes I don’t even get offered the job. It’ll make this trip decision a whole lot easier.
What Should I Do?
Running a chip route is a decent opportunity. It’s a good job without much stress.
On the other hand, I can always find a job. If I make $40k a year, I’m happy. I live cheaply and have lots of passive income. I can save money if I make $40k a year.
Is a once in a lifetime trip reason enough to throw away a good job opportunity? That’s the question I struggle with.