If you’ve been around here for a while (what the hell is wrong with you, anyway!?!?) you’ll know that I’m no fan of the retire early movement. I just never got the point of hanging up the skates for 50 or 60 years. I can’t envision having a happy retirement doing nothing all day long.
I’ve never really understood why we have to wait until having a specified net worth to do what we want. If you want to make changes in your life, make them. I was a traditional full-time employee for 15 years before deciding I had enough of that. Now I work on things that interest me. These projects usually have an ultimate goal of making money, but not always.
I’ll take it a step further and say I never plan to retire. I want to be doing interesting things until they download my memories into some hard drive somewhere, which is close enough for immortality for me. I’ve probably got 50 years left. That gives them plenty of time. GET AT IT, EGGHEADS.
This has led to plenty of clashes between me and the early retirement community. The folks over at Reddit were no fans of my philosophy and the Mr. Money Mustache forums told me to go straight to hell too. (I can’t find the MMM forum link which is too bad because I’ll always remember that one guy who thought he knew everything about me based on one blog post. It truly was delightful.)
These folks are all about retiring, while I’m on record saying I’ll never do it. No wonder we didn’t see eye to eye.
And then, a few weeks ago, I realized something. We’re both talking about the same damn thing. We’re just calling it something different.
Sorry, still not retired
If you read the early retirement blogs, they’re filled with people exchanging their time for money. Seriously, go check them out. It’s amazing how much these people work and still say they’re retired.
They all blog, which is a form of work right there. It’s hard to argue otherwise when you’ve got 14 different affiliate links on your site.
They do other things too. Some might be into travel hacking. I read one this afternoon whose owner went to help bottle beer and one last week about a guy who goes into the office 1-2 days a week. The chick from Frugalwoods is a freelance writer. And so on. There are a million of these. The common theme is, without exception, they still do stuff in exchange for money.
There are also those early retirees who have wives that still work. Those are the best ones.
Okay Nelson, so what’s your point?
It’s this. Fuck it. I’m retired.
My life is exactly the same as every other early retiree’s out there. I write stuff on the internet and combine that with hobbies to get me out of the house. I spend way too much time trying to optimize my finances and tweaking my portfolio. The only difference is, up until two minutes ago, I didn’t call myself retired.
I won’t go as far as saying I’m retired from 9-5 life or a regular job or whatever the hell you want to call “normal employment” either. If the opportunity is interesting enough I’ll gladly go back to working traditional hours again. Hell, I’ll work 60 hours a week for something that interests me enough.
No, I’m not retired from work. That is not the key to a happy retirement. I’m retired from work I don’t want to do. Which is the same as every other early retiree.
No matter how loudly they might claim it on r/financialindependence, these folks don’t hate work. They hate work that isn’t on their terms. I understand this completely and agree with it wholeheartedly.
My keys to a happy retirement
I’ve come to realize I like working on stuff for a while and then taking a step back. I lose interest in doing the same thing every day. So I look for things to do that offer:
- day-to-day variety
- the ability to use my brain and try to solve interesting problems
- the ability to (generally) earn me money
- enough flexibility that I can travel and not have everything go to hell
These are the keys to an happy retirement for me. They’re the keys to a happy life, too.
This might mean working a part-time job at a grocery store, a project that will take up more of my time really soon. (The store is doing a renovation and I’ll be helping out, which consists of a lot of planning and setting up new sections. It’s my favorite part of the job) Or it might mean this here bloggening. Or it could mean something else. But as long as I can stay busy and do stuff that doesn’t annoy me, I’ll be happy.
And if something does start to piss me off. I can easily quit. Which is why we all strive to be financially independent in the first place. So we have the freedom to do that.
Wrapping it up
Ah, it feels so good to announce I’m officially retired. Finally, me and the early retirement community can be friends! Come on over, guys.
Screw it, I’m mad again.
At least for me, the secret to a happy retirement isn’t doing nothing at all. It’s work on my own terms. That’s the ticket.