Yesterday a reader asked me a really good question, something I’ve touched on before but never fully explained. Since I’m not making enough money to build up a nest egg, or holding one job long enough to acquire a pension, what do I plan to do for retirement?
The answer is this: I intend to work until I die or am incapable of working.
That might sound mildly horrifying, especially to those of you who’ve put in your 40+ hours a week for the entirety of your adult lives and are looking forward to (or currently enjoying) your well-deserved time off in retirement. But living this kind of lifestyle gives a person a different perspective.
What I do now doesn’t feels like a hardship to be endured. It’s a continuous working vacation, with a much better work-life balance than what I had those five or so years I was in the “real world” after college. I was already tired of working and the thought of being stuck in a 9-5 for 35 more years was intolerable to me. What I do now, I feel like I could do forever without growing weary of it. Yes there are periods of intense work, but when I volunteer in the winter there’s hardly any work at all. It’s like I get a mini-retirement every year.
Not that I’m just living for today and hoping the future takes care of itself. I do have an IRA and contribute to it regularly (Edit 2/9/16: 2015 ended up being a good year financially compared to my first two years on the road). It won’t be enough to retire at 65 or whatever the standard retirement age will be by that time, but it’ll cover me if I get to the point where I am incapable of working before I pass on.
Mind you, I’m also working on transitioning to online, location independent income sources that will be less physically taxing as I age (the e-guide I wrote for example), so that at 70 I won’t still be forced to deal with 50 hour workweeks of hard labor like at Amazon…. although I do know 70-year-olds who manage it just fine, and I hope I’m still in good physical shape when I get to that age – part of the reason why I jog and eat salads.
Now even with precautions, I realize there’s always the possibility something catastrophic could happen to me that would take away my ability to work before I’m ready and leave me destitute. But there’s also the possibility if I had decided to take a more traditional life path that something catastrophic would happen to me just after retiring, and that I’d never get to enjoy it. These kind of disasters fall into the realm of “things I can’t control”, so there’s no point in worrying about them. Life is full of uncertainties, but I refuse to be shackled by fear.
What it comes down to is this: I believe you can enjoy being a young full-timer now, without having to deprive yourself in your twilight years. What do you think?
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