The Joys of Semi-Retirement

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I’ve enjoyed semi-retirement since I left my full-time job at the bank and started my coaching company at age 29. My strategy is to maximize the quality and enjoyment of my life at every age. I prefer not to work myself to the bone for 30-40 years to then retire and do little to nothing. When I worked at the bank, I saw what a struggle it was for working mothers. They couldn’t win. If they left work early to pick up their children, then they felt they weren’t pulling their weight on the team. The mothers felt pulled in multiple directions and never had enough time for their kids or their job.

I knew I wanted kids. Also, I knew that I didn’t want a full-time traditional job that wouldn’t allow me time with my kids while they were growing up. Starting my own coaching company was my ideal solution and it gave me time flexibility. However, when I left my job at the bank, I also left a pension. So, I knew I’d have to be responsible for creating my own pension of sorts. Thus, I started saving into IRAs and set up a solo company Roth IRA  at Vanguard.com where the fees are very low.

I plan to keep working as long as coaching is still fun and my brains are intact. However, I’ve seen how dementia has affected relatives and know that I must have a financial plan for the day I may not be able to coach. I’ve also experimented with retiring and not doing any work and discovered that it is actually more fun to have a bit of contrast in life. A beach holiday is all the more treasured because it is an actual break from work. Plus, work keeps your brain engaged and stimulated which may stave off dementia. So it’s worth doing something that can continually challenge you both intellectually and physically.

Even if you could retire early, it isn’t likely that you’d quit and do nothing. That isn’t the path to true happiness or fulfilment. Instead, you’ll quit the onerous job and find something deeply rewarding and personally fulfilling to do instead. You’ll want to find a career or start a business that you love. As soon as you do that, you’ll feel free even before you reach a specific financial freedom figure. 

Slogging it out in a job you can’t stand isn’t fun. I’ve been there and remember the day I turned in my resignation to the bank as one of the happiest days of my life! I haven’t worked 40 hours a week since then, despite the fact that I’ve been running an international coaching company, writing books and coaching clients 1 on 1. Work that is a joy doesn’t feel like work. 

If you haven’t found your ideal career yet, then now is the time. This takes all the pressure off having to scrimp and save for retirement. While you’ll still be saving, there isn’t a big rush because you love your job. You can spend more throughout your life and let your assets grow while living off your current income.

That said, if you are young and making $100K or more a year, if you can ramp up your savings rate to 70% and continue to live like a student, then you’ll amass a hefty retirement portfolio in about 10 years. This is the FIRE plan and may well be worth considering if you are fortunate enough to be a big earner early in life.

We all have more control over our retirement date than we may realize. How many young 20-somethings do you know making that kind of money out of school? Not many. So, if this is you, then count yourself lucky and save like crazy. Then you can stop and do anything you want for the rest of your life. (This is one way to reach financial freedom quickly, but there are others I share in my FIRE course online). Not a bad trade-off for 10 years of hard work. However, if you are making an average salary of $50K a year, even if you live on $30K a year, it is extremely hard to save up enough in 10 years to retire early. You’ll be in it for the long haul. And if you are in it for the long haul, then why not take a few months to figure out what an ideal career is for you? You should find work you enjoy. 

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