We Need to Redefine Retirement

We Need to Redefine Retirement

I have stated in this blog that my financial journey is about creating financial independence, not retiring early. Early retirement is a big theme among many personal finance bloggers, as well as paying off debt. Mr. Money Mustache (one of my favorite PF bloggers) has an entire “cult” of people who want to retire early. MMM shows you how to do that in this post. When I first heard of his site I got really excited, tried to spread his gospel of rejecting consumerism, saving over half of what you make, and being satisfied with experiences and basic life, instead of stuff. It is something that still appeals to me deep into my soul. That said, I am not sure I can or will be able to very Mustachian. Part of that is because of the amount of debt I (we) have. Part of that is my own desire for traveling to exotic places or other consumerist notions. Part of it is personal relationships. However, there is another kernel in MMM’s messages that I think we need to discuss more: What does it mean to retire?

I used to think of retirement as piling up enough money to travel to where you wanted, getting up at noon or whenever, relaxing, maybe even buying a home in another country, etc. Now I think that would get old really quick. I need to be busy. I need to be intellectually engaged.  I need to have a social environment. I need to work. I like working. I think most people like working. Not necessarily at the job they have, but in general. There is a joy about feeling accomplished and doing something with your day. You can certainly get all of that within a traditional vision of retirement. For me, we should stop using the word retirement and start using the phrase financial independence.  I want to get to the point where I get to choose whether I work or not. I love my job. I can’t fathom myself doing anything else. I plan on teaching probably into my 70s (not full-time). Some might look at that never retiring, but more and more people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s, work, not because they have too, but because they enjoy it. I enjoy working. I enjoy what I do, but ultimately I want to choose whether I HAVE to work or not. Financial independence is my goal and I think the goal of many.

What are your financial goals?

2 thoughts on “We Need to Redefine Retirement

  1. You have some good points about the shortcomings of traditional retirement. But among the early retirees I see, most keep engaged in intellectual pursuits and interesting activities. I know I have! I’m just over one year into early retirement and in that time period I’ve picked up blogging, freelance writing for another blog, taking tons of online courses and foreign language courses, read more books than I used to, picked up new skills like photoshop, and learned how to make a number of new dishes in the kitchen.

    Whenever I get bored (which is never!) I just think about things that interest me but that I’ve never had time to pursue while working. So far I’m nowhere close to running out of fun, exciting, and challenging things to do. I guess if I do, I could always go back to work. Although if history it any indicator, work isn’t very interesting either.

    1. Hi Justin,
      Well, I totally agree that most of the people who talk about early retirement do engage in those activities. I guess I was thinking about those popular press articles, which really talk about retirement in the traditional sense where you work for about 40 years, live for 20, and just travel or play shuffleboard. I don’t know anyone, like you, who does that, but that is the perception people give. It is, if at retirement, we are just supposed to stop engaging in “work.” Perhaps that is work for payment, but the perception is that “work” stops. My dad retired fairly early and he always complains that he is busier now than when he was working full time. As he likes to put it for he and my mom “we have plenty to eat, too much too drink, and not enough sleep.” That is my kind of independence!

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