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?

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