My Retirement Dream: to Keep Working!
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My dad will turn 50 next October and he’ll retire from his job the following February. He’ll have worked for the fire department for 30 years. His reward for all the physical and mental stress endured from working accident scenes and house fires will be a full retirement complete with a pension at a very early age. Unsurprisingly, he’s counting down the days until he’s able to start his life of leisure, pursing his hobbies like photography and horseback riding, with no schedule to interrupt him, no alarm clocks to wake him before he’s ready to get up, and no work for which he’s responsible.
Many share this dream of retirement: long, relaxing days without a bit of work in sight. No paperwork to complete, no clients to please, no hustling to find new business. But my dream of retirement is different. I’m not living frugally, saving as much of my income as possible, and investing for my future so that I can quit working early. My retirement plan does include saving heavily and becoming financially independent so that I can walk out of my 9 to 5 office job and quit the rat race for good one day. However, I don’t want to quit working – I want to do work that I love instead of work I have to do for the paycheck.
My Retirement Dream
My dream is to be able to create location-independent work as a freelance writer so that I can travel the world and work from anywhere with an internet connection. I know there are plenty of people my age doing this very thing as I sit and type this post, but here are the two major differences between our situations:
- They make enough money to cover living expenses, but not enough to contribute to retirement accounts or other investments.
- They’re planning on coming home at some point and picking up new careers when they do.
I haven’t taken off on an around-the-world tour because I want to be financially secure first. I want to have a nest egg that can continue to earn money while I’m away. When I decide I’m done with my travels and want to come home, I don’t want to worry about immediately having to find another source of income. And I really don’t want to encounter a situation where I’ve been working for years, yet I never made enough to put a cent in a savings account.
That’s how working as a freelance writer abroad became my retirement plan. Just as some people are looking for the freedom to conduct days that start with sipping coffee on the front porch in a rocking chair and end with going fishing, I’m looking for the freedom to travel where I want, stay as long as I want, and come and go when I want.
How I’m Going to Make it Happen
So how am I planning on achieving this non-traditional take on retirement? The biggest key to success will be trying to strike a balance between contributing heavily to retirement accounts now and pulling back on contributions later when I’m traveling. By continuing to work for a small income that covers living expenses when I quit my office job, I won’t need to dip into what I’ve saved to survive. But I also might not be able to contribute as much as I can now for that day that I am ready to be done with work and live off what I’ve saved.
Therefore, I’m throwing everything I can at those retirement accounts – I’m contributing enough to my employer-sponsored retirement to earn the employer match, I’m maxing out my Roth IRA, and I’m taking my budget surpluses that I get by living frugally and investing those amounts in yet another account. I’m also taking steps now to make what’s currently a passion and a hobby into a source of income. I love writing (and I’m pretty darn good at it!), but I’ve never tried to sell my services. If I want to make it into my new career, I need to start working on that now before I take off to see the world.
What’s Your Retirement Dream
If this version of retirement interests you, take this as your cue to break from conventional wisdom. Maybe you don’t want to see the world, and that’s okay. Maybe you want to move down to the beach and drive the tour boats during the summer, or you want move to Colorado and work at a ski resort. Whatever it is, if you’re seeking the freedom to go where you want and do what you love, know it is possible.
You don’t have to choose between believing in the YOLO mentality, spending all your money now and having to work until you’re nearly dead to retire, or saving 90% of your income today in order to retire early at 40 and hope your investments do well to get you through the next 50 years without a job. There’s a third plan, my plan, but the work has to start now. Be less wasteful and get frugal so you can save more today. Find ways to monetize your current hobby so you can earn more and gain the experience you need to turn it into a viable career. Give yourself a few years to build up a good nest egg, then let it quietly grow in the background while you head off to do work that you love.
What is your retirement dream? Will you go for the traditional route, or more outside the box?
About the Author: Kali blogs about common-sense financial advice at Common Sense Millennial. She’s passionate about personal finance and helping millennials learn how live well on less. Currently, she is pursuing the ultimate dream of writing for a living. You can connect with her by tweeting @CSMillennial.
Photo courtesy of: Tax Credits