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Ask the Readers: What does Retirement Mean to You?





I apologize to those who are seeing this post for a second time. The first time it was released in error and was removed the same day.

What does retirement mean to you? This is an interesting question that I think about often and I’m curious as to what it means to my readers. When most of us picture retirement, we think about being a little older, traveling a bit and living the high life with all of the saved money.

To others, it means to continue living every day life without having to worry about a “job” or reporting to someone else.

To me, it doesn’t mean to stop working but to have the freedom to do whatever “I” want during the day and have enough investment/side income to meet (ideally exceed) my monthly expenses. This could mean spending time with my family, running the business of my dreams or even traveling the world. There’s no real age requirement, but ideally, the sooner the better.

I have calculated our projected retirement needs before and provided that we continue to life a frugal life with all of our debts paid off, we should be able to retire before 50.

So back to the question, what does retirement mean to you? How do you picture your retirement?

Photo credit: Ernst Moeksis





19 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. To us, it means building our restaurant business as large as possible, then selling the proceeds when it’s time to call it quits. After that, it will probably mean doing something that requires less physical labor, like consulting. I can’t imagine sitting idle doing nothing.

  2. FT,

    You’ve managed to ask a profoundly important question. One which I think most people should look at more closely when planning their retirements.

    I like to think of my retirement in two phases. Phases one is where I’ve got my day to day expenses covered by my savings and no extra. This is where you can get a little more creative with your employment by reducing hours, switching roles or even jumping industries if you want. Phase two is the baseline plus enough to enjoy some travel and other extras (the more traditional retirement).

    I’m much more interested in getting to phase one. Because at that point life is what ever you want it to be. Want to work at Home Depot, go ahead. Want to apply for an overseas post, go ahead. What to come up with a season business so you have long periods of time off go ahead. Your life is no longer limited by ‘must’ but rather by ‘want’.

    In my life I’m not even sure of all the ways I will end up spending my time. I might do more painting and writing or get involved in a lower paying jobs where my passions lead me. Hell I’ve even thought of getting into politics for the fun of it. Yes of course I’m going to enjoy my family as well, but my drive will to be explore new interests and ideas. I might not learn how to do everything, but trying might be fun!

    Tim

  3. 3. Sarlock

    Spending time in my garden on a couple of acres of land, doing some travel in the winter and having a warm and inviting home that is the central hub of my family as they come and go during their busy lives. Nothing more, nothing less.

  4. To me retirement means being a bum on a beach. Travelling here and there and tasting new cultures along the way. Oh yeah, and doing what I think I am good at – investing.

    I do think however that I would still be working in the same profession as I currently have, because I like it. I guess if you like your job, then maybe you are already “retired” in a sense..

  5. Great comments guys,

    CD, I like the idea of “phased” retirements. It really takes the pressure off having “enough” to retire on. You are probably the most prepared for retirement of all the people that I know in their 20′s.

    Sarlock, I appreciate that you enjoy the simple life. I’m looking for ways to simplify also.

    DGI, you are one of the lucky ones that really enjoys their 9-5 work. Why not take your vacation time and hang out on the beaches then? That way, you get the best of both worlds.

  6. 6. Jordan Clark

    I have pretty much the same vision for my future as Frugal, but now after reading CandianDreams’s idea of 2 phases, I think that fits even better and I will explore having a plan to match that.

    I’ve had trouble trying to explain to people that I want to “retire” in 10 years, when I’m only 26 years old (and tend to be a pretty hard worker who enjoy’s his job) they look at me weird. I’ve adapted my speech to now say I want to “financially retire”, it seems to better explain the concept of financial freedom, compared to sitting at home all day.

    At 36 I could reduce my hours to just work part time or change jobs complete. I could stop working and switch roles with my wife, she could work part time and I could be a full time stay at home Dad. I could go to school or home school my kids, the endless options sound very exciting.

    But right now I’m already at home all day where I work and enjoy being around my family, it’s almost as if I’m partly retired now and I have to say this is the best job perk you could ever get. I could see phase two simply being a mid-way point where I’m even more involved with the family, take some vacations and have time to explore my own interests in depth while I’m still young enough to do them all.

  7. 7. Chuck

    For my wife and I we both feel that we need a hobby or endeavour to keep us busy when we retire. Whether it be continuing our photography or living vicariously through future grandchildren, we plan on doing more than just sitting around all day.

    My grandfather passed away shortly after retiring and consequently wasn’t able to enjoy what he had accumulated for himself. My wife’s grandfather sold his businesses and retired and had a stroke months after.

  8. Retirement to me is enjoying the life that you have worked so hard for! That’s why planning for retirement now, is so important for the future.

  9. 9. Kaitlin

    Jordan — if you don’t mind me asking, what do you do for a living? It’s my dream to work from home, even though I don’t care to be self-employed. I’m looking into career options at this point so I’d love some insight!

    I always pictured retirement as a clear-cut thing — stop working entirely, take up a hobby, travel the world. But the idea of a semi-retirement, or a different version of retirement, really appeals to me. I’d love to be able to work part-time after 15-20 years of full-time. I would love to enjoy my family while I’m still young.

  10. 10. Jordan Clark

    @Kaitlin,

    I’m a web application developer, so I make dynamic websites specializing in e-commerce. I’m not a great entrepreneur, so I’m been very fortunate that with hard work I’ve maintained a fixed ongoing agreement with my main client where it’s almost like a job. I provide a set number of hours a month and manage their online store. I work from home and have complete control to manage my own time and efforts and don’t have to worry much about a lack of work between jobs, trying to find new clients or a lack of local jobs. Then as time permits I’m able to pick up additional telecommuting jobs and projects and work them into my schedule.

    It’s been great because I’ve been home the entire time as my 3.5 and 1.5 year old have grown up, being there for most every moment and having the ability to take lots of breaks throughout the day (or the entire day) to be with them.

  11. 11. Jared

    If anyone wants to retire early and retire wealthy, I suggest reading Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich book. This book has been a crucial turning point in my life.

    I guarantee anyone that lives by what this book tells you to do, you will be successful.

    *All limits in life are self-imposed*

    I write my own blog about US investing and some personal finance, take a look at it and please let me know what you think about it on the Contact Us page. Site is:

    http://www.InvestorPitStop.com

  12. FT, I’m with you on this one.

    Retirement means that I will be able to do whatever I want to do whenever I want to do it. I can picture myself not working for about a year or so and then, probably start my own company. I would love to have my own office and take the time to select my clients since the company would only bring extra (and not needed) income.

    I met a retired planner who was doing training session for the newbie like me for the bank. He was working by contract of 3 months. He said this money was for “travel and wine”. Considering that his last trip was a month spent between Greece and Italy, I think it worth it to work a few months per year ;-)

    So I want to retire young (hopefully around 50) but I don’t want to make too much sacrifices along the way. So I’ll probably end-up retiring at 55 but living a good life in between… just in case I don’t get to 55!

  13. FT,

    To quote “You are probably the most prepared for retirement of all the people that I know in their 20’s.” Too bad I’m not in my 20′s anymore. *grin* Yep, I broke that 30 barrier earlier in the year.

    Tim

  14. 14. Telly

    To those that want to start a business, or try a new career in retirement…why wait? Why not try it now? Just curious as I’ve been asking myself this lately.

    This past week my husband and I vacationed in Mexico, and as you can imagine, the idea of retirement came up a lot. While hanging out on the beach after some surfing, we met a young (mid-20′s?) girl from Australia who had been living in Mexico for a year, and in Whister for a year before that. Life is pretty simple for her…a couple odd jobs here and there, but mostly just a beach (or snow) bum. There was also a young family, surfing parents and two young kids lazing on the beach all day. Seemed pretty ideal to be honest. And i’m sure they don’t have a $1MM bank account to get them through it.

    At the same time though, just 10 miles down the coast sat a HUGE yacht with a helicopter on the landing pad. Hmmm…

    My husband’s dream retirement has long been to own a pizzeria on the beach somewhere, with small living quarters above and a couple surf boards in the storage shed. I’m sure somewhere in the world we could easily afford that right now… :)

  15. 15. Gates VP

    I’ll start by mentioning relevant material here: “4-hour workweek”, “Die Broke”, Philip Greenspun’s blog

    The basic premises are simple though:
    1. You can’t take anything with you. Why earn it if you’re not going to spend it? (see Bill Gates “spending it” now).
    2. If you don’t have a hobby while you’re working, you won’t have a hobby when you retire.
    3. Vast amounts of money generally don’t solve personal problems. Be happy first.

    Actions:
    1. Start doing what you love today.
    I really like my job, I would be doing this or something like it even if I had a million in the bank.
    If you don’t like what you’re doing, then you should be saving money and working towards spending less time at work and more time doing what you enjoy doing. If you’re not off-setting required work with your passions, then you’re stifling your own growth.
    Almost any constructive passion can be converted into income. so start with what you love.
    2. Enjoy today and mind tomorrow.
    Keep a positive cashflow when you’re young and make conscious decisions for tomorrow. Money in the bank = ability to exercise your options. Be a very active decision maker. I know lots of very unhappy people who make “default decisions” (house, car, kids, cabin, etc.) and then complain about them. It’s OK to want kids and a home, but it’s important to make these decisions actively instead of “hey this is what everyone else is doing”. You can write two or three blog posts on this point alone, but the essence is simple: if you’re complaining about the cost of repairing a car or a home, then you need to look at your decision to own that item.
    3. Keep building
    “A beautiful young person is a freak of nature, a beautiful old person is a work of art” – Eleanor Roosevelt (I believe)

    So what does retirement mean to me?

    Nothing.

    I won’t retire, I’ll just be doing “something else for a living”. Like CD, I want “paying the bills” to require less and less of my time (maybe 3 or 4 phases, maybe a “mini-retirement”).

    But, If I’m not doing “something for a living” (volunteering, surfing, maintaining a blog…), isn’t that just a pleasant way of saying I’m already dead?

  16. 16. QuikkCash

    If I am constantly improving myself, I am in retirement.

  17. 17. Kaitlin

    @ Jordan: Thanks for the response. Your job sounds wonderful! It’s great to see the definition of the standard 9-5 job become more flexible. I’m hoping I can find something like that someday.

  18. FT,

    Spending a weekend ( or a week) on the beach/lake is a nice way to recharge your batteries and keep your ideas flowing.( just like I did for 4th of July weekend yay). But more than that and you are simply wasting your life away. If you don’t “diversify” your time into personal life, profesional life, family etc, you are not living a rich life.

    Maybe I won’t be that happy living on that sunny pacific island, which popular advertisements show as the perfect retirement destination. Maybe staying active in “retirement” is the thing to do..

    But doing both beach + work might be a good idea.. I have to think about that :-)

  19. 19. Cannon_fodder

    In just less than 5 years I hope to be in a position where:

    1. My child support payments are done.
    2. My mortgage has been retired for 2 years.
    3. My investment portfolios (registered and non-registered) are sufficiently large so that I no longer need contribute to them in order to fund my retirement.

    At that point, I can really change my job to one with less pressure and, consequently, less income. It really only needs to fund my day-to-day living expenses which would be not much higher than my projected retirement expenses. This becomes the first phase of retirement.

    About 7 years after that, I can enter full retirement – which is not having to earn any additional income other than through my investments. If I want to volunteer full time, I can. If I want to go back to university or college, I can. Whatever I want to do, I hopefully will have the good health to do. This is the 2nd phase of retirement.

    About 15 years after that, I will enter a sedentary retirement. I will probably stay close to home and not do a lot of physical activity. I probably won’t feel like getting on a plane to travel. Driving long distances will not interest me. I’m basing this on how my dad is currently handling this part of his life. He is busy, but only on a local level. As time progresses, my circle of activities will gradually shrink until I rarely venture out. This is the 3rd phase of retirement.

    About 15 years after that, science will have created a way for me to transfer my mind into a young, virile body and I will really enjoy retirement. This is the “wishful thinking” phase of retirement.

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