Every now and then I get the question “If you are the Retire Happy Guy, why aren’t you retired?”
Lately this questions has come up quite a bit so I thought I would address it in a post.
What is retirement anyway?
One of the key concepts I teach and preach is that there is no such thing as a conventional retirement anymore. Traditionally, retirement was and still is thought of as a working concept. For example, fourty years ago you retired at 65 and you lived till 70. Retirement really meant you “Stopped working”. The challenge with that definition is that one of the biggest retirement trends is that retirement is no longer about ending work and often moving to a transitional retirement where more and more people working in retirement. There are more and more people wanting and planning to incorporate work in retirement.
The reality is that people are living longer and as a result, retirees today are younger (not by age but physically, mentally, intellectually, etc) and capable of so much more. For many people retirement is not about slowing down. For many retirees, they are busier in retirement than before they retired and they like it that way because they are busy on their own terms.
Related article: Who says you need to stop working at 65?
Is retirement a working concept?
Is it possible to be retired and still working? I’ve met many people who are still working but feel retired. Some are at the height of their career and making more money than ever, their debts are paid off and they have more holiday time than every to enjoy some balance in their life. If their kids become financially independent, and they have more holiday time and they even love their work, is it possible these people consider themselves retired despite the fact they are still working?
Is retirement a financial concept?
Maybe retirement is not as much a working concept as it is a financial freedom concept. Is it possible to reach financial freedom but have no desire to stop working? Is it possible that work is an important part of happiness, purpose, meaning and keeping busy? Is it possible that if you love your work, it does not feel like work?
Despite the comments above, there is also a relationship between work and retirement. There is also no question there is a relationship between money and retirement. That’s why most people in my retirement workshops want to know “How Much Is Enough?”
We can’t help but believe that if save enough money (whatever ‘enough’ means), then we can retire. What we are seeing is that retirement is not just a work concept or a money concept or a lifestyle concept. It’s a bit of everything.
Is retirement a lifestyle concept?
One of the real benefits I have is my profession and business gives me the advantage of seeing retirement through the eyes of thousands of people getting ready to retire, retiring or already retired. The one thing I see today is that successful retirees are successful because they are happy being busy. They are busy doing things they enjoy and many of those things are not sexy, exotic or expensive. They have found balance or harmony between lifestyle and money.
Related article: Retirement is about more than just money
Some retirees are still working and some aren’t. To me, retirement is really a lifestyle concept and finding balance between lifestyle is not a retirement concept but a life concept and whether you are 20, 40, 60 or 80, it’s about finding some balance.
Is retirement a time or age concept?
There is no question that there is a relationship between age, money and retirement. Let’s face it, it’s tough for most people to retire in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. That’s because of both lifestyle and financial reasons. Younger people tend to have bigger expenses like kids. They also need to make money last longer. People who retire early may do so because they have a lot of money, which gives them some financial freedom. There many of those that talk about ‘early retirement' in their 30's and 40's are people that focus on frugality and living cheaper. To be very honest, that’s not a path I desire for me and my family. I’m not against frugality but I, personally, prefer not to live that way.
Related article: Is frugality in fashion?
So back to me
I think I could retire today in a conventional sense if it were just me or even just me and my wife. That, however is not the case. I have four awesome kids and they are really expensive. As a result, I don’t feel like I can retire because my kids have dramatically increased our expenses. That being said, I would not trade them for working less and making less money.
I also love my work. I make a great living helping other people. My work is gratifying and affords me and my family a good lifestyle. As much as I love my work and my business, I would not go so far as to say, it does not feel like work because it does feel like work. That being said, when I sold my previous business in 2007, I was in my late 30's and I felt somewhat retired? Many of my friends and acquaintances considered me retired as I spent a lot of time at home with my kids being a dad and a husband. As much as I loved that time, I also missed work. I not only missed the work, but I also missed the freedom of spending that comes from making money. When I did not have a regular paycheque I was uncomfortable spending the money I saved because I did not want to spend capital too quickly.
Do I feel retired today? Not really. I've been building new businesses since 2007 and I am working hard again and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I think it's important for people to know it's OK to not want to retire in the traditional sense. Sometimes society pressures us to think we should retire sooner than later. I also feel it's important to teach my kids about work ethic and the importance of earning income. I need to lead by example and show them that you cannot spend, invest or save money until you earn it first.
I have done a lot of smart things financially and we are in a good financial position but to be honest, I am not ready to retire from a work perspective, financial perspective and lifestyle perspective. I know that if I stopped working I could do it financially but I would have to cut back on spending again and I don’t want to do that. Maybe I should rebrand myself as “ Unretired but still really happy. ”
What do you think about retirement?