It’s a simple question. But one where the answer is probably more complex than you realize.
You see recently I’ve been giving the matter of what to do when you retire early some serious thought.
I don’t there’s anyone out there who hasn’t fantasized about the day when they finally have enough money to call it “quits” at work and do whatever it is they want from that point forward.
Designing your financial freedom. It’s what this blog is all about.
But recently I’ve been asking myself what happens AFTER you get there? What is it that is truly so wonderful and waiting for me on the other side of the early retirement gates? Can I put a face to it?
Why Do We Want to Retire Early Anyways?
Is it for bragging rights? Is because I’m so unhappy with what I’m doing now? Won’t I be bored?
The answer of course to each of those things is “no”.
As I’ve mentioned many times, early retirement or financial freedom has less to do with the actual act of “being retired” and more about simply having the choice of whether or not to be.
It gets down to the basic question of whether you control money or money controls you.
What’s funny is that even after I reach financial freedom or retire I very well might consider doing the same job (as a consultant) or working doing something else!
No matter what I decide, it will be a decision that comes from the heart. It won’t be because I have a mortgage payment or the kids’ tuition bills due.
Unfortunately many of us (including myself currently) have little choice but to let outside financial influences such as that guide our daily priorities. Money is what makes you work late, do assignments you don’t want to do, miss your kids’ soccer games, etc.
That’s what everything I do on this blog is trying to change. I’m trying to take back control.
What to Do When You Retire Early?
So let’s say I get there. Let’s say I get to a point where money is no object and I my assets can sustain my lifestyle without employment. What would I do with myself for the rest of my life?
1) Become a financial coach:
It’s one of my personal philosophies that helping other people is one of the highest and valuable things you can do with your time and money.
There are lots of things you could do to fulfill that statement. But for me I like to help people with their money situation.
It doesn’t matter whether I’m at work or a family event – People always seem to be asking me for some sort of advice with their money and they are always happy with whatever I have to tell them. I’ve spent a lot of time developing my plan for financial independence (click on the link to see what it is) and I think it would be extremely beneficial to others if they knew how to use it too.
Not to toot my own horn, but I feel I have a particular knack for striping away all the complicated B.S. that usually accompanies money, and can break the information down into bits and pieces that virtually anyone can understand.
Here’s my problem with this goal: How does one become a financial coach or accepted as a financial mentor without having any certification whatsoever? Readers – I’m honestly asking. Does anyone know?
I’ve read about becoming a certified financial planner (CFP) or certified financial advisor (CFA). However I think both involved some pretty heavy logging of work experience (something like five years?)
Let’s be clear: I’m NOT interested in leaving my current job only to go back to work full-time for another five years. That’s not really my idea of what to do when you retire early – I might as well keep working if I do that! I also don’t really want to go work for some big name firm like Edward Jones and push sales of a bunch of stocks that some corporate monster dictates I push on to my clients. That’s not the kind of financial assistance I want to provide.
My vision is much, much more simple: One-on-one coaching to help struggling working class people improve their overall situation so that don’t have to work beyond their 50’s.
One other small detail: I’d like for the coaching to be completely free. I’m not sure if that will be possible, but it’s certainly something I’d like to try. I might take on only one client a month for all I know (isn’t it great when money is not a factor?)
2) Speaking Events:
Along the same lines of providing financial coaching, I’d like to broaden my reach while I’m at it.
I realize that one-on-one coaching is pretty inefficient when you consider just how many people and families there are out there that struggle with their finances. That’s why I’d also like to offer a series of speeches that appeals more to the masses / something that a group of people can relate to.
Again, my struggle is how to be accepted as someone with financial clout. Sure I’m a financial blogger, but again having a lack of work experience or title may be an obstacle.
This activity may or may not be something I’d like to be compensated for. It really depends on how successful I am at it and what kind of pressures it puts on me (both financially and physically) to do it.
I find this one to be a very ironic thing to land on my bucket list – I’m actually terrified of public speaking! But throughout my job I’ve had to get up in front of groups more and more to do presentations, and each time it has gotten a little easier. Plus I’ve found that I really like teaching and doing classroom style sessions with my younger, less knowing peers.
Along the same lines of reaching out to the masses and helping people with their finances, I doubt I’ll ever stop writing.
If blogging is still relevant, than I’ll probably keep doing it.
Whatever form books are in when I retire early, I’d also like to be more active with writing eBooks or even published books.
4) Family Time:
It’s absolutely amazing to me how much more attentive and appreciative I am of my family when I’m on vacation or Christmas break. Throughout the regular work weeks I’m so distracted by the meaningless activities I “have to do” because they are part of my job. But take all that away and I find that I just like being a Dad or being a Husband.
My wife and I plan to retire early at the same time, and I think that will be important for our marriage. Retiring early at different times poses some relationship challenges.
For sure I’d love to travel more with my wife. The two of us love going to new places and seeing new things. Her big vision for our post-career days are to live on the water. That doesn’t sound too bad to me!
I’d also love to be extremely present in both my kids’ (and even their children’s) lives. When I think about all the events we do now where our parents have to miss because of work or other things that get in their way, it makes me feel good to know that our early retirement will help overcome most of those challenges.
One of my biggest fears when I finally retire early is that I’ll get ultra comfortable and ultra lazy way too easily. That’s something I totally can’t let happen!
Exercise and staying healthy is something that I would make mandatory for myself no matter what. At least one hour per day of cardio, stretching, and weights.
For the mind I’d make sure I pick at least one book at a time to read, keep playing the guitar, and do any of the other arts I love doing. After all – aren’t I supposed to have a little fun?
Readers – How many of you have given any thought as to what to do when you retire early and reach financial freedom? How strongly does that motivate what you’re doing now to get there?
Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net