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Questioning a Conventional Retirement

When I was first out of college, I thought I had it all figured out. I’d go get myself a decent job, live well below my means, and retire as early as humanly possible. This preliminary plan suited me just fine right up until I actually got a job. Once the initial shock of “People pay me to do stuff!” wore off, the drudgery of your average 9-5 lifestyle began to set in. I quickly began to realize that if I stepped away from my desk for a month, a year, or many years, I could come right back and there would be more work to do. I was more or less a cog in an extraordinarily productive and efficient machine (I worked in the finance industry a few years ago, at the time it seemed like it), but a cog I was. A few years in, the stock market collapsed along with the housing market, and pretty much all of my investments began to bleed.

Thus, my questioning of a conventional retirement began.

I began to think that relying only on investments to power you through your golden years (or earlier, depending on who you ask) was a concept fraught with financial risk. To generate income you’d have to defeat inflation, to defeat inflation you would need to take risk, and if the winds of change blew the wrong way…’d be in trouble. This meant that in order to have a truly secure retirement, you would need a seriously large nest egg. You would need enough that no matter what the financial markets threw at you, you could weather the storm. I can see why people come up with figures well over a million dollars to accomplish that.

Instead, my view of retirement has taken a rather sharp change over the past few years. Now that I’m officially self employed, I wake up and sit down at my own office chair everyday, and while working for yourself isn’t glamorous or easy, it leaves a lot open for creativity. I still save money each month in my IRA, but I don’t really ever plan on truly retiring. Instead, I’m going to keep building on what I have, brainstorming to come up with different sources of income. Being left to my own means takes away the safety net of having a secure job, so diversity is your friend. Besides, if you enjoy what you do when you get up for work each day, does it really count as work at all?


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