“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”
Since the time I have started OD-ing on personal finance blogs, one of the concepts which is clearly in vogue is FIRE – Financial Independence Retire Early.
WHY I LIKE FI BUT NOT RE
I like the idea of financial independence – to not have to work solely for the purpose of money because I have made, saved and invested enough to last me a frugal/basic lifetime.
In some ways it eases the stress of a snarly boss or having to brave traffic in the peak hours when most of the city is out on the roads or just letting work or money worries weigh on your mind. It’s about not living paycheck to paycheck. I get that and am prepared to work to achieve it too.
However, when it comes to “Retire Early”, it is a concept that I don’t see myself adopting or embracing it. To me retire essentially means giving up on all forms of paid employment, including own business.Personally, I am looking to find that tricky balance between not working at all and the other extreme of the 9 to 5 (mostly 8 to 8 taking into account the commute) rat race. Click To Tweet
WHAT DOES RETIREMENT MEAN TO ME
Even when it comes to retiring at the conventional age, I don’t see it happening. Now, you might be wondering why would she talk like this if 2 posts back she waxed eloquent about the need to plan financially for retirement. Good question. For a lot of people retirement is very real and a couldn’t-come-soon-enough dream which requires a fair bit of financial backing.
Even when I talk about not retiring here, this does not equate to not planning for retirement financially or about having to worry about money to fend for myself or my family post a certain age.
RETIREMENT WITH A PLAN
In short – I would like to be productively employed till I am physically able to. It will not be in something I have done all my life and would definitely involve reinvention and a different path altogether. It could mean running a small café in Goa or teaching kids at a school or college it or doing Indian food pop-ups across the world or running an NGO. I am all for retirement with a plan. And I have my reasons for it – 7 to be precise.
- I like having a schedule – While I am currently in the regular rat race, as a person I like the certainty of a schedule. Sure, I am running from point A to B to C always wondering where did the time fly, but give me that instead of literally watching the arms of the clock slowly tick away.
- I like the feeling of earning money – This might sound materialistic but every month that I get my salary I feel productive. I have this warm fuzzy feeling of having earned my share. Then there’s also the feminist feeling of pulling my weight in my marriage. I know a retirement corpus is made of the money earned by the people who use it, but I still like the idea of regularly doing work to earn that money.
- I like meeting new people and socializing – Even with just 7 and a half short years of working in a corporate job, it is easy to see that a lot of friends and acquaintances have come from working. A lot of my interactions today are thanks to my work and they end up spilling into personal life and often become long-lasting friends. Over the years I have realised that I like meeting new people and interacting with them. I am under no illusion that most of them are talking to me for work and that they may not last beyond work, but even weak ties are something I enjoy.
- I like to constantly learn – For the 30 years of my life, I think I have always been learning. In the first 4 years, it was about learning to just do the basic human actions of sitting, walking, potty training and the learning curve was steep. Beyond that it was a straight 18 years of constant education along with some more fun skills on the way like theatre, volleyball etc. To my great surprise learning does not stop even in corporate life, especially if you know where to look. As a person, beyond work also I have been trying to learn whatever new skill I can pick up. I do not see that changing and being able to showcase or use those skills for productive engagement is something I intend to keep at.
- I have a tendency to be lazy – Oh yes, my self awareness levels at least on this aspect are pretty high. If left to my own devices with nothing specific on the agenda, I can happily be roaming around in PJ’s and a shabby t-shirt maybe watching Netflix or reading all day long. While that’s a pretty picture for a lot of people, like a hangover, any such heady day is followed by disgust for me at the colossal waste of time. If I am working at something I will always have that nudge or reason to get to doing something.
- Me and the husband will bite each others’ heads off – It’s not like we hate each other. In fact, we have a very healthy relationship where we also respect each other’s need for private space. We are also 2 very opinionated people. In our past experience, if we spend too much time together we end up becoming pretty crabby and definitely snarly at each other. It’s also because in the limited time that we spend with each other, for now we have enough content to talk about which comes from being apart the rest of the day and having different experiences. For the peace in our relationship, both of us have pledged to work, even if it is part-time, till our bodies allow.
- I like my indulgences – Yes, I know we are talking about a good sufficient retirement corpus. But, I would not want to think about spending any amount of money. If there is a source of income and a healthy retirement corpus, it would be easier about spending on indulgences which I might have resisted in my build-up to the corpus. And IF there are grandchildren in the future, I would want to spoil them crazy, even at the risk of making them brats. After all, I am not responsible for them 😛
So, there you have it. My unconventional take on not wanting an early retirement, or any retirement at all. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.