Updated: Oct 11, 2018
Yes… I said it. I am a licensed financial planner who doesn’t believe in retirement. But before you call FINRA and demand to get my licenses revoked please hear me out. I’m not saying that you should never retire from your job. Moreover, I’m not saying that I don’t believe in saving money and investing for the future. I am simply saying that we are no longer stuck in the industrial age where we work in the steel mill until we’re 65 and then live the life that we've always wanted. That to me is morally insane and it’s no life I want to live. Throughout this article, we will discuss “retirement” and why it makes little sense to me. Moreover, I’ll show you why I never plan to retire but also never plan to work a day in my life.
Why I Don’t Believe in Retirement
The reason I don’t believe in retirement has nothing to do with pensions, social security, or 401k’s. The reason I don’t believe in retirement also has nothing to do with rate of returns, Americans poor savings rates, nor the government (However millennials are in big trouble). The reason I don’t believe in retirement is simple. There is more to life than working for 40 years and then beginning to live your real life at age 65. When you take a step back and really think about it, the concept is rather ridiculous. How did we get brainwashed into sacrificing the best years of our lives working at a job (that most of us don’t care for) in exchange for a promised day of freedom in our elderly years?
I wish I could sit here with my nose held high as if I’ve always had this mindset but that is just not true. After 5 years of college, I went to go work for a top-ranked accounting firm where I worked 60-80 hrs. per week and was motivated by the thought of one day retiring rich. I was a slave to my job and was brainwashed into believing that working 40 years was what everyone had to do to retire successfully. Then one day I read a book that changed my life. “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki has forever changed my life and my mindset for the better. I won’t ruin the book for those who haven’t read it, but it’s a must read and it redefines the failed concept of “retirement”.
Retirement vs. Financial Independence
As mentioned before, I don’t believe in retirement and I probably never will (again). However, I do believe in financial independence. What’s the difference you ask? Well let’s take a look:
The Webster definition for retirement states; “The act or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work”.
The Webster definition for Financial Independence states; “a state in which an individual or household has sufficient wealth to live on without having to depend on income from some form of employment.”
Still not sure on what the difference is? Well for me, a huge part of it is mindset and the overall goal. Retirement is focused on leaving one’s job so that you don’t have to work anymore. It demonstrates sacrificing one’s time today for a benefit sometime in the future. However, Financial Independence focuses on building wealth so that you never need to depend on any job as an income source. Now, how powerful is that? Imagine how different life would be if money wasn’t a motivation. Would you still be at your current employer? What would you do with your free time? The answers to these questions could be the answers that change your life forever.
How to Reach Financial Independence.
The traditional way to financial independence is to build up enough assets to generate enough income to fund your expenses. For example, buying rental properties that return enough cash flow to cover your monthly expenses. In the book Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert talks about how he bought enough rental properties to cover his expenses and how he reached financial independence early and never needed to work again. However, buying rental properties is not the only way to achieve this type of financial independence. You could build a great enough stock portfolio that will allow you to withdraw a certain percentage each year to support your yearly expenses. Or you could create a type of business that runs without you and generates revenue in excess of your expenses. As you can see you have many choices to help gain financial independence, but there is still one that I have yet mention.
Monetize Your Dreams
In my opinion, the ultimate type of financial independence is doing what you would do for free and being paid for it. This is the ultimate type of financial independence because not only are you free of financial burdens, but you get a chance to spend every day of your life doing what love. So how do you accomplish this? Well, first you need to ask yourself, "what would I do every day if money wasn’t an option?" Then find a way to monetize it. For example, one of my clients worked full-time but loved doing yoga on the weekends. So, in one of our meetings we talked about finding ways to monetize her passion for yoga. We decided she could try hosting weekend yoga classes for friends and family and charge $20 per person. After a few weeks, she was bringing in $300 per Saturday (an extra $1,200 per month). Now she is in the process of designing a plan to open her own yoga studio!! Not good enough for you? Well, let’s take my story. I went from corporate hedge fund employee who loved giving financial advice to friends and family, to owning my own financial planning firm and helping people across the United States become financially independent. Monetizing your dream is the ultimate financial independence and it sure beats the heck out of retirement.