Well depending on the actions of the Internet Retirement Police, I may have to hand in my early retiree membership card because I just got a job yesterday. *Gasp* And according to some people you can’t be retired if you have a job which to me always sounded so silly as I could care less what people call what I’m doing. Call it: changing career paths or semi-retirement or what ever term makes you feel better about it.
Yet in my case, I’ve always said I would be willing to do some work in my early retirement period because honestly why not get paid to do things that I enjoy. I called these ‘fun jobs’ and when I left work I had identified a few that I wouldn’t mind doing. The top options were working at a brewery or a library since working to make beer which I like to drink and handling books which I love to read don’t really sound like too much work to me. As I previously mentioned I actually work extremely casually at a brewery in town (I have put in all of four days of work there so I have a hard time even calling it a job), but I got to do one of my ‘fun jobs.’ Now I can say I’m about to cross another one off my list.
My new job is working at public library as a Page at my local branch starting next week. It is only a temporary contract until August for 18 hours a week but that is fairly perfect amount of time for me as I don’t want anything close to full time. I will be the guy who shelves books, pull holds, scan in returned books and basically do also the same work I currently volunteer to do once a week at our local school library.
I’m actually fairly sure my volunteer work actually got me an interview that occurred on Monday and the fact I took a 20 hour online course on how library’s work out of interest back in 2018. After all nothing says I want to do this work like having over a year of experience at it and some training towards it and of course my volunteer boss at the school library also agreed to be a reference for me. So that is a hint for retirees looking to break into a new field as a fun job; try to get some relevant experience and if possible training towards the job.
And finally I think the other thing that really helped me get an interview is I addressed the obvious question of why the hell an engineer with my experience would want a job like this in my cover letter of my application. I specifically noted that I have recently changed career paths to self employed writing and I had a flexible schedule. I didn’t even mention retirement as, after all, most people could not care less.
But of course I now have a fun issue…what to do with that extra money I will be making? I decided since this is a longer term job I’m going to break up the money into two parts. 10% of my income will go towards me saving up to buy a 3D printer (I don’t need one of those but I do want one). The other 90% of the income will go towards our slush fund to pay for house renovations or vacations. While my wife and I haven’t specifically decided what that extra money will go towards we are leaning toward the idea of replacing our kitchen countertops. As that has been on my wife’s want to do list for a while.
So how do you address work in retirement? What term do you like to call it and what would you do with the extra money?
There is an old saying “Man Plans, God Laughs” which seems particularly true for me this week. I had plans to do certain things and the entire week seemed to blow up with other things instead. Not all the other things were bad, like my 185 piece Bone Kickstarter order of minis arriving about three weeks earlier than I thought, but these events rather just tossed my original plans out the window.
This got me thinking of retirement plans and how that issue also happened repeatedly to me. I would make a saving plan and do my calculations and then things would shift dramatically by no fault of my own and then my plans won’t be useful in a year or two. So why then do we plan out our money and time in retirement when in fact we know the plans will never actually work out that way?
In my case, I would say the point of the plan was the thought exercise. It was asking ‘what if‘ and then trying to determine the answer. The answer might never come to pass but the exercise is still useful as it provides you a bit more understanding about the risks, issues and problems you might encounter in retirement.
In short, you learn about things that might never come to pass but it does provide you input on the magnitude of potential outcomes. So if you enter an extended period of low investment returns you know what that might do to your investments and you can think about how that would make you feel and how you would react to the issue. This provides a degree of confidence to you on how to deal with the issue and by extension other issues that do come up.
Or you can plan out various ways to fill your time and realize that you feel busy enough with only using half of those items. So you still don’t have time do do all the hobbies that you want even in retirement. You might feel a bit guilty about ignoring things but it doesn’t stop you from changing your hobbies down the road when a current hobby ceases to be interesting. The plan isn’t useless just because it didn’t work out the way you thought.
Perhaps the biggest shift in a plan that ever occurred to me was moving up my retirement date. I started this blog back in 2006 fully thinking that retiring at 45 would be a difficult goal. It was more a dream than reality when I started. Then I did better than I thought on investments and paying off debt so I slowly moved backed my retirement date by a year or two. Then finally when my wife mentioned she wanted to keep working for a few more years that pushed me over to revise my target down to 40 (and even then I left six months before that).
Was my retirement a good plan? It was in theory and only time will tell if it will work out in the real world but so far things are working. Of course, not as expected or projected but we expect that now don’t we?
So why do you plan even if you know it won’t work out?
So a reader emailed me to asked about writing a post on needs versus wants the other day and I had assumed I had covered the topic. Then when looking through my blog posts it occurred to me that while I did cover that in a chapter in the Free at 45 book and I had a strong theme on this blog regarding on needs versus wants I haven’t expressly written on it for a while. So let’s get to it.
People often assume they understand the idea of needs and wants. After all needs are just basic things you require in life such as shelter, food, water and heat (especially in Regina this winter). Needs are the things in your life that you literally die without it, which is a good definition for this post. Meanwhile wants is everything else that isn’t a need. So you need water but you want a coffee in the morning despite some days it feeling more like a need. Yet the problem becomes when we start to explore the line between wants and needs.
For example, shelter. Yes you need a place to call home. But exactly where exactly does that cease to be a need and drift into a want. After all a trailer is shelter and so is a tent, yurt or a small shack and technically so is a 3000 square foot detached house in the best neighbourhood in town. But the last one is more obviously a want which happens to also fill a need. But where exactly is that line between a need and a want? Is a 800 square foot house in a okay neighbourhood a want? At what point of outdoor temperatures in winter does a tent or yurt cease to be useful shelter? The fact is the answer starts to turn into more subjective issue. I may think 500 square feet is too small for a family of four but other might think it is just fine. In general, something becomes a need when you consider it as such in your own mind. Heck people even use that sort of language about needs such as “I NEED my coffee in the morning.”
Then on the other side of the issue wants are truly unlimited. It doesn’t matter what you own, have or do with your wants, you will always want more. You can win the lottery and next week still want more than you have. And this is why a lot of people lose their way in our consumer driven culture. It is always easy to see something else you don’t have and want. You often see people that are always planning the next vacation or the next shopping trip or the next item to add to their wish list and never happy with what they already own. You can fall down that well of wants and never find the bottom.
Then between want and need there is a very fine line that if you can find it really key to having a happy life. It is called: enough. Finding it is often a tricky thing as you can pass right pass it without realizing it at first. How many books are enough for your home library? How many spices are enough in your kitchen? And the frustrating part is the answer can change over time. What used to be enough might be too much later and even later turn into too little. But once it hit enough you realize you are content there and you don’t really want more than you have.
So how dose this relate to your retirement? Well I generally suggest you aim your budget to meet your needs and just a few of your wants with your target income in retirement. In short, aim for enough. Enough money to do what you want but not too much that you don’t have to prioritize your spending. For example, I can afford to buy all grain brewing equipment or a 3D printer this year not both unless I earn a bit more income. You should be able to afford what you really want just not all at once. Of course this amount is still a subjective number which is different for each person but I find talking about enough stops the excessive fantasy spending plan where you live in castle for half the year and drags you back towards something closer to reasonable.
Of course some people might ask: why not aim your budget for just your needs? Well because that can be too thin of a margin of error in the event the markets go to crap for a few years and you want to reduce your spending. You should have some fat to your spending to allow you to make some temporary adjustments if you need. You don’t want to end up in a high stress situation where you can’t pay all your basic needs and you end up using debt to fund your needs.
So how did you determine what is enough for your retirement budget?