A Day of Work

So the other day I actually went to a workplace and did manual work for almost 8 hours. Did I fall on my head? Nope. Did I run out of money? Nope. I actually did it because I wanted to and I didn’t even bother asking how much I would be paid.

The job in question was actually a casual position with a local brewery. They occasionally need help with canning the beer depending on what they are doing and they put out the word a while back to the beer club I belong to. So I put my name on the list and then as they need help they just work their way down the list to find someone who can come in that day.

So I got the call at shortly after 8am and I was ‘working’ around 8:30am. The job was totally easy to learn as it was basically just manual labour for the day. My primary job was collecting beer cans off the end of the line and snapping plastic six pack holders onto them and then loading them on to pallets. I also would pull unlabelled cans off the line in the event the label marker was down but they didn’t want to stop the entire beer canning production line. During this I learned that the canning equipment occasionally has issues so dented cans or under filled ones are put aside as rejects.

Overall it was dead easy work but I sort of enjoyed it for two reasons. First off, it was nice to actually try to do something new and learn a bit more about the brewery. For example, I didn’t know they did contract brewing where they will brew and can other brewery’s beer. The second reason was a bit more obvious I was told to go through the rejects and take some home at the end of the day. The beer is fine they just can’t sell it since it is under filled. So I got 16 cans of craft beer for a day of work which at the retails price makes a bloody good bonus for the day.

Now I wouldn’t want to do this as a full time job. It’s just too much physical work for my taste but as an occasional thing I don’t mind it in the slightest. Heck, I would even be willing to do it up to once a week. Which leads me to believe that most work would actually be okay for just about anyone on a shorter term basis. The issue is far too much work is full time positions which can drive people nuts. Some people don’t want to do boring repetitive work such as data entry, or manual packing of goods for eight hours a day for five days a week. But once in while, it can be just fine.

I think the trick for work in retirement is to find things you don’t mind doing where the benefits make it worthwhile for you personally. For example, I won’t want to do manual work for most things but I love beer so if I get some as a bonus for a job I’m okay with the work. The pay is really secondary to getting to learn a bit more about breweries and the free beer. Which by the way I was $13/hour at the brewery so I got just under $100 for the day. The benefits out weigh the pay for me. Or for another example, my volunteer time at the local school library. I do it because I enjoy the work and the fact it helps the students and yes the occasional thank you gift of a book or bookstore gift card also helps. Again the benefits out weigh any pay issues for me personally. And as a added bonus I now have gotten to try two of my ‘dream’ jobs in retirement which I’m grateful for.

Now obviously everyone will have different ideas of what they are okay doing for work and what benefits matter most for you. Yet the reality is I think work can be a useful thing to a retiree as long as it doesn’t take up too much of your time. I don’t think I would be okay doing either of those jobs more than half time.

So do you see doing some work in retirement?  If so, do you have any ‘dream’ jobs you want try out?

The New Book – What Do You Want to See?

So when I previously wrote my first book, Free at 45, I did plan to write a follow up book.  The trouble was I wasn’t entirely sure what form that should take for a number of years and therefore I started and stopped a few times on the project.  That was until I retired last year and realized that despite there being a LOT of books on planning for retirement there were very few on what happens after you retire.  So that was my plan…write a book that mainly deals with life after retirement (and yes some of the things leading up to it as well). I want to write a book that is useful for anyone regardless of what age they retire at.

The book doesn’t have a final title yet but I do have a draft table of contents and the book is about half written right now.  I’m still finishing some research for the book so everything isn’t totally firmed up yet.  So dear reader here is  your chance to provide some input on what you want to see.  Feel free to suggest a book title and/or chapters or sections you want to see in the book.  I’m also asking most retirees I meet a single question that I would like you to answer as well: what did you wish you knew prior to your retirement?

And as a bonus to anyone is provides me a title for the book that I love so much that I use it…I will mention your contribution in the acknowledgements and send you an advanced ebook copy of the book prior to its publication date which will occur sometime in 2019.

Thank you in advance for your ideas and input.

Table of contents – Draft

Introduction – An overview of my story and what the book is about.

Part 1 – The Vision

Chapter 1: So what does retirement look like to you?

Chapter 2: What if you don’t know what you want to do in retirement?

Chapter 3: Retire Life is Not as Advertised – A summary of how just about everyone has the wrong idea on what retirement looks like from the media.

Part 2 – The Money

Chapter 4: Money Matters – The basics of you need to know prior to being able to retire like what is your spending, what are you invested in, etc.

Chapter 5: How much money do you need to retire anyways? The 4% rule explained and other considerations.

Chapter 6: Managing Your Retirement Money.  How managing you money changes after you leave work the shift from growth to income investing.

Part 3 – The Happy Factors (Health, Hobbies and Social)

Chapter 7: The Science of Happiness. Overview of research on happiness and its impact on your retirement.

Chapter 8: Get Happy Now (Before Retirement). How to get started on being happier now before you even retire.

Chapter 9: Getting and Staying Healthy. Highlights of relevant research on being healthy and its contribution to your happiness.

Chapter 10: New and Old Friends. How friendships can change with retirement.

Part 4 – Pre-retirment Count Down

Chapter 11: How exactly do you retire anyways? An overview of giving notice, getting paperwork prepared and using up your benefits prior to leaving.

Part 5 – Retired At Last, Now What?

Chapter 12: The Detox or Adjustment Period.  An overview of the initial retirement phase and adjustments.

Chapter 13: The Toxic Workplace Recovery Plan. A chapter devoted to those that are leaving a toxic work environment and special considerations to your first few months off.

Chapter 14: The Play Structure. How you need some structure in your retirement.

Chapter 15: Retirement Productivity. How lazy is too lazy and adjusting your expectations of yourself.

Chapter 16: All the Time in the World. How to actually use all this time in your week to do things.

Chapter 17: Staying Married in Retirement. Dealing with suddenly spending much more time with your spouse.

Chapter 18: Shades of Work. How work in retirement isn’t a bad thing depending on how you do it.

Chapter 19: Past the Detox Phase. After hitting a good routine for retirement what happens next.

Chapter 20: The Early Retiree Problem. When your retirement is longer than your working career and how do you deal with that.

Why I Stopped Saving for My Kids’ Education

With two clicks of my mouse I cut off the saving that I had previously been automatically been putting towards my children’s education each month since shortly after they were born. It wasn’t a huge amount of money only $167/per child per month so it wasn’t like I had to do it because of cost cutting or anything.

So why? Well because I hit the goal I had set for their RESP fund. It had recently broke the $80,000 threshold I had set for the total amount saved for both kids.  So that gives both kids an even $40,000 each to help cover the cost of their education.  Yes I’m fully aware that won’t fully pay for a post secondary degree depending on what they take and where they take it.  You see we never planned to pay for all their education costs.  We instead wanted them to have a better start than we did.

My wife and I after graduation had a total of $60,000 in student debt back in 2000 which actually was fairly low for two bachelor degrees when we both we paying for living costs as well as the usual tuition and book costs.  But it did take us a while to pay off those debts so we wanted out kids to end up with a better start in life than we got.  But rather than trying to guess how much to save based on the wide spread of costs depending on what my kids take for post secondary education we decided to instead just save a flat $40,000 per kid to cover the basics and let them decide is the additional cost above that amount is worth it.

Also if I’m going to be completely honest I really only expect one of my kids to go to university.  My one son loves math and science so I can totally see him taking a engineering, science or geology university degree. The other son will likely end up with some other  post secondary education like a trade or diploma.  For him school has always been an effort and frankly I don’t see him in a university, but should he want to try the money is there regardless of what he chooses to take.

On the plus side now that we have stopped those payments to their RESP we can now use their Canada Child Benefit (which over the summer went up to $340/month) to actually pay for those kid related expenses like new clothes and food for my 13 year old who is growing at an insanely fast pace right now.  Like seriously the kid has grown almost six inches in a year and eats at times like a bottomless pit (given my own memory of those times growing up this is hardly surprising).  Also the money helps pay for their activities like swimming lessons or other classes they want to pursue.

Of course some people might wonder why stop investing in their RESP at all.  Why not not just keep saving and pay for all their post secondary education costs?  Well when I went to university I saw some of those kids who had all their costs paid for by their parents and at times it didn’t end well.  Kids would party too much and study too little and waste everyone’s money and time by failing badly at most of their classes.  So I really want my kids have to come up with some of the money for their education.  It might be from working a summer job or applying for scholarships I really don’t care how it gets paid as long as they have to do some effort to get it.  I want to balance my kids having a good starting point in life with my kids not getting entirely a free lunch.

So how do you handle saving for your kids education?  Do you plan to pay it all or partly or none?

A blog about early retirement and happiness