What images come to mind when you think of retirement?
Maybe it’s of days with no fixed schedules, free for you to fill with things that bring you joy. Maybe you see all the places you’ll visit when you finally have the time. What if there was a chance to achieve some of your post-retirement life goals today?
Changing your view on retirement might help you realize your dreams sooner. Instead of looking at retirement as a permanent state, what if you could taste the freedom of retirement while you’re still working? Or better still, what if you could retire earlier in a way that’s fulfilling and financially practical?
The alternative retirement landscape
If you’re tired of being at a 9-5 job, there are several options that give you the flexibility of retirement without significantly hurting your finances.
- Seasonal work: Instead of working all year, consider jobs that are seasonal. Think of working at a golf course during the summer and fall, at a ski resort in the winter, or coaching a sports team for a few months. This will free up part of the year for you to enjoy other interests. And if the seasonal work itself is an area of interest for you, even better.
- Part-time work: If you’re looking to slow down and want more room in your day or week, consider part-time work. Changing your current employment to part-time allows you to still be involved with your current employer but you are working less hours and are easing into retirement. Alternatively, you could share your knowledge by taking a job as a private tutor, help people prepare their taxes, work in your favorite retail stores, or even become an event planner.
- Self employment: Starting a business allows you to not only be your own boss but could also help you give a job to others. The possibilities are unlimited. Not all businesses need large capital to set up. An entrepreneurial spirit and a touch of creativity are sometimes more than enough. You could open your own craft store, offer landscaping or dog-walking services to neighbours, help people move or take care of their house when they go on vacation. It could be your chance to turn a passion into profits.
- Back to school: Is there a subject you always wanted to learn more about but didn’t have time for when you started working? Why not do it now? It could be an area that you’ve been interested in for a long time or a professional development course that will move you ahead in your career.
- Mini retirement: Finally, if you want the flavour of retirement itself, you can opt for a mini retirement. The idea here is to take some time from your working years and enjoy non-work passions. If there are adventures you want to go on, you don’t need to defer them until you’re over 60. Take a month or two off to explore the world, go on volunteering missions, learn on location by absorbing the language, culture, and art of a place. You can also use your skills to earn money during your time off. This idea needs some planning though. Save for a mini retirement like you would for a car. Don’t dip into your retirement savings to do this. Rent houses to stay in as opposed to hotels or swap houses with other travellers.
Roadmap for early retirement
If you’re serious about saying goodbye to working life sooner, you need a clear roadmap. Here are a few tips to help you start:
- Boost retirement income – have other income options while you’re working. It could be a second job or even rental income.
- Build skills over and above what your job needs – make use of any career development options given at your current job. This can come in handy if you take up the role of consultant when you step out of the 9-5 grind.
- Lower your expenses by eliminating unnecessary habits like caffeine or nicotine.
- Early retirement is often connected to thriftiness. While you may need to lower your expenses to fit your new life, it doesn’t have to be boring. Develop and enjoy low-cost hobbies and passions. Focus on experiences, not stuff.
An early and alternative retirement is more about a mindset shift than anything else. Don’t settle by downsizing. Instead, think of leading a different kind of lifestyle altogether.