DH = Dear Husband
When you hear the same message 3 times . . .
Do you ever get the impression that the universe is trying to give you a message? I’m not superstitious, but I’ve had this sort of unspoken policy that when I hear the same message three times from three unrelated sources, I’m supposed to pay attention.
My goal re. financial freedom
One of the accomplishments of the uber-money-smart superstars that really impresses me is their FIRE (Financial Independence / Retire Early). People in their 40s – even people in their 30s – in a position to stop working and to live off of the interest of their nest eggs in complete financial freedom – as a result of their years of focused savings and wealth building while living a frugal lifestyle. So far removed from the paycheck-to-paycheck-with-nothing-in-the-savings-account-for-emergency norm! So far removed from the headlines about a looming retirement crisis. The FIRE types are counter-cultural in terms of the freedom they give themselves. I admire them, and I’m inspired by them.
It’s too late for me to achieve FIRE, but if I reach my overarching financial goal, I’ll still be counter-cultural. In Canada, 59% of people who retire do so in debt. By the time I’m able to retire, our plan is to be mortgage-free – completely debt-free. Four years ago, that was a pretty impossible looking goal. It’s not so impossible looking now. June of 2019, we’ve got our eyes on you! I don’t HAVE to retire then. My pension plan will ALLOW me to retire then. So there you go. Our goal is to be debt-free, and possibly financially-free, so that both DH and I have complete freedom of choice regarding work by June of 2019.
Message #1: Retirement seminar
There are seminars offered through my work that people are advised to start attending within a few years of retirement. I went to my first one a couple of weeks ago. “Don’t just consider the financial impact of retirement,” advised the speaker. “Consider the emotional impact too.”
“Hmmmm….” I thought as I listened. “I’ll get to sleep in, feel rested, unhurried, free, and relaxed. I can handle that emotional impact!”
Message #2: DH
One evening this past week, when I was telling DH about something that had happened at work that day, he stopped me. “See,” he said. “That’s what you might miss when you retire. You have all of these people you see every day. All of these good relationships. And for the most part, you’re working on things that bring you together – that you like doing. Then all of a sudden, you won’t have any of it anymore. You’ll miss that.”
“Yes, I will miss the students and staff of my school,” I thought. “But there are ways to volunteer – even in my school if I choose to. And I will still be able to get involved in initiatives and causes that mean something to me. In fact, I’ll be more free to get involved in them.”
Message #3: Nancy
I was pleasantly surprised to get an e-mail from someone who allowed me to feature her story in a Fruclassity post back in December of 2015. Nancy and her husband had become debt-free in their 60s after a six-year debt-dumping effort. In her e-mail message, Nancy let me know of the travel plans that she and her husband now have (Québec in the summer and possibly Arizona in the fall). After over six years of debt repayment and no travel for the last 3 of those years, it’s a real “We’ve made it!” celebration. “I have been following a retirement blog for a couple of years now, about the emotional side of retirement,” Nancy also told me, “and I thought you might enjoy it as you are coming up to that time in the next few years. The blog is ‘Kathy’s retirement blog’.”
“Wow. That’s 3 times in the last couple of weeks that someone’s given me a message about paying attention to the emotional side of retirement!” I thought. “I’d better pay attention.”
Paying attention . . .
OK, so I’m paying attention. I knew 13 years ago, when I first set foot in the school where I work, that I would want to stay there for the rest of my career.
- It’s very multicultural and alive with different ethnicities, languages, faiths, types of clothing . . . And there’s an open acceptance I have never seen at any other school – or place for that matter. The world could learn a lot from us!
- My job in the library involves a lot of interaction with staff and students. Sometimes this is challenging, as my work is constantly interrupted, but the quality of these interactions is overwhelmingly good.
- My job involves a balance – teaching individuals, teaching classes, managing books and databases, supervising, working with volunteers and co-op students, collaborating with other staff. I’m not the best multi-tasker, so I often feel scattered, but I absolutely never have to wonder, “What am I going to do today?”
- I’m involved in different clubs and initiatives that are utterly wonderful. This month, for instance, I’m part of spearheading an effort to collect books for a First Nations reserve that is in crisis. The youth of Attawapiskat have identified “A library” as something that would make their lives better. I’m receiving new boxes of books 3 times a day now. (A BIG THANK YOU to some of you!)
- I have the satisfaction of knowing that I work in a school that makes a difference in the lives of its students.
That’s a pretty rich list of positives, isn’t it? When DH and I were going through our years of financial distress, work was a means to a dissatisfying end – staying afloat. Now that the pressure caused by debt and uncertain income has been lifted, I’m free to appreciate all that my work offers.
There are negatives too, of course. I am often tired. I have an annoying commute through traffic two times every day. My work day leaves me with limited time for other things I’d like to do – like writing. It limits the time I can spend with friends and family. There are rare but significant times of frustration with colleagues or students. These negatives do not even come close to outweighing the positives though.
Vision for financial freedom?
My vision for retirement is vague. I want all of the positives of my work life with none of the negatives. Sounds reasonable, right?
In the pf bloggosphere, FIRE is the ultimate prize. Financial independence doesn’t necessarily mean you quit work. It means that you give yourself the freedom to choose whether or not to keep your job, to work sporadically, to find other work you prefer that might pay less, to work part-time, or to strike out on your own in some kind of a business. Even if you end up changing nothing, just having this freedom of choice changes everything.
Have your ever considered “the emotional side” of retirement? Is it possible that there are things about your work life that you’ll miss more than you realize? Is it possible you won’t make any changes in your work life even when you’ve reached financial independence? Your comments are welcome.
*Image courtesy of Pixabay.