The post responding to another Saving Ninja Thought Experiment: what are your plans for retirement?
Given my interest (some would say obsession) with financial independence and early retirement, you would assume that I have very clear plans for what to do when I can finally give up the day job. So Saving Ninja’s latest thought experiment should be a doddle. The scenario posed is this:
Life is good. You finally did it! You pulled the plug on your day job after reaching financial independence. You never have to work for money ever again. But, you’re bored. You need something to do… You need a project! You grab a piece of paper and a pen and start thinking. Now that you’re financially free, what projects do you want to complete? However ambitious, however small, you now have the time to pursue anything that you like, what will you accomplish?
And yet, the question gave me pause for thought. I have plans for retirement in a general sense: plans to travel, relax, go to the theatre more, and enjoy leisurely lunches. But none of these can really be considered “projects”. I’ve not given too much thought to what productive things I really want to achieve when I have the time to do them.
After pondering it for a while, here are a few thoughts.
1. The lazy project: Catch up on a lot of TV
Does watching a lot of telly really count as a “project”? It’s the ultimate lazy-person’s activity. The FIRE community is very much about being proactive and go-getting. Not many people admit to wanting to retire early so they can achieve the lofty goal of sitting on a sofa in front of a screen. But I love watching TV and film. There’s so many series I haven’t got around to watching yet: Mad Men, The Sopranos, The Wire. Whilst I may have gotten around to watching these by the time I retire, I’m sure there will be a whole lot of other box sets to watch.
And then there are all the movies. I consider myself a big film fan, but my taste isn’t the most sophisticated. I like to be entertained by frivolous things.
Whilst I can certainly appreciate the skill and talent that goes into a weighty drama, give me the choice between an Oscar Best Picture front-runner or a film about a giant snake, and 9 times out of 10 I’m going to opt for Jon Voight being regurgitated by an anaconda.
But I do want to watch those classics before I die: the Gone with the Winds and Citizen Kanes of this world. When I have precious little leisure time I can’t quite bring myself to watch them, but with all that free time stretching ahead of me, I’ll be more inclined to tick them off my list.
2. The “gets me out of the house” project: Work part time in a metaphysical supply store
What is a metaphysical supply store, you ask? I wasn’t sure that’s what it was called myself until I Googled it. I’m talking about one of those New Age shops that sell crystals, incense and decorative mortar and pestles whilst whale noises play in the background.
This would probably surprise anyone that knows me as I’m a cynic. I don’t believe in crystal healing, chakras, or any other alternative therapies. But those places sure are relaxing and they smell nice. I imagine the clientele are a chilled bunch, so it seems like a good place to keep me occupied.
Of course, there’s not many of these shops about and it’s not likely they want to pay someone who only wants to work 1 or 2 days a week and take extended holidays. But I could afford to do the work voluntarily and as I’m financially independent I can wait until the right opportunity comes up.
It occurs to me that, again, this might not be considered a “project” in the widely used sense of a time-limited piece of work with an end-goal. I’ve realised over my working life that I don’t really get as excited by project work as work being thrown at me sporadically in dribs and drabs. That’s reflected in my choices in this post being things that could go on for an extended period of time if I enjoy them.
3. The altruistic project: Find a charity to dedicate some time to
My pursuance of FI leads me to be more selfish than I’d like. Some people still build charitable work and/or giving into their time and budget before they reach FI. I give intermittently and don’t dedicate any time to charity. I’d like this to change when I’m retired.
Question is, what charity? I’ve considered whether to maybe do pro bono legal work, but to be honest, that sounds too stressful for a post-retirement job. At the moment, I think I’d like to do something outdoorsy. Maybe working in a community garden planting flower beds and vegetables. I’m not a big people person so something nature-orientated would probably suit me best.
4. The pipe dream project: the rollercoaster blog
I bloody love rollercoasters and theme parks. My ideal job would be to review rollercoasters for a living, but no one is lining up to pay me to do that. So once I’m retired I can pursue this independently with a rollercoaster and theme park blog.
But this is probably a pipedream. Travelling the world visiting themes parks in retirement is one thing. Visiting enough theme parks to create enough material to keep a blog going is an expensive business. It’s not going to happen unless something happens that enables a much “fatter” FIRE than I’m currently planning. As much as I’d like to operate a rollercoaster blog, I don’t want it enough to delay FI. So this one’s probably just theoretical.
Check out Saving Ninja’s own response to the Thought Experiment and a running list of other bloggers’ responses (which I’ll add to this post when I get a chance).