While a lot of what these retirees are proposing is good quality advice, like not treating your salary like your budget, saving, being frugal, reevaluating your priorities and philosophy towards money, there is something about it that makes me uneasy.
My problem with it is not the financial advice – I dislike the idea of not working ever again. I dislike the idea of seeing work as a necessary evil (although it often is).
Essentially, these people want to be a 17th century gentleman. Lots of investment money coming in, lots of leisure time and little or no working. Working was distasteful to someone like Mr Darcy – work is for poor people.
The paradigm here is that work is bad and we only do it for money.
Work takes up your time. It’s hard. It’s stressful. It makes you unhappy.
Work is hard work.
When I was going to university, I chose to study English and I got a lot of sneers and comments about how I would end up an English teacher – which I have never wanted to do – if I even managed to get a job. Even recently, a recent engineer graduate told me, albeit in a joking way, that choosing to study a subject I loved and enjoyed was “my first mistake” rather than something more financially viable. I’m not sure what my second mistake was – perhaps conversing with him!
I have an ex-boyfriend who told me he didn’t actually like investment banking, and chose it because it was the profession that would yield the most money and then he could retire early. I asked him what he wanted to do in retirement and he said, “Hang out.”
I just do not get that at all. This is beyond my comprehension.
I don’t like insane, demanding clients, bitchy bosses, backstabbing colleagues, unnecessary stress, long hours, overtime, commuting and boring tasks – no one does.
But I think working is important.
I definitely agree that mindlessly doing to the nine-to-five grind and going down the route of mortgage, loans and debt is not something to be advocated. I don’t think everyone’s end goal in life should be to retire – or to have money. I do definitely think you should strive to have money and retire at some point, but all your life decisions shouldn’t revolve around this as your end goal.
But there is something about passively accruing income with no other kind of work that rubs me up the wrong way. I’m not talking about the “honesty” about a day’s work that proverbs tell us about – they’re just clever ways for rich people to keep poor people endlessly breaking their backs so that they can profit. I’m talking about making money but not contributing to anything.
Does being financially independent reduce the need to work? Isn’t work important? What happened to passion? What happened to vocations? What happened to altruism? Or even creativity? What happened to the pursuit of learning and achievement and dare I say it, doing something to create a better world?
This might be the naïve, bleeding heart liberal in me, but I think that we need to change our relationship with work – and I do think with the advent of freelance work, virtual assistants, blogs, remote working and things like paternal leave and flexi-time work is changing too. We’re not baby boomers and that’s ok, so we have to navigate our own relationship with work.
In a lot of pop culture the only thing you can be passionate about is the creative industry – like being a musician, or a writer, or a singer. I think that there must even be accountants who enjoy crunching the numbers, and looking after the finances of companies they believe in.
I think that the point of living is doing – and doing something good (rather than an evil empire or a business that flourishes on other people’s sufferings). I think that we can all do more to make “the rate race” less of a race and more of a journey or a pilgrimage so that people don’t want to opt out.
I’m not about to tell people what to do – my philosophy is live and let live and tolerate things I don’t particularly like. Retire at 30 if you want! I’m going to keep working and making things past 30.
Does anyone else actually like working? What are you favourite aspects of having a job?