Ask the Readers: What does Retirement Mean to You?

I apologize to those who are seeing this post for a second time. The first time it was released in error and was removed the same day.

What does retirement mean to you? This is an interesting question that I think about often and I’m curious as to what it means to my readers. When most of us picture retirement, we think about being a little older, traveling a bit and living the high life with all of the saved money.

To others, it means to continue living every day life without having to worry about a “job” or reporting to someone else.

To me, it doesn’t mean to stop working but to have the freedom to do whatever “I” want during the day and have enough investment/side income to meet (ideally exceed) my monthly expenses. This could mean spending time with my family, running the business of my dreams or even traveling the world. There’s no real age requirement, but ideally, the sooner the better.

I have calculated our projected retirement needs before and provided that we continue to life a frugal life with all of our debts paid off, we should be able to retire before 50.

So back to the question, what does retirement mean to you? How do you picture your retirement?

Photo credit: Ernst Moeksis

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FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.
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13 years ago

In just less than 5 years I hope to be in a position where:

1. My child support payments are done.
2. My mortgage has been retired for 2 years.
3. My investment portfolios (registered and non-registered) are sufficiently large so that I no longer need contribute to them in order to fund my retirement.

At that point, I can really change my job to one with less pressure and, consequently, less income. It really only needs to fund my day-to-day living expenses which would be not much higher than my projected retirement expenses. This becomes the first phase of retirement.

About 7 years after that, I can enter full retirement – which is not having to earn any additional income other than through my investments. If I want to volunteer full time, I can. If I want to go back to university or college, I can. Whatever I want to do, I hopefully will have the good health to do. This is the 2nd phase of retirement.

About 15 years after that, I will enter a sedentary retirement. I will probably stay close to home and not do a lot of physical activity. I probably won’t feel like getting on a plane to travel. Driving long distances will not interest me. I’m basing this on how my dad is currently handling this part of his life. He is busy, but only on a local level. As time progresses, my circle of activities will gradually shrink until I rarely venture out. This is the 3rd phase of retirement.

About 15 years after that, science will have created a way for me to transfer my mind into a young, virile body and I will really enjoy retirement. This is the “wishful thinking” phase of retirement.

Dividend Growth Investor
13 years ago


Spending a weekend ( or a week) on the beach/lake is a nice way to recharge your batteries and keep your ideas flowing.( just like I did for 4th of July weekend yay). But more than that and you are simply wasting your life away. If you don’t “diversify” your time into personal life, profesional life, family etc, you are not living a rich life.

Maybe I won’t be that happy living on that sunny pacific island, which popular advertisements show as the perfect retirement destination. Maybe staying active in “retirement” is the thing to do..

But doing both beach + work might be a good idea.. I have to think about that :-)

13 years ago

@ Jordan: Thanks for the response. Your job sounds wonderful! It’s great to see the definition of the standard 9-5 job become more flexible. I’m hoping I can find something like that someday.

13 years ago

If I am constantly improving myself, I am in retirement.

Gates VP
13 years ago

I’ll start by mentioning relevant material here: “4-hour workweek”, “Die Broke”, Philip Greenspun’s blog

The basic premises are simple though:
1. You can’t take anything with you. Why earn it if you’re not going to spend it? (see Bill Gates “spending it” now).
2. If you don’t have a hobby while you’re working, you won’t have a hobby when you retire.
3. Vast amounts of money generally don’t solve personal problems. Be happy first.

1. Start doing what you love today.
I really like my job, I would be doing this or something like it even if I had a million in the bank.
If you don’t like what you’re doing, then you should be saving money and working towards spending less time at work and more time doing what you enjoy doing. If you’re not off-setting required work with your passions, then you’re stifling your own growth.
Almost any constructive passion can be converted into income. so start with what you love.
2. Enjoy today and mind tomorrow.
Keep a positive cashflow when you’re young and make conscious decisions for tomorrow. Money in the bank = ability to exercise your options. Be a very active decision maker. I know lots of very unhappy people who make “default decisions” (house, car, kids, cabin, etc.) and then complain about them. It’s OK to want kids and a home, but it’s important to make these decisions actively instead of “hey this is what everyone else is doing”. You can write two or three blog posts on this point alone, but the essence is simple: if you’re complaining about the cost of repairing a car or a home, then you need to look at your decision to own that item.
3. Keep building
“A beautiful young person is a freak of nature, a beautiful old person is a work of art” – Eleanor Roosevelt (I believe)

So what does retirement mean to me?


I won’t retire, I’ll just be doing “something else for a living”. Like CD, I want “paying the bills” to require less and less of my time (maybe 3 or 4 phases, maybe a “mini-retirement”).

But, If I’m not doing “something for a living” (volunteering, surfing, maintaining a blog…), isn’t that just a pleasant way of saying I’m already dead?

13 years ago

To those that want to start a business, or try a new career in retirement…why wait? Why not try it now? Just curious as I’ve been asking myself this lately.

This past week my husband and I vacationed in Mexico, and as you can imagine, the idea of retirement came up a lot. While hanging out on the beach after some surfing, we met a young (mid-20’s?) girl from Australia who had been living in Mexico for a year, and in Whister for a year before that. Life is pretty simple for her…a couple odd jobs here and there, but mostly just a beach (or snow) bum. There was also a young family, surfing parents and two young kids lazing on the beach all day. Seemed pretty ideal to be honest. And i’m sure they don’t have a $1MM bank account to get them through it.

At the same time though, just 10 miles down the coast sat a HUGE yacht with a helicopter on the landing pad. Hmmm…

My husband’s dream retirement has long been to own a pizzeria on the beach somewhere, with small living quarters above and a couple surf boards in the storage shed. I’m sure somewhere in the world we could easily afford that right now… :)

Canadian Dream
13 years ago


To quote “You are probably the most prepared for retirement of all the people that I know in their 20’s.” Too bad I’m not in my 20’s anymore. *grin* Yep, I broke that 30 barrier earlier in the year.


The Financial Blogger
13 years ago

FT, I’m with you on this one.

Retirement means that I will be able to do whatever I want to do whenever I want to do it. I can picture myself not working for about a year or so and then, probably start my own company. I would love to have my own office and take the time to select my clients since the company would only bring extra (and not needed) income.

I met a retired planner who was doing training session for the newbie like me for the bank. He was working by contract of 3 months. He said this money was for “travel and wine”. Considering that his last trip was a month spent between Greece and Italy, I think it worth it to work a few months per year ;-)

So I want to retire young (hopefully around 50) but I don’t want to make too much sacrifices along the way. So I’ll probably end-up retiring at 55 but living a good life in between… just in case I don’t get to 55!

13 years ago

If anyone wants to retire early and retire wealthy, I suggest reading Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich book. This book has been a crucial turning point in my life.

I guarantee anyone that lives by what this book tells you to do, you will be successful.

*All limits in life are self-imposed*

I write my own blog about US investing and some personal finance, take a look at it and please let me know what you think about it on the Contact Us page. Site is:

Jordan Clark
13 years ago


I’m a web application developer, so I make dynamic websites specializing in e-commerce. I’m not a great entrepreneur, so I’m been very fortunate that with hard work I’ve maintained a fixed ongoing agreement with my main client where it’s almost like a job. I provide a set number of hours a month and manage their online store. I work from home and have complete control to manage my own time and efforts and don’t have to worry much about a lack of work between jobs, trying to find new clients or a lack of local jobs. Then as time permits I’m able to pick up additional telecommuting jobs and projects and work them into my schedule.

It’s been great because I’ve been home the entire time as my 3.5 and 1.5 year old have grown up, being there for most every moment and having the ability to take lots of breaks throughout the day (or the entire day) to be with them.