Our Money Our Lives
Since we run a popular website at RetireEarlyLifestyle.com , from time to time we receive emails from our readers asking us if we are really retired. Some people sniff and say we can’t be because we sell books and have ads on our site.
We left the workforce at the age of 38 in 1991, called ourselves retired and have been living off our investments since. But apparently, there are rules one must follow in order to actually assume the title. The only thing is, those rules vary from person to person.
Are you retired if you own several properties and receive rental income from them? What if your passion is building boats and you sell one? Or if you are musically inclined, play gigs and receive compensation? What about a professional athlete who retires and then receives income from product endorsements?
Some men consider themselves retired, but their wives are still working, bringing income into their household. Looking a little closer, we find that the husband is on the wife’s healthcare plan. Does this scenario tarnish the title of being retired?
Some even say they could never retire because they don’t want to sit around “doing nothing” all day – as if that is how we are living our lives.
Who cares what labels others place on you?
One of the reasons we left the working world was because there were too many rules to follow. We enjoy our freedom and like to decide on our own what to do with our time. In 1991, there were no words to describe what we were doing. Back then, it was only people like Bill Gates, or famous sport figures who would be described as financially independent. It seemed that one needed millions or more to assume that status.
However, what does it mean to be financially independent? To us it means one is not dependent on a job for a source of income. One can choose to work or not, as one pleases. And one can decide what to do with their time without needing permission from a boss or anyone, for that matter. If you want to start a foundation, volunteer, pick up a little cash here and there by consulting, no one can make you feel that you have somehow lied or let them down because you are supposed to be rocking in a chair on the front porch or watching TV reruns.
Once you are no longer dependent on a paycheck, all sorts of opportunities arrive. For instance, we have been asked to be hosts for PBS fundraisers and to be world-wide tour guides. Neither of these opportunities fit with our lifestyle. We did however speak at an International Living conference in Cancun, Mexico and helped opened a Four Seasons Resort on the tiny island of Nevis West Indies. These were great opportunities and presented intriguing challenges. Are we supposed to say no so that we won’t offend someone?
If you were to ask 100 people if they would like to be retired, you would get a variety of answers. They would range from “No, I’d be bored” to “That’s for old people.” If you were to ask those same 100 people if they would like to be financially independent, my guess is that you would receive a 100% positive response.
What’s the difference? It seems to be a matter of perception, but it also seems that to be financially independent one has more options and wouldn’t offend anyone’s decrees of what is “allowed.”
Call us what you want. We consider ourselves to be financially independent, retired and free to choose what we do with our lives.
After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?