Keep Working?

This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any. Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

Some weeks, I just don’t feel like working 40 hours.  These weeks it would be nice to be retired, or at least working fewer hours.  My wife and I have decided that our ideal workday would be from around 10 a.m. to 3 pm three or four days a week.  In our current jobs, this really isn’t an option – no matter how productive we may tell our bosses we would be in those 5 hours.

At some point in the future, we will have our house paid off as well a significant quantity of investments, which will hopefully be enough to live off of for our entire retirement.  I will always worry about running out of money though and will want to make some cash on the side, as some form of diversity.  Although I would prefer to not have to work, having some money coming in wouldn’t be a terrible thing, as long as the hours weren’t too long and the work was something I liked to do.

One of the people I work with is semi-retired and was telling me about his side-business, he picks up broken wooden pallets from factories, takes them apart, rebuilds them and sells the “new” pallets to companies.  I was talking to someone else who said that for charity, one of their friends pulls apart broken electric motors and sells the component metals to recyclers, making $6,000 – $8,000 per year.

For me, I would look for something that involves a minimal investment, much like the two mentioned examples which involved probably $200 in tools and a bit of room.  Having an accounting background, I could probably do something with this, and have talked to my wife about bookkeeping or working during taxation season.  Both would involve some busy time, with bookkeeping being less stressful (as my mistakes would hopefully be caught by an accountant).

My wife would like to work a part-time retail job.  She enjoys working this kind of job, and also would like the store discounts.  Although I’m not sure if she would actually come out ahead by working this job, I would hope that it would sort of “concentrate” her spending to one store at discount prices.

My main goal with a small job would be to allow my retirement fund to compound and live off of the (hopefully) $10,000 I would earn per year (with my wife earning about the same).

I would prefer to not work at all, and my ultimate goal would still be to retire at 45.  Working a part-time job for 10 years would allow me to stop full-time work considerably early – I would be trading 5 years of full-time work for 10 years of casual work.

Would you make the trade-off, or would you like a clean break from work when you’re done?

13 thoughts on “Keep Working?”

  1. I quit cold turkey. It was difficult. I still have cravings, and the worst, I feel guilty some times. At 42, I should still be working, according to my social programming. I rarely feel joy or pride when I tell people that I am retired, usually I just feel out of place. A part time job would fix that, but I would lose the freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted, and that is more important to me.

    However, working part time is still working. The stresses might be different, but the ball and chain is still there. I know a lot of people who have gone this route, and they start off feeling retired, but their extra time fills up with life, and then it seems like they are living for their job again, even though its only 20 hours of their week.

  2. Wow, I feel like Rob has read my mind! I retired “cold turkey” as well and enjoyed the full-time freedom for 3 years. When an old work colleague asked me to come work part-time for him, I decided to do it. And for a while it was really fun, and I still felt retired. But as Rob said, after a time, I started to feel like I was living for the job again. I’m glad I did it but I’ll be ready for my reentry to full-time retirement in one month. (As an aside, like Rob, I often feel awkward when I tell people I am retired. The part-time job definitely solved that problem.)

    But the types of jobs you describe in your post, physical types of jobs that you can probably “leave at the office” in your off-time seem a good solution to the lifestyle-creep problem.

  3. I’ve tried to think of some type of work I could do part-time or odd job wise that would help me get into retirement early.
    I’ve pondered the part-time Hone Depot associate route as well as trying to find some hands on type odd job making things that a few people would buy. I just have to figure out what I’d like to make that people would buy!
    I really need to get my grey cells thinking about this. The grind is getting really tiresome!

  4. Hi Dave,

    I noticed on previous posts that you like to golf. My father-in-law (who is an avid golfer) recently retired and is working part-time as a starter at a golf course. He loves his job as he gets to chat with people all day, be outside and he typically only has to work 1-2 shifts a week (but is also very flexible to work more or less as needed). The job only pays minimum wage but the real benefit is the free golf. By working a minimal amount he play an unlimited amount of golf at no cost. Goes to the old adage, Do what you love.

  5. I want to retire early and then work a part time job similar to what student hours. 15 hours a week in the afternoons would be ideal. I also would like to have just small things I would do for extra money, like sealing driveways, lawn care, shovelling driveways or similar that I could pick how much I want to do and how much money want to make. It would make the transition easier and also fill up some time.

  6. It is the fear of running out of money and having to go back to work that keeps from retiring now, having just turned 40. I am simply working to ensure that I have ample “wiggle room” in my ER plans. I am entirely debt free, no dependants, and own considerable acerage on which I can grow much of my own food.

    I could live on 20k quite easily in retirement. I just don’t want to be FORCED to live on 20k or less… and so I will continue to work, save, and invest for a few more years.

  7. For 7 years, I worked part-time at the same company I worked for full-time prior to my ER in 2008. I had to lessen my awful commute so reducing the number of days per week worked at the office was the most important thing. With my mortgage already pid off 3 years prior, I had no problem meeting my expenses with only ~60% of my full-time pay.

    My first PT gig was 20 hours per week but also mostly telecommuting so I went to my the office onl 1 day a week. The telecommute part was rescinded 2 years later but the PT part was okay as long as I went to the office for my hours (3 days a week). I got tired of that deal so 3 1/2 years later I reduced my hours to 12 per week which was 2 days instead of 3. But I got tired of that so 17 monts later I quit altogether (my ER plans had fallen into place).

    Coincidentally, the wage income I had in those last 17 months was about the same as my current investment income so budgeting has not been a whle lot different.

    A key element for me to working PT and just “sticking around for a while” was the vastly rising value of my company stock. There was no weekly hours requirement to take advantage of that even though I was receiving nearly no more shares (not that I would have gotten many even if I had been working FT). This made PT work for more years far better than FT work for fewer years.

  8. I don’t think I could do a clean break. Part of it is a healthy safety margin … but I do want to pay less in taxes as soon as possible, so I think part-time is in my future.

  9. Greg, switching to PT work will surely cut your income-based taxes. Mine dropped, both on an absolute basis as well as a percentage basis (because of our progressive income tax system). When I stopped working altogether, my Social Security taxes (FICA here in the US) went to zero which was really nice.

  10. What I’m hoping for, is to quit my full time work (when financially viable), and just decompress for a while. Maybe a few weeks, maybe a few months. After that, I was thinking either some seasonal work, or some short stints of part time or contract work in what ever field interests me at the time (and perhaps to pay for a few extras like a trip).

  11. Jeez, I felt and still feel sheepish retiring at 56 six years ago and here are you guys wanting to retire at 45ish.
    What ever happened to the work ethic? 🙂

  12. It is largely my work ethic that has given me the chance to retire in my early 40’s.

    And I don’t intend to sit on my ass when I am no longer “punching the timeclock”….

  13. Freedom is a hard thing to give up once you have had a taste.
    For me,I think a part time job would do me good,but I’m not sure where I would find the time to do it.
    I think it would really cramp my style these days.
    I guess I would have to get better at time management.

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