I’ve been retired for 17 years now. In other words, thanks to my sound financial planning, I’ve been able to quit the 9 to 5 rat race very early in my life. I now have all the time in the world because I’m not burdened down with debt. So, you’d think I’d be happy since that’s what most financial experts in FIRE proclaim (Financial Independence Retire Early). Money doesn’t bring us happiness. Time does.
As usual, I have to disagree with most other people’s life views. I’ve got all the time in the world, yet when I sit down and ask myself what would make me happy, money pops in to my mind. Not time. Or more time. What’s the point of having all the time in the world available to you if you don’t have the money to give you what you’d like to do/get?
Over at The Retirement Manifesto, author Fritz, made this proclamation today:
True happiness in life doesn’t come from Money. More importantly, happiness comes from gaining freedom over your time and using the resulting Time Affluence to do things that really matter.
Um, Fritz? You need money to fully enjoy all that newfound free time you’re dealing with. And the proclamations don’t stop with Fritz. He’s linked some other goody-two-shoes who think just like he does. There’s ESI Money who proclaims true happiness comes from helping others. And dogs.
Really? Here’s a quote:
I think that is one of the biggest pitfalls we get into on our pursuit of FI, we fail to really define the end goal. Let’s skip the travelling the world for a moment and the spending time with loved ones (not like these aren’t important). I think we need to first define what truly makes us happy.
Not just what we think, not what everyone else is saying, but what would truly make us happy? And is it possible to be happy now?
Whenever I read other personal finance blogs with people who have already retired, I try to look very closely in their writing for happiness.
Weird, I know, but it makes me very curious. What makes them happy now? Have they finally found what we’ve all been searching for?
Most times, at least from what I can tell, they are still in the pursuit of happiness even after accumulating all this money and retiring early.
At least ESI Money is right about this one thing he found out: FIRE isn’t making anyone happy. His conclusion to finding happiness is to help other less-fortunate people (and dogs). Good luck with that one. Ever hear of the quote: ‘no good deed goes unpunished‘? DH and I rescue dogs. Know what it takes to help dogs (and people)? MONEY. Not time!
Fritz also links to a fellow blogger named ‘Mr. Thrifty‘. I’m always hesitant to believe anyone who doesn’t use his real name or at least a pretend real name. Mr. Thrifty calls his wife ‘Mrs. Thrifty‘. I rest my case. The two of them have a blog entitled ‘Thrifty Enough‘ (what else?) and the two of them go on to proclaim that they have found the path to true financial freedom at $35,000 per year (sound familiar?) A bigger home or a granite countertop is not going to give them any more happiness. Why? Because they value time over money. Here’s Mr. Thrifty’s mantra: You can always make more money, but you can never make more time.
I’m always fascinated with recently retired people. They start off so happy and hopeful. They’re traveling and seeing family members they haven’t seen in years. They’re connecting and reconnecting and they are just so full of joy, it’s mind-boggling. Then the reality of real life retirement sets in. And guess what? That time that they think is so wonderful suddenly fizzles when they realize their monthly bills have increased substantially and that income they thought they had in the bag suddenly isn’t enough. Oh, it takes a few years. And none of their preparations or financial savviness has prepared them for anything. Now, and only now do they finally understand what true retirement life is really like.
Know what I got in the mail today? My 2019 Medicare Supplemental Insurance bill. Know what the increase percentage for 2019 is going to be? Seventy-five percent (75%). That’s right! My insurance premium (Part D) for next year has almost doubled. The first thing I thought about was that $10 tip I gave my hairdresser last week because I wanted to reward a hard-working, less-fortunate-than-me woman. I’m not going to be able to be so generous next year, thanks to my medical increases. She and her two kids are going to have to struggle a little bit harder next year. I know I will. Time isn’t going to cure my medical woes. Money is. Ditto for my hairdresser.
Every single retirement person I know has a side-hustling job. They can be as financially free as anyone can be (mortgage free, debt free, car loan free etc) and they can be as well invested as Warren Buffet (passive income, dividend income, interest income etc) but what they have found out as they progress through their retirement life is YES! they need more money than they have ever planned. Not time. M.O.N.E.Y.
I live on about $35,000 a year, and you know what? It sucks. I bought myself new granite countertops a few years ago (actually they’re quartz) and you know what? They make me extremely happy each and every day I look at them, I work on top of them, I cut my veggies on top of them! I have 17 cousins from my mother’s side, that I grew up with because we spent every Sunday at grandma’s house together. Know what? My mother died in 1978 and I haven’t seen any of those 17 cousins since. They all despised my father because he was an immigrant and their hatred cascaded down to both my sister and myself. The odds of me reconnecting with those bastards, now that I am retired, is zero!
I took a real vacation this past August. By a ‘real’ vacation, I mean I did the whole nine yards, I went the distance, I became an actual tourist. I went out to eat in well-known restaurants, I went on a tour, I went to most of the tourists traps, I bought souvenirs for the first time ever. I bought brand new clothes for the first time in years.
Know what I got in return for finally enjoying myself without worrying about our budget or the bottom line? This:
Thankfully, I have the money to pay this bill. In full. No revolving credit for me. All the time in the world wasn’t going to give me this real vacation high. Money did! I’ve discovered what almost all of the retirees before me have discovered. Oh, it’s nice to have the time to dilly dally and pursue hobbies or dreams, but baby doll, you’re going to need a whole lot of money, more than you have saved or squirreled away, to find true happiness in your retirement.
You don’t have to keep your day job. That’s true. You really can achieve FIRE. But you better learn to master the ‘side-hustle’. You’re gonna need it more than you will ever know.
Live well and prosper, my friend. Live well and prosper.