ATM Book Club Week 4 (Chapter 3)

I’m hosting an informal book club on this blog devoted to All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending. Each week we discuss one chapter. You can join at any time; there are links to previous weeks at the bottom of this post.

Chapter 3 is called “Rethink Retirement.” Being able to afford a secure retirement is the goal touted in much personal finance literature. I certainly think that financial freedom should be a big goal for many of us. But retirement as we often picture it — one’s 60s and early 70s spent on a golf course — doesn’t sound particularly attractive to me. Travel sounds more fun, but eventually you want to come home and do something, or at least you want to spread your trips out over time, with something in between. Over the years, I’ve interviewed many people who could afford to retire but don’t. Because they know what they’d do if they didn’t have to work…and it looks a lot like their work. So why not get a paycheck too?

Of course, one reason that people are going to be rethinking retirement in the near term is that, as we’re living longer, retirement can last for decades. Twenty, thirty, or sometimes even forty years is a long time to have no new income coming in. It’s pretty hard to put away enough money on a modest income to support that and it’s proven pretty hard for pension systems to invest enough cash to support long retirements too. The positive spin on rethinking retirement is that work can be a meaningful way to spend your time — sometimes making a real difference in the world — and it keeps your brain sharp. The negative spin is that many people won’t be able to afford to retire, so they need to figure out something. After all, if you use the 4% rule (you can pull out 4% of your assets per year), then every $10,000 you can earn is $250,000 in assets you don’t need to have.

Anyway, this week’s question: Picture yourself having achieved financial independence. Your assets kick off enough income to support you in the style to which you’ve become accustomed — you and your spouse or partner, perhaps (we’ll picture that you no longer have children at home). Give yourself a year or two for travel or other bucket list activities. Then picture yourself on a Monday morning. What would you like to do with your time? What would you like to spend your 168 hours doing?

The bonus question is whether you can find space in your life now for any of those things.

Once I got my travel bug out of my system I’d want to wake up Monday morning and…write. Probably working on book projects and blogging. I wouldn’t take on assignments that were more about the cash or that didn’t really excite me. What about you?

Previous weeks:

ATM Book Club Week 1 (intro)

ATM Book Club Week 2 (Chapter 1)

ATM Book Club Week 3 (Chapter 2)





15 thoughts on “ATM Book Club Week 4 (Chapter 3)

  1. I love this idea – it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. My dad is approaching 70 and is still doing consulting work in his field along with a lot of volunteering and travel.

    After a lot of talking about it, I convinced my husband to quit a job he didn’t like and figure out what it is he wants to do, because even if we subscribe to the “work until you’re 62 and quit” theory of retirement, that’s still 20+ years off for us. That’s a long time to be in a job you don’t like much.

    I’m not sure what I would do yet. I don’t think it’s my current job but maybe project management in some form still. I secretly dream about being a personal organizer but am not sure i could deal with working with clients that closely…

  2. Right now, I’d like to teach English as a Second Language overseas. Unfortunately, my husband is very much not a city person so I’m not sure he’d be willing to come! He’s the type of guy who likes his “next gas 78 miles” signs.

    1. @Twin Mom – I think this is a fascinating subject in its own right — when spouses have different visions of their ideal retirement. Even if both people like to travel they can have different visions. I kind of like package tours because somebody does the work of creating an efficient vacation for you. My husband kind of likes to just get in a car and drive.

      1. Yes, we’re going to have similar issues, I think. The hubby would love to trade in the house for an RV, I think, and that’s about the LAST thing I’d ever want to do 🙂

        But we’re in agreement on travel styles – stay in ONE place, and rent a car and drive around. No package tour for us.

        1. I’m with ARC. My favorite part of doing it yourself (with guidebooks) is seeing the things other people DON’T see. In Europe, we stopped at castle ruins that were just ruins, stayed at a Norwegian campground in May (cold!), and rode around touring Helsinki with a Russian scientist we met on the train from St Petersburg. (He also answered whatever question the customs official asked us, correctly!)

          1. @Twin Mom, that sounds awesome. Hubby and I are super-laid-back vacationers, ie. our main goal is relaxation, and maybe see a few sights if we get around to it. I grew up in a family that was MUST SEE EVERYTHING and had a detailed schedule from dawn until bedtime, and I think I’m permanently scarred by that 🙂

          2. Ok, so as the one who winds up doing the planning in my family, I really like the idea of having someone else do it. My husband planned our honeymoon and while we had an incredible time, I think more of it was spent in the car than say, looking at animals on safari. We took a package trip to Nicaragua together and there were 2-3 activities every day and we never got lost. Another option, which we did years ago, was to book a private tour. We did this in Vietnam with a bike trip, and since it was a local tour operator (not an American company, but a Vietnamese small business) it was dirt cheap to have our own guide. And my husband actually said that he’d seen far more than he’d seen in some of his trips that involved driving by everything! I think it’s one thing to go off the beaten path and just discover Paris. This is a little harder to do in Botswana. You’re likely to run out of gas.

        2. Laura,
          You’ve traveled far more extensively than I have. Our travels, other than Europe, have involved things like ferries in Alaska (inside passage and Aleutians) and national parks. Our financial and vacation situation never allowed for that sort of really COOL travel, though I do recommend the monthly ferry through the Aleutian islands as a cheap, unique trip. (We camped in a tent on the deck)

          1. @Twin Mom- the ferry does sound cool. Sometimes I have a problem with sea sickness though. I’m glad I know that about myself because I occasionally think that a trip around the Galapagos in a small boat sounds cool and then I remember that small boats equal awful nausea.

  3. in retirement:
    I’d like to start a non profit that would help the mentally ill get work opportunities for pay but with a mentor as many mentallly ill can’t work without support as in someone working along side them… Also I know a lot about small business and how hard it is for most small businesses to do the HR and find talent… it’d be a non profit b/c essentially to have two folks do the work of one is not cost effective.. Also I’d like to use retirees as the mentors as well as folks with professional experience with the mentally ill.
    I’d like to write a book…
    exercise every day
    eat exactly what I want in the right portion
    do something that has to do with marketing latin america or getting back to the root of my interest in US Hispanic market which is Latin America.. maybe writing about Latin America or working on increasing tourism to Latin America etc.

    1. @Cara- love the non-profit idea, I think it would really make a difference. Scratching my head on the eating exactly what you want in the right portion, though. Because you’ll have more time to cook? More time to shop? More time to portion? I’ve been thinking if I’m lucky enough to make it to old age I’ll eat whatever I want. Life is short. I’m 5.5 lbs from goal weight, and those Trader Joes dark chocolate covered caramels are starting to call to me…

      1. For eating I was thinking about my own food issues but also more about the empty nest idea that I’d eat like Indian for lunch crazy food for dessert for dinner… or eat my way through italy just be more delib and varied about what I eat … octopus all the stuff I like and wouldn’t serve family style ! not be as planned about food as you have to be when you have kids etc. for example.. but yes I would probably also set a goal weight on the high side to enjo the extras as eating is very pleasurable for me.. I probably wouldn’t cook more than once a week b/c I’m just not that into cooking..

  4. Also grandkids. If my daughter has kids I want her to be able to keep them out of daycare until they are 2 years old which I was not able to do — so I want to be available to my kids to babysit as a grandparent ! I want to have the money to do whatever whenever i want with them!

  5. I think it would be a bad idea for me to stop working… I would probably end up getting into all sorts of trouble trying to save the world ineffectively and be less happy than I would with my current somewhat constrained path.
    Sure I’d start out small, but I always start out small. Then things start building until either I quit or they go out of control.
    Maaaybe I’ve gained some maturity with age, but who wants to chance that sort of thing?
    Or maybe I’d just write novels– that’s pretty safe. But I’m pretty sure I’d rather continue with my current profession than write novels. There are a lot of people out there who are really good at writing novels… not so many at the kinds of things I can do.

  6. I just discovered this book and am enjoying it and your blog posts. I’ve been mostly retired for a while–it wasn’t really my choice, but I’m making the best of it. Some of the fun things I’ve done include writing and producing a play about Lenin and C.G. Jung, writing a crime novel set in Russia, studying German in Berlin and creative writing in St. Petersburg, Russia, visiting Argentina and Jordan on my own, maintaining a blog for 10 years, delivering Meals on Wheels, cleaning cages at a bird sanctuary and volunteering at a Free Clinic.
    While an enjoyable retirement isn’t guaranteed, it can give you an opportunity to try new and interesting things.

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