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Retirement is a Scam

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I’m just going to go right out and say it, I mean, it’s right there in the title anyway: Retirement is a scam. 

I feel like retirement is this elusive prize that is, for the general population, dangled in front of them at a great length.

Retirement is a reward. This is the time you’ll finally get to do all those things you wanted.

In New Zealand, the retirement age is thought to be around 65, when you’re eligible for pensions. I’m 26 years old and if I wasn’t actively working towards an earlier retirement, I could expect another 39 years of hard work before I’ll get to do all those things that I really want to do.

But what will life be like when I’m 65? I don’t want to be morbid, but who’s to say I’ll make it that long? Odds are stacked in my favour, but should I really spend the next 39 years of my life working towards the golden years that I might not even reach? Even if I do make it to 65, what will my quality of life be like? I probably wont have the energy or motivation to enjoy things I can do as a young, fit 26 year old without many responsibilities. I’m trading the best years of my life, to get some freedom when I’m too old to enjoy it properly. Even in the West, Obama care is shaping up nicely, giving the retirement community a “health-oriented crutch” to lean on

That sounds like a pretty bad deal to me. 

I want to enjoy life now, consistently, and I want to do all those things I want to do… now.

That’s part of the reason we’re leaving. I want to spend the next few years of my life exploring new places and revisiting the old favourites, I want to watch my partner surf, I want to try new things, properly learn Spanish, see Machu Picchu, the pyramids, spend more time volunteering in Cambodia.

A few years ago, one of my friends told me that I needed to stop traveling, that life wasn’t a playground.

Well, why not? Now I make a pretty good living, I can work anywhere in the world, I’m expanding my business and have a few interesting projects in the pipelines.

I’m not anywhere near retirement, but I’m getting things started. I’ve already mentioned on this blog how much the book, The Four Hour Work Week, has shaped my thought patterns. I’m currently trying to outsource my position, i.e. have a few different employees that do all the work for me. Of course, I’ll keep writing on this blog, but there are lots of things I could be getting someone else to do to make my life more efficient and to free up my time.

Yes, I’d probably save money if I did it myself, but what about my time? My time is my most valuable asset.

If you were given the option between a million dollars and dying in a month, or living a hundred more years without the money, what would you take? It’s probably obvious! So why do we trade large volumes of our time for small amounts of money? 

I think retirement is a scam. I think it’s a Western concept that’s been created to ensure you spend the best years of your life making a company more profitable. I can’t retire early, but I’m going to find a balance between living my dream life, earning a great salary and of course, outsourcing my work as much as possible.

What do you think of retirement in the traditional sense of retiring when you’re in your mid sixties? Do you have a retirement plan in place?

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  • I agree with you in a lot of ways. For the most part, this is why we live a frugal life. We want to be able to afford the things we want to do now, while we’re young. Being frugal allows us to travel a lot now and do fun things with the kids. I don’t want to wait until I’m old to enjoy myself.

    • Christine says:

      I’m totally on the same buzz as you and one day when/if I have a family, I hope to lead a similar life to you. Your kids are very lucky to have you as a parent 🙂

  • It kills me when people put their lives on hold in wait for retirement. I think every day up to that point ought to be enjoyable as well. And who the heck tells a person to stop traveling for that bogus ‘playground’ reason?!

    One question… since you’re going to a lot of third world countries and whatnot, how do you plan on blogging? Are you taking a few electronics (laptop, smart phone, etc) or are you relying on internet cafe’s/hotels/etc.? Also, how to do ‘get in the zone’ to write when you’re in such foreign places? I feel I write best in certain, familiar places…

    • Christine says:

      Hey Will! I’ve actually spent a lot of time traveling, in third world countries and I’ve never really had a problem. The worst place, I guess, was in Siem Reap in Cambodia where power kept cutting out. I just found a restaurant with a generator and worked there. I’ve worked on ferries, planes, trains… everywhere. I don’t really find it a problem. It’s not as easy to have a “day of work” but I am moving away from that, anyway. There are co working spaces in lots of different places, I know of one in Ubud, which is a place I’m thinking of moving.

      Also looking into not paying tax on my international income and Panama’s looking like a very, very good option.

      I actually find I write better when I’m happy. I’m happy when I’m traveling!

  • FRANK says:

    Seems to be retirement is like the gamblers fallacy. For me theres a 50/50 chance I will make it there (which will be age 70 anyway thanks to upcoming law changes in Aus). Although the tax breaks make it somewhat beneficial to divert todays money for later as before it may be irrelevant if I dont make it. So then, I need to generate some passive income today so I can enjoy today while still in good health, hence why I’m reading this blog. Who knows whats around the corner, live life now.

    • Christine says:

      50/50 chance? Do you have some kinda health problem? Sorry if that’s too personal to ask. 70 is ages away, far too long to bank on anyway. I think you’re really smart to get in the game now, when you already earn such a great income from your work.

  • FRANK says:

    No health problems at this stage, but my family genetics on the male side of my family are not in my favour. Both my grandads died before 60. My uncle died at 60….you get my point! Haha. And then you might get hit by a bus tomorrow. You never know, so what is the sense of squirrelling away todays money for the hope of tomorrow? So thats why your concept of location independence is so appealing to me. I have no issue with working hard, but if I can travel the world and work part time that would be great. The photography website is getting very close now 🙂 probably a couple of weeks but I can pm you a sneak preview if you like.

    • Christine says:

      Oh yeah I totally get the picture. I got the bad news recently that my dad is not in a good way and will probably pass in the next year or two and he’s only 50, so that’s quite scary. Nothing’s promised to you anyway, so I think trading the present (what you have) for the future (you may have) is a poor deal from the get-go.

      Yes please, I’d love to see your new site.

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