45-year-old ‘fake retiree’ shares the most surprising lessons he learned when he tried to retire early

In June 2012, at the age of 34 and after 13 years of working in investment banking, I wanted to leave. So I decided to negotiate compensation, retire earlyand live from passive income through me properties to rent, stock dividends and e-book sales.

But just a year later, I realized that the life of travel and leisure I thought I wanted was not for me. I found myself bored and felt a Loss of identity. He needed an outlet and wanted to do work that he was personally involved with.

Although it has been more than 10 years since I stopped working full time, I would not call myself retired. Instead, I refer to myself as a “fake retiree” because I ended up taking on a few side jobs to fill my time.

Here are six surprising lessons I learned after 10 years of being “fake retired”:

1. There is no shame in being a “fake retiree.”

I’ve shared a lot about my early retirement journey, and one of the biggest pushbacks I get from readers is something like, “You’re still doing some kind of work and getting paid for it, so you’re not Really retired.”

That’s a fair point, which is why I think more people should embrace the term “fake retirement.” Many of us early retirees write blog posts, record videos, create e-courses, write books or art sale. I still run my blog. financial samuraiand I just spent two years working on my personal finance book, “Buy this, not that.”

Many early retirees are working harder than ever to build their online businesses, even if it’s just a short-term passion project. The extra money they earn may not be a necessity, but it is a nice bonus.

By proclaiming myself a “phony retiree,” I take the criticism on board. Yes, I could sit on the beach and drink piña coladas all day if I wanted to. But not me. I want to work and be productive during the week, which for me is two to three hours a day.

2. Your financial needs will evolve, and likely grow, over time.

When I retired, I was happy with my $80,000 a year in passive income. But in 2015, my wife joined me in early retirement. We calculated that we would need to generate $160,000 in passive income annually to cover the loss of income from her.

We were also planning to start a family. Our son was born in 2017 and our daughter in 2019, so our financial needs continued to increase. Paying $2,200 a month in unsubsidized health care premiums, plus $5,000 a month for preschool, adds up.

With inflation at 40-year high, we must generate more income once again. That’s three major revisions to our budget in just 10 years. To keep pace, we’ve bought more rental properties and have been investing in assets that continue to appreciate in value in times of inflation, such as health care stocks.

3. You may still feel the pull of traditional work.

Since 2012, I have repeatedly struggled with the urge to return to work full time. The first time was less than six months after I left my job. I found myself missing the camaraderie of working as a team toward a shared mission.

The second time was after our son was born. I was worried that we would not have enough money to take care of our family. He was also dealing with how difficult it was to be a stay-at-home dad. I thought that having an office to go to could act as a “break” from the stress of being a new parent.

The third time happened a year after the pandemic. So many friends who worked from home seemed to have a work-life balance that made them happy.

But eventually, I realized that even if I got a remote job that allowed me to go to the beach in the middle of the day, I would still have to answer to someone.

4. You can say what you think more freely.

Think of all the times you’ve had to bite your tongue at work because you didn’t want to jeopardize your raise, promotion, or reputation with your employer.

One of the biggest benefits of being financially independent and not having to follow company rules is being able to fully express yourself.

Plus, you can confidently speak up for people who might need your support. For example, when a producer approached me about recording an audiobook version of my book, he insisted on choosing between three white men to narrate.

But as an Asian-American, I wanted someone who looked and sounded like me. We eventually land on a Chinese-American narrator. If he hadn’t felt confident enough to speak up, that narrator wouldn’t have had the chance.

5. Your legacy will become more important to you.

Early retirement has given me more time to be alone with my thoughts. When I was no longer confined to a 40-hour work week, I was able to reflect on what really mattered to me and what legacy I would like to leave behind.

For some people, that might be awarding a scholarship to their alma mater or making an impact with a charity. For me, it’s sharing financial tips that can help other people achieve their goals in life.

The only thing that kept me going once the pandemic lockdowns started was knowing that one day my kids would bring my show and tell book.

I’ve found that if you support the causes that are most important to you, share your blessings, and act as a mentor to others, your legacy will flourish.

6. It is better to think in terms of probabilities, not absolutes.

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