Don’t stop working, just work differently

Why retire when you can combine “the life” with work?

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neverworkagainIn researching the post-Findependence lifestyle, I’ve come across a lot of books that invoke the phrase  “never work again” in the title, or variants that suggest much the same thing. There is, for example, a free e-book with that precise title. I’ve discovered that these kinds of books equate the word “work” with the corporate 9 to 5 routine.

Most of them, like the Tim Ferriss book we looked at earlier this summer, involve leveraging the Internet to create a mobile lifestyle that can earn money anywhere in the world. Other examples are The Laptop Millionaire and Click Millionaires. In the case of Erland Bakke, author of the book shown on the left, if you follow your passion and the money eventually follows, this is no longer defined as “work,” even though for all intents and purposes it is.

These books propose business ownership and the pursuit of multiple clients and at some point leverage their personal time to either employ one or more assistants, or to outsource various pieces of “work” that one either lacks the skills for (like website development) or lacks the inclination to focus on.

Better to sell products than time

laptopmillionaireThe fundamental decision is whether to continue to sell one’s time—this is what salaried employees do, as do “one-man band” freelancers—or to pursue the sale of products. The latter route, whether of tangible products or web-based information products, contains the seeds of potentially greater wealth, but of course requires a lot of upfront time, energy and often capital in order to establish the infrastructure that will later deliver a sort of “freedom.”

I’d still call this work, even if it’s the supposedly glamorous field of “internet marketing.” Certainly, the covers of these books suggest the hybrid nature of this lifestyle. Typical are the two covers I’ve used to illustrate this blog:  you see someone lounging on a beach somewhere—but instead of the lounger languidly sipping a piña colada and reading a trashy paperback, we see instead a laptop computer perched on their stomach. They are in fact “working,” however idyllic the environment, not unlike the photo I ran of myself “lazing” in the back yard in this blog earlier in the summer.

Working and living become intertwined

Far from “stop working, start living,” (to borrow from the title of Dianne Nahirny’s book on early retirement), the philosophy of these books is to combine living with working, taking advantage of the global infrastructure of the web to engage in money-making activities anywhere in the world.

Personally, I envisage such activity as a supplement to the traditional sources of “retirement” income we write about regularly in MoneySense. My faith in the stock market was shaken sufficiently by the events of 2008 that I’d be reluctant to count exclusively on dividend income, however diversified the portfolio. And we all know that the phenomenon of “financial repression” practiced by the world’s central banks has conspired to keep interest rates low for the foreseeable future, which makes counting on highly taxed interest income from fixed-income investments equally dodgy. If I were a real estate tycoon, which I am not, I’d want to add rental income. Instead, I envisage some combination of selling my editorial services and creating new web-based products. These blogs will continue to report on this adventure as time goes on.

Jonathan Chevreau is the editor-at-large of MoneySense. He blogs here and at findependenceday.com. Find him on Twitter @jonchevreau.

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