As MoneySense Editor Duncan Hood mentioned in his latest Editor’s Letter, my personal Findependence Day (or Financial Independence Day) was May 20, my last day as a full-time employee at Rogers Publishing. The concept of Findependence and Findependence Day can be found in chapter one of the financial novel of the same name, and which is the chief focus of this blog.
At one point in the book, I say that the day after Findependence Day may be just like the one before it, except that from this moment on you work because you want to, not because you have to. Right now, I neither have to nor want to, so I’m declaring this summer a sabbatical. After 35 consecutive years in journalism, with never more than two weeks off in a row, it’s a long-awaited chance to do a lot of reading and thinking and exploring new opportunities.
Is semi-retirement the best of all worlds?
Some of the books I’ve been reading are What Color is Your Parachute? For Retirement; Mitch Anthony’s The New Retirementality; Ian Taylor’s Are you ready for Semi-Retirement? and others I’ll mention in future posts. I believe most baby boomers have a lot of life ahead of them and this 61-year old (a 1953 model, as one friend puts it) intends to be fully engaged in writing, editing, speaking, blogging, book authorship, social media, reviewing books, consulting and other activities, probably until well past 70. Once they’re findependent many boomers will still want to be actively mixing a work lifestyle with a bit more leisure and learning: See The Three Boxes of Life, a book I read decades ago. Unless you’re completely burned out by a stressful career, many of us will be in “go-go” mode for the early to mid 60s. This may become “slow-go” as you pass 65 and ultimately “No-go,” which might occur as one enters true old age and are disabled or suffering early signs of dementia: or forced to take care of a partner in that condition.
As corporate full-time salaried jobs go, the editorship of MoneySense was hard to beat. So I doubt I’ll even try to replace it: instead, I’ll probably choose to implement a “portfolio career,” the chief elements of which I mention above. Of course, if another perfect job arrived, I’d certainly consider it!
Unpacking the three boxes of life
Back to the three boxes of life. It used to be that Box One was education, devoted 100% to learning. Then you graduated into Box Two: Full-time Work. Probably most readers of MoneySense are familiar with this box, which even in my case has dragged out fully half of the biblically allotted three score and ten. Then Box Three was the traditional Retirement, with 100% leisure, typically occurring at age 65 with a gold watch and the fruits of long service in a Defined Benefit pension plan.
Now what about the timing of your Findependence Day? As a later chapter of the book explains, this can be a moving target and moved forward or backward, depending on financial markets or outside forces beyond your control. You may even have a false alarm or two in declaring exactly when your Findependence actually arrives.
I joke that my liberation in May actually constituted my “third annual Findependence Day.” The first almost occurred when I thought I was going to take a buyout package from the Financial Post. The second was a year ago, when I turned 60 and published the US edition of the book, and celebrated both milestones with what I claimed was “the world’s first Findependence Day party.” (Hey, since I coined the term, I should be able to make that claim!)
Several MoneySense writers attended that event but as I noted at the time in a blog titled “The Day After Findependence Day,” it was a bit of an anticlimax. The following Monday I went back to the office at the Rogers Campus and continued to edit the magazine, content to declare that (as the book says), I was now “working because I want to, not because I have to.”
And I did want to at the time. But I also reasoned that by turning 60, if I no longer enjoyed it I could now collect CPP plus a few modest corporate pensions if I really wanted to. I explained this in the Financial Independence column I wrote in the 15th anniversary issue of MoneySense, which was the last one that I was involved with from the start of the publishing cycle right to the end.
This blog is now column-length itself so I’d better draw it to a close. Up until now, the books and blogs looked at the concept of Findependence Day as something looming in the future. From here on in, I’ll be describing the twists and turns of the actual experience. It’s a bit like the difference between eating food and merely watching someone eat.
I hope to update this blog most Fridays, assuming the spirit moves me and I’m not on some travel adventure to fill up the “leisure” component of semi-retirement. If you need to reach me, just email firstname.lastname@example.org, or reach out at Linked In or Twitter, where I post as @jonchevreau.
My first interview since the title change
P.S. Just as I was finishing this blog, I learned of a half-hour podcast with a young blogger with whom I chatted last Sunday. I’ll devote a whole blog to this when I get the chance but in the meantime, this blog (which is also transcribed) constitutes my first media interview since stepping down from MoneySense.