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If you’re reading this article, you’re probably thinking about taking a mini-retirement. In this article, I will discuss what a mini-retirement is and how you can take one. I will also share with you my thoughts on early retirement/mini-retirement. Finally, you will learn from my experience from taking two mini-retirements.
As an aside, I just read this article that talks about how many Americans won’t be able to live out their retirement dreams. This is a scary thought. Start planning for that retirement ASAP!
Retirement, Early Retirement, and Mini-Retirement Definitions
So, before we get started, let’s define what “retirement” really means. Retirement is defined as “the action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work.” Early retirement is defined as “the practice of leaving employment before the statutory age, especially on favourable financial terms.”
A mini-retirement is along the same vein. However, a mini-retirement assumes that you will return to the workforce at some point. I, by definition, actually took 2 mini-retirements.
Why should you take a mini-retirement?
A mini-retirement gives you a break from your life. Maybe you are sick of your job. Perhaps you are suffering from burnout. Whatever the reason may be, there is something about your day job that is causing you stress/unhappiness and you want to change it fast.
A mini-retirement may be a great time for you to just do some solo traveling or self-reflection to prepare you for your next stage in life. Another good reason to take a mini-retirement is in order to spend more time with family/friends.
How to Plan for Your Mini-Retirement
So you want to take a mini-retirement and are not sure where to began? Then you have come to the right place.
1. Reflect on why you want to take a mini-retirement
There has to be a reason why you feel like taking a mini-retirement. Maybe you don’t like your job or coworkers. Whatever the reason may be, it’s there and you have to figure it out.
Maybe you actually enjoy your job but there are other underlying issues.
Take some time to really reflect on WHY you want a mini-retirement and what exactly you can achieve with a mini-retirement.
Some things to ask yourself are:
- Why do I want to take a mini-retirement?
- What don’t I like about my job?
- What do I like about my job?
- What will I do during my mini-retirement?
- How will I fund my mini-retirement?
- Can I afford to take a mini-retirement?
- What will I do after my mini-retirement?
2. Plan what you will do during your mini-retirement
If most of your answers suggest that a mini-retirement is right for you, then move on the step 2. Plan what you will do during your mini-retirement.
Maybe you have some ambitious plans to go backpacking for a few months. Or to learn a new language. Or to start a business. Whatever the case may be, you need to start planning what to do during your mini-retirement to maximise your time.
3. Save money
You should have at least enough savings to last the duration of your mini-retirement, plus some wiggle room. So for example, if you want to take a mini-retirement for 6 months, make sure you have AT LEAST 6 months’ worth of expenses + a couple of months in addition. This is to build in some buffer room in case you cannot get back into the workforce immediately.
If you have a job/other plans available already after you return from your mini-retirement, then you can already take a mini-retirement with much less money.
3. Take a pre mini-retirement
Congrats for achieving all of my steps! I hope you enjoy your mini-retirement!
Make sure to use this time wisely so that your post mini-retirement life will be just as enjoyable 😉
Ideas on things to do during a mini-retirement
Here are some great ideas for things you can do when you take a mini-retirement:
- Learn a new skill or hobby
- Learn a new language
- Volunteer abroad
- Study abroad
- Get certified in scuba diving
- Start a business
- Start a blog
- Take a cooking class
- … the sky is the limit!
My First Mini-Retirement
The first mini-retirement I took was when I was 24. I was hopelessly confused about the meaning of life and decided that I wanted to travel the world. I had at least 2 years of living expenses saved up in my bank account and decided to leave the workforce to travel for an indefinite amount of time.
From that trip, I learned that travelling without purpose gets boring fast. I was craving routine so badly and returned home just 4 months later with very little change in mindset.
My Second Mini-Retirement
My second mini-retirement was completely different.
When I was 26, I left my job and actually left my old lifestyle altogether. I said goodbye to my friends and family and moved to another continent, to a foreign country where they don’t even speak English! I had to say goodbye to my lavish meals out and high-end clothes.
My second mini-retirement was awesome because I really made the best of everything I had. I stepped out of my comfort and ultimately became a different person.
I learned new languages. I learned how to ski. I picked up new hobbies like hiking. It was such an amazing time for personal and self-growth.
I even started a blog!
My Retirement From Mini-Retirement
This month, I started my PhD. Since I’m getting paid for it, it’s considered a real job. I even have a valid work permit for Switzerland and everything!
In celebration of me getting a job and making a contribution to society again, I’ve written this post about the main lessons that I learned during my 2-year mini-retirement.
Lessons I Learned From My 2-Year Mini-Retirement
1. I learned that retirement is awesome and should not be delayed
One thing I don’t understand is why people wait until the statutory age to retire, especially those who have the means to retire early? It boggles my mind.
Retirement is probably the greatest thing there is to life, next to being a kid. Remember when you were a kid and you could do just about everything you wanted to do? Well, retirement is basically like that, but better, because you actually have no one, not even your parents, to order you around. You also have money and don’t have to work for it anymore 🙂
During my 2-years living out mini-retirement, I did so much random shit, you wouldn’t even believe it. While completing a full-time 2-year Master degree (and getting paid for it), I did the following:
- I travelled to 15 countries
- I did a 2-week Spanish language study program in Spain
- I attended 2 international yoga retreats and 1 classical ballet dance camp in 3 different countries
- I competed in a snowboarding competition in Italy (it was a super embarrassing experience but I did it!!)
- I went skydiving, paragliding, and hang gliding
- I learned how to sail
- I studied German and realized that I would never be able to master a language this tough!
- I started a blog
- I made amazing life-long friends
As you can see, I really made use of my mini-retirement. I made it a priority to find things that I enjoyed to do, and do them. Money wasn’t a factor for me!
2. I learned that I am not someone who can keep a traditional 9-to-5 job
Before I went on my 2-year mini-retirement, I was a CPA. In 6 years, I worked in 6 different positions for 5 different companies in Canada. On average, I stayed at any given position for about a year.
What does this say about me?
That there is something mega wrong with me. No, just joking, (sort of). I finally realized that I am not someone who is cut out for a 9-to-5 job. I get bored wayyyy too easily and I hate being chained to a desk. Also, I hate having someone hovering over me, telling me what to do.
As a PhD student, I get to choose what topics I want to research. I don’t have to accept any topics that I don’t want to write about. And my boss/professor is more of a “coach” than a “superior” to me. Oh, and I love the flexibility of my job. I can do my job from anywhere that has a remote Internet connection 🙂
Pretty awesome, right?
Being a blogger is also fun because it allows me to keep my creative juices flowing and continue to experimenting with online business ideas. And if all else fails, I’ll still have my PhD salary to fall back on.
I’m still in disbelief that I get paid to do a PhD. I get paid to study. It’s like my dream job.
3. I learned that having money isn’t everything
When I was working as a fancy-schmancy CPA in Canada, I could afford anything I wanted. I used to literally spend thousands of dollars on handbags and shoes (don’t ask me how much I’ve spent on handbags and shoes because you will be deeply appalled)!
Now, I have to scrimp and save every dollar. And I really enjoy it! I see it as a challenge, like, “How much money can you save this month?”
I actually love my new-found frugal, minimalist lifestyle. My life has become so stress-free once I got rid of all my junk!
And if you were to pay me, say, double my PhD salary to be an accountant again, I’d just laugh in your face.
4. I realized that I actually accomplished a lot while I was in the workforce
I used to hate myself and always think that I was doing worse than my peers. All my friends are now Directors making 6-figures at their cushy jobs. I would compare myself to them and think that I was SUCH A FAILURE.
However, after much reflection, I realized that what I’ve done throughout my lifetime was quite remarkable, albeit different and somewhat unconventional. For instance:
- I finished my Bachelor degree with top honours from my university, debt-free, and with over $50,000 in free scholarships (I literally didn’t have to pay a penny for my Bachelor, on top of that, THEY paid ME)!
- I got a CPA before turning 24
- I bought a $1 million dollar house at age 25
- I quit my job at 26 to move to Switzerland for a Master degree (where I ALSO got paid)
- I am now starting a PhD and might retire after that 😛
When I read this list, I feel pretty damn proud of myself. The funny thing is, though, that I never thought that anything I did was bragworthy. That’s because, I was comparing myself to my friend who went to Harvard Business School or my other friend who started a million-dollar company.
My mini-retirement helped me realize that, I actually have hustled really hard in the past. Now, I’m finally leading the life that I want, because I deserve it. Before, I always felt like I wasn’t special and that I didn’t deserve any of this.
My mini-retirement has helped me to recognize my true worth.
5. I learned that there are alternative ways to make money, especially in this day and age
I love living in the modern digital age. ANYONE can start a business on virtually no money and no experience. That’s the beauty of the Internet.
I’m super happy that I found a passion (blogging) that not only helps me get my finances together, but also allows me to spread my knowledge/experience to others. What’s more, I can even make a little bit of money off of it.
My goal is to turn my blogging side hustle into a full-time income so that I can truly retire in style.
6. Lastly, I learned that even though I have enough money to “retire early,” I’d rather continue working on projects that I love
So, I have definitely accumulated a net worth high enough for me to just retire and chill for the rest of my life (the financial independence calculator’s words, not mine!). I could, without a doubt, take advantage of geoarbitrage and just move to a cheap country like Thailand. However, that’s not really what I’m interested in doing.
I want to continue living in either Europe or North America. I can’t imagine saying goodbye to my modern luxuries like reliable public transportation and what have you.
Further, I just love working. As I mentioned previously, I once travelled for 4-months with no real purpose or plan. I hated it and craved home so badly. I wanted to go back to work immediately so that I could feel like a contributing member of society once more.
That’s why, I am a huge supporter of continuing to work even post-retirement.
For me, doing something you love does not really count as work. When I am researching something I love or writing about something I love, I could do it for hours, unpaid, and still have a jolly old time. I could not say the same about going to the office everyday and staring at a screen.
So, in my 28 years of life, I managed to live through two mini-retirements. I’m now back in the workforce again. I’ll definitely miss my mini-retirement but I’m looking forward to finally earning an income again and working on bigger and brighter things to come!
Don’t forget to follow my journey!
Other articles you may like
- How My Immigrant Parents Retired In Their 40’s and How It’s Affected My Life
- 10 Life Lessons I Learned From Doing A Master Degree Abroad
- Life Lessons From A Classical Ballet Student
- 3 Extreme And Crazy Ways To Save Money
- How I Save Thousands of Dollars Per Month By Living Frugally
- 7 Reasons Why I Hate Being A Foreigner In Switzerland
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