Do you want learn how to semi retire?
For the majority of North Americans, retirement is the number one financial goal they most want to reach. However, the thought of working full-time for 30 or 40 years until reaching full retirement age can be incredibly off-putting, with many people worrying about if they’ll ever be able to save enough money to retire.
But what if we told you that you may never need or even want to retire fully? That you could choose to semi-retire doing something that you truly enjoyed doing, with the flexibility to spend your time with loved ones, relaxing at the beach, writing a book, traveling, or whatever else makes you happy.
What exactly is semi-retirement?
By definition, semi-retirement is the act of finding a proper balance between life and work by leaving a full-time job and transitioning into something more part-time or even fractional. The added benefit is this helps reduce feelings of burnout while almost completely freeing up your time so you can properly enjoy the things you love.
Knowing this, I guess you could say that work-life balance really does exist, but only in semi-retirement.
This solution of semi-retiring will have you tapping into your accumulated savings in a sensible way that will provide a steady annual income. Any monetary shortfalls can be filled with modest amounts of work done in a new state of mind—there’s no need to work for the largest paycheck you could possibly earn anymore.
When you stop spending money purchasing things that you don’t need, you’ll often find that you actually don’t require nearly as much money as you once thought. This is when you can stop working as much, and be picky about how and where you spend your time—while also eliminating wasteful spending.
Keep on reading if you’re curious about how you can enjoy the benefits of semi-retirement but aren’t sure what the next steps are.
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7 Steps to Achieving Semi-Retirement
Step 1: Ask yourself why you want to live a semi-retired life.
Just like full retirement, achieving semi-retirement isn’t an easy thing to do. Yes, it requires serious dedication, commitment, time, and energy. Before you commit to semi-retiring or move on to the next steps that will get you there, you need to ask yourself why you want to semi-retire in the first place. Having clarity around your reasoning will help you achieve this goal.
If and when you decide that semi-retired life is for you and you’re ready to commit, the next steps are to:
- Examine your current life, and identify the factors that don't bring you joy. Is your commute robbing you of extra time in your day that could be spent doing the things you love? Do you not see your family enough? Do you feel like you no longer have time to exercise? Compare your current lifestyle with your ideal one, and build from there.
- Additionally, ask yourself the following—If you had no shortage of money or time, what would you do?
For a successful semi-retirement, give priority to the things important to you. If you have a partner or spouse, ensure they’re in it with you.
Step 2: Look ahead with thorough budget planning.
The next step in the semi-retirement decision process is planning ahead and taking a look at your finances and long-term savings plan. You must consider how the decision of semi-retirement will impact your taxes, income, and savings. Semi-retirement will influence your financial life and the decisions you’re making today, so it’s best to be as prepared as possible.
It might seem simple to project what your expenses will be in the near future. However, it takes much more effort to determine whether you’ll be able to afford expenses 20, 30, or even 40 years down the line thanks to inflation and other socio-economic factors.
Some things to consider include:
- What is the state of your finances—i.e., your savings, investments, insurance, debts, etc.?
- When would you like to begin living a semi-retired life, and how long would you live it for—a few years or indefinitely?
- What will your source of income be during semi-retirement? What do you plan to do with your time?
- What is the impact of reduced or no income on your long-term finances and savings?
- How will this impact your budget now and in the future, and can you afford to cut back on work?
- Will you be able to go back to work full-time if you change your mind?
These are just a few of the many important questions that should be considered, so be sure to carefully weigh all these questions before leaving your full-time job.
Tip: You may make a wrong decision if you leave your full-time job before getting carefully thought-out answers to the questions above. We recommend building a free, unbiased, personalized financial plan with Savology to ensure you stay on course. Scroll down to step 7 if you’re curious.
Step 3: Live below your means.
If you think that semi-retirement is the right decision for you, you must spend less than you earn, invest or save the remaining balance, and minimize your financial footprint. In layman's terms, you must live below your means.
Remember that any assets you may have, such as savings or investment accounts, are additional resources for making money. You work hard for your money, so avoid spending it on unnecessary purchases, and instead keep it invested to work hard for you instead.
While you’re still in full-time employment, do your best to maximize your income while reducing your expenses to only the necessary—no more big-ticket item purchases. You could also move from your spacious house into an apartment, or you could re-evaluate recurring expenses that you don’t use or need and start whittling those down.
You should no longer be worried about keeping up with the Joneses. Instead, focus on studying and learning from your peers who may already be in a semi-retirement.
Step 4: Find work you enjoy and decide the working hours.
Semi-retirement is a period of life where you are intentionally working part-time, so you have more time available for other interests, hobbies, and any other pursuit you may enjoy. Working less and finding a job you enjoy doing is one of the main reasons people lean towards semi-retirement.
You should be reducing the number of hours you work a week so that more time can be spent on things that are important to you. It’s important that you also find satisfying work that you genuinely enjoy. Try to find a role that ensures you remain active and involved in the world, while still engaging your mind.
There are several ways someone in semi-retirement can continue working. These include:
- Starting your own business.
- Staying in the same industry but taking up a less demanding position. If you truly love your current job but can’t handle the long hours, do your best to negotiate with your boss.
- Finding a part-time job. The main benefit of this is the flexibility on how many hours you’ll work.
Step 5: Prepare for unexpected costs.
Car accidents, unexpected injuries, and chronic illness are all examples of unforeseen events that may require you to spend a substantial sum of money. Ensure that you have a well-padded emergency fund to take care of the financial implications of any of these incidents. Commonly, the emotional toll is exhausting for situations such as these, so plan ahead to avoid adding financial distress to the situation.
Another precaution to reduce the risk of unexpected costs is through insurance. A good policy is a must-have–especially as you grow older and health issues become more common.
Step 6: Continue to save and invest your money while paying down debts.
Keep in mind that you’ll still need a reasonably sized nest egg for semi-retirement, and your later-on full retirement.
If you haven’t yet done so, regularly set aside a part of your income to help and enable you to get ready for the future. This way, you have a financial buffer to tap into should a rainy day come. Put simply, the more money you can make now, the better your semi-retirement life will be without risking any comforts or dreams you may have planned for your full retirement.
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The moment you decide to live a semi-retired life, it’s crucial that you concentrate on repaying any existing debt you may have. Long-standing debt can seriously hamper your financial stability and your dream of semi-retirement. Some tips to help you manage and take control of your existing debt are to:
- Implement a cash budget.
- Shop around for lower interest rates on loan.
- Avoid using your credit card for everyday purchases.
- Look for debt consolidation and repayment services when necessary.
Step 7: Stick to your financial plan when in doubt.
Last, but certainly not least, you’ll want to create a financial plan and stick to it in order to keep you on track, accountable and motivated towards reaching semi-retirement.
In fact, this should probably be the first step, or at least done in conjunction with step 1 above because of the impact a financial plan has on your overall finances.
Your plan isn’t just a high-level strategy that helps you identify your goals, it’s there to show you the exact things you need to be doing in order to reach them and make those steady improvements. It’s there to pave the way for each one of the steps above.
- Looking ahead and planning your spending with a proper budget? Your plan can help.
- Looking for ways to live below your means and trim your spending? Your plan can help.
- Wondering how you can prepare for unexpected costs in the most efficient way? Your plan can help.
- Looking for more ways to invest and optimize your earning potential? Again, your plan can help.
As you can see above, there’s a very common theme of how your plan can help you achieve and reach each one of the prior steps involved that will help you on your journey to early retirement.
If you’re serious about reaching your goals and semi retiring at a reasonable age, then having a financial plan and sticking to it is a must—not just a “nice-to-have” consideration.
Fortunately, you can get access to free financial planning through Savology’s financial planning platform. In just about five minutes, you’ll be able to start working towards your semi-retirement (or retirement) by being able to identify what your next steps are and how you can achieve them.
Final Thoughts: Is Semi-Retirement Right For You?
The most important goal of a semi-retired life is to spend less time at work, while allowing more time for the more important things in life that you enjoy and love doing. Semi-retirement lets you establish a healthy work-life balance while still having a respectable pot of savings looking after you in the background for the long-term.
So if you’re looking for a faster route to freedom and financial independence, semi-retirement might just be the right choice for you. But beware, choosing this route still requires an incredible amount of hard work, commitment, and careful financial planning. Are you ready to semi-retire?