Semi-retirement sounds like a fantastic idea. It’s the ultimate in work-life balance.
But is semi-retirement possible for you now?
The number one reason to press pause on semi-retirement is that you don’t have enough saved yet. After all, until you are either financially independent (FI) or at least Coast FI, working part-time could be risky.
Read on for other situations where semi-retirement may not be possible for you, at least not yet.
I’m not a financial adviser, so please don’t take any of this for financial advice. This is meant to be purely educational and motivational!
9 Reasons to Press Pause on Plans for Semi-Retirement
1. You Have Consumer Debt
If you have consumer debt, you probably spend more than you earn. It’s tough to build a financial future without savings, so reducing your spending is your first step. The second will be to eliminate all consumer debt, especially high-interest debt like credit cards.
Whether it’s wise to downshift to semi-retirement when you have non-consumer debt is debatable.
For example, if you have a low-interest rate mortgage, there are pros and cons to paying it off early. It depends on how being in debt makes you feel. If you’re like me, I don’t care how low the interest rate is. I can feel the debt hanging over my head like a boulder teeter-tottering on the edge of a cliff, waiting to squash me if I don’t get rid of it.
Debt related to a business, or real estate investments, depends on your stomach for risk. If those investments should falter, could you handle the payments with your semi-retiree income or emergency savings?
2.You are Younger
There is the obvious reason that the younger you are, the less likely you are to have enough savings. The more time you have, the more money you can save, and the longer compound interest has to work its magic.
Beware of locking in your lifestyle spending at an early age, especially if you don’t have kids and plan to have them in the future.
Because if you have children, your expenses will increase. Yes, semi-retiring or even full early retirement is possible with children, and here’s an eye-popping article of someone looking forward to early retirement with 14 kids!
But this is a rare exception, and semi-retirement is more of a midlife thing. Plus, once you’re an empty nester, it will be much easier to downsize your home, and housing is one of the biggest expenses most of us have.
3. You Love Expensive Things
The love of expensive things doesn’t work so well with a semi-retired lifestyle. Well, unless you own a business that pumps out cash with only part-time work, or if you have a high-paying part-time gig, then maybe.
But expensive things like large, fancy houses or brand-new luxury vehicles are typically incompatible.
If you love competing with the Joneses, or worse, the entire world of Joneses on social media, this is not for you.
Well, unless you compete for the biggest, most valuable prize of all, free time to do whatever the heck you want.
4. You Think Frugality Sucks
We are all different, and what I think is normal, you may think is extreme. But if you hate the very idea of being even moderately frugal, this is probably not for you.
Remember, the lower your expenses are, the more attainable semi-retirement is. You will absolutely have to spend less than you earn to make this work. You could earn more, but the only way to pull savings out of those additional earnings is to spend less money than you earn.
Frugality is simply being economical with your resources. It doesn’t mean depriving yourself! My frugal living guide has more about this.
5. You Have No Interest in Paying Attention to Your Money
You don’t need a complex system, but you can’t ignore your finances. At the very least, you’ll need to track your spending, and a spending plan or budget may also be essential. Your spending could change with semi-retirement, and with your extra free time, your expenses could unexpectedly increase.
You need a system to check in regularly to confirm you’re on track.
You’ll also want to double-check your retirement numbers yearly. Even the most expensive plan from a financial expert lacks certainty and will need to be checked from time to time. The only certainty in life is that things won’t go as planned.
No one will care about your financial life as much as you, so you’ll need to learn the basics and pay attention to your numbers, even if you use the advice of an expert.
6. You Enjoy Your Current Job
If that’s the case, congratulations!
I assume you’re reading this because you know nothing lasts forever, which is smart. Save as much as you can now because jobs tend to let us down, especially as we grow older, thank you age discrimination.
There’s no reason to give up a good thing while you have it. But start to explore how you could create a variation on your current job, as your own boss. Could you freelance? Maybe not now, but in the future.
Or if you’re reading this because you want more time, could you negotiate fewer hours for less pay (if your financial situation allows)?
7. You Realize Your Identity is Based on Your Job
It may be surprising how much of your identity is wrapped up in your job. It can give you a feeling of self-worth that you don’t realize until you leave it.
If you change careers, it can be a painful transition to become a beginner all over again. If you know what you want to do next and it’s different than your current career, start developing those new skills now.
Or, if you want to change from employee to entrepreneur, start a side hustle now.
This will provide a much smoother transition. If you make too many changes at once, like trying to change careers and become an entrepreneur at the same time, it can crush both your sense of identity and self-worth. Ask me how I know!
8. You Depend on Your Job for Your Social Life
If your work takes up most of your free time, it can be hard to maintain friendships. Then when you leave your job, you may realize that most of your friends were work friends. Work friends who don’t understand what the heck you’re doing by semi-retiring.
The work friends you leave behind are still busy and probably jealous of your newfound free time. Over time, they may slowly drift away.
Plan for this. Be prepared to make new friends based on your new life. Start joining groups related to your new life now, so you can prevent the loneliness that can come when your social network fades away.
9. You Get Bored Easily
If the idea of having more free time sounds exhilarating at first, but then you wonder what the heck you’d do, put semi-retirement on pause.
You want a clear idea of what you’d do with your free time. Not every moment scheduled out, but at least a loose plan of how you’ll live your days.
Because semi-retirement or any other type of early retirement is expensive in terms of opportunity costs or the income you’re giving up by going part-time.
If you plan on this lifestyle, you want to make sure it will be worth it.
Hint: if you plan on starting a business, this will be an easy issue to solve since new businesses are a lot of work!
Whether or not semi-retirement is possible for you right now, it could be in your future.
But semi-retirement isn’t ideal for everyone.
You probably stopped reading long ago if you love expensive things, hate frugality, or have no interest in managing your money.
If you’ve read through this, and see no reason to press pause on semi-retirement, here are the top 5 things to explore for a successful semi-retirement.