The whole FIRE movement is endlessly fascinating, at least to me.
I agree with the first half of the acronym, which stands for Financial Independence Retire Early. Financial independence is my ultimate money goal. I’m quite looking forward to the day when I can tell my bosses to shove it. I have no intention to do so–in fact, I quite like my bosses–but I do want the option of knowing I can be fired and not have to worry about where my next meal is going to come from.
In fact, I’d argue that employees who are financially independent are some of the best at their jobs. When you don’t have to worry about being fired, it’s easier to take an unpopular opinion or stand up to your boss.
Many people have zero interest in being an employee once they hit their financial independence date. For them, the whole point of financial independence is retiring early. They want to leave their crummy job yesterday, and this is the easiest way.
I have a different version of accomplishing the same thing. Here’s why I would much rather take several “mini retirements” than one long early retirement.
We all need to refresh
From 2003 to 2009, I took exactly one week off work. Not only did I work my 40 hours per week, but I put in ample amounts of overtime and spent hours on various side hustles.
I don’t regret this for a minute. That money is still invested to this day. As I type this, it’s making me more money, which I’ll then invest in new assets which will then generate more passive income.
But at by the end of 2009, I was burnt out. I was tired of my job and all the stress it entailed. I was very close to quitting.
Instead of doing what I wanted and giving the proverbial middle finger to my boss, I negotiated some time off. It was originally slated to be a month, but the option existed to take more time. We called it “using up my unused vacation time.”
The first week off was wonderful. I was truly happy for the first time in a long while. The second week was great too, until the end. I realized I was getting bored. I missed my co-workers and customers and my old life.
I went back to work the next day. It was great. I was rejuvenated and ready to go. The break did me a world of good.
I ended up only lasting another year at that job before leaving for a better paying opportunity in the same industry, but that’s not such a bad outcome. Without that break I probably would have quit my job in disgust.
My mini retirement only lasted two weeks. You might need four weeks or eight weeks or even six months. The important part is trying out the concept with an open mind. You might figure out you don’t hate your job as much as you thought. Or it might be incentive to try something new. A mini retirement can open your eyes to all sorts of possibilities.
The cost issue
The best part of mini retirements is you can do one with a relatively small amount of money.
It takes close to a million dollars to retire early, and many experts think that’s not enough. It really doesn’t offer much wiggle room. Someone can take a few months off and only spend $10,000, or even less.
Look at it this way. If you use Airbnb or a similar service and are selective about where you go, it costs less to rent a fully furnished apartment in many major cities for a whole month than it does to stay in a mediocre hotel for a week. Traveling to and from a location is the big cost. Accommodation doesn’t have to be.
The biggest issue of a mini retirement isn’t really the cost. It’s finding a boss that will allow you to take the time off.
It’s hard to tell the difference between being permanently burnt out and just needing a break. Before you hang up the proverbial skates for good, be sure to try at least one mini retirement. It just might be what the doctor ordered.