Saturday, April 14, 2012

An Alternative Retirement Strategy

I was in Hawaii recently and learned that apparently they have a pretty large homeless population. My sister says to me "If you've got a fishing pole and you live here with perfect weather what else do you need?" It does make me ponder a bit. What the heck are we doing with our lives? Running around meeting deadlines, checking our email while on vacation, sweating the details, missing our kids. So we can do what? Pay our bills I guess.

What the homeless here do as "work" we call leisure. This article makes an interesting point. Fishing, gardening, working on the house. This is what people do for leisure. In Hawaii I suppose this is "work" for the homeless. Work is leisure.

It's long been a desire of mine to visit Hawaii and I really liked it. I spoke with some friends that had also visited when I got back. Several say that they seriously considered getting away from any kind of corporate fast track agenda and just figure out a way to live there and live very modestly waiting tables or doing some other menial work. How much healthier would you be if you lived like that? You can tell who the tourists are and who the locals are. The tourists are the fat white people trying to squeeze in a week away from the office. The locals are the fit and tan.

I read a cool story recently about a guy who quit money. He hasn't accepted or spent a dime in 12 years. We should stop and ask ourselves what we really need for happiness. Do we need all the stuff we have? The income? There's a great Ted Talk (discussion and video here) that shows that if you plotted happiness level with income you find that happiness goes up until you hit $60K and then it flattens. That is, more money above $60K/yr does not increase your happiness. People at that level and above think that if they made more money the would be happier, but the data say that in general they won't.

Not that I'm going to move to Hawaii and be homeless. But I think I will try to get out of the rat race as soon as I can. If I could somehow learn to live on $20K/yr and sock the rest away I'd be in good shape. That's not going to happen as long as I have a mortgage, which isn't going away any time soon. I should live super frugal until it's paid off. Maybe I will.

I'll start right after I go buy an iPad. Those things are too cool.

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