Do you really desire early retirement? Or just early Findependence?

After a bit of a hiatus, the Investor Education Fund has resumed publishing of my blogs within its Masters of Money platform, now well into its second year. Here’s one of two recent posts on Early Retirement, which include some personal reflections on this topic in light of my recent job change to become Editor of MoneySense Magazine.

We’re now ramping up for a new series of blogs at IEF. Meantime, I’m also blogging at moneysense.ca. Last week, I reviewed a book — Managing the Bull — which also made the distinction between Retirement and Financial Independence. As I note in the blog titled “Another Vote for Financial Independence” there seems to be a growing recognition of the distinction between the two terms.

And just as you can distinguish between Findependence and traditional full-stop Retirement, similarly you can distinguish between Early Retirement and Early Findependence. As I’ve noted before, Findependence can often occur much earlier than traditional retirement: sometimes decades before. In fact, it’s never too early to establish financial independence: if you can pull it off in your teens so much the better. Of course, few of us have the good fortune of the Miley Cyruses of the world so most of us will have to settle not for Early Findependence but Findependence somewhere between mid-life and the traditional retirement age.

Retirement overrated, Findependence underrated?

In the current issue of MoneySense Magazine now on newsstands (Retire in Luxury for Next to Nothing), we include a story asking whether traditional Retirement is Overrated. One person who has retired at 59 insists that to the contrary, Retirement is UNDER-rated, but we also include two professionals who continue to work in their chosen fields well past their mid 60s.

Personally, I’m coming around to the view that it’s quite possible and perhaps desirable to aim for the seemingly contradictory goals of both Early Findependence but Delayed Retirement. Think of any rich and famous artist, musician or business person, be it Steven Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, JK Rowling or Mick Jagger. All these people experienced early success and therefore Early Findependence.

But it’s telling what they chose to do with that Early Findependence: in almost every case, they continued to do what they loved and that had been the source of their worldly success and accompanying financial independence. Jagger is still rocking, Jobs was designing the next generation of Apple devices until his last few months of life, Zuckerberg is a billionaire but still engaged in his 20s at the social media giant he founded and Rowling has now branched out beyond her 7-part Harry Potter novels to pen a new adult novel that’s reviewed in the current New York Times Book Review.

Findependence as means, not end

This also tells us something important about the nature of work and wealth. If you’re really passionate about something and doing work that satisfies the soul and that the world benefits by, then wealth is merely a byproduct of that activity. Let’s not confuse the means and the ends. Financial Independence should not be viewed itself as the goal (or end) but merely the means to an end, which is whatever vocation, business or creative pursuit you are called to do.