All I want to do is nothing, if only just for a little while. I'm longing to take a break but my conscience won't allow it! Let me share my thoughts I had back in May 11, 2012, a month after I negotiated a severance from my 11-year banking job.
Longing To Take A Break
I've got 30 days to relax until a decision needs to be made whether to jump back into the work force or give this entire entrepreneurial endeavor a full go. Why? I've decided to take a sabbatical, and I might never come back!
Although I've got 30 days to decide, I've really been thinking about this moment ever since I launched Financial Samurai three years ago. The first words in my About page talk about how money stopped being a driving factor. Instead, the elusive balanced lifestyle is what keeps me going.
When we have enough money, I argue that we stop caring so much about making more money anymore. Many people disagree with this statement and feel that having money makes you crave for more. Perhaps it's the reason why some multi-millionaires and billionaires still cheat even though they've got enough money to last several lifetimes!
I'm not sure, but perhaps I'm blessed with the realization of what enough is. Longing to take a break is a natural course of action.
Note: In 2012, I retired with a net worth of roughly $3 million and passive income of roughly $80,000 a year. In 2021+, there are these guys at Goldman Sachs and Deloitte working 100-hour weeks in the hopes of making $400,000+ a year one day. It's worth a shot to be free younger. But they're all longing to take a break after just one or two years of working!
Less Money, But More Free Time
If I decide to never go back to work, I'll be taking an enormous pay cut. Most would think I'm crazy if they knew the amount. But then simple math will dictate that most would just be pontificating.
What I lose in money, I gain in time. Time gets incrementally more valuable as years go by. Two years ago, my neighbor's wife died. She was 76. Last year, my other neighbor's husband died. He was 63. Last month, my friend's mother died of a stroke. She was 72. The other week, Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys died at 47 from throat cancer.
The average life expectancy is around 80 years old, yet for some reason, all four examples above died earlier than expected. I'm under no illusion that I could contract a serious illness and go by this Christmas.
It's why you'll see me online at all hours of the day and going to parties till midnight even though I've been working for 15 hours. Give me until age 60, and I'll be happy. Every year beyond 60, I will count my blessings!
With more free time and enough money, is now the time to start a family? Such befuddling things I wonder.
Update 2021: In retrospect, I should have tried having kids much younger. We didn't have our first child until 2017. But I was nervous about my decision for the first year after leaving a high-paying job in 2012. I needed to adjust and make sure I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
Building Passive Income For Financial Freedom
Part of the ironic benefit of regularly saving 70% of my after-tax income for over a decade is that if I take a 70% after tax pay cut, my life won't change a bit! Despite the belief that my lifestyle won't change, I'm sure I'll have more stress given such a large income buffer will be eliminated.
I won't know what it's like to potentially tap my savings or passive income buffer because I've never touched it since college. I've always just relied on 30% of my after tax income to live. Spending passive income is one thing. Reducing savings is another. Passive income is what enabled me to take a break from the grind.
Just thinking about touching passive income to survive makes me feel a little queasy. In fact, thinking about using one buffer up in online income to live feels like I'm going in reverse.
Online income is more than enough to maintain my standard of living, but I just don't want to touch the income at all. The money would be better spent re-invested in the company rather than paying for my food, clothing, and shelter.
Update 2021: Fortunately, my online income has grown by over 10X since 2012 and my passive income has grown by almost 4X. I'm damn lucky and can't forget it. As a result, I will donate more to charity and keep trying to write helpful content for others to achieve financial freedom.
What About Bumming Around And Doing Nothing For A While?
I remember the days when we were kids. We could just lounge around the pool for 3 months during the summer and be bums. We'd have our parents cook us meals, wash our clothes, and pay our bills. Whenever we had a problem or a question, our parents would help out and know the answer. As we grow older, that safety net goes away….. for most at least.
Once we are financially secure, all the pressure we experience is self-imposed pressure. Given I expect a lot from myself, the pressure dial is always close to, or on maximum.
I have the ability to wind down for a day. Taking a break from a good day at work is normal! But afterward, I start feeling like a non-productive member of society. I will probably then work harder the next day to make up for the day of rest!
The Ideal Lifestyle
I long to be a lifestyle blogger who just travels the world, blogs about his adventures, has no responsibilities nor dependents. I just feel guilty about not maximizing the potential I know I have. I feel guilty for not trying harder so that I can provide for my family and for my parents if and when they need me.
If you are living a life of leisure who lives paycheck to paycheck online or offline, please share your wisdom of how you eradicated your guilt. If you've retired early, please share the same. Help me shatter my belief because I know many will disagree with what contribution and guilt means.
Is it OK to be selfish and start taking more than I give? Is it OK to join the 47% who don't pay any federal income taxes anymore due to a lower income or a large deferral of taxable income? Perhaps I can join the Occupy protesters and fight against those who do not believe in equality. Is it OK to sit back and relax for a couple years? I hope so. It's just so hard to do even though it requires little effort!
Start Your Own Business
It’s been over 12 years since I started Financial Samurai and I’m actually earning a good passive and active income stream online now. The top 1% of all posts on Financial Samurai generates 31% of all traffic and revenue.
I never thought I’d be able to quit my job in 2012 just three years after starting Financial Samurai. But by starting one financial crisis day in 2009, Financial Samurai makes more than I did in banking.
If you enjoy writing, creating, connecting with people online, and enjoying more freedom, see how you can set up a WordPress blog in 15 minutes like mine with my step-by-step tutorial guide. After longing to take a break, it's good to create something of your own!
You never know where the journey will take you. I was able to travel to Cambodia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Korea, and Vietnam for four weeks while running my online business. Starting a website is the best lifestyle move I've ever made, and it could be for you too!
For more resources, check out my top financial products page to find the best products for your finances, my invest in real estate page to invest in my favorite asset class, and my free wealth management page to manage your money better.
Photo: Fog over the Golden Gate Bridge on a sunny SF day. Longing To Take A Break is a Financial Samurai original.