Should I Plan for Retirement?

Should I Plan For Retirement

I found The Wealthy Barber on my dad’s night table when I was about 14 years old and decided to read it, cover to cover, because I thought it would give me a head start on my retirement savings plans. I spent a lot of time imagining all of the money I would have in the bank when I was ready to retire, if I saved just 10% of every paycheque I earned.

It’s a bit embarrassing to admit that I’m 31 now and I’ve only deposited $500 in my retirement savings account – embarrassing except for the fact that I spent that money having amazing, life-changing experiences instead.  Don’t get me wrong, I definitely feel guilty when I see the meagre $500 sitting in the bank because I know that it wouldn’t be enough for me to spend even one month living in an old folks home, but it never seems like the right time to start trading my “now” time to earn my “later” money.  I’ve also been questioning the whole idea of working and waiting ’til I’m 65 years old to start enjoying life – especially when there’s no guarantee that my investments will pan out or that I’ll live long enough to enjoy retirement anyway.

Doesn’t it seem a bit crazy to work super hard and wait so long to start living the life we really want?  I keep wondering: What if there’s an alternative way to live that isn’t solely focused on the end game?  It might be risky, but Mat and I want to see if we can find the perfect balance between fun and finances so that we can enjoy all of our years, not just the golden ones.  Here’s a peek at our loose and unofficial lifestyle/retirement action plan:

    • Work part time as much as possible so that we have extra time to do what we love, every single week.
    • Do the things we love now so that we can relax without regret when we’re older.
    • Keep our cost of living low to avoid the need for a substantial retirement fund.
    • Avoid accumulating debt so that the money we earn isn’t eaten up by interest.
    • Contribute to Employment Insurance (EI) every year so that we will have access to disability insurance in case one of us is injured, ill, or otherwise prevented from working at any point in our lives.
    • Contribute to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), which, if it is still around when we retire, will likely provide us with enough to live off of (if we maintain a simple, low-cost lifestyle).
    • Save some money to top up our monthly CPP income in the event that the payments aren’t enough.  We might invest this money in ethical mutual funds, gold and silver, black walnut trees – we’re still not sure!
    • Invest in a small piece of land to help us spend less if/when we’re living on it, and get our money back when we sell it later.

Wouldn’t it be great if a plan like this could work?  If we could work less, have more fun, and still have a secure future – all by living a simple life?  The idea fills me with hope for the future…

Happy Exploring!

Danielle

53 thoughts on “Should I Plan for Retirement?

  1. Claire/Justalittleless

    We have the same attitude about enjoying life now and not putting off happiness until retirement (although we’re slightly older). I can see myself working part-time for longer than 65 but that’s OK if it’s work I enjoy.Also, investing in my health both physical and mental is a priority for quality of life now and in the future. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m loving your blog and videos since discovering you this week. Claire xo

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Thank you for checking out the blog, Claire. I completely agree that working past 65 might not be so bad if it’s part time AND if we’ve lived in a way that made us happy throughout our entire lives :)

      1. Despina

        I like your perspective, the idea of finding employment as a senior citizen may still be possible in Canada but with the sky high unemployment rate in S. Europe, this would be impossible where I am from. It is interesting to compare how people in some countries can rely on their governments to look after them when they are sick and old and in others people try to save up or buy a house if they can because they simply cannot rely on the system or trust it in any way, shape or form (Greece). Keep it up and happy exploring :)) despina

        1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

          Hi Despina – this is very true and something I often forget because we’re so used to having a system we can (somewhat) trust and rely on here in Canada. Thank you for sharing your employment situation in Greece so that we have more than one perspective on the blog :) Take care and happy exploring!

  2. Katie & Ryan

    Couldn’t agree more! You’re absolutely right about there being no guarantees about later, putting off living a life you love until retirement seems like the riskier option!

  3. AmAnda

    I’d be more worried if you were racking up debt, living beyond your means and not putting money aside. Sounds like you guys are aware and have a solid plan.

    I definitely agree that waiting till retirement to enjoy life is silly.

  4. Alex

    I guess I have a bit of a half way viewpoint when it comes to this topic. I’m 30 years old, only work 20 hours a week and certainly don’t believe in flogging myself now so that future me can relax. But I’ve also accumulated a reasonable retirement investment. Although, I must admit that I do live in Australia where we have really lovely mandatory retirement saving plans. While I strongly feel that life is for living now, I also worry that some dangerous financial thinking can be justified by thst thinking. Live fully, but don’t steal from your future selves.

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      It sounds like you’ve set yourself up really well, Alex! Congratulations!

      I also love what you said about not stealing from our future selves. Food for thought!

  5. Hill

    Hi Mat and Danielle,

    You two are so inspiring- I’ve been catching up on your blog posts- I didn’t know you had so much content beyond your youtube videos! You come across as so authentic and relatable in your videos and writing, especially in sharing your struggles along the way.

    My husband (then boyfriend) traveled in our Toyota Camry for 3 months- from Colorado through Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, all across BC and into Washington and Oregon- we had many similar experiences to you. Being dirty, struggling with digestion issues, doing dishes, and finding public land to camp on for free in British Columbia.

    And in response to this post- it is very difficult to strike a balance in living life to its fullest today vs working all your time away. Dan and I are trying to tease out where we stand on this issue, we are lucky in that we love our jobs- I’m a groundwater hydrologist and do a lot of fieldwork in the mountains and he runs an R&D lab. We take awesome vacations full of adventure and spend our weekends rafting and climbing mountains in CO, but we both would like to have one month off out of each year to do bigger trips.

    So, we are hoping to do something similar to you: leverage our current jobs by saving as much as possible, while developing skills to start business that can be done part-time anywhere. I’m finishing a master’s in GIS (digital mapping and analysis) and hope to build a website to do freelance work, while my husband hopes to do consulting in his field.

    All of this to say- I find so much inspiration and peace in knowing that we aren’t as kooky as we think- there are plenty of awesome people living in a nontraditional way. Best of luck to you!!

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hill, thank you so much for sharing your story! We feel kooky almost all the time until we hear from people like you and your husband! Thanks for letting us know we’re not alone either :)

      Good luck with your plans to become nomadic and I hope you continue to find joy in your work and fun in your travels!

  6. Jeff

    Sounds good man. My wife has been working as a teacher’s aide for nearly ten years now, she should be a teacher this year (I hope). I am going to move over to doing mostly odd jobs such as housekeeping, and we plant to spend the summers RVing .

    Life is too short to spend it all at work. With that said, we still have to provide for our two kids so we can’t do it full time, at least not until we win the lotto or retire, she plans to quit at 62, so we should have several years of enjoying it full time.

    Don’t ever let others tell you how to live your life. You sound like you have a solid plan, keep to what works for you :D

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hey Jeff – I hope you have a blast RVing in the summers with your family! Sounds like it would be a balanced way to live :)

  7. Lyndy

    So pleased to have fund your blog! It is so refreshing!
    We have spent the last five years eliminating our debt and now plans to reduce our working hours to enable us to live ‘now’.
    I am paying into a pension but here the the UK goodness knows what it’ll be worth by the time I retire in approx 20years. I work as a nurse within the National Health Service and my pension has been changed beyond belief- I now have to work 10yrs longer than I originally signed up for.
    Nobody knows what the future holds- we are only guaranteed today so we owe it to ourselves to enjoy it.
    Thanks for your amazing blog x

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Thanks so much for leaving a comment, Lyndy! It must be so nice to have eliminated your debt and have the freedom to relax a little bit more! Enjoy your “now” time and I’ll send some good vibes to your pension plan :)

  8. Mike Yukon

    Hi Danielle & Mat,
    I’m going to be 70 yo next year and have been retired for 2 years. Retirement is great! As for planning for retirement you can never have enough money when that time comes. So participate in the Canadian plan as much as you can. But do continue with your minimalist traveling adventure NOW because it likely will not happen later because you’ll find you can’t be hired in your later years when you need the income. So enjoy each other and your free lifestyle now because if you don’t you will regret it. But do save 10% for future years.
    Also if I may, partying with heavy amounts of alcohol will in the end destroy your relationship so please think about that.

    God Bless and always be safe.
    Mike

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Mike, I’m happy to hear that you’re enjoying retirement!! Thank you for your advice – we’re definitely going to keep contributing to the CPP and we rarely drink so hopefully that will help us stay happy and healthy together for many years to come. Take care!

  9. Hung

    Danielle, Matt,

    I enjoy your observations and adventures and share the same values and outlook in life.

    I worked half of a typical working career, lived minimally, invested and was able to retire in my mid 40’s. I have 20-30 years of wandering and exploring.

    Instead of a retirement fund, I suggest buying small pieces of land, building tiny houses and renting them out. Pay the loan off with any extra money you have to minimize interest payment. In ten years, you have a number of tiny cash cows that’ll enable you to live/travel without having to work.

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Hung, so nice to hear from you! It sounds like you’ve got a great setup – we’re envious and very happy for you! I love your idea of buying small pieces of land and putting tiny houses on them. That’s definitely one of the projects we’ve talked about and might do in the future :)

  10. Walltiger

    Hi Danielle,
    I was planning to buy a van and convert it minimally to travel the US when I saw your video, then your blog. I can relate to many things you mentioned in your blog and I am happy that you guys are enjoying life. Keep up the good work and continue writing.☺

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Walltiger – thanks so much for checking out the blog and our videos :)

      I hope you have amazing adventures travelling in your van, too!

  11. Sumana Roy

    From you tube I came to this aMaZiNg blog. I am from India and I really appreciate your idea of investing time in stead of money. I wish you all the best. Please Keep writing.

  12. Marc

    Very good post Danielle! I’ve drawn very similar conclusions on how it would be possible to live outside the 9-5 norm that society is based / obsessed with. Keeping costs ultra low combined with part-time / casual employment can work and is what I hope to achieve eventually. Its really too bad that the cost of so many goods and services are greatly influenced by an assumed full time income. I’m sure if the majority only worked part-time, we would see a drastic drop in all goods and services, especially rent. Its unfortunate that so many are adamant at keeping the status quo.
    Well, one can dream!

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Marc,

      Thanks for letting us know that you’re on a similar path – it’s always nice to know we’re not alone!

      I am torn about the current cost of goods – part of me wishes everything was cheaper, but then I also think about how cheap things already are because everything is made in third world countries. It’s so hard to find a balance between living a conscious lifestyle and a low-cost lifestyle, but I’m determined to make it work!

      Thanks for your comment :)

  13. Justin Dechaine

    First of thanks for sharing your wonderful journey with so many people.

    Retirement is a a very tough one to overcome…everyone is terrified of being old and broke but I think people do need to put it into perspective….

    I also really like this statement:

    “Keep our cost of living low to avoid the need for a substantial retirement fund.”

    When I was speaking to someone today about wanting to live “unconventionally” and go down to a part time job they were almost mortified.

    “But Justin, if you work another 30 years you can then afford the two big houses (one north/one south) and the trips and the cars and the wardrobes, etc, etc, etc”

    But what if I don’t want those things? working on minimizing and understanding what you need NOW will really help put into perspective what you will need THEN.

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Justin,

      I completely agree that retirement is a tough one but we can’t let the fear take over all of our decisions now. There has to be a balance.

      I can’t help but think that if we invested in our relationships more than our bank accounts, we’d be more secure knowing that we’d have a community of people to take care of, and then another generation to take care of us after that.

      Thanks for your comment :)

  14. Laura

    This is the constant challenge for me- balancing short-term happiness with long-term security. I have gotten a lot of clarity on this issue from Mr. Money Mustache (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/). He’s an articulate and funny guy who opted out of the 9-5 rat race and retired early. He promotes frugality, bad-assity, and not being a “sucka consumer.” His blog has a huge forum where you can see how the “mustachians” approach life and finances. Very motivating stuff!

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Laura,

      Another friend of ours recently recommended Mr Money Mustache to us and we’ll definitely be checking it out :)

      Thanks so much!

  15. Francesca

    Hi Danielle & Mat,

    I love how you’re living right now and know that you will never regret embracing freedom at this point in your lives.

    My boyfriend at the time and I were very lucky to have dreamed of an alternative lifestyle when I was 21. That led us to buying a 37 foot sloop sailboat. We lived aboard and worked odd jobs and lived as you are living now, on the road. We said we’d do it as long as it was fun. I lived and traveled on the boat for ten years. Practically circumnavigated! These were some of the best years of my life!

    Following that I returned to a conventional lifestyle. I returned to school, worked, married and raised two wonderful kids.

    At this point in my life I am longing for freedom again. I am nearly 58 and now am dreaming of retiring to Costa Rica. As I believe you can live better with less, perhaps I can have a tiny house built for me when I am there and spend many years living purposefully. Better than having a larger home with potentially larger problems to deal with! Costlier too!

    Loved reading your blog! Have fun and God bless you during your exciting travels.

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Francesca,

      Your decade-long boating adventure sounds supremely wonderful and I am so happy to hear that you’re still glad you did it.

      Have fun planning your retirement in Costa Rica – it’s one of our favourite places to visit – especially Montezuma!

      xo

  16. Jim

    I read the article on you on Yahoo news. You mentioned you do not like to pay to go to a gym. In most places I have found a good gym for only $10/month. EG – Planet Fitness which has hundreds of locations. And many times private gyms. Makes life a lot easier with a place for a hot shower and a work out to boot.

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Jim,

      Thanks for letting us know about Planet Fitness – I had no idea that some gym memberships were that cheap – is it in the US? I haven’t done much research but I feel like gyms in Canada are much more expensive (at least $40 per month maybe?).

      Thanks again for the tip!

  17. Simon

    Hi Matt and Danielle,

    I’ve watched nearly all your videos on youtube and I have to say that you guys are pretty amazing and are providing inspiration to me and many others.

    We’re a little older than you, in our forties, and have just woken up to the fact that life is passing by very quickly. We’ve been working hard all our lives (that’s what we are all told to do) with the thought of retiring and enjoying life, but we are now sharing your mindset.

    The fact is we may not make it to retirement, the British government keep moving the goal posts and currently we have to work until we are 68 now.

    If we make it to retirement, we may not have our health to be able to enjoy life, so we have decided to live simply instead so that we can enjoy life now.

    We have a little campervan already and just spent two months in France and Italy.

    We are working to pay off our mortgage ASAP (hopefully within a year) so that we can then rent our house, and the income will contribute to our travels. The house could also be a potential retirement fund.

    Or to buy a boat….

    That’s the great thing about life. You can always change your mind.

    Keep up the good work and safe travels.

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Simon – you touched on one of our favourite philosophies – and one that has allowed us to explore without fear: the fact that we can change our minds and go back to our old life if we miss it.

      I am happy to hear that you’ve found a bit of balance that will allow you to explore with a safety net. Have fun and enjoy every moment :)

      Danielle

  18. caroline stilwell

    I really enjoy your blog and all your travel adventures. I read this entry sometime ago and have thought about it a bit. I am 70 so I am looking at life a bit from the other side. I hope that you don’t think that a life with few choices is a life without joy. Sometimes restrictions can help us to look inward and find joy and meaning in an everyday life I think the important thing is to focus on living in the moment and find meaning in our relationships. I think this is what you are doing but it is also possible in many walks of life.. Good luck on your journey.

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Caroline,

      Thank you for reading this post and sharing your thoughts on it. I can say what I want about retirement but I won’t have any idea of what it will actually be like until I get there, so your feedback is extremely valuable and insightful!

      I like your idea that we can find happiness in different lifestyles and I completely agree with you. I suppose we’re sharing our thoughts about finding joy in simplicity because most of us are taught to pursue joy in the opposite way.

      Thanks again or your comment :)

  19. OldMack

    I love reading this blog but not as much as I enjoy your videos. Carpe Dium; pluck the flowers while you may and let not the old farts spoil your day. Best advice an experienced nomad can give you is this: get lots while you are young. Keep on truckin, and dismiss that live-aboard notion; fewer good places where it’s allowed than parking spots for your van.

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Ron,

      Sorry it took so long for me to respond! I love your advice and we plan to keep plucking the flowers while we can :)

      <3

  20. Chase

    I love this blog and like hearing about the advice about a simple lifestyle. I’m 15 soon 16 and I’m already starting to think about the life style of living in a vw bus. I love to hear how you don’t have to wait for retirement to enjoy life and the fact of having little to no debt.

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Chase,

      Thanks so much for your message! I hope you find a way to live in a VW bus one day! There are also a ton of other super fun opportunities that could help you travel more if you want to. Check out WWOOF, Workaway, and working holiday visas for youth under 30!

      Happy Exploring :)

      Danielle

  21. Jennifer

    This is virtually my retirement plan as well! I’m a tad bit older than you and I have a little bit more saved than you (although I had nothing at your age). But I think the key things you mentioned are avoid debt, save some money, and be comfortable living a small life.

    Maybe one day I’ll regret it but live is so precious – I might regret waiting to live my life too!

    Just found your blog (via Brittany at Simply Travel) and I love it! I’m about to go on a big round the world trip, but I’ve got sneaky plans for ‘van life’ next year :)

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Jennifer,

      Thank you for checking out our blog and for letting us know about Brittany’s Simply Travel blog – I just followed her on Facebook :)

      I’m always happy to hear from other people who share the same retirement philosophy (so that I know we’re not completely nuts)! Have you ever used the Canadian Retirement Income Calculator? I found it the other day and found it very helpful for determining how much CPP and OAS will provide us with so that we know how much we need to save on our own. http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/services/pensions/cric.shtml

      Have a great time on your round-the-world trip and let us know when you’re planning your van life adventure next year – maybe our paths will cross!

      Happy exploring :)

      Danielle

  22. Sr. Michele

    You said “I’ve also been questioning the whole idea of working and waiting ’til I’m 65 years old to start enjoying life – especially when there’s no guarantee that my investments will pan out or that I’ll live long enough to enjoy retirement anyway.”
    Have you read where we are not called the dead if we are on a plant based /vegan type diet? And our Angels earn wings when we do live on a diet/lifestyle that is vegan type?
    You may really be looking for how to really live, and have the best out of life.
    May you have a joy filled life !

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Sr. Michele – I am vegan, and I am happy to know that there are other vegans like you who have found the blog :)

  23. Chris

    This is a really wonderful article, thank you for sharing. My wife and I have the same sort of plan…it just isn’t worth trading your now, your health, etc, so that you can sit around comfortably once you’re older. Rock on!

  24. Shu-Fang

    I love your Youtube videos and I am drown by the ideas of minimalist lifestyles.

    Unfortunately, my husband is a huge fan of big houses and cars, so it’s really wonderful for you and Mat can share the same value and exploring alternatives together. My mother-in-
    law worked so hard her whole life to save money for “later”, and yet, sadly, she passed away after three years of retirement. Therefore, I totally agree with you. Happy exploring & please keep sharing!

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Shu-Fang,

      Thank you for checking out our videos and for sharing your situation. I can understand the difficulty and frustration of having different priorities than your husband. Mat and I didn’t (and still don’t) agree on everything and we also have different priorities when it comes to “stuff.” For example, I resisted selling our house for months, and Mat resisted downsizing his music instrument collection for years. I’ve found that the only way for us to both be happy is to accept that we’re both at different points in our journey, and that we can only control our own choices.

      I’m very sorry to hear about your mother-in-law passing away only a few years after she retired. Stories like that make me feel more confident that we need to enjoy and appreciate each day!

      Take care :)

      Danielle

  25. David Vienneau

    To the question: “Should I plan for retirement?”, is another question: “Should have I planned for retirement?”.
    Whether we like it or not, we will be that older person at some point in the future.
    Hi to you both.
    First of all, I see retirement as not working at all, not even part-time. Believe me, I have been using Excel spreadsheets galore since the age of 55. After all calculations, if I ever think, “I could work a day a week…”, then I’d rather keep my present job and wait.
    I turned 60 this past June and I just couldn’t keep that Early Canada Pension alone. All along I was going to leave it there til I reach 65. But our health cannot be guaranteed, and not grabbing money that’s just there seemed weird to me. I am fortunate that
    I did pay the maximum for most of the years that I have worked. Anyone planning on getting CPP has to realize that the maximum is only given if you have contributed to a maximum, every year.
    I admire your courage. Not everyone can do what you two are doing. I could do it for a few weeks and then I’d be bored, I know. I find that I’m mostly interested in the “perfect” vehicle and how this vehicle can be optimized for day to day living. Of course, in Canada we don’t have the weather to do this year round. When I think of cold weather, I think of a structure with walls and a roof to keep me warm. Just the Canadian way I guess.
    In the meantime I can read about this lifestyle and daydream a bit. Maybe someday, who knows.
    Best of luck to you both.

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