Posts filed under “Philosophy”

The Joy and Freedom of Working Until Death

“This spending of the best part of one’s life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it reminds me of the Englishman who went to India to make a fortune first, in order that he might return to England and live the life of a poet.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

This quote from Thoreau’s Walden captures a primary theme of my blog, The Financial Philosopher: To lead one’s life on the basis of abstract concepts, such as retirement, freedom, and success is, at best, to lead an inauthentic life and, at worst, one of slavery.

Here are a handful of observations I’ve made in the past on this topic:

I have noticed a recent increase in news articles, in the alarmist fashion as usual, proclaiming that a growing number of Americans will not be able to retire. While the articles often cite statistics that may be informative and truthful, they also perpetuate the unhealthy and untruthful social convention that freedom can only be procured through financial means. And if this financial freedom is not obtained, it means a life of imprisonment—one where you must “work until you die!”

This is because, in America, retirement generally refers to the latter years of life where the retiree has escaped the hellish workforce and has survived decades of sacrifice to graze in the proverbial pastures of relaxation and travel, and to complete whatever bucket list items have yet to be crossed off the list. But retirement is simply a social norm or convention; it is a financial concept disguised as a personal quest and achievement.

Retirement can be anything you decide it to be; but it must be defined by you; the abstract concept must be made into the concrete; otherwise you have inadvertently formed a life philosophy that is based upon a false premise; you have defined your life to reflect the definition of a word, idea, concept, or convention.

“Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man.” ~ Martin Heidegger

With the prospects of a financially secured retirement extending beyond the grasp of more and more people, it may be time for a more realistic and healthier definition of retirement. Rather than receiving the work-until-you-die news as a prison sentence, a healthier message is one of a change in perspective: Working until you die can be a gift of a lifetime if your work is meaningful.

Saving money for decades may not be your best path to freedom. If your definition of retirement is simply to do what you love, and accomplishing this goal by financial means is not likely for you, or money can only accomplish a portion of your retirement goals, there is only one solution to this challenge (and fortunately it may be the best choice of all): Start looking now for ways to make money with work that you enjoy. It may not pay as well as the job you hate but it can cover the financial shortfall of your conventional nest egg.

So when you hear the news that you must work until you die, you can become relieved and overjoyed that you are free from the slavery of saving money to procure an illusory freedom. Furthermore, it is doing nothing that hastens death. Many who have already retired find themselves bored and detached from life if they are not doing something that is meaningful.

You still have time to do what you love, to discover the joy and freedom of working until you die. But to do this you must free yourself from the bounds of social conventions.

Kent Thune is the blog author of The Financial Philosopher. You can follow Kent on Twitter @ThinkersQuill.

Category: Philosophy

When the Consumer is the Consumed

“What you are aware of you are in control of; what you are not aware of is in control of you. You are always a slave to what you are not aware of. When you’re aware of it, you’re free from it. It’s there, but you’re not affected by it. You’re not controlled by it;…Read More

Category: Philosophy, Psychology

Seeing the Big Picture

Robert P. Seawright is the Chief Investment & Information Officer for Madison Avenue Securities, a boutique broker-dealer and investment advisory firm headquartered in San Diego, California. Bob is also a columnist for Research magazine, a Contributing Editor at Portfolioist as well as a contributor to the Financial Times, The Big Picture, The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch, Pragmatic Capitalism, and Advisor One….Read More

Category: Philosophy, Psychology, Think Tank

Mea Culpas: ‘Fresh mistakes, every year’

>   Its my annual mea culpas column for the Washington Post Business Section column. Here’s an excerpt from the column: “Once again, it is the time of year when I look back at the various investing, trading and other mistakes I’ve made. (Last year’s version is here; prior years can be found here). Why…Read More

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Philosophy

Fed is Too Focused on Wealth Effect, Equity Markets

  “When will these guys ever learn that maybe, just maybe, these Fed policies aimed at targeting asset prices at levels above their intrinsic values is probably not in the best interests of the nation?” -Dave Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Gluskin, Sheff   Not long ago, I was listening to former Federal Reserve…Read More

Category: Federal Reserve, Philosophy, Really, really bad calls, UnGuru

54% of Republicans Say We’ve Got Too Much Inequality

It’s a Myth that Conservatives Don’t Care About Inequality We’ve noted for years that it’s a myth that conservatives accept runaway inequality. Conservatives are very concerned about the stunning collapse of upward mobility. A poll from Gallup shows that a majority of Republicans think we’ve got too much inequality: Two out of three Americans are…Read More

Category: Philosophy, Politics, Wages & Income

Look Out Below, Follow Through Edition

click for updated futures     Yesterday, we discussed the likelihood of an equity correction versus the end of the bull market. Today, futures are deep in the red, looking like another 1 percent sell-off or worse awaits us. European stocks are down 1 percent or more, with the IBEX off more than 2 percent….Read More

Category: Markets, Philosophy

Assets versus Prices

Josh has an excellent post up, titled Don’t Hate the Asset, Hate the Price, that makes several important points. I want to reiterate and expand on them here. Some of these are lynchpins of an investing philosophy I have been espousing for many years. Its a broad discussion on price and value, and I think…Read More

Category: Investing, Philosophy, Really, really bad calls, Valuation

Neil deGrasse Tyson on Science, Religion and the Universe

Category: Philosophy, Science, Weekend

NoahOpinion’s Heroes of Blogging

Lovely sentiments from Noah Smith on a few of your favorite bloggers, including Josh Brown and yours truly: Barry Ritholtz: There is a huge amount of financial disinformation and misinformation and just plain bullshit out there in the world. Most financial news is random noise, and some is even worse than that. And there’s a…Read More

Category: Philosophy, Weblogs