Work Less, Live More: The Way to Semi-Retirement


Professionally, you're experiencing the success that years of hard work brings — but the long hours are taking their toll and you're burning out fast. Fortunately, there's an alternative to the grind: Semi-retirement. Work fewer hours, realize your goals and dreams, spend time with your loved ones — and do it all years, even decades, before the "normal" retirement age of 65. With Work Less, Live More and a little planning, you can do it. The book provides a rational investment system based on Nobel Prize-winning ...

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Work Less, Live More: The Way to Semi-Retirement

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Professionally, you're experiencing the success that years of hard work brings — but the long hours are taking their toll and you're burning out fast. Fortunately, there's an alternative to the grind: Semi-retirement. Work fewer hours, realize your goals and dreams, spend time with your loved ones — and do it all years, even decades, before the "normal" retirement age of 65. With Work Less, Live More and a little planning, you can do it. The book provides a rational investment system based on Nobel Prize-winning research, a safe lifelong withdrawal plan and sensible spending guidelines. More importantly, the book provides the inspiring stories and insights of many successful early semi-retirees, walking proof that meaningful work — rather than full-time work — is both fulfilling and rewarding. The 2nd edition focuses on every age group — especially "late bloomers" who may feel way behind. It also includes more information on healthcare issues. If you're ready to pursue the rest of your life, turn to Work Less, Live More and get going!

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Editorial Reviews

Tribune Media Services
Offers intelligent and practical tips on systematic savings, sensible spending and rational investing to make retirement money, even if it is not a fortune, last a lifetime.
MSN Money
[Bob Clyatt] reconsidered his withdrawal rate, revised his spending plans, reconsidered part-time work and wrote about the whole process in his book, Work Less, Live More.
Motley Fool "Rule Your Retirement" newsletter
In 2001, Bob Clyatt retired at the age of 42. But then the stock market tanked. After a year of fretting, he found his solution: part-time work that he actually enjoyed. In his new book, Work Less, Live More, Clyatt writes about how others can semi-retire early, too.
Midwest Book Review
Very highly recommended for everybody seeking an alternative to their currently dissatisfactory career and better, more fulfilling lives.
MSN Money
[Bob Clyatt] reconsidered his withdrawal rate, revised his spending plans, reconsidered part-time work and wrote about the whole process in his book, Work Less, Live More.
San Diego Union-Tribune
Clyatt backs up his advice on investing and spending during retirement with solid academic research.
The Columbus Dispatch
A guide about living outside the suffocating culture of consumption and overwork.
Tribune Media Services
Offers intelligent and practical tips on systematic savings, sensible spending and rational investing to make retirement money, even if it is not a fortune, last a lifetime.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781413307054
  • Publisher: NOLO
  • Publication date: 11/4/2007
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,395,464
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Bob Clyatt pursued a 20-year career in information services and the Internet before semi-retiring at age 42 in 2001. Since then, he and his family live principally off income from their savings in the manner described in his book, Work Less, Live More: The New Way to Retire Early. He continues to work on a part-time basis and is an avid cruising sailor, amateur sculptor and a serious student of yoga. This rich set of activities is only possible because of the large amounts of time freed by working less.
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Read an Excerpt


There are a number of reasons why you might want to stop working full time well before you reach traditional retirement age. You may be reasonably happy at work, saving money, but wondering how long you can hold out against the gnawing sense that you're trading your life away. Or you may be a little further along, with ample savings, agonizing about whether you need to keep pounding away at a full-time career that no longer fires you up the way it once did. You may have tired of the long hours, the bills, the pressure, and the feeling there is never enough time to do the things that are important. Or you may just be ready to move on from what has come to feel like a constant diet of compromises, working for the man. You ask yourself: Do I really have to do this until I'm 65? Can I turn all this hard work into a ticket outta here?

By husbanding your financial resources, managing your expenses, and making a commitment to graduate from the traditional workplace, you can safely cut back your time on the job by years, even decades. Lots of people are doing this now, leaving full-time work in their 40s and 50s, even some precocious ones in their 30s. They have plenty of time to relax and focus on living a life of clarity and purpose. And you can, too.

Something Wrong in Paradise

Working life was never supposed to be as stressful as it has become. A vibrant modern economy full of opportunity and well-paying jobs was supposed to mean we would all be happily challenged, with enough money to buy the things we needed. Then we would enjoy this bounty during the leisure time freed up by our sparkling efficiency.

At least that was the theory.

Butsomething happened to derail that vision. Instead of enjoying more leisure as our earning power went up, we decided we'd have to work even more to pay for all the goodies we couldn't live without. In fact, we really needed two incomes just to afford a place in a decent neighborhood. Now, rather than feeling energized and challenged by work, we feel stressed and trapped. The problem has less to do with the work itself and more with the amount of time we spend there: The hours that American workers put in today should really be called Overwork. Most career-track professional employment requires 55 or more hours a week of sustained in-the-workplace effort, along with more labor at home or on the road checking email and catching up on relevant business news. The average American worker logs nearly 48 hours a week on the job.

Some people can put in fewer hours, but the pace in their workplaces often makes it feel like more. And for many, leaving work early is like pasting a big target on their backs marked Fire Me First. With a mortgage, credit card debt, and an endless parade of bills, missing a few paychecks could even spell financial ruin. Life for many full-time workers has become an adrenaline rush of long hours, big spending, unrelenting stress, and poor health.

The Solution: Semi-Retirement

Semi-retirement -- reclaiming a proper balance between life and work by leaving a full-time job -- offers a way out of the madness of overwork. By reducing spending and switching to a pared-back but more satisfying lifestyle, less money goes out the door. Tapping into accumulated savings in a sensible way provides a steady annual income. Any shortfall can be filled with a modest amount of work, done in an entirely new state of mind: With less need to work for the largest paycheck possible, you can find low-stress work that you truly enjoy, on a schedule that gives you time to breathe.

Semi-Retirement: What's in a Name?

Plenty of people are uncomfortable using the term "retirement" to describe their lives after leaving full-time work, even if they are already collecting Social Security. For them, that word conjures up images of frail elderly people who have hung up their spurs. If someone asks them what they do, they simply say, "I take French lessons." Or, "I am an investor." Or perhaps, "I'm doing all the things I never had time to do before." They think of themselves as fully engaged in living life, not withdrawing from it in any sense. They may be transitioning out of full-time careers or picking up new interests and activities, even exploring second careers.

"Semi-retirement" describes all these situations.

Many people who leave full-time work before they reach age 65 view themselves as early retirees or early semi-retirees, with lots of free time for the committed, engaged avocation-based work or part-time paid work that this book describes as semi-retirement. Even early retirees who do not receive pay for their activities should find nearly all the principles and experiences described here applicable.

Of course, a few early retirees are determined that nothing remotely resembling work or committed obligations will ever come near them again, even though chances are that one day they'll be thirsty for something more. Aside from specific sections about work, the information relating to planning, finances, taxes, and investing should all be relevant to them now, anyway.

And many people in their 60s, 70s, and even 80s are actively engaged in a variety of paid or unpaid capacities but label themselves as "retired." The advice and resources here apply to them, too.

People in all these ages and stages should find common ground with the stories, suggestions, and resources here, yet it is not practical to use different terms throughout the book to describe all readers. So until a better term is coined, this book uses the term "semi-retirement" and "semi-retiree" to describe those using all available resources to support themselves without a full-time salary.

Doing some amount of engaging work offers a comfortable transition between full work mode and full retirement mode, making semi-retirement a good fit for middle-aged people and their families. And many people in their 70s and even their 80s are opting for semi-retirement, too -- for many of the same reasons. With a modest income from part-time work, early semi-retirees may not have to face the dramatic downshifting in spending and lifestyle that so often confronts those who live only on savings or pensions. And semi-retirees learn that a reasonable amount of work, even unpaid work, keeps them energized, contributing, and sharp. (See Chapter 6 for specific ideas on types of activities you might seek.) For those who are mentally ready and who align their spending and financial means, semi-retirement can be the ideal course for navigating a long, healthy, and happy life.

If the entire semi-retirement movement were simply about working less and relaxing more, critics might feel that it was somehow depleting the dynamism of the economy or creating a new parasitic aristocracy. But personal experience and the passionate convictions of many other semi-retirees have shown otherwise.

Semi-retirees are reclaiming their health and zest for life, re-energizing their communities with talented volunteer work, staying fit, becoming more accessible parents, and mentoring young people who increasingly grow up without much meaningful interaction with adults. By being calm and composed during the time they do spend working, semi-retirees can bring coworkers perspective and balance too often in short supply in the workplace. By being hands-on investors, they provide angel investment funds and expertise to growing firms, invest in franchises, or improve neighborhoods through rehabbing homes and rental properties. With time to tinker, think, and develop ideas about which they are passionate, semi-retirees are inventing new products and technologies, writing articles -- and contributing in other ways that may show no immediate profit but have a longer-term benefit to the economy or society.

Lucky for Some?

Though it might be hard to believe, semi-retirement, even for people in their 40s or 50s, is not restricted to those who ride in private jets and ski in the Alps with minor European royalty. In 2007, more than eight million households in the United States had net financial assets -- not including homes and personal property -- of more than $1 million. And semi-retirement is possible on far less savings, by moving to a less-expensive part of America or moving abroad to one of the many semi-retirement meccas opening their doors.

But aside from those mavericks seeking to leave full-time career work early, semi-retirement has become the preferred choice for a generation even after it reaches traditional retirement age and starts drawing pensions or Social Security. Fully 80% of Americans between the ages of 40 and 58 expect to work in retirement. While a third of those expect to need the income, two-thirds -- or fully half of the Baby Boom generation -- say they are interested in rotating between leisure and work during retirement as a way to keep mentally challenged and active.

With Social Security, pensions, and savings providing a financial foundation, semi-retirement work can provide funds for life's extras while adding meaning and welcome challenge to years that might otherwise slip away in obscurity.

Sources: TNS Affluent Market Research Program; UBS Paine Webber/AB Financial, Spectrem Group, Chicago; surveys

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Table of Contents


Something Wrong in Paradise
The Solution: Semi-Retirement
Escaping the World of Work: One Story
How This Book Can Help
A Look at Some Typical Semi-Retirees
How to Use This Book
Stages of Semi-Retirement
A Quick Look at the Chapters

1. Figure Out Why You Want to Do This
Why Work Seems Stale
Work in Other Times and Cultures
Planning to Make the Leap
Moving From Work to Semi-Retirement

2. Live Below Your Means
What It Means to Live Below Your Means
Creating Your Spending Plan
Determining Your Annual Spending
Determining Your Means
A Different Approach for Well-Paid Part-Timers
Planning for Changes
Shifting Your Thinking to Reduce Spending
Children and Semi-Retirement
Retiring Outside the U.S.
Deciding Whether It's Possible to Semi-Retire

3. Put Your Investing on Autopilot
Help for the Beleaguered Investor
Where Wall Street Goes Wrong
Myths About Investing
Prize-Winning Portfolio Theory
Rational Investing
Examples of Rational Investing Portfolios
Rebalancing Your Portfolio

4. Take 4% Forever
The Safe Withdrawal Rate
The Safe Withdrawal Method
Data and Results
Using the Safe Withdrawal Method

5. Stop Worrying About Taxes
Tax Benefits for Semi-Retirees
Strategies for Lowering Taxes
Comparing Taxes: Salary Earners and Semi-Retirees

6. Do Anything You Want, But Do Something
Why Work?
How Work Evolves in Semi-Retirement
Making the Shift
Common Work Options for Semi-Retirees
Unpaid Work Alternatives
Finding New Activities

7. Don't Blow It
Challenges of Semi-Retirement
Special Advice forCouples

8. Make Your Life Matter
Simple Steps for a Life Well-Lived
Taking Your Pulse

Appendix 1: The Asset Classes in the Rational Investing Portfolio

Appendix 2: Resources
Early and Semi-Retirement
Personal Finance
Rational Investing
Safe Withdrawal Rates
Work/Life Issues

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