My wife and I are in an interesting position at the moment: We’ve retired from full-time work, but we find ourselves earning additional dough by doing the things we love purely for the challenge of it all.
That is seriously cool! Or if we were living back in the 80’s, “rad”.
Our financial position is solid (okay, for the most part).
With expenses around the $40,000 / year mark and a net worth over $970,000, we are well on our way to enjoying a lifetime of fun and adventure without the need to work a job again. Ever.
Up until a couple weeks ago, our net worth squeaked past $1m. For several months, we were proud members of the double-comma club!
In fact, we started our new lifestyle of full-time travel with $890,000 and, with the help of the stock market, we’re up about $80,000 in a year’s time. Not bad for spending our days hiking and biking, visiting breweries and roughhousing with our dogs.
Aside from the stock market, we have a few other mechanisms for cash generation. For one, this blog is monetized. As you’ve noticed, I use display ads to bring in a few extra bucks a month. Because we like beer money.
We also maintain a YouTube channel – again, monetized. The more views we get, the more pennies we earn. All we need to do is keep doing what we enjoy. Recording our adventures. Filming, basically, whatever we want to film.
I also have an Etsy store – though my maintenance of the place is somewhat questionable. My wife sells knitting patterns online. I also work with ESI at Rockstar Finance maintaining Rockstar Finance. All of this generates a nice little income for us every month.
The funny thing is – we don’t need the money, but it’s become a challenge to see how much we can earn doing what we truly enjoy.
Just because you’ve retired early doesn’t mean your earning potential stops!
The challenge of earning unnecessary money
Early retirees quickly discover that earning power doesn’t suddenly stop just because we no longer maintain full-time jobs. We are curious enough people to want to explore some of this. Of course, we gotta enjoy the process. We didn’t retire early to keep doing nonsense that we don’t like to do.
Most of us know office work isn’t the only thing that can bring home the bacon. Full-time jobs maximize earnings during the accumulation phase but don’t believe for a second that you’re simply done earning money simply because you no longer have any need for an alarm clock to jolt you out of bed in the morning.
We don’t earn much from these cash-generation streams. Together, we generally pull in between $1000 and $1,500 a month (though March was an especially good month!). While $15,000 a year doesn’t sound like much, it is when you look at it in another way.
Think of it this way: $15,000 a year is more than 1/3rd of our entire living expenses.
When we don’t spend much money maintaining our lifestyles, we also don’t need to earn much in order to support it. It’s an amazing concept and one that keeps the challenge of earning money, even though we don’t need it, a fun and interesting game to play.
Each dollar earned today means more than it did when we were pulling in a serious dual income and spending closer to $60,000 or $70,000 a year.
It’s almost like a high. “We earned $1,500 this month? Cool!”. Can we get to $1,600 next month?
Maybe. How badly do we want it, and is the required effort worth the reward in the end? Sometimes it is. Other times, it isn’t.
The fact remains: Earning money that we don’t need by doing things that we truly enjoy is an amazing position that many early retirees find themselves in. It’s fun to explore the possibilities. To come up with new ideas on how to generate a little extra cash.
Because when you don’t need that cash to survive, failure becomes nothing but a data point. If it works, great. If not, big deal. There is always next month. When cash doesn’t matter, a failure to earn it means nothing. There’s no downside to trying something new and getting nothing from it.
We aren’t the types of people who like to sit on our hands and call it good. Little goals like these are fun to set.
How many out there earn extra dough for the hell of it?
I’m curious – even if you’re working a side hustle as well as a full-time job, how many of you folks are doing a little something extra for some dough that you probably don’t neeeeeeed? What is your motivation for spending that time?
Steve is a 37-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels with the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.