One version of my story is very simple — After reaching financial independence and leaving the corporate world, I became “jobless” and “unemployed”. According to standard definitions, I don’t have a job because I don’t earn money from paid work.
But do I really not have a job? Being a “jobless bum” is only half my story after all. There’s also the version of my story where I’m also a multi-millionaire investor that’s retired from regular work — living off the dividends like a King.
This version of my story definitely gets considerable more respect than the jobless-unemployed-bum version, but it’s also not entirely accurate.
It’s not accurate because I’m not playing shuffleboard with “the boys” at the social club, or watching daytime TV like your stereotypical retired person. I still have plenty of “work” that needs to get done on any given the day.
So am I retired or not?
I’ve given this topic considerable thought lately and believe that I really do still have a “job” despite being financially independent (and perhaps a little under-employed).
How I Define A Job
If you asked any random 10 people off the street how they define a job, you’ll probably get 10 distinctly different answers about what a job is.
For funsies, I looked up how the dictionary defines a “job”:
- a piece of work, especially a specific task done as part of the routine of one’s occupation or for an agreed price.
- a post of employment; full-time or part-time position:She was seeking a job as an editor.
- anything a person is expected or obliged to do; duty; responsibility:It is your job to be on time.
The dictionary is definitely more of an authority than 10 random people off the street, but I personally don’t like how they define a “job” because it limits a job to paid work or an obligation.
What about activities that have economic value but we’re not paid to do?
This is how I define a job: An activity or series of tasks that generate real economic value either through the generating of money or the saving of money. These tasks can be either paid or unpaid.
Given this version of the definition, I actually have a series of “part-time jobs” that generate real economic value and then a larger “job” that generates the most economic value.
I’m Not (Really) A Writer
Let’s start with the elephant in the room — this blog. Is this blog actually my job?
Despite current evidence to the contrary, I don’t actually think of myself as a writer. Not in a professional sense anyway. This blog does make a small amount of money, but I don’t really call myself a writer.
A really-real writer would definitely be able to generate more than $1,000 a year from writing. So I feel like this blog should be classified somewhere in between a hobby and a part-time job.
I realize that’s not a very clear distinction, but it’s the best I can give right now.
The Stay At Home Dad
One of my part-time jobs is definitely being a “stay-at-home dad” to my kids. This is the story I usually tell to people who ask me what I do for a living.
“What do you do for a living Mr. Tako?”
“Oh, I’m a stay-at home Dad. I mostly take care of my kids these days.”
In most circles this a fairly socially acceptable answer, but it’s definitely not what I would consider my “primary job”.
Here’s how I look at the economic value of being a SAHD — We have a monthly daycare cost of $2200/month and this is with the kids not even going to daycare full time (just a few days a week).
So if we took them out of daycare and I watched them full-time I would guesstimate this has an economic value of nearly $3,000 per month (assuming 5 full days per week).
That’s $36,000 per year in economic value from being a SAHD. I could derive this much economic value by watching the kids all the time. Not too shabby! But the problem is — the value of this job is going to start declining. In the fall, our oldest son (Tako Jr. #1) will start kindergarten and he won’t need full-time care anymore.
In a couple of years our youngest son (Tako Jr. #2) is also starting school, so the economic value of this SAHD job will continue to decline even further.
At which point the economic value becomes that of a part-time babysitter (what do sitters make these days? $15-25/hr?)
Chief Capital Allocator
My view is that my main job is the activity where I generate the most economic value.
Back when I was working for a corporation and saving over 50% of my income, my main job was to serve my corporate masters. I did this for about 15 years — working and saving everything I could.
Then one day something happened. My portfolio actually started making more money than my traditional job — It was at that very moment that my primary job changed. It was a big promotion — I went from “corporate wage-slave” to “Chief Capital Allocator”.
As Chief Capital Allocator my main job is to make certain our money (capital) is invested in the best possible places I can find for it.
At times in the economic cycle this might mean holding only index funds or stocks. Other times it might mean holding cash, bonds, or preferred shares. It’s my job as Chief Capital Allocator to decide what , where, and when our capital should be invested.
Lest ye think this isn’t an important job, let me remind you that last year our portfolio gained $570,180 in value. That’s a ton of economic value! Of that, we generated $53,504 in dividends alone.
That annual economic value is far more than I ever would have earned working at a corporate job, so it absolutely makes sense that most of my time and energy should be spent there.
This is why I’ve decided my “job” is primarily to be Chief Capital Allocator for our family.
I know, I know… the internet retirement police are probably going to have a field-day criticizing this one.
“Your not contributing anything of value for society, so you clearly don’t have a job you worthless bum!”
Well, maybe… but it really depends on how you define “anything of value”. Traditionally we think of retired people as mostly sedentary humans — playing a little golf, watching tv, playing cards at the retirement home, knitting, and so forth. Many people view this kind of retirement as “waiting” until they die.
Do I fit that model? Nope! I’m anything but sedentary.
While I do occasional indulge in a nap, I still feel like my life provides plenty of value to the world. For one, I’m working hard to produce two good human beings to inherit the earth after I die — my kids.
We live in an age where troubled kids walk into a high schools and start shooting everyone in site. I feel like I’m absolutely contributing to society by spending my time raising responsible and well-adjusted kids.
I’m constantly running around trying to contain the chaos that two energetic boys can generate AND I’m writing this blog AND I’m solely responsible for the extremely important job of investing our millions.
It feels like a ton of work even though I don’t earn a paycheck. If anything, I’m busier now than ever.
Yes, really! I’ve never been more tired in my life! Literally, every day is exhausting!
But here’s the important bit — I derive so much pleasure from my different jobs that I never feel like they’re a burden — I absolutely love being involved with my kids and spending time with them. My blog is mostly a labor of love. And investing? It’s one of my biggest passions.
So I do have a job? — Yes, and it’s the best damn job in the world.