This year I will be trying out semi-retirement. I have been working seasonally at my tax job the last few years, until last year when I was hired to work year round. Working all year had its pluses. I made more money and I didn’t have to worry about what I was going to do to make money when tax season was over. The downside was that I was working all year. Even with what most would consider a very generous amount of time off – eight weeks- I didn’t feel like I had nearly enough time to do all that I wanted to do. Also, my health continued to decline. I gained more weight, my blood pressure stayed high, and my blood sugar rose to the pre-diabetic level. During my eight weeks off I lost five pounds and my blood pressure dropped to almost normal levels. Once I returned to work, my weight and blood pressure quickly returned to their previous levels. Although I know working 40 hours a week is normal, I find it stressful and draining. After a normal work day, I am tired and just want to relax with my laptop and eat junk food. It was obvious to me that something had to change. I’d probably die before I was able to retire if I continued the way things were going.
Last week, I took some action to change things. I talked to my boss and let him know I wanted more time off. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured they would let me go back to working just the 3 1/2 month tax season even if they weren’t happy about it. I was pleasantly surprised when my boss offered to let me work 5 1/2 months. He wanted me to work about 6 months, but the scheduling didn’t quite work out for that. Working 5 1/2 months is going to be great for me. It will allow me plenty of time to travel and pursue other interests while still easily making enough money to live. I have my expenses low enough that I can easily live off 5 1/2 months of wages. Considering the amount of overtime I work during tax season my hours might be closer to 6 1/2 months of hours. I expect to still be able to save a few thousand dollars a year. I’ve already saved $5000 in my 401k and IRA this year and I plan on adding more to them.
My Plans for This Year
This year I plan on heading to the Appalachian Trail and finally completing the trail. I’ll leave the first weekend in May and it should take me about 6-8 weeks to finish. I’ve already booked a train to the trail and a hotel room for the night I arrive since it will be too late to start hiking that night. Hiking the AT can be a pretty cheap activity so I don’t expect my living costs to be much more than normal while I’m hiking. It should cost me about $1000 a month to hike which is about what I spend at home. I will have to keep paying rent while hiking so my overall monthly expenses might be a little higher than normal.
In September I will leave on a 2 1/2 month trip to SE Asia. I’ll leave on Labor Day and return the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I’m flying from LAX to Kuala Lumpur and returning to LAX from Bangkok. This was a super cheap airfare that I was able to get for just 25,,000 points from one of my credit cards. I’ve already booked 5 hotel nights for super cheap price of about $40 out of pocket by getting free nights using my Starwood points and booking a really cheap hotel on the other nights. I still need to add a couple of regional flights. Since they are nonrefundable and seem to be reliably cheap I’m going to wait a little while before booking them.
My main reason for traveling to SE Asia is to check out Chiang Mai, Thailand. It is known for being host to a lot of digital nomads and having a very low cost of living. It is hard for me to get my cost of living much lower than it already is, but it might be possible in Chiang Mai. If I end up liking Chiang Mai my plan is to return there every year after the tax season. This will allow me to really stretch the dollars I earn during tax season and hopefully save up some money to eventually be fully retired rather than semi-retired.
If things work like I envision it will be no problem to work tax season a few more years while relaxing in Chiang Mai during the rest of the year. Of course, I won’t just be relaxing the entire time I’m not working my tax job. I’ll write on this blog more often and possibly revive a couple of my other blogs that have been mostly sitting idle the past few years. I’ll also be exercising regularly. I’m sure I’ll find another interest or two to keep me busy as well. Since I am lucky enough to be given this time off from my job each year I want to make sure I don’t waste it.
That is the basics of my semi-retirement plan. I’ll update you on the details as my plan solidifies.
What do you think? Will the plan work or …? I’d love to hear any questions or comments you have about my semi-retirement plan.