So I’m Not Actually Retired Anymore

not actually retired anymore
Me hanging out in Mexico City last January. All the while secretly plotting my return to the workforce

Sorry for not posting in a while. I’ve been really busy working on my random and unexpectedly successful startup Student Loan Planner, LLC. While I fully planned on being retired for the foreseeable future when I started Millennial Moola, I discovered something most folks do when they hit their mid-70s: retirement can be boring. I guess I’m not actually retired anymore.

Traveling Every Day Can Be Exhausting #Privilege

I traveled the world for most of the year from June 2015 to May 2016. I went to dozens of countries across Europe and Latin America. Eventually a routine started to settle in. I’d wake up, eat a cheap breakfast, walk around town, go to the cathedral and look around, go to lunch, hit up a couple museums in the afternoon, then go back to the hostel to see what was going on.

I’d chat with folks and make friends, some of whom I still stay in touch with. That part was probably my favorite. When you travel, you’ll meet very atypical people you’d only run into in the middle of nowhere. Learning why they’re traveling and hearing their life story is really refreshing, and I highly suggest you try it at least for a bit.

Eventually You’ll Meet a Girl…

Or a guy, or whomever. You can live the nomadic life for a while and I think most people should. However, at some point you might meet some one really cool and think, hmm maybe I should consider being around them more and doing life together. That person also might not have the same emergency fund and investment account you do. If they’re worth it, then you might want to be in the same place as they are and help them get to financial independence too.

Besides traveling getting a little boring at times, I wanted to hang out more stateside to be close to my girlfriend. She’s a doctor and has med school loans, so we’re a ways off from traveling full time again. Nevertheless, I’m cool with that. It’s like I get to go back into save a lot mode to help her be free from traditional work too.

Sitting in the Same Place without Work Forces You to Do Something

If you’re traveling just taking in everything around you is enough and takes plenty of mental energy. When you’re staying the same city day to day though, your mind needs something to do. My girlfriend’s job is in St. Louis, so I moved here to be close to her. Initially I was down on the city, but since then I’ve actually come to like it somewhat, besides the strange propensity of city leaders begging billionaires to take public tax dollars to build stadiums. Still trying to figure out how that’s ever a good idea.

So anyway I was sitting around in St. Louis playing too many video games and editing my upcoming book on managing money in your 20s and 30s and it wasn’t enough to occupy me. I published my free student loan spreadsheet and it got picked up by Yahoo and got over 300,000 views. Complete strangers started to ask me about their student loans, so I thought why the heck not I like helping people and building spreadsheets so let’s give it a try.

Founding Student Loan Planner

After working with several folks, I realized I needed to up my game. I submitted LLC paperwork for a generically named professional services company, Student Loan Planner, LLC. I learned how to run Facebook ads and target specific groups of people, and started getting more clients.

Since getting serious about the business in early October, I’ve done about 100 consults with clients who have a total of $25 million in student debt. I’m enjoying myself a lot, but have since run into major problems with health insurance, bookkeeping, WordPress themes, and collecting late payments.

I’ve had to navigate major conflicts of interest, being incorrectly labeled a scam by Facebook, and even hire someone to help me on a part time basis. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I went back into the “work force,” but it’s been hectic.

I Still Consider Myself an Extreme Early Retiree, Even Though Maybe I’m Not One

To me, being retired has nothing to do with your finances. It’s a mindset. I can work 80 hours a week as I’m doing right now and still feel retired. The difference to me is having control over your life and doing what you want. Maybe I’m supposed to call it financial independence. But hey I’m not even technically that either.

I have enough money to survive for an extended period of time and to try out random ideas with the goal of being happier doing that than being a cog in a corporate machine. If I hadn’t graduated college debt free, that would’ve been almost impossible. What If I hadn’t had a high savings rate while working in corporate America? I’d still be on the treadmill. If I had signed a lease on a brand new Lexus, I’d still be taking orders instead of occasionally slacking off in the middle of my “work day” and playing some ‘Axis and Allies’ online.

Save Everything You Can to Have the Freedom to Do Anything You Want

I’m going to try to keep publishing on Millennial Moola at least once a week. I’ve built up a decent following and there are plenty of folks out there who don’t have student loans so my other gig isn’t as fun or relevant to them.

My big wish for you is that you’d cut out an expensive habit in 2017 and put all the money in low cost index funds instead. With that financial cushion, pay down all your debt, quit your job, and go think about life, preferably somewhere really strange and beautiful like Montenegro or Iceland.

Maybe you’ll travel the world, meet awesome people, explore your own happiness, tell the world you’re an extreme early retiree, then look like a fraud when you accidentally found a business and start working like crazy to make it successful because it’s fun. You’ll never know if you sit at your cubicle/walk the hospital floors/do busy work at a Big Law firm/crunch numbers all night during tax season/do your best to please your boss with the majority of your waking hours.

So save a ton of money and take a risk with your life. It’s too dangerous to do anything else. As for me, hopefully I can make Student Loan Planner successful for the long term and maybe one day I’ll go back to being an extreme early retiree. Or maybe I already am. Who knows. All I care about is that I get to wake up whenever I want, wear whatever I want, and not care about who I’m impressing anymore.

8 thoughts on “So I’m Not Actually Retired Anymore”

  1. Congratulations on your new business venture. What matters is that you can do whatever the heck you want, whenever you want. You also work on something that you’re passionate about so it won’t feel like work. 🙂

  2. Thanks for the update Travis. Nice to hear from you. And I’m glad to learn that you’ve been doing well and congratulations on your start-up success!

    It’s also good to get your perspective on this. I am getting pretty close to early retirement. But I can’t imagine giving up my blogging and investing. It doesn’t feel like work and I can only imagine how bored I’d be without it.


  3. Ahhh how I miss the days of hanging out in hostels in the evening and chatting with new faces about adventures to be had/had been had. Before we had $600k of student loan debt, that was our life! Kind of ironic that now we are working, to pay off debt, so that we can go back to the life we had. Funny how life works.

    Super stoked about your business venture Travis! I know a lot of our friends and readers are glad that you are un-retired (or not, or whatever).

    1. Haha, thanks Amber! The nice thing is once that student debt is gone and you work a couple years to save up some money, then you’ll be meeting the same nice faces except it’ll be at hotels instead of hostels lol

  4. Good stuff! I just read your book retiring at 25 before Xmas. I’ve got about twenty more years experience than you, so I was amazed at how similar our outlook is (especially financially). I was intrigued enough to look up your blog and glad that I did. Keep up the good work and humourous observations!

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