What would you do if you didn’t have to work?

What would you do if you didn't have to work?Have you read Ernie Zelinsky’s How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free. I really like it because he challenges traditional retirement. Most people only think of retirement as the end of a journey. We feel useful when we work and retirement means the end of that usefulness. However, retirement doesn’t have to be that way. Ernie encourages us to think of retirement as an opportunity to find yourself and rekindle your zest for life.

Early in the book, Ernie asks – what would you want to do if work was abolished in this world? That’s a bit extreme so let’s modify it a bit. Work won’t be abolished so let’s take the primary motivation away. My question – what would you do if you don’t need to work for money? Would you keep working in the same job/career? Think about this. The answer will tell you whether or not you’re in the right place.

*This post was originally written in 2013. Updated in 2020.

What would I do?

If you asked me that question 12 years ago, I wouldn’t have a good answer for you. Sure, I knew that I didn’t want to be a computer engineer forever. However, I didn’t really know what I would do for the rest of my life if I quit my job at 35.

Fast forward to 2020. Now that I’ve been a SAHD/blogger for 8 years, I have a much better idea. I am having the best time of my life. Would I keep doing this if money isn’t a problem?

The answer is a big YES! I love being a SAHD (for the most part.) It’s great to spend time with RB40Jr and we have a lot of fun together. Sure, we butt heads sometimes, but that’s natural. Everybody fights a bit when they spend a lot of time together. It’s a privilege to be able to raise our son so closely. Most dads never have the chance to do this. I really appreciate my good fortune. My son loves having a parent at home too.

As for blogging, I probably would continue doing this even if it doesn’t make any money. It’s good for me to put my thoughts down and it keeps my brain active. I can’t imagine retiring early to a life of leisure. At this age (46), I still need some challenges. However, it is a lot of work to write 3 times per week and I’d probably cut back a little. Overall, I really enjoy what I do right now and I’m very grateful for it.


Of course, life keeps changing and we all have to adapt. When I wrote this post in 2013, our son was just 2 years old. I spent 90% of my time being a dad. Once he started school, life became much easier. I was able to spend more time blogging, running errands, and take personal time. 2020 is a tough year. School closed down in March and it won’t open until things improve. Being a SAHD is job 1 again this year. This is still much easier than when RB40Jr was little. He listens a lot better now and he’s a good kid.

Now, I write a new post for Monday and update an older post for Thursday. This pace is much easier and I can do this for several more years. Even when life goes back to normal, I’d probably keep this schedule. I want to make more videos for our YouTube channel and maybe try some other things.


Well, this is all nice and good if you don’t have to worry about money, but is it realistic? What if you’re not quite happy with your career, but you still need to generate some income to pay the bills? It will take time, but if you can get there. Here is a guideline.

  • Save and invest as much as you can to start making some passive income. Even a little passive income will help tremendously if you decide to make a change.
  • Explore the alternatives. Ask yourself, what you would like to do if money isn’t the primary concern. Everyone has different passions and interests. Every one of us has something to contribute. Spend some time exploring what you can do with your interest. I like blogging, personal finance, cooking/eating, traveling, photography, reading, and music. I was able to convert blogging into a little side hustle and it grew from there.
  • Make a jump to doing something you enjoy. This is hard, but it’s not impossible. Over the last 8 years, I met many people who pulled it off so I know it is not impossible. You don’t have to follow the traditional work path.

The possibilities are endless  – yoga teacher, personal coach, pet/house sitter, freelance writer, e-commerce entrepreneur, YouTuber, blogger, and more. These are just a few of the people I met. There is a whole world of possibilities out there and you just need to go outside of the box to find it.

What about you? If you don’t have to work for money, what would you do?

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, the job became too stressful and Joe retired from his engineering career to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. Today, he blogs about financial independence, early retirement, investing, and living a frugal lifestyle.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is increasing his investment in real estate with CrowdStreet. He can invest in projects across the U.S. and diversify his real estate portfolio. There are many interesting projects available so sign up and check them out.

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help DIY investors analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.

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