Man asleep in a hammock

How would you live your life if money was no object?

A recent article on the BBC Science website about the psychology of the very rich has prompted me to come up with a thought experiment for you to consider.

How would you spend your days if you didn’t have to work because money was no object and you had more than enough to live comfortably?

In other words, put yourself in the shoes of the likes of Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates, and try to consider what you would do with your time. Could you fill each day meaningfully if you had that level of financial freedom?

Clearly, there’s no correct answer, and everyone will have different ideas and thoughts. But it does raise some interesting points around the relative importance work and leisure have in our lives.

The importance of wealth accumulation

The first issue such a mental experiment raises is how important wealth accumulation and working for a living are in terms of giving your life meaning and structure.

At a very simple level, you work to earn money. This is then used to cover immediate needs such as paying bills, food, entertainment, childcare, and so on.

Then there are longer-term financial commitments, including saving for future events such as holidays, your children’s education, and house purchase. Beyond that there’s the money you commit to building an investment portfolio and saving for your eventual retirement.

Working is about more than simply earning money

As well as earning a wage, regular work also provides you with other, non-financial benefits.

For one thing, your work gives your life some discipline and gets you out of bed each morning – even in the middle of winter.

It also creates a structure to your days and weeks. Much of this is so routine that it soon becomes second nature early in your working life.

Work also presents you with important challenges, and the need to keep your mind active.

Then there’s the key element of social interaction: working with others and speaking to them on a regular basis, either in a place of work or now, increasingly, online in video calls or through virtual chat apps, like Slack.

All this goes some way to explaining why a Sky News report recently confirmed that the number of people working into their 70s has increased by more than 60% in the last decade.

While some might have to keep working for financial reasons, for many it’s a positive lifestyle choice.

As a result, it’s not a stretch to say that, even if money was no object, you may well decide that you want to work in some capacity – even though you wouldn’t need to.

Facing up to the challenge of filling your day

If you decided you weren’t going to continue to work, you would need to figure out what you’d do to fill your time between getting up in the morning and going to bed each night.

It’s common to break down a typical 24 hours of your life into three distinct and relatively equal segments:

  1. The time you spend asleep
  2. Your working hours
  3. Your leisure time.

Assuming that you’d get the same amount of sleep as you do now, you’d need to fill roughly two-thirds of your day with other activities.

You may be justifiably tempted to treat all your time as an extended weekend or holiday. So, with money no object, you could get someone else to do your household chores while you’d be going out to lunch, shopping, reading, pursuing hobbies, or simply watching television.

It sounds idyllic, and there’s no reason why some of your time could not be spent in this way, but would you really enjoy it and feel fulfilled after a month or so? This question becomes even more relevant if you’re in good health and looking to remain active and mentally focused.

There are alternatives to work that are still challenging

To remain interested and inspired by life, you may well decide to start looking for activity that provides some of the same challenges and benefits as work does.

Thinking back to the section about working, maybe you’d work for nothing, or just for expenses.

Perhaps you’d enjoy a great sense of achievement from working for a charity or other third-sector business, seeing this as “giving something back” after a career devoted to financial accumulation.

In your local community, you’re likely to find any number of groups who will be crying out for volunteers. Furthermore, you may be able to utilise your skills to help them. You’ll also have the advantage of working close to home and widening your social network.

Alternatively, or even additionally, you might consider taking up a challenging or time-consuming hobby to not only fill your hours but to test yourself. If money was no object, this could indeed be something involving a big financial commitment such as learning to sail or fly a helicopter or other small aircraft.

What all this means for your retirement

Although I’ve positioned this as a thought experiment, there’s a serious point to consider when it comes to planning for your retirement.

It underlines that it’s often as important to have enough to do once you stop working as it is to have enough money to retire in the first place.

Furthermore, when it comes to your long-term financial plan, having an idea of what you’re going to do in retirement is equally important as your investment strategy and building your retirement fund.

If you haven’t already, I’d invite you take a look at two articles I’ve previously written about some of the issues you’ve read about here.

Why you shouldn’t underestimate the cost of your retirement

The danger of retiring too early

Get in touch

If you’d like to know more about planning your financial future, then please get in touch.

You can call me on 07769 156 250.

Please note

The value of your investments (and any income from them) can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested.

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Investments should be considered over the longer term and should fit in with your overall attitude to risk and financial circumstances.

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