45-year-old ‘fake retiree’ shares the most surprising lessons he learned when he tried to retire early

In June 2012, at 34 years old and after 13 years of working in investment banking, I wanted out. So I decided to negotiate a severance, retire early, and live off passive income through my rental properties, stock dividends and e-book sales.

But just one year in, I realized that the life of travel and leisure I thought I wanted wasn’t for me. I found myself bored and felt a loss of identity. I needed an outlet and wanted to do work that I was personally invested in.

While it’s been more than 10 years since I stopped working full-time, I wouldn’t say I’m retired. Instead, I refer to myself as a “fake retiree” because I ended up taking on some side hustles to fill my time.

Here are six surprising lessons I learned after 10 years of being “fake retired”:

1. There’s no shame in being “fake retired.”

I’ve shared a lot about my early retirement journey, and one of the biggest pushbacks I get from readers goes something like: “You’re still doing some sort of work and getting money in return, so you’re not actually retired.”

That’s a fair point, which is why I think more people should embrace the term “fake retirement.” Many of us early retirees are writing blog posts, recording videos, creating e-courses, writing books or selling art. I still run my blog Financial Samurai, and I just spent two years working on my personal finance book, “Buy This, Not That.”

A lot of early retirees are working harder than ever by building their online businesses, even if it’s just a short-term passion project. The extra money they earn might not be a necessity, but it’s a nice bonus.

By proclaiming myself a “fake retiree,” I’m owning the criticism. Yes, I could sit on the beach and drink piña coladas all day if I wanted to. But I don’t. I want to work and be productive during the week, which for me is about two to three hours a day.

2. Your financial needs will evolve—and likely grow—over time.

When I retired, I was happy with my $80,000 per year in passive income. But in 2015, my wife joined me in early retirement. We…

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