Thursday, June 16, 2011

Field testing my retirement and the World's Cheapest Guides.

Maybe I should explain just what the heck I'm trying to do. About 3 weeks ago, I left my job with a secure offer from another company. Because as a new dad, I asked for a later starting date because I wanted some time to watch my girl grow.

More interestingly, I wanted to field test the effects of early retirement.

My holiday was split into approximately 25 days, I wanted to wean myself from a day job so I gave myself three challenges :

a) Publish an e-book on Financial Independence.
b) Publish an e-book on Philosophy and move out from writing finance books.
c) Study intensively for an IT exam.

To make things more interesting, all three need to be done simultaneously and had to be complete before my IT exams finish.

My first book was published after 5 working days. My products are all designed with the same specs :

a) Targeted at International audiences.
b) Cost set at the minimum allowed by Amazon at $0.99.
c) No more than 10,000 words.
d) Facebook friends provide editing comments and proofing.

I wanted some sort of cheap alternative to a Dummies guide that contain a single idea in a Kindle e-book format. I want the series to grow with me as I develop new interest in other fields. For example, I am now aggressively reading books on Organizational behavior to glean some insight into Power and Politics in the modern office.

Anyway, my first book is on Financial Independence. It's nothing really new compared to my other writings but the investment examples had to be drawn from the US. For example, instead of business trusts, I had to write about Master Limited Partnerships.

Local readers probably don't have ready access to a Kindle, but to keep the long story short, Singapore is a dividends yields paradise. In the US, if you want fantastic yields, you gotta give Mortgage Backed securities a try.



My second book is on Life Philosophy. For a couple of years, I've been a following a good friend, Lau Kwong Fook, the founder of Singapore's first Socrates Cafe in his lessons on Philosophy. I thought it might be a good time to get into writing Philosophy to crystallize my thoughts on this interesting subject matter.

I think many of us who took professional degrees exhausted a large part of our youths to get a decent lifestyle, we never did have the time to develop a meaningful philosophy of life. My engineering background allowed me reverse engineer Ayn Rand's approach to Objectivism and rebuild it into a framework that can be used for anyone who missed out on a good liberal arts education. You can find the link again here.

The second book did not meet my deadline , but it went out the Tuesday night because Amazon needed to vet it before it goes live.



Lastly, I want to talk about retirement.

For month's I have split my earned income from my passive income and field-tested my family's ability to live on nothing but stock dividends. This is very much like a business continuity plan. Since I do it for my company, I might as well do it for myself.

Anyway, living on dividends is actually more challenging for a working man because going to work incurs costs like transport and more expensive meals in town. A retiree spends only a fraction of what a working man spends.

In the past 25 days, I lived out a life close to a being a retiree but in the end I don't think a life without working is right for me:

a) You can retire at 36, but your friends are working. Even if you can afford to do nothing and drink coffee with, who are you going to drink it with?
b) In the days where I was churning out 2000 words a day, I was very happy. There's stuff to think about. Frameworks to improve. Ideas to hack. Certainly better than idling the whole day.
c) Work provides more than pay and personal satisfaction. Work forces a person to interact with others and that interaction yield ideas that goes beyond what a person and dream out on their own. To be fair, I'm an extrovert, I'm more relaxed when I'm hanging out with other people.
d) I hate TV, my RSS feed is excellent but there are only about 1000 articles to read everyday.

Anyway, in the next few days, expect me to talk more about my guides with a focus on developing a life philosophy.

Regards

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