Retired Money: In Semi-Retirement, reducing stress may be more important than generating extra taxable revenue

Pexels: Amir Ghoorchiani

My latest MoneySense Retired Money column looks at the trade-offs between leisure time and using time to generate extra but taxable revenue. Early in one’s career, there’s little choice but to generate taxable revenue but Semi-Retirement has a different dynamic. Find the full column by clicking on the highlighted headline: Is semi-retirement stressful? You bet — here’s what to do about it.

One of my philosophies of Semi-Retirement is the principle that reducing stress can sometimes be more important than maximizing revenue. Assuming you are self-employed in Semi-Retirement, as I am, you may find yourself juggling multiple clients and conflicting demands on your limited time and energy.

Given the sporadic nature of freelancing, most freelancer writers or suppliers know how hard it is to turn down paying work. I was like that in my first stint at freelancing, back in the 1980s: long before I achieved a modicum of financial independence.

This time around, I have the luxury of being able to pick and choose. I’ve even stated this boldly to some clients: “My goal these days is to minimize stress, not to maximize taxable revenue.” Another way to look at this is the age-old dilemma of time versus money. It’s been years since I read the classic book on financial independence, Your Money or Your Life (by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominquez); however I’ve never forgotten their core message that time is life energy. When we earn money we do so by exchanging our time or in effect giving up some of our life energy.

There comes a time it’s time to say “Enough” to further expenditures of Life Energy

So it follows that if you have accumulated enough money after working a lifetime to accumulate it, then at some point it may be necessary to stop and say “enough!” when it comes to requests to expend still more of your life energy.

True, not everyone in Semi-Retirement is self-employed and enjoys the flexibility to make these trade-offs. More likely though, a semi-retired person is self-employed or working part-time on one or two gigs, while simultaneously collecting some combination of Government benefits, employer pensions, and investment income. The more secure those passive sources of income are, the less you may feel compelled to take on extra work requiring your time and life energy.

These days, my own main gig apart from MoneySense is keeping this website,, running. While the Hub, as many call it, is a commercial proposition, for me it is also a fun and creative activity and I’d like to think it also provides a public service. Sometimes I write just for fun rather than for money. In fact, that’s how this column began.

Whether it applies to blogs or writing assignments, it’s all about managing your workflow, time and energy. The MoneySense column describes how to “buy time” by putting aside money from your day job in order to to later take time off to pursue perhaps unfilled creative aspirations. It’s a question of rationing your time and energy. In fact, the column reveals a fact regular Hub readers may have noticed in just the last few weeks: I’ve been experimenting with running just four blogs a week rather than the five I’ve aimed for since the site launched in 2014.

After all, the beauty of self-employment is that you can always say no and decline extra work. To the extent you have reduced your stress and conserved a bit of your life energy, that’s one win; to the extent you have avoided paying tax on extra revenue you didn’t generate, that too is a win, or at least a loss for the Canada Revenue Agency.

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