Retiring Wealthy Without Money

I just received the following email this morning (edited to protect the person’s privacy):

Hi Steve,

How is your week going? I’m ___ with ___, a company helping people achieve financial success through technology. I came across your site, Steve Pavlina, as I was looking into how young adults can take more control of their money and lives.

Your 20s are typically the perfect time to start planning for retirement, but sometimes life gets in the way. What did you do successfully in your 20s, or if you could go back in time, is there anything you would have done differently to ensure a better financial future sooner in life? In a post on Steve Pavlina, I would love to hear your thoughts on how you could’ve built your financial safety net in your 20s better–and how you can start it now if you haven’t already. What would be your ideal retire at 65 plan?

Let me know if you’d be interested in sharing!


Communications and Community
___ dot com

My reply:

Hi ___,

In strict financial terms, I have no fear of retiring broke.

The experience of going bankrupt in my late 20s helped me shift my priorities in life. I stopped treating money as a power source. I stopped seeing money as a way to buy my way out of valuable personal growth lessons. I embraced the many lessons to be learned from financial scarcity.

As for what I would have done differently in my 20s, I would have taken more vacations and spent less time at the office. I would have traveled a lot more. I would have made it a bigger priority to create happy memories during those times. I would have stopped treating money as a power source. I would have faced more fears.

Instead of working for money, which I found to be a hollow and ultimately unsuccessful pursuit, I decided to center my work around expressing my creativity, caring for people, providing value, exploring and experimenting, and creating positive ripples in the world. I do what feels inspired, and I let the universe handle the rest.

If that decision meant that I had to stay broke to live in alignment with those values, I was okay with that. I sensed that it would lead to a very rich life regardless of my finances.

As it turned out, when I worked from that perspective, abundance flowed into my life with relative ease. I earned more money, but more importantly, I learned to root my security in an unshakeable trust in life itself. I stopped treating money as a power source.

This doesn’t mean that I trust life not to send me setbacks, including financial setbacks. Rather I regard such challenges as important lessons to be embraced and welcomed, as opposed to trying to use money to buy my way out of them.

I learned that relationships are much more important than money, and a truer source of wealth.

Social goodwill provides all the wealth I need, and it’s a lot more secure than money. I’ve made so many friends around the world that even if I retired broke, there will always be someone who’ll be happy to give me a place to sleep, to feed me, etc.

My retirement plan, if I can label this as such, is to continue cultivating a healthy, positive, and loving relationship with the world, such that regardless of what happens with my finances, I’ll continue to feel secure, loved, and supported.

My needs are simple enough, my retirement ambitions are humble enough, and my fear of death and disease is low enough, that my retirement plan doesn’t require anything more than continuing along my current path.

Since I haven’t had a job in many years, you could say that I’m already retired. I spend my life doing what I enjoy. This past weekend I facilitated an absolutely delightful workshop in Las Vegas in a room of heart-centered people, as we shared lessons, love, and laughs. I must have received more than 100 hugs throughout the weekend. To me, this is wealth.