How to Retire

I’m currently 31 years old, and effectively I feel retired. What does it mean to be retired, and how to retire?

I cannot speak for you, but let me simply draw upon my experiences and thoughts:

What does it mean to retire?

Everyone has a different definition of retiring. I say:

Ignore how others define retirement. Define it for yourself.

Generally speaking, to retire means to WITHDRAW. In a general sense, to retire means to ‘withdraw from doing toilsome labor you need to do in order to pay your living expenses’.

For myself, I define retirement as the following:

To no longer do anything for the primary purpose of money.

For example, you can be retired and still do things for fun (which make money). But making money ain’t the primary goal; making money might be the secondary or third consequence or goal.

For example, I feel retired, yet I still do workshops. Why? I genuinely enjoy doing them! I learn a ton from my students, I get new creative ideas, I can focus on shooting new photos, and I love sharing new ideas. And I love curating these travel photography experiences and sharing them with others. I still charge money as a way to have students with ‘skin in the game’ (if students pay for money, it shows they are truly committed). Furthermore, making money at this point is more of a game than anything pragmatic.

No longer self-quantifying yourself with money

Another idea:

Retirement as un-linking your self-esteem from money.

The biggest problem Americans have is this:

We quantify our self-worth and self-esteem through how many dollars we earn, or how much money we got in the safe.

I grew up poor, and I was always curious what it felt being rich and being retired. Now that I have tasted both sides; I can genuinely say:

Money is useful as an “anti/negative” thing. Money isn’t good for the sake of money; money is good to NOT have to work, to NOT stress about paying rent.

Philosophically speaking, money is good as a ‘via negativa’ concept. Money doesn’t ADD to your life; money SUBTRACTS stress, bother, and hassle from your life.

Thus, don’t think of using MORE MONEY to make you “more happy”. No– think of how you can use money to REDUCE STRESS and bullshit from your life.

Uber > Owning a car

For example, using lots of money to buy myself an expensive car (Lamborghini) will not ADD positive happiness to my life. However using money to NOT need a car (living in a part of a city which allows me to walk everywhere) is good. For example, I’m paying $1500 USD a month to live in a “luxury minimalist” apartment in downtown Providence, which means I don’t need a car! A life without a car is a better life. But if I couldn’t afford that $1,500 monthly rent, I might need to buy a car (which adds positive stress to my life).

Or another example: by having enough money I can simply Uber everywhere. A life where you can Uber everywhere is 100x better than owning the most luxury car (and being stuck in traffic and having to drive yourself everywhere).

Fewer responsibilities and cares

Retirement also means to WITHDRAW yourself from cares and stresses and responsibilities (that you don’t really care for). For example, don’t get suckered into becoming part of some collective, some “board”, or anything like that. I think the best goal is to maximize your own personal individual life. Maximize your free time for yourself.

Not only that, but it ain’t even about free time. It is about focus. It is about NOT getting distracted by superfluous responsibilities.

For example, you might have 8 hours of free time today, but if you have a trillion things on your mind, that free time is useless. You also need an empty mind.

Free time + empty mind = ideal mental state to philosophize and create art.

Practical tips, techniques, and strategies on how to retire

My thought:

The quickest way to retire is to become self-employed.

I believe it is possible to retire early going through the employed path, but the danger: you get stuck.

Better to become self-employed (sole proprietor) and focus on building your own business or entrepreneurial thing which allows you to earn money by yourself (you don’t desire a paycheck!)

1. Build your own blog

I cannot speak for other strategies, but the simplest one seems to be this:

  1. Build your own blog
  2. Make your blog the #1 for a given genre or niche
  3. Start teaching workshops and selling products
  4. Make enough money to cover your rent, food, and coffee.

2. Reduce your expenses to the bare minimum

To retire, you need the minimum expenses.

As I become older and wiser, I actually REDUCE my expenses.


As I become richer, I become more frugal. And the more frugal I become, the (even more) rich I become.

For example whenever I meet really successful entrepreneurs, they all seem to use really old iPhones or cheap Android devices. Why? They don’t derive self-esteem through gadgets and expensive watches/devices or cars. Most successful entrepreneurs I know drive “whatever” cars, or better yet– don’t even own a car!

I know for myself, some practical tips:

  • Save money on food: When back in the states, I like to crockpot meat which feeds me for very little (I eat mostly eggs and cheap 99 cent a pound pork). I don’t eat lunch, and I rarely eat at restaurants back in the states. And when I go to dinner with Cindy, we often share 1 entree/1 appetizer with one another.
  • Don’t own a car: I encourage living in a situation where you don’t need to become enslaved to a car.
  • Don’t buy anything with credit: Buy everything in cash, or when buying with a credit card (make sure you have enough money in your bank account to pay it off immediately).
  • Don’t have Amazon Prime: When I used to have Amazon prime, I ordered so much shit and wasted so much money. Now that I don’t have Amazon Prime, I buy less stuff, and I save more money.

3. No debt

Of course you gotta have zero debt. Debt is the devil. And I don’t believe in “good debt”. For example, having a mortgage on a home isn’t good. A home mortgage is debt. And if you have any debt, you are enslaved.

After I graduated college, I had around $10,000 of debt (I took out some loans to backpack through Europe, and used some money to buy camera equipment). My first goal was to pay off my debt as quickly as possible. Thus when I started to make money, I aggressively put all my extra money to pay off my debt. Now, I will never put myself in any sucker situation to borrow money. And to my future children, I will teach them:

Never borrow money for anything!

What about ‘passive income’?

Passive income is a fantasy. All income is active.

Even if you got investments, you gotta actively manage them.

Whoever tries to sell you the notion of “passive income” — be extremely suspicious.

Active income is more fun

Not only that, but active income is far more interesting.

And from a philosophical perspective, ACTIVE is always better than passive.

What is money?

John Wick's war chest
John Wick’s war chest

From a philosophical perspective — what is money, and what is money truly useful for?

My thought:

  1. Money is good to buy food (meat) and coffee
  2. Money is good to pay money to have a place to sleep at night

Beyond this, money isn’t that useful.

Philosophically speaking, I believe that money is simply quantified human-social trust/labor exchange. Money is the glue which is the bond of modern society. We use money to get people to do stuff for us that we don’t want to (or cannot) do ourselves.

For example, I cannot grow my own coffee. Thus when I use money to buy coffee, I am paying for the farmers who grow the coffee (and their labor), and paying for the transportation of that coffee to the store.

When I buy a camera or a computer, I am paying for all the engineers who designed the thing, the factory and workers who built it, and for the distribution.

Or when I need someone to do something for me (like paying my tax guy), I pay him money for the TRUST that he will actually do the taxes for me, and I also pay him money for his EXPERTISE.

Thus to me, ultimately money is a symbolic bond between human beings.

Do you care to control other humans?

When people want more money, I think what people ultimately want is more control over other humans.

Why? Because once you have [x] amount of money, you can easily gain self-independence.

But once you got self-independence, what is the purpose of having MORE money? To gain MORE CONTROL over MORE human beings.

For myself, I don’t care to have more control over humans. Why? The more people you have to control, the more you gotta manage. And I hate managing. I prefer to manage myself; not others.

Directing your life until your death

Once you’re retired, essentially the question is this:

How do I desire to use my human metabolism until I die?

For example, it is my personal ambition to live to be 140 years old (in great health). However, it isn’t certain I will live that long. I might die in a car accident, I might get cancer or some heart disease, or I might die in a texting-while-walking accident.

From a philosophical perspective, this adage seems useful:

Save money as if you lived forever, but live as if today were your last day on earth.

To me, it is a combination of “memento mori” (remember that you will and MUST die) and thinking about eternal life.

You might die today

I’ve had a few close encounters where I almost died. For example once when I was driving recklessly, and almost died in a car accident. Or once when I got a pistol drawn on me. Or once when I almost got hit by a car while distracted on my phone (walking while texting).

Now my certain rules:

  1. No texting while walking. No keeping a phone in my front pocket (keeping it in my backpack). If I gotta use my phone, I must stop. No using a phone while walking or moving, and certainly NOT when crossing the street.
  2. No reckless driving (better yet, NOT owning a car seems the safest option).
  3. No driving a motorbike, a bicycle, or motorcycle (one of the easiest ways to die in modern day times)
  4. No skydiving, no bungee jumping, or any “extreme sports” which can actually cause my death.

And now I protect myself from accidental death, the question is:

How should I best utilize today?

Living today

An ideal day of living seems to be a combination of:

  1. Creative production (writing, making photos, making videos, making music, and sharing it).
  2. Publishing to my blog, my website, and sharing ideas which I feel are strong.
  3. Lifting weights, physical exercise, walking
  4. Thinking
  5. Meaningful social interactions with those I love
  6. Some sort of interactions with other humans (the joy of interacting with strangers)
  7. Attempting epic things and epic thoughts

What now?

Now that I feel retired, of course I will still keep teaching workshops, keep making new products (HAPTIC INDUSTRIES), making money, traveling, and being active.

But the difference?

  1. Don’t self-quantify yourself with money (either how much you earn, or how much you got saved up).
  2. Before embarking on any entrepreneurial venture, ask yourself: “Would I still do this if I weren’t paid?” If yes, do it! If no, don’t do it.
  3. I will strive to “live differently”, come up with new epic turbo thoughts which I hope empower others and humanity– and always striving for greater.


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