E150: Is the Retirement Concept a Socialist Idea Doing More Harm than Good?

In this episode, we discuss how the idea of retirement is a socialist concept that is doing more harm than good. We also share how changing your focus to financial independence can create a far more fulfilling life than focusing on the conventional idea of retirement.

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Topics Discussed:

  • Why Rabbi Daniel Lapin boldly claims you should never retire
  • The history of retirement
  • Why people retire and what motivates money managers and Wall Street to keep the idea going
  • The spiritual and emotional toll it takes
  • How folks waste decades of their life laboring under the false ideal and perspective of retirement
  • The perspective and goal that opens opportunities
  • Focusing on financial independence, freedom, and fulfillment

Episode Resources:

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Podcast transcript for episode 150: Is Retirement Concept Socialist Idea?

Nate: In this episode, we discuss how the idea of retirement is a socialist concept that is doing more harm than good, and how changing your focus to financial independence can create a far more fulfilling life than focusing on the conventional idea of retirement. She’s Holly and she helps people find financial freedom.

Holly: He’s Nate. He makes sense out of money. This is Dollars and Nonsense. If you follow the herd, you will be slaughtered.

Nate: All right, well, welcome to the show, Holly. It’s great to be back with you for another episode. This one is going to be a fun one, I think, for the regular listeners. It’s a topic that we’ve hit on a few different times. In fact, we’ve even had a guest rabbi, Daniel Lapin, come on and talk a bit about this as well.

But this is the idea that retirement seems to be doing more harm than good, but we’d like to delve into why Rabbi Lapin talks about retirement in such a poor light, such a foul light, and why he so boldly claims that really, you should never retire. If you’re looking to follow God’s word and do what is right, that the idea of retirement’s not found in there, and that really, it’s… I think if you look at the world, it’s not too difficult to find out that retirement’s doing more harm than good.

We’re going to dive in and talk a lot about why Holly and I believe that you should get rid of retirement from your vocabulary and change your goal to focus instead on financial independence.

Holly: Well, and I think too, Nate, we’re also going to talk about why do people really retire, and what is the motivation behind that retirement, and have we maybe been programmed that that’s what we’re supposed to do, versus that’s not what we really want to do. But in our daily life in society today, it’s kind of like you grow up and you do all these things. You go to learn a trade. You go to college, something like that. Then you go and work. You might raise kids. You might not. But then, the end goal of most of life is, at this certain age, you get to retire and do nothing, which in my viewpoint doesn’t sound that exciting. But I feel like we’re programmed that that’s what we’re supposed to do.

I don’t think that should be our end goal. I don’t think you or I think that should ever be your end goal, is that you finally have arrived, and you, “Oh yeah, I’m retiring.” I think if you love what you do enough, there’s never that desire to want to just walk away from it and leave something that you love or you’re passionate about that brings joy to your life or somebody else’s life.

Nate: Yeah. So, the idea of retirement itself, as we brought up even in the introduction, is really, it’s a socialist idea. It was invented. In other words, it hasn’t been a thing for the past 4,000 years of human history. It’s a relatively new thing. And so, it used to just be, you worked and you produce value, whether it was an agricultural-based society or not, that you had a trade or you were good at something, and you would just do it for as long as your body would let you do it, and then your family would take care of you and so forth after that, and there’s this idea.

We don’t really have to get into that fully, but it really was a, the socialist idea that started out building up in Europe, especially in Germany in the late 1800s, where people were saying, “Hey, you know what would cause more jobs to become available for people and better society?” It was a socialist idea, that we really need to get old people out of the workforce. So, they had a mandatory retirement age. You weren’t even allowed to work after age 65. You had to leave your job to make room for the young folk.

And so, it was a government idea that was not actually based on what would people like? It was based on, we need to do this. And it wasn’t really this dreamy idea of retirement. Hey, you don’t have to work anymore. I’m sure there’s been plenty of people who have said, “Man, I wish I could work.” There’s still companies today that force you to retire. Pension-based companies and union-based companies, that even, we talk about it all the time, who would actually rather keep working with them, but they’re being forced out.

So, the idea is a socialist concept, but it has been hijacked by the money managers of the world, so like Wall Street and the banks, insurance companies, mutual funds. I mean, all of these folks have said, we need to paint this really rosy picture of a retirement and make everybody desire this for themselves. That way, then we can provide the solutions to a problem we’re creating. So, the problem we’re creating is, you need to retire. Let us help you solve the problem and store your money up in these accounts with us. We will invest it for you. We’ll get paid handsomely for our efforts, and we’ve now convinced…

Essentially, the world now is convinced that one of the main reasons to even earn an income in general, and certainly the main reason to save and invest, is solely for this idea of retirement. We feel that that is a shame, and is it is causing problems. It’s causing problems emotionally. It’s causing problems spiritually. But it’s also causing problems financially. All three fronts are under attack, just because this idea has so permeated society.

So, I guess we should, Holly, maybe jump in and ask the question. Well, okay, Nate, all that sounds good. Why is the message of retirement so compelling to begin with?

Holly: Number one, to not do it means you’re stepping outside of the herd mentality, I’m going to say, like stepping outside the box, thinking a little differently. But the other thing is, I think that we are taught, Nate, to go into a job or a situation where, if that’s your end goal, you can deal with a job or something you don’t enjoy for a period of time if you know it’s going to end. It’s almost this innate sense of, hey, you’re too old to do this job. You’re too old to bring value. You’re too old to contribute anymore. Let the younger society kind of take care of you, or the government take care of you in your old age, and let the young people, up and coming, take over, which I think is a completely missed conception. But in my viewpoint, it really is, you need to move out of the way for somebody else to move forward.

Nate: I think one of the big reasons why people retire and why they have this as a big goal is because a lot of us don’t like what we do for a living. And so, essentially what happens though… This is how the world works, is people, they can’t wait for retirement, mainly because they don’t really like what they do. And maybe they do like what they do, they just don’t like having to wake up and go to work, and they don’t like being stuck in a time schedule that they don’t get to set and so forth.

And I empathize with that. That resonates with me as well. But what I’m saying is, the vast majority of people, they don’t really like what they do, but they feel like they really should keep doing it because it’s paying them well. And if it pays me well, then I can store up enough money so one day I can retire.

But the fact that you don’t like what you do and you want to retire… Most of the people who don’t retire are the ones who have found enjoyment in what they do. So, one thing, by the way, that Rabbi Lapin pushes back on, and I totally agree with him, is that really, you need to learn to start enjoying just the practice of producing value to the world.

And so, in other words, some people are like, “Well, I don’t really like my job because of X and X and X.” Well, okay, then get a new one, first off, or change your perspective, because honestly, the idea of retirement itself is this painted picture that is not as good as it’s painted. We’ve been given this idea of retirement mainly as a way for the big money people to make more money off of us. So they convince us all to do it, and they painted a really rosy picture of golden years. And so, people are starting to believe this lie, that it’s actually worth sticking around at a job they don’t like, where it’s a grind every day, just because there’s a carrot at the end that means they can retire.

So first off, one of the big issues with retirement is that for so many people, they waste years of their lives with bad perspectives on work, or simply just in jobs that they hate. So in other words, maybe they would actually really enjoy other things, but they just are worried that they can’t find a job that pays as well, so they’re willing to, or they just waste time here with a bad attitude, a bad perspective. Can’t wait to hang up the hat fully. And so, years and years of their lives are wasted, and likely the very best years of life are wasted, mainly wasted because they think that’s what they have to do in order to achieve this retirement goal that we truly believe is causing more harm than good.

Holly: They might start out liking their job, or this is what you’re passionate about doing, but you enjoy your job, but you don’t understand how you’re fulfilling or contributing to society, what you’re bringing to the table. So, it seems maybe like it becomes mundane because they haven’t found that reality. They haven’t found what they’re contributing, what their role is that’s actually bringing value.

And that’s a piece that’s missing because, they don’t… We’re not trained to ever think about what value am I bringing in general? What value am I bringing to the work I’m doing or the people I’m serving? We’re more just taught to go to work, work really hard Monday through Friday, or whatever your job hours are, but work real hard, and then save up for those vacation days, and then go back and do the same thing all over again, year after year.

Yet, we’re never really invested in asking that question, what am I bringing to the table? What value am I adding? And we’re just taught to work or to learn some trade, and never understand what value or piece of what you’re bringing to the table that is so vital to actually the work that you’re doing.

And so, we’re missing that piece in our society today, is the value that each person brings. And they don’t necessarily feel valued. I’m going to say that, as well. In their work or their job, they don’t feel valued, so they don’t understand how they are adding any value to society.

Nate: Life is fulfilling when you produce value. That there’s something in… that I believe God has planted in all of us, that we are more fulfilled in life when we’re not just playing golf all day. The problem with retirement though, is that it starts to Rob people of that, the idea of fulfillment, because now people really find that they’re just working to achieve a goal of retirement.

And the goal of retirement is not fulfilling. That’s the problem. So, it kind of hijacks this thing, where normally we’re supposed to be producing the value to make us feel good about ourselves, because we are producing value to the world. However, whenever you’re working for retirement, you don’t even really care about the value you produce in the world. You’re mainly, you think you’re just doing it, not for the fulfillment of the labor itself and the value itself, but the fulfillment comes 40 years away when I can finally retire. And I think that’s a shame.

Holly: The reason why is actually, and I just hit me, so I’m going to go off course a little bit here, but we are so ingrained to save for our future, to dump money somewhere that we can’t touch for this golden nest egg, so we can have the most fulfilling time of our life once we retire. And yet, what it really produces is fear that I’m never going to have enough. Am I able to retire? And I’ve got to work even harder while I’m working, just to be able to have this golden time in life of being able to do all these things I couldn’t do while I was working. And what it does is, it defeats that purpose altogether, because you’re not fulfilled in what you’re doing, because you’re working so hard, just hoping that you’re saving enough, or putting enough money, or storing enough money up somewhere else, so that when you finally can retire, you actually don’t have to worry about those things, but instead, you retire and worry about if your money’s running out.

Nate: Yeah. There’s three big ones. Number one, is you often can waste your working career. With the idea of retirement itself and how it’s being painted in society, you can end up wasting your working career, thinking that the value you produce is actually just you making money selfishly.

Instead, you should transition that life is actually fulfilling when you produce value, but it actually gets ruined when you’re actually only working for retirement. Then, you’re not actually producing the value and receiving the fulfillment. It’s kind of a self-centered focus. I’m actually just working so one day I don’t have to anymore, which that’s a bit of a shame. You’re missing out on that.

So, those are the first two points, but then, as Holly brought up, the idea of retirement, I have found, causes more emotional turmoil and fear than it actually does any sort of benefit. Which lends to what you’re saying, Holly, that during someone’s entire working life, there’s this nagging concern. Sometimes it’s worse for others than… for some people than others, but it’s this nagging concern that you are not saving enough, you’re not investing enough, and that one day you won’t be able to retire. So, this nagging concern.

Then, when you actually get to retirement, and you think you’ve done enough, the problem is the concern doesn’t go away, because you’re you sit there continuing to worry, do I actually have enough? Or will the market tank, or the economic conditions be unfavorable? Will inflation skyrocket? I mean, some of those things we’re seeing today. We empathize, and just our heart goes out to the people who had to retire, who retired last year in a bull market, only to find themselves suffering with huge inflation and market turmoil this year.

So then, these fears continue. Will I outlive my money? I think that’s the number one fear of everyone who’s retired financially, is will I outlive my money? Will my money run out? What am I going to do if it does? So during your working life, you’re afraid you won’t have enough, and then while you’re retired, you’re afraid you won’t have enough.

But all of that stems from this idea, that I feel you could just get rid of the idea, and suddenly all of these problems start to go down. I think that some of these problems may still exist in some fashion, but I’m saying they’re way less magnified. They’re way more subtle when you instead focus on what we’ve talked about in the past, which is a goal of not retirement, but of being a wise steward of money, where we live on less than we make, we build wealth. We buy assets, we produce passive income. We do things that are wise with money, not because we are so desperate to leave this world and just go, leave the world of working and just go play golf all the time or sit on the beach all day, every day. That’s not the main point. The main point is to become financially independent.

So, we do have this new idea that I would like to put forth, where financial independence is far more worthy and valuable of a goal than the idea of retirement itself. I guess the difference in perspective is financial independence is not a goal that is built around stopping to produce value in the world, stopping your work in exchange for income. Instead, it is more saying, I would like to get to the point where I’m financially independent, where I’m not actually working because I need to to survive. I’m working because I actually find fulfillment in work.

So, it’s mainly based on a focus to find fulfillment in your work, and if you are finding fulfillment in your work, the goal of retirement won’t actually be a goal, but financial independence will automatically become the goal. So, it’s kind of like the chicken or the engineering. You could choose, whichever one comes first. Either way, it gets you to the same point.

Holly: Yeah, exactly.

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Holly: I think I want to reiterate, we’re not trying to say retirement is bad, but that should not be your end all be all of what you’re looking forward to. I think when you really are passionate about what you do, and you find value in that you’re helping people and achieving something, there’s a joy in the work that you’re doing, and that it’s not a paycheck per se. It’s what you are bringing, the value you are bringing to the work that you are doing in and of itself every day. And I mean, we joke about my dad, Nate, but he has said, he would rather be on his deathbed, pretty much, doing a new policy or a signing that, versus sitting somewhere and doing nothing, you know?

Nate: Yeah. Of all the people who are truly financially independent and do not need to work, but are still working as hard as ever and having as much fun doing it, Ray Poteet is number one on that list, the founder of our company, for sure. The idea of retirement has never been a part of his goal, part of his desire. He’s always just enjoyed meeting with clients, meeting new people, talking about infinite banking and strategies.

And so, what I’m saying is, some of you would hate our lives. In other words, what we do for a living, some of you are like, man, that sounds awesome. I really wish I could do what you do, Nate. Other of you are like, man, that sounds like a living hell. I do not want to do, I don’t want to meet people and talk about financial concepts and numbers. 

But what I’m saying is, we do find fulfillment in it. In other words, but there are things that you do. Like my wife, she can spend all day every day with children and get up excited for the next day, can’t wait, and that’s her choice. I couldn’t be an elementary school teacher or something like that. Or if I did, man, I would be stressed out all the time, I feel like.

What I’m saying is, though, the goal of working though, you should do a couple of things as a focus. Find something that you are uniquely good at, or that you would like to become good at, spend some time becoming good at it, and then start doing that in exchange for income, and suddenly you’ll realize that you are enjoying the fulfillment of actually providing a value to the marketplace, and then the idea of saving won’t be because you desperately want to leave your job one day. The goal of saving will be to build wealth, to be a good steward and to become financially independent.

But the idea of leaving work will actually… Or, the idea of getting retirement gone will actually get rid of you wasting your career, your working career life, focus on a goal that I feel like is producing more harm than good. Many times, we can erase the fear of not having enough for retirement, and when you get older and you’re into retirement age, you won’t have the fear of running out of money, because your main desire is to continue to produce value to the world for as long as possible.

And you’ll get rid of this, the lack of fulfillment that working solely for a paycheck often produces in someone’s life, which retirement is the cause for that, for the vast majority of people, which is essentially, I have to do this. I’m really only doing this for a paycheck, and I only need the paycheck at this level of income because it allows me to save money, which I’m then going to use to retire, so I don’t need to earn any more money. That whole process robs you of the natural fulfillment that God’s built in to producing value.

So, financial independence in every way, I feel, is a more worthy goal than the idea of retirement, and that really, we would all do ourselves a favor if we started to pick the weeds out of our brain that retirement has put in, and instead focus on financial independence and wealth building and good stewardship as the reason that we are saving and building assets.

Holly: What Nate and I really are trying to say is, don’t let what society tells us is the norm of you’ve only got to work this long, and oh, I’m good. I mean, Nate, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this in the last, probably 6-9 months, but like, oh, I want to retire early. I’m never going to be able to retire early. I wanted to retire early. I’ve been in a job, literally having met clients that have been in jobs 23 years, 19 years, and their whole end in mind was, in the next 3-4 years, I’m going to be able to retire. That was what they were working towards, you know? I’m going to have this nest egg, I’m going to be able to do this other stuff that I want to do. And then have just said, oh, I’m, I’m never going to be able to retire. Like, I lost $25,000 in the last month because of what was in my retirement program and how it’s tied to the stock market.

And so, I think that robs them of the joy. When you’re in a job, only looking towards when can I get out of it? When can I stop doing it? You maybe want to switch jobs, or figure out where that fulfillment is, because if you’re only looking towards two years down the road, 10 years down the road, as long as I can make it to there, then I can retire, then you’re going to be missing out on all the value and the joy you can bring, that only you uniquely can bring to the world and to society today, versus I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do.

Nate: And I think one thing I would like to, as we’re starting to close down, one thing I’d like to mention too, is that there is also this idea that permeates that it is somehow more noble to do volunteer work than it is to do work that produces an income. And I think Rabbi Lapin does a very good job. If you haven’t listened to any of Rabbi Lapin’s material, I think you really should. He does a very good job dispelling that, that just because someone gets paid for what they do does not actually make them less noble than someone who volunteers.

So, I’ve talked to a number of people who use this as a crutch. So, essentially what they say is, “Well, Nate, I’m only building up to retire because I want to be able to do more charity work.” It’s the same thing. And what I mean by that is, they’re essentially saying one thing, “I’m working for a paycheck. I’m going to waste my working career. I can’t wait to get out, because when I do get out, then I can finally start doing charity work, which is more noble, more righteous in some way than the work that I’m doing here at my current job.”

And I think Rabbi Lapin does a great job saying, really, you ought to think of work as a calling from God, that he’s called us to work, that it is noble and righteous to work, whether you’re getting paid or not, and it’s not more noble to volunteer. And I think many of us use that as a crutch, saying, “Well, if I didn’t have to work, then think of all the mission work I could do, and I’d volunteer here and there.” That’s all great. I mean, go for it. I’m just simply saying, don’t use it as a crutch, or as a cloud or a covering. The truth is, you just want to retire because you don’t like what you’re doing, and so forth.

So, I wanted to make that known, that I don’t believe that people who are really good at what they do should hang up the hat just so they can go volunteer. Trust me, if you’re good at what you do, you can earn enough income to pay a whole bunch of people to do volunteer work, and fund a whole bunch more missions where people who are probably better than you are going to go out and do those things, and you can actually just do what you are called to do, which might be to produce value to the world.

So, it’s not more noble to retire just so you can, quote-unquote, “volunteer” someplace. Go ahead and keep working, and fund missions, and fund things, fund causes that you care about with the income that it produces. Don’t use it as a crutch or like a pretend reason, per se.

Now, I don’t mean to be harsh, you know what? I’m just saying, I’m sure some people really do feel like God’s calling them to leave their workplace to go volunteer somewhere. And I love that. I’m just merely saying, avoid the idea of saying, “I can make retirement seem more holy, and seem like a God-given idea,” which it’s not, by saying I can do more volunteer work if I retire. I think that’s a bit of an off-base concept, there. So, man, I don’t know how we ended up there, but here we are, Holly. Anything else we should go over, you think?

Holly: Ask yourself, why are you working towards retirement? Just ask yourself why you’re doing that. Is it because that’s truly something you’re passionate about doing? Or is it because that’s what you believe you’re supposed to do? Because I don’t see where retirement ever comes into play, because I mean, it kind of is what Rabbi Lapin says. It doesn’t exist biblically, but it doesn’t even exist in the Hebrew language, that word, retirement. It’s a word we created to get you to do something that I don’t think is what we’re ever designed to do, ever in this life.

I think when you find what you truly enjoy and you’re passionate about, and that you know without a shadow of a doubt, you’re bringing value to people, there’s no hunger to want to look for something else to do, or when can I stop doing this? I don’t think that’s ever been a question in my mind, Nate. When can I stop helping people, or serving people, or bringing financial freedom? That’s never been a thought process in my brain. When can I stop doing this? I actually feel like it’s a privilege that I get to do.

Nate: Which I think is good. I mean, I would say, I wish I was good as you. I think I definitely had the idea of retirement for years. I mean, the idea that it was something I was shooting for. And I realized myself running into the same fears of, am I just working for a paycheck? Am I just working so I can earn enough money to retire? Am I going to waste the next 20, 30 years of my working life, just to one day retire?

I saw myself running into the fears that we talked about, where, well, what if I don’t save enough, and I retire and I run out? And even me being young, I remember seeing this, and I was like, you know what, Nate? Let’s just get rid of this. If I got rid of the idea of retirement, I could enjoy walking in every day, knowing I’m doing this just to help people.

I’m going to do that for as long as I can. I’m going to find fulfillment in it. I don’t plan on leaving. But I would say that now my goal is truly, I would say, more on the line of financial independence. Of course, I’m going to be a good steward with money. I’m going to invest. I’m going to buy assets. I’m going to save money. I’m going to build policies. At my current trajectory, I could technically probably retire in five, 10 years, pretty easily, without trying too hard. But of course, I would never do that. I think it’s, that would be a shame and a waste of what I feel God has given me to do.

All that to say, there’s certainly some issues with retirement. Retirement is not a God-given idea. It’s a manmade idea. Especially a socialist idea that’s been hijacked by money managers, to brainwash us into believing it’s good. But with it comes a whole bunch of baggage, that if you’re carrying with, I think that if you change your perspective to a focus on financial independence, and to see your work as noble and as something God has called us to do, that suddenly you can take back a level of fulfillment that maybe we’ve lost because of this concept, and truly live life with less fear, financial fear, without the idea of retirement plaguing you.

And last thing, you’ll certainly leave a far greater legacy for your children if you don’t spend your last 30 years of life drawing down your assets and spending all of that income just to cover your lifestyle. You’ll leave far more for future generations, and possibly could do even greater things for the Kingdom of God. So, that was fun, holly.

Holly: That was.

Nate: I know we’ve been here longer than maybe we thought we would, but I think we probably better close it down now.

Holly: Yes.

Nate: Well, thank you guys for spending the time with us. This has been Dollars and Nonsense. If you follow the herd, you will get slaughtered.

Holly: For free transcripts and resources, please visit livingwealth.com/e150.

Announcer: Listeners, one last thing before you go. Start your journey towards financial security and wealth today. Visit livingwealth.com/beatinflation. You’ll gain instant free access to the beginner’s course ray, Nate and Holly made just for you. Again, that’s livingwealth.com/beatinflation.