An enjoyable mini retirement requires serious planning

Are you ready to leave your job, ride off into the sunset and devote time and energy to more personally meaningful pursuits?

If you answered yes but are still 20 to 30 years away from a traditional retirement, you may want to consider taking a “mini retirement.”

Unfamiliar with this concept? Author Tim Ferriss created and defined it in his book “The 4-Hour Workweek.” Essentially, mini retirements are a series of intentional breaks throughout your career, rather than one final retirement after a life of labor. This is different from a sabbatical or unpaid leave. We’re talking about a clean break from your employer, followed at a later date by reentering the labor market or maybe starting the business you’ve always dreamed of having.

Sounds exciting, right?

Well, before taking the plunge and drafting your resignation letter, it’s important to understand that mini retirements are not without drawbacks. Financial barriers usually represent the biggest obstacle, as taking six months to a year out of the labor market is expensive and requires significant planning. It can take years to save and pay down enough debt for a mini retirement to be financially feasible. But if you’re enamored with the idea, here are some considerations.

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First, you need to have a solid understanding of your budget. This includes housing costs, utilities, food, transportation, insurance and debt service, among others. Debt can really put a damper on mini-retirement goals, since payments related to student loans, auto loans and credit cards tend to have a major impact on cash flow. Before embarking on a mini retirement, you should work to pay off debts that require substantial payments each month. Being debt-free is the ideal scenario.

Budgeting, frankly, is the easy part. The real challenge is saving enough funds (in addition to long-term retirement savings) to pay for a mini retirement. This can take years of dedication and discipline to accomplish. Those who have gone down the path before recommend setting aside 30 percent to 40 percent of your income just for a mini retirement — a noble but challenging target. For most people this would require substantial changes to their current standard of living.

Another significant hurdle is finding and affording health insurance. In several states private insurance is no longer available, leaving as the only option.

To that point, the average premium for single-coverage health insurance now stands at $440/month ($5,280/year), according to the 2018 Health Insurance Price Index Report from A family that needs coverage is faced with an average premium of $1,168/month (more than $14,000/year).

To make matters more complicated, these figures represent only the monthly premiums for what are often high-deductible plans. The average deductible stands at $4,578 for an individual and $8,803 for family coverage. Being healthy goes a long way toward keeping mini-retirement costs down, so keep taking those daily vitamins.

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