A 31-year-old who left her 9-5 with $1 million says most people have the same misconception about retirement

Kristy shen 2CBCKristy Shen, pictured here on CBC, says people don’t realise how much it costs them to work.

Kristy Shen may be the youngest retiree in Canada.
In 2015, the 31-year-old retired from her job as a computer engineer with $US1 million in the bank. Now, she travels the world with her husband Bryce.

On an episode of Farnoosh Torabi’s podcast So Money, the blogger behind Millennial Revolution explained how she got to $US1 million in savings, how she’s structured her portfolio, and how she plans to support herself for the next 50 years.

To Shen, “retirement” doesn’t limit you to lounging on a beach. It simply means “you don’t need to work anymore because the passive income from your portfolio pays for your living expenses so you can actually choose to work or not to work at that point,” she told Torabi.

However, Shen has found that retirement isn’t necessarily as expensive as you might think.

“I also found that, actually, people don’t realise how much money they’re paying to work, like it’s ridiculous,” she told Torabi on the podcast. “How much money you’re paying on commuting to work everyday? How money you have to pay for buying professional clothing and dry cleaning? For people who have kids, how much money they have to pay for daycare and childcare?”

“One of the things that people don’t realise until after they reach higher is that their costs go down, because all of those costs that are associated with working completely disappear.”

Costs might go down, but that’s only if you’re thoughtful about where you spend. Shen said that to live off dividend income (or other savings and investments) flexibility is key. “What are some of the things that you have to be aware of once you ‘retire?'” Torabi asked. “What are these things that you find are necessary to have in place and also to be comfortable with from a lifestyle perspective? What do you have to give up?”

Here’s Shen:

“I don’t think it’s so much giving up, it’s more like being flexible and then also prioritising the things that matter and then not caring about the things that don’t matter. What I mean by that is after we retired, not being fixed to the fact that like, I have to live in Toronto or I have to live in San Francisco or somewhere really expensive. I’m ok, because were no longer tied to a job.”

Listen to the full podcast ยป

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