How I Accidentally Had 8 Months Of Mini-Retirement

The thing that I now am dreaming of, was already my reality a little while ago. As with many things, we are only appreciating them looking back. You’re probably wondering what I’m talking about? I’m talking about my mini-retirement of course!

Until now I saw my mini-retirement as a long holiday, just me wanting to travel and searching for a job, but I’ve actually already tested what retirement looks like.

In September 2017, I graduated and took off for South America. I traveled 4 months through Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, which was truly amazing. It was my big dream to travel for a couple of months. I had this burning desire since I started studying, so I am extremely happy and grateful that I got to experience that.

Besides that, I also gained a lot of confidence from that trip – making me realize what the 8 months of mini-retirement have given me.

My Why For Mini-Retirement

Ever since I’ve studied a semester in the US, I wanted to travel again. I love the feeling of freedom when I travel!

I was thinking of cheap countries – so either South America or Asia. Then I saw Narcos, you know the Netflix series about Pablo Escobar, and that made me want to visit Colombia.

Yes, Narcos made me want to visit Colombia. Not run away from Colombia. It didn’t make me scared, it actually made me visit this country.

I mean, I saw the landscapes that were filmed in Narcos, and it was so so beautiful, that it made me want to go there and see it up close. So what I took from Narcos was the landscapes, yeah, really!

On top of that, some of my friends were going to South East Asia. I’m always one to go against the herd, so why would that be any different this time? I wanted to go and do this adventure alone. I had a feeling that traveling would be different when you go alone, compared to you constantly being around someone you’re comfortable with. And I was right!

So let’s dive into things, and break down the steps that make you able to reach your mini-retirement! But first, let’s debunk some myths people have around mini-retirement.

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Myths Out There around Mini-Retirement

1. You Have To Earn A Lot Of Money

Many people think that you need to earn a lot of money in order to have a mini-retirement. Very much not so, like I outlined above; I was a student before I had my mini-retirement. I had around €13k yearly income while having all the student expenses, which means; if I can do it that you can do it too!

The important thing is to become equipped to live within your means. If you’re having a hard time to do that, read my article on how to save money here for some actionable steps regarding saving enough money.

If you’re having a full-time income, I’m sure you can live on half your income. Why? Because I save over 50% of my income, and so can you!

2. You Can’t if You’re Employed

One of the most common things that I hear around mini-retirement, it’s that they are employed and therefore they cannot take a mini-retirement. But as with anything, there are many options!

You can negotiate with your employer, which is exactly what I am doing – since I’m planning to go on another mini-retirement this September. This one will probably be around 4 months. Many employers also have some kind of sabbatical program that you can use, which will be a great option!

I’ve outlined this many times already, but I will just continue to repeat myself; all you have to do it ask!

If you can’t negotiate it with your employer, you can plan accordingly if you’re switching jobs or you can save up all your holidays and make them into one long holiday!

I’ve negotiated my mini-retirement with my employer, and I’ve outlined the steps so you can do the same!

3. You Will Postpone Your Financial Independence

If financial independence is what most important to you, you don’t have to take your mini-retirement. Just know that you can!

You can opt for traveling to cheaper countries, where you’ll spend around the same as you spend per month living in the US or Europe.

I also want to stress that it’s really important to enjoy the moment. Go follow your dreams! Currently I’m having all my finances in order. All I have to do it wait. I can tell you, that I’m getting very impatient toward early retirement. Can I retire already?! It’s good to do many fun things in the time between now and your retirement, whenever that may be!

The point is to make choices to make your present self happy as well, not just your future self!

How Can You Take A Mini-Retirement?

1. Surprise: It’s All About The Habits

For starters, I did plan my mini-retirement a long time ago. I’ve been working around 20 hours per week since I started studying, adding up to about €700 per month. On top of that, I would take out a study loan that the government offers against a really lowinterest rate! (It’s currently 0% – that’s why I’m not paying my student loans back in 2019).

This means that I had around €1600 coming into my account monthly, of which I used about half. The other half I would save for my study abroad adventure.

I wanted to have at least €10,000 in my savings account before I went to the US, so that I didn’t have to skip due to too little money. The idea of being abroad and having to think about if I should spend my money or not doesn’t really appeal to me – if I want it, I’ll buy it. I am a naturally frugal person, so this works for me!

After I’ve studied in the US, I started to save again immediately, because I wanted to travel again. It’s kinda addicting, in a good way! I did an internship for €450 per month (read the story here why I didn’t get €750 like my peers). Also, I worked around 20 hours per week – still. I saved about 800€ per month for a good 7 months, because I didn’t have any time to spend the money that I earned.

So, what did do it for me? I got into the habit of saving. Not eating out more than 2x per month, living in a student apartment, cooking my own meals, and more. If you are wondering how to save more money, check this article listing 25+ easy ways to save money!

2. You’re More Important Than The Social Norms

If you want to take a mini-retirement, it means that you’re ready to step outside the social norms. If you want to live an extraordinary life, you need the courage to do extraordinary things.

Spend money on things that are in line with your values, spend time on the things that will enable you to get closer to your dreams!

If you’re working hard throughout the year, don’t you want more than just have 3 weeks of summer holiday? I know I do!

Think about what you want. Do you want to meditate with the monks in Asia? Or do you want to volunteer in Africa? Do you want to backpack across South America? Go for it!

Life is too short to wait until you have to money or wait until you have the time. If you set attainable goals, figure out how much it will cost you, you will be able to save for it. You will be able to go for whatever it is you want!

3. Break It Down Into Bit-Sized Pieces

If you want to take a mini-retirement, where you take a few months up to a year off work, is it attainable? Effectively it won’t cost you that much, since you can take up a combination of your own time and your vacation days.

Let’s say that I want to have 3 months of off work. I’ll take 5 weeks of holidays which leaves 1 month and 3 weeks. That’s 1 month and 3 weeks you need to go by.

What I did was travel during that time – especially countries that are much cheaper are very good to go to. When I went to South America, I spent an average of €1000 per month – including going to the Galapagos Islands. On the Galapagos, I spent €1000 for 2 weeks, so that ups my budget a lot.

Total of €4000 for 4 months of traveling, that’s not too bad, right? I mean, you could totally pull it off!

Get A Broader View

If you’re not sure where you want to go in life, I highly commend a mini-retirement. It has brought me so much – clarity, motivation, relaxation, learning experiences, having the best memories and meeting people that felt like a lost family.

When you’re taking the step back from the day-to-day life, and you’re taking the helicopter view – things can work out pretty well for you. If you’re not sure where you want to go, don’t worry you’ll get there!

Pursue Your Dreams

It’s just so so important to pursue your dreams – even the small things are what will count in the end.

I’ve made my dream trip. I’m not special, I consider myself very average.

I’m just prepared to live life outside of the norm, whatever that may mean.

I just do whatever the hell I want, just because I want it. It doesn’t matter what others think about you, in the end, it’s your life that you’re living.

What is your big dream that you want to pursue?

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