Going Back to School as a Retirement Plan

by Mr. Cheap

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I’ve been considering a bit of a funny idea for what to do with my retirement: go get a PhD.

Back when I did my Masters, I really enjoyed the day-to-day of being a grad student. Investigating an incredibly detailed area of study and getting to the point where only a handful of people in the world could knowledgeably discuss the issues I was investigating was definitely a fun, cool way to spend a couple of years.

One area I didn’t like was having the profs treat us with contempt. Graduate students are like teenagers in a family, you want to be taken seriously, but your supervisor (parent) occasionally makes a comment that makes it QUITE clear they don’t.

One big benefit to grad school is that here in Canada you get enough funding to cover tuition and a modest lifestyle (some of my friends were able to afford to run cars while doing grad work). Currently grad funding would more then cover the “spread” between my passive income and my expenses (in fact I think I quite easily live off of my grad funding, and just let my passive investments compound for the 5-7 years I’d be working on my PhD).

The other considerations are if my desired lifestyle suddenly spiked during my studies I might be bummed out living like a starving student (I think this is unlikely).

Its definitely something to consider (finding a “fun” job, even if it doesn’t pay very well to start my “retirement”). This would help me test to make sure I can live off of what I’ve set aside. Additionally, it’d build up a buffer to deal with any unexpected emergencies (dividend cuts, rampant inflation or some such things).

One of the other big benefits during an “early retirement” is if you discover you’re falling short of what you need to live the life you want, you can always go back to work! (much harder at 70!).

Other “retirement jobs” I’m considering are some sort of technical liason with an overseas company (maybe China?), publishing (starting or writing for a magazine or self-publishing some books like John T. Reed), property management (develop my real estate skills on someone elses dime) and working for a non-profit (high pay and low stress, what’s not to love?).

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1

No one believes me when I say this, but if I won the lottery, I would go back to school.

I’d find some discipline that I think is interesting but not necessarily employable and/or easy, and then I’d take my time getting a MA or PhD in it. Art history, or chemistry, or something completely random that I’ve always found interesting.

It’s amazing how liberating and enjoyable it is to learn for the sake of learning when you don’t have to worry about marks and/or paying for it.

That honestly sounds like tons of fun to me. Combine the “student lifestyle” with immersing myself in learning about a topic purely for my own enjoyment. That, plus copious amounts of travel and writing, sounds like an ideal way to spend a life to me.

2

Yeah, that’s totally my feeling too! You have to do *something* with your time (drinking coffee and reading would probably get boring after 8 months or so), and learning for the sake of learning sounds pretty good to me!)

3

Growth in Value…I believe you! That sounds like a wonderful way to spend your free time. And you’re right, they’re be a whole lot more enjoyment in school work if you really didn’t have to worry about employability.

My 1st degree (Biology) was pretty enjoyable at times. I didn’t worry much about job prospects or grades. I feel like I learned a lot more about some pretty cool stuff than when I later did my Engineering degree – which was all about getting a good job when i was done.

4

Oh my! A phd in retirement? Wow :) I have just finished my phd and well… I want to yell “Don’t do it!!!” at anyone who suggests it at this point, but I realize that this is not constructive, and really not the point of what you were saying. The condescending attitude of academia definitely was an overwhelming negative, and yes, once I was deep into the phd my student debts did creep up even though my tuition was being paid.

The flip side is, as you said, becoming an expert in a subject, and in fact many subjects since most universities require comprehensive exams in addition to a defense. The comprehensive exam broadened my knowledge on a number of areas related to my research that I might not have explored otherwise.

And besides, once you get through any regrets fade away once you realize you met the challenge (I still am in shock I did it).

I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the subject though, good luck if you ever do decide to pursue that avenue!

5

that seems to be everyone’s responses who has completed a PhD. Did you do a Masters as well? How did you feel between the two degrees?

You seem nice, any chance you’re looking to supervise someone? ;-)

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