Planning to Make Work Optional


I am 45 now, and I love what I do, where I work, and the city I live in.  Yet, I still want to know when I’ll have the freedom to stop working. However, the nest egg target that I keep in my head isn’t synced up to that point in time. It’s my WOFI number, and it arrives much sooner. Here’s what it is and why it relaxes me a lot more than knowing how much I need to save in order to retire.

WOFI refers to “work optional, financially independent.” Yes, I’m partially borrowing from the FIRE (financially independent, retire early) movement. WOFI, however, is the point in time where I’ll probably keep working but will have the option to stop or try something different. I’ll have enough, based on my standard of living today, not what I need to live my ideal life.  In the future, I’ll probably want to keep working in order to keep a sense of purpose in my life and to further enhance my standard of living.


The R-word (retirement) feels too final and unrealistic for me at this point in my life, so building a long-term financial roadmap for myself that assumes I’ll work into my 60s or 70s gives me some clarity about what lies ahead, but it doesn’t add a sense of calm. I’ve witnessed that type of calm countless of times with clients in their 50s or 60s who just want to make sure they’re making the smartest financial decisions possible as they wind down their career and shift gears into their version of retirement.

Now that I’m a homeowner and in the middle phase of my career, I know how much I’d want to be able to spend to at least maintain a minimum type of lifestyle.  But, my WOFI number can also help hedge against a few of the big unknowns that have nothing to do with my job stability. While I love what I’m doing now, how can I know that I’ll feel this way in 10 or 15 years? How do I know my partner and I won’t want to relocate for work reasons or because we tire of this nutty city?  What if I get the itch to follow through on some wacky idea for a new business? All of these are seriously unlikely to happen, but I’d like to be prepared for the possibility. If I was pondering a life change before reaching my WOFI moment, it might cause me some stress – not so much after I reach it.

I’m also fully aware that what I view as enough today may not land for me a decade from now. My colleague, Spencer, shared a story of a client many years ago. Spencer was all jazzed for the meeting where he was going to share the great news. His client had just achieved his primary financial objective of doubling his assets because that’s what he felt needed to happen in order to reach financial independence. Only, it wasn’t enough. This was an end goal for him initially but it ended up being a career intermission for a point where he could probably have stopped but opted to keep going.

Who is this for?

This is for anyone, likely between ages 40 and 60, who has that little voice suggesting that there may be another interesting chapter between your primary career and the point where working just doesn’t make much sense. It also has the added benefit of being a really straight forward and simple way to plan for the future if you go deer-in-headlights at the idea of tracking the details of your spending.

Your Minimum Desired Lifestyle Figure

How do you figure out your WOFI number? Let’s say that I want my WOFI figure to provide at least $80,000 per year. A portfolio worth $2 million should be able to support that kind of cash flow need. I touched on my 3% spending rule in my article, Long-term saving for the short-term worker. In this case, I’m assuming that I can withdraw as much as 4% of my nest egg when my WOFI moment happens. Talk to your Abacus advisor to see what’s possible for you.

As of now, I want my WOFI moment to arrive within 10 years, but I’ll always know where I am in relation to my WOFI goal and can adjust how much I save and spend today if I want to accelerate it. Thankfully, I am in no rush to reach either a WOFI moment or a retirement. But I’ve always believed in the under-promise, over-deliver philosophy, so maybe this is just my goofy way of exercising that. It must be working because I never felt compelled to create a long-term financial projection for myself. But I‘m loving this shorter one.

Happy planning,