lorena & nadine working

There’s a fundamental shift in my retirement plans!

A $30 fee for membership* to a “backpackers” site and POOF! my retirement plans have fundamentally changed forever!

*this magical site? – more on this later…

I realized years ago that I would never have the ‘traditional’ retirement…for many reasons, not the least of which, was the fact that I forgot to save any money!!! Duh!

I played hard and worked hard but spent harder – living paycheque to paycheque most, if not all of my life.  My ‘job security’ mindset was “I can always get another job!” so I never worried about saving money.

Don’t get me wrong – there’s not much I would change – I’ve had an amazing, fun, adventurous life; however, it’s also been fraught with the inevitable stress of always been on the financial ‘edge’.  At one point I know for a fact, I was paying more interest every month on consumer debt, then most average people earn in a month…disastrous to say the least.

I lived the life of a duck – calm and smooth on the surface, but paddling like hell under water to stay afloat!

But in the end, when the “end” came and I finally succumbed to my own stress and craziness, I sought professional financial help from the amazing team at Creditaid…the pain stopped, the stress subsided over time, and for the first time in many years, the end of the month didn’t arrive full of terror and anxiety.  No one would be calling me for late payments, no one would be need to be cajoled into accepting a fraction of the amount due, which just prolonged the agony and the stress of having the same discussion weeks later.

Living a cash life is so much easier in so many ways…you either have it or you don’t – simple!  No ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’….no cash, no life.

Traveling in Central America for a year has opened my eyes even further to the simplicity of living a cash life.  Everything here is cash whether you are a backpacker here for night, or an established restaurant receiving your biweekly beer or Pepsi order – all expected to be paid in full, in cash, upon delivery.  Quite simple really.


The trick will be to maintain the habit when I return to Canada – life of Interac and credit cards.  Pushing that plastic across the counter or table seems a lot less painful then digging in and actually counting out dollars and cents.  Unfortunately, pushing the plastic also makes it easier to loose track of prices and expenses and therefore it becomes much easier to over spend.

But I digress.  What is this amazing magical site?


It just doesn’t get much easier than this.  Plug in a country or city, add a few key words to the host list search, and in seconds you’ll have 10’s and 100’s of enterprising businesses and ‘hosts’ looking to have you stay with them for weeks or months, willing to provide you with accommodations and most often 3 meals a day – all in exchange for 5-6 hours a day of work.

WORK?  I can hear you saying “Nadine, what’s with the WORK word – I thought retirement meant NO work”… hang on…hear me out.

Hostal Casa Seibel - Xela, Guatemala

One ‘job’ might be ‘working’ from 5pm – 10pm each day as a night manager at a hostel in a beautiful colonial city in Guatemala.  This involves very strenuous duties such as chatting and dining with amazing travellers from all over the world, arranging (and enjoying) hikes and activities with guests (yes, those same incredibly interesting and adventurous ones from all over the world!), and welcoming late arrivals and getting them settled after their most often long day of travelling.

workaway home in BelizeAnother job might be living on a private island off the coast of Belize, schlepping your daily quota of coral off the beach into a lagoon in the centre of the island – and in doing so helping the owner with the construction and development of her soon to be day resort and hostel.

And still another might be living in a small town on the south coast of Mexico, spending your days at your host dive shop selling (and enjoying) dive courses and tours and working on the owner’s social media in your spare time.

Recently Sam and I had the pleasure (and challenge) of creating a marketing video for a gorgeous hostel in Valladolid, Mexico – in exchange for our accommodations!  Not only the best hostel we’ve ever stayed in, but an amazing family and city as well!

Hostel Candelaria Video

Oh, and by the way, MANY hosts accommodate and look for couples as workers, especially in hostel management and B&B situations.

So, call me crazy, but I’m suggesting that retirement might include working for a living – in some way shape or form.  Not always, but periodically.

I firmly believe that by interspersing the weeks or months of relaxing, golfing, visiting family or however you view your retirement days – with weeks or months of “work” – you will enjoy a longer, healthier, and more satisfying retirement, AND at a fraction of the cost!

Think about it, if your meagre government pension pays you $1200, and you maybe top it off with another $300 from savings, you now have to live on $18,000 per year.  I’m guessing that after rent, food and basic daily expenses, there’s not alot left for golfing, shopping or world travel.

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to many, many, MANY more years of working and playing – and you may be left wondering, at any given time, which I’m currently enjoying!