“I never want to retire”

Published on: 21 May 2021

How do you deal with work and money for now and for the future? Do you live day by day or are you consciously planning your future? And are you making arrangements for your future yourself, or are you part of a pension fund?

Five years ago, Dorothée Loorbach was broke, but she figured out how to come back stronger.


Dorothee Loorbach (45)

Profession: independent writer, speaker, up-and-coming theater producer

Hours of work weekly: maximum 28, but is really always “on”

Income: 2,200 Euros net

Savings: 3,000 Euros

Pension arranged? More or less


Writer, speaker, up-and-coming theater producer; it sounds like you don’t sit still much.

“That’s right. I do a lot of different things. I just finished writing a children’s book and I’m now working on a poetry collection as well as on a book I want to publish in English and in Dutch. I’m also creating a theater performance in collaboration with a poet/singer-songwriter, which has been postponed twice now, because of Covid. And usually they hire me there as a regular speaker, but that is also not really happening now, due to Covid.”


Aren’t you working 24 hours a day with all those different jobs?

“I don’t work more than 28 hours a week for clients. I made that agreement with myself. I didn’t want the time I spend working to interfere with my spending time with my kids. But it’s true; I’m always busy. I never leave home without a notebook, so I can write down all my ideas. Sometimes I really have to switch myself off. But I don’t mind that, because I’m doing what I love.”


How much money do you make with that?

“Because I’ve been getting fewer assignments than before and because a lot of things have been canceled, it feels like I haven’t been making much. But now that I look at my overview, I can see that this past year has effortlessly been my best year since 2014. I think that’s because I got paid a lot more than before for the assignments I did get. I started asking for more money and I got it. Out of my income, I pay myself a salary of 2,200 Euros a month.”


Is that enough?

“More than enough. Everything I pay myself, I spend. That in itself is a luxury for me. I came from a situation where I couldn’t even spend half of that, and I got by then too. Now I buy what I want, but I have taught myself not to need that much. The fact that the world is on lockdown helps. And with anything I have left I make extra mortgage payments.”


What kind of situation do you come from?

“I started working for myself fifteen years ago in the world of advertising, as a copywriter and later as a brand builder. I was working up to eighty hours a week and made a lot of money, but I spent it all too. When I suddenly got a big tax bill in 2016, I instantly lost my buffer. I didn’t have a penny left – okay,  € 3.97 to be exact. I had never had any money problems and suddenly they were controlling my life.”


How did you get out of that situation?

“I decided to do everything possible to be free of money worries within a year. Partially by writing a book about it, Blut (Broke), which I started selling as pre-orders. I interviewed the most successful entrepreneurs I knew and immediately applied their lessons to my own life. After six months, I no longer had any money issues. The book, ultimately, is not about money, but about value. I learned to assess my own value and now I ask for enough money for what I do.”


And do you have a new buffer now too?

“I had €30,000 in savings, but it’s only 3,000 now. I invested almost all of it in the publication of my first book and used it to ‘buy time’ to be able to write. In addition to my savings account, I also have an emergency account, with not much in it and a vacation account with about €1500 in it. Plus a few investment pots.”


What do you invest in?

“I invest defensively in index funds through a pension fund, €3000 at the moment. With Peaks, an app where you invest with change, I have a ‘spicy’ package. That means I take a little more risk. I’ve got 2500 in there now. Plus I have some crypto coins: bitcoin, ethereum and cardano. My crypto portfolio is worth €25,000 right now, and I invested €7,000. I’m only sorry I didn’t get into it sooner. Someone told me about bitcoin back in 2015. If I had invested €100 then, I wouldn’t have to work anymore now. But if I don’t understand something, it scares me, so then I don’t do it. I missed out on a lot of opportunities that way.”


What are your fixed expenditures?

“My mortgage is € 470 a month. And I spend € 224 on energy, € 350 on insurances and € 55 on subscriptions.”


What else do you spend a lot of money on?

“I spend quite a bit on groceries; about €500 a month, because I want to eat as fresh and healthy as possible. I also spend a lot of money on books, especially books on personal development. And now that I’m working on a poetry collection, I’m buying more poetry too. But that’s tapering off, because you can just go to the library for that.”

My pension is mostly in investments. That is a bit risky.

You are “part-time retired”. What does that mean?

“It means that I can do what I want most of the time. I’m not quite there yet, financially, but I’m now making more, working 28 hours a week, than I was four years ago, working eighty hours a week.”


What do you have set up for your “full-time retirement”?

“My pension is largely in investments. That is a bit risky. In addition, I want to create as much passive income as possible. Once you have written a book, printed it, and published it, you can keep selling it, in principle. I try, as much as possible, not to be dependent on the hours I work.”


Will you have enough to get by in the future?

“I think so, but I’m not totally sure of that. If all the stock markets collapse and crypto turns out to be a bubble, I will have a problem. If my book doesn’t sell, I also have a problem. I had to sell 1200 copies of my book Blut before I made a profit. Making money by writing books seems to be an illusion, but I really believe it is possible. Although, it’s a lot easier as a speaker: I get paid around talk for an hour. That’s a good way to build up a buffer.”


How much do you want your pension to be every month when the time comes?

“You know, I never want to retire. I’m doing what I love – in addition to having time for my kids and loved ones. I can see myself still writing books in my eighties. But financially, I would like to retire as soon as possible. I want to be able to afford not having to make money anymore. So, how much will I need for that? No idea. I try to imagine what my life will look like then. I’m dreaming of a little house in the woods, and I’d like to keep traveling. € 5000 a month sounds like a good amount to me.”


What could you do better in terms of your pension?

“I’m currently not really building a very solid capital. I could do that better and faster. As a self-employed person I don’t have any guarantee that I can keep working in good health for another twenty years. I’d like to have a better long-term vision. To know exactly what I’m going to need and what I should do now to get there.”