My early retirement is causing consternation

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catdude
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My early retirement is causing consternation

Post by catdude » Thu Oct 07, 2010 3:53 pm

Hi Bogleheads,

I realize that this is a topic for the Early Retirement forums, and at some point I'll pose these questions to those folks, but I'm just wondering if there are any Bogleheads whose experience is similar to mine.

I retired a couple of weeks ago (hooray!) and when I tell people this, I get interesting reactions. A significant percentage of people are just perplexed by the notion of someone retiring at age 55. People wonder if I was forced out (nope) or got a cushy buy-out (no, unfortunately) or if I'm having health problems (not that either). It's none of these things -- it's just that I just decided many years ago that I wanted early retirement more than a nice big house or a vacation home or a Cadillac SUV. I think normal people, i.e., non-Bogleheads, :wink: if they're in good shape financially in their mid-50's, just continue to acquire more goodies, and keep working till they're 62 or 65 or whenever.

Anyway, for those of you who retired at a relatively young age, have you gotten these kinds of reactions when you talk about your retirement? I'd be curious to know.

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Post by The Wizard » Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:03 pm

I'm not youngish nor retired, but if I was chatting with you, I'd try to find out what this allows you to do that would make me jump ship early and do similarly.
Your recent 9-week excursion around the US, for instance...

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Post by chaz » Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:09 pm

I retired only because commuting was too much of a burden; otherwise I would have continued working for a few more years since I liked my job.
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Post by catdude » Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:10 pm

The Wizard wrote:I'm not youngish nor retired, but if I was chatting with you, I'd try to find out what this allows you to do that would make me jump ship early and do similarly.
Your recent 9-week excursion around the US, for instance...
Wiz, so far I'm just enjoying the freedom of it. I haven't taken the 9-week trip yet, but perhaps that will come someday. But the baseball playoffs are on now, and I get to watch the afternoon games, plus I get to stay up late and watch the ones that end at 12:30 - 1:00 AM eastern time. I love it!

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Post by Soaker » Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:20 pm

In a situation similar to yours, when these conversations come up, I downplay financial wealth, emphasize that freedom of choice of what to do with my time is more important than acquisition of nice new stuff, and usually say something along the lines of "And if it doesn't work out for financial or psychological reasons I'm always open to going back to work." That last part is somewhat mendacious but it seems to reassure people that I'm still just like them but I have different priorities and have made different choices. The most common reaction I get is "Wow, that sounds nice" and rarely do I detect any jealousy or resentment. Whatever works for you; you'll get better at these conversations after you've had a few more of them.

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Post by Opponent Process » Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:22 pm

some have suggested that humans are really bad at understanding what makes them happy, or what Buddhists would more accurately call "content". I think part of this is that humans get confused or suspicious when they see someone else on another path being happy/content. it's like an error detection signal.
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Post by MWCA » Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:24 pm

When someone asks "waddya do all day?"

Think of fun things to say. :P
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Post by zinnia » Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:27 pm

Began retirement at 54. I could always tell the people still working it bothered the most, they seemed to be so concerned about how I would fill my free time...it was comical

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Post by Atilla » Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:29 pm

My wife and I are in our early 40's. She always invested heavily into her 401K over the course of her career.

I came along later; and the past five years since we got married have directed the finances and pressed us toward the goal. We make good money and don't spend much for what we bring in.


Over the next 5 years the goal is to eliminate the mortgage and continue to avoid any other long term debt so as to decrease our cash flow requirements and put ever increasing amounts into savings/investments.

Once the kid graduates high school in 5 years we want t be at a point where we can live our current lifestyle at minimum expense. (No mortgage, no child support payments, 529 account set up to help the kid out in college).

THEN we can look at the next 5 - 10 years and see where we are and where we can be. God willing, one or both of us can dial back and semi-retire by 55.

Meanwhile the wife presses for a new house. I point to her brother addicted to debt and tell her if she sticks to my plan in 5 - 10 years we will have options and her brother will look at his finances and say >CENSORED< and have to work for many more years.

And we still drive nicer cars than he does. :)

If and when that day comes, I will have NO problem sipping my coffee and telling people I'm semi-retired at 55.

It will be a good lesson for my son and something to strive for if he wants it. I never had that kind of guidance from my parents - heck my mom would be in the poor house without the money I give her...lifetime of bad money decisions.
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Post by Cloud » Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:35 pm

Both of my parents retired at 55 about 8 years ago. They're so busy now in retirement they tell me they don't know where they ever found the time to work. :)

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Re: My early retirement is causing consternation

Post by bob90245 » Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:37 pm

johnny wrote:A significant percentage of people are just perplexed by the notion of someone retiring at age 55.
Perhaps the reason is that for many people, their identity is tied to their job or their career. Also, some people who are 65 or older simply do not want to stop working. For them, contentment is downshifting to part-time hours while keeping the social aspect of the workplace.
Ignore the market noise. Keep to your rebalancing schedule whether that is semi-annual, annual or trigger bands.

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Post by dbr » Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:38 pm

I had a manager who retired from Megacorp at age 50. Everyone thought that was pretty cool, actually.

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Post by norookie » Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:42 pm

MWCA wrote:When someone asks "waddya do all day?"

Think of fun things to say. :P
X2.."fun and bizzar" things to say!... Like you manage a 100billion hedge/retirement fund for the fireants union. You better develop a retirement AA for your free time. It is priceless you know. I'd suggest keeping active as #1. Do not waste it !!
" Wealth usually leads to excess " Cicero 55 b.c

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Post by Ron » Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:49 pm

MWCA wrote:When someone asks "waddya do all day?"
Spend much time on the E.R. forum?

(Me too) :lol: ...

- Ron

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Post by Wannaretireearly » Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:50 pm

My answer would be "Test match cricket". I long for the school holiday days when I could watch a 5 day test match and fit in other things around that!

For the uninitiated, test match cricket is what baseball originated from :)

FWIW: It seems much more culturally acceptable to "take it easy" and enjoy life at your own pace when retired in Europe than it does here.

Makes me think the US is a great place while your working, but maybe not the best place once retired (think healthcare costs as well, etc)

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Post by chaz » Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:52 pm

" They're so busy now in retirement they tell me they don't know where they ever found the time to work."

It's the same with us.
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Re: My early retirement is causing consternation

Post by rustymutt » Thu Oct 07, 2010 5:00 pm

johnny wrote:Hi Bogleheads,

I realize that this is a topic for the Early Retirement forums, and at some point I'll pose these questions to those folks, but I'm just wondering if there are any Bogleheads whose experience is similar to mine.

I retired a couple of weeks ago (hooray!) and when I tell people this, I get interesting reactions. A significant percentage of people are just perplexed by the notion of someone retiring at age 55. People wonder if I was forced out (nope) or got a cushy buy-out (no, unfortunately) or if I'm having health problems (not that either). It's none of these things -- it's just that I just decided many years ago that I wanted early retirement more than a nice big house or a vacation home or a Cadillac SUV. I think normal people, i.e., non-Bogleheads, :wink: if they're in good shape financially in their mid-50's, just continue to acquire more goodies, and keep working till they're 62 or 65 or whenever.


I retired at 53 June,2009. People are wanting to know how I managed to be able to do this. We (wife works as teacher) paid off the home early, and never borrowed to buy cars, so as to stay out of debt. I've saved way more over the years as a telephone installer and repair man for my company than most. Live within my means and knew along time ago I wanted to retire early. It was a goal. Now that i'm retired, I work at my own business doing the same thing. I was lucky to have worked for a company that had a early retirement program in place.

Anyway, for those of you who retired at a relatively young age, have you gotten these kinds of reactions when you talk about your retirement? I'd be curious to know.
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Post by catdude » Thu Oct 07, 2010 5:22 pm

Thanks, folks, for your replies to my post. I've been telling people that I'm open to perhaps going back to work someday part-time, but not full-time. I definitely want to leave the 5-day-a-week grind behind. And I'm going to be doing a bit of contract work this fall for my ex-employer -- basically to help train my replacement. Depending on how that goes, I may do some volunteer work for them later on down the road. (My ex-employer is a local government). I think I'd do this a couple days a week, for 3 or 4 hours at a time, largely for social reasons -- my former co-workers are a good group of folks. I'd enjoy keeping in touch with them, keeping up on the latest gossip, etc. etc.

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Post by MWCA » Thu Oct 07, 2010 6:00 pm

norookie wrote:
MWCA wrote:When someone asks "waddya do all day?"

Think of fun things to say. :P
X2.."fun and bizzar" things to say!... Like you manage a 100billion hedge/retirement fund for the fireants union. You better develop a retirement AA for your free time. It is priceless you know. I'd suggest keeping active as #1. Do not waste it !!
Young lady who cuts my hair knows that I manage a rather large portfolio. Why do hair cutters ask so many questions?

Maybe with someone holding a sharp object to my head that isn't such great information for her to know. But hey she was cute!
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Post by scrabbler1 » Thu Oct 07, 2010 6:02 pm

I retired 2 years ago at age 45. I had worked for 16 years full-time then 7 years part-time, all at the same company. In those 7 PT years, I had reclaimed my personal life, resurrecting old hobbies and doing some enjoyable volunteer work.

But, like Chaz, it was the commute, even only 2 or 3 days a week, which had become the most annoying, burdensome, and often sickening. I had to make that go away.

I took a big company stock payout (before it tanked a bit in late 2008) and invested it in a good bond fund. Single, no kids, no debts.

At first, some people asked me how I was able to retire so young. I basically repeat the above sentence. It was no secret how much I hated my commute, and working had interfered with my blossoming personal life.

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Post by Steelersfan » Thu Oct 07, 2010 7:20 pm

I retired at 60 (not so young but certainly before most of my peers). My equation was that as long as I enjoyed my average day at work more than my average day not working I'd keep working. In the last few years that balance changed, although I found work generally fulfilling. If I had stuck around a few more years I would have likely gotten a nice severance, but I didn't need it and didn't want to wait, especially since it wasn't certain.

So I just told people I was financially able to stop working and that's what I decided to do. They respected, and I think envied, that.

BTW - I see several of my old co-workers every few months and both they and I agree I made a wise decision.

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Post by Stevewc » Thu Oct 07, 2010 7:34 pm

I retired the first of the year @55.
I basically don't discuss it with anyone accept family.
I have avoided telling my secret if at all possible.
But you are right, the one person outside of family that found out (through a family member) was like what happened?
I replied nothing, I did my time and got out. Simple and sweet.
I actually try to stay out of site from nosey neighbors during the day. Which is not at all difficult where I live. I also worked a lot of different shifts when I was working and never let people know when I worked. So they basically don't know what I'm doing. I love it that way.
I like my privacy and every day is Saturday.
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agreed

Post by Mikle » Thu Oct 07, 2010 8:08 pm

When I early retired at 55 I couldn't believe the negative reactions from so called friends despite the fact that I was quite open with my intentions for years.
The funniest was a friend that asked " what on earth will you do?". She was a stay at home mom whose kids were out of her house many years ago. I told her I was going to do the same as her. Whatever I want.
Others were resentful, jealous and insulting. I think it mostly comes from the fact that my wife and I had the discipline to save and live below our means while they did just the opposite and now some of them may never be able to really retire.

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Re: agreed

Post by MWCA » Thu Oct 07, 2010 8:14 pm

Mikle wrote:When I early retired at 55 I couldn't believe the negative reactions from so called friends despite the fact that I was quite open with my intentions for years.
The funniest was a friend that asked " what on earth will you do?". She was a stay at home mom whose kids were out of her house many years ago. I told her I was going to do the same as her. Whatever I want.
Others were resentful, jealous and insulting. I think it mostly comes from the fact that my wife and I had the discipline to save and live below our means while they did just the opposite and now some of them may never be able to really retire.
Oh I got that. A few of my family had some words about early retirement. We no longer speak that much anymore. I chalk it up to the country I live in. Where that "certain" work ethic lives on.
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Post by littlebird » Thu Oct 07, 2010 8:26 pm

When I reported my status as "retired" and my age as "48", to a bank employee in New Mexico, she snapped at me, "You're not retired, you're unemployed." :roll:

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Re: agreed

Post by catdude » Thu Oct 07, 2010 8:32 pm

Mikle wrote:When I early retired at 55 I couldn't believe the negative reactions from so called friends despite the fact that I was quite open with my intentions for years.
The funniest was a friend that asked " what on earth will you do?". She was a stay at home mom whose kids were out of her house many years ago. I told her I was going to do the same as her. Whatever I want.
Others were resentful, jealous and insulting. I think it mostly comes from the fact that my wife and I had the discipline to save and live below our means while they did just the opposite and now some of them may never be able to really retire.
Yeah, like you I told people for years that I was going to do this, evidently they just didn't think I was serious. Or they thought that sooner or later it would dawn on me that people just don't retire at 55.

But the reactions I'm getting, at least so far, haven't been as negative as those you've experienced. A few co-workers said, "I'm sooooo jealous", but they said it good-naturedly, so that was OK. But I agree with you that Bogleheadian principles of living within your means, and disciplined saving and investing, are key components to being able to retire early. For those of you who are still working towards this goal (or any other financial goal), I can say that it's definitely worth it. Just keep plugging away -- your day will come....

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Post by DSInvestor » Thu Oct 07, 2010 8:36 pm

Maybe you should go into early retirement forums. You may get a different reaction. 55! What took you so long?

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Post by Ruprecht » Thu Oct 07, 2010 8:36 pm

littlebird wrote:When I reported my status as "retired" and my age as "48", to a bank employee in New Mexico, she snapped at me, "You're not retired, you're unemployed." :roll:
No offense intended, but I'm with her!
:wink:

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Post by littlebird » Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:01 pm

Ruprecht wrote:
littlebird wrote:When I reported my status as "retired" and my age as "48", to a bank employee in New Mexico, she snapped at me, "You're not retired, you're unemployed." :roll:
No offense intended, but I'm with her!
:wink:
Well, 23 year later I'm still "unemployed". :lol:

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Post by EO 11110 » Thu Oct 07, 2010 10:17 pm

mid fifties retirement is routine at my work -- supermajor oil co.

sad thing is more than half come back to work....after getting killed by edward jones, merrill..

has me contemplating starting my own advisory biz. makes me sick to see them return to work :evil:

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Post by CAP » Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:46 am

Some of the reactions I received from a few people when I quit working early were similar. I took a halfyear personal leave first & many of my coworkers said that, once I left, I would not return & I didn't. Some working friends said that they envied me. I do have friends that don't work & have lots of interests, travel, & activities that I enjoy. I think that the area where one lives influences peoples attitudes concerning work. There is a lot of sun & people having fun in my locale.

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Post by FinanceGeek » Fri Oct 08, 2010 12:59 pm

You should definitely spend some time on the ER forum.

Here's a somewhat humorous website of a guy who confronted many issues similar to what you're discussing. I like his blog too.

http://philip.greenspun.com/materialism ... etirement/

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Post by billern » Fri Oct 08, 2010 1:06 pm

littlebird wrote:When I reported my status as "retired" and my age as "48", to a bank employee in New Mexico, she snapped at me, "You're not retired, you're unemployed." :roll:
Congratulations but you were actually old ;). My dad retired at 38. I think a lot of people didn't get it. Some ask if he inherited money (no!). Hard work, good luck, good business sense, and frugality let me parents start doing what they want early in life.

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Some answers about early retirement

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Oct 08, 2010 1:17 pm

Possible answers to inquiries about early retirement:
1. "The doctor told me I have a limited time to live."
- This is true, everybody has a limited time to live.
- Usually, cuts off any further questions.

2. "I want to try my hand in writing."
- Also, cuts off followup questions.
- Quite true, because "writing" means different things to different people.

3. "It's Victoria Secret."
- Works only if your name is "Victoria."

Victoria
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Post by investor » Fri Oct 08, 2010 1:25 pm

just tell them now that you are retired

Every Day is a Saturday

and you can finally accomplish some of the things you never had time top do before.

Most of my friends are also retired so these questions about how or why you retired never come up. If you ever need to find things to do there is a multitude of volunteer opportunities out there. Some quite rewarding. Retired at age 55 and never looked back. :D

investor

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Re: Some answers about early retirement

Post by bob90245 » Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:00 pm

VictoriaF wrote:Possible answers to inquiries about early retirement:
1. "The doctor told me I have a limited time to live."
- This is true, everybody has a limited time to live.
- Usually, cuts off any further questions.

2. "I want to try my hand in writing."
- Also, cuts off followup questions.
- Quite true, because "writing" means different things to different people.

3. "It's Victoria Secret."
- Works only if your name is "Victoria."

Victoria
I don't like any of those answers. But maybe others can provide theirs. This would be mine:

"I'm a portfolio manager."
- Perfectly true. They don't have to know I have myself as the only client. And most people are intimidated by investing anyway. Which will discourage any follow up questions.
Ignore the market noise. Keep to your rebalancing schedule whether that is semi-annual, annual or trigger bands.

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Post by woof755 » Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:14 pm

littlebird wrote:When I reported my status as "retired" and my age as "48", to a bank employee in New Mexico, she snapped at me, "You're not retired, you're unemployed." :roll:
I have to laugh. There have to be others reading this thread who have also shuddered at seeing the words "retired at 48" again.

:P
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Re: Some answers about early retirement

Post by Ron » Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:15 pm

bob90245 wrote:I don't like any of those answers. But maybe others can provide theirs.
Those that can, do.

Those that can't, continue to work :lol: (no, I found no "joy" in staying employed; that's why I retired). It's really not that hard to make a decision, assuming you prepared (both financially and emotionally) for retirement.

Simple enough, IMHO and certainly not more complicated than that.

- Ron

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Post by neverknow » Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:40 pm

..
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Re: My early retirement is causing consternation

Post by JupiterJones » Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:45 pm

johnny wrote:I think normal people, i.e., non-Bogleheads, :wink: if they're in good shape financially in their mid-50's, just continue to acquire more goodies, and keep working till they're 62 or 65 or whenever.
Unfortunately, it seems that anyone, Boglecranially-oriented or not, who is in good shape financially in their mid-50s is pretty much abnormal.

Having squat saved for retirement is the new normal. (Or maybe it was always normal?)

JJ

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Re: Some answers about early retirement

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Oct 08, 2010 3:53 pm

Ron wrote:
bob90245 wrote:I don't like any of those answers. But maybe others can provide theirs.
Those that can, do.

Those that can't, continue to work :lol: (no, I found no "joy" in staying employed; that's why I retired). It's really not that hard to make a decision, assuming you prepared (both financially and emotionally) for retirement.

Simple enough, IMHO and certainly not more complicated than that.

- Ron
Ron,

Bob (bob90245) did not like my answers. He is not opposed to early retirement and proposed his alternative answer.

Victoria
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Post by rwwoods » Fri Oct 08, 2010 3:53 pm

I retired at age 62 and still had people asking me why. My answer was "So I can do what I want to."
"I'm not so much concerned about the return on my money as the return of my money" - Will Rogers

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Post by Opponent Process » Fri Oct 08, 2010 4:01 pm

reminds me of the consternation received from not having children. sometimes there's lots of envy.
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Post by Parthenon » Fri Oct 08, 2010 4:17 pm

I retired at 53 with the explanation, to those who asked, that work was interfering with my personal life.

If they pushed any further I explained I merely changed to a different career. "I'm currently with the CIA and can't talk about it".

Ed
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Post by retcaveman » Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:46 pm

Retired at 51. The company I had worked for for 26 years had changed...less ethical...used "competitive analysis/best of breed" as the rationale to do the same stupid things many other companies were doing.

That, coupled with the fact that paternal grandfather died at age 65 from congestive heart failure and father died age 65 from congestive heart failure (collected one month's pension check) led me to want to leave early.

And with no kids, no debt and a fair sized nest egg, we thought we would move back to our home state and live out our days. When you can regain your life (from work/job), the possibilities are endless. For us, money meant freedom/independence/options vs more stuff.

Also, "the cost of a thing is the amount of life it takes to pay for it," quote from Thoreau resonated with me. So working/saving more to leave to who just didn't make sense. When asked why he left Walden, Thoreau replied, "because I discovered I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one." Life is really about choices.

Having said all that, emotionally it wasn't all peaches and cream. I second guessed myself, worried my way through the downturn in 2000 but finally settled in. Tried several different volunteer opportunities, but after a career in employee relations/management, grew frustrated with the very poor leadership and lack of commitment from volunteers (felt used and taken for granted). This isn't to say there aren't good volunteer organizations, just that my experience wasn't good.

The older I get, the happier I am that I made the decision to leave early. Retirement decisions clearly have at least two components; one is money, including the cost of health insurance, and what are you going to do with your time. This second one is not to be taken lightly.

I recently posted that a college professor of mine said, "people approach life like they are going to live forever." Once you begin to embrace the notion that life is finite, it's more like, "if not now, when?" If you knew you only had XX years to live, what would you do? How would you spend it? With some possible exceptions, I don't think "work" would be high on the list.

One last anecdote. One of my brief volunteer activities was writing patient life stories. For hospital patients who wanted, I would interview them and produce a short life story and provide a copy to their doctor. (They felt knowing more about their patients' lives helped them provided better care.) It was interesting to see what they thought was important to them at that point in their lives. Almost without exception, they said the most important thing to them, as they reflected on their lives and their inevitable demise, was family. Most everything else was just noise.

Congratulations on your retirement. Best wishes.

caveman
"The wants of mortals are containers that can never be filled." (Socrates)

The Wizard
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Post by The Wizard » Fri Oct 08, 2010 9:05 pm

retcaveman wrote: One last anecdote. One of my brief volunteer activities was writing patient life stories. For hospital patients who wanted, I would interview them and produce a short life story and provide a copy to their doctor. (They felt knowing more about their patients' lives helped them provided better care.) It was interesting to see what they thought was important to them at that point in their lives. Almost without exception, they said the most important thing to them, as they reflected on their lives and their inevitable demise, was family. Most everything else was just noise.
This sounds like a wonderful endeavor.
You are to be commended for this...

Grasshopper
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Post by Grasshopper » Sat Oct 09, 2010 4:30 pm

My wife and I "retired" ages 54 and 52. But after 5 years, I tend to say that I no longer work for a living.

leonard
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Post by leonard » Sat Oct 09, 2010 7:03 pm

Personally, I would say I was "between jobs", searching for the next thing. People react to the words "early retirement". So, just leave out the word retirement, avoid peoples inquisition, and move on. You are still living the life you want, whether you label it retirement, time off, between jobs, or whatever.
Leonard | | Market Timing: Do you seriously think you can predict the future? What else do the voices tell you? | | If employees weren't taking jobs with bad 401k's, bad 401k's wouldn't exist.

Sidney
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Post by Sidney » Sat Oct 09, 2010 8:11 pm

Frequently I am asked "what do you do?" which I answer "I am retired" (which is true).

Sometimes people say "you don't look old enough to be retired." and I say, "I am older than I look." (which is true).

Rarely do people ask me what I do with my time. When they do, I don't say a thing. It makes them a bit uncomfortable but they never ask again. Nobody who is important to me has ever asked this question. As for the others, I don't mind if they are uncomfortable with the silence.
I always wanted to be a procrastinator.

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VictoriaF
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Post by VictoriaF » Sat Oct 09, 2010 8:29 pm

Sidney wrote:Rarely do people ask me what I do with my time. When they do, I don't say a thing. It makes them a bit uncomfortable but they never ask again. Nobody who is important to me has ever asked this question. As for the others, I don't mind if they are uncomfortable with the silence.
A lot depends on the intonation and intent. If one sincerely wants to know what people do in retirement -- as is common in this Forum -- I don't see much harm in educating uninitiated.

If, on the other hand, the questioning is judgmental then evasive answers are appropriate.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

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