About a month ago, I ran into a friend from my old working days. He asked about my retirement and whether I might be interested in picking up a little consulting work.
“You don’t even want to hear what it is?”
“Not even if it’s something really part-time?”
“Really? Even if you would be perfect for it?”
“Nope. Ok, tell me what it is, is it working for you?”
“No, it’s for Mike.”
So I let him tell me about it, I worked with Mike a few years ago and really, really like him.
“For Mike, I’ll listen to what it is. I really, really like Mike.”
So he told me all about it and I told him I would actually consider it.
As I drove back home, I realized I really did not want to work at all and decided to let the whole thing die. By the time I got home though, it was too late, he had already set the wheels in motion. Mike called me, we caught up a little, and I decided this might actually be fun. So I agreed to go meet with him and his partner.
A couple weeks later as I drove over to meet them, I decided I definitely did not want to do this, and wondered why I was even wasting their time. This was surely a bad idea.
Ten minutes into our meeting, I knew I wanted in.
So if I work a day or two a week, am I still retired?
Well that is exactly the discussion happening over at Get Rich Slowly. JD posed the question, “What is Retirement?” According to study after study, the vast majority of people nearing retirement expect to continue some sort of work during retirement, either cycling between periods of leisure and work, working part time, or starting businesses of their own. The comments over at GRS are very consistent with these findings.
The reason I retired was to have more control over my time. Once I had accumulated enough money that I didn’t have to work, I came to resent the time constraints a full-time career imposed. I wanted freedom. I wanted to spend more time doing what I wanted to do, and have less things that I had to do. I wanted to spread my enjoyment of life out to all the days of the week, not just the weekends.
So what do I spend my newfound freedom doing? A lot of what I did before retirement, only more of it: gardening, reading, exercising, socializing, cleaning, painting, and traveling. But now I also write. Retirement is a great time to find out where your passions are. I found mine in writing. Writing for my blog, for the U.S. News blog, and just for myself, I spend 20 or 30 hours per week writing. That could almost be a job, but since I don’t really make money at it, people still consider me “retired.”
But now I’m going to do some consulting work a day or two a week, and actually get paid for it. Does this mean I’m not retired anymore? What is retirement anyway?
Retirement to me is having enough money to live without being required to have a job, in which case you can pick up a part-time gig purely because you are really, really, really excited to do it.
So is it really retirement if you decide to do a little work for money? Who knows, but whatever it’s called, it beats working for a living.
5 Reasons to Start a Business in Retirement
Figuring Out a New Person to Be
What Do You Want Your Retirement to Look Like?
This is a post from Retirement: a Full-Time Job
It's retirement if you WANT to do it. If you NEED to do it it's not. I always figure that if I'm doing something just because I get a kick out of the work/the interaction with coworkers/getting to dress in smart clothes/etc. then it's something I want to do. If I have to do it to pay the bills then it's work, not retirement.
So do it if you want to, but not if you feel like you have to.
And I have never been really, really, really excited to work. Ever. Unless eating, drinking, sightseeing, traveling or reading qualify as work. Just me, but I'm just saying :)
Posted by: Steve | August 07, 2010 at 08:24 PM
@Steve: I have never been really, really, really excited about a job either. I'd like to figure out why so I can blog about it. Stay tuned . . .
Posted by: Retired Syd | August 07, 2010 at 09:09 PM
Syd, I was working 2 days a week before I retired. If you are working 1 or 2 days a week then you are not retired, IMHO. You are only semi-retired.
To still call yourself retired, I think your maximum work would have to be maybe one day a month at most, preferably less frequently.
The only money I have earned since I retired in late 2008 is from a few odd tasks which earned me about $140. I have been paid for some of my volunteer work, but remember I would do it for nothing. I am, however, glad to be compensated for the expenses (i.e. gas) I incurred, and those who have paid me do that because they want me to keep helping their school Scrabble groups out every year. I have been paid about $200 in the last ~2 years doing that.
Sure beats going to New Jersey or NYC to work like I did for 23 years. :)
Posted by: deegee | August 07, 2010 at 09:58 PM
@deegee: In 2001 I arranged to work 3 days a week at my job. I never considered myself retired then because I actually had to have a job to do things like eat and pay my mortgage. Now the money is irrelevant. Well, I wouldn't do it for nothing, so it's not irrelevant, but not necessary to maintain my lifestyle. I have the financial freedom to take it or leave it, which makes it still feel like retirement (freedom) to me. We'll see if it still feels that way a few months in . . . I'll keep you posted!
Posted by: Retired Syd | August 07, 2010 at 10:14 PM
I would say that if you work or run a business because you NEED to, (like me) then youre only semi retired. If its because you want to, it interests you and keeps you busy, then you're retired. But hey, that's just my definition. I did have to laugh at all the people over at JDs place though who said "I could never....". Do they not realize that you gave up working for money, but you didn't move to your lazy boy and the bon bons??
Posted by: Frugal Texas Gal | August 08, 2010 at 11:39 AM
I go back and forth on this. I'm 48, former operations manager and elementary school teacher. Now I substitute teach sometimes, and write, and spend just about every day doing what I want to do (even when that is being a sub). Sometimes I say I'm retired, but I don't really feel like that. Semi-retired seems like a dodge. I guess I work part time . . . and that makes me sound like a teenager. Which ain't so bad when you think about it.
Posted by: Matt Baxter | August 08, 2010 at 12:17 PM
@Frugal Texas Gal: I thought those comments were funny too. It's a common fear people have, "I could never retire and just sit around and do nothing all day." Why on earth would someone sit around and do nothing all day (unless of course that's what they wanted to do) in retirement?
@Matt: I like that, like a teenager, except without all the raging hormones!
Posted by: Retired Syd | August 08, 2010 at 12:39 PM
I just retired two months ago and am getting use to the new freedom of retirement. I also realize how fortunate I am to be able to retire in this recession ( I still run spreadsheet scenarios on cash flow and they seem to be on track). A few days ago, my former employer asked me if I was interested in some part time projects. I thanked them and stated I will get back to them with my answer. In the interim, I made a list of what I was willing to do and what I was not going to do . The bottom line is that I am retired and wanted to establish a new relation of a contractor not an employee with my former employer.
Posted by: Leon C | August 08, 2010 at 09:14 PM
Consulting is a great "job" for a retired person. Generally you choose your own hours, can do what you do from home, and still control how you spend the majority of your time. To quibble over whether that is fully or semi-retired seems to miss the point. Are you doing it because you like it and are good at it? Then, more power to you and call what you are whatever you like.
Posted by: Bob | August 08, 2010 at 09:48 PM
@Leon: I'm with you on that. As I told Bob, if you can make the numbers work in this environment, you can make it through anything! And good for you, figuring out exactly what it is you are willing to do within your newfound freedom. I get it.
Posted by: Retired Syd | August 08, 2010 at 10:09 PM
For me, I don't bother categorizing any of this. I just aggregate it all as striving to live my life with as many options as possible in the aftermath of reaching a certain portfolio income generating level creating the foundation of choice. Now it's a constant evaluation of trade-offs of my time, work or otherwise, much like Syd is doing now with the possible consulting assignment. Her offer could be interesting, fit in her schedule, keep her workplace current providing that option if needed down the road, maybe since it's short term even fun, social, nothing wrong with a few bucks, etc... If not, move on to something else with her valuable time.
Posted by: Steve | August 09, 2010 at 07:09 AM
@Steve: You're right, it is really just semantics, isn't it? And I agree with your conclusion, except that it is really a long answer at a cocktail party to reply to the question about what you do with, "I strive to live my life with as many options as possible in the aftermath of reaching a certain portfolio income generating level creating the foundation of choice." Isn't it just easier to say retired?
Posted by: Retired Syd | August 09, 2010 at 08:41 AM
Remember...not long ago you asked me if I was retired or not? I said I call it "retired with a hobby"...(working 2 mornings a week when I am in town)
You can say that if you want.. Ha ha...
Posted by: Sara | August 09, 2010 at 12:55 PM
@Syd: I just answer the "What do you do?" question with "I live life to the fullest". Inevitably it leads to a good discussion about the many and varied ways I spend my time, the choices and tradeoffs that are continuous and the other person being envious. I never talk about being "retired", for some reason my experience is that people then think I must not be doing much of anything when just the opposite is true.
Posted by: Steve | August 09, 2010 at 02:16 PM
@Steve: "I never talk about being "retired", for some reason my experience is that people then think I must not be doing much of anything when just the opposite is true."
Wow, ain't that the truth!
Posted by: Retired Syd | August 09, 2010 at 03:26 PM
I don't care what you call it, just bring home the bacon baby!
Posted by: retiredhubby | August 13, 2010 at 09:33 AM
Maybe the question is...would you do it for free?
Posted by: Mark | August 14, 2010 at 03:46 AM
wow ms.syd you got a lot of responses on this one. consulting is the key word here. your a mercenary. you do what you want when you want. that's freedom and that's what retirement is all about. i'm retired from the government but i go back in winter to work on call. it's quite lucrative. the beauty is that everyone is glade i'm there. from regional directors to the rank and file. i'm the none threatening entity, i'm no longer in the mix, i'm the old guy there for backup, to take the load off. hell they even buy me breakfast or lunch sometimes. when at a party if someone asks what i do, i reply" about what"? if they don't laugh and get the joke i probably didn't want to talk to them anyway. that's retirement.
Posted by: fred doe | August 15, 2010 at 04:57 PM
I think the term you are looking for to describe your situation is "financially independent." I define retirement as a voluntary condition of no paid employment and not seeking paid employment; anything other than that and you are not truly "retired."
These days, true "retirement" is being postponed until later and later in life. Even at 65 many people are too active and engaged to be satisfied sitting around at home.
So, you cannot be retired and employed but you can be financially independent and employed.
I began drawing a government pension in 2007 but have never considered myself retired. I own rental real estate, I am a writer and publisher with books for sale at Amazon.com, and I maintain a blog and a website. I may never retire! I mean, who has the time?
Posted by: tmgbooks | August 19, 2010 at 09:33 AM
You're actually not working full-time, right? That consulting job will be a new experience where you can learn new things! But the great thing is you can still control your time with your "job". You can still write and do the things that you want! Btw, are you still into consulting? How's everything now?
Posted by: Richmond Hill | October 12, 2011 at 02:44 PM