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February 16, 2013


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New at this

Case Study Number 5 (Mine). After slaving away in a miserable job for 25 years, am finally able to “retire” in mid-forties. But concerned with fear that I would create two major problems in my life if ever “admitted” that I was retiring.

Problem-1) People would assume I’m rich and either dislike me for it, envy me for it, or feel entitled to some of my riches (e.g. Occupy Wall street movement, etc)

Problem-2) People would assume I have all the time in the world and therefore should be available to volunteer for one of their various causes or at least be able to help with whatever family/church/babysitting/etc activity that spontaneously comes along.

So to avoid these problems, rather than announcing that I retired, I needed a “cover”. In my own case, I came up with the story that I was quitting my job to start a small Internet business. The beauty of the story is that there is a thread of truth in it - which keeps my conscience clear while staying vague with the details.

Now while spending all my time doing the things I actually just want to do, everyone believes I am busily working away at my business and pretty much leaves me alone….

So far it’s working out wonderfully, so don’t tell anyone!


In the posts you linked, two of them had the preposition "from" which makes things more clear. (Not that I'm the grammar police or anything.)

My father retired from farming I would say 2-3 years ago at 90 y.o. He'd sold his land about a dozen years before that and worked with my brother for free in between, but finally having to step back due to not being able to handle big machinery, big bulls etc.

I worked on an audit once years ago where this older guy was working at a construction company and never cashed his paycheques. So obviously he didn't need the money - yet I didn't consider him retired at the time and still don't think he was. Mostly just a pain to create a bigger outstanding cheque list.

I was thinking more about this after Tim's post and I think that bloggers or authors use the word retired because more wage slave type people can relate to it as a "do what you want" message. Especially since many people know they don't like their current job or career or are bored with it, don't really know what they want to do but do want some freedom to try new things and will maybe need some money to float until they give up the paid work permanently. If they said "quit your job or career to go do something else you're interested in" then they'd be in the entrepreneur's / writing / career change section like Second Act. Or it would be The 4 Hour Work Week type of book/blog.

Kierkegaard said something like "man's life can only be understood backward but must be lived forward." I was out for dinner last night with a couple of 30-something friends and it was driving them nuts wondering what I would do with myself after I'm done this contract. All I could say was that I want the summer off to travel. This is all I know for sure and beyond that, there's no clear picture there. Sigh... kids these days... such black and white thinkers. :-)

Retired Syd

New at this: Now that was very clever!

Retired Syd

Jacq: Yes and if you retire from something to something else, it's much easier to talk about at cocktail parties. (Watch out New at This when they ask you more about your internet business at those cocktail parties!) But if you just want to retire from a finance career to goof off, retired seems like the perfect word.

I spend a lot of my time in retirement writing, so for a period of time I said I was a writer when people asked. One of my friends said I couldn't say writer unless I was getting paid to write or had been published. I said I'm published whenever I hit the "post" button on my blog. He said that didn't count. So retired isn't the only word that is controversial.


Syd, I have also found that the older crowd is less likely to ask many, if any questions about an early retiree. In my square dance group which is mostly the over-60 set, when I told them back in 2008 I had retired they were not nosy, just glad I would be able to dance more often with them because I lost any scheduling conflicts I had with work.

Over time, I have felt more and more comfortable about telling others I am retired. If they are kealous, so be it. If they ask how I was able to accomplish this, I don't go into great deatils but give them a quick, non-controversial answer.


I was going to suggest exactly what deegee just did, but he beat me to it. Rarely are we asked about our former work lives during the week, because the people we hang with are primarily retired themselves, and therefore don't think to ask.

When the weekend crowd inquires, I just smile and respond that I'm/we're retired, and leave it at that.

In the beginning, I definitely felt the need to justify my existence in retirement. As I became more comfortable with my retired self, it no longer mattered to me what anyone thought. Personally, I think I'm way more interesting these days, because I have so many more interests. Instead of being able to discuss one fairly narrow topic - my former occupation - I can now converse on a wide range of topics and interests that I'm developing passions for.

In the beginning people would often ask how we would keep from being bored. Thanks to the likes of Facebook and other social networking sites, its pretty clear that we're far from bored, and slowly the question is changing from "Aren't you bored?" to "How did you do it?"


Great post. I'm hitting 50 later this year so maybe people will seems a little less surprised when I say I'm retired.. Sometimes I go with house husband instead of retired. Keeping my wife in the manner she would like to be accustomed too.

Savvy Working Gal

My husband is planning on retiring at the end of this year. I had to ask my company's HR Manager a couple questions about our insurance (we are on DH's) and told her he was becoming a contract employee and going to lose his benefits. Not sure why I didn't want to tell her he was retiring other than because she is a bag. Of course she made a big deal about it - not understanding why he would want to become a consultant. DH says I should just tell the truth - he is retiring. I now kind of like the term stay-at-home husband.

I also find it interesting you both you and your husband enjoyed the first year your husband stayed home. I am afraid I will dislike going to work even more when he is home every day. Or is that why you decided to retire as well?

p.s. I am sure your finance committee members thought you were too old to be retired, but didn't say so.



You left out the category of "stay at home mom." When my husband retired at 49, I considered myself retired as well. It is a strangely gray area for me because I did have a brief career in HR and worked PT for our family business, but mostly my time was devoted to to duties of housewife and mom. So, do I get to be "retired?"

fred doe

Semantics? We need a new word but give it time and someone will come up with one. Kind of like the in between of young kids and teens, "Tweens" You are a retirement Tween Syd. Labels at sixty I don't know how many labels I'm carry? Now that I've been retired five years I find that the labels are a burden to carry so I try to shed them. Some are harder then others because they are who we are but it's ok because it brings clarity to the real you. I hope this isn't to philosophical cause that's one of labels I'm goin to shed this year :)))))

Ashley @VaultWorthy

This is really interesting to run into! I'm not exactly near retirement age but it's something that's frequently discussed in my family. They don't like the term "retirement" either, but they all agree that once someone says "I'm retired" it basically gets the point across that they're at the stage of life where they are pursing what fulfills them (whether it's traveling, writing blogs, or working a part-time job with a small business). They're doing it for their pleasure. It's not exactly because they need to continue working to sustain themselves, but because they simply like what they're doing or want to try different things.

Retired Syd

Savvy Working Gal: When Doug retired, it really changed my life for the better. Eliminated a whole layer of stress since he was taking care of my non-work life. But you're right after a few years, I was jealous and wanted to join him myself.

Gouldee: That's close to what Doug said when he was retired and I wasn't. When asked what he did, he didn't say retired, he said "I take care of Sydney."

Suzanne: That's an other limbo area isn't it? I have a friend whose kids are grown now and she wants to go back to work now. So does that mean she was never retired from her career, since in retrospect it was just a break? Or if she goes into a different field, was she retired from that and now working at this?

Fred: It is really just semantics. And in fact, it is only really relevant for bloggers/writers, so they know which word is ok to say. And of course for guests at cocktail parties. Having a word for that saves a much longer stream of consciousness response to the, "What do you do?" question.


I like that MMM article too. It's not really anyone's business if you are retired or not. It's only up to you. Our family's quality of life improved a ton after I quit my job. I'm still making some money on the side, but I'm happy to call myself retired. The IRP can say what ever they want. It's a free country.
I like to point to professional athletes. Nobody complain when they retire after a few years of playing.

Retired Syd

RB 40: Well, I suppose if you write a retirement blog then it's everybody's business actually. But I think people have this image of retirement that probably was never really true. These "sitting in front of the TV all day" or "playing golf every day" or "no longer being productive," ideas, I'm not sure where that actually comes from--even my grandparents' retirement was NOTHING like that!

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