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Calling myself Semi-Retired
Old 08-18-2014, 12:08 PM   #1
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Calling myself Semi-Retired

I am 59, married, spouse is 68. I left my job as CFO for a manufacturing company three years ago, took employment at a non-profit, dropped to 70% time and took a salary that was about one third of what I had been earning. I stopped saving, except to participate in the organization's 403b Plan enough to get the match. I have had to take funds from taxable savings to make the retirement contributions. I have not touched retirement accounts and have managed to increase net worth in the past three years despite some borrowing and spending from taxable savings accounts. I'm enjoying the work at this non-profit and find it syncs with my volunteer activities in many ways. I am weaning myself from a paycheck, an identity tied to my work, and a routine. I'm finding the slow boat to FIRE suits me well. I am about to drop to 60% time, keeping my position as Finance Director of the non-profit. I'm undecided about how much longer to continue employment. My indecision is less about finances than it is about feeling useful. Financial assets are at $1.85M, Net worth at $2.28M. I'm curious about others who have decided to retire in stages rather than go cold turkey.

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Old 08-18-2014, 12:59 PM   #2
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When I was 50 years old, I went to half-time and increased my youth sports coaching activities. At age 56, I completely retired … my kids had retired from youth sports and gone on to college. I picked up my own sports activities in full retirement, so I seem to keep pretty busy, but I have no need to feel useful.

At a recent get together with long-time friends, I even stated that I was resting on my laurels and was happy to make room for the younger generation. They were all in the thick of it and still trying to improve the world. I do help improve the world with a few days each year participating on a government advisory panel and teaching that younger generation.

My friends expect me to last less than a year in full-retirement before I find a job. I can't say right now that I will disappoint them.

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Old 08-18-2014, 01:04 PM   #3
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When DH was 62 he completely retired. I was 56 and I semi-retired. I went from working very full-time to working at the office one day a week with a few hours of work from home. That was 4 years ago. During that 4 years I got up to 2 days a week in the office for awhile and then during last year moved to working entirely from home. At the height of the past 4 years I worked as much as 20 hours a week (averaging about 12). This year I'm averaging a few hours a month.

This transition has worked well for me and I've been happy with it. I haven't decided how long I will continue it. Last year I had planned to stop entirely as I was tired of a long commute to work 2 days a week. I was offered the opportunity to work entirely from home and for less hours and that has been fine. We'll see how long I continue it.
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Old 08-18-2014, 07:31 PM   #4
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I used "semi-retired" a few times but it seemed to generate more questions than I cared to answer. I then changed my position to "Wealth manager for a local retired executive."

No more questions.
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Old 08-18-2014, 07:40 PM   #5
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I called myself an "Independent Investor", which was apparently a satisfactory answer.
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Old 08-18-2014, 08:27 PM   #6
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When I was teaching I had 2 years where I worked 3/4 time - that was a very civilized couple of years. In my current position I moved to 3 days per week a few months ago to help the organization transition out of the program I was managing. It would have been a nice way to extend the career a little longer if the program had made sense for the organization and the health of the organization wasn't in jeopardy.

Will be fully retired in less than two weeks.

It remains to be seen how effective this part-time stint will work as a transition...
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Old 08-18-2014, 08:58 PM   #7
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That's very interesting. Thanks for explaining your staging. I think folks here who would like a more gradual transition will find it very useful.
Well, I thought I was retired. But it seems that now I'm working as a travel agent instead!
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Old 08-18-2014, 09:57 PM   #8
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I have been semi retired for the past 8 years. there are years that I have not worked, other years that I work a few hours a week and a year that it felt like I as almost full time. My work has been for an employer that I previously had a full time job and I know their systems very well. I do computer software programming on an hourly basis. I only work when there is a project for me. I do not wish to work more than 4-6 hours a week.
I call it semi-retired now as I am 62 and people just accept it. I tried calling it part time and I found that people would try to find me full time jobs thinking that I was under employed.
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Old 08-18-2014, 10:40 PM   #9
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Old 08-19-2014, 04:59 AM   #10
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I retired in stages, starting in 2002 when I went down to 40 hours a week. Then to 4 days, 3, and then to 2 in 2012 and 1 in 2013. Pulled the plug totally April 2nd of this year. Just turned 59. I had a replacement and assistant that did most of my work (project manager in an engineering/land surveying firm) during the last few years, and I was able to do most of my work remotely via email/phone. I considered myself semi-retired during the past several years, and now consider myself retired although I'm still an employee. I have worked 4 hours since April
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Old 08-19-2014, 06:09 AM   #11
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I worked part-time for my former company for 7 years before I fully retired 6 years ago. In those 7 years, I considered myself semi-retired.

In 2001, after 16 years of full-time work, I was able to negotiate a deal to work 20 hours per week and 2/3 of those hours from home. But the big part of this change was to regain control over my personal life. I began doing some volunteer work and resurrected a dormant hobby. Also, being able to do my routine errands during the day on weekdays instead of on the busier weekends was a big help. My expenses wre low thanks to having paid off my mortgage in 1998 and I retained most of my benefits, most prorated, including group health and 401k matching.

In 2003, the company ended open-ended telecommuting but let me keep the part-time hours. This returned some of the horrors of the commute I so much despised but I was able to juggle this work schedule with my other activities for the next few years.

In 2007, I asked for another reduction in my weekly hours worked, this time from 20 to 12. This freed up another weekday off and got me home from work an hour earlier on the other two. I had to give up most of my remaining benefits including group health and 41k matching. But simply being employed allowed me reap the benefits of the fast rising company stock. By this time, my ER plans were moving forward well and I knew I could probably ER by the end of 2008.

With another weekday freed up, it became a little easier to juggle my midday activities but I was still unhappy with the awful commute even 2 days a week. Being semi-retired just wasn't cutting it. When all the pieces of my ER plan fell into place around this time in 2008, I made the jump at the end of October and never looked back.

Having been semi-retired for 7 years made the transition to ER from part-time work very smooth and easy. I would say the original change from full-time to part-time work in 2001 was a bigger one because of how it got my personal life back.
Retired in late 2008 at age 45. Cashed in company stock, bought a lot of shares in a big bond fund and am living nicely off its dividends. IRA, SS, and a pension await me at age 60 and later. No kids, no debts.

"I want my money working for me instead of me working for my money!"
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Old 08-19-2014, 06:55 AM   #12
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Looks like an ideal approach to me, I wish I'd done the same, still may take on an 'encore career'...
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Old 08-19-2014, 07:20 AM   #13
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Scrabbler1 - I agree that the shift to PT work is huge in providing one the ability to regain control over your life. Just having one day each week that is not a weekend provides a HUGE improvement in one's quality of life. As others have said, getting whole days freed up works much better than working shorter days.
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Old 08-19-2014, 07:41 AM   #14
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I'm working 20ish hours a week from home, with a couple of trips, domestic and international a year. I can do a few hours a day, or in the evening. I like the money, and I'm covered for health insurance. What I don't like is when I have to go into the office and the BS meetings I have to occasionally attend. I just went thru a couple of weeks with very low hours, and found that I missed the work, so as long as I can do it from home, I'm going to continue.
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Old 08-19-2014, 12:52 PM   #15
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I've decided to leave megacorp asap, and do some kind of "encore career", but I haven't worked out what that will be or if it will work out yet.

I'm going through What Color is my Parachute to get some ideas, and while our savings aren't at retirement levels yet, they're just a few years of decent gains away, and the growth is way more important than my contributions at this point.

I would love to slowly ease off my hours at megacorp, and start working from home some days, but I don't know how that will go. I can probably do it if I get a note from a Dr, but that still feels weird even though I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety.

Thanks for the feedback from people it has worked for. It gives me hope.
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Old 08-19-2014, 02:03 PM   #16
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This glide path is and will continue to be my approach, although "in but not of" would be the most accurate means to describe my relationship with my current "career" (ending very soon, though not soon enough). Chances are high that I will have an encore career, as I have many things I'm passionate about. Not necessarily a "career" per se, as I won't have to do anything for money, although money could be involved. Politics, "leadership" positions, BS most definitely will not be.
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Old 08-19-2014, 02:14 PM   #17
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I'm 60 and FI but haven't quite been able to pull the plug yet, mostly because I enjoy what I'm doing and it's interesting, low stress, with high pay. For the past 5 or so years have worked 4 days a week (8 hours per day) and then do fun volunteer stuff on some of the off days. Ideally, for the next couple of years I'd just as soon stay where I am but work less, maybe 2.5 or 3 days a week but not sure if they'd go for that. I'll probably ask at the end of the year, and if they say no then may just leave.
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Old 08-21-2014, 03:42 PM   #18
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At 58 I retired from f.t. work & work from home about 10 hours/week. I love it and it is the best of both worlds.
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Old 08-21-2014, 03:44 PM   #19
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I've been "semi-retired" for over a year now. Downsized a year ago last April at 47, and with my wife in a new job she enjoys and plans to keep for a while, I realized I didn't really have to ever be a full-time corporate lackey again. So now I work about 23 hours a week, every other week, at our local post office (a three block walk from home) -- and get a full week off every other week. Works well for me, especially since I know that I don't need the job and don't need to carry a huge BS bucket around with me.
"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)
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Old 08-21-2014, 05:46 PM   #20
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I'm early retiring cold turkey at 42 in just a few weeks.... I am leaving a job that taxes my mind and body, and has done so for the last 24 years - I am done Sept. 12, a Friday... come the following Monday morning, there will be absolutely NOTHING that I have to do.

I am curious as to how I am going to react to this wrenching change in my lifestyle. I have a litany of "things" on a "to do" list. But part of me wonders if I am going to park myself on the couch and eat Cheetos. Probably won't... well maybe for a day or two.

Would have considered ramping down by working part time, but it is just not feasible in my line of work. So cold turkey ER it is.

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