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Any active semi-ER posters/lurkers?
Old 10-08-2009, 05:50 AM   #1
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Any active semi-ER posters/lurkers?

Did some searches and it seems like most of the active posters are in the dreamer or full retire category, and not semi-ER. Am I mistaken? So the question is directed to semi-er posters/lurkers if you're out there

I mostly lurk now as I felt the semi-ER voices were so quiet outside of a few introductions infrequent posts. Maybe just a time issue??

We've been semi-ER'd about 1 1/2 years and mostly enjoying it so far but I've always felt out of place on the forum talking about satisfying parttime work.
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Old 10-08-2009, 06:16 AM   #2
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I'm a semi-er semi-poster. Work 4 days a week for an engineering co that I'm still 12% owner of. Still enjoying the work, but getting out of the ownership position at maximum $ during a recession is going to be a challenge. I'm going to cut back to 3 days a week hopefully in the next year. Holding out 2 more years until DW gets medical and pension and then pull the plug totally or maintain a consulting position. So far the key for me is maximizing satisfaction through a balance of work and retirement activities.

Time is an issue, partly due to work, and partly due to my home projects that I'm always under some sort of self or DW imposed deadline. I appreciate the in-depth financial / retirement research that the full-time retirees share, but my time constraints are holding me back a little in this area.

I can identify with your sense that there are few semi-er's on the board.

Good luck in your semi-er!
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Old 10-08-2009, 07:24 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by TargaDave View Post
Did some searches and it seems like most of the active posters are in the dreamer or full retire category, and not semi-ER. Am I mistaken? So the question is directed to semi-er posters/lurkers if you're out there

I mostly lurk now as I felt the semi-ER voices were so quiet outside of a few introductions infrequent posts. Maybe just a time issue??

We've been semi-ER'd about 1 1/2 years and mostly enjoying it so far but I've always felt out of place on the forum talking about satisfying parttime work.
Talk about it! I am sure that there are others here who can relate to someone doing satisfying part time work instead of fully retiring. And in this economy, it could be very encouraging to many whose fulltime ER dreams seem to have fallen apart.

I am still working and planning to retire full time, but change is difficult for me. So, right now I am easing into retirement by using up much of my vacation time before I go, and weeks of work are interspersed with weeks of vacation.

Frank, who reads the board but who has only posted a handful of times (despite my encouragement!), is thinking of possibly semi-retiring. He is not sure of what type of part time work he would do or what it would be like, but that is one option he is considering. I am sure that there are many here who would be interested in your observations about semi-retirement, whether they respond to them or not.
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Old 10-08-2009, 07:31 AM   #4
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Seems like a good time to remember that Bob Clyatt, through his book, is a real champion for that strategy (he calls it ESR or early semi-retirement). He addresses both the life-balance thing and the financial ramifications very well, IMHO.
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Our ESR story
Old 10-08-2009, 08:24 AM   #5
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Our ESR story

I too have gained a lot from this board. Unfortunately I am not a good poster so I do not post that often.

I ESR'd in late 2007 at 43 and DW did the same in 2005. I had a side business I had been running for five years then. I do it all from my laptop wherever we are since it is web based. I do need to meet with clients sometimes but that is not to often so we can be gone for two to four weeks at a time when school permits.

I have two other people working in the business for me. the are also retired and just want some part time income. I worked with them for over fifteen years and know them well so this has been good all around since we can cover for each other as needed.

When I ESR'd my budget called for 10% of our income to come from the business. I am ultra consecrative and had a backup plan to rent out our second home if needed to more than replace this income if the business failed. Last year averaged out I worked maybe fifteen hours per week in it and then another 10 in other odd jobs DW and I did. We actually made more than we spent last year by 12%. This year we did not do the odd jobs and I have spent maybe an average of 20hrs a week on the business and we just covered all our expenses for this year with the September billing. Since we are not living of our savings again this year I guess that makes me not even ESR'd. However since the plan was to live mainly from the portfolio and we could if needed maybe we can get a pass as who knows how long this will last. We were very lucky in the great recession and the port is actually above 2007 levels not counting the unplanned extra savings we put in last year.

The good part about this arrangement to us is I can do the work at anytime so I typically get up and get the kids off to school and then do a few hours in the business in the morning. If needed I will do a few more hours in the evening after the kids go to bed. This allows me to maximize family time and have most of the days to do what DW wants! We have taken two 14 day trips this year and one 42 day trip. We have also done at least two 7 day trips. Since we have kids the trips are in the summer or the two week Spring and Fall breaks or the three week Christmas break. DW also allowed megraciously consented to me taking a couple of 4 and 5 day fishing trips and she will make a couple of similar trips with her friends also. This freedom to travel is more than we ever had in a corporate job.

Since we do have kids even when they are in school we know we have only so long before we are back on duty so our schedules are still somewhat controlled and part time work can, and does for us, fit nicely into that routine.

ESR in the almost two years has been wonderful for us. The key for us however was it was not taking a risk to do something we really wanted as we had developed a good foundation and plan. The port was where it needed to be with good padding and we had a very detailed budget that we had always kept and lived from so we knew our ongoing costs and had built in sinking funds for major item maint. and replacement. We even bought private health Ins. two years early two get used to it and have some idea about premium increases which we budget at 15% per year (They run about 12%) so far.

We love the opportunity to choose what we do with our free time each day and regularly consider different business or civic opportunities that we never had time for before. It took 21 years of planing and two jobs apiece but the pay off has been wonderful! I think the kids really like the extra time with us and travel also.

The ESR situation is represented on this board some and ESRBob of course could be considered the father of it. His book was a big help to us in regards to the mindset and planning.

For us having even a small part of our income needs covered by part time work made the whole idea more palatable since we do have kids at home. It also make the question of what do you do for a living easier to answer. I just give them some geek speak and that ends the conversation very quickly.

Give it a try the water is fine!
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Old 10-08-2009, 08:32 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by TargaDave View Post
Did some searches and it seems like most of the active posters are in the dreamer or full retire category, and not semi-ER. Am I mistaken? So the question is directed to semi-er posters/lurkers if you're out there

I mostly lurk now as I felt the semi-ER voices were so quiet outside of a few introductions infrequent posts. Maybe just a time issue??

We've been semi-ER'd about 1 1/2 years and mostly enjoying it so far but I've always felt out of place on the forum talking about satisfying parttime work.
The definition of ESR seems so much more wide open than ER that who is and who isn't might be a bit foggy. From those that have cut back 10% or so and assumed a less stressful lifestyle to those who continue to consult in the family business but only 10 - 20 hours per month. Then there's the folks managing a rental or two. And there's guys like me who haven't collected a penny from an employer or business in over three years but w*rk rather steadily at keeping expenses down by maintaining our home and cars and that sort of thing.

There's probably more ESR chatter here than you think TargaDave when you consider the broad band of lifestyles that ESR encompasses.
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Old 10-08-2009, 08:54 AM   #7
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I cut back to part-time at mega corp about 15 months ago. It leaves me a lot of time and flexibility to do other things, while still getting some salary, benefits, etc. The only drawbacks are that I still have the same corporate life headaches and stresses, but for the most part I let that roll off my back since I know I could walk away any time. I carved out a niche that avoids a lot of this anyway.
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Old 10-08-2009, 09:03 AM   #8
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I fully retired two years ago and since I am an RN part time opportunities abound but I was done with nursing and started selling on ebay. It has now become a small part time job probably seven hours a week . I do it to stay busy and the extra money just pads the fun category . When I first retired I found I needed to keep busy at something I enjoy not what is the typical retirement past time so here I am happily working away in my PJ's .
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Old 10-08-2009, 09:31 AM   #9
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When I was 49 I cut down to part time at my job. I continued with that for several years, taking no new clients and working less and less each year. At some point I dropped below the minimum in receipts to keep health insurance, which isn't unreasonable given that my firm was partially self insured. So I announced I was retiring. No more health insurance. They moved my office up a floor with the old retired men and I no longer had secretarial support. However, I negotiated for them to keep my license in place and pay for continuing education credits for "just in case" reasons for at least three years, and was listed of counsel. They also agreed to pay for any malpractice insurance to cover any work that I might do and I would get 50% of my receipts for that work.

I believe that I went from part time to of counsel status maybe two years ago. In that two years I picked up a few jobs from a favorite client--my successor in this area was hugely busy with a litigation matter. I figured out what the heck and still pick up work now and then from that client as we have a good relationship and I like the work. The nature of the work means it can be done anywhere where I have internet access. It is my mad money. I put it in a separate account and use it for trips, baby, family gifts, and the like. It has enabled me to spend some money and do things that I probably would not have done in this down market. I can see doing this at some level indefinitely, provided my old firm will keep me licensed and cover my malpractice and my old client doesn't fall in love with someone else.
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Old 10-08-2009, 09:56 AM   #10
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I've been semi-ER'd for almost five years. I do consulting w*rk which takes me away from home, but then I come back home and forget all about that stuff for weeks at a time until another j*b comes up. I enjoy the social aspects of w*rking with the guys/gals I am teamed up with, and I think what we are doing is important, so that helps.

From a financial side, I think it has been a good fit. When I quit w*rking full time we were "okay" to ER without this extra income, but we wanted to be able to do more of the non-free fun stuff (travel, hobbies) without feeling like we were puting ourselves at risk for an Alpo future. The income has had other unexpected benefits: We didn't have to sell any stock during the biggest market downturn in 50 years so our portfolio is recovering faster than it otherwise might have. Also, because I've got this income we were able to open a solo401K and DW was able to continue contributing to her TIRA. These vehicles, plus the temporary 0% cap gains rate for those in the 10 an 15% income brackets, have allowed us to sell non-tax-advantaged investments and shuttle them into tax-advantaged accounts. I don't know if I could have done that without the j*b.

As others have said, there are probably more ESR types here than one might think. It's just that we can talk about work-related stuff at work, but this is the best place to talk about the rest of life.

And, I second the recommendation for Bob Clyatt's book.
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Old 10-08-2009, 10:17 AM   #11
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I usually pass myself as semi-retired.

Retired from NASA at age 50 in 2000 with a 4 and 2 year old boys. Did part-time consulting with a NASA subcontractor for awhile. Good money but I soon tired of the nature of the tasks so moved on.

Took an HR Block tax course and offered a job. Largely enjoyed the work and it gave me something to do in the dog days of winter when it was more difficult to get outdoors (Jan-April). Worked 5 tax seasons for them.

Now work for a local CPA firm Jan-April to help out with the tax season. Gives me something to do, a feeling of having some expertise that is needed, and provides extras. And I have an answer when asked "what do I do?"

With young boys, (now 12 and 10) it isn't what most folks thing of as a typical retirement life. We are very much subject to the school and boys activity schedules just as most families. The after school hours tend to get booked, but I'm free all day to do errands and house chores......means the weekends are free for family times (going camping Friday-Monday as the boys have a 4 day weekend from school).

Oh, since I'm largely governed by the school schedule, I signed up as a school crossing guard. Pays not bad for an hour a day. I also get tapped for a lot of volunteer duties........Cub Scout pack leader & treasurer, soccer team manager, chaperone on school outings, etc.


Primarily live on my NASA pension augmented by the tax and crossing guard gigs. Do tap into the port occasionally but most years it has been for no more than 1% rate.

Wife doesn't work, she ceased working when the first one was born. She's buried in volunteer stuff such that the last two nights I'm the one who got boys fed and to their activities.

Taking the early retirement was a great decision in hindsight....got to watch the boys grow without the hassle of a career. Priceless.

RE2Boys
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Old 10-08-2009, 10:21 AM   #12
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... but I've always felt out of place on the forum talking about satisfying parttime work.
I think every discussion board could benefit from more stories about satisfying work. There just don't seem to be enough stories to go around...
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Old 10-08-2009, 10:47 AM   #13
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What is semi-retirement exactly? It seems to be one of those terms that nobody can ever clearly define or agree on. I suspect that there are more "semi-ERs" on this board than you think.
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Old 10-08-2009, 11:14 AM   #14
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I think every discussion board could benefit from more stories about satisfying work. There just don't seem to be enough stories to go around...
Yes there are quite a few here who consider "satisfying work" to be an oxymoron. From a recent poll I posted, my guess is that maybe 15% would describe their work as providing meaningful satisfaction.
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Old 10-08-2009, 11:53 AM   #15
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We've been semi-ER'd about 1 1/2 years and mostly enjoying it so far but I've always felt out of place on the forum talking about satisfying parttime work.
I'd be interested in hearing a little more about your semi-ER'd situation.

What changed? You negotiated a part time situation at the same formerly fulltime job? You found a part time job with a different employer? You left a full time job and started a part time business? Or?

Maybe it was the other way around....... You were fully retired but started a part time business or stumbled across an interesting part time job you couldn't resist?

With the future of our passive investments looking a tad grim at the moment, I think lots of posters here would be interested in talking about opportunities for having some relatively painless part time income.
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Old 10-08-2009, 02:36 PM   #16
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Thanks for the great replies! Much more encouraged to read the varied stories and know there are content part-timers out there. It is interesting to read some common themes

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I'd be interested in hearing a little more about your semi-ER'd situation.
ESRBob was also catylst for me. That combined with a 12 yr old creating a daily routine factor, a type A personality, and a small biz I started that had run its course. We moved from a Central PA college town to the Outer Banks (NC) so it was a big cultural change. DW is an engineer and luckily negotiated a half time position long distance with her former employer. In spite of occassional trips back to the factory she does enjoy her work tracking the plant manufacturing process and the pay is hard to beat. I think she would like to see it go at least a few more years and then transition to something more local but we'll have to see.

I went cold turkey from starting/running/selling a very small hi-tech startup to rehabbing a small waterfront beach box, to becoming a partime kiteboard instructor. Sounds crazy but it is one of my passions and believe it or not people come from all over the US and abroad to learn kiteboarding at Cape Hatteras, and pay good money to do it. I worried about turning a hobby into a job but much to my surprise the parttime aspect keeps it stimulating. This year I worked with a resort/school, next year I will work independent about 2-3 days/wk during spring-summer-fall. Many years since I ever taught anything and I really enjoy working with people with a strong desire to learn.

We cover about 80% of annual expenses with income but that will drop when DW's position eventually ends. The housing/stock market downturn and a wayward 18yr old has added some mental stress to the transition but it hasn't altered the overall plan of continued parttiming at some level till the younger one graduates HS. We LBYM but living waterfront with dock, boats (small ones), etc, on a spit of sand sticking out in the Atlantic isn't exactly the most conversative approach to ER. But no regrets on that.

My (obvious) observation has been that even when you get to that envisoned dream situation in life it still takes real effort to be happy and balance it all. Health, family, relationships, work, etc all need regular effort and a positive mental spin. I also tend to beat myself up with shoulda-coulda-woulda's about investing-timing but that gets tiring so I quickly move on. At least I never question the wonderful partner I chose.

The teaching season is winding down and I have a 17' classic daysailor to restore over the winter along with some house finishing and our annual trip to the Keys to fish. It's never perfect but it's a pretty dern good life and if I died tomorrow I'd have no regrets.

Thanks again for the stories and input!
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Old 10-08-2009, 05:02 PM   #17
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I am Semi-ER'd... Just haven't told my employer that, though...
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Old 10-08-2009, 05:02 PM   #18
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Then perhaps I am also semi-retired... I also work part-time only, make much less than I could given my level of education but I have a much greater quality of life now than I did when I worked full time. Actually, I could stop working altogether as DW's income easily covers our expenses and we wouldn't need to touch our portfolio to pay for anything even if she went part-time. I personally would not describe myself as semi-retired but maybe I am
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Old 10-08-2009, 06:30 PM   #19
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I am Semi-ER'd... Just haven't told my employer that, though...
Your next step is to be fully retired on the job!
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Old 10-08-2009, 08:03 PM   #20
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Did some searches and it seems like most of the active posters are in the dreamer or full retire category, and not semi-ER. Am I mistaken? So the question is directed to semi-er posters/lurkers if you're out there
We've been semi-ER'd about 1 1/2 years and mostly enjoying it so far but I've always felt out of place on the forum talking about satisfying parttime work.
In a stunning and hopefully unrelated coincidence, Liz Pulliam Weston just managed to destroy most of her journalistic fact-checking credibility with this article on ERs:
Retired by 50: Where are they now? - MSN Money

Quote:
"It's not like we don't have the money to get by day to day," Rob said. "But that's a dark cloud on the horizon."
So Rob is considering his options, including a possible return to the corporate world and a steady paycheck.
"I have to do something else at some point," Bennett said. "But I have no intention of doing that today."
Yes, that guy.

The comments are giving her some heat about the other profiles because she's calling them "retired" when even "semi-retired" may be overly generous.
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