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Women and FIRE - Experience
Old 08-15-2009, 07:03 PM   #1
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Women and FIRE - Experience

What has it been like for FIREd women on the forum?

Do you get asked "What do you do all day"?

or told - "You're too young to be retired."

or "How can you afford it?" and so on.

I got lots of questions, concern and push back as a FIRE man.
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Old 08-15-2009, 07:04 PM   #2
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Haven't been able to spot this topic through the forum's search...so here goes.

Do women have an easier or harder time of it being FIRE?
Easier or harder time as to what?
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Old 08-15-2009, 08:25 PM   #3
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Assuming the same income and money managing savvy as men, the only reason I can imagine it being harder for women is that on average their money has to last 6-7 years longer than it does for men.
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Old 08-15-2009, 08:46 PM   #4
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I left my j*b at 41. A few people told me I was too young to retire, and people to this day still say the same thing. People continue to ask "what do you do all day". My feeling is I didn't get "slammed" as much since I am a female, married and my DH was working at the time.

If I had found myself single shortly after I retired, I would have been fine as I was FI. No one ever considered this, and I didn't tell them. They just assumed I was living off my DH's endeavors.

Some people can be condescending to me, but I've learned to let it roll off my shoulders....most times, that is.
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Old 08-15-2009, 08:48 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Danny View Post
What has it been like for FIREd women on the forum?

Do you get asked "What do you do all day"?

or told - "You're too young to be retired."

or "How can you afford it?" and so on.

I got lots of questions, concern and push back as a FIRE man.
I'm not retired quite yet, but I've had most of those questions. Here is how I answer some of the questions I get:

(1)"What will you do all day?" (Answer #1: "I have a million things I want to do" and then listing them one after the other until the person walks away. Answer #2: "My companion Frank and I are going to get our houses ready to sell, put them on the market, sell them, move to southern Missouri, rent there, look for houses close together there, buy, renovate, and decorate them, and get to know my new community - - and all this should take up the first couple of years.")

(2)"Why are you going to retire?" (Answer: "I have other things that I want to do with my life than work, and I plan to throw my alarm clock into Lake Ponchartrain!")

(3)"Are you sure you can afford it?" (Answer: "Yes, my house is paid off, I don't need much, and thank goodness for the TSP and the G Fund.")

I am 61 and look every day of it (the avatar is not me), so I don't get "You're too young to be retired".

Danny, I really feel like all of these questions are very natural ones for people to ask. They are curious, often more than a little envious, and concerned that I might not have thought through this retirement idea. They know that many people must defer retirement due to the economy and want to make sure that I will be OK. I think maybe as a single, older woman with no relatives nearby I might inspire more protective feelings from people than a man might, but I don't mind that at all.
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Old 08-15-2009, 08:48 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Danny View Post
What has it been like for FIREd women on the forum?

Do you get asked "What do you do all day"?

or told - "You're too young to be retired."

or "How can you afford it?" and so on.

I got lots of questions, concern and push back as a FIRE man.

I think that this likely occurs less for women and men are more likely to get the funny little comments. Like Ha mentioned once, if you are young and retired male the assumption probably is something is not quite right with you. For a woman, I think that is less likely to be the case.

The only time I ever have got those comments is from clients, other lawyers in town, or other professional "downtown" people I regularly would run into. Not from people like the neighbors or others.
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Old 08-15-2009, 09:04 PM   #7
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Do you get asked "What do you do all day"?
All the time. I posted my favorite answers recently on another thread.

or told - "You're too young to be retired."
FIREd at 48, so I get this all the time. People immediately assume I'm 55 cuz I w*rked for the fed. But they instinctively know by my appearance that I'm not that age. It makes for some interesting looks and conversations.

or "How can you afford it?" and so on.
If this is asked, I do not give out info if it is just a casual acquaintance.
If it is a good friend whom I have not seen in a long time, I may give an explanation of how I did it. Usually not. Nobody's business but mine.
I usually say something like "I saved up to 19% of my salary in a 401(k) for over 18 years and it really paid off."
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Old 08-15-2009, 10:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post
What has it been like for FIREd women on the forum?

Do you get asked "What do you do all day"?

or told - "You're too young to be retired."

or "How can you afford it?" and so on.

I got lots of questions, concern and push back as a FIRE man.

All of the above.

So?

Who's life is it, anyway?

-- Rita
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Old 08-18-2009, 08:44 AM   #9
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For the past 6 years I've been eldercaring in my hometown where I've been gone from for over 40 years. The people I know now are not people I knew as a kid, so they have no idea of my background at all.
You would not believe how many people (mostly other women and one very gay older guy who really lives off his trust fund for years) either hinted at the questions or directly asked me what I did for a living before I got here, and IF I had made enough money to save anything. Some even started grilling me with questions about what I did for a living etc. etc. It was almost as if they didn't expect a woman to have made any money on their own. Sexist thinking? Or just a comment on what their own life and lack of saving is like? Maybe this area has been so depressed for so long or so behind the times that they don't anticipate any woman to have made any money? A man, yes. A woman, no. It is in the depressed ex-manufacturing area of the Midwest after all. These questions would NEVER come from someone in one of the major cities where I've lived before (DC, Chicago, Houston) as there are many women in those major cities who are successful businessowners.
Since I see some of the other lady posters say they had some of the same questions, I guess I wasn't the only one.
Personally, I thought all that questioning was just small minded stupidity...but I was polite about it.
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Old 08-18-2009, 09:07 AM   #10
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For the past 6 years I've been eldercaring in my hometown where I've been gone from for over 40 years. The people I know now are not people I knew as a kid, so they have no idea of my background at all.
You would not believe how many people (mostly other women and one very gay older guy who really lives off his trust fund for years) either hinted at the questions or directly asked me what I did for a living before I got here, and IF I had made enough money to save anything. Some even started grilling me with questions about what I did for a living etc. etc. It was almost as if they didn't expect a woman to have made any money on their own. Sexist thinking? Or just a comment on what their own life and lack of saving is like? Maybe this area has been so depressed for so long or so behind the times that they don't anticipate any woman to have made any money? A man, yes. A woman, no. It is in the depressed ex-manufacturing area of the Midwest after all. These questions would NEVER come from someone in one of the major cities where I've lived before (DC, Chicago, Houston) as there are many women in those major cities who are successful businessowners.
Since I see some of the other lady posters say they had some of the same questions, I guess I wasn't the only one.
Personally, I thought all that questioning was just small minded stupidity...but I was polite about it.
Oh, boy, do I understand what this is like. Small town syndrome and definitely a sign of the economic climate. As a contrast, the farmer's wives and daughters are very savvy about finances and operations.
The people who know me well are aware I had an excellent job and am a saver and investor. They are also aware of my survivor status. No prying. It is more marvel that I experience. Several gals in the 10-20 years older range are forever congratulating me and very supportive.
Those who know me casually have no clue as to how a woman my age could retire. So I let them assume what they wish and mimimize information release.
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Old 08-18-2009, 09:24 AM   #11
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I worked in a government job for 27 years and now receive a very nice pension. I still am amazed at the people who think my husband must have made a lot of money to enable us to have the retirement we have. Truth is he did make a great salary, but my pension is a major part of our retirement. Most men never ask what I did or when I retired they just assume that the money originated with DH and I am just a "life accessory".

I retired at 55. I don't really care if people think I am too young to be retired. I wouldn't go back to work for anything. But yes a lot of people told me I would not like retirement at the young age of 55. Those were mostly the people whose own identity is wrapped up in "what they do". They never developed a life outside of work.

When they ask what I do all day, I respond that I fill my days with things I want to do. 'nough said.

I have many ex coworkers who can not retire because of their spending and saving habits. My husband and I live very conservatively in a very nice home. We splurge on travel and not possessions. Life is good. And that bothers some of the worker bees.
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Old 08-18-2009, 05:09 PM   #12
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I worked for the Federal government for 31 years with a nice pension of my own. I retired within 3 months of my husband's death. I have NO IDEA what people thought about my retiring at 55 and I really don't care. I'm sure there was quite a bit of tongue wagging going on though.
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Old 08-18-2009, 05:18 PM   #13
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Before I retired I was asked a lot of the above questions. But since I've retired I don't recalled being asked those questions.
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Old 08-18-2009, 07:06 PM   #14
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Easier for women fersure. Men are expected to be working unless you are elderly, disabled or engaging in extreme displays of wealth. Any man under 60 who isn't at work is immediately suspect. Women, OTOH, have lots of socially accepted ways to not be working.
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Old 08-19-2009, 09:28 AM   #15
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I think the aspect of social life is one in which retired women do better than men especially if they are alone . I see women groups everywhere . There are tons of female social clubs you can join and if you want new friends it is easy to find them . Men rely more on their wives or SO's for social contact . Unless they have a hobby such as golf or dancing that gets them social pals .
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Old 08-19-2009, 07:06 PM   #16
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I suppose it is the same small-mindedness that causes some people to assume (incorrectly) that my husband must have had money, since he is considerably older.

On the rare occasion that anyone has had the temerity to make remarks, I say trophy wives are beautiful and don't have to work, so I am 1/2 the way there already, and hope to be a full-blown trophy wife some day when I retire.
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Old 08-20-2009, 11:31 AM   #17
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I think society's perception of the sexes would make it easier for a woman to retire early. I think the assumption of any man retiring early would be that they are unemployed and should get themselves back out there.

I think hardly a week goes by without someone asking my DH am I working yet. All DH tells them is it is better for us if one of us stays at home and we have decided that will be me.
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Old 08-20-2009, 11:38 AM   #18
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I think society's perception of the sexes would make it easier for a woman to retire early. I think the assumption of any man retiring early would be that they are unemployed and should get themselves back out there.
Good point. Though we'd like to think society is progressing, women are still more likely to be defined by their home and family life and men are more likely to be defined by their career and the size of their.... paycheck. Thus a man who is capable of working and doesn't -- especially before "retirement age" -- is more likely to be seen as a slacking ne'er-do-well who needs to go get a j*b, even as a woman is more likely to get a pass (as long as she has an SO with a good j*b).
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Old 08-20-2009, 01:32 PM   #19
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I'd have to say that almost everyone has been very supportive of my early retirement. Anyone who knew me well while I was working also knew I was unhappy at the j*b, and that I was carefully planning my exit.

If people seem genuinely interested, I'll usually explain at a very high level what I did to plan for it for many years.

I suspect it is easier for women in general. At least in this area, there are plenty of SAHMs, so nobody really questions why a woman wouldn't be working. I have a number of friends who were SAHMs and, now that their kids are in high school or out of the house, still don't work. So I also have no shortage of female friends to socialize with or have lunch with if I want.
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Old 08-28-2009, 03:19 AM   #20
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"You're too young to be retired."-is the most popular! It is not yours bussines-I am reply,-it is my life!
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