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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?
Old 06-30-2004, 10:28 AM   #21
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?

It may be as simple as another category of discussion we often have. People cant imagine identifying themselves alone, without a job to "classify" them.

Imagine having to handle dealing with that in another person. Considering the basic feelings of envy a nice car or watch or suit has on our peers, how about our having conquered a half dozen of their "greatest fears" and appearing nonplussed about it?

"How would I identify myself without a job?"

"What would I do with my spare time?"

"What if I run out of money?"

"But I'd have no routine!"

"I need to continously make and spend more money to be successful"

et cetera...

Maybe I was somehow prewired for this to not matter to me. I never thought of myself as a "<job> guy" but rather as a "guy that has to spend time doing <job> to continue eating and living indoors".

In my early 20's I worked full time at a computer company, 3-5 evenings a week at a hardware store, and midnight to 8am at the local 24 hour convenience store on weekends. When someone asked me conversationally what I did for a living, I usually told them about being the "midnight man" at the convenience store. It led to more interesting conversations than "I sell computer products and services".
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?
Old 06-30-2004, 11:39 AM   #22
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?

First - I'm not there yet, still prepping...sniff, cry, whine...

but it's interesting. I work in a very densely populated building in the public sector. Well over a thousand souls, who all are eligible to a great DBP retirement. I mean this plan has colas, paid medical forever, a really great deal. It comes out of our checks, the local government matches, it's really a nice thing, and I'm the first one to admit I fell into it. I had no idea how good it was until about 6 years ago, when I'd already been working here for 15 years. I had no clue.

So do a great degree it doesn't suprise me that now that I've become somewhat of an evangelist for ER for my fellow employees, that most of us have never given a thought to "R" let alone "ER". Many, and it seems proportional to years of services, get very bright eyed when I bring up the ER subject. They are truely amazed that it is even possible. It just isn't part of the culture.

My typical ice breaker as meetings or seminars breakup is, " So how many years do you have left?" When they say "x", I reply, "I can show you how to shave "y" years off of that. That really gets their attention!

I have yet to get any negative feedback. Of course I'm still one of them, still a worker bee on the inside with 'em. I'm thinking of starting a Church of the Early Retirement.

So far I'm taking the credit for brightening the lives of half a dozen co-workers. Maybe I didn't really shorten their work years much, or any, but I helped them see well in advance what that happy date could be, rather than bumping into it like it seems like so many of our bretheren do. The ones that have a bad day, send a request to the Retirement Board for an estimate, can't believe how much they'll get, and leave a month later. If they'd known, they'd have left a year before... How sad.
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?
Old 06-30-2004, 01:06 PM   #23
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?

Lots of good insight here already, I don't think there is any magic answer that can solve this problem.

I have to agree with the earlier sentiment that if these people were true friends they would find it in themselves to be happy for your success rather than rationalizing that your situation must be the result of dumb luck instead of hard work, sacrifice, and careful planning. The bottom line, which they do not wish to accept, is that everything in life is a tradeoff and that if they had made different choices in their own lives then early retirement could be in reach for them too.

Still I think it is very important not to rub one's early retirement in anyone's face. I've mentioned before that I tell most people that I am a semi-retired self-employed part-timer. Which is fundamentally true as I do a lot of worK. I just don't get paid for it.

An argument I can make though, if someone raises the canard that I am not contributing to society, is that by leaving the work force I have made room for someone else to earn a living. i.e., The more people who can support themselves in retirement the more jobs are opened up for those who still need to work. (On the other hand, now that I do so much DIY work around the house since I am "retired", I am probably taking away one net "service" job from the economy. )

I believe it is generally possible to retire early if you have self control and discipline. We did it by saving 20% of our gross income for over 25 years. It was relatively easy ( despite the fact that my wife seldom worked full time) primarily because we chose not to have children and also because I worked for a company with an excellent 401K plan. Obviously it can be a lot more difficult to do this if you are raising kids and don't have a good job.

But I believe that it is still possible for many many people to live happily on 80% of their gross income. The evidence is that there are other people out their living happily on that amount, almost whatever it might be. It is basically a matter of not succumbing to societal "pressures" and simply living a life style with lower perceived "status". But people whose sense of self worth is dependent on buying things and showing them off, or on how big and fancy their house is, apparently have a really hard time doing this and can not accept that this is a choice within their control.
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?
Old 06-30-2004, 01:42 PM   #24
 
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?

Thank you for bringing up this issue. I've been struggling with this problem since I ERed nearly three years ago. Since I'm only 39, many people just don't get it. I've been considering posting on this topic, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

Some members of my family are constantly harassing me about not working... 'Are you bored yet?' 'When are you going to work again?' 'Don't you want to do something?'. From acquaintances I've heard: 'Oh I forgot, you don't have to work!'. I resisted telling this person that I've already probably worked more hours in my life than than they will when they retire. My elderly aunt introduced me to her friends: ' This is my nephew John, he doesn't have a job!' I have to admit that it's strange going from working 60 hours a week, to nothing at all. Going from getting remarks like: 'you're working late again', to the above.

But I'm finding the pressure to work to be immense. I need help. I recently took a on a small consulting project. My girlfriend (who works) seems to like the fact that I'm working. On another post, someone mentioned that they are a workaholic, and that they can't work. I may have this problem. Once I get engaged, I start working long hours, read less, and do less of the other activities that I enjoy. I think about starting a business. I get a lot of support from friends and family.

I think that one of the problems is that our culture defines men by 'what they do'. I think many older people would rather see me in a 7-7 job that I don't like, than ERed. I've always had a very strong work ethic. I worked hard in school, and in my jobs afterwards. The last three years have been the first time in my adult life that I've had more than 2 weeks off.
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?
Old 06-30-2004, 03:28 PM   #25
 
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?

Re. the "workaholic who can't work", that may have been me. Any hostility, envy, etc has mostly
disappeared I think, now that I am almost 60.
I recall only one person at my high school reunion
who listed himself as retired before I did. Now, it
is not that uncommon to find my contemporaries
retired. A lot of my good friends are still working
though.

JOhn Galt
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Geez, JohnBlake, make yourself happy.
Old 06-30-2004, 05:53 PM   #26
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Geez, JohnBlake, make yourself happy.

IMO, your post uses a lot of references to what other people want to see you doing. If seeing you work pleases your girlfriend/family/friends, but it doesn't please you, then there's gonna be problems.

If work makes you happy, then work all you want!

But if it doesn't make you happy, then find something that does. I was going to recite a list of charitable & beneficial activities but then I realized that you'd just be responding to MY ideas, not yours.

The best thing would be to teach yourself what you want to do, and then do it. If your girlfriend/family/friends really care for you then they'll support your choosing of your own path. If they won't support you, then as difficult & turbulent as it seems, you might need to find other people to spend time with before you get hurt any more!

You sound like you have a lot of creative energy and you definitely have the stamina. You just have to decide if your fulfillment & happiness reside in the workplace or in projects of your own choosing. Ironically, choosing your own path may be the hardest work of all...

Po Bronson comments on the "What do you do?" syndrome in "What Should I Do With My Life?" (http://www.pobronson.com). Maybe it'll spark an idea with yours.

My father has been happily ER'd for almost 20 years, but he still gets the question. He thinks it's phrased as "What did you do when you had a life?"

My father-in-law has also been happily retired for 10 years but he still can't turn off his entrepreneurial hyperactivity. His latest "can't miss" idea is a "Who I Was" jacket. On the front (where your nametag goes) it'd list all of the job titles you'd held. The shoulders & sleeves would have small patches of the corporate logos of all the companies you'd worked for. On the back (in lots of colors & fancy fonts) it'd show a map of all the places you'd worked. On the inside lining it'd list all your salaries (hey, let's not be ostentatious) and how many others you'd supervised. It would look similar to the Navy's deployment/cruise jackets. But just as we start to talk pricing & inventory, we come to our senses and say "But wait, we're not looking for a job!" And then we move on to other topics. But the brainstorming makes him happy...
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?
Old 06-30-2004, 10:28 PM   #27
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?

Quote:
Seems they are both struggling in their own careers to make ends meet, save for college, etc etc. , and rather than feeling 'great at least somebody got free' their feelings are more aptly desribed as envy and resentment, with a new feeling mixed in: ER is somehow morally wrong or at least a slap in the face to the rest of us who are working.
For me, water off a duck's back...

I can understand how people can feel hurt by their "friends" comments, but maybe they (friends) blew their income, whilst the ER folks saved theirs...

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Again, remember this is a reflection of their own unhappiness. Don't bite that cookie, and you'll be happier yourself.
Well said Akaisha!!!

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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?
Old 07-01-2004, 09:27 AM   #28
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?

I dont know why this didnt occur to me sooner.

Tell them: "BLOW ME!".

8)
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?
Old 07-01-2004, 09:32 PM   #29
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?

OK, thanks for all the good advice, I'm over it now. I know there are plenty of folks out here who do get it and these old friends are just going to have to wallow around in their own 'stuff' without me. Hah!
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Re: John Blake question
Old 07-05-2004, 06:49 PM   #30
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Re: John Blake question

Quote:

Some members of my family are constantly harassing me about not working... 'Are you bored yet?' *'When are you going to work again?' 'Don't you want to do something?'. *

But I'm finding the pressure to work to be immense. *I need help. *
John,

know it can be tough with all the peer pressure to go back to work, and I am thinking that you may need to do a little 'selling' of the concept to the people around you to get them on your side and not creating pressure and doubt for you.

Maybe you need to help them understand how your financial plan works, so they see that you are not just spending down some savings. I tell people about the 4% SWR concept regularly so people not only get what I am doing, but maybe will get what they can do, too.

If you look like you are unhappy or moping around, then everybody will look at you like someone they need to help get back into the mainstream. If you look vibrantly happy with your ER life, then they will look at you with different eyes -- maybe that can make an impression so they start to say to each other, 'well, i don't get it myself, but it sure seems to be working for him, so let's stop riding him about it'. Do you sit around in your PJs all day posting online or do you have some sort of place in your community where you fit in and connect -- volunteer work, civic something, helping somebody, church or whatever? These things can get people around you on-side with your vision-- not that you are trying to convince them, but who knows, they may actually know something that can help you. When I used to get way off kilter and out of balance, a lot of times I'd be the last to know.

Are you able to live under the 4% SWR rule without 'loss of dignity' shall we say? Are you able to treat your girlfriend to a nice date or whatever? Or is everyone thinking 'he's going to lose that girl if he doesn't show her a little financial stability and wherewithal' because you're needing to take the cost-cutting too far outside the normal bounds. Could you safely explain to your girlfriend what you are doing, your assets, spending, investment strategy etc so she will get it? Do you trust her enough to tell her this stuff or are you afraid she might start gold-digging? It is a hard call sometimes, because the assets of 25x your spending give you a sense of yourself financially that is impossible for others to see, since they just look at your spending and judge that you, like practically everybody else in the country, are just getting by with that much $. Maybe you get your girlfriend (or aunt or cousin or whoever you feel you can educate) a copy of The Millionaire next Door so she can see that you are a man with a plan. (should be in the library)

This is touchy stuff for a lot of people, and you might think it is all none of their business, but in fact you could look at the other side and say you are really lucky to have people around you who care about you and they just need to be educated so they will 'get it' and stop bugging you.

Hang in there, and good luck!

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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?
Old 07-05-2004, 07:14 PM   #31
 
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?

Or you could take my approach which is
"I don't care!" Seriously, if I encountered any
real envy/hostility I didn't recognize it. But if I had,
I would not have felt an obligation to "explain"
anything because I really don't care if anyone "gets
it" or not. I find the subject (ER) endlessly
fascinating which is why I spend time on this site.
Others "disapproval" of my ER are of no consequence
to me whatsoever. Of course this pretty much applies
to all other areas of my life as well. "You can't please everyone so you got to please yourself." (Ricky Nelson)

John Galt
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?
Old 07-06-2004, 07:54 AM   #32
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?

The common question is,

"What do you do?"

The answer that sent me on my quest for early retirement was a simple,

"I manage my investments."


Nothing before or since has impressed me more.
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?
Old 07-06-2004, 09:54 AM   #33
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?

Quote:
My friends are mixing up a smidgen of moral indignation with a bigger dose of 'only a few really lucky rich people could do this so why don't you just go off and not rub our noses in your good fortune' sort of thing.
That, plus a strong culturally Puritanical code that measures personal value by <1> job title <2> net worth <3> volunteer contribution to society ... in that order.

Quote:
Also, one thing I want to state strongly here, is that just because my Husband and I no longer work for money, does not mean we don't work...We are contributors to society now, just as we were before we retired. *In some ways, even more so.
Akaisha
Akaisha, I fully agree with you ... however, once the topic of my 'job identity' turns to ER, most assume that I am temporarily between jobs or taking up the role of a SAHM ... even though my 'kids' are a 23 married SAHM, a 25 yo, and I'm single. Still, it seems to be more socially acceptable for women than men ... and definitely something ex-s are never supposed to be able to afford unless on welfare. *

{did I hear some sore grapes there? 50/50 split -- he spent his; I invested mine}
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?
Old 07-06-2004, 11:55 AM   #34
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?

[
Quote:
I can't recall asking anyone what they do, and would have no stock answer for the question being asked of me.
This amazes me, Jarhead. Whenever I go to a party or gathering and meet new people, I am always asked, "What do you do". If a man is asking, I assume he wants to find something I might like to talk about. If it's a woman, I think she may be trying to qualify or disqualify me as possible dating material. For the most part in America, you are what you do. Last Saturday was the first time I ever answered that question with "I am retired". I was talking to a young Chinese woman, who had moved straight from Shangai to Richland WA to work at Hanford. I surely don't look young, but she had difficulty with the idea that I might be retired. It just didn't compute.

In the past I have always avoided any answer that would suggest that I had capital. I don't know these people and I like to poor-mouth for protective coloring.

Still, that can be tricky. About five years ago someone told me that because I don't work, yet have plenty of money he and his friends thought I had a drug connection. After that I shared more information, because I definitely did not want the police breaking down my door because some neighbor couldn't figure out my source of support.

The problem is there are probably more 40-ish guys with time on their hands who are selling drugs, than who are living off capital. So it is an easy assumption to make.

Your other point, that your wife's friends pressured her to get a job is also very easy to understand. We had lots of married women friends who worked even though the family unit probably was a net loser after cash expenses and taxes. And of course this gives no attention to all the things they missed that a dedicated homemaker can do to make family life much more secure and enjoyable, and also cheaper. They got jobs because they felt less bored, less socially isolated, and also less dependent on their husbands. They tended to have the "what's yours is ours, what's mine is mine mentality", so their jobs gave them money to spend without consulting their husbands. And of course, they have an easier escape route, should that become appealing.

It has always seemed to me that if a family includes children, they are better off if the mother is home, at least when they are small. Still there is very little social support for that path today, except among conservative (Fundamentalist) religious groups.

I think you and your wife obviously did what worked really well for the two of you, and for your children.

I guess it just one more area where things are changing and for better or worse are very unlikely to go back, at least for the white middle class.

Mikey
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?
Old 07-06-2004, 01:13 PM   #35
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?

It has always seemed to me that if a family includes children, they are better off if the mother is home, at least when they are small. Still there is very little social support for that path today, except among conservative (Fundamentalist) religious groups.

I think you are over generalizing. I just read an article this weekend (New YOrk Times magazine IIRC) about how more kids now have Gen X parents than baby boomer parents, and how the Gen X parents are more likely to stay home with the kids or at least have one parent working only part time. And in my personal experience, a lot of female friends that I would have pegged as career types dropped it all and stayed home after the first kid.

My wife stays home (and homeschools) but I certaintly don't hold us up as normal
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?
Old 07-06-2004, 01:55 PM   #36
 
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?

Thanks for the feedback.

Just to be clear, even though I'm ERed, I still find more opportunities for 'things to do' than I have time for. This fact continues to amaze me. I have many hobbies and interests and have no problem keeping active and productive.

Most of the flak I get is be because I'm so young. I don't think it will be much of an issue 10 years from now when I'm 50. Most younger people I know, relatives and friends, get it. It's the WWII post depression era people that have trouble understanding.

I think you're right that I need to do a better job of explaining myself. Keep in mind that I live 5,000 to 10,000 miles from the people that give me the most pressure. So they don't have first hand knowledge of what I do, and how healthy my lifestyle is. They think I should be married, raising kids, and working my tail off (they were proud when I was doing just that). I think my girlfriend likes me working because she gets pressure from her parents.

I am uncomfortable discussing the details of my financial situation. If I did, people would think I'm 'rich', and I don't think of myself as a rich person (aside from the fact that I don't work much anymore.)



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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?
Old 07-06-2004, 04:01 PM   #37
 
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?

Hey ex-Jarhead! I agree with you about "making it work" in re. raising kids and having a career, which
gave rise to "having it all" and "Supermom!"
As money focused as I used to be, I never pressured
my wife to work when any of the kids were small.
It only became an issue when I retired with a
teenager still at home. My older daughter has a degree
in communications from a very expensive college.
She has had 4 children in 7 years and I expect more will
follow. It's fine with me, but I doubt the degree will ever
be used for producing income. On the other hand,
they are not oriented in that direction so maybe it
will work out just fine.

John Galt
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?
Old 07-06-2004, 10:37 PM   #38
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?

Quote:
Most of the *flak I get is be because I'm so young.
And male ... I still think it is more socially 'acceptable' to be ER and female. You're even getting pressure from your girlfriend's parents thru her.

Congrats on getting out quite early. I worked 20 yrs and that was too long

Quote:
I don't think it will be much of an issue 10 years from now when I'm 50.
No, by then most of your contemporaries will be planning their own 'ER' --
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?
Old 07-07-2004, 03:53 AM   #39
 
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?

This relates to gayl's comment about splitting the
money "he spent his......I invested mine". My divorce
was final in 1998 (same year I fully retired - no coincidence). The
"financial split" was equitable. I was able to quit.
She went to work full time (and continues), remarried
and bought the biggest house in town (with maybe
the biggest mortgage). I have thought that her house
might be a metaphor for our marriage. Anyway, if
there is any resentment about my retirement, it probably
resides with my ex. We all must make our choices.

John Galt
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?
Old 07-07-2004, 08:48 AM   #40
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Re: How do you deal with envy/hostility to ER?

yep, John, he bought ALL the toys and the new houses. But eventually, the bills must be paid. I think it all boiled down to what we each wanted. I wanted to be free by 50 (delayed 2 yrs by lousy stock market) he wanted to have the new gadgets. A definite difference of opinion / lifestyle
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