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What do you tell people you do?
Old 01-13-2004, 11:54 AM   #1
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What do you tell people you do?

This is perhaps a silly problem (and one many people would like to have), but someone asks "what do you do" (i.e. whats your occupation), what do you tell people?

I retired 2 years ago at 38, so when someone asks me what I "do", I inevitably stammer and stumble and come up with no good answer...perhaps I am just embarrassed by my good fortune, but I just can't bring myself to say (to someone I just met) "I am retired".

Anyone else feel that way? or should I just get over it? Its sounds an awfull lot like boasting or bragging, which isn't my style...

Should I just make something up?
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Re: What do you tell people you do?
Old 01-13-2004, 12:09 PM   #2
 
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Re: What do you tell people you do?

Welcome farmer Ed to the forum!

Whoa 38! -- That's young. Well, that is a very common question and the one question that sociologists will tell you more about the person than any other. If you worked and saved a lot, tell them what you used to do and now your retired. If you had a large inheritance or hit the lottery, you proably still had a job and can tell them that also and just make them think you saved a lot.

The next question they ask is 'What do you do all day'

Yup, I get this a lot also. When I see the implication that there must be something wrong, if I'm not working ; I have started answering this way:

"I do the same things I did in my off time when I was working, I just have more time to spend with my Family, Friends and hobbies and take longer and more vacations - Of course if someone does not have a life outside of work, I would not recommend this lifstyle for them"

This of course implies that there may be something more deranged about someone that does not wish to retire.
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Re: What do you tell people you do?
Old 01-13-2004, 12:30 PM   #3
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Re: What do you tell people you do?

I guess theres a range:

- I do <whatever you did> but i'm currently unemployed and living off my savings.

- I do <whatever you did> and put away some money and i'm taking a sabbatical for a while

- I'm a <whatever> consultant, currently taking a break.

- I got lucky in the stock market and made enough to take some time off (or retire early)

- I watched my money and saved as much as I could and invested it well and now I dont have to work if I dont want to

- (if theres a gain in it for me) I'm UNEMPLOYED!

When people ask what I do, I just tell them the same thing cut-throat said: the same stuff I used to do on my time off, but in different ways. Instead of grabbing a cup of coffee at a coffee place on my way to work, I grind the beans daily, make up my own cup and lazily read the paper. Instead of having a lawn care service I cut my own grass and hand pull the weeds. I shop daily and prepare all my own meals from scratch. In fact, I often utter to my better half "I dont know how the hell I could fit an 8 hour a day job into my life at this point"!
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Re: What do you tell people you do?
Old 01-13-2004, 02:01 PM   #4
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Re: What do you tell people you do?

Farmer, I too, have been somewhat embarrased to reveal my semi retirement status even at a much older age than you.

I seem to have acquired the notion(don't know why) that there may now be somewhat of a social stigma attached to ER? ? ? Maybe it's a hangover from the "roaring 90's" whereby if you're not making millions, then you're considered a loser, on a par almost with the homeless. I certainly don't think that way but wonder out loud if ER is considered politically incorrect nowadays? ? ?

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Re: What do you tell people you do?
Old 01-13-2004, 07:45 PM   #5
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Re: What do you tell people you do?

38 eh? Good job!

I retired at 48, and had the same problem. I don't remember it being discussed elsewhere on this board, so thanks for bringing the subject up. I wanted to retire early, and was hoping the company would offer the early retirement program again (I wasn't eligible the previous time, had to be 45), and they did.

There are groups of people I do things with where I am uncomfortable appearing wealthy. Mostly outdoors stuff, low cost but I enjoy it. For that group I took the downsizing offer from Avaya and am seeing how long I can live on it. I hope for as long as I live...but I don't add that to groups that include people struggling to make ends meet.

For others, I'm retired, and if it needs some tempering, I mention the downsizing offer, and that I think I have saved enough to be mostly retired. I do manage an apartment building I own, and that takes a few days a month.

Others tell me I'm too young to retire. I just shrug, and tell them it's nice having time to walk my kid to school, and do things during the week when it isn't crowded.

The best reaction is my dad. He can't hear on the phone and lives near my sister. She told him I was retiring, and he thought a minute, said I was 48 right?, she said yes, and he said, wow, he beat me then. He had retired at 50. Always nice to impress your dad!

jamesgang - I am not sure I would say a stigma. Its more of a not fitting in thing by seeming so much better off.

Wayne
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Re: What do you tell people you do?
Old 01-13-2004, 10:02 PM   #6
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Re: What do you tell people you do?

Depends on context. I tried the sabbatical line for a while, but eventually somebody asks when I'm going back to work.

For most people, I work at home. Which is true, I just don't get paid for it very often.

For nosey neighbors, I'm a real estate investor, which is also true.

When the barber asks me why she's cutting my hair in the middle of a work day, I tell her I took the day off, which is true for the other 364 days as well.

For friends and family, I'm retired. Or semi-retired. I'm still not sure myself.
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Re: What do you tell people you do?
Old 01-13-2004, 11:55 PM   #7
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Re: What do you tell people you do?

I too have the same problem. I am 39 and "almost" retired. I work from home for about 3 hours per day until this summer when I will be fully ER'd. Picking the kids up from school is one of the most difficult ones. Nannies and homemakers are very curious how I can do the school run. Right now I can say "work from home", but not for long. I think the line "private investment manager" works for me. Its the truth and bores people so quickly that they soon change the subject.
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Re: What do you tell people you do?
Old 01-14-2004, 01:43 AM   #8
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Re: What do you tell people you do?

Well I am glad to find out that others have the same "problem" as me. I used a lot of the same ideas that others use here, i.e. it varies depending on the audience...

My poor mother really doesn't understand it either; she was talking on the phone to my wife the other day and my mother told my wife that she saw an ad in the paper for a job that she thought I would be interested in; it was working for an arborist, taking down 100-150 foot trees...in the winter. and it has been way below zero and windy most of the time! Yikes. Not sure I'd want to take that up at my age, but thanks anyway mom!

I

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Re: What do you tell people you do?
Old 01-14-2004, 03:06 AM   #9
 
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Re: What do you tell people you do?

My mother used to do that to me all the time. After I
semiretired in1993, she constantly clipped ads and
mailed them to me, or pointed them out in the paper.
I kept telling her I did not want a job, but it took years
until she stopped. Maybe all moms are alike??

John Galt
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Re: What do you tell people you do?
Old 01-14-2004, 03:09 AM   #10
 
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Re: What do you tell people you do?

And another thing. Back when I was still working part time, I interviewed for an outside job with an arborist.
I liked the sound of it. No offers though and it was just as well.
I was 50 years old with a bad back. Like a lot of stuff
it looked appealing until you examined the details.

John Galt
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Re: "What did you do before you died"?
Old 01-14-2004, 08:07 AM   #11
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Re: "What did you do before you died"?

My retired father feels like people are asking him to tell them not who he IS but who he "WAS". We don't spend much time with those types of people.

My retired father-in-law wants to market a "Who I Was" jacket. It'd have your corporate logos plastered all over along with dates, responsibilities, and salary ranges. It'd be made by the same companies that make military deployment/cruise jackets. It'd be made out of high-quality material in case you need to live in it while you're on the streets...

I retired nearly two years ago at 42. Depending on the situation and the person, I say:
I'm an at-home parent.
I'm retired.
I retired to manage our family's finances.
I'm a surfer.
I'm running a stock portfolio.

Occasionally, it helps to say that you're between jobs! It certainly redirects the conversation.

If all else fails, ask "Why are you working?" and then put on your best sympathetic expression.
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Re: What do you tell people you do?
Old 01-14-2004, 01:51 PM   #12
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Re: What do you tell people you do?

I once had a denim jacket covered with patches from every plane, space program I ever worked on - AND the most interesting beers I ever drank. But that was before ER.

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Re: "What did you do before you died"?
Old 01-14-2004, 03:37 PM   #13
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Re: "What did you do before you died"?

Quote:
. . .
If all else fails, ask "Why are you working?" and then put on your best sympathetic expression.
Although I've been at RE for only 9 or 10 months, I've already experienced this issue enough to have tried most of these things myself. But I like this one a lot and am now just looking for the opportunity to use it.

In my case, I was lucky enough to get out through a buyout as part of a reduction in force. To me this was incredibly fortunate, but many of my professional colleagues assume that I actually suffered an embarrassing layoff and that I am only pretending to enjoy life without career. I continue to get email messages and phone calls telling me of jobs that I would be qualified to take. When I meet some of my professional colleagues and answer the inevitable question, "What are you doing?", with a response that I am retired, they often become awkward and appologetic. Although I never felt in the least bit guilty about my retirement, I did go through a period of time where I dreaded the awkwardness of my friends, family and colleagues. I think I went through all the forms of answer others have posted. After awhile, it does become funny.
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Re: "What did you do before you died"?
Old 01-14-2004, 04:57 PM   #14
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Re: "What did you do before you died"?

I was around 40 when I retired. It is hard to say exactly because it happened gradually. I was self -employed, and I just took fewer and fewer new clients. I loved having so much time, but at least where I live a man's job is his identity, so I was never real comfortable with people who didn't know me. Once my insurance agent brought me 25 pounds of pinto beans!

Also I never wanted anyone to know how much money I had. A lot of people think if you have $One million you are a "millionaire", with all that is implied by this term. Well, I'm here to say --"not true"! With a 4% SWR, which IMO is generous to foolhardy, someone with a million $ is only slightly better off than a supervisor in a Radio Shack store.

I was bailed out by getting silver hair. No more embarrassment-- I have silver hair and wrinkles. Who should say I shouldn't be retired? I go into stores and say, "do you have an old peoples' discount?" It also makes it easier to bargain. I can act poor, old, senile, whatever it takes. I am even getting to enjoy this little bit of theater.

The really funny thing is that in spite of my hair, I actually look younger than I did 15 years ago, because my health is better. Once when I was 45 a clerk in McDonalds offered me a senior coffee. Since I had a 3 year old son, I almost cried.

Mikey
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Re: What do you tell people you do?
Old 01-14-2004, 11:47 PM   #15
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Re: What do you tell people you do?

With the number of people reaching retirement age with insufficient funds, you can expect to see the media starting to glorify the virtues of a long working life and by association, ER may get stigmatised (is that a word? ). We may well be pariahs in the near future...and nothing will please me or the DW more.
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Re: What do you tell people you do?
Old 01-15-2004, 09:17 AM   #16
 
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Re: What do you tell people you do?

With the number of people reaching retirement age with insufficient funds, you can expect to see the media starting to glorify the virtues of a long working life and by association, ER may get stigmatised (is that a word? ). We may well be pariahs in the near future...and nothing will please me or the DW more.

Funny how, rich people live in much more opulence than us, achived through no more work than being born, but they are never seen as this kind of pariah. And they're never seen as lazy or immoral or unproductive and all the things we are accused of if we don't waste 65 yrs busting our balls for much much less wealth. They are always seen as somehow admirable or having achived great things. And when someone does use the term "idle rich" they don't care a flyin' F.

We spend half a lifetime scraping together 750,000 or thereabouts and live off of 25,000 and we're in danger of being called pariahs.
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Re: What do you tell people you do?
Old 01-15-2004, 12:52 PM   #17
 
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Re: What do you tell people you do?

Living well really is the best revenge.

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Re: What do you tell people you do?
Old 01-15-2004, 06:50 PM   #18
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Re: What do you tell people you do?

When we first retired, now 14 years ago, we received all kinds of reactions from "our friends". They would ask "how's your vacation going?", or they would no longer invite us to their expensive parties etc. We moved on from those "friends". Now when we go to a place where people know us from the past, we are a novelity!

Also, many times people will say, "your too young to retire" To that I reply, I did not know there was an age restriction...that usually takes care of that one.

Since I was a broker, and dealt with "older" clients, they were the ones who enchouraged us to "go for it". Glad we did.

Follow your dreams folks...

Billy
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Re: What do you tell people you do?
Old 01-16-2004, 08:48 AM   #19
 
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Re: What do you tell people you do?

Hello Billy and friends. If I had a dollar for every time someone said "You're too young to be retired!",
Why, I'd have enough to retire .

John Galt
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Re: What do you tell people you do?
Old 01-16-2004, 06:30 PM   #20
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Re: What do you tell people you do?

John,
Exactly! When people say this, you can see them thinking....".hummm I must be doing something wrong..."

Follow your dreams...
Billy

Web site http://www.geocities.com/ba264
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