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Why Lie About Early Retirement?
Old 04-18-2014, 01:54 PM   #1
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Why Lie About Early Retirement?

I enjoy reading threads about the many euphemisms people use to disguise the fact that they are early retired. The recent thread about feelings of failure upon early retirement touched on this theme a bit as well.

The truth is, I left MegaCorp 2 and a half years ago at age 47 and I still find it awkward to use the word "retired" when other people ask me what I'm up to now. This is especially the case among close friends and family. "Consultant", "managing my investment portfolio", "on hiatus", "just chilling" are all euphemisms I have used.

Achieving financial independence and having the ability to walk away from corporate America was a long standing goal of mine and one of my accomplishments I am most proud of. It took many years of careful planning and sacrifice. The question is, why am I not more comfortable telling people about this?

This recently came up during a reunion with some old college friends of mine. Many of them are struggling in their careers, unhappy, feeling a little trapped. I purposely avoided talking about myself and how I am enjoying life in ER. And it dawned on me that the reason I am uncomfortable talking about ER with other people is because I don't want to make them feel bad. The truth is, I am in an awesome place in life, and they're not, and I don't want to make them feel worse by bragging.

Anyone else feel similarly? Any other reasons you hide your FIRE accomplishments from close friends and loved ones?
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Old 04-18-2014, 02:01 PM   #2
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If I RE, some of my relatives & family members will expect me to spend more time with them. or make demands of time for their benefit. That would be the only reason to hide my REness. Otherwise, I will be perfectly ok to say I am retired.
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Old 04-18-2014, 02:05 PM   #3
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I can understand you feelings. It took me almost a year to feel comfortable describing myself as retired, but having retired at 56 I was closer to a more traditional retirement age than you are at 47.

Even today, I feel more comfortable describing myself as retired with people who are a bit older and deeper into what is more conventionally an age to be retired.

I feel less comfortable describing myself as retired with my peers for the same reasons that you do - I don't want to be perceived as gloating nor do I want to make people feel bad that they are not in a position to retire.

Interestingly, i have yet to have someone ask me "How can you be retired at your age?". I think I would just soft peddle an answer that "I saved consistently while I was working and had some investments that worked out really well" or something like that which is close enough to the truth.

I have sometimes thought I might use the ol' "I retired for medical reasons - I was sick of work" but that seems to me to be a bit too snarky even for me.
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Old 04-18-2014, 02:16 PM   #4
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I do feel similarly. Looking around me, I see a lot of people struggling financially. Some are unemployed, some are disabled, and some are retired on tiny pensions. I feel a bit guilty to be in this privileged position and I don't want to rub people's nose in it. So I don't know if I am concerned with sparing others' feelings or my own.
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Old 04-18-2014, 02:17 PM   #5
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Anyone else feel similarly? Any other reasons you hide your FIRE accomplishments from close friends and loved ones?
Didn't hide anything from my loved ones, they were part of the decision process. Early retirement helped me distinguish my close friends from the chaff and slag, because my friends were happy for me. Not much you can do when family members that are jealous or morons.

I told people I was taking some time off with plans to return to work because so many, when they heard I was voluntarily unemployed, felt empowered to tell me how they thought I should spend my time and remaining brain cells.

There are lots of threads on this because it is such a common challenge.
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Old 04-18-2014, 02:24 PM   #6
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I feel similarly, but I also dissemble because I just don't want to get into a discussion about it. None of anyone's business but mine. So far I have been using the "sabbatical" excuse.
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Old 04-18-2014, 02:28 PM   #7
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I'm just curious. Have other ERs been asked "how did you do it?" type of questions? I expected that it would happen but it hasn't at all in two years. Perhaps it was obvious from observing that I was working like a dog in a high income job and we lived a frugal lifestyle and people put two and two together.
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Old 04-18-2014, 02:37 PM   #8
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I have the perfect phrase lined up to describe my eventual retirement:

"I'm retired".

I have no problems with the R-word. In fact, I look forward to using it as often as I can.
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Old 04-18-2014, 02:38 PM   #9
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Lie About Early Retirement?

Good grief....no way.

My friends and family know I'm retired and are happy for me. If I haven't seen someone in a long time and they ask me what I do (work related), I tell them 'whatever I want...and sometimes not much at all since I'm retired'.
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Old 04-18-2014, 02:40 PM   #10
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I retired at 48, one year ahead of DH, who was 56 at his point of retirement. Initially I felt a bit embarrassed to be retiring at such a relatively young age and told my work peers that I wasn't retiring exactly, I was simply moving in another direction. Rather silly looking back, but that's where I was at the time.

About 18 months in I felt comfortable enough with who I was becoming to start using the word "retired" when asked what I did.

My DH had no such issues. He immediately and happily embraced the word "retired."

Now, some three years later, we love being retired, and use it frequently to describe what we are, when asked. We do, however, moderate our tone somewhat so as not to appear to be gloating. As others have described, we recognize not everyone has the ability to retire as early as we did, though I am of the opinion that many could certainly retire sooner had they made different financial choices than we did, but I guess that's a different discussion.
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Old 04-18-2014, 02:51 PM   #11
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Being in your 40's and telling your friends you are retired is like being at a banquet and showing your steak to the starving beggars at the window.

I learned that first-hand.
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Old 04-18-2014, 03:01 PM   #12
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I'm just curious. Have other ERs been asked "how did you do it?" type of questions? .
Shockingly only once in 2.5 years of ER.

However I have been met with snide remarks like "Oh did you win the lottery?" and "Oh that was only possible since you didn't have kids". OK fair enough maybe if I'd had a kid I would have only saved 50% of my after tax income over a 25 year career instead of over 70% and retired at 50 instead of 47.
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Old 04-18-2014, 03:02 PM   #13
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Being in your 40's and telling your friends you are retired is like being at a banquet and showing your steak to the starving beggars at the window.

I learned that first-hand.
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Old 04-18-2014, 03:12 PM   #14
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Sometimes I just don't want to get into a discussion about how I ER'd at 33. It's pretty strange for the average spend-all-you-make crowd.

Recently, I've kept my mouth shut and described myself as "unemployed" or allowed others (like my daughter) to state I'm unemployed or that I got fired, and I didn't correct them.

Most recently, I deceived a 9 year old. I was chaperoning the 3rd grade field trip for my daughter's class. One of my daughter's friends probably got curious as to why I wasn't at work at the moment (it was around noon on a Wednesday). She asked if I had a job, so I said "not exactly". My daughter then said "my daddy got fired". This confused the 9 year old and she quickly asked "well does your mom work?". Lucky for me, she does! Problem solved and stealth wealth reveal prevented.

Last week, I was invited in for some coffee and an impromptu play date for our toddlers at a friend's house. One conversant started complaining about barely making ends meet - her husband was laid off a few months ago and suffers from depression and doesn't even want to find another job. She works at a grocery store making probably $12-15/hr max. They are behind on their car payments and times are pretty tough in their house right now. I didn't really feel like getting into my little early retirement story, how we did it, the seven figure portfolio, etc etc. So "I do a little freelance writing and some computer work" is how I explain what I do all day. It's not a complete lie (I do about 5-8 hrs freelance writing per month for a small paycheck).

Close friends know what's up or at least know we are financially set and I'm not actually looking for work.
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Old 04-18-2014, 03:15 PM   #15
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When I retire in a couple of years I will go out of my way to advertise that fact to some folks, especially the ones that always ragged on me for being cheap
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Old 04-18-2014, 03:15 PM   #16
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"I don't work anymore".
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Old 04-18-2014, 03:22 PM   #17
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I think it's easier for women to say the R word, mainly because they aren't considered the bread winner, right or wrong.
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Old 04-18-2014, 03:28 PM   #18
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You could use the other "R" word: "I'm relaxed".
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Old 04-18-2014, 03:29 PM   #19
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Sometimes I just don't want to get into a discussion about how I ER'd at 33. .

Close friends know what's up or at least know we are financially set and I'm not actually looking for work.
I'd like to know (with a lot of details) how you retired at 33.
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Old 04-18-2014, 03:33 PM   #20
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I'd like to know (with a lot of details) how you retired at 33.
Just a guess, but if you googled his sig line I'd guess you'd run across a blog explaining the process...
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