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How do you define retirement?

“Retirement isn’t the right word anymore”, is the phrase used by an article that I was reading recently. It was describing how people used to see retirement as, You hit 65, quit work, and sit around and get a pension, living out your golden years, or even more generally, you stop working and life slows down.

Anyone that is reading this blog has probably come across Mr. Money Moustache, and other blogs and heard them referencing the “retirement police”. These are the trolls or just misguided folks who seem to prefer the, “If you are working, then you’re not really retired” type of definition of retired. I say ballyhoo to all that, and I prefer to describe our upcoming change in life as a pre-tirement, stay at home parent type of thing. Real specific huh? I will likely work at some point, but chances are it will because I want to, not because I have to – so bring it on retirement police!!!

The biggest difference I see in those that define retirement as “You don’t work” is that they see work as a financial obligation and not a choice. Simply put, I will see it as a choice I can make and decide whether to participate or not. If it gets to be no fun, I can quit and not stress about bills, getting another job, and how this short stint may affect my resume, or even next job application. I have no doubt that I will work once I quit my corporate job and transition to stay at home dad. I’ll bet even more on the fact Mrs. SSC will also work in some capacity. We’re hoping to move to a place with a small college, so that either one or both of us may be able to teach. Also, we will be in a place with outdoor activities, which means there should be some outdoor stores, possibly even flyshops and I wouldn’t mind spending a few hours a week getting to talk shop about good trails, nice hikes, good fishing spots, what’s biting, what flies are working, etc… Yeah, they’ll come with mundane times of inventory, restocking, setting up displays, yada yada yada, but I’m too social to start sitting around in my recliner watching golf and holing up at the house for weeks on end. 1) I can’t stand watching golf, even for background napping noise; 2) I need a better recliner; and 3) why the hell wouldn’t I spend more time outdoors now that I don’t have a job chaining me to a desk?!?!

Actually just this weekend, I was double checking with Mrs. SSC that our current dream retirement town has a ski resort/big hill with lifts that take me up, so that I can snowboard down. I don’t need anything huge like Vail, or Breckenridge, I prefer the smaller places like Loveland Pass (usually empty and a LOT of fun runs). The point is we were talking about being able to get the kids to school and hit the slopes for a bit when there’s fresh snow on a Monday, or maybe Wednesday, or whenever there’s fresh snow. So working at an outdoor outfitters  and being able to relay that info to tourists looking for nice runs on the slopes, sounds like a fun time for me. If you couldn’t tell from my posts, I can be quite a Chatty Cathy if you catch me on a topic I like. Topics that I’m not knowledgeable about, or don’t find very interesting though, can be a lot harder to discuss. For me, financial management is one of those. I can discuss it very thoroughly, but what I can’t do is explain “good financial management”. Actually, I can regurgitate what everyone else says you should do with your money, but I would have a hard time showing how to apply it in your life. I’m not financially minded, and except for the means to an end aspect of it, I could do well with not ever reading any more finance articles in my life. It just doesn’t do anything for me, so I can assure you, in my retirement, I will NOT be doing any financial advising, seminars, or anything related to that. Come to think of it, it does sound like an easy way to make some coin, “Come to my seminar and find out how you too can retire before 45!! For only $200, I will reveal my “secrets” to early retirement and you too can tell your job to shove it! (individual results may vary: especially if you don’t marry well, invest well, or marry someone that does both, oh and nice incomes to fund the retirement nest egg are also strategic and advised).  Sounds like every other seminar I see ads for on tv, but rest assured, you won’t see Mr. SSC on your television shilling for your hard earned dollar.

Fishing shouldn't only be done on vacations!

Fishing shouldn’t only be done on vacations!

So back to the point of this post, what do you see as “retirement” and why is it that we have retirement defined in our head as “no work, receiving pension, take up gardening/golf/fishing/knitting? My Grandad was scared to death of retirement. In his family, people quit working and then died. I mean literally died within a few months or less of “retiring”. He finally retired at 72, and fortunately made it another eight years, but he could have retired way earlier as he was at FI way before most people. He fit more of the traditional model, doing more gardening, volunteering, and staying active, but not anything that earned money, just satisfaction.

For me, I’m scared to death of 80. Except for the senile and decrepit few in my family that made it to their 90’s, most people in my family die by 80, if not well before. No wonder I need to retire early, I’ve got a clock ticking down people! Actually, we all do but I just don’t want to be one of those people that I see emails about in my office. At my last job and this one, I have gotten emails about so-and-so was diagnosed with “blah” and is terminal and going to spend his last days with family. Then a few weeks later, you hear so-and-so passed away and will be missed, and I read, hit delete and get back to work thinking, “Lord, I have got to retire soon and get out of this office.”  A good friend of mine back in LA worked his whole career, finally got to retirement, had all of these plans made, and got a virus and died 2 weeks into his retirement. 2 weeks, and 1.5 of those weeks he was sick. What a pisser. Retired or not, I still see myself working to some degree, whether it’s at a job with a paycheck, making wooden stuff at home and selling it on Etsy or some other e-commerce platform, or maybe just playing bluegrass and getting the occasional gig. Who knows? But, I know that I’ll have some internet police giving me the business when I mention “work” and retirement in the same post. Until then, I’m still working and counting down the days until I can define my schedule, job, and what retirement will be like for me.

How do you see your retirement taking shape? Will it be more of a traditional model, or more of a FI approach where you can choose where and how you want to work if you choose to work at all?

14 thoughts on “How do you define retirement?

  1. Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom

    I’m a stay at home mom. I might work again in the future. But, I don’t have to. If I choose not to go back to work, I don’t think I’ll ever be “allowed” to retire.

    Needless to say, I accept lots of different definitions of retired!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I have to say, I think stay at home mom is a pretty tough job. That one would be hard to figure out what “retirement” from stay at home mom is? Does the work ever stop? I’ll find out soon.

  2. Mr. Maroon

    I’ve had great difficulty as a post-collegiate employee allowing my career to define who I am. My job is…just a job. That’s not to say that I’m not exclusively an engineer by personality…I’m simply programmed as such. But I’m not Mr. Maroon, P.E. and “Company Man”. It’s like I lead two completely different lives – one where I am free to be myself and one where I am required to do what is expected.

    For me, “retirement” is getting to be me on a full time basis. To be free from the obligation to provide in exchange for a paycheck. To be free from having a boss tell me things like: “as a professional engineer, you’re going to need to work more than forty hours a week” (even though my salary and vacation is based on such) or “I’m not saying you can’t go to any of your kid’s ballgames, you just don’t HAVE to go to all of them” or “I reimburse you for your cell phone so I should be able to call you at 2:00a and you answer”.

    My obligation is to my wife and children and, strangely enough, these are the people I spend the least amount of my time with. Retirement would go a long way in correcting that!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I agree with the job being just a job. When my last one became unsatisfying and more of a chore than a job I like, I found another. I’ve been fortunate to avoid a non-balanced work life situation though. That was my biggest fear in switching companies because I’d heard horror stories describing situations WAY worse than working 60 hr weeks. It worked out well, but I do have the electronic tether of the phone and mild expectations to be present when needed. For me, that’s only during drilling, which isn’t every day week in week out thing, so that’s not so bad.

      I am glad we’re going to be “retired” before sports start up, recitals, or whatever the kids get into because it would be really hard to make all of those events. Soon enough though, we’ll get to decide how to spend our time, and until then… Work is work.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Yeah, I like the idea of mini retirements. Never thought about it like that. Big one when I retire from the corporate job. Then mini-retire from “Stay at Home dad” when the kids move out, mini retire as I pick up and quit certain hobbies. I think that could work.

  3. Petrish @ Debt Free Martini

    I don’t think I could ever just retire and not work ever. My idea of retirement is getting to a financial place where passive income is coming in on a regular basis. Then I can have the opportunity to get up and travel whenever I feel like it, and come home and do some work whenever I feel like it.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I agree, I don’t ever see not working in some form or another. But with the income from savings, I won’t be obligated to work to make ends meet. I have no doubt I’ll have some sort of side gig going whether it’s woodworking to sell online, music lessons, volunteer work, or even a “real” type of job. Then there’s the fact the kids will be involved with something, maybe sports, maybe music, maybe plays, who knows, and I can be more involved in that too.

  4. Tawcan

    I don’t like using the word retirement because I don’t think I’ll ever stop working and just sit around and do nothing. I’d be bored out of my mind. Instead using the word retirement, financial independence is probably a better word to use. It’s really getting to the point where you don’t have to worry about doing active work to have enough money to pay for the bills.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Bingo! I think you nailed it with “not having to worry about active work to pay for bills.” I agree, I’d get bored silly sitting around and doing nothing.

  5. Newlyweds on a Budget

    I think you can definitely retire but still do work you love on the side and that continues to pay you. My husband and I both plan on retiring at 55, which is early by most standards, but not early enough as described by the personal finance community. Frankly, we both have really good jobs with pensions (we’ll each earn at least 70% of our pay for the rest of our lives when we retire) and we also have a really good work-life balance, which I find is something a lot of people who dream of early retirement lack. I think everyone should be allowed to define retirement as they see fit for them! So good for you!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Congrats to you guys on planning on early retirement. Seriously, the sooner you start working towards that goal, the easier FI is to achieve. And like “retirement” I wouldn’t let anyone define what early retirement counts as either. If you guys start looking at it harder and can save a good chunk of change from your jobs each year, you’d be surprised how quickly you could achieve FI before 55. I love my job too, but I’d rather transition to stay at home dad sooner than later.

  6. Steve Adcock

    To me it is very simple: Retirement is defined as the freedom to work on your own terms after financial independence. Period.

    The longer answer is equally simple: After retirement, you simply no longer have to work to maintain your life. If you work, it is because you’re doing something that you enjoy, or you have found a way to turn your hobby into something productive that brings in a little extra income. It’s about refusing to just sit at home, rotting away because you aren’t supposed to be “making money” after retirement. That whole notion is just hogwash to me.

    1. Mrs SSC

      I like that definition. It isn’t retirement, but freedom – because that is exactly what we are looking for… freedom!

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