Nope, You’re Not Retired

In this blogger’s opinion, there is nothing more hackneyed and amateurish than pasting the dictionary definition right smack dab in the middle of your post. Which is why I’m doing it at the beginning. The dictionary defines retired as:

 Having left one’s job and ceased to work


Recently, the PF interwebz has been filled with people throwing off the shackles of their crummy day jobs and embracing the comforts of 4:30PM dinners, early bedtimes and shuffleboard. And hey, good for them. Working all day sucks, and I’d only assume most of you would quit if you had the financial means to do so. Being able to do nothing all day is a very powerful feeling, one I can only assume God feels when he does nothing all day. Or at least Jesus.

For instance, we have Joe from Retire By 40, who luckily was able to retire by age 39, or else his blog name would have looked pretty silly. He recently handed in his two weeks notice, and judging by the amount of exclamation marks, he sure is happy about it. Joe’s been working towards this goal for a long time, so good for him.

Hold on. I’m being informed that Joe can’t really afford to retire at all. According to his last cash flow report, 2/3rds of his family’s new income will come from his wife’s job. Their passive income (dividends, blog income, etc.) will make up the rest. Hmm… I’m not sure I’d call someone who depends on his wife’s job for the majority of their income retired, would you?

Then we have Financial Samurai, who is > than Jesus. He’s also “retired”. His “retirement” projects include:

– Writing a series of e-books

– Increasing his posting and commenting frequency, up 30-50%

– Discovering new occupations

– Working so hard he doesn’t have to touch his passive income streams

Sam is an ambitious guy, I’ll give him that. He also works hard. He’ll do fine in his early retirement.

There are probably more examples in the PF-o-sphere, but they’d just further cement the point. What point? Glad you asked.

Imagine if you knew a handsome, dashing, hilarious potato chip salesman with a nice ass. What a fine specimen of a man that would be. So what if, one day, he decided that being a chip guy wasn’t what he wanted to do anymore. It isn’t quite as easy as you guys think, and it does take a toll on your body, kinda like being a bread salesman. After a few months of getting more and more progressively pissed off, this Superman decides to quit and go work at 7-11, bribed by the constant promise of free Slurpees.

And then, Captain Handsome goes on his imaginary blog, Binancial Suproar, and declares he’s retired. How would you react to this situation?

I know how I’d react. I’d point out that he hasn’t retired at all. All he did was switch jobs, and probably took a pretty healthy pay cut to do so. Maybe switching jobs had other less tangible benefits (less stress, less hours, etc.) but this retirement is actually a very bad financial move. And that it isn’t retirement because he still works, maybe even as much as he did before. Even if he cut his hours by say 25%, he’s still working. A lot.

You can probably see what I’m getting at. I’d argue Joe and Sam haven’t retired at all. They’ve switched careers, plain and simple. Joe has become a stay at home Dad, while Sam is a professional blogger. There’s nothing wrong with either of those professions, but nobody can claim with a straight face that they’re anywhere as lucrative as their previous professions.

There are certain careers that automatically become sexy because you can do them anywhere. It’s probably the main reason why 97% of the money made on the internet is made telling other people how to make money on the internet. But just because you can work at a Starbucks in Rayong, Thailand doesn’t mean that it isn’t still work. Better scenery doesn’t automatically make work turn into not work.

Sometimes, choosing a career with added flexibility has all sorts of non-financial benefits. Those benefits should not be discounted. But to call it retired? That’s laughable. Let’s all congratulate Sam and Joe on their new careers, but sorry guys, you haven’t retired.

Tell everyone, yo!

11 thoughts on “Nope, You’re Not Retired

  • July 23, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Thanks for the congratulation! :) 
    My wife choose to continue to work because she likes her job. If she wants to quit her job, she can do it too. We’ll just move to a cheaper location and our expense will be cut in half or more. We’ll figure out how to make it work. 

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  • July 23, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    many of the “early retirement” bloggers do seem to have a wife in the background that keeps working because  “she loves her job”.   Funny, but I bet for every one of these guys, there are 100 house wives  saying the exact same thing, that husband “loves his job”.   There is probably an odd social dynamic going on where a husband “early retireee” needs to be seen doing something while wife goes to work each morning.   Doing nothing aside from eating, napping, and a daily walk is not very manly.

  • July 24, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I think there’s a lot of merit in partial retirement.  If you can hit a point well below 40 hours per week but still keep your hand in the game, that seems ideal.

  • July 24, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    To me retirement means you don’t have to do anything at all for income.  You can just live off investments or passive income and play bingo or shuffleboard, or lay on a beach with Kim Kardashian.

    But there is something to be said for giving up the 9 to 5 grind and following your own path.  Perhaps they just mean they are retiring from corporate life.  I’m way to young to “retire” but I’d be happy working for myself and being my own boss full time.

  • July 25, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I’ve noticed there’s also an obsession with “passive” income that really isn’t passive. They denigrate their hard work by labeling the income source passive. Blogs aren’t passive unless you stop updating; in which case your revenue will drop a ton. Being a landlord can be fairly passive if you have good property management in place (but you’ll do this at the sacrifice of a lot of profit) — if not then it’s definitely not passive. 
    Yes, if you create something like a book and you get royalties forever, that’s passive; but it’s much more of a crapshoot. A dividend/bond/REIT portfolio is truly passive.

  • July 28, 2012 at 11:47 am

    “Imagine if you knew a handsome, dashing, hilarious potato chip salesman with a nice ass.” Pics or  it didn’t happen…

  • August 23, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    I may be wrong about Sam, however I believe that he could live his current lifestyle for at least 30 years without a change and without working, simply by living off of his investments and the dividends/earnings on those investments.

  • April 7, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    FS used to be two people. Can’t recall what the merger of the 2 blogs was, but person #2 used to write comments here and there pre-merger. It was an older asian guy, I know that. Hence why you see early posts by FS talking about a wife and then nothing about being married later. Could probably use google-fu to figure it out again, but am too lazy and don’t read the FS blog anyway. That’s also why, especially in maybe 2009, you would see what looked like a very different writing style on the FS blog occasionally. All I recall now is how he used to write stupid comments all over the place on popular blogs years ago asking how much the blog writers made. F-ing weird. I’m not a believer on his passive income anyway. I think it’s blog stuff.

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