Ask the Readers: Is Early Retirement an All or Nothing Proposition?

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 back to recap last week’s question, How much do you spend on haircuts? If you recall, I got an amazing haircut, but I paid a lot for it. Mr. 1500 was surprised at the cost, and I asked you for your opinion. (I’ll pass the baton to Mr. 1500 for today’s question after our review.)

Many of you agreed that $152 isn’t all that much for a really great cut, and Mr. 1500 should give me anything I want. I’m just paraphrasing there, but I can read between the lines…

Mr. BigLaw Investor said:

I’m on Mrs. 1500’s side on this one though and I encourage her to have you watch Chris Rock’s 2009 documentary “Good Hair”. You’ll be grateful that you’re only spending $152 twice a year.” (He’s an attorney, so that’s probably a law somewhere that your wife has to have good hair.)

Reader Jacq replied:

I get my hair cut 1-2 times a year and with color (east coast prices) it comes to ~$125.

Jason from Reaching Our Balance shared:

Well my wife spends $200 on a cut and color every two months. Be grateful Mr. 1500.

Brian from Debt Discipline says:

…my wife between $100-125 every two months for cut and color. She has been going to the same stylist for over 5 years. It’s something we’ve discussed about reducing, but it’s one of those things that’s important to her. We just factor it into our budget.

Mr. Tako was firmly on my side with:

… $152 isn’t all that bad. I thought it would be somewhere in the $300-$500 range.

And Danny Morebucks really brought it home with his spot-on comment:

…$300 a year doesn’t move the financial needle one way or the other at your level.

So it looks like nobody thinks this is a bad idea.

And now I pass it off to Mr. 1500 for this week’s query.

Hold off. What?!!! Mr. 1500 here. I’ve got a few more responses from last week.

Mrs. 1500 ‘missed’ what Team CF from Cheesy Finance had to say. In addition to a very clever haircut pun, he added:

…wow, that is one expensive hair cut…

And it seems like she also glossed over Full Time Finance‘s comment:

…My wife gets her hair done but usually its Supercuts. I’d venture to guess family of 4 hair budget is maybe 45 dollars a year.

She also apparently “missed” the comment from Mrs. PoP who said:

I usually spend $40-$50 on a haircut, but only get it cut every 2-2.5 years.

Or this one from Mrs. Picky Pincher who relates:

So I haven’t dyed my hair in almost two years! When I need a trim, I use a coupon for an $8 cut at Great Clips.

Sorry, does that say $152 or $8? In case you missed it, it was:


Tawcan couldn’t believe the cost, either:

Wow that’s pretty crazy price for a hair cut.

But Even Steven wrapped it all up for me – and solved another 1500 household dilemma – with his comment. He said:

I think in return Mrs. 1500 now has to keep the thermostat at somewhere around 52 degrees to recoup the $152 spent on the haircut…….I might have just solved your thermostat problem this year.

OK, I’ve proved MY point. On to this week’s question:

Is retirement an all-or-nothing proposition?

An amazing thing happened last week. It is difficult to relate just how happy it has made me. Ready for it? Here it is:

I went part-time at work.

My new schedule has me working Tuesday through Thursday. And I can’t say it enough; it’s the best thing that happened to me in a long time:

  • A huge smile bloomed on my face when in the middle of the day on Thursday when I realized that it was my Friday.
  • Same thing happened as I wrote this post on Sunday and realized that Monday is mine. All mine baby.
  • I enjoyed a beer on a Sunday night. My modus operandi is to not drink beer on a day before I have to work. Sunday is my new Saturday, so down the hatch it went.

OK, more beer isn’t a positive outcome of my part-time schedule, but this new situation is leading to better mental and physical health. I know, it hasn’t even been a week yet, but I’m dramatic at times. This is one of those times.

Here was my schedule for last Friday:

  • 6am – 7:30: Woke up at 6. Had breakfast with the girls and dropped them off at school.
  • 7:30 – 11: Went home and worked on a project for 3.5 solid hours. Got a shitload done.
  • 11 – 12:30pm: Went to the gym where I ran three miles and biked for half an hour. I’m slow, really slow.
  • 12;30 – 1:30: Went to the library and read.
  • 1:30 – 3: Went home and worked on my project some more.

It was wonderful. My project is giving me incredible fulfillment. I had the best cardio workout I’ve had all year. And I didn’t feel that rushed. Oh yes, I still felt rushed and I always will, but not my normal running-around-like-a-madman style.


Will it be enough?

It is still far too early to tell if my 3 day/week experiment will be successful. The main question I have is this:

Will I be able to do everything I want with my additional 16 hours of freedom?

I doubt it.


Am I Still an Early Retiree?

My 1500 days is almost in the bag. February 2017 is supposed to be when I called the game. What happens after that? Can I call myself an early retiree if I still work 3 days a week? I don’t think so, but what am I then?

This brings up another question that I ponder all the time:

What is the definition of work?

If I quit my tech job completely, but work on my personal project (also technology), will folks call me out? The main difference is that my normal job pays me and my personal project doesn’t. Yet.

I’ve seen people lay into MMM because he quit his 9-5, but still blogs. Hell, I’ll still blog too no matter what my job status is. I enjoy it too much. And maybe that is what matters. Here is what I think about work:

If you’d do it for free, then it doesn’t meet the standard definition of work and you can call yourself retired.

Of course, many of these activities that FI folks do for free because they are energetic and accomplished often lead to income. And then the Internet Retirement Police rear their ugly heads again.

Finally, I think the word retired is horrible. It has too much baggage and implies stoppage of all effort in the minds of many. If you’re 30 and are financially independent, you should call yourself something else. I don’t know what, but there has to be something better.


Where was I going with all of this? I have no idea. Here are some questions anyway:

  • Would you consider going-part time as opposed to completely cutting the cord?
  • What does retirement meant to you?
  • What does work mean to you?
  • What is a better word than retired?

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69 Responses to Ask the Readers: Is Early Retirement an All or Nothing Proposition?

  1. Oh, I would switch to part time work today if it didn’t mean working until a normal retirement age! I’m probably going to downshift a few times before actually “retiring” because anything more than 6 hours a day of doing a single thing (except sleeping!) is tiring for me.

  2. Team CF says:

    Perhaps it’s better to call yourself financially independent with job-like entertainment? (Sorry, could not come up with anything better today).
    Still aiming for a “full retirement” from my current employment, but I’m seriously considering to start coaching others to do the same. Guess this would technically be consulting = (paid) work, but at least it will be a fulfilling activity that helps others. That’s a win-win in my book.
    Team CF recently posted…Savings Rate November 2016My Profile

  3. Congrats on making the leap to part-time! Honestly, I’m not working full-time hours right now, either. But I’m diving back into CFP classes in January, so I know I’ll need the extra time. Interesting question about retirement! I guess I don’t see myself ever stopping work 100%. I enjoy having projects to work on and learn from. But it’s amazing when they are on my terms (when I want to work and from where I want to work). That’s my definition of financial independence.

  4. “OK, more beer isn’t a positive outcome of my part-time schedule”

    Agree to disagree. I hope you chose a Modus Hoperandi when you chose to break rank from your modus operandi.

    1. I have, and it remains an option. I go back and forth every time I do the analysis.

    2. I’ll qualify the word when I start using it. “Retired from clinical medicine.” You could do something similar. “Retired from …[whatever computer nerd thing it is that you do for money].”

    3. Work. Depends on how you use it. When I say “I go to work” it means something totally different than when Kool Moe Dee says it.

    4. Funemployed?

    PhysicianOnFIRE recently posted…The Sunday Worst (and Best 12/4/2016)My Profile

  5. I would consider part time in a second! My wife and I’s number one priority is having the freedom and time to find our purpose in life. We like to work, and explore, and think. We like projects that make us feel alive and give us a reason to exist. I don’t know if my wife and I ever really want to “retire” and do nothing. We just want to evolve into a lifestyle where we’re immersed in activities and goals that are dripping with meaning and purpose to us. Sure, we want to retire from the life-sucking obligations of our day jobs, but only so we can seek more purpose, because finding purpose is a major requirement of feeling wealthy. We’re purpose, meaning, happiness, and ultimatley, wealth seekers. Thanks mr. 1500

  6. I prefer the word(s) “financially independent” if I can get away with it…but most people have no idea what that means.

    If I’m in polite company, I usually just say I earn “non traditional” income (not W-2 income) and avoid the retirement word. It’s too loaded a word, and can have different meaning for different people.

    Someone ought to invent a new word to deal with this situation…something like “post W2 and pre SS (social security) worker”….

    Past the need for a w-2 job, but not old enough to collect social security (aka traditional retirement age).

    • Non traditional! I like it!

      How about Alternative Workstyle?

      • gwenith42 says:

        If Financial Independence is too unknown (as yet!) just say you are Financially Secure and only work on a schedule and on projects that attract your interest…

        Or tell a big whopper – that you cashed out of a dot com start up and are busy deciding what your next McMansion and twin seater sports car will be, right after you return from your gambling weekend in Monaco

  7. Are you planning to stay part-time even after February 2017? If that’s the case, I think you can firmly call yourself a part-time employee since you are still getting paid to work. Otherwise you are solidly in the early retiree camp.

    I have thought about going part-time, but it doesn’t work too well in my current employment as a banker.

    Retirement to me simply means no more paid work and transitioning to full-time hobbies and whatever else I want to do (family and kid time!). Your Friday sounded pretty nice to me (exercise, projects/hobbies, reading, etc).

    Enjoy the new routine!
    The Green Swan recently posted…Should We Self-Insure?My Profile

  8. Mr. 1500 – Sorry I didn’t get a chance to comment last week, but my wife spends $125/month to keep here hair cut and colored. Although my first gut reaction is…WTF? My second more calm reaction is…oh year we both place value on things differently. If it brings joy than, it is what it is.

    Next, congrats on the new 3-day work week!

    On retirement, I have never really liked the word, because people have come to associate it with what Todd T. from Financial Mentor call the pro leisure life. People that have the ambition and motivation to reach FI, just are not wired for that kind of life all year round.

    Work is anything that requires effort, regardless of payment. So unless you plan to retire and die, you will probably engage in some form of work or another.

    FI just affords you the opportunity to engage in the most fulfilling work you choose.
    Gen Y Finance Guy recently posted…The 2017 GYFG Budget – Projected $440K Income w/63% Savings RateMy Profile

  9. Congrats on going part-time, Mr. 1500! That’s fantastic! I’m not going to lie; I’m awfully envious. 😉

    I would absolutely consider going part-time. As it is, I believe my current job could be done more efficiently if I could work as-needed or work half days. I can’t even imagine how productive I could be on little projects around the house as well as working on the blog a lot more (my favorite pet project for the past year).

    For me, being retired means having the financial freedom not to work. But I don’t think it means you don’t work at all, because that would be boring. I think having some kind of gig or structure is necessary for me, since I would miss getting out of the house and doing something. The only difference is that I can command more of my time and do work that actually interests me instead of selling my soul for a paycheck.
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…How I Finally Conquered Impulse ShoppingMy Profile

    • “Congrats on going part-time, Mr. 1500! That’s fantastic! I’m not going to lie; I’m awfully envious.”

      It. Is. Awesome.

      I’ve only had two days off so far, but it’s incredible to do some work (of your own choosing), work out for a couple hours in the afternoon, read the news, do a little more work. Life is good.

  10. Baby steps. I like it. I’m sure this suit you then just ripping off the band-aid all together.

    I really don’t care what you call yourself or what people label you, as long as you are working towards what’s important for you and the family.

    I do think retired is a bad work because it implies not working, but once you got the cash cushion why not work on projects that are passions, fulfilling, make you money, etc. The choice is yours.
    Brian @ Debt Discipline recently posted…Net Worth: November 2016My Profile

  11. I have considered that in the future. I’m not sure my employer would be amenable to it. I think part-time work would be a good choice for me because it would be difficult to be fully financially free (or at least feel comfortable with it) being that I live in a high cost area and don’t plan to leave. Another thing is that I think the extra 2/3 days a week would probably be sufficient to do the things I’d like to do. Sure being completely financially free may be the preferable choice but p/t isn’t bad. I guess once I have even more things that I’d like to do and work gets in the way…I may feel differently.

  12. I think that having the option to gradually transition down would be ideal. There are also plenty of people (read: engineers/computer folks) in the FI realm who really hate their jobs and have found that reaching FI allows them to walk away immediately when stuff hits the fan at work.

    I like using the term ‘prolonged sabbatical’ to characterize an extended leave from your primary work…

  13. Until I left my job I was probably a lot more out of tune to this whole debate. Being a regular working stiff and not a blogger, I wasn’t paying much attention to the arguments around the semantics. After quitting my job, one of the first articles I wrote was “How I Retired at 34.” Maybe I didn’t consider it at the time, but now that I’ve had some time to ponder it here is my take.

    In the same time that I retired/quit my job/became a bum/FIREd or whatever you want to call it, there were 4 other gentlemen who also retired after 30-40 year careers at the same company. We all got to have going away parties and were sent off with some cool gifts to help us enjoy our freedom – I got beer and fishing gear as my parting gifts.

    Over the past few years 2 of the “retired” gentlemen have returned to work as consultants part time – 4 days a week. Another has taken on work editing a book for a colleague in our field. And only 1 of them has been spending his time like me gardening and traveling.

    I have never heard anyone question any of their retirements. If you want to get down to the semantics of it, as with early retirees, then 3/4 of the traditional retirees – guys who left work after a lifetime career – are also not retired as they have other gigs. I think folks are a bit oversensitive about the whole thing, but I haven’t been taken to task by any internet trolls for my loose ways with the English language.

    Maybe I was and still am a blogosphere newb, and one day will yet be set straight. But I guess I also just don’t get it, who is being offended anyways?

    • People will come out of the woodwork to give it to you if you deviate from your stated plans. Like this person yesterday:

      And in that case, they were chastising me for something I never even said I’d do.

      I like the way you think Mr. CK. Also, that picture of your grandfather on the tractor is pretty great!

      • Mattia says:

        “I don’t remember ever saying I’d retire the day I hit $1,000,000.”

        To be fair, it’s, like, the first thing you say in your Goal Progress page (and a couple of other pages): “My goal is to build a portfolio of $1,120,000 by February of 2017 […] At that time, I’ll retire”

        I’m not “retire-policing”. Just wanted to point that out. Keep up the good work!

        • I certainly could have been clearer, but I always wanted to complete the 1500 days before leaving. There are a lot of moving parts here. One of them is dedication to my job. I wouldn’t leave my co-workers without giving them anything but a smooth transition.

  14. I’ve always seen early retirement as simply being in a position where you don’t have to work in order to survive. I have to work at my day job because I need the paycheck. Without it, I’ll starve and be homeless.

    But contrast my day job to my side hustles. I don’t have to Airbnb a room in my house. I do it solely because I want to do it. It gives me tremendous freedom then because I don’t have to accept any person into my home if I don’t want to, since I don’t need the money.

    The same is true with my bike messenger side hustle. I like biking, that’s primarily why I do it. I’d probably still do it even if I was retired simply because I find it fun. But I don’t have to do it. In the winter, when it starts getting cold, I basically stop doing deliveries and go into hibernation. If I needed the income, I’d probably have to brave the cold.

    So really, early retirement is just that freedom to do what you want, when you want it, without feeling the pressure of needing to work in order to feed yourself. It’s a totally different mindset.
    Financial Panther recently posted…Is It Possible To Make Over $50 Per Hour As A Bike Messenger?My Profile

  15. I think the “retired” term is overused. The goal is to quit needing to work for someone else, needing to show up when they want, taking away your freedom. The goal isn’t to sit around doing nothing.

    I think more people should set the goal of working for themselves in an area they would do for free. Blogging is a great example. Or rental properties. Or making apps. Whatever you are into!

    • Yep –>> “I think the “retired” term is overused. The goal is to quit needing to work for someone else, needing to show up when they want, taking away your freedom. The goal isn’t to sit around doing nothing.”

  16. Congrats on going part time, I’d love to do so myself someday should I find such an opportunity. That being said in your situation I’d prefer financially independent, as choosing what to do with your time can include work. The main difference being you can choose. That being said in the real world I’d probably just call myself self employed to avoid the inevitable judgement. Technically it’s true no matter what your post retirement path is since someone has to manage your investments. Historically I know locally a 30 yr old saying they were retire was a euphemism for unemployed however at fire you don’t meet that definition since your not necessarily in search of work. Ironically the government would consider you a discouraged worker.

  17. Mrs PoP says:

    I think early retirement is (and can be called) whatever you want it to be. I tend to think of it more (and talk about it more) as a long sabbatical with the likelihood of self employment thereafter, but that doesn’t mean that’s what everyone wants.

    Actually, I think reaching FIRE generally requires an ethos that is more than a little okay with rejecting what “everyone” thinks is normal. So why start worrying about whether or not the FIRE community is going to think your version of FIRE is normal? Maybe your FIRE is closer to FI(S)RE, Financially Independent, (Semi-)Retired Early… but who are the rest of us to say that’s right or wrong if it’s making you happy. =)
    Mrs PoP recently posted…PoP Income Statement – November 2016My Profile

    • “…but who are the rest of us to say that’s right or wrong if it’s making you happy. =)”

      Thanks Mrs. PoP!

      I started thinking about all of this because I get disapproving comments from folks about once a month including this person yesterday:

      I should just ignore them and go on with my life…

      • gwenith42 says:

        The trolls will be trolls, ignore them and/or tell them to pound salt.
        You know how MMM advocates a ‘low information diet’? Same basic thing… I know it is easier said than done, but you truly have to try to ignore the idiots, the desperate, and the deliberately malicious… They offer you no value and you are squandering your emotional energy on them versus all of us who cheer you on (blatant plug for more fun & useful posts, don’t waste energy on the trolls, lol, it’s not frugal)

  18. Katrina says:

    “Would you consider going-part time as opposed to completely cutting the cord?”

    Definitely! This is actually my plan. Once I am FI, I plan to re-negotiate my work schedule with my employer to go down to part-time employment (which in my industry would likely translate to full-time employment, but only for part of the year). If I can’t negotiate an agreement that would work for me, I would leave, but I think this is unlikely since my office has a history of accommodating some less-conventional working arrangements.

    “What does retirement meant to you?”

    Retirement means that I don’t need my job to support myself, and I’ve left traditional employment for something that works better for my life and needs. Not necessarily that I’ve stopped working altogether, but that I’m doing it in a way that doesn’t interfere with the rest of my life and the other things I want to be doing.

    “What does work mean to you?”

    I suppose that I believe that work is anything you do in exchange for money. If I was doing something and I wasn’t getting paid for it, I would likely consider that a hobby rather than work, whether it was related to what I used to get paid to do or not.

    “What is a better word than retired?”

    I’ve personally always liked financially independent. It conveys the idea of what we are trying to achieve without tying it to whether we stop working or not.

    • Hi Katrina-

      That is super that your work will probably support an alternative work schedule. I’m so thankful for mine.

      And I agree that financially independent is a lot better than retired.

  19. Mr. SSC says:

    Switch to part-time – oh hell yeah! I like what I do, enough to keep doing it longer, especially if I was able to do a tue-thur week. In fact, that’s what I’m going to lobby for Summer 2018 if Mrs. SSC still hasn’t found a teaching gig outside of Houston. But, that’s years away, so until then…

    Retirement brings to mind my grandparents sitting in a recliner watching golf and napping. That’s why we came up with “Fully Funded Lifestyle Change” to describe our situation. I don’t know what it will change to, but it should be pretty well funded, lol.

    Work to me, means something you have to do. Like “work on the yard”, “working for the man to get the paycheck”, “working on the blog”, hahahaha. While I’ll probably stiill “work” when we move away from Houston it just may or may not have income. I hear being a stay at home dad is harder than my current job, so, yeah…

    Maybe you could go with “Professional Hobbyist” to describe yourselves to others. It will either be a conversation starter or killer depending on who you’re talking to.
    Mr. SSC recently posted…November 2016: Our Money Went Where?My Profile

    • “I hear being a stay at home dad is harder than my current job, so, yeah…”

      While I was reading your comment, and almost while reading this line, I had to stop and yell at my children who have extreme difficulty getting their teeth brushed in under 20 minutes. Maybe I’ll go back to work and maybe that job will be at the South Pole? But I digress.

      I love Professional Hobbyist! Hilarious!

  20. Randy says:

    Congrats on going part time Mr. 1500. I would call it “semifreedomized”. I too went to reduced work hours. Even this semi state has meant FREEDOM!!! I “retired” from full time employment a little over a year ago to run our laundromats full time. I am on call seven days a week, but I actually work only 8 to 10 hours a week. If I need to go away, I hire someone to cover me. For the most part I can schedule my “work” around the stuff I want to do. Since the Mrs. works from home we have lunch together every day and go on many dates a week. She’s not tired of me yet.

    I see my part time work as an outlet. I can go there and work on projects to improve my business, tinker with the machines and learn about how they work, or just hang out and talk to customers. Life in the semifreedomized zone is good.

  21. Mrs. BITA says:

    Yay for your part-timiness (timey-ness?). I am so happy for you and the IRP (Internet Retirement Police) can go f themselves.

    My answers:

    1. Would you consider going-part time as opposed to completely cutting the cord?
    Not at my current job. It already tends to spill over into weekends, and I can’t make myself believe that it will actually be ‘part time’. I am not disciplined enough to not respond to emails almost immediately, or to just stop thinking about work because it is my day off.

    2. What does retirement meant to you?
    Freedom to do and be whatever I want to.

    3. What does work mean to you?
    Until fairly recently work, to me, was one of life’s givens – like death and taxes. It was part of adulting correctly and successfully.
    3.1 You work because that is what adults do.
    3.2 You work to provide for your family and for yourself.
    3.3 And also, you work to give your life meaning and purpose because if you spent the vast majority of your adult life in your underwear on a couch consuming media you are not going to die happy (and you will probably die early).

    Now, my new definition of work is 3.3. I only want to work for meaning and purpose, and I want to do it entirely on my own terms.

    What is a better word than retired?
    I propose Patron.

    “What do you do?”
    “I am a patron of the arts” (Look appropriately snooty here and you don’t have to mention that the artist that you now patronize is yourself).
    Mrs. BITA recently posted…On the path to financial independence: November 2016My Profile

  22. Steve from Arkansas says:

    I retired this year from a decades long corporate career. But I immediately picked up three side gigs and recently added a 4th. I generally work two or three days a week but often spread that over four days. I typically have a three or four day weekend almost every week and am making more than I expected to at the side hustles. I spent about three and a half hours today sending out invoices to three of my four sideline pursuits and will receive back just under $20,000 in income for one month’s work. That’s my record so far but it looks like I’ll make six figures this year easily and expect to do that or better next year as well. The work is challenging but not very stressful and it is fun with just the right amount of travel and lots of meeting new people. Folded in with my two non-paid volunteer jobs as CEO of a charitable foundation and Chair of the trustee board at a small local college I’m enjoying life immensely and getting to give back at the same time. I can attest to two things: work is more fun when you don’t need the income and it is still fun to earn money even if you don’t need it.

    • “That’s my record so far but it looks like I’ll make six figures this year easily and expect to do that or better next year as well.”

      Steve, you’re killing it, both in income and in life!

      Love this –>> …work is more fun when you don’t need the income and it is still fun to earn money even if you don’t need it.

  23. Zaxon says:

    I wanna go back to the haircut thing.

    If you got a buzzcut for 152$ you overpaid. If you have long hair and want to interact with mainstream (non-engineers) and not be looked at funny? Yah, 152$ isn’t that bad, especially if it was good.

    I’ve watched some of the ladies getting 50$ best-cuts while my hair was being shorn like a sheep. I’m pretty sure i got the better deal.

    Slightly longer than shoulder length hair takes like 1hr+ to air-dry and not much shorter with a blow dryer. I don’t envy the ladies that chore every morning. If it’s cut right and styles easily, well… Lets just say im glad i can get a buzzcut.

    Just threaten Mr 1500 with a buzzcut. That’ll probably shut him up. Or atleast shut him up for another 12 months until it grows back.

    • “Just threaten Mr 1500 with a buzzcut.”

      She did threaten that! Uggggh! Sinead O’Connor has a couple good songs, but I don’t want to be married to cue ball.

      Ok fine, $152 it is.

  24. ChrisCD says:

    I would consider part-time. I don’t there is anything wrong with easing into “retirement” and if working part-time, even if for longer, gives you a better financial position, go for it.

    I will say, you should make sure your increased beer consumption doesn’t equate to $152 or your going to have to raise the thermometer back-up. :O)

    cd :O)

    • Oh shit, I drink some fancy beer! I’ll have to hide it in the garage or something. Wait, hiding booze? Then, she’ll think I’m an alcoholic.

      Screw it, I’m OK with $152 haircuts. Go nuts wife. Just don’t make me drink PBR or any beer with the word Lite in the name.

  25. Danny says:

    Mr. 1500, you get to call “retirement” whatever the hell you want because whatever it is, you have it. That gives you naming rights. The way you describe it, it sounds like one of the best drugs available on the market, and one that few can afford. But I’m saving up my money to buy it someday.

    I would love a part time option, especially if it involved trying out something new. The reality is that I wouldn’t attempt it until after I felt secure enough with my savings that it would amount to padding for my early retirement calculations.

    • Awesome comment Danny! Not that I’ve had a lot of drugs in my life, but this is better than anything I’ve ever had. Except maybe that one… oh never mind.

  26. Ms. Montana says:

    Congrats on the part time work. It’s amazing the difference a few extra hours can make! Maybe because we are in our 30’s, I never liked the term retired either. Plus we really enjoy working. Around our house we use the term “work optional.” Here is our little defination: Feel free to steal it if you like. =)
    Ms. Montana recently posted…Our St. Nicholas TraditionMy Profile

  27. Elizabeth says:

    I think about this a lot too. Part of me strives for extreme early retirement, but part of me also lacks respect for some people I know who are young, educated and talented but choose not to work. Some live off family money, some married and are supported by a spouse, another saved up just enough to get by for a few years in conjunction with mooching off some friends and government programs. All these people could be earning 6 figures and many aren’t doing anything productive for themselves or society (that I can tell anyway).

    I think that humans evolved to work – aka to be productive. It’s really hard to find a sense of purpose and satisfaction outside of some kind of (paid or unpaid) occupation. In other words, I don’t think retirement in the traditional sense of the word makes people all that happy unless they stay engaged in some kind of work (taking care of family members, volunteering, working on various projects, maintaining/improving a home, writing, etc.). Golfing and eating and drinking and reading and even traveling will inevitably get old.

    I think that most people who are talented and ambitious enough to achieve FIRE are going to end up working in some capacity, and most will end up making money in whatever “projects” they undertake, even if it’s not as much as they used to make in the corporate world. Then again, lots of folks live the same lifestyle and do the same lower paid work but can’t technically afford not too. So what’s the real difference?

    Lately I’ve been thinking that I don’t need or really even want to achieve FIRE. I really need to find work that I am happy to do for another 30 years or so.

    • There’s a similar type of argument against doctors who opt to “end their careers” early to pursue other interests which may or may not necessarily be as beneficial to society as their primary career.

      It’s a tough call. Fortunately most doctors I know (despite the groveling that goes on regarding healthcare reform) still enjoy what they do. Reaching FIRE gives you the freedom “not to sweat the small stuff” and keep working as long as it’s fun.
      Smart Money MD recently posted…How to fund a Backdoor Roth IRAMy Profile

  28. Christian says:

    What about, instead of retirement, we call it “employment liberation?” Or economic independence? I think that perhaps something along those lines might have a better ring to it. In any case, I think it’s a spectrum rather than a binary kind of situation. The more you spend time on your own terms doing whatever you prefer to focus your precious 16 waking hours towards, the more you are economically independent. Whereas, if you have to spend most of those hours because you “have to,” then that means you are still bound and tethered to the whims and financial strings of others in a way that doesn’t align with your own needs. If you’re working on your own projects that others might consider work but you consider pure pleasure and a rewarding use of your time, then that’s all that counts. Life is too short to cater to the limited perceptions of others.

  29. Loving the banter between you and Mrs 1500. Priceless!

    I’m already working part time despite not being anywhere near the official definition of FI and am not regretting it one bit so far.

    It’s given me more time to spend with my wife and baby daughter in her first important year of life (as well as do some practical things like diy around the house without killing myself in the process – sorry Mr 1500 but I need more sleep than you do!). These are times I’ll never get back so I want to bank as many of them now as possible. I’m confident I’ll always end up making enough money to get by on and life a rich and fulfilling life, as we all know it doesn’t take big bucks to achieve happiness. So I never saw the point in working full time till I had the 25 x annual spending, before starting to cut the cord from the 9-5 lifestyle, that just seemed like an inefficient use of my time right now.

    And even with part time work we’re saving around 40% so the march to FI continues albeit at a slower pace.

    Which is a very long winded way of saying no of course it isn’t an all or nothing proposition!

    And if you wanna work part time or even full time after reaching FI just go for it who gives a stuff what other people think.

    The internet retirement police made for an amusing MMM post but as far as I’m aware they’re not a real thing any of us need to worry about 🙂

    Oh and this….

    “Will I be able to do everything I want with my additional 16 hours of freedom”

    In my experience the answer is no! I’m working 75% you are doing 60% so maybe that 15% extra free time will help but I think we’re very similar and so will always have a bigger list of things to do than there is time available to do it. And thank God! How boring would life be if it were the other way round.

  30. Steven says:

    So I’m sure some people’s reaction to reaching your goal is all negative and they sound like some internet troll who doesn’t have any goals and instead tries to tear someone down.

    My reaction and one that has come from reach and missing my goals over the last 45 months is one of experience. You reach a goal and then decide what the next goal is, examining what’s important to you. The decision 3 years ago might have been to work 0 hours and tell the man to shove it. While instead you realized that you want a safety net, enjoy work, or have grown into something different than a goal 3 years ago. FI does have a projection of all or nothing, but if it’s one thing the FI community has preached it’s creating your own definitions and enjoying the ride where ever it may take you.

  31. Peter S says:

    I think I would prefer part time to fully retired, even if cash was no issue. I am 29 currently and I get one hell of a lot more from my job than just the monthly paycheck. I have colleagues who are nice people I enjoy spending time with, a manager who does not pile unnecessary pressure onto me, and the work is sometimes pretty interesting too (but that is far from always the case). The thing I would really like to change would be the ratio of the week, 3:4 sounds so much better to me than 5:2. That way I keep those parts listed above but never feel the weekend is half spent doing the chores I did not have time to do during the week.

    When you add to this that the money earned part time means you do not need such a large stash doing the extra years to get ‘fully’ FI seems something of a waste to me. Maybe I am not as satisfied just doing my own thing but to me the social aspects of a job are too important to ignore.

    As a title for parties I would go with part time capitalist… would get people interested.


  32. kat says:

    Who really cares what it’s called – the answer is that it feels good to live life on your own terms.
    When I left my job 4 years ago I told everyone I wasn’t ‘retiring’ but ‘rewiring’. Rewiring my brain to readjust my priorities and outlook on life. And as you’ve intimated in your post, I think even by going part-time you’re rewiring. So good for you!

  33. Darrel Lambert says:

    Imagine you were driving from Los Angeles to Atlanta with an old school Rand McNally atlas. You can make 99% of your plan while you’re still on the west coast by choosing major highways. But when you get to Atlanta, you have to stop and get a local city map. Maybe you even have to ask a human directions because there is new construction around the area.

    I think your journey is similar. You’ve done 99% of it, and now you’re in a new place. You have to make decisions you couldn’t have before because you didn’t have the information at the time. You thought you were going to quit entirely. Working part time makes more sense to you now because it provides some routine and structure.

    You made a blog to hold yourself accountable. Don’t let imagined judgement from your readers worry you. It’s your journey. If you did exactly what we expected or what we think we would do then you aren’t being you. You’ve worked hard for your independence. You might as well be you.

    Keep on keeping on.


  34. Congrats on going PT! I think that you are entitled to choose whatever word you want! If you want to call it retired, go for it, because you worked hard for this and now you have the freedom to choose between working and not working.

  35. Financially independent is more accurate as who’s to say what ‘early’ or ‘retired’ actually means. FI has a stricter and less ambiguous definition than RE.

    Interesting post btw. I didn’t contribute to the haircut debate but I would side with Mr. 1500 after I ran it past my boss at home. $150+ sounds crazy to my wife too and psst..she is super speedy on some other things.
    Ten Factorial Rocks recently posted…India’s Bold Money ExperimentMy Profile

  36. Joe says:

    Going part time is a GREAT move. I think that’s the sweet point for most people younger than 65. Part time work gives you some purpose and it bring in some income.
    Just be careful of it turning into logging free hours. I knew some people who went part time and still worked just as much.
    The internet retirement police don’t know what it means to stop working completely. It doesn’t work when you’re young.
    Better word than retire? Nothing that can capture the mood. Enjoying life?

  37. I think going part time – or cutting back, or switching to a less demanding job, or changing fields to one you’ve always wanted to work in – is an ideal form of retirement. It’s like Benjamin Franklin, in his early 40’s he sold a successful business to “retire” to a gentalmanly life of politics and learning. All his accomplishments we know him for today came when he was “retired”. Ignore the Internet Retirement Police and do what you want-after all that’s the “freedom” part in “financial freedom.” Not the ability to not work-but the ability to be free to choose

  38. MarciaB says:

    What about “Kramer” as in “I’m Kramerizing these days.” Remember that character from Seinfeld? He never worked for a living, but always seemed to be going fun places and doing interesting things. How he managed that was part of the mystery/fun about him.

  39. Amber tree says:

    The word early retiree is such a loaded word that brings out the best and worst thoughts, depending on how you look at being free and happy.
    Non of the ways you look at it are black and white. Why can you not be half-time retired? With an open-minded definition, that would mean you do a paid job for a boss half of the the time and the other half you do whatever you want, on your own terms. Even when you are paid to do so. The key is that it is fully on your terms, things you like that give you energy.
    I aim for full time financial independence. That means I can do whatever I want and I can ignore money while doing so and doing things I like.
    While reaching for Financial Independence, I will adjust things in my life to enjoy life as much as possible, to make sure I do as much as possible things I like. When I don’t like my job, I consider changing job. Did it already a few times, will do it again when needed. That is the advantage of being 27pct Financial Independent.
    Amber tree recently posted…November Passive IncomeMy Profile

  40. As for cutting hair, I’m female and I cut my own. And, I get tons of compliments on my hair all the time. It really is not that hard, unless you have hair that is shorter than shoulder length.

    I left the corporate world 4 years ago at the age of 39, as what many PF bloggers would call an early ‘retiree’, but I can’t really get on board with that notion. I have enough rental income coming in and savings to not work, but, since I don’t have children, it was almost as imbalanced for me as working full time. I now work on a part time, project basis. Working 2-3 days per week and then take extended time off between projects. It works perfectly for me, and I am actually waaaaay more productive on my days off, knowing that I have somewhere to go and that someone actually needs my help.

    As we evolved as hunter gatherers, we always had to work about 15 hours a week for food and shelter. I think it is in ingrained in us that we will need to do some kind of ‘work’ for a small amount of time throughout our lives. Also, to me, blogs are mostly purely expressive and creative, where some people get lucky and make money. I wouldn’t count a blog towards the 15 hours of ‘work’.

    You might enjoy how I’ve ‘redefined’ my idea of FIRE:

  41. MrRIP says:

    I like MMM statement during the WDS few months ago: “work is better, if you don’t need the money”.

    So, yet, yours is “work”, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with working!
    MrRIP recently posted…November 2016 Financial Update – I’m Billionaire!My Profile

  42. This is a great question. I am retired and blog about retirement so this hits home. Yes, I am retired but I still have 3 blogs! But, I retired from my main career and I blog for fun and when I want to. Yes, I say you are retired. Suggestion: don’t try to say you work part time because you will have to explain and they gets old. Just say retired. If you really get to know someone, then they will find out the rest of the story. Good luck!
    RetiredRobert recently posted…Retirement ActivitiesMy Profile

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