It isn’t that I haven’t written about this before but I have been thinking quite a bit about it since I pointed out to T that she was now living in semi-retirement. We were sitting by the pool listening to the lapping of the water, squinting at the sunshine glints, and talking about our latest movie day. She turned her head away from the pool and smiled at me. “I like the sound of that but what does it mean?” she said.
I could feel the little thoughts start running around in my brain. I didn’t really want to have to think. But that’s the problem with having a conversation, sometimes you have to converse. “It means to me that you work when and if you want to and on the things that you decide are important and at your own pace.” I felt so proud. I knew John D. McDonald wouldn’t turn over in his grave though now that I thought about it I wondered how such a prolific writer ever got to live his own semi-retirement. Oh well, he’s gone now and so is Charles Schultz the man who created my other fictional role model, Snoopy. Which reminds me did anyone else ever see that movie “My Life as a Dog”? Because there is the perfect example of what it means to be semi-retired. Dogs are born that way. Cats even more so. Domesticated ones at least.
Of course, a semi-retired human does so at their own peril. This is not a world that likes us to do things halfway. Either retire, you know get out of the rat race, or get back to work and, as the old song goes, “git me some money now.” Yes, it’s also a little more difficult to be semi-retired if you live with someone who is still working. You can see it in their eyes. They don’t like the fact that you’re reading the paper while they’re packing a lunch. Even if you do the housework, the laundry, the cooking, and take care of all the bill filing that doesn’t absolve you from causing them the pain of having to go into the “damn office” day after day after day.
Which is why it is really important that you figure out a way for your partner to semi-retire too.
Five ways to semi-retire without quitting your day job:
- Set up a budget analysis – You need to know what your finances are. How much of what you make is left over? This can be done simply by just making a list of your expenses in one column and a list of your income streams in another. Add up each and subtract the first sum from the second. Think of this as laying the groundwork. So if it turns out to be a negative amount you have already taken the first step by seeing that you are working hard for no reason since you now know that you are just treading water in the labor pool.
I know this seems like work but trust me organizing things on paper is a great way to relax.
- Make out a list of your spare time activities – How do you unwind? Are you a gym rat? Do you head to the nearest bar? What happens on the weekends? Do you spend time alone or with friends? When was your last semi-vacation? You know, the kind where you went somewhere but brought your laptop just in case you had a little spare time to catch up. While you are making this list, use a calendar to remind yourself of when these things actually happened.
Time is sometimes hard to quantify. It passes on by or stacks up. When you take the time to look at what you do in this backward looking way take note of how many unplanned things you do to. Unplanning is key in the semi-retirement world.
- Take a look at your job – Look at a week on your job, day by day. How does each day start? What is the first, second, third, …, thing you do once you get there? Who is your boss or rather what is your boss? Is a person in charge of setting your task load or are you in charge of doing that? Do any tasks carry over from day to day? Who do you work with? Where do you eat that sack lunch and how long do you take to do it? What happens at day’s end? Do you drop your tools and head home or do you pack up some of the work to take with you?
A semi-retired mind is in control. The best way to get control is to know what your job really is about.
- Figure out your hourly pay – Go back up to your budget, take the amount you added up from column two and divide it by the actual number of hours you spend working at, thinking about, and doing your job. I know, sometimes the amount you get might turn into a reverse motivation, but that’s life.
Again, a semi-retired mind doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the hourly stuff but you might have to do a little growing in order to reach a point where you can mentally afford to semi-retire. Maybe you’ll even have to do some work on the self-advancement plane in order to get there.
- Figure out your hourly pay for the spare time activities – Same deal, go back to your budget only this time look at column one. Total up how much are you spending on leisure time into two columns, one for cash expenses and one for credit expenses. Divide the hours you spend into the credit expenses to see how much it is really costing you hourly to do those things.
Yes, here’s the key to semi-retirement. It is a cash only state of being. No credit card liabilities allowed. Just remember that the reward is in knowing you can stay semi-retired for life once you take control.