Occasionally I have to listen to someone telling me that “I’m not retired because I have a blog” or that “I’m not retired because I’m writing a book”. I totally understand where they’re coming from. When I see some old dude (age 65), who has saved enough during his working years to no longer need to work for a living, going fly-fishing or playing bingo, my first reaction is surely also “Whoa, that dude is not retired. Clearly he’s now working as a fisherman instead of a corporate middle manager. He didn’t retire. He just changed his career. Or clearly he’s analyzing the financials of those bingo plates very intently—seemingly for at least one hour every Wednesday night—that’s not the kind of thing I want to spend my retirement on. Sounds more like assembly line work to me matching those little numbers to the calls.”

I don’t know about you, but to me fishing is work and how can he claim he’s financially independent when he’s not donating his bingo winnings to charity. Really!

This goes especially for those of you who like to knit. I know from personal experience, having learned how to knit from a website about ten years ago and completed a scarf that turned out to be somewhat wider than it was long at the time I called it quits, that knitting is hard and frustrating labor. If you knit, you’re not retired. Period. However, if you donate the socks you knit to charity, I may call you “retired”. That’s right, you’re retired but with quotation marks.

I also completely understand those who think that one can not be retired if one’s spouse still works. Except in my world, this extends to the second generation and also third cousins. So in my world, you can’t call yourself retired if your husband or wife or grandchild or mother’s sister’s daughter’s father’s brother’s son is still works. Either you’re all retired or none of you are. It’s much simpler to understand this way.

So let’s eliminate the confusion. For a proper retirement, a retiree must engage in preapproved activities. Here’s the compleat and extensive list of things you’re allowed to do lest you not be retired but secretly being one’s of those sneaky career changers, e.g. knitters and fly fishers

  • Travel.
  • Play golf.

If what you’re doing isn’t on this list it’s very hard for me, nay for most everybody, to even imagine that you’re retired.

Furthermore, if you haven’t made it(tm), you’re like someone who sneaked into a concert without paying admission. You’re like someone who broke out of prison without doing your time. To properly qualify you must have made it(tm). To “make it” you must accumulate 1 Million Dollars. This is some arbitrary but nicely round number that allows you to say that you’re a millionaire (as opposed to a minianaire). I’m sorry, but wearing khakis along with a polo while discussing your golf handicap and throwing out terms like “six figures” and “seven figures” is a good way to distinguish yourself from the riff-raff. You must also purchase a home which is so large that you’ll need to spend hours each week cleaning it to keep it reasonably free of dirt. That way, when you finally manage to sell it for less than you paid for it, you will be able to understand how liberating it is to live in a smaller home and not have to spend so much time on maintenance.

Now, there is a slight problem with that which I’m still contemplating(*) which I call the “big house third cousin”-problem. Specifically, if I already have enough money to never need to work again AND my cousin’s cousin is still working AND I have this big house to clean, am I not a “stay at home third cousin”?

The answer to this could CHANGE EVERYTHING we know about retirement.

(*) Contemplation is also a kind of work and thus I realize that I’m not really retired but that I just changed my career to “contemplator” when I quit my career.