Monday, March 24, 2014

Retired or Unemployed ?

One of the issues which really bug me these days is when I meet some acquaintances from the past and they ask me what am I currently doing.

I am always stuck with these two choices :

a) I tell them that I am retired.

When I say that I am retired, most folks will view my answer with disbelief. Some ex-classmates might find it funny and that I am just trying to cover up the fact that I was retrenched or something. What happens is that I get cornered to explain what I really do and to avoid the pain of facing a drop in "status" ( which really bothers the shit outta me even though it should'nt ), I start to get defensive after that.

To overcompensate, I start talking about dividends investing and sometimes commit the sin of hubris by saying that my investment income exceeds my last drawn pay. That gives me a momentary sense of satisfaction but I feel bad after that because I did not act with sufficient humility. It eats me as I really don't think people should inflict psychic damage to working Singaporeans by talking about using wealth not to do any work like what I do. Working folks should be honored for their contribution to the economy.

I also learned that claiming that I am a private investor sounds just as bad. Some smart alec in response will ask me if I am an accredited investor which I am not. ( Nope, sorry, no second milion... yet... ) The other point is that I don't really commit to investment analysis the way some bloggers do. I use Bloomberg to get statistical data and act on research created by someone else so I don't really qualify as an analyst.

b) I tell them I am unemployed.

I am currently in the process of learning to just say that I am currently unemployed. The drop in status really hurts especially when I meet Engineering classmates from NUS, I was not the best student but I was someone to beat during those bad old days. But people will avoid asking more questions. After all, you are openly unemployed, how much more can they hurt you ?

At the end of the day, it all boils down to ego management. If I had the mental resolve to simply accept the drop in status, I would have been able to humbly just accept working in a government bureaucracy. At the end of the day, my ego just would not let me.

Anyway, right I'm trying to distinguish between retirement and unemployment.

Right now I am working on this one distinction :

a) You are retired if, without earned income, your net worth either stays the same or goes up at every time interval.
b) You are unemployed if without earned income, your net worth drops at every time interval.

Problem is that there are many retirees with diminishing net worth in their 70s or 80s which would simply be classified as elderly unemployed by this definition.


  1. Print your name cards.


    Retail Investor
    Growing your tree of prosperity


  2. Just say that you are financially independent.

  3. You could say :

    1) A blogger cum private investor
    2) Taking a break from work
    3) Please.... ( Barney Stinson classic line in How I met Your Mother)

  4. Hi Chris,

    I think your acquaintances should read your blog. I am sure many of your readers will envy the position you are in now and thoroughly understand why you have earned it. Interestingly, retiring early is not that rare among financial bloggers. Besides you, there are ghchua and Singapore Man of Leisure (SMOL) who made it early. All three of you gained my respect for having the courage to quit despite the social pressures. Having the money to quit is one thing. Facing society after quitting is another. Whether it is voluntary (early retirement) or involuntary (unemployment), society frowns on people who do not have a proper job even if they do not really need one.

    Since you are a writer, you may consider telling your acquaintances that you are taking a break to write a book. Then, direct them to your blog. If they care to read it, they will realize you do not really need a job.

    Besides money, another pre-condition to retire early is family support. I am guessing that you are a very lucky man to have married a wife who supported your decision. Otherwise, it is quite hard to make such a courageous decision.

    When I was briefly unemployed, someone (SMOL) consoled me with something like this "As long as those who matter do not mind, why bother with those who mind but do not matter?" It did not really work that well on me then but I hope it works fine on you now.

  5. Thanks for the encouraging words everybody.

    I'm trying to figure out a solution to this problem which would sooth my fragile ego but still avoid putting my nose back in full time grind.

    You guys will know about it soon.

    Keep reading in the meantime!

  6. However you call yourself, I believed you are better off than any working title.