Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pre-tirement Rules, 1 to 5

I’ve mentioned the word “pre-tirement” (a word which, for all I know, Nat and I created—and hey, we do own “ in a couple posts, and in the big header for this here blog, and just realized maybe I should explain what I mean by it (and make a little graphic to go with the explanation, not that I have serious graphic skills, but it is darn fun). As opposed to solely using my normal lengthy-sentences-with-enough-clauses-and-paratheticals-and-dashes-to-give-Henry-James-fits style, I thought I’d try to break it out in numbered fashion, as a set of “rules” we followed when planning our pre-tirement. Of course, within the numbers, I’ll probably ramble on as usual. So, if you were fretting that you’d miss the long sentences, don’t chew the enamel off your teeth.

But first, a quick pre-amble about the spark that got us going. Basically, we started when sitting around one day talking about how we’d both been working two jobs (more-or-less) for 10 or 12 years (give-or-take), and thought that even though we tended to like the jobs (both the regular “day” jobs and the “night” jobs) we were working at, we we needed a break. We talked about how we had a little money saved (mostly from not having cable for 10 years), and that we could do what most normal folks do and save it for actual retirement. That’s when our particular peculiar light bulb went off—why save it for later? What if we don’t make it to retirement? And for that matter, what if we do, but end up being not able to do what we want to? Why not take a “pre” retirement sooner? Once that thought hit, the rest was just many months of deciding what do to, and setting up our pre-tirement rules. Which aren’t really rules, but general things we thought about when planning. But “Pre-tirement Rules” has such a nice ring to it.

1. We will have to work once we’re done pre-tiring. This one seems painfully obvious, but we did have to make a conscious decision that we were leaving our jobs, quitting them, watching them fade from into the rearview, but with the full-on knowledge that we would have to get jobs again after a specific period of time. It was the first rule we knew we’d have to follow.

2. We had to go somewhere that wasn’t our normal home. I know that many fellas and ladies when they actually retire are happy to play golf every day at their normal course (and do other hour-fillers nearer to where they live, or where they decide to live forever in their retirement). For pre-tirement though, sticking around home doesn’t work--because if catching up on your soaps, or doing what you’d normally do on the weekends every day is what you quit your jobs for, you’re just unemployed.

3. Our kids had to be able to go with us. And by kids, for us, I mean our dogs Sookie and Rory. They’re our immediate family, and a pre-tirement doesn’t mean leaving the family behind in a kennel. Many folks who we’ve told about our pre-tirement, either before leaving or since getting here, have said “oh, you don’t have kids, of course you can do something like this.” I want to insist, even though I don’t actually have kids, that this is false. For one, kids cost a lot less to fly than the dogs. Okay, that’s not 100% serious (though it is 100% true), but I do believe that anyone, even with kids, could do the same type of pre-tirement as we are currently. It’s just a matter of planning: finding an English-speaking (or partial) school, finding the right hospital (for us: vets), and going from there. As an example, my pal Jonathan Johnson just got back from a year sabbatical in Scotland and took his wife and daughter, and they all got a ton out of it. Now, a sabbatical isn’t a pre-tirement (cause you get paid while doing it), but it’s a cousin.

4. The first three rules were, without a doubt, the most important as we started planning (by the by). But this one and the following (in this post and others) also shaped our plans. So, number 4: don’t spend what you don’t have on your pre-tirement. When throwing around ideas of what we wanted to do, one idea was to buy and restore a place here in Italy. Sounds dandy, and who knows, maybe someday we’ll try it. But when looking at the size of place we’d need (remember: dogs), we realized we’d need to take out some loans, or some such borrowing (either off our Seattle house, or off of a bank, etc). This, to me, went against the idea of pre-tirement.

5. This one is a little esoteric, and was probably more something I thought a lot about, but stick with me, cause I think it’s important (and ties a little in with Number 2, but is different, too). For the pre-tirement, you have to leave important things. Coming over here to Italy isn’t just about being in an awesome, if awesomely different, locale that I love, and taking a break from working all the time, and just slowing down to enjoy things more. It’s also about leaving things I love, things that make my non-pre-tirement life worthwhile (to me). If I wasn’t able to leave these things, to make a large break from the non-pre-tirement life even if painful, than I wasn’t doing it right. So, I had to give up seeing my nephews Kaiser and Coen play soccer on the weekends and  having dinner with them afterwards, I had to give up having parties with pals in our garage bar, I had to give up Sunday basketball and jawing with the other old guys who aren’t afraid to break an ankle, I had to give up seeing close neighbors and pals Jeremy and Megan’s adorable daughter Beatrice go from 1-1/2 to 2, and pals Mark and Leslie’s sweet new son Alex go from newborn to 1. To pre-tire right, I had to be willing to give all this and more up—so the pre-tirement better be pretty darn swell.

Okay, there are more pre-tirement rules to come--hopefully interesting to you (maybe not as tasty as the food posts), but it’s also fun for me to relive what we were thinking about when setting up this Italian adventure we’re in the middle of right now.


  1. You may also miss Cash Kosel's first cigarette. He's running with some hoodlums at preschool. Preschool is like pre-retirement?

  2. Dang, I always thought he might go outlaw (ala Tupac), but never thought it'd go so soon. Send him over here, cause there are some local Italian toughs he'd enjoy. Not to mention the wild boars.

  3. Loving the blog! The pre-tirement rules are very practical; I like that, and I am anxious to learn more. I think we could go anywhere, as long as the place has a good school for Bunnie. (I don't want to have to home-school her.)

  4. Yeah, home-schooling Bunnie might be tough--she's social. When we were waiting to get the dogs away from the Germans, there was another nice couple going through the same thing with their cat. We thought of y'all. Start the pre-tirement planning now (as long as it doesn't get in the way of you visiting).