Author Topic: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?  (Read 17074 times)

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #50 on: December 05, 2017, 03:59:48 AM »
Other favorite answers to "What do you do?" -

I'm in real estate
I manage investments
I'm a travel planner
I'm potentially between jobs
I'm thinking of running for office

I definitely plan on telling everyone that Iím on a listening tour as I contemplate running for the presidency.

Linda_Norway

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #51 on: December 05, 2017, 04:15:30 AM »
I'm not there yet, but have thought that I would answer this question by saying that we are on sabbatical. We do want to test drive FIRE with a sabbatical, so it would be true in the beginning. Nothing wrong with an indefinite sabbatical, I suppose.

Our plan is to call FIRE a sabbatical for the first year or so. And maybe do some consultancy work (at least DH plans to do this in his current field of expertise). It also wouldn't be so painful to go back to work if it financially wouldn't work out (if the stockmarket would really crash or if my FIRE calculations aren't correct).

We will be approaching 50 by the time we FIRE, so it is not so very weird to be retired some years later.
At Christmas we will be visiting FIL who retired at 50 and who is now 75-ish. I will ask him what he use to do.

dude

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #52 on: December 05, 2017, 10:07:37 AM »
Shit, I've been telling people for years I'm retiring in 2019, so when it happens, I will not have any reservation in telling people, "I'm retired, bitches!"

WSUCoug1994

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #53 on: December 05, 2017, 07:21:28 PM »
Shit, I've been telling people for years I'm retiring in 2019, so when it happens, I will not have any reservation in telling people, "I'm retired, bitches!"

This (except 2022). 

zinnie

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #54 on: December 05, 2017, 07:48:08 PM »
I learned pretty quickly that explaining what I used to do and saying that I'm "taking a year off" gives me lots of judge-y and/or jealous comments from people I don't know well. Or they just assume my husband is supporting me, which I take offense to, for some reason. So I definitely won't be using the "I'm retired" in the near future. (Also, because I might not be, yet. Haven't quite decided!)

For now, I'm a "freelance editor," even though I haven't done freelance work since leaving my full-time job. But I might someday. And I have in the past :)

Good friends know my story. But with new people or acquaintances it's just not worth throwing something so out of left field at them. If they become better friends over time, I'll gladly share more.

At the same time, I do need more of an answer to that question than what I used to do. Whether it's income-producing or not, we all have general life goals or strategies. I've just been too scattered since I left work to have more than feelers in a few dozen different directions!

Cookie78

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #55 on: December 05, 2017, 11:24:51 PM »
I learned pretty quickly that explaining what I used to do and saying that I'm "taking a year off" gives me lots of judge-y and/or jealous comments from people I don't know well.

That's interesting to me because this is my go-to answer to avoid the whole financial/retirement discussion. So far it's been working phenomenally well. Everyone just assumes I'm going back after a year (and I may for a few weeks or months). I'm curious what the reaction will be when I leave my job again.... uh... I'm taking another year off?

CanuckExpat

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #56 on: December 06, 2017, 12:05:46 AM »
I learned pretty quickly that explaining what I used to do and saying that I'm "taking a year off" gives me lots of judge-y and/or jealous comments from people I don't know well.

That's interesting to me because this is my go-to answer to avoid the whole financial/retirement discussion. So far it's been working phenomenally well. Everyone just assumes I'm going back after a year (and I may for a few weeks or months). I'm curious what the reaction will be when I leave my job again.... uh... I'm taking another year off?

Taking a sabbatical and taking a year off bought me about six months, or a year. After that, people seemed to fall into two groups:
1) Didn't really care anymore nor ask. Things become normal for people fast.
2) Clued in that we've been "taking some time off" for a long, almost indefinite amount of time

2)a) Asked a bit but didn't want to get into finances
2)b) Asked gently and curiously because they wanted to know and perhaps also experience freedom :)

arebelspy

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #57 on: December 06, 2017, 07:41:31 PM »
"We're taking some time off to travel."

"We have some rental properties."

Those two sentences have covered 90%+ of the questions.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (occasionally) blog at AdventuringAlong.com.
You can also read my forum "Journal."

SimpleSpartan

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #58 on: December 06, 2017, 10:05:27 PM »
I have always found 'gentleman of leisure' to have a nice ring ...

Not yet fired but I could see myself playing that part in some circumstances:
Q:'what do you do?'
A: ' I am a gentleman of leisure'
Q:'what do you mean by that? do you not work then?'
A:'My dear man! Let us not talk about such vulgar subjects as work! There are ladies present!'

Hmm, me thinks I need to find a pocket watch and a monocle ...

Aha I choked on my beer lol,  love this!!!!!!

ixtap

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #59 on: December 06, 2017, 10:25:42 PM »
-I am a kept woman.
-What does your husband do?
-He is a kept man.
-????

-I live a life of leisure?
-How?
-By being leisurely!

Unfortunately, I know that people persist. Few ask how much I make now, but many want to know how I can expect to start cruising. I really, really want to ask for an accounting of their finances when this happens.

Linda_Norway

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #60 on: December 07, 2017, 05:39:22 AM »
<...>

Unfortunately, I know that people persist. Few ask how much I make now, but many want to know how I can expect to start cruising. I really, really want to ask for an accounting of their finances when this happens.

How impolite those people are. Maybe you should suggest a swap of your tax reports. You share yours if they share theirs. Then you can start laughing when you see theirs...

zinnie

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #61 on: December 07, 2017, 09:33:25 AM »
I learned pretty quickly that explaining what I used to do and saying that I'm "taking a year off" gives me lots of judge-y and/or jealous comments from people I don't know well.

That's interesting to me because this is my go-to answer to avoid the whole financial/retirement discussion. So far it's been working phenomenally well. Everyone just assumes I'm going back after a year (and I may for a few weeks or months). I'm curious what the reaction will be when I leave my job again.... uh... I'm taking another year off?

Taking a sabbatical and taking a year off bought me about six months, or a year. After that, people seemed to fall into two groups:
1) Didn't really care anymore nor ask. Things become normal for people fast.
2) Clued in that we've been "taking some time off" for a long, almost indefinite amount of time

2)a) Asked a bit but didn't want to get into finances
2)b) Asked gently and curiously because they wanted to know and perhaps also experience freedom :)

I was surprised, too, how controversial taking a year off was! Seemed like NBD to me but apparently a lot of people just canít fathom having enough money to do that. I actually made the mistake of telling this to a group of moms at a party who had young children running all over the place and I got a snarky ďwish I could take a year off, but just canít do that when youíre a parent!Ē

Interesting thoughts on expiration dates and taking a year off. Canít get away with that forever, I suppose. Hopefully people will just give up like your #1. Iíve mostly resorted to a brief answer and then changing the subject back to them.




ixtap

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #62 on: December 07, 2017, 01:54:12 PM »
<...>

Unfortunately, I know that people persist. Few ask how much I make now, but many want to know how I can expect to start cruising. I really, really want to ask for an accounting of their finances when this happens.

How impolite those people are. Maybe you should suggest a swap of your tax reports. You share yours if they share theirs. Then you can start laughing when you see theirs...

Tends to be the same demographic that has opinions on our children. Not that we have any, but evidently that is inconceivable, as well. Only in that case, uh I happen to be infertile. Not that I ever had the urge for more than a day at a time, but what if I had already paid thousands of dollars trying before giving up? Ohhh...maybe I can take care of both conversations at once! "Cheaper than fertility treatments!"

shawndoggy

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #63 on: December 07, 2017, 02:14:25 PM »
Good stuff here.  I'm looking forward to having a PhD in chilling out and/or kickin it.  Still working on the dissertation.

CanuckExpat

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #64 on: December 07, 2017, 04:59:38 PM »
I know the thread subject is "without explaining your finances", but the alternative is to briefly explain your finances (in as much or as little detail as you want): "we have savings", "we have investments"

Most people probably feel much more awkward talking about finances than you do and will quickly drop it. Remember, it's like a bear: they are more afraid of you than you are of them

I actually made the mistake of telling this to a group of moms at a party who had young children running all over the place and I got a snarky ďwish I could take a year off, but just canít do that when youíre a parent!Ē

As someone who has young children, and taking a year off (an indefinite year off) there is some truth to that unfortunately but you can always turn it around on them "Ya, guess you missed the lecture in health class about the dangers of unprotected sex eh"? They probably won't bother you again :)

Daisy

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #65 on: December 07, 2017, 10:00:32 PM »
Good stuff here.  I'm looking forward to having a PhD in chilling out and/or kickin it.  Still working on the dissertation.

You won the post-of-the-day award.

CanuckExpat

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #66 on: December 07, 2017, 10:07:54 PM »
Good stuff here.  I'm looking forward to having a PhD in chilling out and/or kickin it.  Still working on the dissertation.

You won the post-of-the-day award.

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/the-best-post-i-saw-today-on-the-mr-money-mustache-forums-was/

Dicey

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #67 on: December 07, 2017, 10:50:43 PM »
-I am a kept woman.
-What does your husband do?
-He is a kept man.
-????
DH and I have a version of this.
Me: I have a rich husband.
He: I have a rich wife.
LOL, we're both right.

As to the specific question, we don't discuss finances much with others. We live in a fairy-tale clown house that happens to be on the same street as DH's office. His colleagues drive past our house on the way to and from work every day (DH walks). They ask him how the hell he can afford such a nice house so close to work. He just uses the rich wife line. They would die if they knew we have no mortgage.

gerardc

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #68 on: December 07, 2017, 11:15:20 PM »
-I am a kept woman.
-What does your husband do?
-He is a kept man.
-????
DH and I have a version of this.
Me: I have a rich husband.
He: I have a rich wife.
LOL, we're both right.

As to the specific question, we don't discuss finances much with others. We live in a fairy-tale clown house that happens to be on the same street as DH's office. His colleagues drive past our house on the way to and from work every day (DH walks). They ask him how the hell he can afford such a nice house so close to work. He just uses the rich wife line. They would die if they knew we have no mortgage.

So... how do you afford it? Do you just splurge on house but save on car and other expenses? Were you more frugal in your younger years?

AspiretoFIRE

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #69 on: December 08, 2017, 01:04:36 AM »
I asked the same question to this forum one year ago.  Since then, I have had a lot of practice with it.  I live the nomad/travel lifestyle and meet new people regularly.  I use to be uncomfortable when asked "what do you do?"  But, as with anything, the more you answer it, the more comfortable you become.

Also, I have achieved comfort with where I am at in life and I think that shows when I answer people.  I use to be worried about making people feel jealous or any other negative feeling.  Now, I realize that they alone are responsible for their feelings.  Marianne Williamson has a beautiful poem that addresses this fear.  It says "Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people don't feel insecure around you. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."

I also believe that the world in general does a fantastic job of advocating for consumerism.  Millions of dollars (billions?) are spent to convince us to buy, buy, buy.  Who advocates for FIRE?  A hundred bloggers?  They are way outnumbered!  I feel strongly that I should not hide the fact that I chose the FIRE path.  That path needs more advocates.  People need to meet other people face to face that have FIREd, so that they know it's possible.  I don't want to miss an opportunity to point someone to MMM or JLCollins just because of my fear of their opinion of me.

I also notice that my social circle is changing.  My best friends remained, but the rest are changing.  The new people I am meeting are not as surprised by FIRE.  They are digital nomads, world travelers, all sorts of interesting and nontraditional people.  As my life changed, my social circle did too. Suddenly, my accomplishments looked laughably small and ordinary. 

Back to your question.  If someone asks what I do for a living, I say "work?...no, I don't do that anymore."  Some people ask if I'm taking a break and going back to work.  I reply "not if I can help it."  I give more details if a person is sincerely interested.  No one has ever asked the size of my nest egg. 

Hope this helps!

I love your perspective!  I have not achieved FIRE yet but accelerating towards it and I fully plan to adopt this method, I try even now to explain the enlightened path to those with good jobs "struggling" to make ends meet!

Dicey

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #70 on: December 08, 2017, 08:24:22 AM »
-I am a kept woman.
-What does your husband do?
-He is a kept man.
-????
DH and I have a version of this.
Me: I have a rich husband.
He: I have a rich wife.
LOL, we're both right.

As to the specific question, we don't discuss finances much with others. We live in a fairy-tale clown house that happens to be on the same street as DH's office. His colleagues drive past our house on the way to and from work every day (DH walks). They ask him how the hell he can afford such a nice house so close to work. He just uses the rich wife line. They would die if they knew we have no mortgage.

So... how do you afford it? Do you just splurge on house but save on car and other expenses? Were you more frugal in your younger years?
The answer lies in Really Simple Math. It's also why I soapbox about waiting to pay down your mortgage until after you stuff your other investment accounts full. If you invest early, eventually those dollars grow to a point where they earn more than you do at work. And they keep growing, like magic, even when you stop working for a paycheck.

In our case, we married later in life. We each had a home, purchased with a mortgage and paid as scheduled. We each had 401ks', Roths and taxable investments. Right after we married, his dad died and we realized that his mom had ALZ. Neither of our homes were suitable, so we sold them both and bought this one, which we assumed we'd get a mortgage on. During the application process, the mortgage broker sternly advised us to wait until the following week to lock the rate, when we specifically asked to lock it that day. Of course, rates took a huge spike, which pissed us off. We looked at each other,  said "Fuck that" and decided to write a check. We're still kinda sorry we did that, because mortgage money is so cheap, but there's plenty left in the 'stache.

Neither of us were ever huge wage earners. We never achieved a crazy high savings rate either. In my case, I was mustachian before Pete coined the term but I always saved for the future and enjoyed the here and now.

Superficially, DH was the opposite. He had tools, cars, motorcycles, boats, jet skis, even an RV. He was using Craigslist the way Pete advises when Pete was still in grade school. Buy it, use it, refurbish it, sell it for what you paid (or more) then repeat. He also did side gigs for ca$h.

The point is: this MMM stuff really, really works. Just get started. Sequence optimally, invest wisely, and keep the faith. Eventually you'll be sitting on a fat wad of dough and be as amazed as we are. And grateful.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2017, 01:04:18 PM by Dicey »

timstobbs

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #71 on: December 10, 2017, 08:25:32 AM »
I'm new to this game as I just retired  this fall.  My current answer has been: "I've retired from engineering so I can focus on writing more." First off it is completely true and it seems to be working out really well since it gets most people onto the second topic of 'oh, what do you write?'.  Which then leads to a nice discussion on my current writing project.

Very occasionally, I get some additional questions about 'how old are you?' or 'is there much money in writing?' at which point I will mention our investments cover our basic expenses and I'm writing to pay for my vacations.  Most people just don't bother with additional questions.

nazar

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #72 on: December 16, 2017, 04:58:05 PM »
I suspect my answer, when TheHusbandHalf retires, will be the same then as it is now: "I'm a kept woman"

I like this, and if they press for details:  I am a kept woman.  I kept my money rather than spend it on shoes, clothes, and $15 cocktails at girl's night.

RedmondStash

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #73 on: December 17, 2017, 08:41:22 PM »
Now I really want someone to ask me what I do, so I can say, "I'm a passive investor," just to mess with people.

In the past, during breaks between contracts, I always liked, "I'm gainfully unemployed." I'm also a fiction writer, so depending on who's asking, I sometimes mention that I'm working on a novel or some short fiction.

Chavak

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #74 on: December 28, 2017, 03:48:40 PM »
I get the question asked all the time and no one has ever tried to delve into my finances.
When I tell people I am retired, the usual response is "You don't look old enough" to which I respond "I am". That usually keeps them from prying any further.

dragoncar

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #75 on: January 01, 2018, 08:43:29 PM »
Lol, I just say Iím a lawyer.  This is technically true.  However, I still donít find that it brings me any closer to people, and suspect Iíd get a warmer response if I just told them I was a rentier ;-)

nazar

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #76 on: January 05, 2018, 02:23:25 PM »
I just recalled a guy I once knew who didn't like being asked what he did because it was the kind of dream job that made people ask for favors as in, what kind of introductions/iscounts/freebies can you get for me?  In social situations the question regarding work would come up and he would answer "IRS tax audit specialist" and usually would just get an "oh" in response.  He confided later that it was the perfect answer because it almost always kills the conversation.  If he ever gets a follow up question, he plans to refer them to their personal tax representative. 

I think this answer would work for retirees just as well.

Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #77 on: January 05, 2018, 04:30:58 PM »
I say, "whatever I want to do."  At the moment, it is sabbatical and travel and learning a new language.  In the second half of this year, I will be starting training for a new career that I may never actually work in, just because I wish to learn those skills.

We humans are interesting creatures.  On one hand, we value our rugged individualism, our ability to do whatever and be whomever we want.  Every person on this forum is neck-deep in a process of self-reinvention, and in a much more self-conscious way than most.  We are all hyper self-aware.  On the other hand, we care so much about what other people think of us, even people we don't know or care about.  It's not enough for us to figure out what the "right" path for ourselves is in life; we feel we must convince others of its rightness, too.

When I was in my early twenties, I fought with my parents incessantly.  I wondered, why can I not get my mother (in particular) to just see reason?  If only I could explain myself well enough, surely she'd be won over by the irrefutable logic and rightness of what I'm telling her.  Alas, 20+ years later, that breakthrough in insight has never happened.  I understand now that it never WILL happen, because you do not convince others of a worldview based upon logic.  They either buy into it in their soul, or they do not. 

My mother is an emotional creature; I am, too.  We've spent far too many decades subconsciously learning how best to push each other's buttons and react rather than interact.  Now I don't try to explain my rationales to her, beyond saying, "this is what I want."  If I can't make that breakthrough with my mom, who has known me for over forty years and has a vested interest in maintaining a relationship with me, what possible hope can there be of convincing a recalcitrant acquaintance to see things my way?  And knowing that there is no chance of success, why would I even try?

Love your icon.  And there are some good insights in your post, too.  People decide things using emotion as well as logic. 

I think I will answer that I am a consultant.  But I also plan to continue doing consulting (if not my day job for a good while) even after I reach FI/ER, and I will probably always do some consulting.  I enjoy it.

Why would I answer that way, though?  I don't care as much about what others think.  But I don't like giving out personal financial info and especially giving out the impression to the wider world that we're wealthy.  That could attract more trouble than opportunity.  We live in a world that struggles - often mightily - with managing its money.  So, I'll "consult."  Wise folks can usually read between the lines when they learn you haven't had a normal job in years.

BTDretire

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #78 on: January 06, 2018, 06:12:16 AM »
-I am a kept woman.
-What does your husband do?
-He is a kept man.
-????
DH and I have a version of this.
Me: I have a rich husband.
He: I have a rich wife.
LOL, we're both right.

As to the specific question, we don't discuss finances much with others. We live in a fairy-tale clown house that happens to be on the same street as DH's office. His colleagues drive past our house on the way to and from work every day (DH walks). They ask him how the hell he can afford such a nice house so close to work. He just uses the rich wife line. They would die if they knew we have no mortgage.
I've posted this elsewhere but, the husband should say, I have a rich wife and she says the sex is so good she's keeping me around.
 Said seriously, that might tamp down further questions.

financialfreedomsloth

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #79 on: January 06, 2018, 06:54:52 AM »
-I am a kept woman.
-What does your husband do?
-He is a kept man.
-????
DH and I have a version of this.
Me: I have a rich husband.
He: I have a rich wife.
LOL, we're both right.

As to the specific question, we don't discuss finances much with others. We live in a fairy-tale clown house that happens to be on the same street as DH's office. His colleagues drive past our house on the way to and from work every day (DH walks). They ask him how the hell he can afford such a nice house so close to work. He just uses the rich wife line. They would die if they knew we have no mortgage.
I've posted this elsewhere but, the husband should say, I have a rich wife and she says the sex is so good she's keeping me around.
 Said seriously, that might tamp down further questions.
Well, we could see the question as an opportunity to have some fun (since you do not have a real job to talk about). On my list to say in all seriousness:
- I am an international weapons trafficer
- I am a (plus) size nude model. And then after the strange looks: I specialized in the fetish stuff: latex, leather, bondage ... What can I say, there are
  apparently a lot of kinky people with money out there ..
- clean up of crime scenes: the more blood there is the more money I make!
- I find stuff: old books, artefacts, exotic animals, body parts. You want it and have the money, I will find it ...

RedmondStash

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #80 on: January 06, 2018, 11:41:43 AM »
I just say I'm a freelance writer and editor, though it doesn't come up often.

One other useful approach is humor: "I'm a zookeeper on Mars." "I'm a diamond smuggler, but you didn't hear it from me." "I'm in the CIA -- dang it, I wasn't supposed to say that out loud." If you list a few absurd careers, and keep switching to a new one, they'll realize you're joking and choosing not to discuss your livelihood.

Or you could also say, "Did you know that in Europe, it's considered rude to ask someone what they do for a living?"

Bateaux

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #81 on: January 06, 2018, 11:51:55 AM »
Tell um you trade Bitcoin.

mcluhan

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #82 on: January 07, 2018, 04:13:45 PM »
I tell people I'm semi-retired. Most people let it go at that. A few ask what I did in the past.

NorthernDreamer

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #83 on: January 10, 2018, 05:25:07 PM »
I suspect my answer, when TheHusbandHalf retires, will be the same then as it is now: "I'm a kept woman"

I like this, and if they press for details:  I am a kept woman.  I kept my money rather than spend it on shoes, clothes, and $15 cocktails at girl's night.

Love this. Filing it away for the future.

mak1277

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Re: How do you answer "What do you do?" without explaining your finances?
« Reply #84 on: January 11, 2018, 08:45:31 AM »
I have actually started to deal with this question pre-retirement.  Now, if someone asks me "what do you do?" my go-to response is to start talking about my hobbies.  I mean, who actually wants to talk about work anyway?  Not me.