It’s days like this that I fear I am a flight risk.
My boss had a mild freakout yesterday when he finally realized I wasn’t joking about early retirement.
The whole thing started when a coworker, let’s say “Tom”, came by to tell the boss he needed to leave the group. Although low oil prices have led our company to take a “shelter in place” mindset (“There’s no money, so do the best you can in your current position.”), Tom has been around long enough to indeed grow stagnant. He made his intentions clear that change was imminent, with or without the support of the company.
After Tom dropped that bombshell, he stopped by to talk. We began to discuss drivers for change and what drove him in life. As engineers, we discussed optimization and how you can have anything but not everything. He eventually realized he primary goal was to grow his career so that he could retire by 50. I actually laughed out loud: “50? Why not 40? Why not 30?”
It was at this point that our boss walked into my office. He wanted to wanted to tell Tom that HR had started the internal job search. For me, however, it was too late. The spark of a retirement conversation had been lit.
Maybe it was my recent vacation, but once we started on the retirement topic. I rolled out everything. I sketched out many of the choices which could lead to an accelerated, FIRE retirement. I covered day-to-day like using a two-wheeled vehicle, or not eating out at every meal, to not eating meat at every meal. I discussed maxing out retirement accounts and how our company had the special benefit of after-tax 401k (SCORE!!). I even described how someone could Mad Fientist their money into a Roth IRA and Go Curry Cracker their money out, all without paying any taxes. Then I finally went in for the kill: “So, if you do all this stuff: save, stay flexible, and trust the Safe Withdrawal Rate, the surprisingly simple math shows how I can easily retire before my next birthday.”
Normally, my boss and I like to rib on each other. He’s a geologist and I’m an engineer. I make fun of geologists playing with colored pencils while he talks about engineers who wouldn’t know decent pay rock if core fell on their foot. However, on the topic of retirement, I could tell my boss was taking me quite seriously. He kept saying things like “People can’t do that,” “You’re wrong,” and “It’s not possible.” I never really argued with him, but by the end, my boss just kind of got quiet and finally walked from the room. Tom looked really interested, so I offered to send him some links.
I didn’t think any more of it, until later on, I heard my boss heading to lunch with his own boss and some other managers. As they moved closer, I overheard one of them say, “… by 30? That’s INSANE!”
That’s when I knew he had taken me seriously, seriously enough flag up the chain of command…
This whole interchange has made me hopeful for my remaining days at work. I’m very happy to keep padding my retirement and would have no problem working past my next birthday. However, I’m even more excited to see a response from management. Several bloggers have posted how their jobs improved dramatically once employers discovered that their employees weren’t desperate. As in any relationship, maintaining a balanced employer-employee relationship seems the most healthy practice.
Anyone have any of their own experiences? Should I be excited? Should I be wary? Did I say too much? I’m curious for any insights y’all might have.
And if nothing else, a little chaos is good for the daily office routine: