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|Subject: A Drudge No More||Date: 1/22/2004 12:26 AM|
|Author: tmeri||Number: 145488 of 753725|
I did it. I quit my job and am blissfully unemployed.
I had wanted to work until age 55, at which time I would have had a very rosy financial picture. But my job had become so dreadful that I couldn't continue, and at the end, I could barely work an additional day. 55 is too many years away, and I looked around and found nothing else in the company I would have been willing to do for that long. I really longed to be layed off, but that never worked out, so I decided to FIRE myself.
Once the decision was made I started getting my ducks in a row. I had much to investigate in order to know what was coming and what decisions I'd be faced with. I had financial transactions to make. I re-financed my house. I spoke with an ex-employee from HR to find out whether my boss would be told if I began to make the necessary inquiries with HR about my post-career benefits.
Where I worked, it has sometimes been the case that an employee who quits is immediately escorted to the door. No one had quit in a very long time unless they were eligible to retire or had been layed off/fired. Everyone was hunkered down; most felt it was not a good time to jump ship in the current economic climate. So I didn't know what to expect.
Out of concern for being walked to the door immediately, I decided to clear my office of the last of my personal effects before telling my boss. I had to do this on a Sunday, as I didn't want to provoke any questions from co-workers. As I went through years of accumulation, I remember thinking that I ought to have more emotion about the task. But the only emotion I had was resentment at being at work once again on a SUNDAY! I had worked too many 7-day weeks, far too many times until 3AM, 4AM, and even later. I was completely burned out.
Was I sorry to be ending my career? Not in the least. I had absolutely no regret. I knew I would not miss it at all. The whole environment, in every way, had become so bad that there was very little good left to miss.
Except for some people.
A few days before telling my boss, I told my closest coworker, because I didn't want him to find out from anyone else. I knew it was going to be hard, and I had tried to perpare myself emotionally for it, but it was far more wrenching than I expected.
I said, "I know this is going to be very hard for you to hear. I'm sorry to have to tell you that I'm leaving the company."
"No, no, tmeri, no. I cannot accept this. No. Please don't leave me," he wailed. I told him I had to go. "Why? Why do you have to leave? I need you."
It would have hurt me less if he had ripped my heart out and stomped on it.
A few days later I informed management of my impending departure. It turned out that my boss did not walk me to the door when I told him, but I had every single personal item (keys, lunch bag, wallet, etc.) either with me or locked in the car the moment I told him. Though I didn't need to be, I was prepared never to return to my desk. Not knowing what would happen made the event far more stressful than it needed to be.
I dreaded telling the rest of my coworkers, because I knew many of them were counting on me to be there for certain projects. They did not know I had been making plans for years to leave, so it came as a surprise.
Without asking, they knew why I was leaving, because the job is intolerable to most of them, but they were concerned about my financial welfare.
One coworker inquired, "Are you taking another job?"
I responded, "Maybe when my savings run out."
He asked, "How long will your savings last?"
I said, "Another 30 or 40 years, I think."
Another friend sat with me a day or so later and asked me, "You won the lottery?"
And I thought about Seattle Pioneer, and how often he advises people to invest their dimes and nickels instead of buying lottery tickets. He says the odds of winning are much better. And that's exactly what I've been doing, and you know, in a way, I did win the lottery. Many people have been buying lottery tickets longer than I've been contributing to my portfolio, and most of them have never won. Yet I have a nice "jackpot" instead of worthless lottery tickets to show for it.
Some of you here have played a part in helping along the way, though you may not know it. My biggest thanks has to go to intercst. I found his website several years ago, and it was the first time I had found anyone that felt about work the way I do. For some years I had secretly felt no loyalty to the company, given that they had shown me no loyalty, and I had not been eager to work the long overtime hours pressed on us by management. Other employees did not (visibly) share my views, and to express them was unthinkable. I thought I was all alone, so intercst's website was a relief.
I had always been a saver, but until I found intercst's website, I didn't realize it was even possible to retire early. While many of my coworkers may have been as miserable as I was, they did not make a plan to get out. I did. intercst gave me the tools I needed to determine what was required to be financially independent, and how to stay retired. intercst, I owe you something for that.
VesperLynd (aka HoneyRyder) inspired me with her explanation that she realized she was "an independent contractor masquerading as an employee." I thought this was exactly the right way to look at my job, too. It helped me to break my psychological dependence upon the company for my welfare.
At a crucial point, SloanT gave this excellent advice on the FIRE Wannabees board: "Being conservative is a double-edged sword. I think it is smarter to be daring when you choose to retire (do it early!) and then be conservative with your money after you retire to make sure it lasts." It crystallized my thinking about departing. For years I had agonized over having "enough" and I finally realized I would never have "enough."
arrete, golfwaymore, catmeyoo, and others have held the beacon to FIRE aloft with their inspiring posts of the retired life.
Thank you all for your inspiration and for keeping my eyes fixed on the target.
Some of you will want to know how I got there. I've never won (or even played) a lottery. I've never inherited a dime. I've never owned my own business. All of my assets have come from money I've made or that has accrued as a result of investments.
Along the way, I've made mistakes. Some decisions have cost me tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of dollars. But in spite of those poor decisions, and even without the boost of a jackpot or an inheritance, I find myself retired at age 50 with a modest pension and a modest portfolio, having started at age 35 with next to nothing. My modest resources suit my modest lifestyle, and I am very happy with that.
My investments in real estate and in the stock market have been very profitable. But the biggest factor in being able to retire early, for me, is a frugal lifestyle. The second biggest factor was realizing that I didn't have to be a success in the eyes of the company to be happy. I cannot stress the importance of these two things. The world tells you to spend, spend, spend, and it also tells you that if you don't follow the corporate guide to success, you're a failure. This is all brainwashing.
My current expenses, after my pension, require that I withdraw about 2.7% of my portfolio each year. That sounds good, but there are a number of things that could go wrong, and I also have fall-back plans for problems. I may do a little work if for nothing else than to take advantage of some of the tax scams available to low income workers. ;-)
Since quitting my job I have been very busy, as a number of you have learned, taking care of things that were neglected while I was working. In addition to those things, I have any number of things I want to do for fun, most of which cost nothing or very little. I will never run out of things to do.
The best thing about being unemployed, for me, has been how very little anxiety I have now. It is shocking how stressful working is, especially in environments where you cannot control the work you do. I heartily recommend unemployment to you all!
Save your nickels and dimes, kids, and invest them carefully. Good luck to all of you still working towards FIRE. It is worth a few sacrifices.
For your inspiration:
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