I’ve officially been retired for fourteen days. My employer and I agreed to a five week notice period, the first two were pretty busy and the last three had minimal actual work and helped ease into early retirement, so all in its been roughly a month without paid work. Sitting here on our third trip in a month, I was reflecting on my way too early thoughts about early retirement:
Traveling without worrying about vacation days is wonderful. Sitting in the breakfast area of business traveler hotel and watching others rush off to work brings a special level of satisfaction to me.
The early travelling is happening a bit too fast. We want to travel slower. We went on a whirlwind celebration trip for the first five days and am typing this from another. Hotel to hotel carries its exhaustion vs planting ourselves in an AirBNB. We have a lot of hotel points and other travel rewards that we are exhausting, but I am looking forward to slower travel. Part of our travel is right now is exploring possible destinations to move to, which is a little different than full on tourist travel.
Waking up without an alarm clock is great. I’ve been waking up around 6:45 most mornings to daylight and without a bunch of stuff on my mind. I’ve not been worried about what time to get to sleep and been able to watch some playoff hockey game finish without concerns about how late its going.
One appointment a day is about our limit and I saw this written by another early retiree at some point too. 10:30am has been an ideal time to take care of a doctor’s appointment, meet someone about the house, ect. Most mornings look like waking up without an alarm clock, drinking some coffee, making a high quality breakfast, walking the dog, then having whatever outside appointment we need to do. I can’t see how a 10:30am “start” time will ever get old.
The gym is awesome at 3:30pm. That’s the right time for our non-running workouts. People are slowly filtering in post-work but not packed like 5:30. We’re not working out hungry for dinner and its keeping dinner around the same time. I think eating dinner at a reasonable hour has gone a long way towards sleep improvement.
Moving/Listing a House:
Geographic arbitrage has its stress. We put a coming soon sign in front of the house while we worked on a few things and the market is pretty good. We got one offer pre-listing and two on the first weekend it hit the market. Selling a house comes with stress. Add to it that its an older house and at least 2x the price of what we want to pay for the next house. Do we take the offer? Do we counter? We don’t even have our final destination picked out! (Not sold yet fortunately).
We are getting better at prepping the house now that we’re getting past showing #10 – there’s been a lot of small work going into the house in real time that’s created some stress.
Mrs Shirts and I discussed the price and various offers, we ultimately decided the house is listed for a fair price and we don’t *have* to move today if we don’t get the price we want. The cost of staying in a higher cost of living area is minimal in the short run compared to getting $20,000 less in proceeds than we’d like.
Final results of the weekend – 8 showings, three offers, no contracts. The great thing about FI? Told our agent to respond “we don’t have to move, the price is the price”— Stop(ped) Ironing Shirts (@StIroningShirts) April 28, 2019
Work (or lack there of) reflections:
The process of retiring from work and is already generating a lot of thoughts and reflections. I miss giving advice to coworkers and clients. Being looked to as a subject expert was/is fulfilling, but that’s about the only thing I miss. The time has also allowed for a lot of reflection of things I didn’t like. I’m certain even if I didn’t retire early, it would have been time to change companies.
I am appreciating my disdain for both corporate politics and dumb people. In fact, dealing with both is the equivalent of being tortured daily. I got used to it and accepted dealing with it, the relief of NOT putting up with either is incredibly refreshing.
Tuesday musings: Do people who pursue the RE part of FIRE have less tolerance for workplace politics and/or stupid people? Corporate work forces interactions with both— Stop(ped) Ironing Shirts (@StIroningShirts) April 30, 2019
The quality of leader I worked for impacted my happiness. There’s a saying in business that says “10 hire 10s, but 7s hire 5s.” Well, 10s also only work for 10s. My last EVP didn’t have a mean bone in his body, but was not effective at coaching and rewarding his employees. The best leaders are also a great coach. The mediocre ones say things like “Its a large company, these are just things you have to accept”.
Speaking of stuff I’m thrilled to be away from, it’s wasteful administrative work. I want to share one of the most absurd examples of wasteful administrative work. I worked in banking and we would be told by our EVP that “we need deposits”. My team would find a business with significant cash and the market rate on a savings account would be 2.25%. We’re in the business of money, so you either pay the market rate or you don’t. Well instead of just offering 2.2% or 2.3% to acquire the deposits, our “rate desk” would offer 2.15%, then ask for a lengthy memo of all the other business we *might* get to approve the 2.25% they should have offered to begin with. Then to make things worse, they would lecture my team on how to sell, even though this desk never actually talked to customers. It was if you had to bow down to this alter of sacrifice to get approved what should have been offered to begin with.
Often they would just decline to offer the price to get the business and decry the market as “irriational”. That didn’t stop the EVP and the “desk” would get on a conference call and have a threatening call with everyone for our “lack of deposit performance.” I like to say every job has its share of turd sandwiches. This was one of many I had to eat.
Then there were the conference calls. almost all of which involved more people than were necessary to get a deal done. The beeping, the barking dogs in the background, the people driving while trying to take the call, and the conclusion of indecision. Never underestimate the stupidity that can come out of a large group of people.
What is the attitude of former employees?
Are former employees from the company I worked for angry? This is one of the more interesting questions I’ve received. Another person said he thought a lot of people that left held anger and resentment towards the company and asked me and asked me what I thought. I told him that I wasn’t angry, but disappointed at how the reward system was setup at work and that I stayed in it for so long. The company had a promotion based reward system. This meant manager after manager promised people promotions in the future for work completed today. The problem was there were far fewer positions available than what were promised to people as the company’s growth slowed. All these promises were coming to surface over the past couple years and long term, talented, and loyal people were leaving.
I was aware of two people who were directly promised the next job by someone in upper management only then to be told “it’s not you”. How many opportunities did these people walk away from based on the trust and promise from their leader? Many of these people moved geographically for the company at great expense to their family. What sacrifices did their spouse make in their career to support their partner to move? What about moving kids away from their friends and familiar school for a company based on a promise of being taken care of in the future? Unfortunately many of these promises were made by people accumulating talent around them while trying to advance their own career.
Then there are others like me who realized when they hit 30, 35, or 40 that the lifestyle of the EVP job is actually miserable and no longer appealing. Do I really want to give a MegaCorp that much control over my life? Beware of cultures that are on promotion based rewards vs rewarding high performers in the present and giving them a pleasant job experience. If I needed a reminder of just how much a large company “cares” about you, this happened:
Reminder if you ever think your Megacorp cares about you: Sixteen years of service and the only signed letter I get after retiring early isn’t a congratulations, but documenting the termination of golden handcuffs— Stop(ped) Ironing Shirts (@StIroningShirts) April 30, 2019
The first letter I get in the mail isn’t my COBRA enrollment information, details on my deferred compensation, or a thank you for your sixteen years of service and tens of millions of dollars I helped make the company. No, its a letter specifically documenting the forfeiture of thousands of shares of restricted stock “due to my termination”*. This was the most urgent priority between all the departments that a former employee interacts with in the company. This just further reinforces I was due for a change even if I was still going to continue to work. I feel bad for many of the remaining employees at the company who have this false sense of family, culture, and loyalty. There is no loyalty and they may be relying on those same promotion based promises.
Its still way too early to evaluate this early retirement thing, I can’t say it feels too much different than being on vacation. So far there’s been zero sense of boredom and no sign of it in the near future. I’m sure there will be some moments of stress with the house and eventual move, but handling most days on a great night’s sleep, good food, and consistent exercise has been awesome thus far. I’ve also appreciated taking a step back from the work chaos and having others control my schedule. I wasn’t retiring early, I still needed some time away from work to take a break then evaluate other opportunities. The advantage of financial independence or a decent sized emergency fund is not having to immediately into the next job. I highly recommend it!
* Ironically I would have grounds to challenge this termination of restricted stock since I retired early instead of resigning. They’ve been granting restricted stock to others left and right for layoffs and its unlikely my position will be filled and I’d have to find one of those contingency employment attorneys to help me. The problem is I’m both financially independent and feeling a little lazy – I don’t need the money and attempting to challenge this sounds too much like work/effort. Any advice here would be appreciated!