Today we continue the story of one of the Millionaire Money Mentors who chronicled the days leading up to his retirement.
If you missed the start of this series, you can catch up by reading part one.
As I noted in the first post, I’m leaving out all the conversation, feedback, suggestions, etc. from other members and mentors and simply letting the author tell his own story.
I am listing each of his posts, headed by the number of days he posted it ahead of his retirement.
Here we go…
With the countdown clock at 35 days and my plan to inform the boss at 30 days, I’m thinking about just how to word the letter to my boss.
A little bit of background: I’ve worked here for 10 years, working in a remote sales region. I actually physically see my boss probably twice a year in normal times, not at all in Covid times. He is not much of a communicator, and I am not either, so the number of conversations in a year can probably be counted on one hand. A co-worker of mine once remarked, “He is the best boss I have ever had–he leaves me alone.”
While the autonomy can be a good thing, the flip side of this is that I never receive any feedback.
With that in mind, I am thinking of keeping the letter short something like the following:
I’m not sure how to say this as I have never done this before, but after much prayer and consideration I have decided to retire. My last day at [Megacorp] will be Wednesday, March 31, 2021.
This is an actual retirement as I am not leaving to take up employment somewhere else.
Please let me know what all is needed for an orderly shutdown and/or transfer of my position and responsibilities at [Megacorp].
How does this sound? Any suggestions for improvement?
I am not in any type of management position so it shouldn’t be very complicated.
30 days left. And today it went public.
Up till now, everything we’ve done is reversible. The financial preparations are a good exercise whether or not we actually retired. The books we’ve read, the hours of conversations we’ve had are all great exercises in learning but they are not, in and of themselves, an actual commitment. Even the health care coverage moves we’ve made can be reversed. Other than losing a couple hundred bucks in application fees, we could go on as we were with no changes.
We’ve let a few people in on our plans, but we could tell those same people that there were a change of plans, or simply say “April Fool!” on April 1 and go on with life as it has been.
But today I set in motion some things that are not so reversible. Like the shutting down of a career that’s been a big part of my life for the last 36 years.
I’ve occasionally counseled people who are considering a job change to go ahead and explore different jobs or different career paths. One of the arguments for exploring new paths, even if you’re not sure you want to, is that you are not making any commitments and don’t need to make an actual decision until you have that job offer in hand. Everything up to that point is just an education. If a job offer doesn’t materialize or you decide before that point to abandon the exploration, life hasn’t changed. You have probably learned a few things about yourself, though. And better to pursue something you are not sure about and potentially abandon it at some point than to not pursue it at all and regret it later.
I have just crossed that decision point. While I have known for a while what that decision will be, there’s still that anxiety in the back of may mind of wondering if I’m doing the right thing. It’s like having a whole lot of excitement and a little bit of anxiety at the same time. Excitement because the plans we have been making for the last several months are finally being put in motion. Anxiety because we are stepping into the unknown.
I am confident that I won’t regret this decision. Every retiree I’ve talked to has extolled their new life. So I am looking forward to the same.
I talked to my boss this morning and announced my retirement plans. He offered congratulations and sounded genuinely happy for me. It was a 15-minute conversation, probably the longest conversation I have had with him in a few years. I was a little unsure how it would go but it went well.
And now my responsibilities have suddenly shifted from my normal account maintenance and growth to transferring account responsibilities to a co-worker. I guess I am now officially a “lame duck”.
Maybe it’s because the number is smaller that it seems to be accelerating. Each day is a larger percentage change, and getting larger. Going from 29 days to 28 days is a 3.4% change. When this countdown started, at 132, a one day change was a 0.8% change. Whoops, I’m starting to geek out on the numbers.
Numbers aside, things are accelerating also, now that this has gone public. I have begun setting up one-on-one Teams calls with key clients, to introduce them to the co-worker who will be taking over my responsibilities. I have spoken to this co-worker a couple times, briefing him on key accounts. He expressed hope that my replacement will be found fairly soon, as my largest account tends to be rather lumpy on the amount of support required. It can go from zero to 100% in an hour. Right now the support level is rather minimal.
Our region is going to be losing some additional good people. Another co-worker confided in me that he is looking at September to retire. He’s three years older than I am. He is in the process of trying to figure out how much notice to give to the boss and I think he was grateful for our conversation. He also works remote and was unsure how our boss would react. Another co-worker is looking at July, and another person in our regional office has already announced a March, 2022 retirement date. Now that I’ve gone public, people are confiding in me about their plans.
A question I have been asked a few times already is, “Well, how old are you?” When I reveal my age at 58, the next question, at least in the mind of the questioner, is, “And you have enough to do this?” One person asked this fairly directly, others approached the financial side in more subtle ways. My response has been, “Yes, we’ve run the numbers several different directions, and we’re good with them.” I can almost hear the mental gears turning at the other end of the call, considering the amount needed to retire early. And then those gears clash as their head explodes. Most people have no idea what is needed.
I’ve also had comments like, “I don’t know when I will retire. I have no idea what I would do.” Well, I really don’t know what I will be doing either, but I do know that I won’t be doing this [work]. 🙂
I got a letter yesterday from our VP of Human Resources (sent to the entire company), which certifies that, because we are considered critical manufacturing, we as employees of this company are in the 1B group for Covid vaccinations. NOW they tell me! Just when I’m leaving!
The countdown clock reads 23 days. A little over three weeks.
I spent some of last week arranging and then participating in Teams calls with clients, telling them I was retiring and introducing my replacement. I’ve had conversations with some co-workers about some longer-term projects I was working on that have now evaporated, as they extended beyond April 1. Someone else will be doing them now.
Any meetings after March 30 I have been simply deleting from the calendar. Maybe I shouldn’t even bother as that calendar will not be accessible to me 23 days from now. I just realized I’m going to need to use a different calendar from now on. Having a single calendar for everything was convenient, but now it’s going away. Even meetings before the end of the month seem rather irrelevant, as they are usually about the on-going business of the company. Do I bother even attending? It seems rather pointless. Especially since everything is virtual.
It seems a little surreal in some ways, like I’m going to wake up after a while and realize the projects and demands are piling up and I should get back to work. Perhaps there is value in going through some sort of part-time semi-retirement first. Easing into it. I’m just quitting cold-turkey. Like jumping off a cliff.
What makes it even more surreal is that there will be no send-off. No retirement party. This is one of the effects of retiring in the middle of a pandemic. The company has mandated that there be no lunches, no get-togethers, etc. without executive approval. For a sales force, that’s like cutting off your right arm. So I will just disappear. One day I will be working, the next I will be not working. No fanfare, no friendly roasts, no corny speeches, no closure.
Another mentor asked about my comments about having too many pursuits and trying to narrow them down. I managed to narrow one of them down this past Saturday. I’ve had this little MG convertible for the last 13 years and I sold it on Saturday. There were a few pangs as I watched it disappear down the street for the last time, but it was time to go. I bought this car when my boys were in their teens, with the goal of getting a project car that they could gain some experience fixing up.
It needed a lot of fix-up. It had suffered an engine fire, and we had to rebuild the top half of the engine and then do a bunch of body work. A few month’s work and we had a cool little car and my boys had some additional experience. One of them went on to become an auto mechanic for a number of years.
One the car was operational it became a means of escape. Family life has been rather tough in some respects and the little car was therapeutic. Get the kids in bed and my wife and I would hop in the little car and take a joyride at 9:30 at night. There’s something soothing about having the wind in your hair on a warm summer evening.
It was also our date-mobile. We took it out to dinner, to the beach; we took it shopping (it’s size limited the number of items we could actually buy). We have a lot of memories in that little car.
But it was time to go. Family life has changed, kids have grown up, and the difficulties we experienced during that time have largely subsided. While we still enjoyed the joyrides in the convertible, we have a new date-mobile now. A small RV which is also parked in the driveway. This one allows overnight trips. And week-long trips. And more.
So in one sense, we have traded one pursuit for another. Net gain or loss of zero. However, we have had both for several months, so removing the convertible seems like a narrowing of pursuits. We’ll go with that. 😉
I was on the computer on Saturday morning, reading the MMM forums, when I received an email notification. The local vaccine clinic had opened the next week’s dates for clinic volunteers. I missed out on this last Saturday because I was working on the RV, and all the available slots filled within minutes, but this time I was on it. I managed to get signed up for a few slots this week, one of them being this afternoon. I’m not even retired yet and already I’m started on my volunteering!
T minus twenty. Less than three weeks now.
In the remaining time, I feel like I should be doing mountains of preparation, be infinitely busy with all the last minute stuff that precedes a major life change.
But it’s not like that. A lot of the major preparations have already been done, now it’s almost just waiting until that day when the switch is flipped.
I suppose it can be compared to landing a plane. On the approach, all the hard work has been done: achieving the proper altitude and descent rate, the nose of the plane has been lined up with the runway, the wheels are down, the lights can be seen in the distance. For a while, all that’s needed are minor course corrections to keep the runway lined up. It’s sort-of a wait mode until the wheels hit the tarmac.
During the glide, I’m continuing to inform clients of the changes to the team. I started with those I worked with the closest. With these, I arranged calls and included my replacement to introduce the person who would be taking on the account after I leave. The more occasional contacts were sent an email with an introductory paragraph for my replacement.
I’ve received a couple offers for continued or consulting work… “If you ever feel like designing hardware or software again, just give me a call.” Perhaps they are just being nice, but one came from an R&D manager so there probably was some seriousness to that one. It’s nice to have a plan B in my back pocket.
I’ve been told that someone from HR will be contacting me about my retirement. Nothing yet, that will probably be in the last week, as the wheels hit the tarmac and suddenly there’s a lot to do to get the plane to the gate.
I had a little over 20 hours of vacation left, so I have been using it this week to volunteer at a regional vaccine clinic that is being held at the convention center downtown. Since I am nowhere near medically inclined or talented, I direct traffic. You go down this line, you go down that one. On Monday we vaccinated 2700 people, Tuesday it was over 4000, today I will be there a full day and I think the count will be around 8000. It’s a completely different experience than sitting at a desk on a computer and that’s part of what makes it enjoyable. Because it is different.
I’m looking forward to more different.
I’m finding I have to choose my words wisely when answering questions about my retirement. I may have blown it a couple days ago and come off as a bit arrogant. It was certainly not my intention.
Someone asked me why I was retiring a couple days ago. This question caught me a little off guard. The questions usually are more along the lines of the when, what, where, or how, but this was the first time someone point-blank asked me “why”.
There are a bunch of reasons why and I could have used any one of them but the answer that came to mind, and out the mouth, was “Because I can.” I said it in a half joking way, and I don’t think he took it wrong, but the fact that he is several years older than I am and still working probably made that answer inappropriate, as it could be perceived as arrogance.
Again, I don’t think he took it that way, and the conversation moved on to more of the familiar what, when and how questions, but as I was thinking about it afterwards, “Because I can” is a true and perfectly logical statement. I would not be retiring if I could not. I’m retiring because I can. This answer just ignores the audience. I failed to read the room.
The topic of retirement came up during a video family conversation later on that day. A younger sibling congratulated me on my up-coming retirement. The wife of an older sibling said that the older sibling was jealous as he will be working a few more years at a high-stress job. I graciously accepted the congratulations and kept away from any statements that would convey any superiority or promote additional jealousy. I let the conversation move to other topics without dwelling on the retirement aspect. I may be excited about it, but gushing about it in present company would probably have been in bad taste.
I’ll gush about it here. 🙂
My boss called me yesterday about arranging some sort of farewell lunch. Unfortunately, company policy on Covid-19 forbids travel between offices, employee lunches, and in-person interactions with customers and his conversations with the HR group did not result in any exceptions, so we agreed to push the lunch until things open back up again. I just read a headline that the emergency rules in our state that dictate remote work will probably be extended another six months to October, so the lunch may be a while. We will probably do a send-off via WebEx just before I leave.
30+ people crammed onto an iPad screen. It should be quite the party. Haha.
Working in a field support position and then retiring during a pandemic has certainly been a different experience.
As news of my retirement spreads, I have been receiving encouraging notes from co-workers and friends. Some examples:
This is bittersweet news… On one hand, I am happy for you and I hope you thoroughly enjoy your retirement! On the other, I am saddened that we are losing another very good technical resource. Our job is enormously aided by the good guys such as yourself when we run into issues… and issues are a given in today’s technological world.
I heard from [co-worker] that you’re retiring the end of this month. I just wanted to say thanks for all the help of the years. Your insight has always been helpful and wanted to wish you the best!
The end of an era…If you ever get the itch to do some more hardware design or write some more code, please let me know. 😉
It’s nice to feel appreciated. This was a reminder to me to express encouragement to others, before they are gone. Lots of good discussion about this on the thread about compliments.
I spent another four hours downtown at the regional vaccine clinic yesterday. I worked in the entry and exit lines, greeting people and showing them where to go. It was cool to see the excitement on many faces after receiving the second dose of the vaccine. I even managed to get a couple people to do the happy dance on the way out.
On the way in, I had to verify that they had their vaccine card with them, showing that they had received the first dose. Predictably, there are those that forget. I had some fun watching the “Aww Crap!” moment register on people’s faces when they realized they had come all this way and had forgotten a critical piece of paperwork. I couldn’t help but mess with their minds a little bit by playing into it.
I’ll say something like “I’m terribly sorry sir.” [Pause] [Look of panic intensifies] Then I point to a woman at a computer along one wall. “Why don’t you step over there, she will print you a new one.”
And then the look of relief and joy that washes over them. I’m sure in different times I would have gotten hugged more than once.
I got a bunch of meeting invitations yesterday. A series of meetings, usually held in some large facility in a large city, lasting for 3 or 4 days in April. Only this year they are all virtual.
Three days of solid WebEx. Yuck.
I used to look forward to these meetings. They were a chance to catch up with co-workers. Dinners, evening activities, even breaks between sessions were all an opportunity for networking. On several of these, I took my wife along, and even my daughter. We would tack a few days onto the trip and use the opportunity to explore the area. Nashville, Austin, Detroit, Phoenix, Boston…we managed to do a fair amount of piggyback travel.
Now it’s three days of solid WebEx, sitting in a home office. Yuck.
Only this time, it’s not.
The notifications started hitting my phone while we were eating dinner yesterday. Ding … Ding … Ding. Each one announcing its presence with the standard Outlook chime. I took great relish in taking the phone out of my pocket and deleting them as they came in. Ding … Swipe left, Delete. Ding … Swipe left, Delete. 12 notifications, gone. Normally the phones don’t come out during meal times, but this was a special occasion.
After March 31, the work calendar is clear.
My wife asked me last night, “What are you going to do on April 1?” To be honest, I hadn’t really thought about that yet. We’ve done a lot of thinking and planning for times and trips farther out, but I haven’t thought of exactly what I would do on the first day. Seems like it should be something significant. After all, it is the first day of non-work after 36 years of solid work. I’ve never been laid off, never taken a sabbatical (although I would have loved to at times), and never taken more than a week between jobs.
So I’m a little bit at a loss of what to do that first day. For those of you that have retired, and those that actually have that first day planned, what did you do?
One thing I’m realizing about retiring early: there’s a distinct possibility that you may still have children living at home.
I would imagine that most people who retire at the more traditional ages of the mid-sixties are empty-nesters. The parenting is done, the kids are on their own, there may be one or more grandkids that they can rile up and then send home, and it’s just the two of them.
When children are still living at home, particularly adult children, you get to see the poor choices they make up-close and personal.
My daughter is 21. She overslept this morning and will be at work about an hour late. When she was a bit younger, we would wake her up at appropriate times so she could make it to school/work. But we’ve gradually been removing the parental support network in an attempt to get her to stand on her own. One of these support items is getting her up on time. She is now responsible for getting herself up.
As a parent, it’s hard to sit in the kitchen, eating breakfast, and listening to the alarm blaring down the hall. And blaring. And blaring. The instinct is to go down there and prod her awake, get her going so she can be to work on time. Or maybe just to stop the incessant noise. But that just enables dependence, and we’re working towards independence. The real root cause is that she does not allow herself enough sleep. She goes to bed too late. We’ve pulled back on that one also. All the reminders fell on deaf ears anyway.
So she stumbles out of bed an hour late, looking like a mop-head, throws her coat on, and leaves. No breakfast, no lunch. Poor choices beget more poor choices.
When kids make poor choices living on their own, we don’t have to see it. When they are still living at home, we become the collateral damage. She will come home an absolute mess. She doesn’t just fit the term ‘hangry’, she probably invented it. And we are usually left to pick up the pieces. It’s not a pretty sight.
Sometimes we try to be conveniently gone when she arrives home after a day like this. Yeah, terrible parents, I know.
She has made tremendous progress over the years. She joined our family through adoption when she was 9 years old, so we’ve had to compress 21 years of training into 12 actual years, so there are still some edges we are working on. And when she joined us, she didn’t even speak our language. So we do have to give her grace in some areas.
But a lot of the training is learned best through the school of hard knocks, and that kind of training is hard to compress. Unfortunately, we are often the ones getting knocked about during this training.
I may be retiring from my job in 13 days, but the parenting rages on.
We met with our financial advisor yesterday. I’ve written earlier (at 122 days) about my angst at my financial advisor fees being the sixth largest expense item. While I am still somewhat on the fence, having someone to bounce things off of and suggest strategies going forward does have definite value. I’ve had rather disastrous experiences with a couple financial advisors in the past, mostly with their acting in their own interests and not my own by trying to sell me high-cost financial products.
What I like about Personal Capital is that there is none of that. While their allocations into stocks, bonds, and ETFs are very algorithm-based (they call it the ‘efficient frontier’), and their advice mirrors more of the conventional wisdom of a 70/30 split between stocks and bonds for my chosen risk/reward level, they will do anything I tell them to that’s in their capability.
I’ve read several other posts that mention the use of the free version of Personal Capital and how it works pretty well as a financial aggregation tool. Indeed, it does a decent job of capturing data from credit cards, banks, brokerages, and the like, and their retirement planner models this information going forward. So my FA at Personal Capital has access to all this information and we both had it on-screen during our conversation.
Many on this forum are way beyond the standard mix of stocks and bonds that most FAs are familiar with. Real Estate, Hedge Funds, Syndicates, etc., just a whole bunch of interesting ways to enhance income and returns, and it’s the what sets us apart from the crowd. In many cases, it is what makes the difference between just a decent sized 401k portfolio and being a multi-millionaire. I fall into that camp as well, with rental properties, some of which are owned by a self-directed IRA, spread amongst multiple LLC entities.
So far, Personal Capital has handled this with aplomb, and even though their tools don’t specifically support real estate, they’ve been able to fold this into the financial model so that it paints a good picture of retirement. I had modeled about $50K in net rental property cash flow, but about half of that comes into my self-directed IRA, so it won’t be available to me until age 59.5, when I can start taking distributions from IRAs. When I pointed this out, the advisor made a couple tweaks to the model to match this reality.
We also discussed the use of bonds at length. Although I still do have a mix of bonds in the portfolio, I expressed my concerns that bond yields are very low and my rental properties take up the income portion that bonds would normally do. They were perfectly willing to adjust the allocation of bonds to a lower amount, even down to zero.
I can see that a difficult thing to do will be actually spend the money that we’ve accumulated over the past few decades. We were looking at their ‘Smart Withdrawal Tool’ and discussing how much to pull from the portfolio each month and it’s a complete reversal of thinking. Up until now it’s been watching things grow and pushing as much money as possible into the portfolio, now we will be seeing an initial outgo of $6000 per month. We’re very much in the camp of ‘Saving is hard – but SPENDING it down is even harder’. It’s a whole new discipline.
I’ve read the entire thread, and agreed with a lot of it, because know I will be that way. It is now at a whole new level now that this seismic shift is only 12 days away. It’s going to take some getting used to.
We’re going to end the story here for today.
To see how the story ends, check out part 3.