Today we continue the story of one of the Millionaire Money Mentors who chronicled the days leading up to his retirement.
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…
I was aiming to write something every day for these last few days, but, quite honestly, not much of significance is happening. So Day 11 didn’t happen. The glide-path to R-day is still going on, but life continues as well.
So far, it seems like the timing of retirement day will work out well. We did a lot of the preparation during the winter, where here in the Northern climes, most of the time is spent indoors, usually close to the fire. I’ll be leaving work just as the weather warms up and outdoor activities commence.
Yesterday, the first partial day of Spring, I spent all day outdoors. Part of that time was spent working on the RV in preparation for next month’s road trip, and the afternoon was spent kayaking on a local river. The time between winter and mosquitoes is the best time for paddling here, and we take advantage of that whenever we can. Beginning next month, we’ll be able to do that whenever the weather is nice, not just on Saturdays and Sundays.
I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time outdoors.
T Minus Nine
Nine days left. We’re down into the single digits. It’s all downhill from here, right?
I was reminded last night that life happens. While it’s fun to watch the numbers get smaller and anticipate that magic number of zero, life has a way of happening. I spent part of my evening in the Emergency Room with my daughter, arriving home at 1 am tired but happy to be home. She was tired, too, and I had to carry her from the car to her bedroom, where I set her upright on the bed and then just tipped her over. I don’t think she even noticed. I wish someone would have carried me from the car to my bedroom.
She appears to be resting comfortably, thanks for asking. 😉
While a trip to the ER is never even remotely close to being on the bucket list, I am thankful that such a resource exists. I am thankful also for all the staff, the nurses, doctors, administrative staff, housekeeping, and all those who work crazy shifts to keep it going. For those on this forum that do this sort of work, or even health care in general, thank you.
Today begins the last full week of work. Five days this week, three days next week, then I’m out. I’ve had people wonder why I made a Wednesday my last day. Why not Friday? Especially Friday, April 2 (Good Friday), which is a company holiday? I could have considered a company holiday my last day and effectively gotten paid for my first day of retirement. I hadn’t thought that one through thoroughly, but in the grand scheme of things, one day of wages won’t move the needle at all in terms of contribution to the financial picture.
I chose Wednesday for a few reasons. First and primarily, it was the end of the quarter. By working the entire quarter, I will participate in the quarterly profit sharing. While one day of wages won’t move the needle all that much, a full quarter’s bonus can be rather significant.
Second, Spring is just beginning and the weather here in the Midwest is starting to shape up. As mentioned in a prior post, we were able to go kayaking on a local river a couple days ago. And today is shaping up to be quite nice also. Too bad it’s a Monday and I’ll spend the better part of the day looking over the top of a computer monitor at the sunshine outside.
Third, I thought April Fool’s day would be a cool day to retire. I don’t have any ideas on what pranks to pull on April Fools Day yet, perhaps this should be the day for others to play pranks on me.
Fourth, Wednesday seems symbolic. Normally I would try to take a Friday or a Monday off as this extends the weekend. After next Wednesday, it won’t matter. Wednesday was just as appropriate as any other day. Weekends will be just positions on the calendar instead of days of not-work versus days of work on weekdays.
We’ll still be driven somewhat by the weekday/weekend thing because the rest of the world operates that way. My new Saturday can be a Tuesday or any other day for that matter. I plan to structure things so that we go to the popular haunts during un-busy times. Perhaps Saturdays can be used for home improvement projects, mowing the lawn, and hanging out with non-retired friends.
As the next “I’m looking forward to” installment, I’m looking forward to this kind of flexibility.
Seven days left. One week from today is the last day. I have been receiving occasional automatic emails from our sales systems alerting me that my name has been removed from this project or that project. Co-workers are updating these projects to reflect the imminent reality of my absence.
I am being erased.
And I’m totally OK with that.
I was told by my boss shortly after I gave notice that I would be contacted by the HR group about my retirement–exit interviews, wrap-up, and whatever HR groups do when people leave. So far I have heard absolutely nothing. It’s kind of weird. They better get on it; there’s only a few days left.
Back in high school, there was this phenomenon that occurred just before graduation. We called it ‘senioritis’. That state of mind where you are looking forward to being done and your studies go way lower on the priority list than they should be. Is there such a thing as W-2-itis? Employee-itis? Job-itis? Engineer-itis?
Yeah, I have it. Fortunately this is turning out to be a great time to retire. Projects at accounts that I cover are at a state where they don’t need much support. As a result, I have very little to do. This is actually the nature of the job. The natural ebb and flow of customer programs results in my being nearly idle at times and 200% loaded at other times. Right now is one of those idle times. A great time to step off the train–when it is nearly standing still.
Normally I would fill the idle time with less urgent tasks. Catching up on required training. Creating training materials. Internal projects. And so on. Lately I have been skipping the training meetings and spending time cleaning my office and cleaning my computer from all the superfluous accumulated junk that no one would be needing in the future anyway. It seemed important at the time. But my future self will have no need of it. So in the bit-bucket it goes.
I received a call from a customer yesterday. They were having some arcane problem with one of our products. I got my co-worker replacement on the line also. I spent some time in triage, asking questions about the nature of the problem. In the end it was just as arcane as it was in the beginning.
I spent some time afterwards with my co-worker talking about this. Since I am leaving, this was going to be his responsibility since it probably won’t be resolved in a week. So we brainstormed about who to contact at Corporate and how to handle it, but in the end, he is going to do the leg work. So most of the work was left with him. I felt a little strange assigning tasks to him that I would normally do, but the W-2-itis kicked in and I put it out of my mind. It’s in good hands now.
Yesterday was one of those days in which it is great to be outside. One of the things I’m looking forward to is not having to look at the sunshine from over the top of a computer monitor. The computer tasks can be reserved for the rainy days. Or they can be done from one of the Adirondack chairs on the back patio.
We decided to take advantage of the warmth by walking the beach. Since we had an evening where there were no kids around and we had no agenda, we took a stroll at the beach and on the nearby dunes and along the channel. Even though it began to cloud over during our walk, it was nonetheless a pleasant time spent with the wife. I’m looking forward to more of these.
Those of you from around these parts will recognize the iconic lighthouse in the photo.
Five Days of Eternity
I’m at the point where I just want to be done. Yeah, I know, I’m getting impatient, but you can only feel irrelevant for so long before it drives you crazy. Maybe I’ll look at this three months down the road and wonder what possessed me to think I could retire early. I’ll look back on the time that I was gainfully employed in teary-eyed nostalgia and pine about the good-old days.
If it were just up to me, I would have retired three months ago. Or more. I would be sitting in a cabana on some sun-drenched tropical island sipping mango juice and listening to the water lapping gently on the beach.
OK, maybe not that either. While that sounds great, after about a week I would be really sick of mango juice and longing for a good springtime thunderstorm. I’m in the middle of a big restoration project on a 1980’s pinball machine and there’s a bunch of covid-induced deferred maintenance on my rental properties that should be done. So there’s stuff to do that won’t get done sitting in a cabana. And the wife has an ever-growing list of things she wants to get done also.
Work is not helping the cause. There’s really not that much to do. There’s been complete radio silence from the HR group and I’ve managed to pawn off all my longer-term tasks onto my co-worker replacement. So unless something pops up, I’m going to be spectacularly un-busy.
Maybe I’ll feel differently on April 1 but an abrupt transition into retirement is perhaps not something I would recommend. Full time work on one day, complete unemployment on the next day. It’s enough to take your breath away. Maybe it’s better to have a part-time glide path or something a bit more transitional. Unfortunately, short of finding a different job and then retiring from that one, I didn’t have that option. My landing appears to be headed for a smackdown on the runway that hopefully won’t wreck the landing gear.
There are a few things that will soften the impact. I started working from home nearly full time a year and a half ago, and then really full time due to Covid. So I probably won’t have the marriage pressures that happen when someone retires from an away-from-home job. We are used to having lunch together every day, to long walks after lunch and to generally hanging out together a lot.
Also, in the ebb and flow of work projects, I’m at a lull, which is one of the things that’s driving me crazy but also will soften the transition because I won’t feel like I have so much to close out.
So, yes, I will survive. Perhaps dazed, but unhurt.
I found out yesterday that the company does, in fact, have a HR group. I was contacted by them yesterday and participated in a short meeting where we set up a time for an exit interview.
An exit interview. This is getting real.
One of the questions that came up during this meeting was about access to final payout information. With everything online these days and my access to company systems being cut off after March 31, I asked how I can access the normal pay stub information so I can keep things current in Quicken. I’ll be needing this information for the final payroll check and for the quarterly bonus check.
“I don’t think you will be receiving the quarterly bonus,” she told me. “You still have to be working here when it is paid out.”
I wondered if I was going to run into this. “The only requirement stated at every one of the quarterly meetings (10 years’ worth) is that you work the entire quarter,” I told her. “There was never anything about having to still be working at payout.”
“I’ll check with the payroll department and get back to you,” she said. So I’m not sure this will actually happen. Any others have experience with this? Had I known this I probably would have retired on March 1 instead of April 1. I could have been a month into the Honeymoon by now.
I received two meeting invitations a little while later. One was the exit interview, scheduled for Tuesday at 11am, to be held over Teams. The other was an additional Teams meeting, at 3 pm on April 1, titled “Final Check-In/Exit”.
“We have a bit of a problem,” I emailed back. “Since I’m turning in my computer on Wednesday morning, I will have no access to any company resources, including Teams. Also, I have no intention of being anywhere near any office on April 1.”
My boss also stepped in at this point and told HR that I will be turning in my computer to him directly as he is driving out to my office location on March 31. HR was wanting me to box everything up and ship it all to Corporate. I could have spent much of my last day packing boxes.
Turn in the computer, badge, and office keys Wednesday morning, lunch around noon, and then I’m out of there. So I will be really done on Wednesday just after noon. I’m not sure how he got around the company travel restrictions, but that’s not my problem.
Actually it is technically 2 days, 17 hours, and 43 minutes until 4:00 pm on the 31st or even shorter as Wednesday will be a short day. Turn in the computer, lunch with the boss, and then I’m out of there. No point in hanging around after turning in my computer. I won’t have access to anything anyway.
We spent some time this evening talking to a couple who work in a volunteer ministry that we have been interested in. A few months back, we were talking with a group of friends we regularly hang out with and we mentioned we were looking at the SOWER 4 ministry. One of our friends told us, “You need to talk to my uncle, he’s been involved in that for a few years.”
So we set up a meeting for earlier this evening. They were calling from their daughter’s house in Florida after just finishing up a volunteer stint there. In the course of our introductions we figured out that they live near the small town in the state where my wife did her first year of teaching. The usual game of do-you-know-so-and-so ensued and their son-in-law popped into the picture, asked for my wife’s maiden name, and said, “Hey, you were my third grade teacher!”
She remembered him, even after 35 years. He was one of the quiet ones, a very good student.
How cool is that!
We were able to talk with them about the ministry, the work, and the friendships that are formed in each three-week service time. Sounds good to me. Sign me up.
Looks like our time may be already starting to fill up.
More “lasts” today. Last Monday worked. Last meeting with several co-workers. Last update meeting from one of the business units. It was hard to concentrate on the update meeting because I really didn’t need to. I’ll admit I was multitasking during the time. Update meeting on one computer, MMM on another. A co-worker texted me shortly after the meeting started: “Why are you even on this call?”
I texted back “I guess old habits die hard.”
I’m not sure why I was on the meeting either. It all seemed irrelevant. Like a whole bunch of information intended for someone else.
During the first meeting, there were co-workers I haven’t seen in many months. Covid has certainly isolated us, at home and in the workplace. Some co-workers are sporting full beards, one let his hair grow long, and one shaved his hair off completely. Not that he had much hair to begin with. He and I are about tied in that department. We both grew taller than our hair.
A customer emailed me a reminder of a question he had last week. Oh, yeah, there’s still such a thing as a customer. It was not an easy answer so I called my co-worker replacement and we talked about it for a bit. In the end, since this answer is going to take more than a day and a half, it became his responsibility.
Well, that was easy.
A boss at a former job used to tell me that the longer you were with a company, the more skeletons you accumulated in your closet. Old projects, old connections, and other past history comes back to haunt you and take valuable time away from current work. But leaving a company allows you to walk away from all those skeletons. Unfortunately, the co-workers get to pick them all up, without the benefit of all the tribal knowledge held in your head.
I feel for my co-worker. Taking on all these accounts without the 10-year history that I have. But I have been in that position myself many times. Taking on stuff from departing co-workers. It’s not easy. But it happens all the time. It’s a fact of life. If I worried too much about that, I would be there forever.
I emailed my boss about the bonus eligibility. His response was that as far as he knows, you have to be employed at the time of payout. “But let me know what you hear from HR.” Well, I guess he is not going to bat for me. He has been there a lot longer than I have so he probably knows.
In the scheme of things, missing one bonus payout will not move the needle all that much. The amount will be in the financial noise. The value of my investment portfolio moves more than that on any given day. But it just leaves a bit of a sour taste in the mouth. To hear superiors congratulate me and say, “You’ve certainly earned it” and “You certainly deserve it”, and then to be stiffed of the quarterly bonus just seems wrong.
But I’m not going to let it steal my joy. I’m going to leave the office for the last time and throw a few high-fives to anyone who will oblige. I would do a hand stand but I probably would hurt myself. Not a good thing to do on the first day of retirement.
One Foot Out the Door
I just completed the exit interview. There was really not much to it–filling out online forms indicating the reason for leaving. Retirement makes things easy. Just put N/A for nearly everything after the reason. Leaving for which company: N/A. Company address: N/A. Salary: N/A (I wonder how many people actually answer this question … truthfully). And so on.
In stark contrast to my first day of work which started with a bang, this last full day will probably end with a whimper. When I started, my first day was spent at Corporate, halfway across the country. Lots of orientation meetings and presentations and groups of starry-eyed new hires like myself working through mountains of paperwork.
This last day is being spent in a home office with very little to do, having exit interviews over a poor online Teams connection, watching the HR person type in the answers into the single-page form as I say them. I have another form which gets filled out tomorrow: a checklist that verifies that my computer, badge, p-card, keys, and any other company property are turned in.
I did bring up the bonus payout thing. Apparently we do get paperwork that outlines the present-to-win policy. It was probably part of that mountain of paperwork received on the first day. That was over 10 years ago so things are a bit foggy.
One other thing I put in the “Suggestions for Improvement” category: Vacation. After 35 years in the industry, my vacation stands at 3 weeks per year. Most of my colleagues in similar positions at other companies are at four or five weeks or beyond. It’s one of the variables that went into the formula of deciding to retire. If I can’t take enough vacation during my tenure at the company, I’ll just take it all at the end.
Lest anyone think I was dissatisfied with this company, that is not the case. These last 10 years have been some of the best of my career. The company has a great culture, a great compensation package, and I would recommend it to just about anyone in a similar position. Just negotiate the terms before you sign on the dotted line. And know what you are signing.
I got an email from a syndicator yesterday. I had signed onto one of their deals late last year and then forgot about it at tax time. After all, there was no revenue in 2020, only this year. And no tax forms, no paperwork from them as I was doing my taxes. So no need to worry about it on last year’s tax return, right?
The email pointed to the K1 forms which came out quite late. I’m considering anything after I’ve filed my taxes to be ‘late’. The K1 showed a significant loss in 2020 which dramatically changed the final tax picture. I just sent the feds a check for several thousand dollars and I was grousing about it to my wife the other day. Now I’m expecting a check in the mail for over even more than I sent in. And an additional amount from the state.
So on a day when the final nail was driven in the coffin of my ill-fated bonus payout, I received this bit of good news from the syndicator, and ultimately from the IRS.
Last Day of Work – Ever
The countdown clock now reads zero days. It’s down to a matter of just a few hours.
My boss texted me last night saying he would meet me at the office at 11:00 this morning. We’ll go over a few things, have lunch, and then it’s all over. I’ll go to the office before that as a co-worker said she will be there and we will talk for a while. I haven’t seen this co-worker in months. I haven’t seen any co-worker in months. I haven’t seen my boss in over a year. So, in a way, leaving the company is no big deal as I don’t see anyone that I work with anyway.
Going to the office is a weird experience lately. The building is entirely empty, the lights are all on, the music still plays in the hallways, and nobody is home. I’ll go there this morning and return all the stuff that I have taken home over the last year, setting it all up and making sure it still works. Maybe my office will have a little less of that time-capsule look, as if someone left in a hurry, only taking the essentials. During a prior visit, I finally removed the wall calendar, which was still open to March, 2020.
It’s all a bit surreal, as if living in a dream. At some point I’ll wake up, look at the clock, and see that it’s time to get up and go to work. But I’m wide awake and the exit interview checklist is still sitting on the desk, waiting to be completed. There’s still a pile of computer junk on the floor, waiting to be taken to the office. My home office is in disarray, after extracting all that computer junk. And I’m wearing the T-shirt I found recently at a local thrift store with the words “Hire Me!” emblazoned across the front in big letters. I bought it for just this occasion. Somehow, that one-dollar just begged to be spent. I’ll have it covered with a sweater-vest in the company of my boss, but it will still be there.
In retirement, I’ll still have “office work” to do. I’m working on a project with a co-worker on the East coast, building a couple of microprocessors into a 1970’s electro-mechanical pinball machine that we both have, updating its rule set, adding features, RGB lighting, and a whole bunch of other goodies. Up until now, all our collaboration has been using company resources, but now we have to use external resources now that I am no longer with the company. So, moving to the personal free version of Teams, Git, etc. If any of you know of any pinball machines for sale needing restoration, let me know!
And Just Like That, It’s All Over
Well, it’s done. I am unemployed. Dis-employed. Jobless. It was a bit anti-climactic. After months of preparation and planning, hours of conversation with the wife and with others, several thousand words on MMM, the change-over to life 2.0 ended with a small check-list, a couple signatures, and a lunch. Covid scrapped any chance for a get-together, so it was just the two of us, my boss and I, having perhaps the longest conversation in a very long time. And then I went home. And that was it.
On the other hand, all that preparation and planning wasn’t really for this day alone, it was for the next 30+ years if I’m around for that long, so the results of all that planning will continue to be felt for a very long time.
I wanted to post a picture of my retirement counter at all zeros, but when it reached that point, it just started counting back upward. So now it’s counting the days since retirement. Interesting, but the anticipation is now gone and it’s just measuring the distance from my last paycheck.
Last night I messaged another ex-employee who retired about two months ago. I don’t know what his financial situation is, but he has always had a keen interest in trading stocks, particularly day-trading. He lamented that he was down 25% in the last two months and my boss told me today that he is looking for work again. In the last two months, my net worth has risen. I’m not smart enough and don’t have enough information available for day-trading, nor am I interested. I’ll let someone else pick the stocks.
Now I no longer have an excuse for procrastination. I’ll do that once I’ve retired. I’ve said this about a bunch of projects. Now that I’ve retired, I have to make good on all those statements. Starting tomorrow. With scrap metal. We are overflowing with scrap metal. Covid shut down the recycling centers for a while so it just continued to pile up in the barn. Now it’s time to load it all on the trailer and take it in. I’m not limited to just Saturday mornings any more. Starting now, every day is a Saturday.
Really interesting stuff, right? We had a great time discussing various aspects of the journey in the forums.
Perhaps I’ll get the author to do a retirement interview in the future — that is if I can pull him away from having so much fun. 🙂