Oops. I QUIT!!!

Well, it finally happened! Today was my very last day of cubicle life! To be honest, I'm a little surprised myself, seeing as how determined I was to make it until January to help us hit our FI number.

That's right. I'm RE before FI. I don't know if this qualifies as retired early, since we haven't quite hit our FI number yet. All I can say with confidence is that I am now unemployed, and loving it! These past few weeks have been a blur… so what the hell happened?!

Breaking the Golden Handcuffs

I've griped about work a few times on this blog, so it's no secret that I dislike my career. I don't want to come off as a complainy-pants, but my job had been getting worse and worse these past few months, filling me with unnecessary anxiety and exhaustion.

A few months back, I found myself in the following thought spiral: “This job is making me miserable and I really want to quit! But if I stay five more weeks, my 401(K) vests! If I stay an extra month past that, I'll earn my year-end bonus! If I stay through January, I can front-load my IRA for the year. An extra six weeks after that, and…” You see where this is going, don't you? There's no end to all the mini-milestones I can achieve by working longer. “A few more months and I'll be FI! Another year after that- we hit FAT FI!” Ah, the sweet, seductive cushion of FAT FI. These rewards are so nice, I can't afford to stop working!

This mind game troubled me because I could feel myself losing control, becoming a slave to the golden handcuffs. The mental pressure to keep the fire-hose of cash flowing and keep passing more and more arbitrary milestones was literally making me sick. The demands at work kept increasing as the program schedule slipped further and further to the right. I no longer had the time or energy to spend on physical fitness, my blog, my music, my friends and family. Everything was second to work. I was chained to my cubicle. A cog in a machine. A mindless zombie. Eventually, I hit my breaking point. After a long walk with the wife, I realized I needed to set a firm exit date, and stick with it.

My Two Weeks

There's a phrase I've heard repeated these past few months: “leaning into” your fear. If something makes you uncomfortable, it's likely signaling a growth opportunity, and you should get out of your comfort zone and lean into it. Embrace it. Learn from it. For me, I noticed I became extremely uncomfortable with the thought of actually putting in my two weeks notice.

You'd think our quite substantial pile of FU Money would have lowered this anxiety, but this wasn't the case. The night before my meeting with management, I didn't sleep a wink.* I kept playing every scenario through in my mind. What was I going to say? What was my narrative? “Hey Boss – I saved up a bunch of money so I'm going home now and never coming back!” wasn't a graceful way to end my decade in the cubicle world. I didn't want to burn any bridges, either. I just needed a break.

A break! Bingo. I found my story. I was extremely burned out and needed a break. It was honest, simple, and to the point. They didn't need to know that the break would likely be perpetual. They didn't need an explanation of financial independence. They just needed to know that I was burned out.

The Meeting

The day of the actual meeting seemed never-ending. My 10 am discussion got pushed all the way back to 4 pm, so I spent the entire day wondering how things would play out. Why was I so nervous? It was like my brain was preparing for a really nasty breakup or something! When it was finally go-time, the entire conversation was over in the blink of an eye:

JOEL: “I'm really burned out and need a break. I think leaving the company is my best bet. This is my two weeks notice.”

BOSS: “Oh… well, what if we give you a few weeks off? If you can just hold out until we reach our next milestone we can…”

JOEL: “No, I've given it a lot of thought and I need longer than a few weeks off. Leaving is best for me.


A bunch of other things were said that I don't remember, then we shook hands and I walked out. The whole thing was a surreal blur, but I instantly felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I went home early, wrote a thank you letter to my wonderful wife for being so supportive of my decision, and then enjoyed the best nights sleep I've had in months. The anxiety was gone. I was free.

Rear View Mirror

On my last day in cubicle land, I gave out some handwritten thank you cards, cleaned out my desk, and left. No fancy retirement party, no long and uncomfortable farewell email. Just a quick and uneventful exit. I took the long way home, driving by the ocean, reflecting on my stressful decade of full-time cubicle life.

I realize now, looking back, that I should have left sooner. Health and sanity are worth more than a few thousand dollars incentive. The irony is that many of the requests I made to management in the past (switching to another position, working from home, part-time employment, etc.) were all eventually offered after I put in my two weeks notice. Unfortunately, it was too little too late, but good to know for the future: walking away from work can give you incredible negotiating power. Just be sure you are actually willing to leave.

I like to think of quitting my job as taking my foot off the accelerator and coasting down the cash-flow highway. These past few years, the wife and I have been driving towards FIRE so fast that we can't even roll down the windows to enjoy what's outside. The exit signs fly by so quickly that we have to try to catch them in the rear view mirror. Quitting full-time employment isn't slamming the brakes on our FI timeline; rather, it's simply easing my foot off the gas.

Throwing the Dart

One of the reasons it took me so long to quit is that I was aiming for perfection. I wanted to perfectly hit my FI number, with a nice cushion baked in, all within a specific timeline. When things started sucking at work earlier this spring, I didn't want to quit and find another job. I only had to stick it out a few more months, or so I told myself. Besides, I didn't want to move to a new company, only to leave a few months later and possibly burn a bridge. If I just put my nose to the grindstone, I thought I could power through the toxic work environment. But I was wrong.

The truth is, perfection… doesn't really exist. Those who seek it waste the majority of their time and energy. This amazing video from Hank Green of the Vlog Brothers says it best:

“Everything creative I do, I do my best to get it 80% of the way to as good as I can make it, and go no further. I just don't try to get it to 100%… I'm not saying you can't increase your odds of getting into the bulls-eye… I'm saying you never really know where you're going to hit until you actually. Throw. The. Dart. And if you spend a ton of time thinking about how you're going to throw the dart and you never throw it, you might be doing a whole lot of work that isn't actually helping. So when I get to 80%, I throw the dart. Because I know that ‘perfect' doesn't exist.”

It took me a decade to learn what that video summarizes in under four minutes: ‘Perfection' is subjective, and always changing. It reminds me of the Pareto principle we covered in the post Investing Can Be Simple: trying to reach the moving target that is perfection will take 80% of the effort for a measly 20% improvement. To reach perfection in FI, I still need to figure out my detailed draw-down strategy. I need to read up on dozens of tax optimization techniques and start my Roth conversion ladder. I should probably build a large five-year cash buffer, just for safety.

Perfection be damned- my time has come to throw the dart! In Go Curry Cracker's recent post, Jeremy discusses the idea of working a few more years after FI to build a bigger cushion than you need, and how that's allowed his family to stay well under the 4% rule. While I appreciate this concept, I think it depends heavily on your current work-life balance.

If you're enjoying your journey and have time to do the things you really want to do, then, by all means, work that extra year or two. It really is a small amount of time in the grand scheme of things. But if you still have years left on your FI journey and are in a similar work situation to me, why not take a break instead of powering through? Use that FU money to take a gap year, like Noah and his wife at Money Metagame are doing. Don't push yourself to the point of burnout like I did!

As we discussed in the Milestones of FI, The benefits of financial independence are gained gradually over a smooth continuum, not all at one specific dollar amount. If you take a break from work for a year or two, or take a lower paying job for a few years, you don't go backward. You don’t lose the benefits you’ve gained along the way! This is essential to remember during your working years to keep a healthy work-life balance.

Spreading the News

Other than my wife and a few select people close to me, I haven't really shared the news of my early retirement with friends or family. I guess it's not technically retirement: I still plan to work on the things I love, but now it's on my schedule, as much or as little as I want, with no pressure to profit. Most of my friends and family won't understand this concept. And with the wife choosing to work for another year, there's an old-fashioned stigma associated with a guy who stays home and doesn't help provide for his family.

There's also a good bit of tension that comes with wealth when the majority of your friends and family don't understand money. The way I see it: “I have carefully constructed my perpetual money making machine, and can now start enjoying up to 4% annual withdrawals whenever I'm ready. I'll never take out more than that: you don't chop down the tree when you've picked off all the apples- you plant more trees!”

The way most people see it: “Wow you've saved so much money that you never have to work again?! That's like infinite money! Why don't you use it to help everyone do everything? What do you mean you won't fly out to visit on a moments notice and bring lavish gifts!?”

OK, I'm obviously exaggerating here, but you get the picture. If someone knows you have a pile of money, their expectations of you change! It's just the way it is. Even if you explain exactly how the machine works, and how you have to withdraw less than 4% per year to keep it from breaking down… most people simply won't understand.

That's why I've been working on a different narrative: I'm starting my own business. I'll get to test it out at the Thanksgiving table in a few weeks.

FRIENDS & FAM: “Oh, starting your own business? That sounds risky. What does the business do?”

JOEL: “It's a financial business! I'll be doing financial advising and account management.”

FRIENDS & FAM: “Aren't you worried about losing your steady income?”

JOEL: “Well, you know how it goes with new businesses. The first few years will be a lot of work, so I'll have to keep my spending low so it can grow.”

FRIENDS & FAM: “You're braver than I am! Good luck!”

The self-employed narrative helps frame things in a way most people can relate to. Now, their expectations are set realistically: I'm not the rich guy with money to spare, I'm the guy who's living lean to try and get his business off the ground. And this isn't a lie… I will be living lean, I am a sole proprietor, and I will, in fact, be working on account management: they just happen to be my own accounts!

What's Next???

I'm extremely excited to be in control of my own schedule. For the very first time, I'm my own boss! I get to work on what I want, when I want to, as often as I'd like. I'm pretty much jumping out of my skin with excitement at the creative possibilities opening up for me right now! Not to mention – this is the first break** I've had since my junior year of high school over 15 years ago.***

I like to think of my upcoming year of freedom as my FIRE beta test. The wife will continue working another year to smooth the ride, while I test out the early retirement waters. If things go great, she'll join me next year. If the market comes crashing down or our plans change significantly, I can always go back to work! Remember: my worst case scenario is everyone else's every day scenario! And when you're close to FI and your expenses are low, every job in the universe becomes a ‘high paying' job!

THERE'S TIME NOW!!! One of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes!
THERE'S TIME NOW!!! One of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes!

I'm so excited for this next phase of my life to begin. There's time now for so many things I want to do! Just a sampling of my plans:

  • Sleep in for like a week straight and relax
  • Get back into excellent physical shape
  • Write more often on this blog
  • Collaborate more with other awesome people in the FIRE community
  • Work on my ‘Ted Talk' style presentation for CampFI
  • Get back into my songwriting side hustle
  • Complete my backlog of 100+ todo list items I've been putting off for months
  • Convince The Wife to join me next year!
  • Learn a new language. Pick up a new instrument. Literally anything I want to do!

I'm so incredibly thankful to this amazing financial independence community for showing me that this path was even a possibility****. It's my turn to give something back, so stay tuned… for the next Financial 180!


*This was actually like a week, not a night. The wife was concerned.

**Longer than two weeks at least!

***I had to do the math on this and wow – time sneaks up on you when you stop paying attention to it!

****I should take a minute to acknowledge how privileged I am to be standing on the shoulders of giants. While the wife and I have worked extremely hard to get where we are now, we had a head start. Parents who paid for our education, high demand careers, the list goes on. I have an entire post in the works on this very subject for Thanksgiving, but it's important to mention it here too. 

Interested in starting your own Financial 180? You've come to the right place. The math is easy: create a gap between what you earn, and what you spend. If you can save half your income, your working career will only be around a decade long! Want to shorten it even more? Read on to see exactly what expenses the wife and I cut from month to month. Track your progress against the milestones of FI, and gradually build up your own savings snowball. Check out the books and links in our resources section and jump-start your journey to FI. The you ten years from now will be glad you did! Ready? Start here.

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89 thoughts on “Oops. I QUIT!!!”

  1. JOEL! This is amazing!!! Congratulations!! I can’t wait to hear all about it at Camp FI. Talk about following in the footsteps of Giants… I’m next. I’m anxious to hear how it goes and what I can learn for you!

    1. Thanks Gwen!! It probably won’t hit me until Monday when I don’t need to wake up early 🙂 Excited for you too!! Going to join me in the RE before FI club? You can always go back to work!

  2. Great post Joel. I am extremely happy for you. I know you will use your energy and creativity in an awesome effort to make positive impacts. Nicely done.

  3. Awesome! Congratulations on pulling the trig…uh….throwing the dart! And even before you technically hit FI, but I think you’re going to be ok. The beauty of FI is you’ve probably got contingency plans that you’re not even aware of yet. I’ve still got a few years until my FI date, but I love hearing the stories of those who have gone before. Excited to hear your new language and musical skills in the future!

    1. Thanks, Aaron! With the wife keeping her job another year, we’re still cruising to FI, just not quite as fast as before. I will certainly keep the blog updated with my progress on my new musical instrument and language endeavors! So much free time now… I feel like a kid on the first day of summer vacation!!!

  4. I saw the post title and literally said out loud: “WHAAAAAAT?!” Man, that is so exciting! Congratulations! I hope you enjoy the hell out of it. From reading the accounts of others, it sounds like it’ll be quite the adjustment period at first and you may need to give yourself permission to just be lazy for a while, but I think there’s no doubt this is going to be a great thing.

    Have fun, you’re a free man!

    1. Thanks Andy! While we’ve been saving for this very event for so long without ever knowing what the exact end date would be. So in my mind it’s always been “someday in the future”, which seemed far away. So it’s like I’m just as surprised as everyone else; It certainly hasn’t sunk in yet!

      As you mentioned, taking some time to relax and ease into a new routine is probably a good idea. I’m planning a week or two to relax before diving into all the projects I want to start. I have time now, so there’s no rush! This concept will indeed take some getting used to.

  5. Congratulations!!! I’ve been following along since hearing you on ChooseFI… this is awesome! It is awesome and inspiring to see people taking the plunge 🙂 Can’t wait for further updates!

    1. Thank you! I feel like I’m just getting started! One of the reasons I love this blog is that I can share all these major milestones and events as they happen, and get feedback from the community in real time.

      Rolling over my 401(K) next month? New post. Transferring my HSA to a new bank? New post. Setting up my first Roth conversion? New post with all the details! I hope to become the real time case study for the FI community!

      1. So did your 401k vest?

        Word of caution for 401k rollover, since you’re interested in self-employment. If you take your 401k and do a rollover IRA, unless you then roll that into another 401k, you’ll get hit with the pro-rata stuff when you do your conversions. And heads up, Vanguard Solo 401k plans do not allow those rollovers in, while Fidelity Solo 401k plans do. In case you’re going that way 🙂

        1. Hi Kim, thanks for the heads up. Yes, my 401(K) did indeed vest! I quit shortly after. As far as the pro-rata rule, my plan right now is to rollover from 401(K) to regular old IRA this tax year, and then start a Roth conversion ladder the following tax year, so there shouldn’t be an issue. Not going to play with the Solo 401(K) quite yet, as I might not have business income for quite some time. And if I do earn business income sooner than expected, I’ll just use that to pay some of the bills and lower the amount withdrawn from our portfolio when the wife joins me in retirement.

    1. Thanks Veronika!! I just re-ran our numbers with the Mad Fientist lab, and quitting my job pushed our FI date back a little over a month. Not too shabby! I think it’s because we’re already so close that our FI train has a lot of momentum! 🙂

      I updated the countdown on the sidebar!

  6. Congrats Joel! Very exciting and I’m glad you are out of that hell hole of a job! You better start lifting heavy things (must squat)! I hope to be there in a year. My current excuse is wanting insurance for baby #2 but I hope to pull the trigger next year. Look forward to talking to you soon!

    1. Soon, I’ll be lifting all the heavy things! My brother is making me an hour-per-day FI workout routine, and I’m really excited to get started. I put on 15 pounds this year… probably another symptom of work stress this year. As the pounds come back off, it will make for a great blog post.

      Excited for you to join the club soon… don’t wait too long! 🙂

  7. Congratulations. I’m very interested in learning more about your “What’s Next” planning and execution over the upcoming 6 months. You have the point and I’m sure a few folks just steps behind you.
    What will you retire into?

    1. I love the idea of ‘retiring into’ something. While I haven’t worked out all the details, I do know I’m happiest when I’m creating things. I want to write a book (quite a few, actually). I’d like to write and produce music again, as I enjoyed years ago. I want to write more for this blog and make a bigger dent in the Financial Independence universe. As long as I’m creating things and collaborating with cool people, I’m happy!

  8. Congrats! Seems like most people from Camp Mustache SE last year are planning to quit next year too 🙂

    We’re still 1/3 of the way to our FIRE journey so not as brave yet (hubby just paid off his student loans 3 years ago and I just celebrated my 4 years in the US!)

    It’s also great looking at milestones along the way. We could in theory be FIRE right now if we went back home to our respective countries but that wasn’t our goal. Oh, and we want a baby too so the healthcare benefits that come from being employed can’t be beat.

    See you in January

  9. Congrats!!! This is awesome and inspiring!!

    I’m envious. I had a break during this past summer and it was glorious. It was everything I imagined…

    I’m ready to have that be a full time life.

    1. Thanks!! Glad you enjoyed a break this past summer. Looking back, I wish I had taken a few breaks along the way. Rushing to FI can be unhealthy, as I’ve experienced. Did you feel refreshed after your break?

      1. Hi Joel,
        I’m curious about something based on this comment…do you feel that the ideal scenario is a slower paced path to FI with an enjoyable career along the way? I am not super familiar with your story, but wonder what might have happened if you had chosen a different career path years ago…and how you would advise your younger self on the subject. Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. Thanks Jason! Hoping to ramp up some of my side hustles in the future to build extra cushion. If they fall through, I can always do some part-time work in a less stressful job. Besides, I’ll likely be refreshed at that point and excited to try something new!

    1. Thanks J!! It wasn’t easy to walk away, but I know I made the right decision. I need to put a higher value on my health, both mental and physical. If needed, there will always be opportunities to make money in the future, in ways that align better with my priorities.

    1. Thanks, TJ! Currently, my financial advising career consists of typing stuff onto this blog and enjoying the feedback from the community! I’m armed with an MBA and a decade of experience making financial mistakes lol.

      I have considered going the CFP route. The piece of paper is nice, but I’m somewhat skeptical of the applicability. If it’s anything like the formal coursework for my MBA, much of the curriculum is useless in the FIRE space, and some of it is even quite harmful. Maybe I’ll collaborate with others in this space to create a Certified Financial Independence Planner (CFIP) course??

      1. Whoops! I totally missed the part in the post where you mentioned that you’d be managing your own accounts. 😀

        I want to say that you mentioned in one of the podcasts that there was some creative endeavor (recording music?) you were interested in but didn’t have time for, but maybe I’m misremembering that too….? 😀

        1. Yes! I have a home recording studio and write and produce music in my spare time. I was much more active in my high school and college years, but then cubicle life happened. I’m hoping with my newfound free time I can turn this into a nice side hustle once again!

  10. Congrats again to you my friend! Extremely proud of you guys and so thankful you’ve planted this FI seed in my brain. Looking forward to joining you!

  11. Enjoy your time off.

    I don’t advise to work one more year. I’m just pointing out to a certain segment of the work force that they might be happier working 16 years instead of 50.

    1. Thanks, Jeremy. I re-read your post again, and you’re right – I may have over-generalized the message. Two lines in particular stood out to me:

      “An additional 3 and 5 years of work, on average, are required to reach 33x and 50x, respectively. (3% and 2% withdrawal rates.)”

      “I worked 3 full years longer than necessary, and we were saving much more than 50% of income. As planned, we have yet to come close to spending as much as the 4% Rule allows.”

      So you aren’t necessarily recommending everyone work longer than necessary, you’re simply showing the effect extra years of work have on withdrawal rates. I went ahead and tweaked the wording of my post to make this clearer. Cheers!

  12. What an inspiring post! I hope to do the same in a few months time but just reading your post I could feel that relief walking away from that cubicle life.

    It has made me think we will always think there is never a good time to do it because of fear….and I know we are not the only ones but stories like yours will inspire others to face that fear. Congrats!

    1. Thank you! It’s true, there’s never a perfect time to quit, so you have to just choose a time that’s good enough and go for it. Congrats on being so close as well! 🙂

    1. Thanks Kristine! It was time. It’s hard to describe how much stress I was carrying, and how quickly it all lifted off my shoulders when I finally left. I’m confident this is the start of a new and exciting phase of life.

  13. Joel,
    WOW! Just WOW! You are really brave and you you will probably be fine. At least that’s my impression when I read your blog entries.
    I wish you a good start into your new life! Congratulations!

    2 Things: How about some accountability for your sport? I am also doing 6x a week sports, so are some others…
    Also: Are you up for some German?

    All the best
    Ms. Maxi

    1. Thanks Ms. Maxi! Great idea- I should have a future post detailing my new FI fitness plan. My brother is drafting up the plan now, so stay tuned! Also – haven’t decided which language to learn first – German is now on the top of the list!

  14. Congratulations!! Gaby and I are so happy for you! I’m really excited about your future and I’m looking forward to creating a great exercise program for you to help you achieve your fitness goals! Can’t wait to see you in person next week and catch up!

    1. Thanks John! As Ms. Maxi suggests above, I might share your plan on the blog for much-needed accountability and motivation. I could even publish occasional fitness goal progress reports! 🙂 Looking forward to seeing you both as well.

  15. Your narrative sounds similar to mine. I’m 47, retired a few weeks ago. Well paying cubicle career but hated it. Chained to cubicle. Zombie, etc. It was making me miserable and wanting to quit daily. The job was really getting awful for a number of reasons(e.g., new office location with longer commute). I too was trying to hold out until January 2018 for “extras” including bonuses as that was the original “plan”. I was waiting for perfection. I was also really nervous about leaving after 23 yrs. I did go out really quietly as well. No fuss, no muss. I had tried walking away before but they would make things a little better every time with some perks. At this point only 3 people know I’ve retired. My family likely just wouldn’t understand and others would think I’m rich because I’m retired. My wife is going to work another 2 yrs still. She wants to and she’s a little younger. Her salary pays for all the yearly expenses anyway so there should be lots of time for everything else to grow untouched. Let me know how the “starting my own business “ discussion goes with the family 🙂 maybe I will use it as well.
    In the last 3 weeks I have:
    -Tutored our 9 yr with additional math and science after school and spending a lot of time with him including daily bike rides.
    -Started working out a lot more including spinning classes at the gym.
    -Did a lot of cleaning up around the house.
    -caught up on reading books

    I also plan to start learning Spanish and finally learn to play that guitar I bought years ago

    Oh, and sleeping in until 7:30 now instead of waking up at 5:30 to drive to work is just heavenly 🙂

    You will be fine. Like you said, worse case is a part time job at some point later. Thanks for the post.

    1. Wow – our paths sound really similar! There’s comfort in knowing there are other people out there facing the same issues. I’m also looking forward to cleaning and decluttering around the house, reading more, and sleeping in! Thanks for the encouragement. Will keep you updated on how the Thanksgiving table discussion goes with the family.

  16. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading both post. It is absolutely awesome to get inspired. The best thing money can buy is Financial Freedom!
    Enjoy your retirement

  17. Congrats on changing the rest of your life!
    I got laid off and left my employer last week, which I was expecting and waiting for, and had recently reached FI, so it all was meant to be. I got to say goodbye to a 2.5 yr job that was a poor fit and caused me great unhappiness, but I held on long enough, maximized savings, front-loaded my 401k, and prepared.
    I’m not using the ‘r’ word just yet. That sets up a bunch of questions and demands for answers. I say I’m “pausing to assess” and “will see what is next on this journey.” Vague enough without committing in any particular direction. 😉

    1. Thank you! Congrats to you on reaching FI!! I like your approach to the dreaded ‘r’ word. I’m in a similar situation myself: I hesitate to say I’m retired, because who knows what I’ll be working on 1, 10, and even 30 years from now…

  18. Congratulations! What a new and exciting next chapter in your life. I can tell from your blog posts that you are well prepared. I am sure there will be some surprises along the way and I can’t wait to read about them!

    1. Thanks!! I’m beyond excited to start this new chapter! My goal is to blog about all the little things that come up along the way, so we can all learn together!

  19. Hi Joel,

    Cogratulations on breaking free of the invisible employment handcuff. I am really happy for your decision. Trust me, you have made the right decision in quitting for better causes.


  20. Congratulations Joel! Super excited for you. I am sure that devoting your brain power, energy and passion to projects YOU choose will be a boost to your happiness and maybe even change the world. After spending time with you at Camp Mustache SE in January, I have you on my “FI ones to watch” list. All the best to you and A.

    1. Thanks for keeping me on your “ones to watch” list! I’m lucky to have the time and resources now to help make the world a better place, and I plan on doing exactly that! Thank you for being so supportive! 🙂

  21. Joel – Thank you for the awesome post and recap. I look forward to following what happens over the next few weeks/months as you adjust to the change.

    Golden Handcuffs are so real, I spoke to one of my mentors at work recently and he called it “Ransom Money” and its like posting a big number of your future earnings, once you’re at a certain point in your career you’re always walking away from a huge number for the next few years.

    We’ll see how it goes, my date is anywhere between March of 2018 and March of 2019 to walk.

    1. The golden handcuffs are indeed very real. I struggled with this for months. We are all wired for loss aversion, and it can cloud our judgement in decision making. Congrats on your upcoming early retirement date! Hoping you have an easier time breaking the handcuffs than I did!

  22. Congratulations again! This really resonates with me and I’m excited to see what happens from here. Taking care of your own physical and mental health is more important than a paycheck and your large almost-FI nest egg should work out just fine! Thanks for taking a slightly different route from the norm!

    1. Thank you!! I agree- working hard and racing towards FI is fine, but there are some things that just aren’t worth the money. Finding a healthy work-life balance is something I struggled with. Now that I’m working for myself, I can intentionally design my days around this balance. I’m writing a few future posts on this topic so stay tuned! 🙂

  23. Congratulations! I’m so excited you’ve taken the leap and going with it! You’re absolutely right, health is so important and if ever you want to/need to, you can always get another job. I suggest library clerk — it still, to this day, was the best damn job I’d ever had even if the pay was not great. I got to see my regular patrons, develop friendships, discover really exciting books and borrow them for free, and all around a low-stress job. But that’s a tangent. What I really want to say is it’s exciting that you’re doing it, and you’re another example of how you can break free with a plan and a little bit of courage. Looking forward to hearing more about how it goes when you do ALL. THE. THINGS!

    1. Thank you! Working at my local library is in fact on my list! The way you describe it makes it sound like an amazing job actually. I figure I spend plenty of time there already, why not get paid for it?! 🙂 Thank you again for the kind words. I am super excited to post about all the new happenings in my life!!

  24. I was a little surprised that your work friends weren’t “in the know.” Never a good idea to brag (or spread the clue that you’ll quit soon) – good foresight, and get ready for the next challenge!

    1. Yeah, I did a decent job of keeping things on the down low. Too many weird things to have to explain to people. And you’re right, you never really want to advertise plans like these far in advance. There are two or three work friends who are in the know, but the majority of my coworkers just think I’m taking a break. Which I am- a nice, loooong break 🙂

      1. Hi Joel,

        You made the right decision to keep it low profile. Only you are responsible for your decision. There is no need for others to know it. In addition, this reduces the time spent to explain the rationale of your decision to them.


  25. This line cracked me up:

    “I will, in fact, be working on account management: they just happen to be my own accounts!”

    I think that’s such a clever way of sharing the news with people you know. Congrats on quitting and enjoy your new freedom, Joel! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Zach! So far the account management cover story has been working well. In fact, quite a few friends and family have been asking me if I’d manage their accounts as well… maybe this could turn into a future side hustle?

  26. I want to congratulate you. I am catching up listening to ChooseFI so I listened just now. I love the “perpetual money making machine”, the ultimate luxury. That is something I will remember to pass on to friends and family who are just starting this path.

    I quit my job 7 years ago at age 51. I was afraid it was too early, and now it seems so easy and we have so much more money than we need. It’s all because once you leave, there is a lot that shifts financially, with taxes, with more time to be frugal or learn interesting tidbits from the FI Community. Even though I’m already there, I learn so much from people such as yourself. I particularly enjoyed the video you linked above on doing 80%. It’s so easy to talk yourself into being more perfect. Nice!

  27. Interesting. As you know, I relish the conversations that are ignited when I tell people I retired at 42 or answer the ubiquitous “What do you do?” question with: “I don’t”.

    I’m curious to see how long until you stop with the thin (though rationally true) veil story of being “self-employed” and start poking the blue-pill-swallowing dummies around you with the truth (as you see it).

    1. Hmmm… I know at least three people from Maine who get their cars for free… 😉

      While I do want to shout “I’m retired!” from the tallest mountain (or landfill for us Floridians), I’m currently being cautious while the wife is still working. I don’t want my in-laws to think I’m a lazy bum, which is still what most people tend to think when a guy stays home while his wife works full time. I could try to explain FI to everyone who inquires about what I do, but the empty stares that follow are disheartening. The ‘starting my own small business’ narrative is just so much more relatable to most people.

      When I finally convince my better half to join me, I think I’ll take the plunge in revealing my true superhero identity to friends and family. Maybe sooner, who knows. I’m getting bolder every day 🙂

      Side question: when do things warm up a bit in Maine? We’re overdue for a visit…

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