What’s it like to hand in your resignation before retiring early? These are my chronicles...

Theodore Roosevelt nature trail, Pine Knoll Shores, NC

Ever since I started working full time (since 1996), the thought of early retirement always seemed like a pipe dream.  I knew I wanted to do that some day, but to be honest, I couldn’t even balance my checkbook in the beginning.  I didn’t know how to retire nor how to plan for retirement.  For me, retirement was just some far away, intangible thing I should think about because everyone said so, but had really no drive or desire to understand how to get there.

Having monthly bills like everyone else made planning for retirement an impossibility.  How could I put away money when I had $20000 in credit card bills?  I had bills to pay!  The rent, transportation, credit card bills, groceries, food, and feeling of missing out (or deserving something because I had a stressful week), had me living a paycheck to paycheck existence.

It wasn’t until I had turned 35 years of age that I grew up.  Up until then, I had changed from one job to another job, looking to make more money as my primary objective.  I sold cars (Toyota, Pontiac, Acura, BMW, Mercedes Benz) for about 5 years when I started out.  I made money, but being a car salesman means you’re working on commission.  There was no weekly/bi-weekly salary.

Every one step I would take would take me two steps back.  Money was there, but I wasn’t managing my finances well.  I was spending my soon-to-arrive paycheck before it would arrive on payday.  Weekend was for enjoying life now and not worrying about things like finances or the future.  

Thinking about the future at that age was like watching my future self in a dream where I am description less, mirage like, and formless...Basically, I didn’t even know how my retirement was supposed to look...

At my wife’s urging, I quit being a car salesman at age 28 to study computers.  I went to an IT technical school to get my computer certification.  This was the best decision I made!

I got a computer related job at a start up the following year.  More importantly, it got me a skill that is transferable anywhere I choose to live.  After working there for about 2 years, I parlayed that experience to land another IT job in another state.  

It was this job that finally allowed me to retire early.  It seemed all the stars lined up perfectly.

I was 35 years of age when I got this job.  It was at this age when I finally grew up.  I realized finally that I needed to seriously think about my future and stop the dawdling.  During my job interview, I told my future supervisor that I wanted to settle down and to work there for at least 5 years.  

This became 13 years!  

Starting around the age of 40, I discovered FIRE (financial independence retire early) movement.  I started reading the blogs of Extreme Early Retirement (Jacob Lund Fisker) and Mr. Money Moustache (Peter Adeney), who are pioneers of this movement.  

Fisker’s writing about being able to retire early, spending about $7000 per year, was an epiphany.  This meant I didn’t need to amass gazillion dollars to retire early!  I delved deeper into his writing to come up with one final conclusion:  Save 25 times your yearly spending, then invest that to retire early.  Spend not more than 4% per year.

I went to work!  I ended up increasing my 401k contribution from an average savings rate of 5% in 2008 to as high as 24% the penultimate year before my retirement (2020).  By mid 2020, I had hit my goal of saving up 25 times my yearly spending.

When the pandemic hit early 2020, I seriously started thinking about retiring early.  Living through the pandemic does put your life in perspective.  I realized spending time with my pack (my wife and our Pomeranian dog), and spending time with our family (parents, siblings) were noble reasons to do this.

After having a deep conversation with Mrs Wandering Money Pig and our Pomeranian, I decided to resign around middle of August.  At last, the day I was thinking about for umpteenth time had become a reality!

I decided to notify my supervisor as soon as our home had been put up for sale in early July.  That day was July 14th.  ***For my previous post on selling our home, click here.

This is my recollection of days leading up to my resignation and few days afterwards:

  • Due to the pandemic, I was working remotely from home.  I called my boss to let her know of my plans to resign.  My boss is an awesome mentor and someone I confided in at work.  We worked together 13 years from the beginning of my tenure until the end.  She was really gracious.  I remember her saying this which I’ll never forget:  From a business perspective, this is the worst news I heard today.  But from a personal perspective, I’m so happy for you!  
  • We discussed why I was resigning.  She wished me nothing but good luck in the future.  I was so relieved, happy and feeling bittersweet at the same time.  I was relieved that she took this well.  I was happy that I was retiring soon.  I was feeling bittersweet because of good times we had there, of times complaining about work, talking about beers, and just understanding that everything comes to an end...
  • It wasn’t what I had imagined all these years.  In movies, you often see characters slamming the desk, dropping the resignation letter on boss’s desk, while saying something really cool and funny like ‘See ya.  Wouldn’t want to be ya!’ or something similar, but it wasn’t that.  It was actually anti-climactic.  
  • Next few weeks were spent preparing for my departure from work. There were interviews set up to replace me, and I had to train others for a smooth transition.  Everyone I had been close to, wished me fare well.  Some asked HOW I was able to retire early.  
  • The next few weeks before the actual ‘D-Day’ (August 14th) went by super SLOOOOOWWWW.  I remember thinking constantly about what’s to come:  selling the home, getting rid of things, booking place to stay, etc., in addition to my work duties.
  • When August 14th came, I was ready!  My boss was gracious to let me sign off early by around 1 p.m.  I remember wishing everyone a good bye then I signed off from work I had been doing for past 13 years.  What did that feel like?  Slightly worried but more excited.  Worried because I still hadn’t experienced early retirement.  All the planning and preparation was one thing.  But to actually do it, is always another thing.  You know what they say, ‘No battle plan survives the first enemy fire!’
  • On August 17th, I stopped by the office to drop off the company equipment and to sign my exit papers.  My boss and I couldn’t talk much that day, as she was training my replacement.  As I was about to leave, my boss had a surprise lined up for me.  She knows my favorite beer of choice is Sam Adams.  She had bought a 12 pack for me to take home to enjoy.  I was so grateful for all she’s done these past 13 years (plus the beer of course!).  We said our goodbyes but we couldn’t hug due to the pandemic.  
  • Driving home, many thoughts would come up:  last 13 years at the company, my colleagues, good times/bad times.  By the time I got home, I was ready to move on to my next chapter.  
With that, my working career was officially over.  (Well, I guess I should say, knock on wood...). 

No more waking up every day to get ready for work.  No more Friday highs and no more Monday blues.  No more meetings.  No more office politics.  

My wife and I had a quiet celebration that night.  We drank Sam Adams that my boss gave me as parting gift.  My wife and I are low key.  We’re not much of a partying type.  This small celebration was perfect for us...

Looking back, I will remember that last day as both an ending and a new beginning.  My working career was over, but I was excited to jump into early retirement.

Is it worth it?  Absolutely!  To be able to do what you want (blogging, YouTubing, waking up when I want to, traveling to different places, spending quality family time, etc.) is priceless.  These were things I had thought about doing, but couldn’t, due to lack of time/energy/will/money/you name it...

After doing this early retirement thing for past 5 months, I wouldn’t want to change anything!  So far so good...

I’m not naive enough to think things will always be good and this will work out perfectly.  However, having the mindset to improvise and adapt has served me well.  I’m hoping this continues!

Thank you all for reading!  I really hope this inspires someone to want to retire early!

Jake
Wandering Money Pig 


If you missed the post ‘What’s it like to hand in your resignation...’, please click here.

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Please check out our YouTube channel ‘Wandering Money Pig’ showcasing our travels and our Pomeranian dog! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3kl9f4W9sfNG5h1l-x6nHw



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