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How to explain FIRE to (soon) ex-coworkers
Old 02-13-2017, 05:01 PM   #1
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How to explain FIRE to (soon) ex-coworkers

All -

I am making good progress on my FIRE plans. My plan is to w*rk until end of March/Mid April and then "retire" to work in the Small Business my DW and I own. It probably will be a fair bit of w*rk as well, but will be much more flexible and no more working for the "man".

I've been fortunate enough to work in high-tech for my career and have been part of two acquisitions and one IPO - all of which resulted in stock, options, or both. That, plus LBYM and conservative financial planning have put us in a good position. I am 50 yo, so not super young, but clearly ahead of most Americans (though not necessarily those on this forum )

Question for you already-FIRE'd types. How did you deal with questions from co-workers? Right now my boss and the CEO both know, but we will keep it under wraps for a few more weeks.

I don't mind sharing financial details here, but I really don't need folks at w*rk knowing my business. But the fact I can FIRE kinda puts my finances out there for all to see and discuss. How did you all handle it? I expect there could be a variety of reactions and good-natured ribbing, but some resentment as well? The folks here are all quite nice, but I generally would prefer to stay kinda under the radar - doesn't seem like it will be possible.

Yes, I can say I will be w*rking at our small business, but there is no way folks won't know it is a tremendous pay cut compared with profitable high-tech firm and wouldn't be an option for them if they were in my shoes.

Would love to know your strategy/approach. Or if this has been asked, a pointer to relevant threads as well.

Thanks!
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Old 02-13-2017, 05:37 PM   #2
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Nobody asked me anything about dough.

Just the usual;

What are you going to do?
Are you going to move?

Stuff like that.
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Old 02-13-2017, 05:43 PM   #3
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My approach would be not to do or say anything that suggests that I'm FI to avoid inciting jealousy, and otherwise not care what anyone else thinks. However, this approach might not fit your personality or your local culture.
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Old 02-13-2017, 05:43 PM   #4
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Everyone handles things differently. For me, it didn't really bother me what others thought or said. I made the final decision to retire on a weekend, told my boss and his boss on Monday, and started making plans to turnover my job to others almost immediately. When people asked, I just told them the truth.... I felt like it was a good time to retire and I was fortunate enough to be able to handle it financially. I was really looking forward to more free time with my family and I wished them all the very best. I've actually kept up with several of them and still enjoy talking to them. No one asked intimate financial questions and I would have just politely refused answers if they had.

BTW - Congradulations that you can ER!
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Old 02-13-2017, 05:57 PM   #5
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Question for you already-FIRE'd types. How did you deal with questions from co-workers?
I notified my boss seven months before my ER date so he would have time to plan. After that, word gradually got around, and my co-workers asked if it was true. I just said yes. Mostly they congratulated me and asked what I was going to do.

Nobody asked about how I could afford it, but my answer was going to be "We think we have it worked out."
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Old 02-13-2017, 05:59 PM   #6
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If you are 50 years old and in in the tech industry, you should have many multimillionaire co-workers. many still work because they choose to. In fact in many cases the equity grants add up to a lot more that the salaries ever did. They will understand.

I did my stint in Silicon valley. Many far younger than age 50 did what you are proposing and no one even blinked.

BTW - Congrats! Enjoy your new freedom
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Old 02-13-2017, 06:06 PM   #7
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My DH could almost have written your post last year or so. People who ask you details about finances are few and far between and don't need to be justified with figures.

Just say you've got an opportunity to both now work on your own business, and that should suffice.

No one would have said "but you can't possibly be making as much from that as you do here", but if they had, I guess he could have said something like "I'll never know unless I give it a shot!"
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Old 02-13-2017, 07:31 PM   #8
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I was never asked... but was prepared to respond that I had worked hard for 35 years, had made good money, lived below my means and saved prodigiously, invested wisely and that some my investments had worked out well enough that I was in a position to retire early.
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Old 02-13-2017, 07:52 PM   #9
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I was close-lipped and all but a few friends did not ask. In your case you have a ready-made cover story: you are going to work full time in the business with your wife. For most or all of your coworkers, that will likely be the end of it.
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How to explain FIRE to (soon) ex-coworkers
Old 02-13-2017, 07:59 PM   #10
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How to explain FIRE to (soon) ex-coworkers

My replacement at work asked me a lot of questions. I worked with him for 25 years, so I didn't have too much of a problem talking about RE with him. When it came to finances, I told him that he needed to save at least 25 times his anticipated annual retirement spending. No questions since.
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Old 02-13-2017, 08:50 PM   #11
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For me, I had many coworker/friends who knew I was doing my best to RE... that I was working the frugalista thing and maxing the savings...so it wasn't a surprise when I pulled the plug.

I worked at the same company for a couple of decades and had many friend/coworkers I'd worked with for a decade or more... A few asked if I was "sure"... I replied that I was.

No figures/$ numbers were discussed... just the general theory that if you spent less, you could save more... and that if you spent less - you needed less as your "number". They all knew I was cheap. LOL. Brown bagging every day, etc.
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Old 02-13-2017, 09:06 PM   #12
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Nobody asked me anything about dough.

Just the usual;

What are you going to do?
Are you going to move?

Stuff like that.
Agree. It would be rude to ask about or discuss money. You certainly don't have to respond to such questions. Mostly all they say is congrats and maybe they also hope to RE soon.
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Old 02-13-2017, 09:35 PM   #13
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At my employer the question was the opposite, why are you still here as over 60% walked when they had the age 55 and time 25 years.
Generally there were 3 stock answers.
1) waiting on age
2) waiting for time
3) Young children

I retired at 55 and one month, with 25y 4m 28d
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Old 02-13-2017, 09:59 PM   #14
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For me, I had many coworker/friends who knew I was doing my best to RE... that I was working the frugalista thing and maxing the savings...so it wasn't a surprise when I pulled the plug.

I worked at the same company for a couple of decades and had many friend/coworkers I'd worked with for a decade or more... A few asked if I was "sure"... I replied that I was.

No figures/$ numbers were discussed... just the general theory that if you spent less, you could save more... and that if you spent less - you needed less as your "number". They all knew I was cheap. LOL. Brown bagging every day, etc.
Exactly the same for me. When others were going out for lunch daily I had my can of soup (purchased when it was BOGO) or Lean Cuisine (5 for $10). Everyone knew it and they knew I was proud of my frugality. Nobody ever asked me anything about any numbers. If they had I would have probably said something like "I've always tracked my expenses. I spend where I feel I get the most value; on other stuff I'm a total cheapskate. I was able to save and invest over my entire 35 years of working. And it paid off. BTW, are you maxing out your 401k ?"
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Old 02-13-2017, 10:09 PM   #15
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If you are 50 years old and in in the tech industry, you should have many multimillionaire co-workers. many still work because they choose to. In fact in many cases the equity grants add up to a lot more that the salaries ever did. They will understand......
folks in my group kept asking me why do I keep working there. I guess they thought I had enough $$.
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Old 02-13-2017, 10:54 PM   #16
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Question for you already-FIRE'd types. How did you deal with questions from co-workers?
Some of the questions were,

(1) "Won't you get bored?"
(2) "Are you going to consult?"
(3) "Who will be doing your job functions after you go?"

These were easy.

(1) "No! I have so many things I want to do." Then, I started reciting items from my list of things I wanted to do in retirement, until the questioner's eyes glazed over and they admitted I had plenty to do.

(2) "No way! This agency doesn't have enough money to get me to work another hour past 11/9/2009". (lots of laughter from both questioner and me)

(3) "I don't know but my supervisor will tell you who to go to depending on what you need".

As far as questions about finances, there were very few or none because my co-workers were very tactful and polite. Some looked concerned and like they wanted to ask, and so for them I volunteered that I had saved a lot, maxed out my TSP every year, and paid off my house, and that I would be OK.

One person was afraid that maybe I was dying of some invisible condition. Once he blurted that out (and immediately apologized), I reassured him that I was in very good health.
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Old 02-13-2017, 11:15 PM   #17
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I/we was/were blessed, and am/are eternally grateful. The plan came together.
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Old 02-14-2017, 02:57 AM   #18
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the people who knew me knew I lived a less expensive life and were glad for me.... not much to explain. Many thought I would not be out of work long as I was always a workaholic. Been out 2 years... not jumping back into paid work. To this I did not pounce on the person, but noted I was trying to get some quality hiking while we still can -- due to a recent medical condition. I really don't think the pacemaker is really that limiting.

I had one distant relative (not in the normal family tree) who had noted that we'd end up well on their money get all pissed that we were going to try to live off them. I just said that is not the plan.

I've used the medical condition as a reason for RE. We did actually RE a couple years earlier than originally planned.
So, for me not a big issue.. other than the one relative. Simple answer.
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Old 02-14-2017, 05:45 AM   #19
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I'm not retired, but when I talk about my FIRE plans I get one of two reactions. The small percentage that know what FIRE is congratulate me and assume I'll be good (I'm military, so our pension is outstanding). The vast majority of people, though, immediately launch into "you don't know what you are talking about, you haven't yet realized how expensive life is (I've been living on my own for 17 years), your plan will never work" yada yada yada. I actually would prefer for someone to ask numbers questions so I could spread some knowledge, but instead it's a lot of ignorance and assumptions that is quite frankly a little insulting.
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Old 02-14-2017, 07:44 AM   #20
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My experience retiring from a Silicon Valley company was that it was less about financial questions but rather "what are you going to do"? I found a lot of my co-workers couldn't imagine anything more interesting or exciting than working in the valley.

Currently flying to SFO to help a co-worker with a project he is working on. If he wasn't a friend I wouldn't bother.

Good luck on your transition.
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