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FIRE observations after job change
Old 06-16-2007, 06:29 AM   #1
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FIRE observations after job change

Its a long post, but I'm not appologizing.

I recently changed jobs and now that the dust has settled, I thought I'd post about how I feel about FIRE now.

My old job sucked in several ways. My degree is in engineering, but I don't think they needed an engineer to do the work. Its just that the work involved really complicated equipment. I think they used the engineering degree to screen for people who could understand how complicated machines work.

The day-to-day work was very easy. Usually it only required about 3 hours a day to get my tasks done, then I could quietly surf the internet or stare out the window or whatever. The only problem was that I wasn't learning anything, so how could I get a different/better job?

Its not surprising then that I started to pursue FIRE. It took years, but I gained control of my expenses and steadily increased my savings rate. Fortunately I had plenty of time to think about how to do all this.

Over the last several years the well started to dry up. The customer started to realize that they were paying a lot of money for our "services", which they really didn't need at all. Less productive employees (!!) were getting laid off and it looked like a matter of time for me, maybe.

The best plan I could come up with to find a better job was to go get some kind of proffessional certification, which I did. I chose the hardest one I could find and worked hard to get it. About the same time I got my cert, one of the former employees refered me into a new job at a different place. That was at the end of last year.

So my new job has been awesome! I'm doing work that needs to be done. I'm busy all day long. I'm also learning things that will help me get my next job. All of this has changed my attitude from "waiting untill the end of the world" to "the future holds promise".

I've found this to have profound effects on how I view saving and spending. The temptation to "loosen up a bit" and be more extravagant is higher than ever. Maybe buy a better house? A newer car?

On the other hand, I also know from years of thinking about it in the quietude of my cubicle that having a fancy car out in the parking lot is no good if you have to spend all day at work "earning" the money to pay for it. Is it any more sweeter to return to a big expensive house at the end of the day? No, just getting out of work is enough for me. As a matter of fact, how many times have I left work to go spend the weekend living in a tent? You'd think that sitting in a cubicle is better than sitting on the ground in the woods, but somehow its not...

And then there's those winter mornings when I have to battle my way through the traffic to get to work in a raging snowstorm, thinking all the while that if they didn't pay me, I'd never do this of my own free will.

I guess I'm just thankfull that I had all those years of nothing to do at work to put my FIRE plan together. I know now that I'm too busy to figure this stuff out now.

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Old 06-16-2007, 08:37 AM   #2
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Great story! You now have the best of both worlds, a satisfying job and career, and the knowledge to leverage it into FIRE. While your former job underutilized your skills, you turned it into a learning opportunity.

It's about the journey, not just the destination!

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Old 06-16-2007, 09:58 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Meadbh View Post
It's about the journey, not just the destination!
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Old 06-16-2007, 04:36 PM   #4
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Sounds like you've given up an old job and forsaken an unfulfilling career for an avocation! If I'd found my avocation I doubt that I'd ever have retired.

I envy you the cubicle time that you had to clarify your values and plot your escape plan your ER. (Think of all the people who've shown up on this board trying to figure out what do to by next Monday's layoffs.) And now that the money's piling up you won't be tempted to blow it all on riotous living-- well, any more than usual.

I still tend to value my spending choices by the hours of labor required at my hourly rate. Your hourly rate may be a bit higher now, but that just means your free time is even more valuable!

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Old 06-29-2007, 06:51 PM   #5
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I'm happy for your new found joy in work. Work can be fun when it's something you enjoy and is just challenging enough to keep you focused but not so challenging as to make you pull your hair out.

I think you're right though to keep the spending in check because as enjoyable as the new job may be, it won't take much to turn it into a lousy job. A lack of direction at the corporate level, getting an asshole manager, getting an asshole co-worker can change an enjoyable job to a nightmare very quickly, so keeping the escape pod fully provisioned is a good idea.

I had a fairly well paid job that was challenging, but then I moved to a new group last year and got an idiotic manager who was basically already 1/2 way retired on the job. (He had so much vacation that he took 2.5 days - 3 days off every week.) Which would have been fine except that he knew he was about as useful as tits on a cow, so to compensate for his uselessness, he would hold these incredibly mundane staff meetings where we have to listen to him drone about some problem in a part designed by a team in another state. Yeah, that was really relevant. When there was a problem with the computer servers, he didn't go beat on the doors of the IT department's manager and ask them why the computers were down. Instead, he told us we were lazy because we (the users of the IT services) could not make up for the fact that the servers were down 2 to 3 weeks at a time.
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Old 06-30-2007, 04:56 AM   #6
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Great inspirational post. It reminds me that I would still like the satisfaction some work for pay as part of a semi-retired life. Sounds like your bad job experience at least introduced you to FIRE thinking pretty early. I admit to being more of a late bloomer.

Here is a little of my current job story. I've been self (and semi-self) employed a good portion of my career. I sold my little Hi-tech biz (about 15 people) to a foreign public company just about one year ago. The biz was a mixed bag and VC's had most of the equity so it wasn't a very lucrative deal at all but it still offered an OK restricted stock payout with 2 year vesting (a heck of a lot better than zero payout). Like most entreprenurial types I don't get along too well with the new boss and the corp bureaucracy is mind boggling especially coming from our little "no rules" startup. One year to go, assuming they don't throw me out sooner. I look forward to getting back to being my own boss again, only this time no grand plans with VC's and mega expensive hi-tech widgets. Anyway your post reminded me of that great sense of work satisfaction I used to have. Not too many posts like that on this board. No personal regrets though. As Meadbh says, it's all about the journey, and I'll take this one over an unsatisfying career of corp-gov servitude any day.

In terms of loosening up the strings, I think there are certain things you should experience when you are young. I could have easily done without a few of the useless static material acquisitions of my youth but always look fondly upon the lifetime hobbies-activities I have spent money on. Not the cheapest hobbies but not extremely expensive either. Just another part of the journey.

Good luck with the new job. Enjoy it as long as you can

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