It was time. After months (years?) of planning, crunching the numbers, talking strategy and examining our options, we finally have a solid plan in place, and it was now time for my wife to drop the bombshell on her boss. Come February, we’re gone.
You may be wondering: why break the news a year early? She works with a very small team that does a very specific and specialized engineering task. It is exceedingly difficult to find the right people with the right skillset to do what she does. The process to get someone “up-and-running” in her line of work takes several months. It’s an expensive process.
As such, future planning is critical to the success of the project. Project plans routinely span months and even years into the future. She likes her team. She likes what she does. She works for a genuinely smart, talented and sensible boss. Giving this much notice was the right thing to do.
She tried for days to find the right opportunity to drop the news, but as it happens in a busy office, managers often get pulled into meetings and grabbed for hallway conversations virtually at a drop of a hat. The time was never right. Until last Friday. Finally, she found an opportunity to talk to her boss, and so she did.
Before her boss was able to get settled in (aka: he’s still available), she asked to speak with him. She requested a private meeting room because the office is primarily divided up into cubicles that offer little in the way of privacy. They sat down. Nervously, she begins the conversation.
I’m sure he was expecting my wife to tell him that she’s pregnant. No such luck! And no, it went NOTHING like my fictitious and completely childish I Quit letter I dreamed up a few months ago!
“I wanted to let you know that Steve and I plan to leave the city in February.”
She waits for the reply. Will he be curious? Angry? Perhaps he’ll call B.S. and end the meeting right then and there.
“Okay. What are you guys going to do?” her boss asked. Naturally, inquiring minds want to know.
“Travel,” she replied, and then began to explain our plans for retirement from full-time work. Lots of savings. Streamlined expenses. Traveling the country in a little 200 sqft Airstream.
“Surprised” might not be a powerful enough word to describe how my wife interpreted her boss’s reaction. Maybe shell shocked is more appropriate.
Her boss thinks we are crazy. And honestly, how could he not? My wife comes into the office one day and tells him that we are going to quit our jobs and travel the country in a travel trailer. That’s not exactly a phrase we hear a lot in the workplace!
My wife expressed how bad she felt leaving the team, but in the end, this was the best thing for us. We are still young and want to experience this wonderful country of ours before it’s too late.
Then, it came: “You don’t expect to have enough money to last the rest of your lives?”
It is not easy to explain sometimes, and it is definitely hard for a lot of people to believe. After all, we aren’t rich multi-millionaires, but our needs are also very modest. We have a savings account that we’ll live off of for the first couple of years to let our investments continue to grow. Then, the Roth IRA conversation ladder kicks in and we begin pulling capital gains from our investment portfolio while simultaneously keeping our income below the tax threshold.
According to tax law, we’ll be living in poverty. And that’s just the way we want it.
My wife mentioned our savings and retirement strategy, but her boss was still skeptical. That’s okay – anyone would be skeptical in this situation. We will also work off and on from the road. The blog pulls in a few bucks and work camping will keep our costs minimized as much as possible.
Still, the guy doesn’t quite believe it’ll happen, at least this way. He believes that she is quitting next February, but the thought of our savings lasting the next 50 or 60 years of our lives is another echelon of faith. Quite frankly, we don’t necessarily expect everyone to be there with us in that faith!
He handled it with professionalism though he was clearly disturbed by the news. Though he may not be there with us from a financial standpoint, he was generally supportive though naturally disappointed that she is leaving. “It makes an interesting situation even more so,” he said, referring to the ambitious project schedule and amount of work the project demands.
Afterward, my wife told me that “He can plan around me leaving and I won’t feel bad anymore”.
For my wife, it’s official.
For me, not quite yet – even though I plan to retire a couple months earlier than her, I haven’t told my boss yet because it’s not necessary. In my line of work, IT staff is a dime-a-dozen. It’s easy to find another body to do the work that I do, so it won’t be a problem to replace me.
It’s getting fun around here!
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.