My wife told her boss that she’s quitting in February

Published March 28, 2016   Posted in How to Think

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.

Aware and secure in early retirementYou 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!

We track our net worth using Personal Capital


38 responses to “My wife told her boss that she’s quitting in February”

  1. It’s interesting the reaction. They usually falling into two categories, the non-believer or the how can I do it – take me with you. Sounds like the boss just doesn’t have a plan of his own. It will be interesting to see if things change around the office for your wife.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Brian. The whole team doesn’t know yet, but they will soon enough. Observing any change in the team dynamic will be interesting, no doubt.

  2. That is fun! Thanks for sharing the story. I would be nervous to have that conversation as well. It’s really interesting to hear his viewpoint, or at least the cleaned-up, professional version of it. Probably a lot of us had similar questions when we first learned about FIRE.

    • Steve says:

      Yup, I agree. I had the same questions and the natural assumption that it probably wouldn’t work. In fact, I once honestly believed that having $1m was *nothing* these days. I guess to the traditional American, it IS nothing.

  3. Yes, I bet it is getting fun around here! I am not surprised he would be shell shocked given your age and plans. You just need to send him a link to your recent Forbes article to get him thinking. That said, as I leave for work this morning for the last Monday of my career, I understand the absurdity of it all. It is surreal to me after years of planning and people I work with are completely baffled (despite being 49 years old myself). Enjoy the confusion – it’s highly entertaining!

    • Steve says:

      Ha! I agree, MrFireStation – sometimes it is entertaining. There will always be naysayers almost regardless of what we choose that’s outside of the “norm”. Let them naysay all they like…from their cubicle on a Monday morning. 😉

  4. weenie says:

    Thanks for sharing, I really enjoyed reading it. I’m sure your wife will be carrying on as normal with her work and I’m sure in the back of the minds of her colleagues, some will think that it won’t actually happen, that she won’t actually leave. This will be because they can’t work out in their heads how she can afford to leave!
    Hopefully though, it may get others thinking about how they can kick start their own savings and investments!
    All the best!

  5. Love it. I’m actually excited about the reaction from my boss as well. A lot of people just don’t get it.

    My favorite line is “According to tax law, we’ll be living in poverty. And that’s just the way we want it.”

    Congrats to you guys on this!!

    — Jim

  6. Mr. SSC says:

    Congrats to your wife!

    As far as your wife’s boss, I was totally that guy when Mrs. SSC first approached me about this, so I get it when people don’t believe it’s possible, or even a path someone would want to take. I mean, give up the big paycheck to live below the poverty level?! Come on man! Hahahaha

    When all you’re focused on is the money, it’s hard to see making that decision and giving up what you’ve worked so hard to get. It’s really hard to bridge that gap and make the connection that working so hard is what allows you to “give it up” and live the life you want. It took me years, literally…

    • Steve says:

      It takes a long, long time for a lot of us, strangely enough. I think once we discover that this stuff actually does work…that living below your means does make a profound difference, believing the doors that living this way opens up just becomes so much easier.

  7. WOW! Congratulations! I am getting ready myself to punch out at some point in the very near future, at the very least for a sabattical and I know firsthand all the thoughts, concerns, and then second guessing based on others reactions. It’s only natural. But when it’s based on years of planning and calculation, that definitely helps! Sounds like you two are handling it great!

    Appreciate the fact that we all get to share in your journey.

  8. Wow – thanks for sharing! I don’t blame him for being confused. What we talk about (and believe in) around here isn’t exactly mainstream as we all know. You guys will also be making money along the way. Probably won’t be six figure incomes each, but it’ll be enough for your lifestyle strategy which is all that matters.

    • Steve says:

      Hey Fervent – yeah, a few extra bucks here and there actually goes a LONG way when your expenses will be as low as ours. We won’t need $100k salaries any longer. 🙂

  9. Oh man – I love that you guys are just full throttle in these stages! These updates are awesome! Being so early on the journey is frustrating at times, but It’s exciting to read what we get to look forward to – WHATEVER WE WANT! Congrats!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Maggie! There’s lots to look forward to. The journey really is half the reward. That last day of work, of course, immediately becomes the other half!

  10. Tawcan says:

    Interesting reaction for sure. Congrats on the announcement and moving one step closed to your RV travelling. Very excited for you guys.

  11. Congrats to your wife! Pretty cool to have that conversation. I work with many people who would be utterly shocked that one could retire early like that by saving and investing. Heck, I work in government and there is a pension…and people STILL can’t retire because they live way above their means.

    • Steve says:

      Ha! Yeah, your comment about working in government is interesting – I’ve worked in and around the government too, and I’ve very much noticed the same thing. Even with a pension, when expenses are through the roof, you definitely aren’t doing yourself any favors! It’s all about money management…too bad this nation doesn’t teach that sort of thing in school.

  12. Pretty crazy! Congrats on taking the next baby step.

    The reaction isn’t too surprising – I’d be skeptical too if I didn’t know about the whole FIRE thing. For most that live on 80-100% of their income, retiring without many millions of $ is crazy. But I’m sure you guys will do fine (if not 50-60 years then many many decades for sure).

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Justin, appreciate it. Yeah, pretty typical reaction I think. I’m looking forward to seeing just how far our investments take us. 🙂

  13. Congrats, Courtney, on the huge step! I’ve realized the difference, and why we are so afraid of giving advance notice — it’s the difference between being in a job in which you work for your own company vs. being a consultant, which is what we both are. A consulting firm doesn’t want to promise clients people who they know won’t be there in X amount of time, so we’d quickly be marginalized. And as there are always new projects, none of which we could be put on, we feel pretty confident we’d be forced out faster than we intend, not just marginalized. And there’s that whole bonus/deferred compensation issue. But we’ve super stoked for you guys! What a relief it must be to be out in the open about the plan, at least for Courtney.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks much, ONL. Yeah, I can definitely see your perspective on this issue. I too am a consultant and believe that I’d probably be in the same boat, though my timetable is a little different than yours at this point. Certainly wouldn’t want to start a new project with only 2 months to go, for example. I’m looking forward to my turn to give my notice. 🙂

  14. Stockbeard says:

    Wow, letting them know one year ahead of time surely was nice of her. I’m sure most people, even given these conditions, would wait until 3 months before or something

    • Steve says:

      Yeah, I’m sure a lot of people would. I guess if you were truly worried about job security, waiting a bit longer would probably be wise. That happens to be a problem that my wife doesn’t really have to worry about due to the nature of her work.

  15. Steven says:

    Yeah that sounds like a pretty powerful talk to have with your manager. If I went in today with the same story, I’m pretty sure they would think I’m just making stuff up. Like go ahead and tell us the real story…….

    • Steve says:

      Ha! You mean quitting work to do what you truly WANT to be doing with your life? Yeah, that can’t possibly be the real answer. It’s gotta be something more mainstream! 🙂

  16. Congratulation to your wife.
    A big step toward liberty !

  17. Wow – double Wow! That was a big step for you and Courtney.

    It doesn’t surprise me that her boss is trying to find and name all the reasons why they think this won’t work. Her boss probably has not thought outside of the box from a retirement perspective before. In talking with my own co-workers, I usually here how they must work to cover their mortgages, car payments, children’s college, etc.

    You are throwing that conventional 9 to 5 until 65 work notion out the window and marching to the beat of your own drums. Congratulations!

    PS – I think I asked this of you before, is there any chance she could work remotely and/or on a part time basis?

    • Steve says:

      Hey Bryan! There is a chance that she could work remotely, but not doing her current job. Right now she needs to be on-site and working within a secure area, so remote work in her current position is not an option, unfortunately. But yeah, if it were, we’d probably be moving around a lot more at this point! 🙂

  18. Excellent. Stop by on your travels and I will buy you guys a beer or something 🙂

  19. […] wife, on the other hand, has already told her boss that she’s quitting in February. She needed to give her boss that much notice due to the […]

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