hello, friends. we hope your week is off to a great start. we just have to start out today and say a big, capitalized THANK YOU to all of you for reading. we’ve had a pretty major spike lately, and we’re grateful that so many of you are interested in reading about our journey to early retirement. we started this blog to chronicle the process, so that one day we can look back on what it was like to work so hard toward our early retirement goal, as well as to connect with others working toward similar goals. and on the latter, we’re feeling stoked. since we’ve launched in january we’ve already connected with a great number of you all here and on twitter. of course, we’d love to hear from more of you, so if you’ve been reading and haven’t commented, please say hi. we’d love to connect. and if you have, please keep it up — you totally make our day. :-) now onto today’s post…
we’d love if you all would answer a question, especially those of you who are actively planning for early retirement:
do those around you know your plans? have you told friends, family, or even colleagues?
in our case, the answer is a resounding “it depends who you ask.” we have told some people, but not others, and sometimes we feel like it’s exhausting living this double life, trying to keep straight who we’ve told and not told. it’s like trying to keep straight an elaborate lie, having to remember what you’d told to whom, and figure out which of those people might talk to each other and spread news without you intending them to. it matters to us because we *need* to keep our jobs through 2017 to make our retirement vision work.
our general rule on talking about our plan is: don’t tell employers or coworkers. do tell family. don’t tell friends if they are in any way connected to employers or coworkers, or if they are general blabbermouths, especially on social media. but then there are exceptions — coworkers who are especially close friends, and who we trust to keep our secrets, and so we’ve told them. and then there are good friends who we trust, but who are just insecure and weird about money stuff, like always pointing out how everyone earns more than them, and so we don’t tell them, or we just say we’re hoping to quit our jobs in a few years and do something less stressful, rather than spelling it out.
of course the whole double life thing feels most pronounced at work. we don’t expect that this is true for everyone, but we’ve both been in our jobs for a long time, more than a decade each. we’re invested in the companies we work for, and they’re invested in us. we both have a lot of friends at our companies, including the top leaders. we’re both sufficiently senior to be part of major decisions and long-term planning. those long-term planning conversations definitely feel awkward to us, though we hope our employers haven’t noticed anything funny. we try to think of it as the legacy that we’ll leave, when we help our respective companies map out a vision for the future, and just know that we won’t actually be there long enough to make those visions reality. of course, we know how employment works: we trade our time and skills for money, and our employers are willing to pay us for our time and skills. it’s an economic arrangement. despite our friendships at our companies, we’ll be able to walk away when it’s time, though we expect it will be tougher for us than for folks who’ve only been with a company for a few years, or have been job hoppers in a way we never have been. our real concern is whether we’ll feel irrelevant once we leave our jobs, but that’s a post for another day. (related: a previous post on how we’ll define ourselves once we leave our jobs.)
knowing that something so important to us has to stay a secret to a lot of the central people in our lives is an odd feeling, and creates a bit of a telltale heart effect, making us yearn to spill our guts inappropriately. maybe that helped lead us to get our story out here, which would be a positive side effect. or sometimes we find ourselves confessing every detail of the plan to a stranger on an airplane, where things are essentially anonymous. but you better believe, when we have a bad day at work, it’s a struggle to hold back from sharing it all.
we use twitter a lot to connect with other fi/re folks, and have anxiety about that, because we also have our “real self” twitter accounts followed by many of our colleagues and clients. what if we accidentally post a link to an our next life blog post on our real twitter accounts, instead of to @our_nextlife? no mishaps yet, but we for sure get that racing pulse anytime we’re about to send a tweet. or if we’re connected to our work vpn’s, what if we forget, and are on wordpress or twitter then, and someone in IT catches on? that’s almost certainly an irrational concern, but one we think about.
the truth is, it would not in fact be the end of the world if our employers found out. maybe they’d still let us stay on as long as we want to, which is pretty much what at-will employment is anyway. or if they did decide to let us go, we have more than enough saved at this point to pay off the house and be funemployed for several years too. but it would force us to change our plan, and almost certainly push our financial independence day farther off into the future. and so, we keep living this double life, for just a couple more years.
anyone else out there feel like you’re living a double life with your financial plans? we’d love to know your secrets for managing it all.