gearing up

What If Work Wants to Keep Us? // Anticipating the Hard Sell

Our minds have shifted away from money questions lately to the questions surrounding the end of work:

How much notice will we give?

Do we have to give notice at the same time? 

Shouldn’t we try to give notice in person, even though we work remotely?

We’ve been giving these questions a lot of thought (and mentioning them a lot here!), because it all feels like it’s right around the corner, even though it’s months away. We’ve been on the planet long enough to know that months tend to fly by.

But recently something else has occurred to us:

Our employers might actually try to keep us. 

I’ve always expected that my conversation would end with something like, “You’re doing what? Oh, well then, good luck to you!” The nature of my work would make it especially tough to go part-time, and so I’ve just never bothered to wonder if my employer might try to sweeten the pot.

And though Mr. ONL’s very well might make that kind of offer, it’s not something we had seriously considered before, namely because we’re just ready to move onto our second act.

BUT. The current health care uncertainty has us viewing everything through a different lens. If our options for even semi-affordable coverage evaporate, then it’s not crazy to figure out under what terms we’d be willing to stay on in some capacity if we get health coverage in exchange for staying.

Anticipating the hard sell at work when we give notice // early retirement, one more year syndrome, working longer than planned, staying at work after financially independent

What’s especially weird to me is that it’s taken us this long into our early retirement planning to even consider that we might need to be prepared for the hard sell when we (attempt to) give notice at work.

Several other well known bloggers have gotten offers they couldn’t refuse, after all, and they did end up staying on a bit longer before retiring fully. For some reason, it just never occurred to us that we might get similar offers.

But now that we’ve realized it, we’re determined to figure out what our terms would be. What it would take for us to stay.

Possible Terms on Offer

In beginning to think this question through, we’ve realized that there are several categories of terms that could be up for negotiation, assuming that either of our employers are motivated to keep us on in some capacity:

Money — Obviously either could offer more of it, either as an incremental raise or a fairly massive one (theoretically, if not realistically). For those of us who know what our enough is, money may or may not be a motivator once we’ve reached the point of being ready to walk away.

Other Compensation — Given that this thinking is all motivated by our desire to keep health coverage, interesting terms for keeping it could be on the table. Full health coverage only available to full-time employees made available even if we only work part-time, for example.

Time — A slightly or dramatically reduced schedule could be on the table if they want to keep us badly enough. Time parameters could also be on the table, such as never working evenings or weekends, or certain days of the week. Or only traveling in a limited capacity.

Work — The terms of work itself could be up for discussion, such as only working on projects where there is a high level of autonomy, or ones that are especially fun. Working in a different capacity altogether, or in a different department, could be up for discussion in some jobs, though not in ours.

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Mr. ONL’s Terms

We’re so curious what offer actually comes when Mr. ONL gives notice, but we both feel that some sort of alternative arrangement will be on the table, whether it’s simply increasing the size of the golden handcuffs (throwing more money at him) or offering a reduced workload.

The money thrown at him would have to be significant for him to consider working one more year full-time. Let’s just call it what it is: it would have to be obscene. A truly offensive sum. And that’s probably not going to happen. But barring that, here’s what it would take for him to be willing to stay at all:

Time — Quarter time or less, counted cumulatively over the course of a month. So if he worked 20 hours one week, he’d only have 20 more hours over the remainder of the month. When he would work would be dictated entirely by him, aside from client conference calls.

Work — He would work on one project at a time, and only projects that are completely autonomous or only require oversight from the top-ranking person. Going through reviews with multiple people is too time-consuming to be worthwhile on that limited of a schedule, not to mention frustrating.

Compensation — Health insurance would be a must, along with an hourly rate exceeding what his salary breaks out to hourly now, counting an average year-end bonus in that rate, given that it is deferred compensation.

My Terms

It feels absurdly academic to consider my terms, because I truly don’t believe I’ll get any sort of a counteroffer. There’s one final promotion they could theoretically offer me to stay on full time, and while my ego would enjoy that offer, the title would come with even more work than I have now, which is a non-starter.

But let’s just pretend I could somehow stay on in a very limited way. Here’s what that would have to look like for me to consider it:

Time — Quarter time or less, divided over no more than three days a week of my choosing. No weekend work. Travel only with lots of notice.

Work — One or at most two projects, unlike the six to 10 that I currently work on now.

Compensation — Continuing full health coverage at the rate we currently pay. Hourly rate would need to increase over what I currently earn, though I care less about the actual rate so long as we’d get to keep our insurance.

I think I’m actually less picky about the terms under which I’d stay on, mostly because I just don’t see that offer coming, whereas Mr. ONL’s terms feel like a more realistic possibility.

Our Bottom Line

As we’ve thought more about all of this, we’ve both agreed that health coverage alone is not nearly enough reason for us to stay beyond the end of 2017. We would consider one of us staying on only if doing so would make a tangible difference in two areas:

1. Our standard of living in our early retirement/phase one years.

2. Our ability to give to charitable causes over the course of our early retirement.

The second one is self-explanatory, but we define the first as being able to increase our annual spending by at least 30 percent on average in our first 18 1/2 years of retirement, until Mr. ONL hits 59 1/2 and we increase our spending. A 30 percent increase would mean roughly a doubling of our discretionary budget, and would equate to one splurgier trip each year, being able to travel a little nicer in those years, or maybe the ability to buy a nicer RV at the outset of it all.

That’s a high bar, we know, but given that we’re very nearly ready to walk away now, it would take our employers getting over that high bar for us to be willing to get sucked into the one more year trap. We would have to feel that benefit in our lives in a real way for that extra time spent working to even begin to be worth it.

And we don’t foresee any situation in which we both stay. Though we’ve always been determined to leave work at the same time, despite some legitimate reasons to stagger our timing, this case would feel different. Mr. ONL told me yesterday that if one of us stayed, it would make much more sense for it to be him, not only because that seems like a more likely offer, but also because I am already lining up projects to do next year and he isn’t. (Because, you know, nobody ever really retires.) ;-)

What are your parameters?

What would it take for you to consider working longer than you’d planned to? What are your deal-breakers? For those who’ve already left your career behind, did you have an offer of more favorable terms to stay on? What did you ultimately do? Anyone stay on a little longer with better terms and ultimately regret it? Anyone who wouldn’t stay a day past your FIRE date, no matter how much money or flexibility was on the table? Let’s discuss in the comments!

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100 replies »

  1. I’ve been planning to retire ASAP for literally as long as I’ve been working.

    Then my significant other moved and I decided it wouldn’t hurt to ask about working remotely. They bought it. I love it.

    Now for the first time I’m seriously considering situations in which I might work for longer than I *have * to, which is a really bizarre experience. I have the same thoughts of what would be “ideal” for me in the mid to long term in case we needed to discuss further. That said there’s no guarantee I’ll be able to do this for that long, but it’s strange to be having the thoughts.

    For me, it would have to include less or minimal business travel, schedule freedom to work when is best for me, and ability to work while slow traveling out of country, possibly part time or contact based. And health insurance. I’m going to start setting expectations by asking to take two to four weeks working half time to spend a month in Europe this year. I’m curious to see how it goes!!

    • I’m curious to see how that goes, too! Let us know what they say when you request your half time summer gig! How long have you been working remotely at this point? In our first few years of it, we felt like we could do this much longer than we could work in an office, but over time, the remote gig has gotten to be just as demanding as it would be if we worked in an office, maybe more so because especially my employer doesn’t really see how much I travel. But I’m hopeful it’s not the same for your situation! Either way, it’s awesome that you were able to work out a remote arrangement! Soooo nice to skip the commute and to be able to buy fewer work clothes. ;-) Good luck figuring all of this out!

      • I agree, working remotely definitely has some great perks. Right now even with more travel I feel like avoiding commuting is a huge bonus. And working outside on the patio is awesome. That all said, I’ve only been working remotely for a few months so far, as a “trial”.

        I can definitely see that with my current travel load it would be way too much over time. But I can also see ways that it could be great and I’m hoping to continue encouraging more of the great (to me) parts at the expense of the intensive travel parts. I think there is a possibility of working to it over time but we’ll see.

        I’m actually fairly confident they’ll agree to my summer plans, mostly because my boss is amazing. We’ll see though!!

        Thanks for your blog, I enjoy following along especially as I hope to be in the same spot someday soonish!

      • Well I’m glad you’ve been able to swing the remote arrangement, and I hope it lasts and continues to work well for you! And fingers crossed the summer plan works out, though sounds like that is wired, so yay! And if you keep working remotely long term, just keep finding ways to make it feel like a perk — that’s my best advice for managing the added challenges that come with it, especially all the travel that’s often involved!

  2. This is definitely something to figure out before you dive into those conversations, lest you cave unexpectedly to the hard sell! I have a hard time saying “no,” especially in work-related situations like this.

    Most employers’ agreements with health insurers stipulate that an employee must be working 30+ hours/week to get coverage. That said, there may be opportunity with some employers for you to stay on the books “full time” (wink wink, nudge nudge) at a lower salary.

    I didn’t get any hard sell from my employer (they were already trying to get me to move across the country and not eager to lower my hours). I did have an unexpected opportunity fall into my lap with a different employer, and I tried to craft my dream gig there — quarter-time with a great hourly rate, completely remote, full benefits. On paper, it was great. In reality, out on the road and with Daniel having quit his job completely already, it wasn’t a good experience, even with the financial upside. Perhaps it would have been different if travel weren’t the core part of our plans.

    There’s something unique and special about being able to detach yourself from work completely. Quarter-time is not necessarily quarter-brainpower or quarter-stress level, even at double-pay. My vote: unless the money is truly obscene, take the leap. :)

    • That is pretty much my vote too! Although I suppose if someone wanted to throw an obscene amount of money at us once in our lives, we would probably want to take that opportunity. Haha. Not that that is likely. ;-)

      I totally agree with you that quarter time is not quarter brain power or quarter stress level, and that is a huge factor in our thinking. Honestly, if the path forward on healthcare was clear, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. It would just be a clear no with no way out of that! Because we truly are ready to be done, and we have finally accepted that we are resourceful enough and will earn other money, so even if our current investment levels don’t stick, we will be fine. (I have you to thank for much of that thinking evolution!)

  3. It’s crucial to think about this beforehand – not when you’re presented with a counter. They should try to keep you but their best bet will almost always be some kind of consulting (which is basically what quarter time is) and that may not be a bad thing. You won’t get insurance (usually places need 50% or more to offer it) but it could fill the time if you have trouble doing it. :)

    When I quit, they knew it was to do something completely different (and less than 100% time wasn’t possible) so I didn’t get a counter… but thinking about it ahead of time would’ve been a very useful exercise.

    • I think for those who aren’t already consultants, there’s probably a better chance of getting a consulting gig. But consultants are usually hesitant to have their own consultants! ;-) I think there’s a chance Mr. ONL’s company would find a way to break the rules on health insurance if they want to keep him badly enough, thought I don’t see it happening easily with my megacorp. And yeah, I don’t expect a realistic counter, but we fully expect it for Mr. ONL and want to be prepared!

      P.S. Does anyone actually have trouble filling the time in retirement?? I think I’ll still have trouble narrowing the list down!

  4. As you know, I did go back for one more year. They increased my pay 25% when it was going to be more than a few months and that got me to stay until June. They offered me a lot more money than that to take one of the top jobs in the district, but I didn’t want the stress. I don’t have regrets about staying, but I’ll be glad when its over. I’m glad you aren’t just basing these thoughts on health care too. I think if they offered an obscene amount of money and great terms (1/4 time, etc.) that one more year – at your ages, would be fine. It might take a lot of second guessing away. It’s awesome that you are thinking about all of this so far ahead. I am totally like Matt and have trouble saying no!

    • We are both terrible at saying no, too, which is why we wanted to be sure we had our answers ready well in advance! Because otherwise we might cave unwisely. ;-) And yeah, it would be hard to turn down 1/4 time with obscene money, but fortunately, I don’t think we’ll have to make that call! Hahaha.

  5. I like how you’re defining what you’d stay for in terms of how it would actually impact your life in tangible ways–like the RV or the splurge trip, and charitable giving. At some point more money just seems a bit abstract and hard to determine whether it’s worth it, unless you consider it in those tangible terms.

    A friend just left a good job for a new position in an entirely different line of work, and when he gave notice they offered part-time and consulting options (maybe more pay, too, I’m not sure). He declined except for limited consulting if the new person wasn’t entirely trained before he left. It’s amazing what employers will suddenly come up with to keep people sometimes. And it’s wise that you’re thinking through what your terms would be for staying.

    • That was a big breakthrough to make that connection to the tangible impact. Like just to throw out numbers — let’s say we could save $50K more from another year of work. Over our 18 1/2 years of early retirement, that doesn’t work out to much, and wouldn’t meaningfully change our lives. So we’d need a bigger number. And as we were trying to figure out what that number would be, we realized what it would have to *feel* like to be worthwhile more than the number itself. And if my company surprises me and offers a very part-time consulting gig, I’ll be pleasantly surprised, but I’m certainly not counting on it. Good for your friend, though!

    • Hahaha — very insightful! I think it would hurt my feelings a tiny bit if they didn’t try, and I’m sure they will to some extent, but not with anything close to what I’d consider reasonable. Like I would expect they’d offer a small raise and the ability to go to 70 or 80 percent time, but I’d for sure pass on that. But if they didn’t even offer that, I’d be secretly devastated… or maybe relieved that I’m not as critical as I thought I was. Probably both. ;-) Ha!

  6. It’s so smart that you’re thinking this through now. I would be totally taken aback in a conversation about retirement if someone made a counteroffer UNLESS I had this in my back pocket. I’m really curious to hear how it goes for both of you. And your exercise may be less purely academic than you think!

    • You know I like to think this stuff to death, and nothing is worse than being caught completely offguard! ;-) I still think MY part of this will be academic, but maybe they’ll surprise me. And I’ll be surprised if Mr. ONL does NOT have this conversation.

  7. You know, it will really depend what will happen when I put in my notice. I’m thinking of trying to leverage an overseas posting. They are next to impossible to get at my level, but I will literally have nothing to lose. Give them 6 months notice “I would like to go overseas to a posting in 6 months. If that won’t be possible, this is my notice effective X date.” What’s the point in working for a global corporation if I can’t go overseas!?!

    • I love that approach, and would totally consider that if we had the option! You should totally go for broke on that — plus you have the type of career path where you can give long notice and not be instantly marginalized, which gives you a lot of flexibility in how you give notice!

  8. With our FIRE date May 16th !!! I don’t think any amount of money would change our minds. We have definitely thought about the healthcare situation, but when it comes to our government this could drag on for who knows how long. And we’re not about to change our date. It’s really surreal when you get this close to retirement and we feel there’s nothing that would stop us at this point. Too excited!!!

    • Sooooo close! Hooray!!!! Have you already given notice? I’m so curious how that conversation went or will go, and if they tried to convince you to stay!

      • We did give our notice on March 17. Our contract states a 60 day notice and that’s what we gave. They did ask if we would like to extend that to 120 days and we graciously declined. Nothing too exciting😀

  9. I seriously have been wondering about the work I do (probably because it’s seasonal and the season is almost up and I’ve got spring fever.) And while part of me says, “it’s not that big a deal moneywise for the aggravation,” part of me says “working at least a bit is probably good for my kid to see, even if I don’t need to work. Plus, if healthcare really goes in the toilet and I need to go back, showing seasonal work is better than no work.”

    On the other hand, you guys don’t have any examples to set. I like the terms you’ve set out, and part-time work might provide some structure during a transition to full retirement. I’ve seen a lot of folks go back to work after 6-9 months of earlyish retirement, and most of the time money hasn’t been the reason as much as boredom and lack of direction.

    • You’re SO smart to be thinking that way! I think the calculus would be different for us if we had kids, because there is value in them seeing you work hard in some way. And yeah, we’re thinking of ways to try to show more or less continual work experience, just in case we ever need to go back, but it might be a stretch to claim that since a lot of it will probably just be “blogging.” ;-) And I’ve heard from plenty of those folks who’ve gone back to work because they were bored, and maybe I’m naive, but I just don’t see that happening with us. The list of things we want to do is sooooo long!

  10. Honestly, if I had enough money to achieve FIRE, no amount of offerings from my employer would be worth it. But it’s a little different since I’ve disliked 99% of my jobs. ;) It’s another story entirely if you enjoy your job and are sad to leave. But FIRE is the next step in the adventure. Why straddle between work and FIRE if you’re perfectly capable of FIRE?

    • I think being able to stand tall in your “enough” is a downright amazing thing. This is a bit of a gray area question for us because we’re ready to retire, we have enough to do it, but adding a big chunk of extra capital to the equation would let us travel more and donate more, both of which would be awesome. Not awesome enough to work multiple years, but if someone wanted to throw a ton of money at us to work one more year, it would be hard to say no. Thankfully that’s pretty unlikely, so we probably won’t be faced with that tough choice. ;-)

  11. In my case, there was nothing that my employer could have done to avoid losing me. I was done. Mentally, I had been done for a long, long, long time…I was (and am) so over working on large-scale IT projects for high-paying customers who don’t know what they want or why they want it. All they know is that they want it NOW. I never want to be tied to an employer again – period.

    Our traveling lifestyle helped to reinforce that for us. While I could work full-time from the road, it would have affected our ability to move around significantly. For us, *everything* was a non-starter.

    • We had the discussion when we were talking all of this through of “What if they gave us $10 million?” Or some equally absurd sum. Obviously we would keep working for a year if we could get that, because we could do a lot of good in the world with that money, not to mention stock freaking out about unpredictable health care costs. And obviously no one will pay us that much, but there’s clearly a price at which we stick around, however unlikely it is someone would offer that magic number. And I think most of us probably have that price, whether we know it or not. But yeah, it’s pretty darn freeing to realize that no number within reason will do it for you!

  12. It’s hard to think through specific details, since we still have limited details. But given your plans for travel in retirement, I am surprised that is not an element of your terms. Believe me, I know the difference between business travel and leisure travel: pampered but too hurried to enjoy it. (I saw Titanic in the theater as a pre-apology to my wife, as I was going to be gone 3 of the next 4 weeks) And I know you have a bajillion miles. But, is there something available to leverage a stub of work to make your travel aspirations happen? Maybe, an overseas office you could work with, and make that your travel base for a while?

    One of the most creative retirement funding plans I have heard of came from some RV’ers. The Mr. had an MBA and business experience. They would pick where they wanted to set up for the winter, and he would approach a local business college about adjunct teaching. (there *always* is a local business college; usually several) The pay is terrible, but all they wanted was to pay for their lot rent at the RV park–the only incremental cost vs. staying at home. The real genius was that the classes are typically night classes, so they were tourists during the day, and 2 evenings a week he went in to work. They found a harmonious setup to make their lifestyle work, and he of course found the work interesting–keeping involved with a younger generation energized about their careers.

    • You reminded me of one of my favorite things about having a blog — all the incredible reader suggestions! You rock. :-) That’s pretty genius what that RVing couple managed to work out! What a cool part-time hustle — I’m sure he also enjoyed teaching, which certainly made it more enjoyable than doing something for those terms that he didn’t enjoy. I’m thinking through whether this could apply to our situation, but appreciate the great thought-starter!

  13. Staying in a group health care plan could be a deciding factor in your approach. My wife and I are semi-retired, have individual plans, and several more years before we can enroll in Medicare. If congress changes the rules back to what they were (insurers can refuse to issue policies based on pre-existing conditions or charge whatever they want if they do issue a policy), we (anyone for that matter) could find ourselves with no health insurance at all. Even if your state does have or establish a high-risk pool, there could be a waiting list. The dreaded pre-existing condition could arise at any time.

    • I know — it’s terrifying that we could all lose the basic protections like the ability to buy health insurance essentially no matter what. Given the current political climate, it seems that we’ll have a slightly better sense of things before year’s end, and can then decide whether to buy COBRA for 18 months or to go straight onto an exchange plan, but it’s a good caution that folks should consider that a wait list could be a factor if you’re going into the high risk pool. We’re super thankful that that doesn’t apply to us, at least not yet!

  14. The two of you have this dialled and analyzed. One thing I know from following along with ONL is that crunching the numbers is not something you overlook. To me as an outsider the instigator that created this blog post is what blows me away. How can the self proclaimed most powerful country in the world not provide health care for it’s citizens. I think of how someone as well educated and prepared and has a massive savings balloon fears leaving work like you do and then think of the 68 year Grandma that can’t leave work because she fears financial ruin and is forced to keep working. It is a scary thing and I wish you guys didn’t have to deal with it. I honestly don’t understand the US political waters well enough to adequately comment but is the lack of healthcare a corporate money issue or is a fear of a socialist routed program? Got a little side tracked there but it is the root of your concern.

    • Oh, dude, I wish I could answer your question. It seems like the main problem is that once something gets politicized in the U.S., no one can talk about it like a civil human being anymore. It’s obvious that EVERYONE cares about health care, and everyone wants it, yet we can’t have constructive conversations about it because it’s so politically loaded. There are several other issues that have become equally politicized inexplicably, but certainly health care is top of mind for us (and many others, not just aspiring early retirees!). But thanks for the sympathy — we might need it! ;-)

  15. We found out what my wife’s terms were this past week. So my wife left our employer in November to be a stay at home mom. No offer came for staying with the company but the heavily pursued her being a contractor. This week she filled out the forms to do just that. More pay but no benefits, but she gets benefits through me anyway. Chooses her own hours. It’s a path to consider.

  16. It would depend on what situation I’m moving towards. If our setup when I’m leaving work is moving to an already built house out in Canyon lake, it would take nothing short of remote work to make it happen. Even remote work would have to be around the kids schedule, so like 4 days a week – no fridays, and 7-3 would be the time limits. I don’t see that happening.

    I do anticipate more money being offered or more vacation offered. That could be tempting but like you said, it would have to be an obscene amount. For that amount it would still be less than a year that I’d probably stick around and just use it to pad our cash stash while also padding the overall stash. Hell, I’d still only be 43 if I did stick around “one more year” – that’s still pretty dang amazing…

    It’s interesting visiting a place looking at it with “would I want to live here” eyes versus “vacation eyes”. I got hooked this weekend and fell in love with it out there.

    Plus, I even got a job offer from our realtor when we do move out there that’s a flexible schedule, probably cash payout – woohoo, and could lead to more side income. Seriously, we literally talked about a job offer and I told him I’m on board once we get out there, so yeah, that happened, lol.

    • You already have the sweetest gig ever, so it seems almost karmically unfair for you to get an even sweeter deal! ;-) And wow, that’s big news on the where-to-live front, complete with a side hustle job offer! Sounds like it was an eventful weekend!

  17. It would definitely make me feel good to hear the offers, but it would make saying no that much harder. Plus, I’d eventually have to try to quit again later.
    Best of luck to you both. You’ll make the decision that’s right for you, and if you look at it more broadly, there probably won’t be a ‘wrong’ choice, just several really good ones.

    • That’s a great way to look at it — worst case, we have a bunch of great options. :-) Yeah, I have no desire to quit twice, so that’s added incentive to let the end be the end!

  18. Love your blog. I listened to your interview with the mad fientist interview too. you and your husband have set peramiters. If they agree, try it. If it does not work after some time, communicate that to your employer and go full time into fire. You both are young. Nothing wrong with adding to your accounts.

  19. Great read! Reminds me of FinancialSamurai’s book, “how to play your lay off”

    People don’t realize that their loyalty to their current employer is a one eay street.

    Employers typically want you to stay for cheap and fire you once you are over paid.

    Keep up the great work!

    • Thanks! And you’re fundamentally right, though I don’t think every company is quite as heartless as that — it can vary to some extent. But it’s helpful to remember that it’s an economic relationship at its core.

  20. How about not expressing work in monthly equivalents, rather group them in quarters or so? You could be gone 3 months, then work 3 months on a few projects (less than today) and then be off again?
    Or 6 months on, 6 months off?

    Or do coaching of people, assist on projects and provide guidance?

    But really, one more year? I did not see that coming.
    when I will have reached my numbers (and then some, like it seems to be in your case), and there are some side projects lined up that have earning potential, than there would not be a lot that stops me.

  21. It might be worth attempting to balance what matters most to you vs. what the company wants to you. I know you travel a ton and that’s probably off the table.

    However, what if you could negotiate limited travel, limited hours, health care, and the company donating to charities you like (a tax write-off), maybe it’s possible to stay on for a very small salary. Normally, I don’t think employers would agree to this, but have quite a bit of time served from your other posts.

    It seems that you are in the driver’s seat, so you’ve got nothing to lose.

    • Several folks have commented here that you have to work 30 hours a week most places to get health insurance, and I feel quite certain that’s true for my company. And health care is the sole reason to consider this, so I think it’s a devil-in-the-details situation. But yeah, if it was possible work *very* limited hours and still get health care, I’d consider a wide range of terms, in all honesty! If it had to be a higher number of hours, then I’d probably pass even with health care, given that we do have enough saved, and the whole point was to be able to escape work. ;-)

      • Fair enough. You seem to be a very high earner and I figure that health insurance is a fixed rate to the company. From your description, it isn’t a “most places” situation.

        From a business perspective, I would think that your company might say, “It is a cost savings to give her health insurance for [x] hours vs. amount we were paying before.” I don’t think “[x]” should be 30. It’s not like you spend your first 30 hours a week for health insurance and the last 10-30 is for your salary.

        It’s an idea. You know your company. However, it sounds like they could open up negotiations. If that’s the case, then you can express the things that are important to you and put the onus on them to make it work. You are coming to the table with a “money doesn’t mean much” (similar to:

        This gives you the freedom to set the parameters that worthwhile to you… or walk away with the peace of mind that they never gave you a “hard sell.”

      • Yeah, who knows! I’m making total guesses here on what they would or wouldn’t offer, so all we can do is see if it’s an option when the time comes, if we decide that we want the option.

  22. I’m curious how you’ll assess your health-care situation if there’s no legislative action by year’s end but there’s good indication that it will come in the out years.

    I dropped to 1/4 time telecommuting and refused all business travel 6 months ago when our daughter was born. It’s kept me engaged in something I love, hasn’t stressed me out, and is paying for her college education. With my wife still working, we have health insurance covered and my part-time work isn’t any sort of hindrance on our leisure-time options. I used to think 30 hours per week would be an ideal schedule for me; now I know that 10 hours is perfect!

    • I don’t want to try to prognosticate about the political landscape in the future, but the consensus sure seems to be that more moderate GOPers are getting enough pushback in their districts that they won’t be likely to support much in 2018, an election year. But that said, I truly have no idea what will happen. I think if no major action comes this year, we’ll feel better than we did a few months ago! And wow, it sounds like you scored the ultimate deal! Quarter time and no travel — awesome. How ideal — congrats!

    • Aw geez, I hadn’t thought of that! ;-) I think given that we’re going into these conversations announcing our retirement, there will no longer be any secret either way, and so we’ll be safe to unmask ourselves. Which is good, because I am getting so antsy to do it!

  23. As someone who regularly fantasizes about leaving work. This is something I’ve thought about.

    Whenever I make enough money to quit my job, I’ll give this offer.

    I like my job, well parts, so I’d offer to work 2 days managing their marketing (since I’ll be leaving because my blog marketing obviously works). I’d go down to 2/3 of my salary and work in the office if it’s convenient.

    If they say yes, I’ll likely stay on for another year. If they say no, I move on. That’s how the dream in my head keeps replaying. =)

    • That’s a pretty great dream! And you made me realize I haven’t thought about the actual act of leaving in months — funny! We used to talk about that ALL the time, but now work is almost irrelevant. We just think about all the stuff that comes next! ;-) I like your attitude about countering their offer of setting your parameter and making it a take-it-or-leave-it deal for them.

  24. Is it possible you are worrying too much about health insurance as your solution to health insurance? If you aim for really good health insurance with few copays and low deductibles, you can get a Kaiser platinum plan for about $15,000 per year. A portion of this is tax deductible at certain brackets. So you may only need $10,000 after the tax deduction. Your problem is no longer how to keep health insurance. Your problem becomes how to create $10,000 to $15,000 in extra passive or active income:
    — 4% of $250,000 to $375,000 invested
    — monetizing a hobby like you’ve discussed in other posts

    • I would LOVE if we could get on Kaiser. Only problem: not available in most small towns, including ours. :-/ I don’t want to have to drive hours to go to the doctor, and that’s what that would require. I love our mountain life, but this is yet another form of the mountain tax! But I do think we’re starting to think more along the lines you suggest: finding side hustles that can essentially just pay for our health care without wrecking our portfolio or our retirement plans!

  25. I don’t want to pry too deeply on the subject but I was curious about why you’d think that Mr ONL is very likely to get a possibly workable counter but you’re much less likely to get a good counter? Is it down to the nature of your jobs that they wouldn’t be able to offer the reduced workload and travel and still have your work be meaningful?

    • Oh, it’s pretty straightforward reasoning, actually. I manage teams of people, while Mr. ONL works in a much more solitary capacity on discrete projects. My projects are also longer term while his are shorter. So he’d be easier to keep on for one project at a time, while it just wouldn’t work to manage my team part of the time but not all the time. Does that help?

  26. Good lord I came to this article late — 56 comments in roughly 24 hours?? Awesome you’re starting the conversation and getting so much engagement! 😀

    Definitely smart to go in with a plan. For me, it would be a conversation to be had at least a couple years from now…though if I really get going with writing…I could see trying to work out a part time arrangement earlier. In the annual employee feedback surveys, work/life balance and schedule flexibility are consistently highly rated, even by some of the disgruntled types. I’m not sure entirely how I’d phrase it, mind you, but I’d almost assuredly be able to arrange it. The terms would be the only thing…

    I keep waffling back and forth, as I really enjoy working with people, especially face-to-face. If I wanted to try for a “digital nomad” position, I’d be losing the thing thing I enjoy most at work. Plus, it might be just as difficult to randomly take off for a three week vacation.

    Man, I’ve got more thinking to do!

    • Did you see my post a few weeks ago about how all bloggers are lying?! Talk about comments. Hahahaha. As for countering a work offer, if you think you could for sure swing an off-site deal, I say go for it if you know you’re otherwise going to quit anyway and don’t mind the work. More padding for the nest egg! Though I for sure agree that it’s a huge adjustment not working face to face with people anymore. Videoconference makes it better than it used to be, but there’s no replacement for IRL time!

  27. It is very possible that your employers will come back with an offer you can’t resist. Being 31 I am not sure what my parameters would in order to continue working or not, but I do no I enjoy working for companies and positions where I have more work life balance and autonomy having worked for companies that offered both extremes. It appears that with hard work and dedication to your goals you guys have a better quality problem then most. Looking forward to knowing if their will be an offer to stay in your future.

    • I think in our case the offer would have to be fairly absurd to be truly irresistible, especially if developments unfold this year that make us less freaked out about health care. And I think you’re super smart to focus on work-life balance and the conditions in which you work! That makes a huge difference in how long you can imagine yourself staying on the job.

  28. I really do want to retire and not work for money anymore. I’ve made that abundantly clear to my company though a few have made comments about me doing some sort of consulting; however, I am sticking to my 2 month rule of no work. Who knows… after 2 months of giving my brain some space, I might get used to living life at a much slower and more reasonable pace. In my head I’m picturing slowing down quite a bit – I’ll still be a productive human being, but I want to spend more time enjoying the tasks at hand than thinking about all the other crap I “need” to get done by a certain amount of time. Can you imagine if your list of things to accomplish each day shrank and you didn’t feel that sense of incessant urgency all the time?

    • I love your 2-month rule. That should be enough time to decompress and get some helpful perspective, but it’s not so long that you’ll get out of the practice of working in case you decide you actually want to do it in some capacity. (Although, interestingly, the early retiree I sat next to on a plane last week said he needed a full year to feel relatively relaxed. Yikes!) And to answer your question, I don’t know if I can imagine not feeling like there is stuff I *need* to do every day! I hope to feel some sense of it soon, but I know I’m a doer, not a relaxer, so I can’t wait to find out what my nature will be in retirement. Maybe I’ll actually get MORE done because I’m much happier and more excited! ;-)

      • I’m a doer too, but I feel quite rushed most of the time. I think it’s possible to be a doer and feel less rushed and more present in the task at hand and that’s my hope. Interesting that an early retiree told you it took him a year to decompress. I found that going on a short, 5 day vacation a couple of weeks ago consisting of 3 work days and 2 weekend days (last time off before the end game starts), that I didn’t sleep well until the 3rd night as I was stressing when I laid down about all crap I was working on. 2 months is probably not long enough. I’ve already dipped my toes into a political activism group focused on healing the rifts and making positive changes and I’m finding that the opportunities to help non-profits I find meaningful that align my values are endless. I can see myself jumping right into that and filling all my time super quickly but I’m hoping the space I have planned will cause me to be more mindful of what I choose to work on.

      • Amen to that! A doer with more time to think deliberately, not hurriedly. And I definitely know that feeling of seeing the million things you could jump right into, but I think it will really pay off for you to take those two months to take on nothing.

  29. You may have seen my post from 18 months ago when my wife officially resigned (fully intending to quit) and they made her a sweet offer ( ). It was basically part time hours, working from home while keeping full time pay. Essentially keeping her on as a consultant Monday through Wednesday and sometimes Thursday as workload required, and kind of sort of hoping she would put in 6-8 hours per day. Officially it was 4 10 hour shifts M-Thu with a big ole wink wink to explain the actual expectations unofficially. :) It worked pretty well for six months but the work stress remained, so she quit for good (without any further counteroffer from the employer).

    Prior to that she had already mentioned quitting if she didn’t receive her paid sabbatical (3 months paid time off), and they gave her a compromise – an extra 5 weeks paid time off in summer 1, then a guarantee they would give her a full 12 weeks paid time off in summer 2. And for the couple of the years she was mentioning quitting she kept getting hugely outsized raises and bonuses compared to her peers so it was clear they wanted to keep her on.

    You mentioned health insurance being offered to keep you on (even if one of you were part time). That was a big argument from Mrs. Root of Good’s manager. And one of the reasons she agreed to stay on for what was technically a full time arrangement (though in hindsight ACA coverage would have been comparable in terms of total cost and coverage).

    Here’s a copy/paste from the post I linked earlier laying out the benefits of having more money from working longer under a very comfortable arrangement:
    “-Additional margin of safety – more money in the portfolio means we have a much greater chance of successfully living off our portfolio for 5-6 decades
    -Potential for significant future spending increases – we don’t currently have plans to ramp up spending but that’s always an option if our wants or needs change
    -More to pass on to our kids sooner and later – we always planned on helping with college, and with more money comes more ability to help
    -Charity – we don’t really give much away right now, but this could change in the future if we have way more than “enough”

    But you seem to have given thought to most of this in your post. :)

    • Oh, dude, I totally remember you writing about this stuff, and that was a big part of what made us realize that we need to be prepared when we go into those conversations! I was thinking about your wife, Brandon (Mad Fientist) and a few others. ;-) I didn’t remember the benefits you laid out, though, but I’m sure you planted those thought in the back of my mind somewhere. Although, credit where credit is due: It was 100% Mr. ONL who came up with our idea of the “tangible difference” — like it wouldn’t be worth it to work longer if it would only give us a few thousand dollars more to spend each year. It would have to bump us up a tax bracket or two, and increase our charitable giving meaningfully!

      • It’ll be interesting to see what each of you do if an “offer you can’t refuse” is put on the table. Tough to address it in the hypothetical but seeing all those dollar signs possibly coupled with an ideal work situation might be too much to resist even if it wouldn’t provide a tangible difference.

        I think for us we viewed any extra money as a windfall and not really as something that would bump up the SWR by several thousand. As in, hey now we can pay 100% of kid college costs if we want. Or spend $20,000 extra on a monster trip. Or whatever large lumpy expense might come our way.

      • Even as a hypothetical, it’s still hard to even imagine that I’d get an offer like that, so I don’t have a clue what I’d want to do! But some offer feels more likely in Mr. ONL’s case, so it’s up to us to define what “can’t refuse” actually looks like for us. And it’s useful to hear how you guys viewed that extra funding! Thanks for coming back and sharing that!

  30. I’ve thought about this as well. Unfortunately in my line of work, part-time isn’t really a thing. Either you’re in or you’re out. I know ONE individual that works part time and they do 6 weeks on 2 weeks off (dependent on project timing), so a 75% schedule. I’m already remote so they can’t throw that in to sweeten the pot. So that really only leaves compensation. Interested to find out how it all works out for you both.

    • Yeah, you understand! And we don’t WANT to work next year, so we’re not looking for a sweeter deal. ;-) But it’s good to know what we would accept, just in case!

  31. I have another thought about this based on my very recent experience. I wrote my resignation letter memorializing my June 30th retirement date to my CEO last week. I really don’t have any desire to work anymore and while I wanted to be polite, I set pretty firm boundaries. There is one instance in which I would consider doing a little “work” but it’s a very strategic, high level type position which wouldn’t require much on a monthly basis and I left the door open to that one piece though I don’t expect them to offer me that position anytime soon, if ever, nor am I sure if I really want it. If you are done and ready to not work, then just be clear with your language and hopefully that will make things easier. I think it’s good that you went through the exercise of what would be acceptable. Be firm with those boundaries, though! :)

    • Such great advice! I think the truth is that Mr. ONL would be willing to work a smidge longer under a very specific set of circumstances, while I want to move on to the next thing and doubt any sort of limited time offer would even be a possibility for me anyway (makes that decision easy!). But I think it’s super smart to be clear about what we would or wouldn’t accept and not leave any room for interpretation.

  32. I haven’t read through all of your comments, so bear with me. Something to think about….perhaps don’t retire at the same time…i.e, whichever one you may think would get a great offer, that one go first, wait a week or two, and if nothing comes, then the other give notice. It would suck for you both to go on the same day, and when one came home with a great offer and perhaps reconsider to stay, for whatever reason, and the other didn’t get anything. Then one of you wants to work for the time being, while the other is now out of a good job. Hope I explained it well enough. Anyway, best of luck to both of you with your plans. I’m sure you know what is best, you’ve gotten this far.

    • Totally great suggestion, Bev! We’ve written about this a long while ago, but to us it’s important to quit at the same time for a bunch of reasons that aren’t important. I think if one of us decided to do a very minimal part-time extension of our current work into next year, that would be different, but we’re in the all or nothing camp otherwise. ;-)

  33. I should have know you’d have thought this issue through and considered all the angles! ;-) I like the way you approach it with the tangible difference concept. I guess that’s kind of where we are in our thinking too. Like, we could retire tomorrow and live a perfectly good life if we downsized or moved to a lower COL area, and cut out luxuries like traveling as frequently as we wish, staying in nicer AirBnbs or hotels when we do travel, indulging our foodie tendencies, etc. But we’re giving it another year or possibly more because if we can just generate that extra income, we’ll feel a lot more free to live the lifestyle we want, and won’t feel like we’re depriving ourselves (and also, will feel more secure with various worst case scenario risks). Re healthcare- have you thought about geographic arbitrage as a fallback? Thinking of Jeremy and Winnie at Go Curry Cracker and how they’ve strategically picked what other country to live in based on healthcare costs. We’re lucky in that we are going to have dual citizenship with a European country we (and many of our friends and family) love and which offers free coverage. (A radical concept, right?!) So that’s sort of our backup plan for if the ACA goes away or if US coverage gets prohibitively expensive. It does seem silly to keep working primarily for health insurance, but it’s easy to get scared with all the horror stories you hear and read about in America. Can’t wait to see how all this goes down when you give your notice! I’m so excited for you guys and really curious to see how your employers and colleagues react. Obviously if they’re smart they’ll work hard to keep you on in some very limited capacity at least. :)

    • Haha — yeah, can’t help the overthinking. ;-) I’m glad you guys have the dual citizenship that gives you an easier option! Sadly, notsomuch in our case. Plus, we want a home base here, so while we’d go abroad if we truly had to, it’s far from our first choice. Fingers crossed health care doesn’t totally disappear!

  34. It’s a really good idea to game this all out beforehand.

    All of your considerations make sense except… I’m not sure why you care about not having weekend work anymore.

    Since you won’t be working a regular work week, the weekend will most likely lose a lot of its special status (except for church on Sunday obviously, if you are church goers). You will be able to go hiking on Mondays or Tuesdays, so Saturday and Sunday work won’t be much worse than other days, if at all.

    • I can see why that stipulation would seem weird! The reason I’d refuse weekend work is because I KNOW that I’d have to be at least a little bit available at least for emails every weekday, and given the nature of the work, there’s be no way around that, even if I could decide when to do the more time-consuming parts of the work. So the no-weekends limit would be to avoid falling into the slippery slope of ending up back where I am now — essentially working every day.

  35. Since my business passes-through to my own taxes, I think it would be very difficult to walk entirely away. Only taking rare clients in the precise niche I want would be wonderful. Work no more than 3 days a week and hopefully only 6 hours each day. Enough to cover things and keep my mind and skills fresh, but not enough to stop long mornings.

  36. As a form senior executive, I want to chime in with another perspective. I did not respond with sweet deals or attempt to persuade people to stay when a manager submitted their resignation, even if the person was fabulous in the position and I was sorry to lose them. The reasons were: a) I truly wanted them to grow and develop in their lives and careers and if they had decided to move on, I recognized that they had thought long and hard about it and that they were choosing what was best for themselves; b) if they were ready to leave psychologically, then any offer I could make would only temporarily delay the inevitable (and they might not retain the same level of commitment to the position in the meantime); and c) the over-compensation of the one employee would be visible to others in the organization and create resentment, and also promote more competition and negotiating from others beyond what I could afford to pay.

    So, if you do not get an enhanced offer from your employer when you give your notice, it probably does not mean that they are glad to see you go, or that they are not sorely disappointed that you are leaving.

    • I appreciate you sharing that perspective, and I’ll keep that in mind if they don’t beg me to stay. ;-) I think all of that reasoning makes total sense, but I’ve also heard others say that turnover is their biggest cost, and so it can be worth it to entice someone to stay, even if it’s only for another year. Fortunately I don’t have to make these kind of decisions! ;-)

  37. OK, so glad I hadn’t commented yet because I wanted to re-read and comment on this. From my perspective, you are on the right path as far as thinking. You need to be able to be prepared for anything. In my opinion, don’t accept ransom money. Instead, why not bring up the idea of severance in exchange for staying on a bit longer?

    This is honestly the conversation i had with my boss, and he quickly agreed to it. Now I am working until the earlier of July 5th or “two weeks after my replacement is hired,” whichever comes first (I have a feeling July 5th is the more likely date given how slow they act here).

    I was shocked at how quickly they agreed to severance, and even more shocked that I get paid for an extra three months (summer vacation anyone?) with benefits, plus my second annual bonus. Total severance at least $43,000 in extra compensation. WOW. Plus I know (since I am crafty like that), that even if I work until July 1, I will get a full extra month of benefits in October as by law, your employer has to let benefits go until the end of the month. Bonus, score.

    My vote is stand your ground, you’re both young enough you could work later if things didn’t work out, but in most cases early retirees are overly conservative in their forecasting. I would suggest bringing up the topic of leaving in October, with a goal of having an end date in December WITH Severance and qualifying for six months of unemployment benefits. That’s my dream retirement, and surprising even to me, one I will soon be experiencing (signed a paper today).

    • This isn’t what you wrote about, but the idea of most early retirees being overly conservative is an interesting one, because *most* early retirees have come up since the financial crisis, in one of the most sustained bull markets in history. So just because those folks have happened to project too conservatively, I do suspect there’s a good chance this has been a historical anomaly, and that we can’t all bet on the same thing happening for us. We’ll stick with our conservative projections. ;-) All of that said, it’s awesome you finagled such a sweet severance package! Bunch of reasons on our end why we aren’t going to lead with that, but we’ll definitely stay open to the possibility after we see where the conversations are going.

  38. It’s unlikely we’ll get offered anything to stay as we’ve heard our megacorp doesn’t negotiate with people leaving, but we may try depending on the situation in a few years. For example if layoffs were looming we’d volunteer to save others and take the severance.
    However they do have a program that allows one to come back in a contract position after a few mandatory months of separation. We know several people that do this and I believe both my wife and I would strongly consider it if the schedule was limited and flexible enough. Would probably be in a different capacity for both of us, but I know I’d be fine with massively reduced responsibility and a chance to stay socially connected.