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Well, it’s official. Today is my first day on the job at my new office. Ideally, I wanted to take off a week between jobs. But, my old boss said that she needed me until the very end, and my new boss said they having been chomping at the bit for me to get started. While a week off to clear my head would have been ideal, it looks like that will have to wait until a later date.
I am very excited to begin this new position, but I am a little bit sad to leave my old office. I made a ton of great friends and looked forward to going to work everyday because of them. Although I can’t say that I loved the work, I definitely loved the people.
On my last day, they threw me a party and brought in my favorite BBQ and shared some kind words. I don’t take compliments very well, but needless to say, I was touched and really felt appreciated.
With that said, I’m really going to miss coaching some of my colleagues around their finances. In every office that I’ve been in over the years, over time, my passion for personal finance eventually reveals itself. Then, I inevitably hear the different strategies that people are employing within their own finances.
Helping Others with Personal Finance
I love to hear the psychology around their strategies and what has shaped them to invest and save the way that they do. That’s what I love about personal finance. It’s called personal finance for a reason. It’s part math and part psychology, and most importantly, there aren’t one-size-fits-all answers. Often times, it comes down to what helps you sleep at night.
Most of the time, during my course in a job, multiple people will come to me saying that they don’t understand a certain aspect of personal finance. It has ranged from buying a house, investing, and even what savings rate they should have. Usually, we’ll have a good talk, and I’ll try to demystify and explain concepts as much as possible. Then I typically push them towards a blogger that specializes in that area to really nail home a point.
It’s always amazing to watch lives transform during the course of a couple of years. Once they implement a change, they inevitably become more passionate about their own finances. It’s so exciting to see.
In some ways, that’s the biggest impact that I bring to an office. As a manager, I love to empower people and help them to realize that they can take charge of their finances. I had one colleague tell me that I bring out the weird in everyone. I asked if he thought I brought out the weird, or if people just felt comfortable enough to share who they truly were around me. We had a good laugh about that.
As an example, I received a frame pictured that everyone signed at my going away party. Here are some messages that people from my office left me. “You taste like Jelly, Love Dinosaur.” “I hope you hate your new job and you come back in six months.” “I will never work out with you, but I will watch.” “Real Pit BBQ Pork Sandwich.” “I hope you find rainbows and unicorns.” I can’t say that I understood what all of it meant, but it made me smile.
Typically finances are private, but I’ve seen time and time again that people do want to talk about them, especially when they have unanswered questions. Other times, people just want to know more about my financial situation and plans for the future.
A Selfish Decision?
During one of those conversations, it came up that my wife and I would be reaching FIRE in the next few years and that we were trying to decide whether or not I should retire early and do something a little bit different.
A co-worker then shared that he thought I was being selfish by retiring from the workforce early. He brought up all the people that have benefitted from my efforts with their finances and how if I left a traditional 9-5 job, that I wouldn’t be able to have the same impact.
He reasoned that while there are tons of people that think about seeking financial advice, often times it is only when they are in dire straights that they pursue it. Some people only decide to care about their finances when it’s too late, and my friend argued that if I left the workforce, I would no longer be a financial guide for my peers.
I have to admit that that conversation took me aback. I wasn’t quite sure what to say. Retiring early never occurred to me as being selfish as much as my thoughts were, I did my time, and now I’m ready to do something else.
In my response, I was a little defensive. I tried to reason that it would allow me to finish some other projects that I was more passionate about and how I could make a difference in other areas. Plus on top of that, it would free me up to do more volunteer work around finances.
He seemed placated by that response, but it’s been nagging me ever sense I had the conversation. I’m not sure if it’s because I feel guilty and undeserving about the position I’m in. But it definitely has gotten me to think a lot about retirement over the past couple days.
While I love helping my colleagues with their finances, I think about how I really want to spend my time. A typical workday involves me being out of the house from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm, or roughly 10 hours a day. Since I am not an elite sleeper, I usually sleep 9 hours and then spend another hour each day working out (plus another 30 minutes each way to the gym), which really leaves about 3 hours to my family and other pursuits each weekday.
So by retiring early, I’d have around 10 hours extra to pursue my passions. Within those 10 hours, I’d potentially help out more people than only those that would cross my path at work. But, I do think my coworker has a point. Many newly minted graduates in the workforce are on the cusp and are easily impressionable to good financial habits.
While it probably won’t be a main factor when it comes to a decision, it will definitely be something that I think about as time moves forward. I need to determine how to make the greatest impact I can with time being my limiting resource.
What do you readers think? Does reaching FIRE and dropping out of the workforce make you selfish? Is this something that you’ve ever thought about? Share your thoughts below.