The following is a guest post from my good friend, Steve @ My Wife Quit Her Job. His side income is going to surpass his computer engineer salary this year so he is contemplating his next step. What do you think he should do?
One of the reasons I love reading Retire By 40 is because Joe and I have very similar backgrounds. We both graduated from college at roughly around the same time. We both majored in electrical engineering and we both decided to take on jobs in the technology sector making pretty good salaries.
In fact, I even interviewed at Intel in Portland and considered working there at one point. Heck, we could have been coworkers! But that’s pretty much where our similarities end.
I’ve been in the computer hardware design industry now for well over 15 years and I still enjoy what I do. My job is not especially stressful. I work pretty much an 8 hour day and I have most weekends off.
Also, I don’t seem to be exhibiting any of the physical ailments that Joe had while working his day job such as headaches, backaches or depression. Everything is pretty chill in terms of my day to day and I display no ill effects from cubicle confinement.
But here’s the thing. I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing for so long that I’m starting to get a little antsy. While I still enjoy my day job, in the back of my mind I often dream about doing something different, something that has a broader reaching impact.
I often wonder what it would feel like to sleep in and not have to drive to my office every morning.
In fact, I keep thinking about quitting my job but I have a whole bunch of reservations in my mind which I have yet to address. Here’s a snapshot of my thoughts.
Money Is Not A Factor
When people think about retirement, most are worried about having enough money. But fortunately, money is not one of my concerns. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not rich but I have my finances under control.
I have many years of living expenses saved up, a house that can be paid off at anytime and a pretty good handle on what I spend my money on.
A lot of would-be retirees also worry about health insurance. But after doing a bit of research, it turns out that finding a decent HSA plan is very manageable and definitely within my budget.
While I do have a spouse and 2 young kids (which are expensive), I also have several other revenue streams outside of my day job. For example, my wife and I run an online store selling wedding linens that has been extremely profitable for us.
We started this shop when my wife wanted to “retire” from her job to take care of the kids (just like Joe). Also like Joe, my blog provides me with some passive income as well. In fact, the earnings from my blog should surpass my day job salary this year.
Overall, everything is pretty kosher in financial land. But here’s the thing. What’s ironic about my financial situation is that I’ve worked so hard for the past 6 years to get to this point and now I’m a little apprehensive about “pushing the retirement button”.
My Greatest Fear
My biggest fear about the whole retirement process is that I don’t have a good game plan about what I want to do next with my time. When Joe retired, he had a purpose. He wanted to stay at home with his kid.
Right now, I’ve got nothing solid figured out. First off, my kids are older than Joe’s and they are in school full time. While I would love to spend more time with them, I think interacting with other kids at school is more important than hanging out with dear old Dad all day. Plus, they already have Mommy available in case they need anything.
I have several friends and relatives who are “retired” and I can tell that some of them are bored. Sure, they are able to play golf every day and they have their daily relaxing routine but there is no way that I could live that lifestyle.
I’m sure that it could be fun for a while, but there is only so much golf that I can play. Plus, almost all of my friends work during the day and I would get bored way too easily by myself.
What About My Businesses?
People often point out that I could simply run my online store or my blog for a living. But while running my shop and blogging have been very rewarding experiences for me, I don’t think managing them full time would float my boat either. Deep down, I’m a technology guy at heart.
Currently, I design microprocessors for a living and it’s not something I could do on my own without significant funding from an outside source. So if I were to quit, I would no longer have access to the necessary resources to do hardware design.
Furthermore, technology is something that you have to keep up with otherwise you’ll become obsolete. If I were to leave my day job for even a year, I probably would not be able to go back that easily.
Also, I’ve discovered that I’m a very social being and I need human interaction on a daily basis. One of the perks of going to an actual office is that I can meet new people and blow off some steam with coworkers.
Being stuck at home alone in front of a monitor just doesn’t seem that appealing to me.
Weighing The Options
At the expense of coming across as an ungrateful person, I just wanted to point out that I’m extremely lucky to be in my current position and I really have nothing to complain about. I have a loving family, I’m financially secure and I have a lot of good things going for me right now.
But this whole retirement thing has been on my mind for quite some time and I’m still struggling to find a resolution. For the most part I like working at my day job except for the fact that I have to physically go into the office everyday:)
My ideal situation would be to wake up every morning and be completely excited about what I have planned for the day but right now I’m just not there.
Anyways, one of my motivations for writing this post is to point out that retirement may not be all cake and rainbows depending on your personality and that’s it not always about the money.
Even more important than financial security is the need to be happy and fulfilled with how you spend your time. I’m obviously not at that point just yet so I’m currently stuck in what Joe calls the “One More Year” syndrome.
In my ideal situation, I would like to:
- Do something I’m passionate about
- Do something more meaningful with my time
- Not feel obligated to show up at any particular location on a daily basis
- Devote a significant amount of time for family
Anyways, I’m curious to hear what your thoughts are. And Joe, what do you plan on doing once your child goes to school full time?
Retire By 40’s response
I think Steve has the chance of a lifetime to quit his job and take it to the next level. I’m sure once he leaves his job, he’ll see a ton of opportunities. He is an active thinker and I have no doubt he’ll find something worthwhile to occupy his time.
It sounds to me like Steve is starting to get a little bored with microprocessor design. This might be a good time to explore other fields that are more friendly to a self employed technologist – like app design or something like that. Human interaction is no big deal. I have more human interaction now than when I was working at my office. I was one of those grumpy old guys because I was feeling bad and it didn’t endear me to anyone.
As for me, I do plan to do more once RB40 Junior starts school full time. Ideally, I’d like to start a micro business that I enjoy. I don’t have a solid idea right now, but I still have 3 years to figure it out.
What do you think Steve should do? I think he should take a 3 month sabbatical and see what he can figure out. If he still want to go back to work, then perhaps work for a few more years until he really gets tired of it.