As I sit reading yet another demanding email from my boss, I begin to wonder…. When is enough? I open our financial tracker to check our account balances, although I know the numbers by heart. The anxiety is eating me alive. Continue to work for a boss that sucks the soul from my body, despite a career that feeds my spirit or harness the power of the FU money we have been tucking away?
My husband, Mr. Sunshine, found that enough point almost a year ago. Working a physically demanding job as an automotive technician for Ford, he wanted to leave the world of work while he still had the physical ability to chase some of our bucket list dreams. He made it look easy. We talked about it one night and he quit – the very next day. Working out his notice was easy for him – well it looked easy from my vantage point.
From my position, it is not quite as easy, you see… I really do enjoy what I do. I have always said that I would never retire. My career is fulfilling and flexible. I won’t discuss exactly what career that is right now. (I will save that for a later post after my current job is finished.)
So if I enjoy what I do, why would I quit? Simple… the boss from hell.
I guess I have been lucky up to now. I have worked for some wonderful people: kind, caring, compassionate, driven and trying to change the world. Working with fantastic people, doing work I find fulfilling and enjoyable – why would anyone quit?!?
Mr Sunshine and I have been living the FIRE lifestyle for a while now. FIRE stands for financially independent retire early. While much of the writing about this phenomenon deals with being able to retire while still young, there are a significant number that simply want the freedom to choose. For those folks it is about being financially independent with work optional, choosing for themselves where they spend their time and energy. You can read more about the FIRE lifestyle here.
The FIRE lifestyle is about living below your means, saving money and maximizing the value from those things you do purchase. Raised in a frugal household, this was simply a way of life for me. Mr. Sunshine was raised in a poor family of 5 kids, so we like to compare “poor stories” from our youth. This meant that saving, came naturally to both of us.
Mr. Sunshine is also known as Mr. Fixit and can salvage nearly anything; he prefers to fix what’s broken rather than simply buying new. A trait I admired in him from the very beginning.
While we met and married late in life, both bringing debts into our relationship, we also brought a desire to be debt free. We wanted to enjoy our “golden” years and not live solely on social (in)security as we have seen so many others try to do.
So we started the Dave Ramsey plan. We worked the baby steps until we ran out of steps. Once we paid off the house (status symbol of choice), it was time to “live and give”. What does that exactly mean? We just keep working until retirement age (67)?
Over the months as we worked on the baby steps we had many discussions about living now or living in the future. We know so many people that didn’t live to retirement age. Why are we hedging all our bets on our 70’s and 80’s when we may not be healthy into old age?
Well back to our original problem. Mr. Sunshine retired quickly after we reached the ability to live without his income. He does a lot around the house now to make my working life easier. He cooks, cleans, shops, and is a generally special husband. And…did I mention that I enjoy what I do?!?
It has been said that employees do not leave jobs; they leave bosses. I believe that there is much truth in this old saying, and I am here to give testimony. I love what I do, but my new boss (8 months) is awful. Not only is he dragging the company down, but also many of the employees, including me. Several quit in his first few months, more have plans to quit in the future. Some are stuck. Stuck with a mortgage (too big), car payment (or lease), credit card bills, and other bills from living beyond their means. Many have no savings at all. NO rainy day fund, NO emergency fund. Stuck!
We have options. We have FU money. We live in our paid for house, driving paid for cars, with no debts at all. We have hit our lean FI number (more about that in another post) and have significant savings to walk away from paid employment. We also both have side hustles.
This gives me a terrible problem. Making a decision! Ughhh… I always have buyers remorse before even paying for an item, how in the world do I decide to put our FU money to the test. Is it enough? What if the market crashes? What will I do? Where will we go? The sky is falling… the sky is falling… Wait…. Sorry – will try to settle down here and be realistic.
What is FU money? Exactly what it sounds like. Money to walk away from work when things get bad enough.
When is “bad enough”? I think it is different for everyone and that each person must chose for themselves what constitutes “bad enough”. For me, I have reached the enough point. It is time to reap the rewarding power of FU money.
And so begins our journey…