No One’s Asked – Here’s Why You Should…

No One's Asked - Here's Why You Should...No one’s asked.  Not a one.  Not one single person in my entire office.

I’m now just days out from my retirement – December 31, 2018, is my last day of work.  I gave my notice in early summer and we kept it low-key in the office for a little bit while we worked out the game plan.

However, I officially made the announcement to my engineers in a meeting on August 13.  And as many of you know, the grapevine in almost every office spreads like wildfire.

We have just over 35 people in my office and I think everyone knew the scoop within minutes.

That means it’s been well over three months and no one’s asked.

Ok, Jim – we get the teaser – stop messing around and tell us what is it that no one’s asked?

That’s fair – here’s the thing that’s been on my mind lately…

Not one person has come up to me and asked the specifics of how we got to the point where we can retire early.

People have asked about our plans and what I’m planning to do for work once I leave.  But when I tell them that I’ve saved enough that we shouldn’t have to work again if we don’t want to, there are no follow-up questions.

I’m no spring chicken at 43, but that’s also pretty darn young to be retiring.  It seems like something that would pique some people’s curiosity.

I know some folks don’t care about leaving the 9-5.  They’re content with their routine and don’t mind the day-to-day.  And maybe each of them has their plans laid out for a sound traditional retirement (though the numbers say otherwise!).

But, out of 35 other people in the office, you’d think there would be a small percentage interested in how we’re pulling this off.

Maybe an inquiry just to be able to figure out how they could apply some of this in their own lives.  Or perhaps just curiosity striking to know how a regular guy like themselves is making this happen.

Moreover, with FIRE (financial independence / retire early) starting to be a little more trendy in the media lately, it seems like something people might want to talk about.


The closest we’ve come was at our office holiday party this past weekend.  The wife of one of the guys I work with (both great people!) talked to me quite a bit about how they’re working toward their own path to freedom… I love to hear that!

But why aren’t there more people chomping at the bit to understand this more?  Those who know me would tell you that I’m an approachable, outgoing guy so I don’t think that’s the issue.  On top of that, I absolutely love talking about personal finance in general – get me started on it and I turn on ready to party!


Here’s why I think no one’s asked…

No One's Asked - Here's Why You Should... - Here's why I think no one's asked...
Pardon me, kind sir – I’d like more information, please!

In all actuality, I know that most people don’t give a crap about my future.  They’re focused on going their own direction with their lives and that’s absolutely fine with me.

However, I do believe that there are a number of folks out there who would love to get on the right page financially but just need a little guidance.  So after realizing that one of their peers is retiring at the ripe age of 43, why wouldn’t they approach me on this?

I think the reason that no one’s asked me any real details boils down to some different possibilities…

1) They might be embarrassed by the current state of their own finances.

With the average home loan amount of $312,900, the average credit card balance being $6,348, and the average student loan borrower owing $37,172, this wouldn’t be a big surprise.

A lot of folks are just inundated with so much debt and little to no savings that they just don’t even know where to start.  The problem is that they might be embarrassed about their financial status and they don’t even want to talk about it… that’s not good!

Pride is the enemy of learning and growing.

2) They don’t actually understand where they’re at financially.

Not everyone’s a financial expert (myself included!), but it’s worse when you don’t know where you stand financially and start digging yourself a monetary grave because of it.

Unfortunately, most of us didn’t learn about assets, liabilities, and investing for our futures when we were in school.  And if you don’t take the initiative to dig into these kinds of things yourself, you might just be making a big old mess of your finances.

I was in that same boat for years.  I’ve talked about how I ran up about $30k of credit card debt and didn’t even know I was hurting that bad.  That really sucks!

The good news though is that I had my wake-up call in 1999 and got on the right track.  Many folks still haven’t had their wake-up call yet and just continue to make their situation worse by not knowing where they stand with their money.

3) Talking about money is unfortunately still taboo.

This one drives me nuts.  We talk about intimate things all the time like it’s nothing (sex anyone?!), but we still can’t seem to discuss specifics of money without people squirming.

If we had more people discussing salaries, folks might eventually start to make what they’re worth.  If we started talking about the details of what we’re contributing to our retirement plans and what they’re worth, we might see some motivation for others to up their game.

Money shouldn’t be a taboo subject, but unfortunately for most of our society (at least in the U.S.), it still is.

4) They just think I’m ultra-frugal.

Everyone I know is generally aware that I’m not a spendthrift.  I don’t give a hoot about fashion, new cars, or fancy meals.  I also don’t try to hide that fact either in what I eat, wear, drive, or in what I say.

So it’s very possible that the reason no one’s asked me about the specifics of how we got to where we are is that they just figure I’m cheap.  Many people equate frugality with the sole way to become rich.  They may feel like I had to give up everything “fun” in life in order to make this happen.

They would be wrong, of course, as we just choose to spend our money differently.  However, my thought is that some people don’t want to change anything and possibly miss out on the latest and greatest toys in order to pave the way for their future.

5) They don’t really care.

Of course, maybe they just don’t care at all.  Perhaps they just want to continue down the path they’re going and figure things will work themselves out later.  The government will save ’em, right?


Here’s why you should ask!

No One's Asked - Here's Why You Should... - Here's why you should ask!
Excuse me, mind if I pick that brain of yours for a minute?

First off, realize that this isn’t really about me.  It’s about how we as a society act in general.

It’s time to get past all these excuses and insecurities and get on the right track financially.  And one of the best ways to get better at anything is to learn from others.

I was able to grow our finances in part from learning from my financial mentors.  Although we had the co-worker title in common due to us working together and we talked as friends at the office, that was about it.  However, once I realized the amount of knowledge they each had in the areas I wanted to improve in, I started asking questions – I wanted to learn more.

It’s important to realize that financial mentors will generally not seek you out – you need to find them.

Why is that?  Because it would come off as rude or pompous to go up to someone to talk about how much money they’re making.  So you need to listen for clues in general conversation and realize when someone knows more about something than you do.

Once you do, you’re golden.  People love to talk about their lives and tend to be gracious in sharing knowledge.  Buy them a cup of coffee or a cold beer and some wings (I like the latter!).

Not only will it be nice to talk with someone who shares a similar interest, but you’ll end up growing from this friendship – whether you want to or not.  Surround yourself with people smarter than you are and you’re bound to become a little smarter over time.

Although we’re in a good financial position, we aren’t bulletproof and could do some things better.  And that’s one of the reasons I enjoy talking to my mentors – I continue to get ideas to help maximize our financial future.

I don’t know everything, but I know enough that I’ve been able to help bring our family to a position of FIRE.  It’s my hope that others who have a desire to do the same can lean on me or others who know more in this area to find a path to follow.

Knowledge is power and it’s important that we learn and grow from one another.

As a side note, it’s not just co-workers that haven’t really wanted to pick my brain.  I’ve only had a couple of my friends ask for some guidance and my cousin has asked for some help as well (thank you barter system!).

It doesn’t hurt my feelings that so not many people have approached me about the subject, but it is perplexing to me.  If I knew someone in this position that was financially stable enough to retire in his or her early forties, I’d be sticking to that person like glue trying to learn what I could to improve.


Should I be surprised that no one’s asked how we got to the point of being able to retire early?


Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

You know you wanna share this!!

26 thoughts on “No One’s Asked – Here’s Why You Should…”

  1. I really think it’s education. I am of a similar age to you, and we had personal finance classes in high school, and I was a business major so had a few in college. My kids have had zero in high school. My parents didn’t talk about money, probably because there wasn’t much to talk about. I’m trying to have discussions with my children and change that for future generations in my family.

  2. No spring chicken at 43? Man, what am I at 52?

    When I run into issues around talking about finances I come away with the fact that society in the United States just considers it taboo for some weird reason. Even in my own family where I have become the financial executor for our mother, talk of finances weirds out my siblings.

    Maybe people perceive successful people as being boastful if they share their success story. Personally, I share mine in the hopes that I might influence just one person to make a change and become financially independent.

    I am working on being more open with our two boys so that they can pick up some good money habits and learn from my mistakes. Though right now, with both of them still in the idealistic world of college, I have a long road ahead on the life lessons.

    1. Haha, I just need to keep my young readers from thinking that I don’t realize my age (shhh, don’t tell ’em that age is really just a state of mind!). 😉

      That’s really interesting about talk of finances with your siblings being weird. I would think that would be much easier in a family, but I guess when death is involved it may make things a little tougher though. I’m sorry about your mother if she’s passed away.

      I completely agree that sharing that kind of information is the way to change lives. Good luck with the boys!

      — Jim

  3. I wonder if it’s ambition? I think that the majority of people out there really do live to work. To them, working is a way to demonstrate their value to themselves and those around them. To quit early would be akin to giving up in the middle of the race. They also probably have an exaggerated sense of how valuable they are to the company, and an even more exaggerated sense of how valuable their employer finds them. I know, because I was there once myself.

    It’s people like us who know better. We believe that, while work is an important part of life, there are other things in life – like our family and friends – that are also really important. I don’t want to be one of those people who find out too late that they should have spent more time with their family instead of work. And I also know that my company would replace me in a heartbeat if they felt they had a better and less expensive option.

    Sort of like being in the Matrix – some people just aren’t ready to be unplugged.

    I will be going down this path in a few years, and to be honest I am actually dreading the looks and responses I’m going to get when that happens. My coworkers will likely think that I went crazy, or am hiding some sort of a failure – when in fact it will be entirely voluntary. Seriously, I’m actually thinking about telling people I am going into consulting when I retire just to avoid those weird conversations. Still looking forward to the day, but that is definitely one part of it that I’m concerned about.

    1. Every workplace will be a little different and I know a number of folks who have done a similar thing as you’re planning by telling others that they’re going into consulting or some other spin-off. It just makes sense a lot of times. I think I’ve been pretty lucky in that I can now actually tell people at work I’m retiring without feeling too awkward about it, but that was a struggle at first.

      — Jim

  4. The real question is why did you not tell people?
    Send out an email letting people know that if they have any questions please feel free to reach out to me?

    1. Thanks, Brian, but definitely not my style and that could easily come off as arrogant. Everyone knows my plans and I’m an easy guy to talk to so that’s on them if they want to dig deeper on things.

      — Jim

  5. The fact is once you’re retired, you’ll be out of their lives. It doesn’t really matter how you got there. They won’t see you anymore after 2018.
    I’m leaning toward the they don’t really care theory. Everyone is busy with their own life. Unless something drastic happens, they’re not going to change. IMO.
    It’s an exciting time. Enjoy it and the holidays. 🙂

    1. I get it, it just seems strange to me. Maybe I’m a glass half-full kind of guy, but I was hoping that there might be a person or two whose eyes would be opened to the idea of FIRE like happened to all of us at one point. Oh, well, such is life! Enjoy your holidays as well!

      — Jim

  6. When you step away from the ACZ: American Comfort Zone (40 hr a week job, same neighbors, social obligations and set routine year after year), you become invisible to the herd. In my mid-50’s, after paying off all debts (including a $150,000 student loan) and getting the kids out of college, I walked away from my solo surgeon’s practice in a small town, with 24/7 call and no back up. There were probably more than a few locals who thought I was leaving for nefarious reasons, but thanks to my husband’s absolute passion and skill at investment management, we were able to reach FIRE.

    We now live on the road full time in our fifth wheel and keep busy in whatever local church congregation we land in, serve missions, visit family and friends around the country, write about things that interest us and explore new places.

    Not only does no one ask how we retired early, they never even ask what it’s like to constantly travel. Since we don’t fit the ACZ mold, we are an uncomfortable representation of an alien life form. There have been a few, very bright young couples who have picked our brains about how we did this magical feat. And we are so very happy to share! We post to our blog and include a detailed Escape Plan on how anyone can get FIREd up. Who reads this? Imagine the sound of crickets on a still night. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him think.

    1. Sounds like an adventurous and wonderful life you guys are living! That’s so weird to me that no one asks about how you retired early (or the constant travel), but I’m glad to hear that a few younger ones are getting on the right track!

      — Jim

  7. I’m going to agree with Joe here. I think most people don’t care. After being “retired” for the past 3 years, not one single person amongst our friends and family has asked us how they might do something similar.

    They’re just too self absorbed with mindless consumption. To them, leaving a job means having less money and NOBODY wants less money.

    They don’t realize the chains they wear.

    1. Wow, that really is shocking to me. You would think freedom would have more of a ring to it than the shackles of a job, but I guess not. I’m really in disbelief that no friends or family has asked you about the “how” on FIRE. Oh well, their loss!

      — Jim

  8. I think it’s a mix of ‘he’s cheap” and “don’t really care.”
    Like you said, it’s a shame.
    I have a couple of people at work who, when I did the whole geoarbitrage thing, asked me about it and now we talk finances. It’s really nice.

  9. Well Jim, you did say that if someone mentions finances you would “turn on ready to party” which might send your average math and finance hating Joe running for the hills. Haha, in all seriousness, if most americans are in debt and do not save, a good percentage certainly just are ashamed that they are nowhere near where you are and hence reluctant to talk and be revealed a fool. Some may be secretly jealous and/or writing you off as a fool yourself. You’ve hit on a mystery like values themselves. Why do some carry credit card debt while others retire early, why would most never spend $30,000 on clothing but feel fine about spending that on a car? I simply try to practice gratitude that I am able to be financially independent and ready to help those that do actually reach out, which for me has been one friend out of my 50 or so friends so far.

    1. Haha, yeah, I probably wouldn’t want to talk to me either! 😉 Nah, I’m not that bad, but I do get excited about it… I’m such a nerd!

      I like your strategy, Chris, and 1 out of 50 is still one person that’s going to hopefully going to be much further ahead on the money map down the road.

      — Jim

  10. Hey Jim, they may not ask you, but they’re definitely talking about you. They’re inquiring minds were asking “How the h*** did he do that? Or he’s crazy to retire this early; I bet he will be back working in a couple of years.

    Some of them maybe envious and for those who think you’re crazy to retire at your age, they most likely wish they can also retire early.

    1. I can definitely see that (people talking about me) and it’s probably more of the latter… he’s crazy to do this and will be back to work before you know it. Well, if you don’t ask, it’s hard to open your world up to other ideas, so that’s their loss! 🙂

      — Jim

  11. I wondered the same thing about a friend who retired early – I wanted to know if the HR department or any of her co-workers was curious how she could retire so early, and she said no one even asked her!

    The topic of catching up retirement savings comes up once in awhile between myself & my co-workers, mainly because I’ve been to a couple of FI Chautauqua events (Chautauqua UK & Chautauqua in Greece) and I’ve explained that I was going for a FI conference. Those who are interested ask me more. It felt good that one of my peers took action to enroll in her 457b catch-up plan after our chat.

    1. I like that you were able to get some money conversation going with co-workers. Unfortunately, it seems like the subject remains kind of taboo for a lot of folks, but it’s great when some discussion can ensue with at least a few people.

      — Jim

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