The Golden Handcuffs

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now. The topic is a very difficult one for me, and one I’ve been struggling with consistently for the past year.

Throughout the course of my life, certain “life rules” have been instilled in me. These guidelines are supposed to lead to a “successful” life. Your parents, aunts, uncles, etc. all say work hard in school, get good grades, get into a decent school, graduate and get a good job. Then work hard to move up the ranks. Someday you’ll be able to buy a big house, and maybe a second house on the water where you keep your boat. And then finally, once you reach your 60’s, you’ll retire from a fruit-bearing 40 year career, and retire to golf and your grandkids.

Coming out of college I figured this would be my life. I started working in accounting at 21 and set a goal to get my CPA and then get a promotion every few years to make sure I was making six figures by 30. Then I’d make partner in my mid-thirties and be earning multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars by 40, easily on my way to a large home, a second house, and a boat.

I realized pretty early on that this was not going to be for me. I was 21, working all sorts of crazy hours in my first busy season, and realized that this was not for me, especially for the next 40 years. For this reason I told my mother facetiously that I was going to retire at 28.

Two years later, I was 23 and still not happy. I was working in a job that didn’t really interest or challenge me, and I didn’t really feel like it was a great springboard to a career I could enjoy and would perhaps bear the fruits I figured I would want/need. So I jumped ship. Went to a much bigger, internationally recognized firm where I’ve been for almost four years now.

Things seem great from the outside. I mention where I work and what I do and I get lots of “ooohs and aaahs” from family, friends, and strangers. I’m 27, live in Manhattan, have a somewhat fancy job title, make a six figure income, and get to travel for work, life must be great! Well life is great to an extent, but what people don’t see are the parts that suck.

Last week I posted about my recent vacation. On the Friday at the end of that vacation I got an email from my boss that read something like this: “Hope you’re enjoying vaca, you’re flying to XYZ on the 6am flight Monday morning.” Ugh, what a way to ruin a vacation. This isn’t an every week occurrence, but it does happen occasionally. Then there is the 24/7 emails flowing in, the expected ASAP response times, and the ridiculous deadlines that require night and weekend work. Very rarely am I ever allowed to really “sign-off” and get away from work. Work pays for my cellphone and therefore expects me to respond at all hours. I hear things like: “I’m sorry you’re going to have to work this weekend, but hey, it’s the name of the game with what we do.”

This is where the handcuffs come in. People from the outside may say “tough it out, you can’t complain, you’re in a great situation” or “well just quit then and get another job you’ll enjoy.” I agree, many people have it worse. I have thought about getting another job. But what I’ve realized after six years in the working world is I don’t think I’ll ever be happy working for someone else. Maybe if I could find a job that I only required me to work 40 hours a week, didn’t make me subconsciously think about it outside of 9-5, and didn’t derail my financial Independence plans then that may increase my happiness, but most likely not to a level where I’d think “yeah I want to do this for another twenty plus years.”

So far I’ve decided to put my head down and work. I just finished Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker, one of the godfathers of financial independence. In chapter 7 he says “…salaried work is the preferred method for accumulating a fund for financial independence” and then goes on to say that on the path to FI “…pursue something you’re good at rather than something you’re passionate about.” Personally this is the trajectory I’ve taken, and I try to fit my passions in where I can, and I rationalize that there will be plenty more time for them once I reach the big goal of financial independence.

The golden handcuffs have kept me from exploring other work or entrepreneurial activities. Earlier this year I calculated I could become financially independent in September of 2026. That’s only 11 years away!  It was a conservative estimate as well. Most people don’t retire until their sixties, and I’m in a position to speed that up by almost 30 years. I’m in a place where I know, to an extent, how much I’ll make over that time. My income, while not being the highest it could be, is decent for my field. I’ve established a name for myself in my firm. I get to travel for work, and sometimes parlay those trips into personal trips. The work I do can be fun at times… but not as much as I’d like of course.

Staying put is the easy thing for me to do right now, but outside factors are encouraging me to jump ship and do my own thing. Failing or making significantly less money than what I am now scares the shit out of me. But then there are people out there, especially in this community, that have made the jump and have become very successful in their endeavors they are passionate about.

Who knows – maybe in six months I’ll say I’ve had enough. Or maybe in 10 years I’ll be handing in my resignation to my current employer as I’ve reached FI. I think if I was truly unhappy with my career path, this would be a much easier decision. But in the end, I’ve realized there is no right answer and I just have to suck it up, weigh the pros and cons, and make a decision that I’ll be happy to live with.

Are you putting your head down to reach your financial goals ASAP? Or are you taking detours which may prolong your goals, to incorporate some of your wants and passions in the meantime?

66 thoughts on “The Golden Handcuffs

  1. InsiderAccountant

    Hey Fervent

    I understand the dilemma – probably better than most since I’m living your path. The only difference is that I’m six years older than you!

    Despite all of the crap things about the industry (we don’t even need to describe them, those crap things are there in just about every firm!), it offers a combination of circumstances that are very conducive to achieving financial independence. And these are circumstances that people like us (or at least people like me!) may not be able to access in most other industries.

    Making partner was the goal for me, and after achieving it at 32 things didn’t get easier necessarily, but the money went up quite a bit. My plan is to retire in seven years at age 40 with ~$2m net worth, which is entirely achievable based on the money now, and if you stick at it then it would no doubt be achievable for you too.

    Hang in there mate – you know that it’s the quickest way out of the rat race!

    IA
    InsiderAccountant recently posted…Self-sufficiency – it’s all about attitude!My Profile

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    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Partner at 32! The set-up must be different outside of the US or you must be an overachiever 🙂 I know I could make more money elsewhere but I hear you about staying put. The grass isn’t always greener and I doubt my hours/stress would change much, if at all.

      Reply
      1. InsiderAccountant

        I’m not sure about the word overachiever, but you are right in that 32 is younger than most (but not younger than all). One of my mentors, who is retiring at the end of the year, made it at age 29. That’s the youngest I know of. As far as I know the setup in Australia is no different to the US.

        The whole wait til you’re 40 thing until you make partner is a load of BS, but you need to build strong relationships and always put your best foot forward if you want to do it any earlier.

        Irrespective of whether you’re partner or not, many managers and senior managers still make big dollars, so why not focus on that instead? You can make more cash as a senior manager than many partners in smaller firms.

        Reply
  2. Norm

    Very similar to you, I had my eyes set on a CPA and all that big-earning lifestyle stuff, but I figured out early on, actually while I was still in college, that it wasn’t for me.

    One of the best lessons I learned at college wasn’t in a class but in panel discussion set up by the school of accounting in my junior year. They had three or four recent graduates come back and talk about their careers. That was a BIG eye opener. In college you are so focused on the learning and the career, no one ever talks about the post-college work/life balance. Like happiness isn’t ever considered. And right there on the stage people were talking about just that.

    For the most part, it was pretty positive with people talking about their jobs. But one guy very earnestly talked about how his 70 hour work weeks were taking a toll on his marriage. And how you have to think about whether your job is worth that for you. Another guy talked about how he had to learn how to play golf so he could have “golf meetings” with clients, an idea that sounds excruciating to me. The next day in class, our teacher remarked how important it was for us to think about that, and how “you can work hard enough to buy the nicest house or you can be involved in your kids’ top three interests.”

    That panel really shook my brain so that I was sure the “life” part would always take precedence over the “work” part for me. I’m glad it happened, because especially for me, I absolutely bristle at being beholden to someone else. Working on the weekends is so completely out of the question. There is no amount of money I could be paid to be on-call and working on weekends. I am union proud, make a decent salary, and am even not allowed to work more than 37.5 hours a week.
    Norm recently posted…Building The Patio, Part 2: Treasure Hunt!My Profile

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      1. Fervent Finance Post author

        Sounds like you have yourself in a great situation and one that works well for you. When I was in college I had an accounting professor that had “retired” from the profession at 50 to teach because his wife basically said “it’s me or the job”. He was very honest about his work life and compensation. At 20 years old, I think the only thing I heard was the compensation 🙂

        Reply
  3. Gen Y Finance Guy

    Hey FF –

    We have all been in your shoes. Grass always seems greener on the other side. Most of the people that I know who have quit their job and went off on their own did so after a few years doing the side hustle while working the day job.

    When ever I get the urge to jump ship, I remind myself that my job is an asset that pays a much bigger dividend than I can get anywhere else at the moment. And the dividend increases are still significant. Better to just let compounding work.

    Use the Cashflow to continue to set up your encore for life after the day job.

    I will also add, that it is possible to optimize the day job over enough time. At some point that may mean that you have to leave the firm you are with, maybe to work for one of your clients.

    I have many friends that started at one of the big 4 and have since left to work for clients. They make more money and work way less hours.

    Onward and Upward!
    Gen Y Finance Guy recently posted…A Day In The Life Of GYFGMy Profile

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      1. Fervent Finance Post author

        Thanks for the great perspective Dom. I definitely think I have some wiggle room to work in some sort of leeway if I decide to stay. Whether that is with my schedule or location. Time will tell 🙂

        Reply
  4. inCalif

    As another Big4 person, I quit after ten years and was able to work on projects / consulting and dictate my hours. Now 15 years later and even though I’ve reached FI, I still work 25% of the time and make six figures because I like my clients and the work. There are options out there.

    Reply
  5. Jeff @ The Lifestyle Accountant

    Hey FF –

    I feel your pain!

    Always being connected to my former job with my “company paid” cell phone meant many vacations would be interrupted by an email I just did not want to see. This made it so I wouldn’t even want to go on vacations in the first place because I would worry about returning to work and couldn’t fully enjoy myself.

    This is no way to live. Not worth all the money in the world to feel like a slave to your employer.

    Take it from someone who has recently left the accounting rat race – I don’t regret for a second about my decision to leave to pursue my own venture.

    I’ve made more personal growth, more important connections, and more learning about the future of accounting all just this year than I have my entire accounting career.

    I think it’s great that you are in the accumulation phase and saving like crazy. That’ll come in handy for sure. I’m very grateful to have saved some money so I could afford to take a leap.

    It’s one thing when you can watch your bank account grow – but you’re missing out on life (I have to live with that regret but I’m getting over it). It’s another thing when you can see yourself grow – and enjoy life.

    I hope this doesn’t sound to fluffy, I just want to share my experience. I’m not trying to convince you one way or another on what to do.

    If someone told me to get out while I was making good money and moving up the corporate ladder I wouldn’t have listened. It was something I had to figure out on my own.

    You and only you will know what to do when it comes down to it.
    Jeff @ The Lifestyle Accountant recently posted…From Public Accountant to Entrepreneur [VIDEO] with Andrew Argue, The Bean CounterMy Profile

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    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      I knew my CPA buddy from across the US would have some great advice! It wasn’t too fluffy at all. I’m just going to keep padding my F-you fund, and once I have had enough time to think about it, I’ll make an educated decision. Thanks for sharing your experience!

      Reply
  6. Luke Fitzgerald @ FinanciallyFitz

    The question you posed to your readers is the paradox of life lol. Sometimes you have to put your head down…and other times you have to take detours. Finding that balance is incredibly hard but extremely important. And I’m sure it changes with time.

    One thing I try to remember to put things in a better perspective is that I’m not trying to accumulate and compound financial capital. I’m trying to accumulate and compound Life capital, of which money plays a tiny part. Freedom, stress, physical and mental health, opportunities, etc are other factors that make up Life Capital. If I did everything for “financial indepenence” I might just get it…and I might just hate it.

    Best of luck to us both in finding that balance.
    Luke Fitzgerald @ FinanciallyFitz recently posted…Part 3 Explained – The Monty Hall ProblemMy Profile

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    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Haha well I’m looking for the answers to the great paradox! Balance is HUGE, and I’m learning that everyday. I’m just so fresh in the FI game that I’m so gung-ho on accumulating capital and everything seems to take a back seat. I know deep down inside that this isn’t the ONLY thing that’s important and I want to find balance as well. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your perspective.

      Reply
  7. Amber Tree

    The golden handcuffs… I think a lot of us know the feeling. It were these handcuffs that tied me to my former employer. It took time and a lot of mental mind shift to finally leave behind the employer to go and explore other companies cultures and challenges. It took time, as I wanted an alternative that was still golden enough…
    Just like investing, you need patience to look around. What helped me: try to define what it is you would like to see in a job. What are the aspects that make you work with joy. Being employed also means that you can be more selective. It took me a lot of applications and interviews to find something that ticked most of the boxes that matter to me.

    There are many reasons I decided to stay an employer and not yet go the route of independent consultant. One of the most present ones: the feeling of security that comes from being employed. It might be a fake feeling, you can get fired.

    Considering working less was not an option for me. I had not yet at that time a full financial plan, but the though of having a smaller nest egg was not something for me. Partly because I look for a job that I enjoy and that allows me to balance life and work. And anyway, FIRE would mean for me I still do some work.

    Good luck in finding out what matters to you
    Amber Tree recently posted…Adjusting the planMy Profile

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    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      You brought up a great point Amber Tree. I’m in no rush to leave and therefore need to be patient. No use in me jumping at an opportunity just because it exists and not because I think I’ll actually enjoy it or grow with it. As I’m also in a good position, it gives me more leverage with potential employers since I don’t NEED a new job by any means. Take care!

      Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      I agree with you Steve. If I was working on something I was passionate about and knew deep down that I could earn a living off of it, then I’d be more inclined to jump and try to make that a reality. Even if it means busting my hump for a while.

      Reply
  8. Our Next Life

    We can relate to this post big time, and to the struggles you’re facing! Though we’re consultants in different industries, it’s the same deal. No real vacation ever, tons of travel, hugely taxing expectations. It’s why we decided that we can’t work past 2017, even if we don’t have the net worth at that point that we need to be fully FI. It’s just too taxing on our health, our relationship and our sanity!

    We’re closer to our end date than you are, so in our case, we decided to suck it up and put in a few more years. BUT, we did set the stipulation that we were going to move somewhere cheaper, where we could save faster. Can you move somewhere cheaper than NYC where you can cut your expenses way down and move your FI date up a lot? Does your firm have offices elsewhere, or could you work remotely? That’s what I would explore first, if I were you. If not, maybe go to a firm where a transfer or remote work would be possible? If that fails, then consider other options that might slide your FI date back, but also consider moving somewhere cheaper. In our case, leaving the expensive city made a world of difference for our savings rate, and fast tracked our FI journey.

    Keep us posted!
    Our Next Life recently posted…Size Matters // Should We Downsize Our Home When We Retire?My Profile

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    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      That is definitely a possibility and one I’ve thought about at great length! People have worked remotely or from smaller regional offices, but from what I’ve seen it usually doesn’t work out and the people leave shortly after. I am going to bring it up this fall though and see what kind of push back I get. This would help me a ton financially and personally since I’m kind of itching to get out of the city. You will definitely know when I bring it up since I’ll either be blogging about how B.A. I am for making it work, or bitching about how my company said heck no 🙂

      Reply
  9. Maggie @ Northern Expenditure

    We’re sort of on the flip side of the golden handcuffs. Our golden handcuffs are work benefits. Now that we’ve experienced 6 weeks of paid vacation a year, every other Monday off, a medical out of pocket maximum that is lower than a lot of people’s deductibles, etc… we have a hard time switching over to make more money to retire earlier. We’re still on track for an early retirement, but it will involve a lot less money than it would in a position like yours. Stick it out. When things are ready for a change, you’ll know when something drastic needs to happen. Then make the change.
    Maggie @ Northern Expenditure recently posted…#FinCon15 – A Twitter Story of FinConMy Profile

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    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      I hear ya Maggie. It’s not all about gross compensation. Having a four day week every other week sounds awesome! Take care!

      Reply
  10. Leigh

    I don’t see my job as golden handcuffs anymore. I’ve saved enough to retire in my 50s at this point, so long as I don’t increase my lifestyle. I estimated that I could maintain my current lifestyle, max out my 401(k) and Roth IRA, and save a bit after-tax on about $90,000 per year gross. So those golden handcuffs don’t mean that much to me. They’re still there, no doubt, but their value isn’t what it used to be.

    I feel like us higher income people end up going for financial independence ASAP and lower income people try to replace their income and then quit their jobs. My income would be really hard to replace I suspect which is why I think I’m more willing to put up with a slightly unhappy job!
    Leigh recently posted…August 2015 net worth update (-1.2%)My Profile

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    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Hi Leigh. That’s a great point of view.On one hand I know I could leave and make more money and speed up FI. But it wouldn’t reduce my stress or work hours, and I don’t think I’d want that. On the other hand I could leave for more of a 9-5 but this may be at the cost of my precious FI date. I’m just going to be patient and not rush anything. If something presents itself and it’s a great opportunity, then I’ll give it a deep thought and go from there. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
    2. NZ Muse

      “I feel like us higher income people end up going for financial independence ASAP and lower income people try to replace their income and then quit their jobs.”

      That’s a really interesting observation! Personally I really enjoy my work, and it pays decently but not amazingly. FI would be nice but not something I’m working towards. And no golden handcuffs here.
      NZ Muse recently posted…An ode to spousal unemploymentMy Profile

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  11. DC @ Young Adult Money

    I’d be lying if I said I loved the life of corporate finance/FP&A. I have done well in the 5 years I’ve been working, but honestly my passion is in entrepreneurship and I thrive on it. I run into the same problems as you (to an extent) as I don’t have as much time to dedicate to entrepreneurship as I would like. With that being said, I do really work a 8-5 job and besides busy times during forecast or monthly close, I have a pretty bearable work schedule. The one concern I would have about a position like the one you are in is that you are so limited that you are unable to take on new opportunities. I got a book deal recently and the turnaround time is quick. Despite the fact that the timing is quick, I still have an “easy enough” schedule that I can make it happen. I may not be making six figures, but I’m able to build up my side hustle.

    Not sure if that helps you at all haha but it’s my perspective. I’m willing to work hard at my 9-5 but I definitely supplement my income with my entrepreneurial pursuits. Not being able to do that would be a huge negative and would make me question whether the salary/job was worth it.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…How Often Should Couples Discuss Finances?My Profile

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    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      It definitely helps DC! Congrats on the book deal! And I definitely agree – after work and working out, I have little time for the blog, and definitely no time for other pursuits / side hustles. One of my coworkers just left for more of a 9-5, and I told him he’ll be my guinea pig 🙂

      Reply
      1. DC @ Young Adult Money

        I know Natalie (The Finance Girl) quit a VERY well-paying lawyer job to work a regular 40-hour a week job. She now has tons of free time to pursue her side hustles and seems to be a lot happier. I don’t know if you are quite on that extreme, but it sounds like you are close. I do think there is some merit in having a high-paying job even if it takes a lot of time. If you can leverage that income properly you can put yourself way ahead financially, as you pointed in this post. It’s a big reason I continue to pursue higher-paying jobs and promotions, since any incremental pay increase means more $ that can be diverted to investments and ultimately retirement.

        Would be cool to collaborate on a post about how to get ahead financially without side hustling.
        DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…4 Ways Millennials Can Put Their Finances on AutopilotMy Profile

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        1. Fervent Finance Post author

          I was definitely inspired by Natalie’s story when I read it a while back. Yeah the income trajectory in my field is pretty good, and as long as I keep banking those raises and bonuses – it’s a hard gig to give up. My job doesn’t seem as stressful as hers did which is a plus for me. I’d definitely be happy to collab on a post about this. Take care.

          Reply
  12. Andrew@LivingRIchCheaply

    I often refer to the pension from my job as a golden handcuff. It’s tough to leave that much money on the table. I’ve often dreamt about pursing a side hustle or business which I’d be passionate about…it wouldn’t be really work if you enjoy it right? I haven’t found what that passion would be though. I did recently start investing in real estate and that may be a possibility.
    Andrew@LivingRIchCheaply recently posted…Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Financial FreedomMy Profile

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    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      I haven’t found that passion which I can turn into an income yet either. Real estate could be your out though!

      Reply
  13. Mr. SSC

    When I left my last job, I remember a lot of friends talking about the pension they’d be leaving behind if they left. I remember thinking WTF, they’ve been here less time than me, where is this massive pension they keep talking about?! Oh, yeah, it’s in the future 15-20 years from now…. Those same guys are all stressed about whether they’ll get laid off in a few more weeks now.
    When I got to my new company, they kept the same 4 weeks vacation, every other Friday off, and actual golden handcuffs in the form of incentives that vest each year. Anyway, I love it here – for now – but I’d much rather be chilling with the kids right now in our FI house living on WAY less. You know, it’d be comfortable for us. Unfortunately, I have to keep the nose down and keep on keeping on here for at least 2 more years. Provided I don’t get laid off in the meantime that is. If that happens, we’ve already discussed jumping ship to a MAJOR lifestyle change, even if it’s only mostly funded, lol.

    At least you’re on the right path and asking these questions early on to set yourself up better way earlier in life than most folks.
    Mr. SSC recently posted…Are soft skills worth highlighting?My Profile

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    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Thanks for your story Mr. SSC. Right now I’m nose to the grindstone. I have also thought about a partially funded “early retirement” as well, but I’d probably like to figure out my side hustles first 🙂

      Reply
    2. Fervent Finance Post author

      You also struck a cord when you said living on WAY less would be comfortable to you. I totally agree. I don’t need to spend too much money to enjoy the little things like waking up, going outside and sitting in a rocking chair to enjoy my morning cup of Joe 🙂

      Reply
  14. MyMoneyDesign

    I’ve had mixed feelings on this whole topic because I’ve been faced with the same sort of thing for a long time. For the last few years I’ve been in the “keep your head down and work” camp because I was getting paid well and I liked what I did – even though sometimes the conditions were unfair. That all changed though last month when I switched jobs. Even though I’m still going to ride out the corporate ride of working and saving for 10 years, the new job is WAY better and more relaxed. Deadlines are more realistic and the conditions are much better. I guess sometimes you can have your cake and eat it too.
    MyMoneyDesign recently posted…How LongTail Pro Keyword Research Can Help Grow Your Blog IncomeMy Profile

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    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      That’s awesome MMD! Those 9-5’s that still pay pretty well are out there, but I just haven’t found one that interested me yet. I’ll keep looking!

      Reply
  15. Hannah

    One thing that worries me about the ERE/MMM crew is that there’s a bit of a glorification of hating your job. It’s okay if you can’t retire at 40. If you went at and worked at a surf shop for the rest of your life, you would still be able to retire at 65. Sure your “shackled” to your work, but you’re also working in a surf shop. You don’t have to be FI to start a business or to just quit and jump into freelancing. Money is almost as good of a safety net as a client base.

    Just my uncalled for $.02

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Hi Hannah. I totally agree that hating your job is definitely shouldn’t be part of a plan to get to FI/RE. If I really hated my job, I wouldn’t still be here. But right now I’ve weighed the pros and cons, and me not loving my job and getting frustrated with it from time to time is currently out weighing leaving and slowing down my FI goals. Take care.

      Reply
  16. Jim Wang

    Having a finish line certainly helps, I was lucky in that my side business grew large enough that I was no longer tempted by my golden handcuffs.

    Your thoughts almost exactly mirrored mine when I was in my 20s. You go to school, graduate, get a job, get a better title, get raises… up and up you go. I was writing software in the defense industry, had my clearances, basically had a meal ticket for life.

    But I didn’t quit until I had the other thing going well, the whole idea of leaving a comfortable existence and going after something “risky” is bullshit. People love those stories and magazines love publishing them but you don’t have to do that. Get the other thing up and running and in good shape, then make the shift.

    Or it takes 11 years, you have fun trying to build that thing, and then you retire anyway. Either way, you don’t take unnecessary risk because it’s unnecessary. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Hi Jim. I’m not one to leap without a parachute 🙂 Maybe if I was really passionate about something and was SURE I could generate a solid income from it I would, but not until then. Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  17. Steve @ ThinkSaveRetire

    This reminds me of, well, me. Instead of accounting and number crunching, though, I’ve always made my living in the defense industry. Like your line of work, working in my field (information technology) has a way of literally draining the life out of you. The problem is IT systems never stop, and that’s why those people who manage those IT systems always need to be “on” and available. Our blogs are available 24/7, right? Well guess what? The hardware and software needs to be maintained during those same hours. 🙂

    It’s not an easy thing to do, and if I wasn’t less than 2 years away from getting out of this business, I would seriously look to do something else, even with the understanding that it might push my retirement date back a bit. And that’s the true crux of this entire discussion – is pushing your retirement date back a bit worth changing industries? Of course, this assumes that you’d make less money doing something else, which may or may not be accurate in your case.

    At the moment, I am just putting my head down and pushing through the last few months until I can finally call it quits. It’s not worth a change at this point.
    Steve @ ThinkSaveRetire recently posted…The Friday Feast ~ the 25th of SeptemberMy Profile

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    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Totally agree and would do the same thing you’re doing if I was in your shoes. So close! I like my industry and the work I do for the most part. The stress and the hours, not so much. But there is some flexibility that I get that others don’t, and I’m not willing to give that up. Basically I just like to complain a lot I’ve noticed 🙂

      Reply
  18. The Bearded Dragon

    I really like this article. This is something that I think a lot of people in the FIRE community struggle with. A job they don’t love, but don’t hate, that pays well. Stick it out or try something new? In general, I would say if you are 10 years or closer to FI, then stick it out. And 15 years or longer from FI, make a change. You fall right in the gray area 🙂 I’m sure you’ll be fine whatever you decide, but it’s interesting to think about how different your life could be in one route versus the other. In your case, I think staying with it is the right decision if you’re lukewarm about the job. Good luck!

    Reply
  19. Vanessa @ Cash Cow Couple

    Hi FF,

    It’s awesome that you know what you want, and what you don’t want when it comes to a long time career.

    The question you pose, ” Are you putting your head down to reach your financial goals ASAP? Or are you taking detours which may prolong your goals, to incorporate some of your wants and passions in the meantime?” is definitely a controversial one.

    Many successful people believe in being successful at something you’re good at, which then allows a springboard for something you’re passionate about. I don’t think this is true for everyone. Personally, I find it really difficult to stay focused on making money without also enjoying my life.

    It’s kind of like the difference in how people go on road trips. Some people ascribe to the idea that you should get there as fast as possible so you have more time to enjoy it once you get there. Others believe it’s all about the journey, so don’t be afraid to stop at destinations along the way.
    Vanessa @ Cash Cow Couple recently posted…Betterment Review – Now Offering Tax Loss Harvesting and Retirement AdviceMy Profile

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    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Hi Vanessa. I don’t hate my job which makes this decision so hard. I think what I don’t like about working is the whole answering to the man part. So if I changed jobs, I’d probably run into the same issues about things I didn’t like. Right now it’s head down! Until I create the next Snapchat of course.

      Reply
  20. Stockbeard

    Given the tone of your article I’m not sure you’ll be able to stay the course for 11 more years. Something else needs to change. I relate a lot to your article, and I’m 2 to 5 years away from FI. 2 years seems acceptable to me, but I know that I won’t stand 5 years. So I just can’t imagine 11 years. That’s a lot
    Stockbeard recently posted…Working a 14h shift on a Sunday, until 11pmMy Profile

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  21. Financial Samurai

    But the golden handcuffs are so shiny! I say hang in there for the next 10 years, and you will truly be set for life. It’s not that bad! Use all your vacations too.

    Unfortunately, once you get to ‘enough,’ I guarantee you that you’ll have this ONE MORE YEAR syndrome to want to save and make more money. When the time comes, engineer your layoff by negotiating a severance!
    Financial Samurai recently posted…How To Create Multi-Generational Financial SecurityMy Profile

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    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      I never understood why people lose some vacation every year. In my job we get quite a bit. I like to leave a nice 4 week cushion, but everything over that I take. The people who don’t take vacation either end up burnt out or in the same position of the people who value their time off and take it.

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  22. Vawt

    Its not all bad, you can enjoy the work, but not love it. Long hours do suck. It gets better once you have a great team under you to handle most of the last second requests (then you just review it).

    Most people don’t think about promotions in terms of more access and more responsiblity, they just think its more money. Once you reach a certain level, something past manager, then you have to do more than work, you have to set the tone and be a good example for your staff. That can definitely wear on you.

    The good news is with a great resume, you can find something that pays well and is less demanding. It is always a good idea to keep an eye out for opportunities.

    I enjoy what I do (CFO for a large non-profit), but some days I do wish I could take on an analyst job where I can turn off my phone at 5pm. 6 more years and I will be free!
    Vawt recently posted…ERA AnniversaryMy Profile

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  23. Joseph Beckenbach

    Yup, make your choice and press forward. Thankfully, as you and I and many others know, reversing the choice is usually far less difficult than our “monkey minds” make it out to be. Plenty of ways to skin this particular cat ….

    I chose to take six months of “sabbatical” — really an early bout of retirement, but labelled so as to not provoke my wife’s anxieties — and will return to contract work come the start of the year. I thought I’d be kick-starting a productive full-time-for-now work-from-home period, but that’s not happening. Live, learn, carry on.

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  24. lifetimeandmoney

    Thanks for the post! Like you I also hope to retire in 10 years… Corporate work is a grind. Trying to build a nest egg now so I can wake up each day and do whatever the heck I want – not exactly sure what that is. Do you know what you would do if you didn’t have the golden handcuffs?
    lifetimeandmoney recently posted…Reducing Tax ExpensesMy Profile

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    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Ahhhhh, you raise a good question. I mean if my job paid crappy, I’d leave in a heartbeat. But it doesn’t and that’s what makes it hard.

      Reply
  25. diane @smartmoneysimplelife

    “I don’t think I’ll ever be happy working for someone else” I made that realisation early on, too but chose to stick to a job with a good income and build my assets in a methodical manner. Then came my divorce which (being the custodial parent) ripped my financial base out from under me. So, sometimes the best, most logical plans get scuttled in ways you couldn’t necessarily foresee.

    Now, I’m all about spending each day living my life, my way. Plans still get scuttled but at least I don’t have to sacrifice my enjoyment of life in the process.

    If you’re going to make peace with the golden handcuffs, you still need an exit strategy.
    diane @smartmoneysimplelife recently posted…What’s Next? Inspirations and AspirationsMy Profile

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    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Hi Diane. I’m sorry you had to go through it. But you are right about an exit strategy. I’m a huge planner and not one to jump without a big parachute. If I ever did make the jump to self employment, I would need to be very comfortable financially to do so. Thanks for stopping by.

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  26. Mrs. FI

    I’d say Mr. FI and I are finding our lives a mixture of both fast-tracking our future and taking a little longer to get to ER than we probably could. We’re both simultaneously “putting our heads down” by sticking with the jobs we have now (that we don’t love, but don’t hate) and prolonging our future of ER by sticking with said jobs rather than pursuing something that pays more. On that note, if we were really wanting to put our heads down we might search for jobs outside of our city, or jobs that paid more but required more work and less free time. But we’re of the thinking that, while we’d like to retire as quickly as possible, we also value our time in the present. We enjoy having time during the day to relax a little. I enjoy the ability to work from home, even if it’s only a couple of days a week. We also enjoy the AMAZING health care that comes with my current job that probably wouldn’t be possible if we pursued a job of passions. So like you said, it’s about weighing the pros and cons depending on one’s priorities and values. We know what ours are at this moment in our lives, but that could (and probably will) change as the years go on. And we’re absolutely okay with that. 🙂
    Mrs. FI recently posted…Focusing on Facts – My Fear of Flooring FailureMy Profile

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    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      I think that’s an awesome plan! Only you will know what works best for you. But I can’t knock that plan one bit! I might try to slow down the path eventually, but my plans will change a bunch in the meantime. Take care.

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