Baffling Office Conversations 3 – Flight Risk


It’s days like this that I fear I am a flight risk.

My boss had a mild freakout yesterday when he finally realized I wasn’t joking about early retirement.

The whole thing started when a coworker, let’s say “Tom”, came by to tell the boss he needed to leave the group. Although low oil prices have led our company to take a “shelter in place” mindset (“There’s no money, so do the best you can in your current position.”), Tom has been around long enough to indeed grow stagnant. He made his intentions clear that change was imminent, with or without the support of the company.

After Tom dropped that bombshell, he stopped by to talk. We began to discuss drivers for change and what drove him in life. As engineers, we discussed optimization and how you can have anything but not everything. He eventually realized he primary goal was to grow his career so that he could retire by 50. I actually laughed out loud: “50? Why not 40? Why not 30?

It was at this point that our boss walked into my office. He wanted to wanted to tell Tom that HR had started the internal job search. For me, however, it was too late. The spark of a retirement conversation had been lit.

Maybe it was my recent vacation, but once we started on the retirement topic. I rolled out everything. I sketched out many of the choices which could lead to an accelerated, FIRE retirement. I covered day-to-day like using a two-wheeled vehicle, or not eating out at every meal, to not eating meat at every meal. I discussed maxing out retirement accounts and how our company had the special benefit of after-tax 401k (SCORE!!). I even described how someone could Mad Fientist their money into a Roth IRA and Go Curry Cracker their money out, all without paying any taxes. Then I finally went in for the kill: “So, if you do all this stuff: save, stay flexible, and trust the Safe Withdrawal Rate, the surprisingly simple math shows how I can easily retire before my next birthday.”

Normally, my boss and I like to rib on each other. He’s a geologist and I’m an engineer. I make fun of geologists playing with colored pencils while he talks about engineers who wouldn’t know decent pay rock if core fell on their foot. However, on the topic of retirement, I could tell my boss was taking me quite seriously. He kept saying things like “People can’t do that,” “You’re wrong,” and “It’s not possible.” I never really argued with him, but by the end, my boss just kind of got quiet and finally walked from the room. Tom looked really interested, so I offered to send him some links.


Core plugs? What’s that?



I didn’t think any more of it, until later on, I heard my boss heading to lunch with his own boss and some other managers. As they moved closer, I overheard one of them say, “… by 30? That’s INSANE!”

That’s when I knew he had taken me seriously, seriously enough flag up the chain of command…

This whole interchange has made me hopeful for my remaining days at work. I’m very happy to keep padding my retirement and would have no problem working past my next birthday. However, I’m even more excited to see a response from management. Several bloggers have posted how their jobs improved dramatically once employers discovered that their employees weren’t desperate. As in any relationship, maintaining a balanced employer-employee relationship seems the most healthy practice.

Anyone have any of their own experiences? Should I be excited? Should I be wary? Did I say too much? I’m curious for any insights y’all might have.


And if nothing else, a little chaos is good for the daily office routine:

Adam savage here comes chaos

More Grocery Store Antics

A short while back, I wrote a post on how grocery stores offer a money-saving option when going out for dinner. Since that post, I’ve discovered more great ways to use the grocery store! Grocery Antic 1. Self-Checkouts for Change Thee are lots of ways to make transactions these days. Traditionalists prefer cash. Some even […]

Baffling Conversations: The Holiday High

Ah.. a nice summer evening with the family!
Ah.. a nice summer evening with the family!

I was really hoping not to post two “baffling conversations” consecutively, but with the recent holiday, this post really makes more sense to get out earlier. Also,now that I’ve started blogging about the ridiculousness of work around me, I’m finding the craziness and misalignment of values stands out more. Just this week, I can recall several. However, given that the workweek is five days long, I’ll just pick my favorite five:

1. a manager talking about how her kids eat breakfast in the car at 5:30 am when she drops them off at daycare. She brought this up to complain about the food that they spill.

2. an older engineer talking about a great new derivatives investment he just started using, but could not explain how it worked to his colleague in the locker room.

3. one of my better acquaintances telling me that my bike commuting made him sad – sad because of all the modern luxuries (like cars and AC) that I was wasting.

4. one of the corporate planners down the hall telling me how she had planned for this Saturday to be her off Saturday.

5. some friends posting a facebook picture with a fat stack of Benjamins (i.e. $10k), having just arrived for the weekend in Vegas. (Ok, I know this one is not an office conversation, but it’s so egregious, it makes me want to call a “flagrant” frugal foul.

So yes, there’s a ton of these to write about (and if any of the examples sound more interesting, let me know and I can post more description later). However, this week, I’m singling out office culture and…

Office Holidays

It’s summer again in “The States”, and that means long days, warm nights, and… holidays!Read More »

Baffling Office Conversations: A Motorcycle Accident

As someone who has not yet pulled the trigger on early retirement (for a number of reasons, but that’s another post), I get the benefit of going to an office everyday. An office is a weird, singular place for a number of reasons. As an adult, where else could you spend so much of your time and energy yet have so little control of said time and energy? Where else could you dedicate so much of yourself to someone like the ubiquitous “shareholder”, yet never feel like you really met the customer’s needs (or even met the customer)?

Um yeah, that time you thought was yours, yeah... I'm going to need that... yeah.
Um yeah, that time you thought was yours, yeah… I’m going to need that… yeah.

On the positive side, where can you (when managed effectively), spend so much time with a group of people (dare I say “team”) so energized that they spend a majority of waking (and some non-waking) hours devoted to singular goals? Where else can you find devoted, driven, intelligent people and spend all your time tackling some of the world’s toughest problems? Finally, how else would you meet so many diverse people, people whom you would never have met or associated with otherwise?

Amazingly, all of this, good and bad, is possible in an office.Read More »

Life hacks: Eating out at a grocery store

In the cosmic balance between stoicism and luxury, you might find yourself eating in more. Transitioning toward FI, there are many ways to handle this shift with friends, but it will likely involve saying “no” more often than you used to. This is only natural. You are trying to break free of all the marketers telling you that spending money on stuff is the path to happiness. Some of your friends will take it better than others. Some will realize your higher mission and try to support you in your goals. Others will take your choice as reflection of personal judgement on their own values. While adopting a slow and steady, “Easy Does It” attitude can help ease some of the tension, sometimes you still just want to go out to eat with the old crew. After all in our modern world of prosperity, you can have anything you want, you just can’t have everything. When is saying “no” frugal or just plain cheap? What do you do when your friends want to go out for a delicious, domestically-outsourced meal?Read More »

The Side Hustle


I recently came across an article “How to Save $100k by 30“. After having a “smh” and “lol” at the paltry goal (only $100,000? dream big!), I skimmed through the suggestions. I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of it covered the obvious basics of FIRE and even included some of the buzzwords of the community. As I read through, one suggestion which stuck out was “get a side hustle”.Read More »