I Just Don’t Fit In…

This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any.  Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

Even though I’m around a decade and a half from being completely financially independent (hopefully), over the past year or so my mindset has changed.  The mundane parts of work that you can read about on a Dilbert comic strip irritate me considerably more than they did previously.  All of this annoyance seems to stem from the fact that I basically don’t need the job that I have right now.

I still need “a” job, but I think I could work part-time for minimum wage and cover all of my expenses every month.  Working a minimum wage job would definitely put early retirement out of reach, but it is pretty freeing to know that I could do this – one of quite a few benefits of having a small debt-load and living a frugal lifestyle.

I think that most people go to work fearing they will lose their job.  Losing a “good” job and being unemployed could possibly decimate some people financially.  With this fear, people tend to put their heads down and tolerate a lot of stuff that they don’t have to in order to keep their bosses happy and the paycheque rolling in.  I wouldn’t say that I’m a rebel or a s*&t disturber (I don’t pick unnecessary battles with management) I think I am a much better employee now than I used to be because I go to work looking to help out my company and make it better. I used to just show up and tried to stay out of people’s way instead of trying to make a difference for my company.

In general, I feel considerably less stress these days over money than I did a few years ago.  Having a financial plan and a minimal requirement for money every month allows me to sleep much better at night.  I am by nature a worrier, and knowing that it would be reasonably easy to replace my income gives me peace of mind, which to me is a reasonable tradeoff to what could be perceived as a somewhat spartan lifestyle.

Having the flexibility to be able to shift careers is comforting as well – I don’t feel stuck where I am.  If at some point in the future the Dilbert-like lifestyle that I am currently experiencing becomes unbearable, I can leave and find something else to do that would bring in enough money to support my lifestyle.  This action would probably be something of a last-resort, but I like to know that it is always there, if my current employer starts acting crazy, I don’t have to stick with them, I can leave rather than staying needing to stay for the money and being miserable.

I don’t fit in because I can (to a certain extent) choose to work right now.  For someone in their early 30’s, I think that this is a different kind of mindset to have.  I don’t live in fear of job-loss and because of this, I feel somewhat empowered.  I credit this feeling to being essentially debt-free and living a frugal lifestyle.

Do you feel stuck in your job?  Have you considered leaving recently?

11 thoughts on “I Just Don’t Fit In…”

  1. I could also quit tomorrow and be quite alright… although ER at 45 would be toast. Knowing what lies ahead for me in another 5-6 years, I think I can stomach my job until then…

  2. Sometimes I do feel stuck at work. But mostly it’s because I’ve caught myself in an unproductive mindset; I focus on the grind, the little irritations, boredom, etc instead of the real positives there. For me poor attitude shows when I’m tired or burned-out. Luckily, I have periods of downtime available for renewal.
    With effort, I could walk away from my job but I choose to stay and contribute. So my periodic “axe to grind” is temporary and inconsequential.
    Perhaps you feel unique because most people equate work with income. Yours is based more on purpose. I’d much rather fall on your side than the other.

  3. I’m childfree, 31, and I could work part time and make plenty of money to live on. As things are now I’m choosing to work full time to save agressively and pay down my mortgage… but it’s nice knowing I could leave if I wanted to.

  4. That second option, of leaving, really lifts the fear off the shoulders and makes life easier. I always find it amazing that the same person, with a choice, is so much more successful and happy than the one without a choice. Even if that choice is not the one taken.

  5. I have golden chains keeping me at my employer. If I leave before age 53 (taking official retirement at 58), then my pension stops accumulating in the intervening years.

    In the meantime, however, I accumulate the funds to ensure the intervening years are covered. Those funds are also suitable if I change plans and decide I want out no matter the cost to retirement benefits.

  6. I love these blogs for tips on more frugal and mindful living but I also keep feeling that I don’t fit here very well.

    I am currently working on getting myself towards a career I am pretty sure I would not want to retire from (counselling). Though I want to build sufficient resources to enable me eventually to do it part-time to explore other things in life too.

    But being stuck with a job while I am building up retirement savings to enable an earlier departure? That, to me, would be miserable. But it has taken me almost to my 30s to figure out what this career is so I easily see how people can get stuck in a job, especially if they haven’t figured out how to combine income and self-realization.

  7. I have worked for 15 years on a frugal lifestyle and am almost debt free. I also feel happier knowing that I have options. Last year I divorced my crazy boss (truely sickenning person) and felt really good that I could do that however I chose to go back to work with a great company who appreciates hard work. It is good to be frugal, debt free and happy.

  8. In my last few years of working (2006-2008), I became more and more detached from work, unwilling to go the extra mile to get stuff done although I still maintained a high level of work. I would never volunteer to take on anything new or extra. I said little in our management meetings unless spoken to first. I abandoned any strong “turf battles” because I felt that fighting to keep my turf when I knew I would leave at some point soon was not the right thing to do – why should my division waste its time pursuing my desired path when I would not be around to see it through?

    I was working part-time from 2001-2008 so I was already halfway to a complete (early) retirement). In 2007, I further reduced my weekly hours from 20 to 12 which likely sounded a big alarm to everyone else that I was going to leave at some point soon. When I finally announced my resignation, nobody was very surprised. I found my exit interview with HR rather cathartic although I was somewhat surprised that my bosses said nothing to me about it the whole month I remained after my announcement.

    And just about every day at the office in those last few years I would ask myself constantly, “Why am still working here?” This was the constant drumbeat as more and more of the pieces of my ER plan fell into place in 2007 and especially into 2008. I always thought I would retire early, probably in my early 50s, but at 45 it was pure gravy!

    I never feared losing my job in those last few years. I suppose I would have been as indifferent to them letting me go as they were to my actually leaving in 2008.

  9. It has been occasionally frustrating and annoying to me to have to keep working at a job that bores me, but it’s my own fault – didn’t control my spending diligently enough over the past 20 years to allow it. But in 2007 I put together a 5 year plan to achieve financial freedom and now I’m less than 2 years away from my goal. It feels good to have a concrete plan, even though the waiting can seem painful.

  10. If you read “The Millionaire Next Door” its called F U money. If you have the ablility to walk away from a job becuase your financially able too – it makes for a happier more content employee – and life in general

  11. I just did it. I quit after 17 years in the same position at 48 years old. I’m now owrking on a contractual basis for 3 to 4 years… and dont bother if I lose the job or not beacause I could work on a minimumwage job til 60 without problem.

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