The Job Experience, Academia: Year #13 – Present

Telling my Boss I’m FI

talking

The best way to inform your manager you’re FI?
Obvious! Formal paperwork submission.

So I have a problem.  It’s like this:  I don’t want to do much.

But my employer wants me to crank.

For a while I’m okay with this.  The first two months in academia were slow and gave me a chance to rest and recuperate, after all, and I was grateful for that.

But suddenly there’s a lot of pressure being applied to produce.  Even though I’m capped at 35 hours a week, I’m putting in 40-45 and this is really to do the minimum of what is being asked.

After a couple of months of this with no apparent letup, I confronted my manager in our weekly one on one. (That’s right.  Even in academia, I still have these wretched hourly checkpoints once every seven days.)  I tell him that I’ve been consistently over the cap of hours, and he gives me a half-joking, unsatisfactory response, delivered with a silly, smirking smile hanging off of the corner of his mouth that pissed the hell out of me.

I won’t tell anyone if you won’t.

(Note:  I don’t laugh or smile, which is the response I believed he was looking for.  Instead I stare at him and let the moment drag out a bit.  He squirms.)

You look upset.

I am, a little.  Because it’s not a matter of telling people.  It’s a matter of expectations.  I expected to work 35 a week.  That’s the university standard.

I understand.  And that’s reasonable, really.  But the problem is that we really need to get these projects done.  I know you’re working hard and I’ve observed you’re fairly efficient. It’ll be over soon enough and then things will go back to normal.

Okay.  Then can we do something to compensate me for the extra hours?

Everyone works extra hours at times, according to project requirements.

But if it’s required consistently, then it’s not really at times is it?  My guess is that this project is going to go on for at least another half a year.  

We’ll work something out when these initiatives come to a close.

Okay.  I just want to let you know that from here on out, I’m tracking my hours.  Every hour I put in over 35, I’m going to want back in the form of comp. days that aren’t tied to my official vacation.  That OK?

I’ll think about it.

Sounds good to me.  Let’s talk about it next week once you’ve had some time to let my request digest.


I have to admit that I found this particular exchange with my manager to be wholly unsatisfactory.  It was at this point that I decided to do a bit of sleuthing around the office to see how many hours a week other people were tossing into the garbage chute of office life.

And I discovered something interesting:  there was wide variation in output between different teams, and even within teams some folks worked harder than others.  Our team and one other in particular (the core systems group) seemed to be in constant “panic mode” according to a couple of coworkers.  I asked why, and the answer was “weak management that doesn’t push back on stuff.”

Another coworker opined that management seemed to think that some workers were stronger than others, and therefore gave them most of the work because they didn’t trust sub-par performers with all that much.

So if you demonstrate competence above others, you’re rewarded with more work than them? 

That’s right.

Motherfuck.  And what’s done about the sub-par performers?  Are they asked to change behavior in any way?

No.  They’re just left out of projects.

Aha!  Does that mean that after a while they’ll be let go?  I’ve worked at places before where when someone is out of favor, they are simply ignored and shamed into leaving.  

It’s not like that here.  No one really gets fired in academia — at least not for lack of production.  You’d have to do something horrid like watch porn at high levels of volume with external speakers absolutely blasting out the happy sounds of human activity.

That’s so weird.  Where I come from — you know, that alien world known as the private sector — people get fired for all sorts of reasons. 

Yeah, things are different in academia.  Last person I know who was let go was a serious alcoholic, barely did anything, and he still stayed on for an extra two years after this was common knowledge.  HR offered assistance programs to him, that sort of thing, and he couldn’t clean up, so after a while he was finally dumped.

Sounds like there’s total job security here.

Yes, there is.  But on the flip side, the raises are really small, and there’s practically no difference between the salary increase given to a top performer and folks at the bottom.  You can do just about nothing and still get your measly 2% annually.

What the hell is the incentive to work then?

Very little.  If you work, you get more work.  If you don’t work, you get less work.  The only difference in working is that probably your relationship with your manager and coworkers will be a lot nicer.

Someone could take advantage of this system.

People do.  But most people work fairly hard and do what’s expected.

But if you’re on one of those teams with weak management that tends to be in crisis mode continually, what do you do?

Manage up.  Tell them no.  Set boundaries.  Be firm.  And do this with the knowledge that they can’t do anything about it.

Cool.  Thanks for the info.


properhours

Easy for you to say, Mr. Clock.  You’re literally on the hook to work 24/7.

I’d like to take just a moment here to talk about personal choice when it comes to working extra hours at a job.

Some of the common responses to people who complain of working unpaid overtime is something along the lines of Just Stop Putting In The Hours.  Push Back.  Grow a Spine.  Just say No.  

The same set of people are probably also likely to say things such as:

  • You know that when you work extra, you’re just raising expectations for everyone.
  • What, do you want a fucking medal?  Are you trying to be a martyr?
  • Most of your extra hours are probably worked inefficiently.  Studies show that efficiency drops after working more than 35-40 so you’re not doing yourself or the company/organization working extra.
  • If you’re so upset about working unpaid overtime, talk to HR about it

I find all of these arguments ridiculous because they ignore how human beings are wired to work.  Look, we’re social creatures and we tend to seek agreement and approval from others.  This is particularly true in the work environment, and even more so when you need the job.  If your boss asks you, point blank, to do some work that’s going to put you over your hour limit, chances are really good that you’re just going to do it anyway. You might drop him/her a line to let them know you had to work extra to do it, but the fact remains that you’re going to do it.  Same goes for teammates. If Jane asks you to pretty please help her out tonight to get some task done on a project or to help her with a work item, try telling her to go screw.  You can’t do it, can you?  Doesn’t surprise me — I can’t either.

Why is this, exactly?

  • The resulting conflict from not doing it usually outweighs any pain endured due to simply putting in the extra hours.
  • You want to be perceived as a good employee
  • The opposite:  You don’t want to go on your manager’s or teammates’ shit list.
  • Related: You might fear losing your job.
  • You might also actually believe in the work and feel that it’s important to get it done.
  • The work might be tied to bonuses, raises, or other metrics of merit.
  • And again, more than likely you’ll feel that by not doing the work you’re also letting your teammates down.  Perhaps one of your peers will have to pick up the slack, and they’re already putting in OT. Nobody likes to feel like they’re a) not pulling their weight or b) screwing others over.

Note that many of these reasons are not directly related to compensation, meaning, even if you are FI, you’ll likely still find it difficult to push back on requests for you to work extra hours to complete projects.

People who say that it’s exclusively your choice to work the extra hours are ignoring some basic realities of what it means to be human.  Humans frequently feel it’s more important to fit in and be liked (which in turn helps folks feel secure in their job and relationships) than it is to draw the line on hours worked.  

If it wasn’t your choice to be born a human, than it’s probably also not your choice to work or not work extra hours.  You’re going to instinctively make the decision that results in the least amount of discomfort.  For most people, this means you’ll respond to that 7PM email and automatically check your inbox over the weekend and just get those projects done even if it means missing your daughter’s piano recital.

Bottom line:  If it’s the corporate culture to work extra — if it’s normal and expected and everyone is doing it — then it’s going to be extremely difficult for you to be the only one who is pushing back.  My observations aren’t rocket science.  This is one of the major reasons labor unions form, to set standards for workers, protect them from unreasonable demands, and urge folks to behave consistently in the workplace.

But still, my assumption that organizations expect folks to work over and above 40 hours a week seems, at this point, to be all my very subjective opinion, doesn’t it?  So let’s add some backing to these views by taking a look at some real data.

Bottom line:  This is real.  Employers are asking their employees to work extra, constantly, across industries, countries, and continents.  For some people, choosing to say no is going to work. But for the vast majority of us, it’ll result in, best case, professional unhappiness and awkward relationships in the office, and worst case, unemployment.

Go ahead and “choose” what’s right for you.

All of that being said:  I finally decided to not be like most people when it came to putting in extra unpaid hours.


Guess what, bitch?  I'm stupendous man.

Stupendous Man cares not for your silly “office work.”

Big surprise:  My manager tried to ignore the whole overtime subject in our next one on one.  This is despite the fact that I implored him to think about how I might be compensated for the extra work, prior to our meeting.

Instead we talked about projects and objectives — the nuts and bolts of how and when things were getting done.

After half an hour of this, he ran out of steam and asked if I had anything else to discuss, and of course, I raised the subject again.

Have you come to any decisions as to how to handle the extra hours I’m putting in over the standard thirty five per week?

Oh.  Right.  Well, I was thinking we could talk about it once <projects A and B> have been completed.

I can’t wait that long.  Look, like I said last week, I’ve started to track the extra hours.  I’m at six since last we spoke.  This is nearly a full day of work.

That’s good, it’s important to have some data on this.

OK.  But what can we do about this data?

Well, let me first just say that other people on the team don’t complain about putting in extra hours here and there.

I’m not complaining about it.  In fact, I don’t like the insinuation that I’m complaining.  As far as I’m concerned, we’re talking about my contract with the University.  Your personal requirements are violating my contract with my employer.

I don’t understand why this is such a problem for you.  No one else on the team focuses on hours worked per week.

It’s a problem because it’s my expectation to work thirty five hours a week.  And that’s my expectation because that’s the legal standard for the University.

Well, what do you propose, then?

I’ve already told you.  I want compensation for the extra time.

We do not have an overtime pay policy.  We can’t pay you more.

I understand.  That’s never been my goal — to get additional money.  I want either less work — a 35 hour workweek, effective immediately, meaning that I’ll be behind on projects currently assigned — or the guarantee of compensation time for the extra hours.

I can’t commit to that.  I’d have to seek approval.

Then I’d like you to ‘seek approval,’ as you’ve now proposed.

What if they don’t grant the request?  (Note:  At this point, I’m thinking of the comments of my coworker who opined that our team had weak management.  This is the comment of a weak manager — someone who is fearful of sticking up for his team and has trouble saying no.)

Well, I’ll have to reconsider whether or not I want to work here.

At this point my manager looks completely exasperated.  Prior to this comment, he’d been mostly staring at the screen of his laptop, occasionally typing notes, and refusing to look at me.  But here he pushes his machine aside and finally gives me his full undivided attention.

Why wouldn’t you want to work here?  You’ve only been with us five months.

I need to tell you something.  It’s weird.  Nobody has ever told you this before, I’m certain, and I’m not sure how you’re going to take it.  But I’m going to put it out there.  

OK.  

He’s fidgeting.  Hands play with hands.  A nail rises to his mouth and he bites at it.

I like this job.  I like my coworkers.  I feel like I’m adjusting to the environment and beginning to make strong contributions.  But that being said, I don’t need it.

What?

I don’t need this job.

Say that again?  Are you quitting?  

No, you misunderstand me.  I’m just saying I don’t need this job.  I have enough money to live indefinitely without the income.  I’m doing this because I generally like the work.  Not because I need the money.  But liking the work and wanting to work more than the required number of hours per week are two different things.  I have no desire to work more than 35 hours a week.  I’m sure you understand.

I’m not sure I like the tone of this conversation.

Look, I’m not trying to threaten you.  Really, please don’t take it that way.  I’m trying to explain my position so you can put yourself in my shoes.  So one, I don’t need to work for pay in order to live.  And two, if I was going to work purely for the money, I’d go back to one of my previous jobs so I could make a hundred and thirty thousand a year.  I took this position primarily to slow down, not to crank all the time, and as a side benefit to you and the university, y’all are going to benefit from my levels of experience and efficiency.  So again, my real goal is to have balance in my life. I don’t want to work overtime.

You’re kidding me.  Are you saying you could retire?

Yes.

There’s silence.  I let it sit while he chews on it.  The balance of power has instantly and forever shifted.

You’re about my age.  Maybe thirty seven?

Thirty five.

That’s unbelievable.  Two years younger than me.  And you say you like this work?

Yes, I like it quite a bit, and I’m glad to be contributing my skills to a university rather than a corporation. But only within strict time constraints. I’m sure you understand my position now.

Yes, I do.  It’s quite clear.  Well, we certainly don’t want to lose you.  How about you continue to track your hours and when you’re done with these projects we give you compensation time?

Sounds good.  Please seek approval from our director and provide email to me with him CC’d that this model is going to be okay for our relationship moving forward.

No problem.  I’ll let you know next week.

It all went through without a hitch.  When I completed the projects — which, for the record, took another nine months of consistently working extra, some Sunday morning work, lots of 6AM stuff on weekdays, and some late nights here and there, I submitted my overtime report and was granted three and a half straight weeks off of work, which I took immediately and enjoyed the hell out of.

Added bonus:  Every interaction with my manager has, since, been incredibly pleasant.  He tries to please me now.  He starts meetings off by asking me how I’m doing instead of just, you know, where are we with these projects and stuff like that.  It’s very, very strange.  But also very, very nice.  My revelation prompted him to treat me as a peer and friend instead of just an order-taker, and I feel our relationship is much the better for it.

I do wonder sometimes if there was a more elegant way to achieve this relationship rather than hitting him over the head with the fact that I don’t have to work for money anymore.  But the truth is that I wanted him to know, so he would realize how little power he holds over me.  I decided to take a risk in sharing this information, and I was lucky that it panned out.

The only downside to all of this, if it can be considered one, is that within a couple of weeks, more than a few people in the office insinuated that I was rich. This was a reminder of something I’d learned way back in Year 4 with my first employer, SoftwareCompany.  People don’t keep this kind of shit a secret.  They can’t help themselves.  My manager had leaked the information.

Proof?  A few weeks later, two different people on my team directly asked me, virtually out of the blue, if I could retire.

I downplayed it.  No, no.  Not sure where you heard that.  It’s not like that.  I just practice living within my means, so that I have a decent level of savings, that’s all, so if something catastrophic happens, you know, employment-wise, I’ll be OK for at least a couple of years.  It’s nothing more than folks like Suze and Dave Ramsay suggest to do — I have a nice emergency fund, is all.

To this day, a lot of people in the office consider me to be a freak of nature.  I have to admit, this aspect of being FI is not all that fun.

Still, considering that the payoff was actually getting paid, in a way, for the overage hours, it was an awesome trade.

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45 Responses to The Job Experience, Academia: Year #13 – Present

  1. Fuzzy Buttons says:

    Great post – I’ve loved being able to read this series. Thank you for taking such time to write out your experience.

    On a side note, I believe on page 8 you meant ‘pieces’

  2. Wow, this is an epic opus of job chronicling! You have such a great writing style, I didn’t notice it spanned 13 posts!

    Thanks for the enjoyable narrative, I look forward to seeing you accelerate and lift off the employment runway into FI flight!

  3. Lou says:

    Aw, I’m so sad this series is over! But happy for you, and looking forward to following along with you into your FI adventure next year.

  4. “It’s not that people don’t fit jobs. Jobs don’t fit people”

    Love that line.

    Granted, all of the images would be hell to license, but I’d buy the e-book if you ever did one 🙂

  5. Glad it’s ending on a high note! Cheers

  6. Jennifer says:

    When your boss agreed to let you take your overtime as extra time off, did he extend the offer to all of his direct reports, or was it just a confidential agreement between the two of you?

    • livingafi says:

      Other people get comp time for extra hours when they start complaining, which is not often. I get comp time for any and all extra hours, including a full day if I have to do anything scheduled over the weekend. So if I, say, work 2 hours on Sunday morning, I still get a full day. I’m pretty happy with this arrangement.

  7. RelaxedGal says:

    “Meantime, I started doing other things in the office on days that allow it — reading, blogging, some casual internet browsing. Some readers might tell me that I’m stealing from my university by not working all day. But that’s not really true. A large part of my job is simply being available to respond to needs of the business on demand. Sitting in the office is working.”

    I have to keep reminding myself too. I’ve been asking my boss for busy work and he doesn’t have any for me – hasn’t for a few months. I came into the office yesterday and Yay had a ticket to work on. Finished that in an hour or so, but the users aren’t ready to test it, and it’s not going live for a week at least. So…. I read the Mr Money Mustache archives over the summer, started devouring the forums when I got to current. I spend my days planning dinner, planning vacations, shopping online. But I’m here! I’m available!

    I’m glad you’ve reached a good coasting position, to glide down to early retirement.

    • Jennifer says:

      My husband’s employer has recently adopted a new work philosophy called ROWE (Results Oriented Work Environment) that I think would improve the working lives of many people. They have done away with “ass in your seat for 8 hours” and instead let you come and go as you please as long as you are performing well and getting your work done on time. He works from home a lot more now, can go in late if he wants, leave early, work on Sunday instead of Friday, etc, as long as he doesn’t abuse the privilege and puts in what he has to in order to get the job done. Obviously this wouldn’t work for all functions, but I think a lot of office jobs would work.

      • livingafi says:

        Jennifer – that is *awesome* and would definitely work at my current gig. You must both be very happy about the flexibility. I agree, more companies should adopt similar policies. It sounds almost — what’s the word I’m looking for? Oh yeah. Sane.

    • livingafi says:

      Sounds like a pretty good way to spend your slow days. Very cool. Sometimes it’s difficult to ditch the guilt, and sometimes it’s not hard at all 🙂 I haven’t had slow days in a month now — things have picked up again and will probably stay busy for a while. My blogging time has, as a result, gone down a bit, unfortunately.

  8. EA_Mann says:

    Thanks for sharing all of these stories. I work in a similar field just south of you in RI and your experiences have been very instructive.

    I’ve worked for the past 11 years in IT and systems engineering for the defense industry, both as a contractor and government civilian. My experience has been much closer to what you’re describing in academia – both the pay and the lifestyle. I rarely work more than 40 hours and always get compensated for anything over 45. There’s a small subset of climbers, but most people work together well and are just happy to be doing technical work. And except for very specific times during project lifecycles, stress is low.

    On my trips up through Boston I used to see all those big companies on the I-95 corridor: SAP, Oracle, etc and feel a twinge of loss, worrying that I could have made more money and done more interesting work if I’d worked my way to one of them. Reading your accounts, it’s clear that I’d have no interest in that way of life. Thanks again for sharing!

  9. kb says:

    Man, it’s been great reading this whole series. I really enjoyed reading it all and can relate to a lot of it. I’m a little younger and further beyond on my FI path, but reading your story helps me reenrgize my own thoughts and feelings about getting out of the rat race.

    I’m not in a university but my current job (been 1 year) is so much more relaxed than anything I’m previously used too. I have this constant paranoia in the back of my mind that I will be let go because I’m not working like a slave like normal. So even when it’s good, it’s still bad mentally because of the expectations we are used too.

    I wish you the best and continued success man!

    • livingafi says:

      “I have this constant paranoia in the back of my mind that I will be let go because I’m not working like a slave like normal. ” I had that for the first twelve or sixteen months. I’d been so conditioned to sprint and crank all day every day that I felt like there was something wrong when I started coming into the office and not working nearly as hard. The issue was all internal, though, and it sorted itself out over time.

  10. Like many have mentioned already, I too have enjoyed the series. It was kickass and I definitely can relate to many of the examples especially Finance Company. I also need to reread your drawdown posts from earlier in the year. I mainly focus on dividend investing, but part of my early retirement strategy will be accessing my 401k. I know you use a 70/30 stock-bond mix so do you use a bond etf like BND for you bond bond component?

    I hope you can pull off FI next spring!

    MDP

    • livingafi says:

      Hi MDP – thanks for stopping by, as always. I use VBTLX (Vanguard total bond admiral) for that 30% of my allocation but that’s identical to BND minus the differences in rules between ETFS and mutual funds. I’m continuing to follow your journey, too — I know you’ll make it.

  11. Dwayne Hoover says:

    Man, what an awesome series. Thanks for creating this. If I didn’t read FI blogs, I’d never have found your blog. Which is kind of a shame since this series relates to darn near everyone – not just us crazy hyper-savers. Good luck in the future!

    • livingafi says:

      Hey Mr. DH, appreciate you reading, I know you’ve stuck through some mighty long posts as the series progressed. As fun as it was to put together, I’m glad it’s over though — it’ll be good to return to regular-lengthed blog entries. (They’ll still be long compared to other writers, as I just can’t seem to help myself when it comes to cranking out too many words.)

  12. csmith says:

    Great series! Thanks for putting in the time to write it. As a 22 y.o college grad you strangely mirrored a lot of my experience working in the university ITS department. It’s all the same no matter where you are I guess.

    I’m looking forward to your future content!

    • livingafi says:

      “It’s all the same no matter where you are I guess.” Yes, that sounds about right. Different flavors and intensities of the same underlying stuff that comprises the work environment. Good luck with your own journey!

  13. G-dog says:

    The only downside to all of this, if it can be considered one, is that within a couple of weeks, more than a few people in the office insinuated that I was rich. This was a reminder of something I’d learned way back in Year 4 with my first employer, SoftwareCompany. People don’t keep this kind of shit a secret. They can’t help themselves. My manager had leaked the information.

    “Proof? A few weeks later, two different people on my team directly asked me, virtually out of the blue, if I could retire.”

    Hah! Your boss was SO OUT OF LINE leaking this information. Possibly lawsuit out of line. So, I take it your co-workers accepted your story when they asked.
    As I’ve said earlier, I made a mistake of saying something to a co-worker, who then told another co-worker that I am rich. I still haven’t found out what she thinks “rich” is…

    • livingafi says:

      Yes, there’s probably a legal issue there. I try not to think about it too much — it’s not worth my time and energy to pursue, but I will say that *that* particular day that I realized he’d been blabbing I was pretty upset. I got over it though. One of my special talents is to let things go. It’s probably why I’ve managed to stick through so many disappointing employment experiences 😉 Most non-savvy people tend to think rich is 2Mil nowadays, btw. Tagline: 2Mil: It’s the new 1Mil.

  14. Alex Kenzie says:

    Wow, awesome series of posts. I thoroughly enjoyed them! Wonderfully well done, and great economy of words. Long posts, but nothing extraneous.

    I’m having trouble getting accustomed to my cushy academic job. I am truly being paid to be here and assume responsibility, and it drives me out of my skull with boredom and guilt. Blah. But reading this series helped with both the boredom and the guilt, 😉 so thanks!

    • livafi says:

      You are the first person to ever say I write economically — I have the sense that my posts could circle the moon already if words were placed end-to-end.

      Jobs: Yep, they sure are tedious sometimes.

  15. RB35 says:

    This is amazing. I literally went through this entire series over the course of today. A real eye opener of starry eyed young padawan learners who believe work is a fun place.

    Like you I’m a firm believer that work sucks balls, regardless of what. So do the work where you can maximize your inflexion point on the earnings sanity curve, ramp up your savings rate and take the necessary measures to get invested in index funds and one will be FIRE in no time. However I think consistency is key in this game and it does get to me on some days because I feel like I’m the only sub 30 mofo going against the grain when my peers and colleagues in the industry are living it up through expensive holidays, property purchases and what not.

    So reading blogs like your, being able to commiserate and revel in similar beliefs certainly helps with the motivation.

    Thanks buddy.

    • livafi says:

      Trust me: You ain’t the only one RB35. Whole messes of people out there who are tired of working. We just don’t talk about it much in polite company (and almost never at work.)

      For some reason there’s a cultural rule that we aren’t really allowed to complain about our white collar jobs. Blue collar sure — it’s kind of expected. I mean if you stock at Target, it’s totally OK to say “Yeah, I stock just for the pay.” But part of why you get paid so much to sit at a desk doing whatever it is that you do is to simultaneously be a cheerleader for your company, to “plug in,” to become the borg. At that point you’re supposed to jump up and down and say “I absolutely LOVE this! I would do this practically for FREE!” waving your pom poms wildly all the while. You have to sneak out to a bar with a trusted co-worker in order to air your true feelings.

      Anyhow, best of luck on your own journey.

      • RB35 says:

        Agreed. Many people probably feel the same, but few choose to undertake action to strive for FIRE. I guess following the horde of lemmings off the cliff is easier than taking a road less, but most certainly traveled before. Have actually tried broaching the subject to some colleagues I would consider as friends, but their reactions ranged from incredulous to rage… and right back to bitching about the senior bankers and clients.

        What’s your take on insurance? I just had my insurance agent pitch to me about different coverage plans today and whole life plans for investments – had to cut short that meeting otherwise someone would have been hurt real bad.

      • livafi says:

        I have car insurance and that’s it. High deductible collision – car is currently worth 5K but soon we’ll drop the collision entirely. (Update: I will be dropping it post-move. It doesn’t make sense anymore – if I need another vehicle, I can just purchase one. I just re-read the MMM article http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/06/02/insurance-a-tax-on-people-who-are-bad-at-math/ and what can I say other than I agree with him?)

        I do carry higher than state minimum payouts (250/500) if I’m at fault because I figure that’s one of the more likely ways I might get wiped out and it costs very little extra. But that’s the only so-called insurance luxury.

        Home insurance: Minimum allowed by law.

        Nothing else. If I get flattened by the proverbial bus, my wife will get my worth, making her twice as loaded as she is now. Why would we need life insurance on top of that? She could find a new Doom — even one with a NW of 0 — and they’d be fine, both of them, without working a single additional day, as long as they were careful.

        It’s generally a waste of money. Wife and I are about to become renters — we will not be getting apartment insurance.

  16. Loved every post in this series. It was awesome to see the way FI gave you the confidence and leverage to stand up to managers and dictate on YOUR terms. Employers know that most of their minions have no choice but to accept whatever bullshit is heaped upon them; people like you who have F-You money at their disposal must be management’s worst nightmare. I was already on board with becoming FI; I’m now more inspired than ever to make it happen as soon as possible. Thanks, livingafi!

  17. Adam says:

    This series was an amazing read… It actually made me feel relaxed about work, knowing that it could be so much worse. Can’t wait to be free 🙂

  18. Jacq says:

    Holy mackerel. I have had some of those bosses. I am glad we both survived. My current role is much better, better managers. The corporate ‘putting out fires’ culture is still there, but the management team does a better job of shielding us from it to a certain extent. I am aiming to get this job to be more work from home in the next few years to make it more flexible. Plus aiming for FI to negotiate for that flexibility. We’ll see!

  19. Patrick says:

    That was a great set of posts. Such fun to read, almost like a good book. I’m in IT myself so I could identify a lot of the personality types. I have about two years to go, so also looking to maximize the work life balance at this point.

    I’d love to hear what you’re up to today, I see you haven’t posted here or on the MMM forums in a while. Any updates coming up?

  20. Troy says:

    Feels like I’m becoming a fan boy but I don’t even care, this series was amazing! Seriously, I never thought a dude chronicling his work history would be so enthralling but I guess I was wrong. It is rare that I get totally engrossed in something (last reading of Harry Potter comes to mind) but I enjoy when it happens, it’s like being sent to another reality while being able to totally escape your current one.

    Glad you were able to ease out of your work life without any more crazy bosses.

    Also, I believe in rewarding content creators for their work, do you have a PayPal or Patreon or something similar? Just wanted to kick you some cash for the value I got out of it.

    Finally, even though I like my current work and speak out when I feel I need too, your downshift article made me realize I don’t need to keep my high salary job anymore (due to already following FI principals). You have opened up possibilities that my own mind was shielding, so thanks.

  21. Stephen says:

    Doom –

    This is my 3rd time reading this series, the first time when I was 24 and it was just coming out, and now again at 28. Your series is my favorite FI-related thing to read on the internet. Thank you for writing it!

  22. Jon Dziedzic says:

    Doom, as a fellow tech worker I can relate to this so much it is surprising. I make a point of reading your job series on a yearly basis and have been doing so for the past 5 years through my own FIRE journey. It always makes me laugh and smile at how ridiculous the white collar office environment is and like this last year post for you I’m now as well winding down toward the end. At this point office politics and BS are just entertaining to me but as you know it’d be much better to not even hear it at all! Hope you are enjoying the RE life!

  23. A person essentially help to make seriously posts I would state. This is the very first time I frequented your web page and thus far? I amazed with the research you made to make this particular publish extraordinary. Magnificent job!

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