November has come and gone and now we are into the holiday season. I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving break and are reasonably well prepared for the festive rush toward Christmas.
While many people consider November a bit of a melancholy month, I enjoy the peace and calm that it brings. In the northern USA, the month has (in my mind) a beautiful palate of colors – browns, greys, beiges, and a touch of green. Snow didn’t come until Thanksgiving Day, but now we’re coated in white.
November went fast at work because I had a bit of travel this month. I spent a few days in Michigan at a board meeting for the family-owned manufacturing company I joined in August as an outside Director. The meetings spanned a couple days and I felt like I made some good, strategic contributions. I also went to on a campus recruiting trip for MegaCorp for a few days. I am also on the board of one of the MBA programs at a Big Ten university, and I enjoy spending time on campus a couple times a year. With those trips and the Thanksgiving long weekend, I was only in the office for 12 days of the month. That makes the FIRE countdown calendar go quite fast!
Overall the November financial markets were positive. The S&P 500 is now up a little (+1.2%) for the year, international EFEA equities are following (+0.1%), the bond market continues to be down a bit (-1.1%), but MrFireStation’s overall portfolio performance cooled only a little bit to +5.4%, again driven by stock options with my previous MegaCorp employer that is up 8.5% for the year.
I wrote in October about the MegaCorp announcement that they were planning to layoff 1,500 employees (about 1.5% of the workforce). They moved fast to do the dirty work so that they can take a write-off this calendar year (happy holidays!). In all internal & external communications that I saw, they did a nice job blaming softness in the global economy and manage to accept no leadership responsibility for our soft sales & profit performance. I was able to protect the folks on my team by working out a deal with my boss that I would leave one open spot unfilled and only fill it next year when we have other people rotate out of the group. It was a pretty simple solution that somehow I was commended for “thinking out of the box” on. I’m not sure why the whole company wasn’t doing the same since 1.5% of the workforce could easily be managed through normal attrition and turnover.
Unfortunately, a couple of people in our broader department were impacted by job elimination. MegaCorp was unwilling to entertain the idea of offering early retirements (I have at least 1 person in my group that would have taken a package, however modest) to help save other folks.
In addition to working through the MegaCorp layoff nonsense, these are the other things I did to work toward early retirement during the month of November:
- Deeply examined all of the early-exit clauses in MegaCorp’s bonus, 401k, and stock plans. There wasn’t any margin for me to take advantage of the company’s layoffs.
- Deposited my 8th monthly paycheck into our One More Year philanthropic fund. The fund now has a sizable balance and we decided to make a charitable gift from it for the first time (will write about that soon).
- Continued to update my countdown flags. The count is currently at 18 weeks, with just 12 weeks until I probably give formal notice.
- Visited with a Health Insurance consultant to discuss potential options for coverage beginning next April. The agent thought that there were a lot of options for our coverage (both medical/dental). I figured we would go to the guaranteed coverage offered by the Affordable Care Act (thanks, Obama!), but he thought that private insurance would have more offerings at a better cost for us. More to come on this in January. The good news is we have a lot of options.
- BTW .. this blog suddenly grew dramatically in November, getting more than 100 views a day on 5 different days. We’ve been growing steadily since we started in January, but November was exceptional. My goal when I started this was to have 100 readers a month, but we’re now way past that figure. Welcome to our new readers – I hope you find some interest in our journey!
Here are links to my last few countdowns … just 4 more months to go! January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October
Image Credit: Pixabay
10 thoughts on “Early Retirement FIRE Escape – 4 Months Left”
Congrats on another successful month. I look forward to hearing about your first donation as well as your health insurance decisions. That’s one thing I’m not looking forward to in early retirement… figuring out insurance! And nice work protecting your team from layoffs with your creative thinking! 🙂
Thanks, Maggie – It looks like there are a lot of good insurance options. A bit expensive … Close to $1K/month for our healthy family of 3.
Fantastic! Those four months are going to fly by. (I hope, as I’m on more-or-less the same timeline!)
Maybe I missed it in a previous post, but I’d love to hear how you’ve structured your One More Year fund — whether it’s just cash or if you’re using a Vanguard or similar donor-advised fund.
We’re keeping the fund in a money market right now. Our relatively high income means we’ve maxed out our charitable tax deduction the last few years. I would be happy to do a self directed giving fund in the future when we can get the tax benefit. Four months – here we go!
Congrats on getting that much closer! On the health insurance front, since your premiums will be so high, have you considered trying to shave your income down a bit in retirement to get some ACA subsidies? Totally understandable if that would put too big a crimp on your lifestyle — just curious how folks are thinking about this!
Congratulations on nearly hitting your retirement goal. I have no idea how you’re still staying focused at work. Kudos! We look forward to enjoying your journey to FIRE.
Mrs. Mad Money Monster
My job is a pretty good one & we’re building a huge philanthropic fund. The slow wind down is also helpful to unwind my emotions after 27+ years going to work.
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