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!
Image Credit: Pixabay