After several years of planning, shifting priorities and saving our nickels, it’s official. The cat’s out of the bag. The Grumbys’ retirement date, in case you missed the very conspicuous feature graphic to the right, is May 4, 2018. I (Mr. G) told my bosses and teams in late November and Mrs Grumby notified her boss last week. One of my co-workers said, “Oh, you are leaving on Star Wars day. May the Fourth be with you!” Star Wars day is a thing, apparently.
The actual date hasn’t been a huge secret to family and friends, but we kept it quiet until both of us had told our employers.
So here it is, in glorious Star Wars motif for your enjoyment. Any self-respecting Star Wars nerd will recognize the headings.
I Have a Bad Feeling About This
I am a little relieved since telling my boss but it’s also given me lot of anxiety. I’ve been covering two roles and worry about what they will do about back-filling them. How will we get someone in, trained and ready to take over before I leave? Someone asked me what would happen if a replacement wasn’t found by May 4, and I replied with a riddle:
Q: What has two thumbs and won’t give a rat’s ass?
A: Mr. Grumby
I am being a little facetious. The truth is that I’m motivated to ensure an orderly transition. My co-workers are great people, and making sure that the succession plan is a good one is important. But after May 4, it won’t be my problem.
As of today, there are 81 days until I walk out of my office and say, to paraphrase Cartman, “Screw you guys! I’m going on a bike tour!” Considering 28 weekend days and 5 scheduled PTO days, I have 51 actual work days remaining.
Mrs. G has even less. One of the sweet benefits her employer offers is a five-week sabbatical every 5 years, which she will take in March. So after subtracting those 25 days and a few other PTO days, she has a measly 35 days left at work. Holy shit!
In My Experience, There Is No Such Thing As Luck
I’ve been incredibly lucky. No, I didn’t inherit money or win the lottery. But I was born in the US in the 20th century, grew up in a middle class family, had mostly good mentors and guidance (not that I listened very much when I was young), and basically come from sturdy stock, as one of my uncles said. All of these things happened simply by chance with no help or input from me. It’s helpful to keep in mind that most of us are here by blind, dumb luck. When the tendency to think “I deserve” or “I’m entitled” creeps into your brain, try to remember that you don’t and you aren’t.
What Obi Wan is saying is you make your own luck. Enhance your good fortune by working hard and managing your resources (money). Buying freedom is a better investment than new siding for the house, buying a fancy SUV or eating out 4 times a week. Resist the pressure of advertisers and clueless acquaintances who encourage you to squander your future away on useless, expensive crap. Since my announcement, I’ve heard at a few people say something like, “Wow, I wish I could retire. I’ll be working until I’m at least 70!”. And then they go off to sign the papers on a new car or McMansion.
I’m Luke Skywalker. I’m here to rescue you…
…from the naysayers and chuckleheads who will try to convince you that the only way to get your financial shit together is to make a lot of money. As Mrs. Grumby and I, and about a trillion other financial bloggers, have discovered, managing expenses is at least as important, and probably more important than making a lot of cash. How many people do you know making six figures but can’t pay for a house repair? The stats are alarming.
So, although I dislike the term “frugal”, I can’t think of a word that more accurately defines it. To me, it used to mean cheap, penny-pinching, tightwad and a whole host of other fun names. But it’s really none of those. Frugality is defined as sparing or economical with regard to money. When applied correctly, it’s a deliberate, intentional method to achieve financial independence. But it just sounds weird. Say it a few times. Mrs. G is a big fan of The Frugalwoods, an incredibly successful and well-written blog, so I had to accept the word into our vocabulary. The Frugalwoods are an extreme example of expense reduction, but you don’t necessarily need to take their approach. Cut until it hurts, and then cut a little more. Reduce dining out by half, then by 90%. You won’t miss it, and you’ll be richer and healthier. Every $1 you spend on crap is one more $1.30 (taking into account taxes) you have to earn for your future.
Stay on Target!
As we plod towards May 4, there are plenty of tasks to complete and things to worry about. Can we get everything packed in time? Will I be in shape to ride my bike across the windy plains, up and over mountain ranges, and to the Pacific Ocean?
In an effort to organize the process, Mrs. Grumby posted a series of lists on the outside of the bathroom door and we are checking them off as we go:
Reserve the moving truck– Done Make Roth contributions for 2018– Done
- Change W4 payroll withholding to EXEMPT- Done. The reason for this is because our taxable income is expected to come in below the threshold where we will owe tax. We are working for 4 full months, but are maximizing 401(k), 403(b) and 457 pre-tax contributions.
- Work on the bikes- some preventative maintenance, new chains, cassettes, etc.
- Sign up for a mail management service.
- Establish a “domicile”. Because we will be giving up our apartment, we will be officially without a home. But we need an address to get insurance and for other reasons, so a friend of ours is generously allowing us to use hers.
- Buy storage bins
Set up an expense-tracking app– Done. We decided on Monefy. See Mrs. G’s post on that. Convert Excel files to Google Sheets– Done. Did I mention Mrs. Grumby loves pivot tables?
The ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs
I’m not sure that this heading is relevant, but it’s a great line.
My pal Mr. Groovy ends his brilliant posts with, “Okay, groovy freedomist, that’s all I got. What say you?“, and I wish I had come up with it. But since I didn’t I’ll just say, make your own luck. You can do it. Quit whining. Don’t buy shit you don’t need.
Also, if you have a better word for frugal than frugal, I’m all ears.