Author Topic: Throwing myself under the bus for a sabbatical?  (Read 3845 times)

woodnut

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Throwing myself under the bus for a sabbatical?
« on: August 29, 2015, 09:40:48 PM »
A unique opportunity has presented itself at work and wanted some sage advice.  Layoffs are pending at work.  Rumor has it up to 20%.  Which means if it is across the board, 1 or 2 guys in my group have to go.  A little background first before I get to my question.

A couple of months ago I was pretty burned out and bored at work.  FIRE is 4 yrs away and I have FU money, so I decided, I'm going to slow down.  Told the boss I'm working 4 days a week or 0 days a week.  I was willing to walk over this.  In the end, they accommodated and I am now working 4 days a week for 20% less pay.  One side benefit I hadn't foreseen is that my manager took me off of our day to day core projects because I was only available 4 days a week.  I was bored because they were turn the crank projects that I had been doing for 6 yrs straight and no longer interesting or challenging.  I'm the most experienced so I still help out from time to time on core projects, but it is no longer my daily function.  Instead he put me on some future longer term development projects and have been having fun at work again.  I learned by taking a chance, the rewards were better than anticipated.

Back to the layoff.  I've been thinking a lot about Doom's latest post on taking a gap year.  His reasons for taking the sabbatical really speak to me.  I've wanted to take a 6-12 month sabbatical for sometime, but was always too chicken shit to give up the cash firehose and was scared of the uncertain future.  One scenario I can see playing out with the layoff, is that boss lets go of some people, development projects get cancelled, and since we are short handed, I have to go back full time and work on the core boring shit again.  At this point going backwards would be a fate worst than being laid off.  Given my years of service and based upon past severance packages, I roughly estimate my severance package to be worth about $50K after taxes.  I've pretty much made up my mind to talk to the boss.  I'm perfectly happy with the status quo.  But if he wants me back to full time working on core projects, then instead he should put me #1 on the layoff list.  Of course another scenario is that I'm expensive (although less so now with the 20% paycut), working part time, working on future stuff, and maybe have pissed off the upper management with my 4 day a week demand.  I could already be #1 on the list.  If I am let go, I won't need any tissues, and will immediately enjoy my forced sabbatical, although it is new territory and admit I will be a bit fearful.

What I'm wondering is should I go all in and just flat out volunteer to be laid off unconditionally? I'd love a sabbatical to do some things now instead of waiting for FIRE.  I've made a list of things I would do during a sabbatical.  Frankly the list is longer than could be accomplished in 6-12 months.  I'd have to prioritize.  But spending more time with the kids, home improvement projects, and some entrepreneurial type things are on there.  My logical brains says I'd be nuts to give up a reduced hours job, that is fun, and pays a ridiculous amount of money.  I would not likely reproduce all 3 of those conditions after a sabbatical.  I'd delay my FIRE date for sure.  With some home improvement expenses and increased non-subsidized ACA healthcare costs, I'd estimate, it would take 7-8 months to use up my severance package.  I have $200K in taxable accounts beyond that if it went longer.  On the other hand, my kids are middle school aged.  Staying the course and FIRE'ing in 4 yrs, they will almost be out of the house.  If I was to take a sabbatical, this is the time to do it, not when they are almost grown.  I wouldn't be upset if I were forced into a sabbatical, and would volunteer to be laid off if they want me to go back to old work conditions.  But why I am a so conflicted about a completely "voluntary" sabbatical?  I haven't hit the 4% SWR, but I have FU money.  My current WR would be 6.1%. I have been fairly risk adverse about these things.  I realize I am incredibly blessed and this is a great problem to have.  I'm not complaining.  What would you all do if you were in my shoes?  Should I take a chance again ask to be laid off for a "paid" sabbatical and have faith things will work out even better?


mxt0133

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Re: Throwing myself under the bus for a sabbatical?
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2015, 11:51:44 PM »
How confident are you in being able to get a similar job at a similar salary?  I would think that getting the 4 day a week work schedule would probably be hard to get.

If you are confident in being able to get future employment after you are laid off, then all signs point to volunteering yourself to be laid off.  It seems like you have thought it through.  I would run the numbers again just to give yourself more confidence.  With the risk of being asked to work on the boring work again, I would jump at the possibility of severance.  You will get unemployment too remember that.

Since you are only 4 years a way from FIRE, I would take the time off and work part time even if it does take you twice as long to fully FIRE.  What did you plan on doing after you FIREd?  If it was going to be part-time work anyway, shit, just take the free money and unemployment and get a head start.


clifp

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Re: Throwing myself under the bus for a sabbatical?
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2015, 02:01:57 AM »
I'm a big fan of taking a sabbatical pre early retirement to make sure that you are really emotionally ready for ER.

Somebody recently asked the same question and was in a similar position 3-5 years away from FI. My advice to them was to take the sabbatical. My advice to you is to stick around.  The difference is there were totally burned out on there job, and were faced with the prospect of even worse job.  You like your job and it seems perfect way to coast into retirement.

If I was a manager and had accommodated an employee just a couple of months,  I wouldn't arbitrarily go back and say sorry "woodnut" you are back to full time and working on stuff that made you want to quit. When you are having to lay 20%  of the workforce off (worse I ever had to deal with is 10%).  The thing you want more than anything else is for people to volunteer for being laid off.
So I think talking to the boss is exactly the right thing to do.  I think the scenario that you are afraid if is very unlikely.  The boss is already stressing about having to the same with less people, he knows you'll likely quit if he makes you go back to full time, so he is highly incentized  to this during the layoffs not risk it afterwards.

Odds are pretty good that between now and FIRE there will be other opportunities to collect a severance package, 50K is good chunk of change but I don't think its enough to give up a job you like.
My $.02


TomTX

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Re: Throwing myself under the bus for a sabbatical?
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2015, 07:32:17 AM »
Find out what the severance package is going to be. :D

Kaikou

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Re: Throwing myself under the bus for a sabbatical?
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2015, 07:35:14 AM »
I would stay and see if they lay me off.

woodnut

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Re: Throwing myself under the bus for a sabbatical?
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2015, 08:05:26 AM »
How confident are you in being able to get a similar job at a similar salary?  I would think that getting the 4 day a week work schedule would probably be hard to get.

Not worried about finding a similar job.  Similar salary, I think I could come close, but probably not as high as it is now.  I'm not worried about the actual salary.  The 20% paycut hardly affected my FIRE date.  Our expenses have much bigger impact on my FIRE date than my income.  I agree, the 4 day a week thing would be hard to get from the start in a new job.

What did you plan on doing after you FIREd?

I know I'll be guilty of OMY syndrome once I hit my target.  To prevent that, I plan to RE and do part time contract work until I am confident the plan is working.  That's one of the things I would do on a sabbatical is test the waters with contract work.  If it is successful, I might do that and never go back to full time employment.  Beyond the work part, I'm not going to be one of those people that struggle with filling their time post FIRE.  I have hobbies and things I want to do that would keep me busy for 2 lifetimes.  One of the things on my bucket list is to build a house myself.

You like your job and it seems perfect way to coast into retirement.

Thanks for your advice clifp.  I think this is why I'm hesitant to go all in.  Why give up a good thing, that I might not get back after a sabbatical.

Find out what the severance package is going to be. :D

I'll see if the boss knows for sure when I talk to him this week.

change_seeker

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Re: Throwing myself under the bus for a sabbatical?
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2016, 01:29:32 PM »
Following to see if you post an update on your decision, considering a sabbatical myself.