Author Topic: Pondering quitting my corporate job, advice  (Read 5122 times)

MasterStache

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Pondering quitting my corporate job, advice
« on: March 17, 2016, 12:06:04 PM »
Without going into minute details, I am really burned out with my corporate desk job. I have been an engineer for only about 9 years. But it's the only time in my life I've had jobs where I simply sat behind a desk and stared at a computer screen all day. I feel like I can't handle much more of it.

I've done the math and if I quit my job, my wife can reduce her savings to nothing and we can pay all our bills and satisfy our modest spending with only her income. Right now we have about 260K in various (mostly tax deferred) accounts. We have a mortgage and no other debt. We are both about to turn 40. We have two kids ages 11 and 6. My wife likes her job and is perfectly fine continuing to work. She gets no company match, but does get a pension. Her plan is to work until 50, at which point her pension is north of 200k.

By my calculations,  if we don't save another penny, in 10 years (using rule of 72) our retirement accounts will be worth roughly 500K plus the 200K pension. However..... I fully intend to get a part time job and/or do odd jobs for supplemental income. I don't want to fully stop saving money. I also have the luxury of being very marketable with my skill set and if things didn't seem to be working out, I wouldn't worry about finding another full time job. 

I am seriously considering this, just wondering if anyone else has done something similar or thoughts in general. My job is starting to take a mental toll on me.   

ysette9

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Re: Pondering quitting my corporate job, advice
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2016, 12:30:15 PM »
Not knowing the specifics of your financial situation makes it impossible for us to say whether it is possible for you to quit and be fine financially. Personally I think that is probably a bad idea but you clearly and stressed and burned out. I think that quitting is a pretty drastic move though. What if you tried a few less-drastic steps first?

Some ideas in no particular order are:
  • Take a vacation
  • Take an unpaid sabbatical (bonus points: test-drive FIRE!)
  • Look into switching jobs within your company
  • Start looking for a new job at a different company
  • Pick up a new hobby outside of work to keep you excited outside of work

SKL-HOU

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Re: Pondering quitting my corporate job, advice
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2016, 01:11:19 PM »
Do you have the option to work PT for your employer? I am an engineer too and my current employer and previous employer both had PT options. If your current employer doesn't offer it, maybe look for one with PT option? If you didn't have kids, it would be one thing but with kids in the equation, I think it would be too soon for you to quit completely (unless your supplemental income ideas are a good amount).

Felicity

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Re: Pondering quitting my corporate job, advice
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2016, 01:20:15 PM »
Someone else posted this Quora question on another thread: https://www.quora.com/Career-Advice/What-was-it-like-quitting-your-high-paying-job-for-a-less-stressful-lower-paying-job

I can also definitely relate. For me, my breaking point was at 4 years. I wrote a recent post here: http://fetchingfinancialfreedom.com/2016/03/03/the-power-of-financial-freedom/ for anyone interested.

Long story short, I was completely mentally checked out, various attempts of changing my situation were fruitless, and I set a date by which time I would quit even if I had nothing else lined up. This last part helped immensely by itself - knowing that it would not go on "forever," that I had an "out," - priceless. I was optimistic about my options and looking forward to my self-imposed deadline. This also gave me time to really reflect on what I was looking for, and knowing I had backup in the form of my spouse's income gave me the freedom to stand up for myself and not take another dead end job for the sake of having a job.

End result: Very happy (about half a year in now). I actually ended up getting a job in a completely different division of my large-ish company, which worked out well. I already had a social network there, so transitioning was a piece of cake. My day to day work is completely different, yet my (short) commute and benefits, etc, remain the same. I highly recommend looking at all your options - internal to your company, external - and taking a look at what interests you.

FI and FIRE is really about happiness in my mind. If you and your wife have talked this through...I say go for it. Hating your 9 to 5 just seems to drain all energy and enthusiasm from your system, making it hard to get excited about anything else.

MasterStache

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Re: Pondering quitting my corporate job, advice
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2016, 01:37:53 PM »
Someone else posted this Quora question on another thread: https://www.quora.com/Career-Advice/What-was-it-like-quitting-your-high-paying-job-for-a-less-stressful-lower-paying-job

I can also definitely relate. For me, my breaking point was at 4 years. I wrote a recent post here: http://fetchingfinancialfreedom.com/2016/03/03/the-power-of-financial-freedom/ for anyone interested.

Long story short, I was completely mentally checked out, various attempts of changing my situation were fruitless, and I set a date by which time I would quit even if I had nothing else lined up. This last part helped immensely by itself - knowing that it would not go on "forever," that I had an "out," - priceless. I was optimistic about my options and looking forward to my self-imposed deadline. This also gave me time to really reflect on what I was looking for, and knowing I had backup in the form of my spouse's income gave me the freedom to stand up for myself and not take another dead end job for the sake of having a job.

End result: Very happy (about half a year in now). I actually ended up getting a job in a completely different division of my large-ish company, which worked out well. I already had a social network there, so transitioning was a piece of cake. My day to day work is completely different, yet my (short) commute and benefits, etc, remain the same. I highly recommend looking at all your options - internal to your company, external - and taking a look at what interests you.

FI and FIRE is really about happiness in my mind. If you and your wife have talked this through...I say go for it. Hating your 9 to 5 just seems to drain all energy and enthusiasm from your system, making it hard to get excited about anything else.

This is pretty much how I feel. It's going on 9 years now though. My wife and I have both said even 500K in savings/retirement, before I quit, is more than enough considering we have no intentions of touching it for a while (continues to grow).  And I know with our savings rate being 50k+/year, it's reachable within just a few short years. But I don't know that I can last that long.

I do work for a large company, but there are not really any other divisions that would interest me. My interest lie solely outside of the corporate world. My company does not offer PT work either. 

I appreciate your response and telling me your story. It's good to know someone has felt the same and it ended up working out for them. I know YMMV. I'll check those links out your provided. Looks like I'll be having a discussion with my wife tonight and see what we can come up with. She knows I am burned out and has even commented how she can see it on me. 


mashrach

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Re: Pondering quitting my corporate job, advice
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2016, 02:00:25 PM »
When I was in my mid twenties I felt the same way, completely burned out to the point of not being able to get myself to the office every day. I ended up quitting my job and travelling for about 4 months, then working menial labor jobs (outside) for another 8 months. After that I got back into engineering and have been doing it for the past 15 years. I'm now in software engineering which I like much better than what i was doing before. But that sabbatical really helped/saved me. I know some people that work as contractors and will work for 6 months and then take a few months off which I could see myself doing (but I'm not in as good a financial position as you and your wife). Good luck in whatever you decide, I'd be interested to hear what you end up doing.

AZDude

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Re: Pondering quitting my corporate job, advice
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2016, 02:38:29 PM »
Look for part-time or contract work you can do for much less hours, but still be financially responsible until FIRE.

Felicity

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Re: Pondering quitting my corporate job, advice
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2016, 06:13:21 PM »
When I was in my mid twenties I felt the same way, completely burned out to the point of not being able to get myself to the office every day. I ended up quitting my job and travelling for about 4 months, then working menial labor jobs (outside) for another 8 months. After that I got back into engineering and have been doing it for the past 15 years. I'm now in software engineering which I like much better than what i was doing before. But that sabbatical really helped/saved me. I know some people that work as contractors and will work for 6 months and then take a few months off which I could see myself doing (but I'm not in as good a financial position as you and your wife). Good luck in whatever you decide, I'd be interested to hear what you end up doing.

That's awesome!

I also second the sentiment - good luck, OP, and let us know what happens. :) 


I do work for a large company, but there are not really any other divisions that would interest me. My interest lie solely outside of the corporate world. My company does not offer PT work either. 

...[snip!]...

I appreciate your response and telling me your story. It's good to know someone has felt the same and it ended up working out for them. I know YMMV. I'll check those links out your provided. Looks like I'll be having a discussion with my wife tonight and see what we can come up with. She knows I am burned out and has even commented how she can see it on me. 

You've figured out some of the hardest parts - knowing what you want to pursue, getting on the same page as your spouse, and having a backup plan. Remember that you are important, and your mental health is important. :)

You might also be interested in reading http://livingafi.com/, particularly his posts right before and right after retiring .

MasterStache

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Re: Pondering quitting my corporate job, advice
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2016, 06:39:39 AM »
Well after discussing our options, my wife and I have decided that I will be taking a short hiatus from full time cubicle work starting as soon as my kids are out of school this summer. I will basically be taking the summer off. I need to decompress, get my head screwed on straight and figure out what I want to do from there. Hopefully I can find something far more enjoyable, even if it requires a pay cut. I would really like to find something closer to home as well, since my commute was in my opinion, rather excessive (40 miles roundtrip).

I'll be working on finishing up some house projects. We won't need summer babysitting (which makes my wife happy). I'll be doing a lot of stuff with the kids as well.   We aren't worried about finances. We have more than enough to cover me not working for 3 months. Worse case scenario I go back to engineering, aka cubicle life, at the end of the summer but working for a different company. And hopefully I'll be re-energized.

We really are only a few years away form me quitting for good. So maybe a small hiatus is all I really need. We'll see how it goes. I'm excited for it. Not sure how to break it to my employer though.

DirtDiva

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Re: Pondering quitting my corporate job, advice
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2016, 07:20:37 AM »
Congrats on your decision- how exciting!

Being a good dad, minimizing the household shite your wife has to deal with when she comes home from work, minimizing expenses by meal planning, researching purchases, and doing stuff yourself instead of hiring workers --all those things add value to your family. 

Employees come and employees go- your workplace will move on.  You are creating an employment opportunity for some lucky soul!


garion

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Re: Pondering quitting my corporate job, advice
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2016, 08:49:15 AM »
Could you do free lance work? My husband is an engineer and is currently doing some free lance on the side, it pays well and he can do it from home (just had to buy some software). He got these jobs through networking with people he had worked with before.

MasterStache

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Re: Pondering quitting my corporate job, advice
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2016, 10:29:42 AM »
Could you do free lance work? My husband is an engineer and is currently doing some free lance on the side, it pays well and he can do it from home (just had to buy some software). He got these jobs through networking with people he had worked with before.

I suppose I could look into it. Unfortunately I don't have many connections and most of the customers I had good relationships with were large companies who have long standing relationships with the companies I work(ed) for. Anything is possible. I am going to keep my options open and research any doors that may open up for me. And in the meantime enjoy some much needed downtime and fun with the kids.

Tuskalusa

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Re: Pondering quitting my corporate job, advice
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2016, 10:31:59 AM »
Hi there. I'm curious if you are quitting for the summer, or if you negotiated an unpaid leave. I'm in a similar situation. Thanks!

Pancake

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Re: Pondering quitting my corporate job, advice
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2016, 11:24:49 AM »
I've done the sabbatical thing and I ended up keeping my job. The sabbatical was a life changer and it led me to Rich dad poor dad, then real estate, then here to MMM and now I'm about to FIRE in 4 months.  The sabbatical was 6 years ago. Back then I had no direction and no hope, was totally burned out by my cubicle engineering job, miserable,depressed, and wanted to quit. When you feel like that and you're always busy you have no creative energy. The cubicle leeches your life and leaves you with nothing but a shell of a person to go home, eat, and then drudge the commute back to work the next day. It's terrible and I feel your pain. So I kept my job because I had lots of vacation saved up, took off over the thanksgiving and Christmas holidays allowing some extra free days, and using some unpaid leave. They approved it and I was out 14.5 weeks. Did you know you accrue vacation while on vacation? Haha. The magic time occurs after 3 or 4 weeks when you finally start forgetting about work and your creative mind comes back. It was then I found my way out and finally had hope.

My wife actually quit her job for this time too and we took a 3 month trip, but her job wanted her back. She got a raise and negotiated less in-office hours! The power of quitting right there.

So, yes, try the sabbatical first (try negotiating using your vacation and any other leave then tacking on unpaid) and if you still can't go back then quit. At least you'll have that safety net and some time to make an informed decision. Right now you're emotional and just want to GTFO. Understandable.

Felicity

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Re: Pondering quitting my corporate job, advice
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2016, 06:09:57 PM »
Very happy for you, BeginnerStache! :D

dreams_and_discoveries

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Re: Pondering quitting my corporate job, advice
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2016, 03:11:23 AM »
Good luck, sounds as if you've made the right decision - and what great timing for the summer and spending time with the kids.


MasterStache

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Re: Pondering quitting my corporate job, advice
« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2016, 03:49:32 PM »
Thanks for all the great replies. I think a sabbatical is exactly what I need. 3 months to enjoy the summer, enjoy time with my kids and get some home projects done. My wife is actually excited about it because she really wants to kids to enjoy their summer. She is even thinking about picking up some extra shifts since a lot of the housework will land on my shoulders now.

I know it will push our FI date back, but we are ok with that. After 3 months I am hoping to have the much needed motivation and energy to get back into it for another 4-5, until full FI. I haven't talked to my boss yet. I am on vacation this week (kids spring break). I intend to call him in the next couple of days and lay out my plans to see if the company would accept me back at the end of summer. If they do, great! If not, no big deal. I can always find another job.

Wish me luck!

jaytomlinson

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Re: Pondering quitting my corporate job, advice
« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2016, 09:38:46 PM »
Congratulations, BeginnerStache! I'm on a "sabbatical" myself right now. I got burned out from full-time work last year, so I quit and traveled for four months. Now I'm back home working on personal projects. I might not be FI yet, but this mini-retirement was just what I needed.

It sounds like you're doing the right thing. Financial independence can wait if you don't like what you're doing. The flexibility is what makes this lifestyle so great!

EconDiva

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Re: Pondering quitting my corporate job, advice
« Reply #18 on: March 25, 2016, 09:25:08 AM »
Someone else posted this Quora question on another thread: https://www.quora.com/Career-Advice/What-was-it-like-quitting-your-high-paying-job-for-a-less-stressful-lower-paying-job

I can also definitely relate. For me, my breaking point was at 4 years. I wrote a recent post here: http://fetchingfinancialfreedom.com/2016/03/03/the-power-of-financial-freedom/ for anyone interested.

Long story short, I was completely mentally checked out, various attempts of changing my situation were fruitless, and I set a date by which time I would quit even if I had nothing else lined up. This last part helped immensely by itself - knowing that it would not go on "forever," that I had an "out," - priceless. I was optimistic about my options and looking forward to my self-imposed deadline. This also gave me time to really reflect on what I was looking for, and knowing I had backup in the form of my spouse's income gave me the freedom to stand up for myself and not take another dead end job for the sake of having a job.

End result: Very happy (about half a year in now). I actually ended up getting a job in a completely different division of my large-ish company, which worked out well. I already had a social network there, so transitioning was a piece of cake. My day to day work is completely different, yet my (short) commute and benefits, etc, remain the same. I highly recommend looking at all your options - internal to your company, external - and taking a look at what interests you.

FI and FIRE is really about happiness in my mind. If you and your wife have talked this through...I say go for it. Hating your 9 to 5 just seems to drain all energy and enthusiasm from your system, making it hard to get excited about anything else.


....Also do not downplay the highly negative impact stress can have on one's health...let it go for too long and you may very well be costing yourself a ton more in money (even if the effects are years from now) in the future in health care costs. 

DebtFreeBy25

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Re: Pondering quitting my corporate job, advice
« Reply #19 on: March 25, 2016, 09:35:33 AM »
Thanks for all the great replies. I think a sabbatical is exactly what I need. 3 months to enjoy the summer, enjoy time with my kids and get some home projects done. My wife is actually excited about it because she really wants to kids to enjoy their summer. She is even thinking about picking up some extra shifts since a lot of the housework will land on my shoulders now.

I know it will push our FI date back, but we are ok with that. After 3 months I am hoping to have the much needed motivation and energy to get back into it for another 4-5, until full FI. I haven't talked to my boss yet. I am on vacation this week (kids spring break). I intend to call him in the next couple of days and lay out my plans to see if the company would accept me back at the end of summer. If they do, great! If not, no big deal. I can always find another job.

Wish me luck!

This seems like a great mental health break. Good luck!

While you're out I'd recommend considering whether another employer may be a better fit for you, even if you're planning to return to your current job. Company culture and work environment matter; there's a big difference between doing something you don't love in a great environment and doing the same job in a mediocre or negative environment. 

Fingers crossed that your current employer offers you a sabbatical. Enjoy the time off!