I wrote the title of this blog the day I quit full time corporate life – March 31, 2015. The blog was not written on the same day because I wanted to share my real experience AFTER having quit full time work, not what I planned on experiencing. I wrote A fist out of water …. After 11.5 years on March 31, 2015 and it was truly just that.
When should you quit ?
I did my exec MBA PGPMAX from ISB in 2012-13 and then decided to quit a well paying, full time corporate life in 2015. Several friends and well wishers thought I was a fool. Some thought I had lost it completely and will regret my decision. Well, I have always been crazy, so that hasn’t changed, but to those who thought I will regret my decision – I don’t, not for a minute.
I have also had people asking me when is the right time to quit. My answer is very simple. Quit when you are complete. I quit when I realised that I had done all that I wanted to in the different roles that I had taken on and Krishnan and I had reached our financial goal. Both those factors are important. I didn’t feel the need to achieve anything more in my corporate career. We also had figured out how our investments will keep us going.
As regular readers of my blog are aware, Krishnan and I went bankrupt in 1996. We came to Delhi penniless on Aug 17, 1997. The next six years went in us working hard to get out of the financial hole we got ourselves into. We took two important decisions at that time –
- To give back to the community and pay forward for all the help that we received during those difficult six years once we were financially secure – ShikshaDaan was the result.
- Learn to save and invest towards a financial goal that would help us retire early.
The number 1 goal was contingent upon the number 2 goal. So we got busy saving and investing with helpful advise from friends, a proper investment consultant and a ton of reading. We didn’t make all the right decisions of course, but a few right decisions steered us towards our financial goal. Scrimping and saving rather than spending lavishly. We read Warren Buffett’s advise on save first and spend whatever is left after saving.
Am not dispensing financial advise because am no expert. But there is enough material available now that can help with this planning.
Do read this answer by Kandaswamy Balasubramaniam on Quora – Is 1 Crore enough to retire in 2020 at age 40 ?.
Also read Coffee Can Investing by Saurabh Mukherjea and Rakshit Ranjan. I wish Saurabh had written this book back in 2000 :). Am reading it now and its truly life changing because it clearly outlines the mistakes that most salaried or even business owning Indians make in planning their investments.
Gharelu Nuske for Financial planning 🙂
- We use only one credit card for all online purchases and that has a small spending limit. That way, we don’t lose too much should there be some fraud.
- We pay credit card bills fully – never roll over. The interest you pay when you roll over the balance, is just money that you earned with a lot of difficulty and wasted for nothing.
- I check the credit card bill 5 times before making the payment. No automatic transfers.
- Fix the tiny leaks – When I realised that Citibank charges a fine if the average minimum balance is not maintained in the savings account, I simply created a Fixed Deposit for the minimum balance so that I don’t pay that fine of a few hundred rupees.
- All of us shifted to Jio from Vodafone. Loyalty be damned !! With Vodafone we were paying a lot more and were unable to receive calls sitting next to the person calling. With Jio we just pay once a year and it works everywhere.
- Postpone expenses. All of us are impulsive buyers of things we don’t need, me included. Except for things that cost 500 bucks or less, or its related to health or an amazing experience, I simply postpone all purchases. If we think of changing some appliance, we will do all the research, but postpone the decision by a few days. It saves a ton of money and you buy things that you really need.
- De-Clutter. Marie Kondo’s Book Review #1/50 – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying should be made part of the school curriculum. Again, this came late in our lives, but we implemented it instantly. There are less things to clean and our buying has refined significantly. I still buy sarees to feed my saree addiction but I also stick to a budget and postpone my decisions to avoid impulsive purchases.
- Not spending on depreciating assets like expensive cars, bikes etc. Buy an used car and use it more.
Do Meaningful Work as a Second Career
You may quit when you are complete but still feel frustrated because you have “nothing” to do !! Before quitting your full time job, its very important to decide your post retirement plan. Essentially, a plan to stay engaged. Retiring early doesn’t mean you while away precious time watching inane soaps on TV or listen to crappy news 24/7. Thats a sure shot route to disaster.
Find your passion. Find things that you put away to do later as you were busy making money. It could be singing, gardening, politics, sewing, cooking, theatre, travel, reading, activist, anything. You can become an entrepreneur or setup a school, NGO or a counselling centre !
Focus on meaningful work. For many of us, once our financial goal is reached, getting up every single day and going to the office to do more of the same, becomes a chore. But the alternative of not doing anything is no good either. Look within and find out what excites you.
Krishnan and I love coaching. We got ourselves certified in 2016 and besides ShikshaDaan, coaching and mentoring gives us a huge high.
Why Giving Back to the community is important
During the lockdown last year, we did this program on Coursera called The Science of Well Being – Yale University. The program is really well researched and you realise that its not a good job, lots of money, tons of awesome stuff, a perfect body or great grades that make you happy. Instead gratitude, kindness to fellow human beings, social connection, time affluence and healthy practices actually make you feel happy.
Giving back satisfies your soul. I consider making way for a younger person by quitting, once your financial goals have been achieved as a way of giving back. There is no shame in earning well and living well. Am no fan of poverty. But spending all your life doing work that you don’t enjoy just to earn some more is being stupid.
Giving back is not necessarily about giving monetary donations only. Its about giving time, its about helping someone with your experience.
Work Friends ?
A lot of people wonder if friendships at the workplace continue after you quit full time work. It depends :). It depends on YOU. If you made a positive difference to your colleagues most of them do stay in touch whether you have a “position” or not.
I haven’t lost touch with anybody I didn’t want to. I still get birthday greetings from all those people who wished me when I was their manager, peer, subordinate or just a colleague. Many of them track my blogs to see what I am upto. Some still fight over who will inherit my sarees and whether I should write a will clearly specifying what goes to who. I still get a call when someone just wants to vent or ask for advise.
Nothing has changed except that I don’t sit next to them. Mind you, this is not just ex-collegues in India, its ex-colleagues in the US as well. I know where Betty is right now, just as I knew when she and I worked in legacy Hewitt. Thats friendship over 18 years, 15 of those as an ex-colleague.
Its not only folks at Aon Hewitt. My team at Spectramind (now Wipro BPO) is still in touch. DellNuts speak almost everyday over WhatsApp and we drive each other up the wall as easily as we did in 2001.
Yes I have many people who haven’t kept in touch and that’s ok. So quitting your job doesn’t mean losing your friends.
I don’t miss my 9 to 5 job at all. I wake up everyday knowing that I would probably get to meet some interesting person, make some decisions that would help somebody get an education, mentor or coach, and maybe learn something new…. Life is good.
Remember Benjamin Franklin’s quote – If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Life is about living and exploring. Find out what that means to you and plan to live that life.