What It’s Like Going Back to Work After Hitting FI

January 14th of 2016 was the last day I worked a job I had been at for 13.5 years. I hated about 13.4 of those years.

I stuck with it since the pay was decent, benefits were good, and I absolutely hated job interviews.

For most of 2016 I did new things and moved to a new state. Took up hiking, camping, did some travel, biking, and dating around. Boredom eventually started to kick in after one relationship ended and the next chapter kicked in. Going back to work after a year of not working.

I guess there’s only so many hours in a day you can spend trying to fill with activities. Initially I wanted to find a part time job like an adjunct teacher at the community college. 4 hours a week seemed about right, teaching finance to non -jaded college kids. The process was easy enough to get approved to teach, the pay was surprisingly not bad at all, however landing courses to teach proved difficult. You have to wait your turn for these prized courses to open up (and I’m still waiting).

Searching for other part time work proved pointless. Anything I would be interested in doing either didn’t pay enough to want to wake up in the morning or I guess my resume looked ridiculously overqualified to someone trying to hire for those positions.

So I turned to looking at full time work. Did I need the money? No, not at all. The little 72(t) income and qualified dividends provided more than enough to live off and even save. But apparently companies only value full time workers, even though most of the typical work day can be accomplished working part time.

Having no major financial institutions where I now resided, I just applied to the dreaded banks. Landed interviews with the major banks within a week, and one week later accepted a sales position with one of the nation’s largest banking institutions. Why is working for a bank so dreaded. Well, the joke in the financial services field was the bankers are the ones wall street doesn’t want to hire. Banking was what you do in retirement after leaving an investment firm. Banks are very much looked down upon. So yeah, I went that direction. More on working at a bank another day, but short story, I absolutely hated it. The hours were ridiculously long. Working Saturdays was a regular thing. And yeah, let’s just say that all of the banks are eventually going to be found out of opening bogus accounts. Not something for me. Didn’t last long at barely 6 months. The only good thing from the experience was seeing that the managers did appreciate me and asked what could be done to keep me. It was more or a “It’s you (bank), not me”. I also enjoyed the people I worked with briefly, which was completely different from 13.5 years previously.

I had known I would be leaving the bank within the year. It was a horrible fit and I went from having all the time in the world, to having absolutely no life. By chance, I received an email in late January 2017 (while still training at the bank). I held on to it just in case. It was a 401(k) provider contracted with operations for one of the largest mutual fund companies out there. They were opening an office and found my resume online. I held onto it for when I had enough at the bank..

So in April of 2017, I knew the end was near with the bank. I applied late April, interviewed early May, got a job offer a week later to start in June. The money was better, the hours better, travel time to work a lot better, and I wouldn’t have to dress up for work with the exception of a few days to put on a show to impress a few clients.

So that’s where I’m currently at in life. Working a pretty mundane job in the financial services field, but hey, I like the happy hours and the people are pretty cool.

So what is it like going back to work after choosing and having the option to not work?

It’s a little weird. I notice, more now than ever, the habits people have that keep them from hitting FI. The lack of understanding in starting to invest as much as you can at an early age, and socking away as much money as possible so you don’t have to slave away at a job.

It’s difficult to not judge how a company is run and think “if this was my company, I would do this instead.” I guess that’s the problem with the corporate machine. For example at both places, the training programs have been abysmal. Weeks of wasted time for all parties, going over information that doesn’t pertain to the job. The bank was especially bad. Most of the “training” centered around don’t break any regulations or you’ll get fired, these are protected classes-be careful what you say to them…we don’t want anything misconstrued and get sued. So what exactly are these regulations that I shouldn’t break? It was weeks of the bank covering their own ass as an institution.

I’m also not sure if every company is like this, but I question the point of job interviews and the whole hiring process, when you actually start your job and basically have to figure out everything on your own with no resources but doing Google searches. Kinda weird. Maybe things have changed since I’ve last had to learn a new positions.

In about a week, I have to start meeting with my manager to go over career goals and performance measures. That will be weird. Not quite sure how you say “I don’t really need the money, I’m here for the happy hours and benefits. I don’t really have any career aspirations, but to fly under the radar, collect a check, and go home” without sounding like a jerk.

Am I currently enjoying going back to work?

Yes and No. I miss my free time. I actually have to plan things in advance now and hope not to be too tired from work. I like the comradery. As for actual work… I wouldn’t say I’m missing it.

I’m currently 3 months into a 1 year deal (signing bonus). My current work looks like I can get everything comfortably done in about 3 hours. I’m hoping after the year is up, I can stay in good graces and throw out an offer of me working part time at the current going rates for 4 hours a day/5 days a week (or 4 days a week since Fridays are slow) from 8-12.

One of the other reasons I went back to work was for relationships. Last summer I met someone who actually got me interested in the dating scene again. That was a great time. Since then it’s been mostly duds and crazy chicks. Currently, I am seeing a pretty cool woman and will see where that heads. She knows my story. If that fails, all bets are off and I’ll probably take a break from the dating scene. I probably won’t work anymore, since I won’t have to answer the dreaded “so what do you do for a living?” as an early retiree.

I do have to admit, job interviews are super easy when you don’t need a job. Now, that doesn’t mean you just say stupid things, but if you don’t get a job offer, hey it’s no big deal.

Also, work is practically stress free. If one day I don’t feel like putting up with shit anymore, I can always just leave. No big deal.

So I guess I’ve realized that work… It’s not me, it’s you.

Maybe next year, I’ll finally get that finance class teaching non-jaded college kids.

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Readers Comments (35)

  1. I ended up taking a job in the industry I’m familiar with and no kidding about “if this was my company, I’d do ____ differently.” They offered me $36k to “see what I can do”. If don’t get what I want after the 90 day review (like, more $$ and less hours – I’ve had very few days with more than 1 hour of work, so I’m literally just playing with my phone 7.5 hrs a day), then I’ll just adios the job. I don’t need it. I don’t have enough $$ to not work ever, but this salary just isn’t worth it vs. the costs of working. And I don’t have any happy hour benefits.

    • I’m getting paid pretty good for the work, but man I really miss my free time during the week.

  2. Great post. Congrats on fi. Being a salary employee and having the winter off i can choose to not work. AFTER a week off i get bored. I did snow removal once and cleaned parking lots for 4 hrs a day. It was perfect. Gave me something to wake up for everyday and then i had all day to do whatever. I hope things work out with u and the new girl. Cheers!

    • Thanks. No complaints on the new girl. Yeah, wish I could just work about 20 hours a week, seems to be about the right work load

  3. This is a post to archive and dust off one day. No doubt, I am on the same collision course as you (after I reach FI in the distant future). I am guessing most people will be working when I am home enjoying all of my earlier financial decisions/sacrifices, what then? Like you mentioned, activities only take up so much time.

    I believe I would do exactly what you did and try to find a job to occupy my time, a few hours a week. I need that challenging environment every now and again, I enjoy (most) people in the office and chatting it up, and I love getting business done.

    Thank you very much for this update, it is certainly one to think about, albeit very far down the road. Best of luck in your new job and being semi-retired!!

    • Ironically the fun activities become less fun when you do them every day. The fun part time jobs like adjunct professor or positions at national parks are hard to come by.

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