We have some big news to share! Earlier this year, we were planning for my spouse, Corey, to take an (employer-sponsored) sabbatical in 2023. This would allow us to take a 2-3 month road trip in our new campervan. Then, he’d return to work for another year or two before making a transition.
But, a few things have changed since then. We’ll share more about these changes below, but here’s the big news.
Corey recently gave notice to his employer that he’s quitting his job!
Because he’s an executive at his organization, he decided to provide them with a long transition period. This means he’ll be officially quitting at the end of February of 2023!
When I quit my job in 2020, I knew that I was quitting to become a “full-time” entrepreneur. In contrast, Corey doesn’t yet have a clear vision of what he wants to do next. He’ll be approaching this as a self-funded sabbatical or career break.
In this post, I’ll share more about…
- What changed and why he decided to quit now
- What made us feel financially prepared
- What we’ll be doing in 2023 (and Corey’s sabbatical plans)
Why He Decided to Give His Notice
There are many reasons he’s quitting, rather than taking a sabbatical sponsored by his employer. When we talk about this, we like to think about it both as a push and a pull. There are things that pushed him toward this decision, but there are also exciting things pulling him here as well.
What Pushed Him to Quit
From my perspective, there was one pivotal moment that catalyzed this whole thing.
Earlier this year, Corey did a lot of research to propose a sabbatical benefit for any employee who had been with his organization for 10 years or more. He put a lot of effort into this proposal. Not only would it allow him to take a sabbatical, but there is also so much research that supports that it would have a positive impact on the organization’s retention and performance.
To make a long story short, the sabbatical was not approved by the board. Instead, the entire conversation became centered around whether Corey was burned out and needed time off. Where they landed was that they might be willing to approve a sabbatical for him, but they weren’t willing to extend the benefit to the organization.
Ultimately, he knew he could probably negotiate a sabbatical in 2023. But, he needed to decide whether he wanted to ask for special treatment. If he did, he knew he’d want to think long and hard about whether he actually wanted to come back after a sabbatical. If he chose not to or only came back for a few months, he didn’t feel like he was living with integrity.
Additionally, he started to experience burnout.
Up until recently, Corey has always loved his job. He was working because he wanted to be. The money was a perk, but he knew he didn’t need to be making the kind of income that he was. He felt like he was making a difference in the world and had an opportunity to be a leader.
During his ten-year tenure, the organization’s headcount grew tenfold. Given this immense growth, the organization has experienced growing pains. He was in charge of operations and finance for his organization. So, the responsibility for solving many of the challenges has fallen on his shoulders.
This was all exacerbated by the pandemic. He was also in charge of his organization’s COVID response, its return to the office, and flexible work policies. He did all this while making sure that everyone was still getting paid and the trains kept running.
Over time, this has taken a toll on him both mentally and emotionally.
On top of that, he hasn’t had a break longer than 3-weeks in the last 10 years. Our longest vacations were this past summer when we took our 3-week Maritime Canada road trip and a 2-week trip to Europe in 2017.
After 10 years of full-time work, he’s ready to take some time to rest and recover from burnout.
What’s Pulling Him to Quit
Over the last few years, we’ve taken steps to envision and design a life that we would truly love. We’ve been talking for a long time about becoming location-independent. We considered building out a campervan and becoming entrepreneurs who could work from anywhere.
These were all in the realm of ideas until 2021 when we brainstormed our 5-Year Plans together. In those plans, we started to envision when we’d want Corey to quit, when we’d want to build out a campervan, and where we’d want to travel.
Having concrete plans makes decision-making easier and allows us to push up timelines when we want to. For example, we originally thought we’d build out our campervan in 2023 or 2024. When we decided we definitely wanted to do it, we moved that timeline up and wrapped up the build in mid-2022.
These concrete ideas made it a lot easier for him to consider quitting earlier than planned. Even though he isn’t exactly sure what he wants to do for work in the future, there are so many other exciting possibilities.
This past week, we were talking about what he’s looking forward to. There were a few things on the list:
- Travel: Living a location-independence lifestyle, especially now that we have our campervan.
- Rest and relaxation: Taking time to rest and regain his energy
- Hobbies: Corey loves playing disc golf, and he’ll play more often when he has more free time. He also mentioned that he wants to learn how to cook!
- Creative Projects: Corey has always been full of creative projects and business ideas. The biggest issue has been that he hasn’t had time to explore or commit to any of them because work has taken up so much time. Last week, he was already telling me about a YouTube series he has in mind.
How We’ve Financially Prepared For Corey to Quit
We originally planned for Corey to take a 3-month sabbatical in 2023, and then quit his job in 2024. But, when things changed at work, we realized that we were financially prepared for him to quit now.
We have F-You Money
We define F-You money as the amount of money in cash or liquid investments that allows you to get out of a bad situation or take advantage of an opportunity. This number can be different for different people, and you get to decide what money falls into your F-You Money bucket.
We could cover over 1.5 years of expenses with what we have in cash in our various accounts (including our emergency fund and business checking). This means that if neither of us made any income for 1.5 years, we’d still be okay.
I’ve also heard that people often include their taxable investments in their F-You Money calculation. Since taxable investments are not retirement accounts, you have no restrictions on when you can take out the money. If absolutely necessary (though unlikely), we could sell some of these investments.
We could cover another 1.5 years of expenses with the investments we have in our taxable account. That gives me even more peace of mind.
Besides this, we’ve opted to build up our cash buffer by reducing Corey’s 401K contributions to 3% (the minimum to get the employer match). Additionally, since he’s staying through February, he will (hopefully) still be eligible for his 2022 bonus, which will also help to top up these accounts.
We’ve Reached Coast FI
Coast FI is the point where you don’t need to invest another dime for retirement. You already have enough saved and invested that will grow to provide you with a comfortable traditional retirement. All you need to do is cover your actual costs between now and then.
In fact, I just did some calculations. If we never invested another dollar and “coasted” from here, we’d still be able to retire early at the age of 54.
But, our goal is not to scale back completely. Our hope is to generate enough income doing work we truly love to continue saving around 20% of our income. We like the idea of having a buffer in case of an emergency or higher expenses. If we dropped our savings to around 20%, we’d still reach FI at the age of 49. Not too shabby.
To calculate your Coast FI number, download our free calculator.
We Have Multiple Income Streams
The last reason we are confident that Corey can quit is that we have a business that is covering a good portion of our expenses already.
In this business, we have multiple income streams: coaching, courses, freelance writing, and affiliates. We’re also exploring new income streams, like an in-person retreat and brand sponsorships. Because we aren’t dependent on one income stream, this provides us with even more confidence.
Additionally, I am 100% certain that Corey will generate income by doing something in the future. He has so many ideas. This may even allow us to surpass our goal of 20% savings (though we only want to do that if we can do it in a way that allows us to enjoy life to the fullest).
To be clear, I realize that we are overly prepared because we know we tend toward being risk-averse. You don’t necessarily need to have all these building blocks in place to make this kind of change.
What We’ll Be Doing in 2023
To recover from burnout, Corey will be taking 6 months completely off of work as a self-funded sabbatical. Then, he’ll take some time to focus on what he wants to do next.
Road Trip – March to June 2023
For the first three months of his sabbatical, we’ll be road-tripping in our campervan through the western United States. We’ll be leaving in mid-March and returning home in mid-June.
During the trip, we’ll be visiting New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. We are ready to take in the beautiful scenery and do tons of hiking.
During the trip, we’ll also have the opportunity to visit family and friends in Ohio, Indiana, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Washington, and more! We’ll also be spending a few days at the EconoMe Conference in Cincinnati on our trip out!
We’re planning to travel at a medium pace. We are definitely intrigued by slow travel, but since this is our first big road trip, we want to see a lot! We’ll be spending 4-7 days in each location. We hope this will allow us to soak things in, explore the area, and relax. Additionally, I plan to continue working part-time on The Fioneers, but I will work fewer hours than usual (3-4 hours/day, 3-4 days/week).
While I’m working, Corey will play lots of disc golf, read books, play games, and relax. We’ll see if he uses some of this time to explore his YouTube idea.
Deciding What to Do Next
After we return home in June of 2023, he’ll take additional time to enjoy the summer before deciding what kind of work he wants to explore.
There are so many options that he could consider:
- He could return to another traditional full-time job (although this seems unlikely)
- He could do contract or consulting work in his field
- He could spend his time supporting our business and/or determining new income streams for the business. (Believe me… I have a whole list of things he could help me with!)
- He could start a completely new business.
He’s always been entrepreneurial with a million ideas, so I’m excited to see what he does when he actually has time!
Location Independence, Here We Come!
As of February 2023, we will officially be location-independent. We articulated this goal back in 2018. At the time, this was our why for FI, and we assumed that we’d need to reach full FI for it to be a reality.
Now, we know that FI isn’t necessary for any lifestyle design except to retire and never earn another dollar. Using our financial freedom, we can design lives we don’t want to retire from. We are less than 50% of the way to FI, and we’re getting closer and closer to our ideal lifestyle.