It’s Official! My Secret Is Out!

My Secret Is Out!  Up until a few days ago, only a handful of my closest friends at work knew I was retiring early.  Yesterday, over 10,000 people learned my secret in a formal announcement via the “People News” at work.  What A Blast!!

Today, we’re going to take time to celebrate a very significant event on our journey toward an early retirement.  On February 1, my retirement was the top story in the “People News” email.  That formal announcement represents a major milestone in our journey, and now the world knows…..

…My Last Day Of Work Will Be June 8, 2018!

It’s Official!!

The response to that “People News” announcement was amazing and immediate.  Within minutes of its publication, my inbox started to ping.

It seems “People News” is one e-mail which everyone in the company reads.

My e-mail has BLOWN UP since the announcement, and I’ve had fun responding to the well-wishers over the past few days.  It’s amazing how many folks you know after working 3+ decades in one company.  I’ve moved 9 times over those decades and worked in many of our locations, with many of our employees.

While I’m now based at our global HQ office in Atlanta, my current role is “Global” in scope, and I work with folks all over the world.  Add to that the thousands of folks I’ve worked with throughout my career, and it’s a bit overwhelming to realize how many individuals I know.  I consider many of them my friends, and their emails have been inspiring.

Most of them didn’t know I was planning on retiring early, until last Friday.

Now, My Secret Is Out.

It was exhilarating to see the announcement in People News, and it’s been even more exciting to hear from so many friends since.  In the past few days, I’ve gotten notes from Europe, Brazil, Asia and all over North America.  It’s been a constant stream of contact with friends I’ve known for years, and it’s been a true joy to respond to each and every email.  This moment has been a long time coming, I’ve worked hard to put the pieces in place, and I’m intentionally enjoying the milestone that this announcement represents.

In full transparency, it’s also a strange transition.  Over the past few years, I’ve KNOWN I was going to retire by 2018.  In the past few days, however, EVERYONE in the company now knows the same secret (I guess that means it’s not a secret anymore?).

One Day It's A Secret. The Next Day 10,000 People Know I'm Retiring Early. What A Rush! Click To Tweet

It’s interesting to see how the dynamic changes when folks suddenly find out you’re retiring early.  I haven’t changed, but I can see a change in the faces of folks I pass in the hallway or chat to in the coffee break room.  Perhaps a tinge of envy, perhaps mere curiosity.  From most, a sincere respect for my ability to put myself in a position to retire early, while many are facing the reality of having to work well into their 60’s.

“How are you getting out so young?” seems to be a common question.

If only they knew.

The answer to that question has filled hundreds of thousands of blog posts, from hundreds of bloggers over the years.  How do you answer that question in a 30-second “elevator speech”?  I’m open to your suggestions (please comment below).  For now, I just kind of ramble through a few sentences about it being something I’ve worked toward for years, and smile.

If only they knew.


One group of folks who know what it takes to retire early are my friends in the “FIRE” Community (Financial Independence Retire Early).  Over 11,000  of them hang out on the ChooseFI Facebook Page, where I posted my big announcement an hour after it happened last Thursday.  The response has been amazing (416 Likes and 61 Comments!?  Wow!):


My successor has been named (also in the People News announcement), and my focus for the next few months is transferring my 30+ years of “Institutional Knowledge” into the shoes I’ll no longer wear.  I’m going to enjoy the ride.

It’s going to be a very unique 4 months in my career, and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.  I like to teach, and am actually looking forward to doing my very best in transferring my years of knowledge to the man who will now be carrying “my” torch.  I want the company to do well, after all, since my pension depends on it!

Most importantly, perhaps….I’ve also decided to start whistling whenever I can get away with it.  A small symbolic gesture to remind myself to celebrate the achievement of this milestone.  We’ve worked years to arrive at this point, and it’s important to find a way to celebrate.  To me, whistling represents a mini-celebration.

I celebrated whistled on my way down the elevator this week (yes, I was the only one in there, wouldn’t want folks to think I’m weird!).

I suspect I’ll be whistling a lot between now and June 8th.

I think I’ve earned that right.

Take time to celebrate the milestones on your journey.

Take time to whistle.

 

71 comments

  1. Awesome Fritz, congrats! It’s actually amazing that more people at your job didn’t discover your blog but I guess it’s only “us types” that read about personal finance and money online 🙂

    1. Good point, AF. There are actually several of my “friends” who are regular readers, and I’ve had some nice “coaching sessions” with several that have approached me to review their retirement readiness. It’s rewarding work.

      Now that the announcement is public, a LOT more folks at work are checking out my blog! Word on the street is “Fritz is really smart about this stuff. He’s retiring early AND he writes a blog about personal finance”! Fun times!! Think I’m going to whistle now……

  2. Big, big congrats Fritz! That’s awesome!! Savor the next few months as you transition for full time employment to the retired lifestyle!!

    I went through this last year when I “retired” – and it was a pretty surreal experience (albeit at a much smaller scale than the 10K employees – we were around 200). Anyway, keep on whistling, and here’s to a fun experience the next few months and beyond!!

  3. Fritz, well deserved! Kudos on setting your date. I have learned a lot from you. I have also been inspired to start my own retirement life coach small business in part due to the many transition challenges people go through in retirement and then in ageing when retired. Yes, the Retirement Twilight Zone, working but not retired will feel like you have not changed but all around you are. Reality, you are too! You have stepped into the Retirement World and first step of the Honeymoon Period…enjoy, enjoy, enjoy it. When is ends there are many new beginnings for you to reflect upon and consider. As a three time retiree, I am learning about escaping my Box of the Unlived Life…it is adding life to my years through wisdom, wellness and wholeness. May you and your family continue to be blessed beyond measure in all your hopes and dreams…a fan!

    1. Congrats on your coaching biz, Bob. I’ve considered doing that in retirement, but I’m going to make my first year of retirement a “No Obligations Year” (Future post planned on the topic). Let me know how the coaching works out for you. I’m looking forward to moving through the Twilight Zone – the transition has always intrigued me, and now I’ll be experiencing it first hand!! You’ll read about it here!

  4. What an amazing feeling that must be! Congratulations Fritz!!

    I bet the day the announcement went out, company productivity took a slight dip while people were trying to figure out how you did it!

  5. Congrats! New to your site….and am also retiring end Feb after 33 years at same company. Will start reviewing the history and info on your site….but the BIG questions (might be answered already) is “Lump Sum” or “Monthly”? 🙂

    1. Wow, amazing how similar our paths are! I’ve not written on Lump Sum or Monthly (my pension doesn’t have the lump sum option), but most of what I’ve read says the lump sum is less attractive than the monthly (e.g., the discount rate used to calculate the lump sum is too high. If you look at what level of an annuity you could purchase for your lump sum, you’ll likely find that the annuity would be lower than your monthly pension payout. Hope that makes sense, I’m sure you can find a lot about it on Google. Two disclaimers: if your employer is at any risk of bankruptcy, or if you expect to die young, the lump sum may make more sense.

  6. All I can say is heartiest congratulations Fritz! You have always been a whistler …… now there’s just a hidden happy meaning behind it. I’m liking the skipping idea – try it – there’s a feeling of pure freedom when you skip. LOVE YOU.

  7. All I can say is heartiest congratulations Fritz! You have always been a whistler – now there’s just a hidden happy incentive behind it. I’m liking the skipping idea. You should try it – there’s a real freedom when you skip. LOVE YOU

  8. first of all congratulations, I will be curious to know once you are all the way out if you feel that providing the company with this much notice of your intention was a good idea or if you regret having done so. I ask because I am genuinely curious with regards to my own situation, not for quite a few years I’m afraid, but also I remember discussions I had with my dad after he had retired. He did what he felt was the responsible thing and informed his company of his plans to retire fully 1 year ahead of the date, he felt as I’m sure you do, that there needed to be a transition period in which a successor was identified or brought in and a period of time to allow for them to acclimate and transfer of institutional knowledge. In retrospect he told me he wished he had given them 30 days notice. He felt that was about how long it took for him to be irrelevant in terms of how the place ran. once the successor was in place, the organization started looking to that person for direction and leadership, understandable I think, and my dad spent 11 months twiddling his thumbs. I think my solution is going to be to have a date in my mind when I absolutely want to be out, that will be my official retirement date. But at the same time, to be well prepared to leave anytime from the day I announce my intention to retire. If the company needs and wants me to stay and help with a transition and my identified successor feels it is helpful, then I will stay for the agreed upon time, but if it obvious to all that I am “twiddling my thumbs”, I will simply shake hands with the owners and leave that day. Let me know how you feel it is going as the date approaches, and again congratulations. I send much of what you have written to my son’s who are either still in college or fairly early into their careers, I think it is invaluable advice that needs to be taken to heart as early as possible in order to make an early and comfortable retirement possible.

    1. Hey Brian! I agree a year is much too long. Personally, I’m fine with “becoming irrelevant” if that happens, since I’ll be “irrelevant” from a work perspective after June 8th regardless. We’ll see how it goes, but 4 months felt “about right” for me. We’ve had folks that have given very short notices, and I just felt a responsibility to “do it right”. I think that’s appreciated by my employer, but only time will tell.

      BTW, thanks for sharing my blog with your children. You’re smart for trying to get them on the right path early, nothing like compounding to increase your chances of an early retirement (I started saving aggressively at Age 22, and I’ve never stopped since).

  9. Congrats Fritz.

    I bet there were some butterflies in your stomach as you informed your boss of your departure plans!

    Enjoy the departure lounge, and hopefully a smooth run into retirement.

  10. Congratulations, Fritz! It’s amazing how much I find my own path in sync with yours. I haven’t finalized my retirement date yet but the two that my husband and I have been discussing is 6/8 or 6/22. I also found myself whistling in the elevator yesterday after having watched Snow White this past weekend. Can’t wait to see what other things I can learn from you as you (and I) move towards retirement in the coming months and afterwards.

  11. Well done Fritz! Superb stuff. Whistle while you (finish up) work…..

    As you already know, I am retiring soon also. Looks like my date is now going to be…..May 31st!! To align with house moving logistics primarily and a few other things. I expect to share this news with my team, leadership and close colleagues around mid/late March time-frame. One close colleague already knows and he is retiring early June. Our team is going to lose over 55 years of combined pharmaceutical drug discovery experience within the space of two weeks. How they back-fill that is not our problem though….

    Mrs. PIE will work two weeks beyond that or a bit more if we are having any trouble selling the home in MA. Will help alleviate navigating healthcare as we can stay on her workplan instead of jumping onto COBRA.

    We continue to Plan, continue to Invest and will soon Escape. Hope to speak to you soon if possible. We should do a Google hangout or something like that and get you to meet Mrs. PIE virtually!

    1. MAY 31!! Drats, you’re going to beat me! We’re also facing the loss of 70+ years of experience when my boss retires a year or two after me. It’s a reality that much of Corporate America is facing over the coming years. Time for the Millennials to step up!

      I love the idea of a chat. Let’s line something up via email? I’d love to meet the wonderful Mrs. PIE! I’ll send you a note….

    1. Ironically, we’ll actually be in Michigan in July visiting family. Unfortunately, we’re only getting to Southern MI, a longer trip up the coast of Lake Michigan will have to wait, but is definitely in the cards. We’ll give you a shout when we get it lined up (2019, I’m guessing).

  12. Job well done, Fritz! You’ve provided a blueprint and are an example to so many that have a desire to reclaim their time. Enjoy the next four months – it’s a unique phase in your journey.

  13. Love this post, Fritz and I especially LOVE that you are going to “whistle your way to the finish line”! 🙂
    I’m sure you’ll have ample opportunity to coach/cheerlead many of your co-workers who are envious of you. People need to know that FI is do-able, you don’t HAVE to work until you are 65, and you are living breathing PROOF of this!
    Excited for you and your wife for this next chapter of life… and I look forward to continuing to read your blog and follow you as a fellow Choose FI “tribe member”!
    All the best!

  14. Congratulations Fritz. Making me feel olde….. thinking about that young man who transferred to the Atlanta Rolled Products Sales Office in 1988 and now retiring. Now on to the next phase of life. I know you will find it equally enjoyable and rewarding, you just have more time and opportunity to smell the Roses and learn and do new things. Predict you will not sit on the porch but will be out and about (or oot and aboot as our Canadian friends would say) learning, doing and achieving . Maybe even come up to Oconaluftee in the Great Smoky Mtns National Park sometime this summer and go through the Junior Ranger Compass Orienteering Program conducted each week June-Aug by one of your older Alcan retiree friends….(It’s open to “Not so Junior Rangers” also )

    1. CURTIS!! Great to hear from you, one of the best managers I had in my entire 33 year career! You’ve inspired me in many ways over the years, Curtis. Look forward to catching up with you in the mountains, I’ve made a note on my calendar for July about your compass orienteering program, will follow up with you privately.

      You’re a perfect role model for someone who has “retired well”, and I’d be happy to achieve half the things you’ve done since your retirement!

  15. Fritz, Big congratulations to you on a life transition well planned and executed. June is perfect to start your retirement with great weather to enjoy the great outdoors and your new toy!

  16. An Alcan guy! I was with Conalco (Consolidated Aluminum Corp) at the start of my career—seems like a million years ago! Congrats to you–

  17. Congratulations Fritz, you have done a great job for the company and yourself. I am planning on being “mostly” retired by March 15th but will continue to see what opportunities present themselves. I do want the no obligations time to see how it goes. Will let you know when I get to Blue Ridge again to visit.

  18. Congratulations Fritz. A man of your ability and endurance can teach a lot to the younger workers. I hope you will also pass on the “secret” to retiring early to your ‘successor’ so he/she can truly become worthy of that label! And whistle away Fritz! May that be music to the ears of FIRE aspirants around the world!

  19. Congratulations! Enjoy your last few months of work. Life is going to be very different after ER. I can’t wait to read more about how you adjust to the new lifestyle.

  20. One suggestion for the last five months of work: be careful about announcing what you plan to do in retirement. My experience – and that of my early retiree friends – shows that priorities may change from what you had thought.

    I told my many coworker friends that I was going to do four things in retirement: play more golf; research and write Texas history; buy and use more woodworking tools; and travel. I am doing three of the four, but just cannot find the time for the writing. When I’ve met with my former coworkers over the past five years, the first thing they ask is how the writing is coming along.

    I guess I needed a job in retirement, because I decided to organize and lead a golf league of fellow retirees. We are about 35 strong now, playing three days a week, and still growing. It’s not exactly what I had planned, but a lot of fun.

    At times I have felt that I could be more productive in retirement, and find time for the writing. My wife has helped me to realize that it is OK some days to just sit and read or even do nothing. But it is difficult for a high energy person to slow down.

    1. John, thanks for the advice! I always have open ears when those who have “walked before me” are willing to share advice from their experience! Good for you for organizing the golf league. I think a lot about having to make a mind shift post-retirement and realizing it is ok to just sit and read. I suspect I’ll struggle with that a bit, too. Let’s keep in touch!

  21. CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    I have an idea for the 30 second elevator pitch…

    “I simply did the opposite of what most do with their money. I aggressively saved/invested it instead of spending it. It’s that simple.”

    I know it doesn’t get into the nitty gritty details, but I think its a good representation of the broad answer of the question.

  22. Congratulations! I’m forwarding your post to my husband to share your experience. You’re about 18 months ahead of his big announcement! And then he can join me in early retirement bliss.

    You must be excited about getting out of the Atlanta traffic. We met at GT and still have family there. Every time we drive through Atlanta it seems the traffic get worse!

  23. This is the BEST! I am so excited for you Fritz! I had this post sitting in my inbox all week until I actually had some time to read it and take it all in. I can’t even imagine how you are feeling right about now, that is if it has even set in yet. All your hard work is finally taking action and bringing to life the detailing of your magnificent manifesto. Cheers for such an amazing accomplishment and looking forward to your first taste of the retirement style waffles on Wednesday.

  24. First of all a great salute to you, It requires really high patience and skills to work for more than 3 decades.
    Really amazing after going through the comments,such huge listings. feeling inspired after reading this.

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