I Couldn’t Help Myself: Preaching FIRE To My Coworkers

wood-fire-flame

I may have slipped up at work last week.  I couldn’t hold it in any longer.  Before I knew it, I was blabbing away.

It all started a few weeks ago.  As part of employee personal development this year, my employer is stressing financial literacy.  I work in the financial services industry so this falls in line with the company’s mission.  To facilitate the personal finance discussions, my team’s leadership sent an email soliciting topics of interest and the initial topic chosen was saving for retirement.

Sweet, right up my alley.  

To help guide the discussion, they created a shared file where individuals could submit anonymous questions.  Since I’d been out of office a couple weeks on reserve duty, I hadn’t seen any of the questions… until last Wednesday.

As I read through the list, I was dumbfounded.  These people were completely clueless about investments and what they needed to do to retire.  Remember, I work for a financial services firm (granted in a staff position) and most of these people are in their 40s, highly educated, and have been with the company for 15+ years.

I couldn’t deal with the bullshit any longer and started getting excited and all riled up.  Before I knew it, I was typing away in a mad frenzy.  The end result is the email below I sent out to our team of 30 professionals, including multiple directors and an assistant vice president.  Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Hey Everyone,

I went on a mini rant in the file Mike linked below and decided to continue it here.  This is a great topic and something I’m fairly passionate about.  Unfortunately, the mainstream advice is practically worthless.  Retirement doesn’t need to be something that happens when you’re 60 or 65.  There is a growing online community of regular people like you and me who are achieving financial independence in their mid-30s and low-40s.  For anyone who makes an above average salary, which would be all of us in this email, this is very doable and can be done in a much shorter time than you think. 

The typical American consumerist lifestyle is overflowing with wastefulness.  Most people waste thousands upon thousands of dollars every year without even realizing it.  If you haven’t done so already, start by examining all your purchases and expenses.  I bet you can cut 25% without even noticing it.  These savings can then be invested, creating passive income streams.  Your money should always be working for you and everyone should have multiple income sources. 

There are dozens of amazing personal finance blogs.  I am friends with many of these bloggers and write under a pen name myself.  I’m especially drawn to those specializing in FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early).  The most basic place to start out is here.  This site is where many in the FIRE community, including myself, first realized it was possible to ditch the rat race decades before their peers. 

I can’t imagine that anyone wants to spend the majority of their short time on this earth sitting in a cubicle.  We all have passions and things we’d rather be learning and exploring.  Take control of your finances so you can live life on your terms and find true happiness!  

If you’re interested in financial independence and want to learn more, feel free to reach out.  This isn’t a joke.  Like I said, there are amazing blogs out there.  I’m always down to talk personal finance and investments over a beer.  

DTG

I wasn’t sure how my message would be received since my company is extremely conservative and I’m fairly reserved at work, generally keeping to myself.  An outspoken email like this would be very unexpected.  Later that day, several people responded and thanked me for sending the email.  My favorite response was, “Preach!”

I’d mentioned to my coworkers previously that I wasn’t looking for a new job after we move in August and maybe now they’ll put two and two together.  Regardless, I hope my comments sparked a fire (pun intended) and at least one of them will take a hard look at their finances and make the necessary changes to reach their goals.

So what do you guys think?  Hopefully this will be the start of some interesting conversations in my office.

40 thoughts on “I Couldn’t Help Myself: Preaching FIRE To My Coworkers

    • Ditching the Grind says:

      Thanks, Gwen. That is so true! A few people have seemed pretty curious, but it’ll probably take some time for them to soak in something that challenges what they’ve always been told about work and finances.

      Like

  1. Courtney says:

    Amazing! That email is AWESOME. I’m working up the courage to tell my team I’m leaving in February and to REALLY tell them why (boss already knows but no one else does). Good for you. You may have just changed lives 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ditching the Grind says:

      Thanks! I haven’t come out completely with my full intentions, but the few people who at least know some of my plans have been very supportive. Most will say things like “lucky” or “living the dream.”

      I did set up a lunch with the AVP I mentioned in the story and plan to tell her the day before I leave. During my performance evaluation in April, I let my boss in on some of my plans.

      My guess is you’ll know when the time is right, especially if it’s a smaller team with people you’re fairly close to.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mrs SSC says:

    OMG! That is awesome! I almost dropped a similar bomb at lunch yesterday, since tomorrow is my last day at my big corporate job before I start teaching this fall. Older (late 50s) people were complaining about retirement savings, and I wanted to say “I have already fully funded my retirement – now I am just trying to finishing saving so I don’t have a mortgage”. There is something about having looser lips when you are about to leave a job…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ditching the Grind says:

      Yes, my filter at work has been much looser the last few weeks! The comments in the file I mentioned were heading in that direction and that’s when I couldn’t take it anymore.

      It’s so awesome that tomorrow is your last day! Enjoy your summer. Hopefully it stops raining!

      Like

  3. evenstevenmoney says:

    I think it’s great that you wrote the email. My only caution would be prepared for the naysayers and other who just won’t understand. You might have caught a few people who are intrigued with this radical idea, but cheering someone on is very different than playing in the game.

    Like

  4. The Personal Economist says:

    Wow, love it. I’m not quite so bold but one of my colleagues in their mid 20s on a good salary said they were having trouble saving and I said if we can save 40% of our income with 2 kids and 2 mortgages, you can save at least 10%.
    You are so close, such an inspiration thanks for sharing, you have kept me going today,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ditching the Grind says:

      Glad I could make your day! And same for me, I have little sympathy when I hear young people who are paid well and have no kids talking about having no time or money. I’m generally quiet, but when I do say something it’s usually something like this!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Julie @ Millennial Boss says:

    What a well-written email! I can totally relate. Once someone I know opens the door that they may be interested in personal finance, it ignites a match in me and it’s so hard to keep myself from talking about it! I actually passed on blogs and articles to my direct reports in my last job and they loved it! Many became regular readers and investors themselves. We are all young though so that might make a difference. Good luck! Hope you get some good responses!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ditching the Grind says:

      I think it’s great that you did that. You did them a huge favor and by introducing them to the personal finance community at a young age. Older people can definitely be more set in their ways and resistant to change. Several seemed interested, though, which is encouraging.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  6. mdbyfire says:

    I hope they listen! Unfortunately, my experience with preaching FIRE is that it’s usually met with a mix of confusion (why would you want to retire at age 40? How can you live that frugally?) and negativity (that sounds nice on paper, but it’ll never work in real life). Let us know if you get some converts!

    Like

  7. Kate says:

    This is awesome! I really hope you write a follow up post to tell us about any conversations you’ve had with coworkers, and just how many asked you for more info.

    My employer also has sessions to help people with financial literacy so that’s been a good way to start conversations with a few of my coworkers. I’ve sent them some websites to help them see what’s possible but it’s been difficult to get them to actually look at the sites, even though they’ve shown interest. They keep saying they’ll get around to it and, after a few months, I stopped nagging. I hope you have much better luck! 🙂

    Like

    • Ditching the Grind says:

      I think I will end up writing a follow up, probably towards the end of next month so stay tuned!

      It can be frustrating when you see people who need help or guidance, you give them the tools, and nothing happens. They have to want to make a change. The best hope is to at least spark some interest in personal finance and the idea that there is another way.

      Like

  8. our next life says:

    I’m going to have to put aside my mild horror at the cluelessness of some of your colleagues, since I kinda need them to be on their game in managing my accounts! 🙂 But I LOVE that you sent that note. We keep talking about how much info we’ll each write to our colleagues when we do our final sign-off letters, and Mr. ONL is leaning toward saying very little while I’m leaning more toward writing something more in the manifesto direction. 🙂 I think there’s something to be said for inducing a little shock in folks to get them to sit up and pay attention!

    Like

  9. Mrs. PIE says:

    Oh I LOVE this! Well done for finding the confidence to send it. It’s the kind of thing I would write then never hit send. I often wonder how much I’ll tell my colleagues when I quit. At the moment I’m even nervous to recommend blogs as it might blow the cover for our blog!
    If your colleagues don’t put two and two together after threat they need some help with math! 😉 Looking forward to hearing any more follow up you get

    Like

  10. Ditching the Grind says:

    Thanks. I’ve written my fair share of emails that I didn’t hit send, probably for the better! This is likely all I’ll say to the vast majority. There are a few I’ll tell a bit more. I definitely don’t plan on sharing this blog with anyone, though!

    Like

  11. Arrgo says:

    Im in my mid 40’s now and in a great place financially, but I know I could have done a lot better if someone just planted that seed 10 or 20 years ago. No one ever told me and I never really had a plan other than the usuall putting money in my IRA/ 401k. I certainly could have put some of my extra money to better use. All I would have needed is like 5 minutes of someone telling me this or an email like yours. The funny thing is a lot of people dont want to hear it or arent that interested. Hopefully someone will see the opportunity and take advantage of it.

    Like

    • Ditching the Grind says:

      It’s amazing how a few small changes and different perspective towards money can make such a big difference financially. You’d think there would be a little more emphasis on financial education in our society. It’s almost as if they want the masses to stay uninformed and in debt.

      Like

  12. Graham @ Reverse the Crush says:

    This is an excellent post!
    I also use to work in the financial industry in everyday banking, mutual funds, and a brokerage. I too use to get frustrated with the lack of knowledge for people in the industry. I never felt I could get any advice, even from management. Which is sad because the purpose of working there was to learn.
    I’m actually surprised you got such a good response from some of your co-workers.
    Great job speaking up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ditching the Grind says:

      Thanks! You’re right, the lack of knowledge among so many people in the industry is surprising.

      I will say, the positive remarks were from about 5-6 of the 30 people. Who knows what the others were thinking. Hopefully it made a positive impact.

      Like

  13. findingmyfreedom says:

    I wish it was a surprise that people are so ill-informed. We all have this assumption that retirement is something that will happen a long way in the future, and that we should all just make the best of things now. It’s nuts!

    I’ve just started my journey to financial independence and started blogging about it. I’m keeping it anonymous for now, as a big part of financial independence for me is being able to quit my job, and I don’t want my employers to assume I’ve mentally checked out in the meantime. It’s interesting to see how people reacted to your plans – it’s great that you got a positive reaction!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ditching the Grind says:

      Well, I guess I only hinted at my plans. Only a few know my real intentions. My last day at work is tomorrow so I didn’t have much to lose. That email led to some interesting conversations which were fun.

      It’s great that you’re striving for financial independence! It’s crazy that most don’t see the light and realize it’s a possible goal. Best of luck and thanks for stopping by!

      Like

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