(Photo Details: Sydney as a venture capital bean counter, circa 1992)
I don’t have a great explanation when people ask me why it was that I wanted to retire at such a young age. It’s an interesting question, though.
I first started working when I was 15. My best friend’s sister worked at H.S. Fish and Chips. She got us both jobs there. I had to get a work permit from my school and I didn’t even earn minimum wage. Apparently that was legal since I wasn’t 16 yet. But I didn’t care--I had my first real job, and $2.65/hr. seemed like a lot of money to me.
My best friend Briana was a cook and I was a cashier, so we worked many shifts together. We had a great time--it hardly felt like work. I loved working, even though I came home smelling like fish and oil. My mom wouldn’t even let me sit in the living room and talk to her until I took a shower, I was so pungent. And it wasn’t great for my complexion either.
I remember I saved up enough money to invest in a $500 bond, my first investment, for a capital improvement project at my church. I can’t remember exactly, but I remember I earned a pretty good interest rate on that investment.
I spent all my savings the summer between my junior and senior year to go on a sailing trip in Canada with a church youth group, and to enroll in a summer school program at U.C. Santa Barbara that they used to offer to high school juniors. I earned college credit, studying accounting and computer science.
My senior year in high school, I landed a much better job as a gopher at a law office. I did filing, typing, errands, photo copying—that type of thing. I relished working in an office and having my very own desk and phone extension. It was a great job. I was happy to trade that navy blue polyester fast food uniform for a more professional look. I hardly saw my friends that year though; I was also taking classes at the local community college during my senior year in high school. So between school and my job, I didn’t have much of a social life. But I still loved working.
In college I got a part-time job as a legal secretary. We shared office space with an accounting firm. When they heard I was an accounting student, they offered me a job doing tax work on top of the job I had doing legal secretarial work. I loved working. I loved it a lot more than school, and my grades reflected that.
Naturally, I thought I was going to love working once I graduated. I couldn’t wait to get to my “real” life. When I did get there, I was happy to be part of the official work force, but working at a Big 8 accounting firm was tough. All my jobs leading up to that one were much better for my ego. The environment at large accounting firms was pretty competitive in those days. Maybe it’s the same now, I don’t know. In any case, they didn’t spend a lot of time giving us pats on the back, they mostly told us everything we were doing wrong. That was called training.
As soon as I got my CPA certificate, I got out of there. I landed a great job at a venture capital company. It wasn’t great just because it paid really well. It was a completely different environment than the Big 8 accounting firm. My boss spent a lot of time telling me how much he appreciated my work. It was a small, friendly office. We celebrated birthdays and weddings and babies together. We were part of each other’s lives. It was a far cry from my previous job.
So I’m not sure why, from the moment I got to that great job, I began planning my early retirement. I was at that company for 18 years. And the whole time, I was actively working on my early-retirement plan.
And I’m not sure when I went from loving working to not wanting to do it anymore. It clearly wasn’t to escape a bad work environment. But I do remember the feeling the last few years of my career, that I desperately wanted to be done with work.
I guess I always felt like I didn’t have enough time outside of work to do all the things I wanted to do in my life, like life was going by too fast. Of course, now that I’m retired, I still feel like I don’t have enough time for it everything. But now I don’t have that feeling like life is going by too fast.
Maybe that was all I was after?
Can’t keep track of my non-existent posting schedule? Subscribe—it’s free!