Once The Money Is Gone Your Tolerance For BS Disappears

Once the money is gone your tolerance for BS quickly disappears

Some of you don't believe me that it's better to retire in a bear market, when all is in shambles, than in a bull market. I, for one, found it very hard to quit the money when times were good. I was always suffering from the “one more year syndrome.”

Seriously, as soon as my year-end bonus hit my bank account in mid-February, I would tell myself why not stick around for another 10 months to at least hear how much I would get. During the period when I was told (mid-December) and when I got paid, I had the option of just taking it easy if I wanted to do something else.

Finance Gets Frowned Upon

But after bonuses dried up during the financial crisis and main street really started hating anybody who worked in finance, I found it so much easier to walk away.

When you had nothing to do with someone welching on their mortgage, yet still got blamed for the crisis while you continued to pay your own, working in finance started to get real old.

Then there was the issue of getting micromanaged by an insecure and uninspiring colleague out of NYC. Finally, a large part of my compensation was being paid in company stock that was also plunging.

Why stick around? It's not like I was doing something meaningful like helping disabled children with abusive parents find safe homes and loving caretakers.

The Exodus In Technology

The same conflict is going on now with many big tech workers, especially those who work at Facebook. I sat down with an old acquaintance who works as a Product Manager at Facebook for a beer the other day.

“Roger” went to Phillips Exeter, U Penn, then Harvard for his MBA. He's basically every parent's dream child who landed what he thought was a dream job after building a stellar educational resume.

Who wouldn't want to work at a company that figures out how to track your every move online, to then sell your habits to the most pertinent advertisers?

Who wouldn't want to help enrich their leader so he can buy 700 acres of land in Kauai and then sue locals to give up their ancestral land rights?

But after just 15 months at Facebook, he wants to quit.

He lists the following reasons:

  • A growing perception that Facebook and Instagram simply make people sad and lonely because everything is BS and curated.
  • Enabling the Russians to meddle with our elections.
  • The Cambridge Analytica data breach.
  • The NY Times highlighting how the CEO and COO withheld information about the data breach.
  • An article by ex-employee Mark Luckie saying “there's a Black person problem at Facebook,” which punctuates an overall diversity problem at FB.
  • Uninspiring senior management who talk like robots.
  • Allowing Netflix and Spotify to read user’s private messages
  • An emptiness upon realization that all his education and smarts aren't doing the world much good.

Make no mistake about it. These problems have been around for a while. But something changed starting in July 2018. Facebook's stock no longer went up. Instead, it started to tank.

Facebook stock price performance versus S&P 500

Desire May Be Ruining Your Life

When Facebook's stock was going up, my friend was more than happy to ignore all the bullet points that were bugging him. After all, the pay was great and firm was consistently ranked as one of the top employers to work for.

But now, with his equity worth much less, he wants to do something that makes him feel good. He's 34 years old, coincidentally the same age when I decided to leave finance behind.

The desire for money and prestige may be ruining your life. Yes, it's good to get a taste of making big bucks and working at a firm with a low acceptance rate. But if you don't like it after a year or two, get the hell out.

The longer you stay, the more empty you will feel. You may actually start feeling dirty because you're accepting money from an institution you don't believe in.

The Joy Of Helping Others

Contrast this bad feeling to a guy I know named Nate, who works as a child counselor at the Edgewood Center in SF. The center is primarily there to help neglected, abused, or mentally ill children. At 38, he makes 1/5th of what my Facebook pal makes, but he loves going to work every day to help the kids work out their problems.

He told me the joy he gets from helping others is more than any amount of money some tech company that promotes fake news could ever pay him. When a child gets placed at a foster home after months at Edgewood, each time he feels like he has won the lottery.

Do Something That Makes You Feel Great

Roger has no doubt most of his colleagues love Facebook and enjoy what they do for a living. Facebook just isn't for him any longer, so he has to move on. It's natural for all of us to become bored and try to find something new.

In the beginning, most of us will need to accept working at jobs that might not be ideal in order to survive. Some of us like Roger, might accept a job offer that sounds ideal but turns out not to be the case. After you’ve built up enough of a financial cushion to be more selective, don’t stick around if you don’t truly enjoy what you do.

The good times may very well be coming to an end. If and when it does, the lean years might be the best thing that will have ever happened to you. When the financial incentives go away, you're left focusing on what truly matters: family, friends, purpose.

Recommendation If You Want To Move On

I recommend everybody negotiate a severance if you want to leave a job you no longer enjoy. If you negotiate a severance like I did back in 2012, you not only get a severance check, but potentially subsidized healthcare, deferred compensation, and worker training.

When you get laid off, you're also eligible for up to roughly 27 weeks of unemployment benefits. Having a financial runway is huge during your transition period.

Conversely, if you quit your job you get nothing. Check out How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye.

It's the only book that teaches you how to negotiate a severance. In addition, it was recently updated and expanded thanks to tremendous reader feedback and successful case studies.

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75 thoughts on “Once The Money Is Gone Your Tolerance For BS Disappears”

  1. Robert Graham

    It’s a poignant thought. I’ve sent two former employees to work in data @ FB.

    It reminds me of a common sports analogy. There are no chemistry problems on winning teams.

  2. This goes to show that working for an up and coming company is a better working enviroment because you want to show the industry that the company will be a force by the products they offer, marketing campaigns and all the intelligent people who work with them. That was what Facebook in the 2000s. Today being a one of the more recognizable companies today they have to deal with the politics and scrutiny being a well-established brand and they have become more of a corporate environment in which your friend experienced.

  3. To answer the question posed to readers… I tolerate what I feel are some inadequately skilled senior leaders, including in my own area. I tolerate it because a) I generally like the field I’m in, b) I’m well compensated and the income enables my personal financial plans, and c) I think this is the kind of thing one has to put up with when pursuing a traditional corporate career. The science behind how people are hired and promoted largely explains (to my satisfaction anyways) why this is not atypical. I’m hoping my current senior leader decides to move on before I do! lol I work in corporate strategy in financial services. Prior to that I worked at a profitable tech startup that got bought out.

  4. *Tounge firmly in cheek* I sincerely hope that one day I have a job that pays me so well the main reason that I don’t want to leave it is the money being so good. Sounds awesome. Golden handcuffs #signmeup!


    1. It’s definitely one of those not-really-that-bad sort of bad thing, right? I’ve been there, and really it’s the trade off of being miserable in the morning, squeaking through a week, and then gasping for some time on the weekend to unwind. You tell yourself week after week, “I got to stop doing this shit,” might even plan your escape, then you rationalize one more bonus, one more stock payout, one more summer, one more holiday season, I mean you barely work during the holidays anyway! Then, it’s almost bonus time again and you wake up and a decade has blown by.

      Sad thing is for a lot of my friends, when the money flows in like that, you don’t really save like you should and after a decade you maybe have a nice 401K, maybe a few thousand in savings (if you’re lucky) and not much else. Then, the handcuffs are really on. Your near, or at, burnout from pushing one more season, and have little to show but a high cost of living you’re married to for some reason.

      It’s not all bad, and you can easily unplug and reset your life, but the funny thing about money is unless you really set up a plan, you’ll spend all of it (and likely even more) than you make and have little to show for the bigger salary. I came to speak less of what I make, and instead what I save. Saving is the real take home money, the rest is just accounting balances moving around the sheet.

      I too hope you find a job one day that ups your lifestyle, and that the smarts that brought you here mean you never get caught in the cuffs and really make the best of it.

      1. Your first paragraph is my life.

        I do save about 45% of the Before Tax income, so I am hoping that it won’t be forever and I will be able to walk away someday. Not quite yet though.

  5. The ideal, of course, would be a job that you love that pays well. Perhaps that’s mostly an exception instead of reality. I became a veterinarian knowing that I would never be highly paid, but I still enjoy 20 years after graduation what I am doing. We are frugal, live in the same town that you went to high school in, Sam, so are not extravagant. And we’re happy! Thanks, as always, for this post!

  6. Charleston.C

    I’ll apologize for going down this dark path, but what you are describing in this post would fit many failed marriages as well. Sometimes we don’t truly know what we need in life, until we are stuck with something we don’t like.

    1. Not at all. So many times we don’t really know someone until we actually move-in together. Practically everything is a leap of faith! Even MMM got divorced. Life is tough and ever changing.

  7. Just wanted to share my experience regarding working at FB is not as glorious as it seems. I actually left the company after less than one year. I have a young toddler, am a single mom, and was working 60-80 hours a week. I was unable to find work life balance. Now I’m at a startup where I have work life balance and the hours are more flexible. Of course, I no longer have as much wonderful perks and now work at a “less sexy” tech co. When I was at FB, I wasn’t miserable. Yes, I made decent money compared to maybe Roger who worked at Edgewood. But I was unable to spend quality time with friends and fam.

    1. Thanks for your comment. It’s very interesting, b/c usually folks who work at a startup are the ones working 60-80 hours a week, and startup folks go to places like Facebook and Google to “retire” by only working 40-50 hours a week no?

      Do you feel there is similar type of dissatisfaction at FB that Roger feels today?

      1. Hi Sam,

        Sorry, I had the names mixed up in my earlier comment. I meant that I probably made decent money compared to Nate who worked at Edgewood. By the way, Edgewood is a such a great place. I grew up a few blocks from edgewood in the sunset district and have volunteered there.

        I’m at a small advertising startup that is staying afloat in today’s economy. The company itself is profitable and will probably stay alive for the next few years. The startup is not very innovative. We don’t have an innovative product or service. It’s just … staying afloat and not selling groundbreaking products or services. I know, it’s hard to believe when I tell my friends that I now work less hours at a startup! It I’m extremely happy with my hours. I can have a life!

        I definitely think that there is a similar type of dissatisfaction at FB nowadays. In fact, I’ve recently talked to an ex coworker about the same issue.

        I worked many hours because I was on the finance team. (Fp&a biz partner for engineering.) Finance worked longer hours than some of the engineers. During my time at FB, I worked closely with my colleague who’s a peer. I saw her more than I saw my son. Her aunt told her that if she does not leave the company, she’ll never find a husband. She did not date during my entire time working with her at FB. She also had no kids to take care of. Seems like She is still single today but already got promoted in her second year. I guess some times we just have to make trade-offs in life.

        And thanks for writing all the great articles! Some of your articles have truly helped me with making my own personal finance decisions. I also love all your real estate related posts. I have recommended your site to my friends and family. Keep up the good work!! I hope one day I can be doing something that I love doing for a living.

  8. I retired after a huge compensation year and looking ahead to a year where I’d be very lucky to make half as much. So yeah, I didn’t think I could stand that job for half the pay. However I don’t think there has to be a choice between being highly paid or having high job satisfaction. In fact I’d say job satisfaction increases with pay, something many studies bear out, though the correlation is not overwhelmingly strong. I also do not think that working with children is necessarily more important than building cars or growing soybeans or coding. Without modern agriculture, vehicles or the things that computers make possible most of the children in this country would be starving. I think the secret to enjoying your work is to find a way to combine better than median pay with something you have the talent to become excellent at. As you become excellent your job satisfaction will happen organically. Job satisfaction is based on accomplishment. If your dreams can’t be monetized then let them be a fine hobby.

  9. When I was in the US Air Force, I felt I had a cause. I did things that mattered, and that was exciting to the young man I was then. My annual income was a fraction of what I earn now. I enjoy what I do for a living, but I am not in love with my job. I definitely am fighting a sense of tech burn out. I don’t care about what I do like I did then, and that is an issue. What motivates me now is the impact on what I can do from a “this is interesting” standpoint. The work itself is interesting, as is learning new skills, but it is a challenge day to day. That fact is what brought me here and to the FIRE community in general. I want to quit, but to do that, I need to save. So, here I am, and that’s my plan.

  10. Even a modest mortgage in California (and yes I know I’m preaching to the choir here), requires a salary that pays damn well more than 1/5th a Product Manager at Facebook. I applaud, “Nate” for being able to really make a meaningful difference in these kids life, and that he feels like he’s lucky to get to work at such a good job. I’m sure many of us wish to be that lucky, but if we can’t pay the housing each month, or we’re stuck barely making it to the end of the month due to cutting every corner and still not coming up with enough money, than it simply won’t work.

    Your friend at Facebook is likely making less than $200K a year. They pay well, but not that well, and Product Manager with an MBA isn’t hard to come by in the Bay Area, Harvard grad or not. Add stock, bonus, whatever you want, but even if you balloon that up to $300K a year, Nate’s making what, $60K? Yeah, good luck having a good life on that in Nor Cal. Unless Nate is throwing himself into a few side jobs, working his tail off doing his own projects, or is a closet millionaire, I think when the mask comes off and at night when he’s with his significant other, or with his close family and friends, it’s a lot less rosy of a life outlook.

    Cynical as that is, it’s likely the truth. And, if he is working his tail off on the side to make ends meet, then his money is not really coming from his fulfilling job more than being supplemented by it. If that’s the case, sweet! Still counts, but not calling that out is dishonest, to say the least.

  11. What struck me about this article is the frustration a lot of people feel with their jobs. A lot of these folks who went to good schools, took jobs in banking / consulting / hi-tech never stopped to think about the underlying activities and whether or not they actually enjoy doing them.

    Most people will work for +30 years. My conclusion is that you can chase $, prestige, etc for a few years. However, if you don’t like your job and limit your hours, you will never make it. I see a lot of folks like this person and the often burn out after a few years.

    This is actually my biggest commentary on the entire FIRE movement. I think a lot of folks are attracted to the FIRE movement because they have not found professional satisfaction. Instead of looking for a job which matches what they want to do, they chase retirement. Unfortunately, a lot of these folks will find that even retirement won’t fulfill them.

  12. Your Ivy League friend sounds like a “book smart not street smart” type. So Facebook has growing pains… why did Your friend not stay and build? What about loyalty, Facebook gave your friend a job they could have risen and changed things. Why didn’t this person make a go of it at a truly iconic US company. Just saying.

    1. The people with super educational pedigrees tend to be book smart bc they spent way too much time and money to risk doing “streetsmart” work.

      I say giving your employer at least a year of your time is honorable enough in this day and age of fast hiring and fast firing.

      How long have you worked at your employer? Employers love having your attitude, so that’s good.

      1. 20 years Sam at current company-I banged around in my youth and kept getting bored, so I’m one to talk! I quit 5 great companies each after about 18 months till I found my current job in tech. It was a small tech company when I started, now we are in the top half of the Fortune 500. What a great ride filled with hard work, doing what scares you. Which is why I criticized your friend- she/he should stick with Facebook and make it better, growing pains can be fixed by your friend- but not if they keep quitting their job. I love your blog! Keep up the great work, I read every post.

    2. Facebook and other tech companies average about 2 years before burnout.

      The high turnover is factored into their hiring, compensation and personnel management strategy.

      He did make a “go of it”, paid his dues and is ready to move on. It’s very much “street smart” to punch your ticket at one of these companies and move to a job that has a more reasonable work/life balance and is more fulfilling and having “Facebook Product Manager” on your resume opens the door for you to get it. These guys don’t really pay that much above average especially after you figure out what your hourly compensation really was.

      Nobody in the tech industry blinks if you put in your year at one of these pressure cooker companies (Google, Apple, Facebook, SpaceX, etc). It’s only if you didn’t last to your first anniversary that folks wonder.

  13. Enjoy the post…good luck to your friend, the treadmill of appearing successful is one hell of an addictive drug, and he’s in deep!

  14. Job, integrity and life satisfaction should come before just working for a paycheck
    Unfortunately all of us (or almost) at some point of our life put money first

  15. This post made me feel uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable. And it’s taken me a little time to work out why. If you strip this back the basic premise seems to be that if the money is good enough then any moral concerns can be put to one side. (I chose the word ‘moral’ carefully as this isn’t about legality but about those subjective things that do not accord with someone’s personal values).

    It seems to be saying that you only need to worry about the moral purpose of what you do when the money dries up. [I’m overstating but not by much].

    I think that this is wrong. If someone’s values are up for sale then I’m not sure that they are values at all. It suggests that there is nothing much that is worth really believing in. I find that deeply sad and rather nihilistic. I think that the approach here will leave you hollow regardless of when you leave the job.

    By the way I should be clear that I can see that there will be people who don’t have a problem with what an employer may be doing. I can also see that there will be people who just need the money have don’t have an option to go elsewhere.

    My issue is for those like the Facebook worker who do have a problem, and have the choice to leave, but say that money can make them comfortable with doing things they feel are immoral.

    I’ve hesitated before writing this as it goes against the general thread of support. But this carried on bugging me so I’ve come back to comment. If I didn’t then I think I would be something of a hypocrite…

    1. They say that about 70% of American workers are checked out from work and disinterested. But I’m not sure if they are morally in the wrong.

      Also, do you know if that many people are not wealthy enough to pick and choose what they want to do in the beginning, especially if they spent four years and paid a fortune going to college. Often times, you take the job that you can get.

      If you are wealthy enough and lucky enough to find a great job immediately, then it is a blessing. What is it that you do? Or what is it that you’re struggling with right now given your comment?

      I really enjoyed my first 9 to 10 years in finance. And then it took me about three years to find out what else I wanted to do and the courage to leave. It’s not easy taking a leap of faith when you are not financially Independent.

      1. Definitely not suggesting that there is any moral problem with doing a job where you’re disengaged and uninterested. I think that here in the UK it’s worse than the US with only 8% of employees who are engaged at work. But being bored with your jobs is very different from fundamentally disagreeing with the values the company displays.

        I also completely agree that most people are in the situation where they don’t have the choice about the job they have and have to work regardless of how they feel about their employer. I would suggest that many people are there throughout their career, not just at the start. I can completely understand that and I would do exactly the same. I tried to put that in my reply but it may not have been clear enough.

        However, unless I’ve misunderstood your post, ‘Roger’ has the skills, education and experience to do a wide range of similarly lucrative jobs. Nonetheless he stuck with a company that he had a long list of concerns with right up to the point where it stopped making him enough money. It was the money that made him look to move, not the fact that he thought he was doing the wrong thing. That’s what bugged me.

        My comment was to put the countervailing view that it may be worth choosing to move for your values even when the money is good.

        Personally I’m very happy in my job at the moment. I hope to see it through to FI and I’ve turned down roles that are more well paid but have a worse work-life balance.

        You final comment is entirely on point though. Making any choices about your career is easier when you’re Financially Independent.

        Many thanks for provoking interesting thoughts!

        1. What is it that you do though? Because the reality is, what you might think is honorable might be very different from what some of the else thinks.

          You don’t really know how the job situation is or what the job is like until you actually do it. At least he’s working there for over a year before deciding to leave instead of leaving after a few short months.

          1. I work for a government regulator. But I have worked as a lobbyist and as a management consultant in the past both of which many people would see as thoroughly dishonourable (I didn’t – but that’s me). But that’s not my point. It doesn’t (or shouldn’t) matter what other people think. It’s about your own values.

            My point is that Roger is the one that has a problem with his own employer. Agreed that until you do a job you won’t know what it’s like, but I think your post is suggesting that the real reason he is moving is because of the money not because of his values.

            I think (and what do I really know) that if you can compromise your values for money in his circumstances then those are not really values at all. My personal experience has been that when I’ve compromised my values, as you suggest, I felt empty and dirty. Unless circumstance dictates that you have to, I’m not sure that money can compensate for that.

            1. I think everybody joins a company thinking it’ll be great and has missions aligned with your own values.

              And nobody knows what exactly the culture and the job will be like until they get there and stay there for at least several months. Sometimes bosses leave or missions change.

              I think you’re overlooking the obvious. Because he no longer admires the company and the work he does, he’s leaving. He’s not sticking around and complaining. He took a chance to work for Facebook, and now he’s moving on. The worst would be to stay and do nothing about a suboptimal situation.

              Taking action has always been one of my underline tenets on Financial Samurai, and this post is no different. It is meant to speak to those who no longer find satisfaction in their work to do something else. And I think this post is speaking to you.

              I asked what you do because comments almost always are a reflection of one’s own concerns. So if you find being a government regulator to be not ideal, I suggest finding something else as well.

            2. It’s also lucky that there are plenty of companies that will pay near Facebook wages that aren’t fundamentally amoral. To “Roger,” I’d suggest, you gave it a good shot, but the company wasn’t what you thought. Start floating that resume and find a company that does something you do enjoy. It doesn’t have to place kids into families, it could just be a payment processor that enables all business, regardless of size, to worry less about taking credit cards. Who knows, could be a place that makes parts of autonomous automobiles.

              There are literally thousands and thousands of high tech, good paying jobs, that would be happy to talk with a soon-to-be-ex Facebook Product Manager. He could go from employee number 183921 to “Roger, that guy we hired from Facebook that rocks and has helped us get our products out the door faster and better than ever.”

              At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all really want? He’s already got the “in,” might as well shop. Fifteen months at an employer is plenty of time to say, “Yeah, I don’t like this flavor of Kool-Aid,” and get your resume ready for better offers.

  16. Cheryl from Texas

    Hi Sam, unrelated comment, but I just wanted to say thanks for such consistently great content. I really appreciate being able to learn so much for free. So many times people only speak up to complain, so I wanted to make sure that I voice gratitude just as often. Thanks Sam, and keep up the great work! :)

  17. Jack Catchem

    Thrice said it best in their song, “Black Honey.” To quote the singer, “I keep swinging my hand through a swarm of bees because I…I like honey on the table.”

    My work is dangerous, but it brings rewards. Sometimes emotionally, but always financially…until something goes wrong. Once the financial incentive is gone, it’s all about your passion for the work.

    (Also yes, deleting my Facebook has directly caused a happiness increase. If I care about you, I will learn about you. It’s much better than having the curated attention span of the Facebook Algorithm.)

  18. FS, love this quote from you! “When the financial incentives go away, you’re left focusing on what truly matters: family, friends, purpose.” You just hit me with a ‘truth bullet’!

    Those things always matter. Great reminder, thank you!

  19. Working for corporations and high executive positions are not for everyone. I love your article, my favorite line is “The desire for money and prestige may be ruining your life.”
    When you make your fu*k you money it becomes very easy to quit and say goodbye to all BS.

  20. “He told me the joy he gets from helping others is more than any amount of money some tech company that promotes fake news could ever pay him.”

    I understand this point of view, and kudos to that guy for doing what he loves and making it work. However, I question whether taking a fulfilling job regardless of the pay is a viable option for everyone.

    I am married with four kids, and I am the sole breadwinner for my family. I work for a tech company (though with a better “story” than Facebook, and with a pretty good corporate culture). I would love to follow my real passion (teaching), but it would mean taking at least a 50% pay cut, and I would have a very difficult time supporting my family. We already live pretty frugally (e.g., our newest vehicle is 11 years old, our kids share bedrooms, and we don’t often eat out).

    If I took a 50% pay cut to do what I love, then I might be more fulfilled at work, but we would have to make drastic lifestyle changes (like selling our house and moving in with the grandparents). To me, the trade-off isn’t worth it, at least for now.

    1. You make a great point, and since you still like your job and admire your company, then by all means continue to work there.

      Perhaps you can fine some substitute for guest lecture teaching jobs somewhere? My friend just got back from New Orleans and he says that it is so awesome to be a guest lecture at Tulane university.

      It’s only when you feel that your company’s mission is misaligned with your own or the people you work with don’t have your back where you might want to reconsider.

  21. Simple Money Man

    The no. 1 thing is people. Once you’ve worked with crappy people, you realize that they are the most important component in your job that will make you happy and it’s totally natural and logical since you see them all the time – typically 5 days per week for hours each day.

  22. Daniel Cohen

    Hi Sam,

    Great article!

    You wrote: Readers, what are some things you tolerate because of money?
    Response: Long hours.

    You wrote: What would you do once the financial incentives are no longer there?
    Response: The short answer is “Give”. The longer answer is to find people in the world who are giving and give more to them financially. I want to be able to drop $1000 on a regular basis to someone in need who helps out others.

    1. Great goals! It’s a constant battle regarding giving and accumulating. Especially if someone has debt to still pay off.

      But being able to give time and money more freely is seriously one of the biggest benefits of being financially independent.

  23. I really like FB as a way to connect with people. But a person would have to be nuts to share the slightest bit of true personal information or to be caught up in the infrastructure.

    As for the money part – everyone knows it is better to have money than not and there may be some signs of rationalization in the person portrayed in your story. If you want to take the truly pure road I’ll share my address to send the cleansing check.

          1. No grants — W&L Law school after — admitted in many states including NY. Does not practice — needles in her eyes! Wants to be a comic! Advice or maybe better yet – therapy for my wife.

            1. Right on! :) What year did she graduate law school? It’s never too late to become a lawyer again after seven years of higher education. Let’s do this!

              But then again, what is more special then being able to make people laugh? Joy is truly priceless.

              Hopefully she is financially stable, and you guys are doing OK. I do often wonder now as a Father what my boy’s future will be like.

              Any recommendations or things you would’ve done differently?

          2. YES! I have advice. First, let’s be clear that you are exceptional and a tiny percent of people could do what you have done. Your parents thought you would do better than they did and, in fact, you did do better. Chances are that will not apply to your son. Be ready for that, just in case.

            The biggest mistake I made was, having absolutely nothing as a child, I mean nothing, I gave my kids everything. They are nice enough, but they took it all for granted and were not fully prepared for a life of work and so I have big uncollectable loans so they can have houses. It all seems natural to them.

            And finally – take this the right way. Your own doting attitude toward your child may not be the best. You turned out good, and likable. Your father never stayed home to watch you.

            1. Thanks for the advice Bob. Not sure how exceptional I am, but I’ll take it.

              I plan to make my son work for many things, and I plan to show him that I will continue to work as well. Everything from de-weeding to painting to cleaning to writing. I am going to make him earn what he thinks he deserves based on my FS principles.

              I am determined not to take his satisfaction and pride away from earning something….. b/c it just feels so wonderful to succeed after a struggle. Perhaps I’m addicted to struggle or a challenge. And maybe he will be hardwired differently and not give a damn about what I say. I am more tough love than perhaps some thing.

              When you mention big uncollectable loans, I don’t understand. You mean loans to your kids which are really just financial gifts?

              Given they are adults now, what would happen if you just cut them off financially and make them pay their own way?

    1. The military draw-down in the nineties forced me into a drastically new occupation that was all for the good, in hindsight. 9-11 got me a much better paycheck and employer. As did a former president’s sequestration actions.

      Can’t really have put tech and finance jobs in the same basket, though. There is no future for any of us that does not include tech (and yes, I have an MBA from a good school and know we have to have finance, too). Yet most of us that work in tech wouldn’t choose to work anywhere else even with the lure of huge differences in income. Personally, I moved much deeper into it by moving out of a management track. Admittedly, in my case it didn’t hurt that the financial incentives for doing so going all in the tech track have always been about the same as the folks in management (and I don’t have to spend half my days in meetings).

      Granted, there is no money (or security) for most folks in the computer game industry, and no one would want to tell people they worked in the IT department for a large telemarketing firm (I once turned down a seriously good offer from one for just that reason). Even so there are lots of other industries and, even if they aren’t all about saving the world, there is plenty of challenge (and reward) to be found in almost any industry involved with tech.

      I look forward to retirement, but I’ll probably keep my nose in the business to some degree. Who else does this? Not trash collectors. Artists, writers, and that sort sure, maybe a few engineers? Also, the very rich never seem to completely retire.

      It’s a reality that even most rich people seem to want to work; granted, it’s often doing what they want to do, and on their terms. But it can’t all be. For example, I’m sure Zuckerberg would rather not be having to appear in front of Congress.

      While I would agree with a lot of what you said about Zuck, I do like Facebook for keeping in touch and, just as much, for getting me in touch with people I had thought I had lost all contact with forever.

      Oh, and I’ve read up on that Hawaiian real estate stuff quite a bit, just out of curiosity. What a freaking mess! I’m not going to venture a serious opinion about anyone for not being able to find a way to deal with it that pleases everyone, and certainly not on their first, second, or even their third try. Then, too, I imagine his lawyers made it all sound somewhat different to him, when they first proposed action. Sooner or later the Hawaiian gov’t would have to take a run at fixing things . . . except that it’s a political hot potato no politician will ever willingly agree to take it on.

  24. Anybody seeing what’s happening to Europe? Ten years of financial repression assuaged financial markets yet the real stress was only displaced to manifest now as political and social strife.

      1. Yeah just out of interest, I’m an American who has been living abroad in Europe for a decade and they pretty much revile the States right now. We watch the gun violence, crazy president, and disagreeable policy and think “thank heavens we don’t live there.” All I am saying is ‘the grass is always greener.’ America is a beautiful country and I agree with Sam it could benefit from adopting some European policies because countries are more fair over here on healthcare, tax, civil rights, gun control and corporate governance.

        1. Ironic, since gun violence per capita is the lowest its ever been in the US despite a record # of guns (in fact, it’s half what it was when bill Clinton was elected), and there are far fewer wars in the world now than under the last few presidents.

          We already have a lot of European policies. Half of the healthcare cost in the US is paid for by government already and most of the rest is covered by companies (with hospital charge-offs making up most of the remainder). Nearly 30% of GDP is tax already. We have as good of civil rights in the US as there are in Europe.

          Corporate governance is debatable – US and UK is nearly identical there and look at firms like Deutsche Bank.

  25. Great post! It is a nice reminder that job satisfaction can be more valuable than a big paycheck. My daughter is a senior in high school and can’t figure out her major, or even what type of job she would like to do. My wife tells her to do what she would love, but I want to make sure she can pay her own way. Your post reminds me that there are a lot of amazing jobs out there where the pay maybe low, but every day she will be happy to get up and make the world a better place.

    On the subject of leaving on top. I have recently seen some of our company executives struggle to retire because they are getting large year end bonuses, and struggling to walk away on top. I am a big believer of leaving before they force you to leave! The economy will turn and that last year of your career will not be worth one more bonus check.

    1. The other benefit of leaving before they force you to leave: Feeling great pride that you walked away on your own terms. This feeling cannot be understated. Leaving a job, especially one that you’ve had for a while can be a real blow to one’s ego.

      If you can negotiate a severance on your time table, you will feel like you’ve won the lottery on the way out. It is the BEST career-related feeling ever!

    2. I think you have to factor in every part of life in the ‘do what you’d love to do’ equation. Speaking as a psyc major, if you would not ‘love to’ do a masters and potentially PhD only to make as much as the average taxi driver on the other side, it’s as important as whether you’re helping people.

      Helping people is great, but so is buying a steak at the grocery store or dinner out with friends without worrying about how to fit it into your budget. Staying up to write a thesis is not great. Sending dozens or hundreds of job applications to make 40k/yr is not great. It all depends on what flavor of ‘not great’ is most tolerable to that specific person.

  26. I’ve never had the opportunity to work for a company that doesn’t at least bill itself as saving the world. That being said in some ways despite my employers potentially legitimate arguement I still think such claims are mostly hot air. Ie I’m under no illusion I could always find more society beneficial work elsewhere. Thankfully that’s not my personal motivation for working.

    Neither is money, so removing the financial pot shouldn’t make a huge difference either. In my case the why is the challenge. No challenge means I go find something else to do with my time. I’ve positioned myself so that if my why disappears I have that option .

  27. I lost my job in 2009 and had to start thinking about my web design business seriously. If I still had my job, I’d never consider this huge change. Now, as things are not looking dandy in my country and we also get a chance, I’m willing to make another huge move and take our family to the US, starting from zero as immigrants. It’s good when things are rough, it forces you to make drastic changes and exit your comfort zone.

    1. Good luck to you! I feel the same way and that if 2009 never happened, I never would’ve started this website. Hopefully you have built up a decent financial cushion and I hope you and your family do great things in America!

  28. Good stuff. The tech field isn’t what it used to be. It’s always more exciting to be in the growth phase. Now that Facebook is maturing, there will be more and more corporate BS. There isn’t a lot of fulfillment in a mature tech company. Technological advances are just incremental. Work is just routine like working in any Mc Donald. After 16 years, I felt like I was just enriching the executives. Why stick around when it’s not fun anymore.
    Good luck to Roger and tech workers everywhere.

    1. You are exactly right about growth. It doesn’t really matter what level of the growth curve you are on, so long as there is growth, it feels great. When there is a flatlining or negative growth, enthusiasm simply goes away.

      This lack of growth as part of the reason why the stock market in 2018 feels especially bad. We’ve been used to nine years of up up and up. Being down 1.5% for the year so far is nothing.

  29. Christine Minasian

    I love that a guy in his 30’s has a heart! People still have morals- I’m glad to hear it! I agree with his reasoning…people feel bad after being on Facebook. It’s not healthy. Good for him…his parents should be proud.

  30. A rising stock prices cures all ails. A falling one reveals the bad in a all-too-real light. It’s hard to defend much of what Facebook has done in recent history and its lasting effects on our self-perception and awareness. But for all the bad, it has created a platform for sharing our most treasured (and now, often staged) moments with our “friends” and keeps us in touch.

    It shirks the need for propinquity to socialize with our loved ones. I, for one, haven’t seen my three nephews in the past few years but know everything going on in their lives thanks to my cousin sharing the latest developments in their lives. I see my parents once a month in person but regularly see their latest adventures through status updates and geotagging. Working for Facebook in the past must have been a real joy for all the possibilities the platform could be. Now, we’ve seen the negatives and downsides and they paint the entire platform in an unappealing light.

    1. The Alchemist

      God, I wish. FB can’t crater fast enough as far as I’m concerned. But I’m afraid it’s destined to be with us for quite some time to come. grrrr.

    2. Ah, not to worry. With Lyft and Uber officially filing IPOs for 2019, the billions of dollars flooding the market will make up for Facebook‘s fumbles.

      Good times await! More traffic, more arrogance, higher home prices once again. But they have six month lock ups so expect 2019 to continue to soften in the real estate market.

  31. Great post Sam! It’s always a difficult decision to leave a high paying job and the prestige. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t have the luxury to be able to make that choice. Lifestyle creep is often like a golden handcuff. You buy the bigger house or nicer car because ‘you deserve it’ for the work you’re putting up with. It becomes a vicious cycle. I think that’s why FIRE is so important. It gives you the option to choose what’s right for you. eg find another job that you’re passionate or retire early. My wife and I choose the latter.


  32. The decision to leave Facebook definitely has to be hard but in the end it looks like the right choice for Roger especially if he didn’t feel like it was a good fit for him. A lot of people would have stuck it out for the prestige and money and been miserable.

    I had a similar epiphany in medicine. I did 2 years of general surgery residency right out of medical school. By the end of my 2nd year I was miserable and felt that the lifestyle of a surgeon did not suit me at all. I saw my personality change as I became more irritable. This was before there were laws that said that residents could “only” work 80 hours a week. There were times when I was putting 120-130 hours a week working and it was just eating me up. And when I saw attending physicians having similar work schedules getting called up in the middle of the night, I knew I had to get out and make the tough decision. I switched to Radiology and it was the best decision I have made.

    1. Good move! And I hear radiology pays very well too. One of my good high school friends is a radiologist in North Carolina and does very well. Speaking of which, he did get a divorce about four years ago when their son was about six years old and decided to marry one of the residents while he was the chief of staff? At the hospital!

      1. Wow that is a wild story of your friend. I used to tell people Grays Anatomy (where attending and residents mix it up in relationships) was not at all like that it in real life. Maybe the show got it right after all. Lol

        Radiology definitely has been a great move financially as well. It consistently ranks in the top 5 paying specialties (and often times higher) in salary. There has been a big trend in reimbursement cuts directed squarely on imaging studies which is disturbing as a radiologist. Right now I maintain around the prior salary because at the same time more studies are being ordered (but being paid equal for doing more)

        Surgeons have had it worse. Reimbursements in procedure have been slashed a ton. I’m not sure exact numbers (maybe a surgeon reader could speak up) but something like an appendix which paid $1200 or so now gets reimbursed at $300 or so. Wild since that is less than it costs to take my car in for service. Plus if something happens like a complication (and complications often happen not to surgeon fault) that extra medical care does not give more money

        1. Yeah, I hear about the declining reimbursements all the time from my doc friends over the past 10 years. One friend thought he was going to finish his second cardiology residency and make $350,000 when he first started med school. By the time he graduated, the average income declined to $250,000!

  33. Great article and read. I love a good short post with real life examples and references. Great message to provide a bit of perspective. If he makes a decision on his way forward with such an impressive resume it would be great to get an update.

  34. Dave @ Accidental FIRE

    Great advice. As much as my (now part time) job can suck, it is meaningful and the mission is important. I need to remember that. Yeah, I could not imagine working at Facebook…

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