Utah Bucket List Trip

Being Financially Independent gives you travel freedom

Our Utah trip was amazing as we visited three National Parks, two National Monuments, and one state park.

I had heard of Goblin Valley State Park and watched several videos about it. Like most things, you only understand once you are there. It was like we were visiting another planet with the hoodoos, the red dirt, and all the surrounding views.

The weather was a little crazy, with high winds and cold temperatures, and this just seemed to add to the sense of adventure. We spent a lot of time there walking around and exploring. You could spend several hours here if you wanted to.

I hope you take time to watch the video and enjoy!

Back to Blogging! Thank you Grammarly

I love to write. This issue for all these years is that I am unfortunately not very good at it. Take my ADD, throw in a bit of dyslexia and the result is a post full of typos and grammar errors.

It seems that I could spend hours writing and reviewing a post, but as soon as I hit publish–bam! Where did all the errors come from?

I eventually became so frustrated with my writing skills that I just plain gave up and moved on to making videos instead. Goodness, here comes another way for me to feel bad: now, not only do I have to worry about my grammar, but I also get to see how I look and sound.


Of course, I could use AI and robots to write posts based on my suggestions, but that does not feel right. The words are okay, but the context and the feeling are not true to me.

I have used the free Grammarly tool for many years but decided to switch to the premium paid version after being laid off in September 2023. The difference has been amazing, with the AI serving as a writing coach to me in real-time.

Now, as I write, the Grammarly coach is there with every paragraph, and I can feel my confidence growing. It has grown so much that I have decided to add regular blogging back to my life routine.

Thanks, Grammarly, for your excellent tool. The $ 12-a-month premium plan has been priceless in helping me regain confidence in my long-time passion for writing and storytelling.

If you would like to try Grammarly and help me earn a discount, here is a link to learn more! https://www.grammarly.com/referrals/redeem?key=k6f3gjvfm7lsnwzs

Retire at 55: How the rule of 55 can help

For years, 59 1/2 was my target retirement year. Why? Well, it is common knowledge that we get access to our 401Ks starting then. Before 59 1/2, there was a significant tax penalty for withdrawals.

Yes and come to find out, no.

The penalty is there and does apply. However, as with many things in life, there is a loophole for those who know how to apply it correctly.

I learned about this option in 2017 when I first stumbled upon the FIRE (Financially, Independent, Retire, Early) movement. This was thanks to the ChooseFI podcast.

Amazing! Starting the year you turn 55, if you get laid off, fired, or leave your company for any reason, you can access and withdraw from your company-sponsored 401K plan with no early withdrawal penalty.


Learning this completely changed my mindset about when we could retire comfortably. It also changed our savings strategy since it compacted the timeframe for reaching a savings level that could sustain us until we reach Social Security and Medicare.

It just as importantly made the work optional date even closer. We were already on a coastFI trajectory and now I knew that starting the magic year of 55, our live choices would expand greatly.

It would be easier to die than to retire

During my tenure as an HR Business Partner, I helped lay off hundreds of employees and had many deep conversations with those impacted. I volunteered for every opportunity to help with the layoffs, as I felt it was important that the impacted employees and the managers making the difficult decision had a person helping who really cared.

I am not saying that my HR peers did not care. I think my experience with layoffs as a manager and an employee gave me a perspective that most in HR could not relate to.

In this video, I discuss Janet (not her real name) and my experience assisting her as she transitioned to retirement after her position was eliminated. It was evident in every conversation that she feared retirement. She had worked so many years that she could not picture life without a job. She also had done no planning for a life in retirement and lacked knowledge.

I loved my conversations with her and the help I could provide to direct her to resources. Most of all, I was glad to be there as a colleague and a work friend.

Don’t let retirement sneak up on you. Even a few small changes made now can make a big difference in your future.

Interestingly, as of the date I am writing, this video is one of my least watched although I consider it to be one of the most important messages.

Retired at 56! What will go right

In this video, I follow up on our early retirement plans. Yes, there is much that could go wrong when you retire early. Fear is the enemy.

At the same time, many things will go right, and that is what will make these coming years so exciting for us as a couple. I have a partner in all of this with my wife, and we are working on this as a team. We spent some time together and cast a vision for our life in early retirement.

Laid Off, “I just want to go home”

LinkedIn has a lot of activity from people who have lost their jobs through layoffs. It seems like most of the posts start today: “I sad to announce that after _________ years with _______ company I have learned that my job has been eliminated. “This means new opportunities if you know of anyone who may be hiring.

Getting laid off is a challenging experience for any person. It is especially hard for the high performer who was all on for the job. This person drank the culture cool-aid, wore the shirt, cheered at the meetings, and sacrificed much to give their best. Now, in just a moment, it is all gone.

Many companies immediately shut off company access for the employees, asking them to clear personal things out and leave.

Add insult to injury.

No, you did nothing wrong. No, you are not a bad person or a low performer. The business changed, funding was removed, or some other vague economic factor has resulted in eliminating a budget line item. You.

Knowing these facts does not make it any easier to take. You are a human with feelings and a performer with a commitment to the cause.

I was especially stricken by a post from a person a couple of weeks ago. Her post was so powerful that I could not stop thinking about it. I wish I could speak to her in person to let her know everything will be okay. Performers win and perform no matter where they work.

Retired at 56. What could possibly go wrong

I was separated from T-Mobile on December 4th, 2024, after 27 years.

It was tragic but not unexpected, as I had just helped complete a major layoff, with over 5,000 employees receiving their notification. The question then became. What now?

Get busy finding another job? Take some time off and enjoy some travel or pull back and early retire.

We had been preparing for this day for many years and have decided to take early retirement for a spin. I have more than 20 years of planning for this moment and feel we have a good plan for retirement. That does not mean that we are missing fears. In this video I address what could go wrong and the many concerns I have about early retirement.

The good news is that if I am wrong the plan is simple. Go back to work!

In the meantime, we are going to enjoy traveling, dreaming and putting years of planning into practice. It is my hope that through this blog and the videos that you will learn from us. Learn what we planned that has gone wrong and what has gone right.

It is going to be a great experiment.


Is today your someday?

I got the official call notifying me that I had been laid off while on vacation. We were on the second leg of our bucket list vacation to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

The call came just moments after stepping out of the car as we arrived at the site for our hike we had planned for the day.

As soon as I saw the caller ID, I knew the purpose. I have had to make the same call many times over the years, and I could hear the nervousness in the voice of my manager as she dutifully read the script we required.

It’s the same script I had coached leaders on over the last several years. I felt kind of bad for her knowing what is is like to be on that side of the table.

The call was short, as these typically go—some light details regarding the package and dates. My notification was today, September 17th, 2023, and my separation was not until December 4th. That was a good amount of time, and it was very generous.

Next, I knew that upon my return to work, I would have to clean out my desk and say the usual goodbyes. There were not a lot of so longs to give since most folks sitting around me had been let go the month before. HR does the laying off, and then we are left to lock the doors and walk out last.

I listened to all the information with my wife standing a few yards away.

I was on a dream vacation in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I was determined to move forward and complete our plans for the day. More importantly, I was determined to do this hike in a place of personal gratitude. Thanks for the call, the years of preparation, and for being in this magical place with my wonderful wife.

The end of the hike brought a lesson that helped seal the day. In this video, I tell the story of the day and the person that is helping inspire my new journey.

This is my someday

Laid off? Now what?

As mentioned in my previous post, my career at T-Mobile (Sprint) has ended. I am not alone, as more than 5,000 people were let go before the elimination of my HR team.

I am also no stranger to layoffs. They have surrounded me for most of my career and are deeply engrained in my psyche. I have experienced these as an employee with people around me being laid off. I have experienced these as a manager when I had to make the difficult choices to reduce my team, and more recently, I have experienced these as an HR Partner consulting with leaders as they lead reductions.

My experience is unique, and I have learned many lessons. I want to help and to share.

Four things to do as you kick off your Journey




Take action

I will break these down in more detail over several posts. For now, here is a video to get things started.

So long T-Mobile (Sprint)

Amazing to think that I started with Sprint 27 years ago and now that time has come to an end.

A lot of emotions naturally as I reflect on the past and think about the future.

Mostly I am grateful. Grateful for everything that a long career has provided. Grateful for the many people I met and served through my various roles. Grateful for my family and what we have been able to build together.

I know many others are going through something similar now. I just want you to know that I am convinced all will be okay. Take some time to rest, assess, and plan. Your future is bright!

One of the many great blessings of being a cancer survivor is that it grounds you on what is most important. Jobs are just jobs and come and go. Family and friends are forever.

I went to the office yesterday to clean out the desk and experience the Call Center for the last time. Here is a little video I made