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Tell? Don't tell? How much should you let your company know about your plans to retire early?

Mindy Kincaid, 45, retired early and was always clear that she intended to do so. They were still shocked, though.
Source: Mindy Kincaid

You want to retire early.

Not 60, not 55, not 50. Way earlier than the standard.

If you are contemplating some form of FIRE (financial independence/retire early), you may have mixed feelings about sharing your long-range plans.

Many people don't want their employers to catch a word of this.

At risk: promotions and the company investment in you. On the other hand, as Mindy Kincaid, 46, found out, they may not take your goals seriously.

When they don't believe you

Kincaid, a stay-at-home-mom who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, was always upfront with her supervisors at the bank where she worked.

Kincaid spent 27 years managing an online banking platform for businesses. "I loved it," she said. But when she had kids, she wanted to spend more time with them. Always good at saving, she and her husband went about making plans to pay off the mortgage.They were aiming for her to step away in August 2020.

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Retire early

In April, they decided she could give notice. During her last months on the job, one supervisor was surprisingly on board with Kincaid's plans. A different supervisor, eight to 10 years younger than Kincaid, expressed a lot of skepticism. "He was like, 'Yeah, right.' But I kept plugging away, and I talked about it openly," she said.

While she was still working, Kincaid was part of a team of 100 or so people. She was clear about her plans to retire early. She shared information from Dave Ramsey and titles of books she found helpful.

Her boss blew her off. "I don't know if it was the age difference or the mentality," she said. "The day I let him know, he paused. Then he slammed his hand down on the desk."

The gesture was more amazement, she says, a "wow," rather than an angry response. "He had no words," Kincaid said.

"When we announced it to the rest of my peers, he kind of chuckled. 'I don't have to be worried about the rest of you, because no one is as frugal as Mindy is.' "

It may be contagious

After Kincaid's announcement, the company's instant message system lit up like a Christmas tree, she says. People didn't want to talk about it out loud, but they certainly wanted to discuss it silently. One man walked over to her desk to chat.

He had remembered her original time frame of three to six months. A week later, he told Kincaid about a conversation he'd had with his wife. Now, he said, they were coming up with their own plan to pay off the house and see what they could do to retire early.

Most commonly, Kincaid says, people tell her, "You always said you would do it. Help talk me through it."

DJ and Erin Cummins
Source: DJ and Erin Cummins

Coworkers are often intrigued when they learn someone has found a way to work fewer years.

Just after starting a personal finance blog, D.J. Cummins, 37, was hired in April as a market researcher for a St. Louis company, where his group director is an acquaintance. He is fairly sure his boss is a surreptitious reader of his blog.

"She came up to me and had some questions about setting up a 529 account for her daughter," said Cummins, who lives in Bethalto, Illinois.

Cummins' blog covers personal finance topics such as real estate and ways to save for retirement. He and his boss had not talked about the blog during his interview.

"Two weeks later, she told me I had motivated her to start meal prepping to save money," he said.

Cummins wants the option of retiring early in about five years.

After losing a job in a wave of layoffs, he is mainly interested in financial independence. "It really makes you think," he said.

More from Invest in You:
Here's how to invest like Warren Buffett
Tips from people who didn't save till their 40s or 50s
What almost no one knows about emergency savings

When to keep mum

Aleya S., 36, plans to keep her job till retirement. The Bloomington, Illinois, resident asked that her last name be withheld. She has been with her employer for three years, and she likes it a lot. There is plenty of job growth, training opportunities and generous compensation. She has an excellent relationship with her direct supervisor.

Aleya plans to retire in about 10 years. What she doesn't plan to do is tell her company.

The organization has many employees of long standing. "A lot of people stay till retirement," well into their 60s, Aleya said.

Her fear: The company will think twice about investing in her skills if it knows she intends to leave. "We were talking recently about my next designation," Aleya said. The company awards bonuses to employees who take on higher roles.

That means Aleya is not counting the days till she can retire. She is also not shirking. "I'm a top performer in my team and in my area," she said.

"I've never talked about it with my supervisor," Aleya said. "I'm looking forward to the next 10 years, and I'm excited about where I'm going to go.

"Sometimes we pick jobs as a means to an end, but I'm really enjoying what I do."

A good ending

Because of her many years with her employer, Kincaid gave 60 days' notice.

Cummins has no anxiety about his employer finding out. He says his outside interests would make that nearly impossible. "If anyone looks me up on Facebook or Google, the blog pops up right away," he said.

His mortgage and finance industry background makes him think it could even be helpful. "I don't think it's a bad thing [for employers] to know I"m working hard on being responsible with my money," he said.

"Sure, tell them," he said. "Do they expect you to spend 40 years there?"

CHECK OUT: Grocery chain CEO who ate expired food for a year says ignoring some sell-by dates can save you 'a ton of money' via Grow with Acorns+CNBC.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.