I just made $15K

Yes­ter­day was a gloomy, gross day. It rained most of the day (tor­ren­tial down­pours inter­spersed with black skies), I was com­ing back to work from a 3 day week­end, and had attend­ed a con­cert the night before and was up far past my bed­time.

But none of that mat­tered in the end.

My cowork­er and I were dis­cussing var­i­ous rates of return on our 401(k)‘s both before and after we rebal­anced them. Curi­ous to see what mine was, I logged in to the account and checked it. (2.42% in case you were won­der­ing. Sad­ly, this is an improve­ment on what I had been get­ting.)

I then noticed some­thing odd. There was only one por­tion in my 401(k). In the past, there had always been 2 por­tions. One of the por­tions was my mon­ey that I con­tributed to the plan. The oth­er, the match my com­pa­ny gives me.

The way my 401(k) plan works is as fol­lows: They match the first 2% at 300%, and the last 4% at 100%. Effec­tive­ly, they give me a 10% match on my con­tri­bu­tion which is incred­i­bly gen­er­ous and very kind. How­ev­er, there’s a 3 year vest­ing peri­od for their match mon­ey. If I would’ve tak­en a new job before that vest­ing peri­od was up, I would’ve lost their por­tion.

But now? Now that $15k unvest­ed por­tion is vest­ed. Which means it’s mine all mine!

I bare­ly even have 2.5 years with the com­pa­ny, so see­ing it vest­ed so ear­ly was an unex­pect­ed and very pleas­ant sur­prise.

It’s like get­ting a Chance card in Monop­oly “Bank error in your favor col­lect $200”. Except this was no error. It was very delib­er­ate.

What Now?

Now, the­o­ret­i­cal­ly, I can find a new job and get hired on some­where else. I always felt bur­dened or oblig­at­ed to stay until I got that $15K. I mean, who would just walk away from a big chunk of change like that? It pained me to know I could find the job of my dreams and I wouldn’t be able to go after it.

Even now, I doubt I’ll look into get­ting a dif­fer­ent job until at least May of next year. If I leave the com­pa­ny before then, I have to pay back the mov­ing allowance they gave me. I’m just get­ting set­tled in both in my cur­rent job and the new town I moved to, so I don’t want to pack up and go some­where else so soon.

Know­ing I could move, though, is very free­ing to me.

Additional Thoughts:

My com­pa­ny offers a pen­sion in addi­tion to our 401(k) plan. You know, that thing you hear that the Baby Boomers have but the Mil­len­ni­als don’t? That thing.

In a sim­pli­fied ver­sion, the way it works is I work for the com­pa­ny my whole life, and they give me a month­ly salary after I retire. Depend­ing on such fac­tors as num­ber of ser­vice cred­its (years worked), age and the year I retire in, I could be get­ting between $3–10k per month from the pen­sion plan.

Not a bad deal right? All I have to do is work here for the next 30–40 years of my life and I’ll be gold­en.

They have a handy dandy pen­sion cal­cu­la­tor where we can change any num­ber of vari­ables and get an esti­mate. It tells you what your esti­mat­ed month­ly salary would be at the end and how much mon­ey you would’ve earned through­out your career. I could make any­where from $2–6 MILLION dol­lars over that 35 years. Pret­ty damn impres­sive.

Until I remem­ber I’d have to sit in an office for 40+ hours a week and give the best years of my life to a com­pa­ny instead of myself.

I’ll pass.

All of that to say, I’m real­ly not that wor­ried about what­ev­er mon­ey I’ll get from the pen­sion. If I stay the 5 years to have the pen­sion vest, great. If not, c’est la vie!

What does your 401(k) plan look like? Have you tak­en that into con­sid­er­a­tion when think­ing about chang­ing jobs?

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