The Janitor’s Money Secret

My family was over-visiting my mother-in-law at her work at the local elementary school when a sweet, sleek BMW pulled up right in front of the school. 

An older gentleman got out and headed into the school and I figured it wasn’t a student’s parent, but maybe a grandparent or principal until my mother-in-law said, “That’s the janitor.”

Why Is He Driving a BMW?

Just because you are a janitor doesn’t mean you can’t have nice things, but you know what I thought of the instance I heard janitor and saw the BMW? Probably the same thing you are thinking….massive amounts of debt.

Then my mother-in-law fractured my initial thoughts and said, “Guess what, that guy is loaded (money wise).” What? How did he do it? How did he get rich? Why is he a janitor? I had so many questions going through my mind. Did he come in for money? Did he win the lottery? Did he understand the market, not fear it, and invest early with a little bit of money and hit it big now will tour the country selling his secrets at nearby airport hotels on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for the first 500 people to call now. (Seating is limited after all)

The Hidden Secret of the Janitor

My mother-in-law and my wife (my awesome financial match) got tired of me asking questions and said I could go to the school and talk to him. I walked in and suddenly realized this was kind of awkward and said, “Hi, I’m Lance, this is pretty random but my mother-in-law out there says you have an interesting story.”

He smirked and said, “I don’t think it’s that interesting…I’m a janitor.”

“But you drive a BMW.”

“I stole it,” he told me with a smile.

Wait what? This was totally going a different direction than I expected….but then he started to laugh.

“I didn’t steal it. Did you really believe that?” he said. “I use to be a vice-president of a bank in San Francisco and retired and moved to Utah to downsize and relax…but I got bored so now I’m a janitor just to have something to do for a few hours a day.”

Bored in Retirement

“Did you really think I stole the car?” he asked me again.

“Well yeah.”

Anyway, we only chatted for a little bit longer since he was working after all…but that was something I wasn’t expecting and yes he could more than afford that car. He spent more than 35 years in banking and now was bored out of his mind which is something I frequently hear from some that have retired. But now I was jealous of the guy which has been a problem in the past.

My dad retired in his 50s but my mom did not. My dad gets up and goes fishing most days. He also runs money to and from my sister’s store at the mall. He loves to do little things like that while he waits for my mom to retire next summer. He stays really busy on projects.

When you are so overly productive for so many years and usually retire while at the top of your job and suddenly it suddenly grinds to a halted life can be a little slow. Sometimes really slow.

How Do You Stay Productive?

My goal is to retire around 50 years old. I could retire earlier, but I like what I do and I help other people and a lot of people currently depend on me for their jobs. Plus I’d like to be overly cautious going into retirement because you just don’t know what will happen and so I don’t want to stop earning money during my peak earning years of life.

Peak Earnings

Between 35-50 are the years that you are gung-ho and possibly moving into leadership positions and really still seeing your salary go up. Once you reach 45-50 your salary starts to peak and you should be at the top of your business from that point forward it stays steady, but likely doesn’t increase as much. This article says women peak around age 39 for salary and men at 48.

Not sure I understand that….so on a side tangent if you are a boss and underpay women you are an a$$-hole and one of the worst people in the world. Shame on you! There are terrorists, puppy kickers, and you (not necessarily in that order). But that is more a topic for my new Friday Series on being a boss and work.

So back to being 50 which is a little over a decade away…once I hit that I think I should be good to go…as long as things stay somewhat the same at work. I also have a lot in retirement funds already and lots in low-cost mutual funds to cover the gap between 50-59 when I become eligible to use the 401k funds. That is my plan.

Forced to Work vs. Choosing to Work during Retirement

I have been amazed to see the number of extremes for retirement. Lately, I see someone who has done really well and retired early or those that are suffering through retirement. 

The successful ones had a plan, stuck to the plan, and got ahead to be done with their work. My dad was one of those people. If he wants to substitute teach at school he does it. If he wants to go fishing he does that. He picks and chooses his day. That is retirement and financial freedom to choose what you want to do in life. He makes more being retired than working which is a good deal if you can get it.

Sometimes I get a phone call and my parents telling me they are in Portland or San Antonio or Sun Valley and just want to give me a heads-up. I’m not sure I’ll see my parents again after my mom retires. I expect lots of these random phone calls in the future.

On the other hand, I’ve seen others that have no choice and have to work forever. They never saved, didn’t save enough, had a major medical issue or another event, or thought that social security would carry them. I’ve also seen some folks who started off well but made major purchases late in life that delayed their retirement plans.

Have a Plan During Retirement as Well

Sometimes we get so busy to retire we don’t put together a plan once we do retire and then we have to find something to do…just like our millionaire janitor.

It’s the same with going to college. You spend so much time picking a school instead of picking a career sometimes and evaluating how your debt fits in with your future earnings. It is probably more important what you do and not where you go. Honestly, I don’t care as a boss where you went to school, I just want to know if you can do the job.

So throw one more to-do on your list for retirement. Figure out what to do once you get there to fill your time. I have a side job that I have inquired about at a hardware store. Sounds like something I wouldn’t mind doing after my morning round of golf.

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