The Tortoise and the Hare


A Tale of Two Jobs

Reading through the backstories of the current batch of FIRE bloggers, it seems there are several distinct paths o FIRE. I always notice the difference based off of what type of employment someone has. Right away I see things like ‘jumping ship’ to improve salary or getting a ‘bonus’ and I think – well that ain’t me.

Two very different tracks emerge when you start to notice and appreciate the difference between these Hare jobs and the Tortoise jobs.

By Hare jobs I mean something along the lines of private sector/corporate ladder type jobs. Tortoise jobs tends to be more the steady eddy public sector/government jobs.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. The Hare works at a job that gives out year end bonuses. They can end up being a double digit percentage over the overall annual take home. Never gonna happen with the Tortoise.

Or a job where there is some sort of performance award or commission made because the employee or company had ‘a good quarter/year‘. Yea, that’s not in the cards for us turtle types.

Hares tend to pounce from job to job, getting nice fat raises in between stints of employment.

Advance or leave seems to be an actual career path for these kinds of jobs.

What the Tortoise does have is a good stable job. He has job security. Steady raises, nothing fancy – low single digit advances every calendar year. Basing your path off of these realities is way different than the exciting world of Hare money.

I have always been a public government employee. Check every two weeks, decent salary and benefits package. No fireworks, but also I am not working after hours or over the weekends. I also get to tout my public service and civic duty. I’m good with that.

Aesop’s Tortoise and the Hare;

There once was a speedy hare who bragged about how fast he could run. Tired of hearing him boast, Slow and Steady, the tortoise, challenged him to a race. All the animals in the forest gathered to watch. Hare ran down the road for a while and then and paused to rest. He looked back at Slow and Steady and cried out, “How do you expect to win this race when you are walking along at your slow, slow pace?” Hare stretched himself out alongside the road and fell asleep, thinking, “There is plenty of time to relax.” Slow and Steady walked and walked. He never, ever stopped until he came to the finish line. The animals who were watching cheered so loudly for Tortoise, they woke up Hare. Hare stretched and yawned and began to run again, but it was too late. Tortoise was over the line. After that, Hare always reminded himself, “Don’t brag about your lightning pace, for Slow and Steady won the race!”

How the two jobs effect FIRE differently.

Without the feast or famine lifestyle, the Tortoise needs to learn to pace themselves. Steady contributions, automatic investments, DRIPS. Try to bump up your retirement vehicles each raise cycle. Invest for longer horizons and steady growth. Boring but reliable. You will get there.

Tortoise employees tend walk off into the sunset hand in hand with their employers. Pensions (the lucky few), but at least Defined Contributions and healthcare help.

Hares need to look out for Numero Uno. An employer is a flavor of the month. Get what you are gonna get from them and move on up. Stack chips and get ready to pounce on the next financial opportunity.

Both ways can get you to the same place – Financial Security. The attitudes/stress levels/risk tolerance & blood pressure differs greatly – I imagine.


4 thoughts on “The Tortoise and the Hare

  1. i could see job hopping in my younger days. for us property/home owners the prospect of shelling out 6% of the home value to move makes my colon clench. so does the act of moving. there is value in being a turtle.

  2. It doesn’t have to be a binary choice. I worked one place for over thirty years from intern to VP and GM and saw my small beginning pay change eventually to where my bonus and stock awards were bigger than my salary. I had a hare job but I never felt pressure to change jobs or threatened that someone might fire me. Usually I felt praised and rewarded for my work and appreciated by those that worked above me and below me. No government pension but the pay more than offset that. But I agree, it is progressively harder to pull that off in the corporate world. In just the four years since I retired they’ve tried three different candidates to fill the job I left behind, so far no survivors. And I’m sure not going back!

    • I think the younger people are looking at a different landscape than us. I remember looking at my wife’s grandpa’s gold watch General Motors gave him for 40 years service, that kind of employer/employee relationship is fading away. I am not jealous of the new paradigm.

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