I find that for the employees who are really thinking about whether they should remain in a federal career, a lot of people talk to me about that. I had a conversation just last week about it. What we're always saying to them is: make sure you understand the true cost of staying and the true cost of leaving and going somewhere else?
When I say that, I mean that not only in terms of money and financial status, or earnings, or income, or however you want to say it, I mean that in terms of time. In terms of time that you're able to spend with your family, the time demanded to spend in your career, but also the time you need to be able to build something outside of the current system you're in.
So how many of these benefits that you already own are you glad you own them? Do they make a positive impact in your thinking? If you want more of it but you're not gonna be in the federal system, how are you gonna replace it? How are you gonna think about replacing it? If it's truly valuable, why don't you want more of it? If it is truly helpful to your family to have that, then how can you replicate this on your own, and what does it cost to do it?
When you think about all the different things that are a part of being a federal employee, it's not just the benefit itself like the dollar amount, but it's the employer, and it's not just the employer, but it's the backing of the employer- the creditworthiness of the employer.
When you become a federal employee, you get a guarantee” you put in so much time, you reach a certain age, you have a certain number of years, and you get this and that starts with the first paycheck. You can accomplish owning a benefit for the rest of your life with one paycheck. Then it happens again at 18 months, then it happens again at three years, then it happens again at five years, and it happens again at 10 years.
So you're getting stuff all along the way, you're getting value all along the way. Do you understand, really, that's the way it is and what does that really mean to you? What does it mean to you in terms of amounts, and what does it mean to you in terms of the ownership? Is it meaningful? Is it helpful? Is it giving you a sense of security?
"Make sure you understand the limitations that that employer has versus the limitations your current employer has. Make sure you understand what you're gonna have to replicate on your own versus what you're getting now..."
If those answers are “yes, it is helpful, it is meaningful, and it is giving me a sense of security, but I wanna go and make this job change. I wanna change from a federal career to somewhere else.” OK, great! Then make sure you understand the employer’s promises and the credit worthiness behind that promise.
Make sure you understand the limitations that that employer has versus the limitations your current employer has. Make sure you understand what you're gonna have to replicate on your own versus what you're getting now with the help of literally millions of other people, in terms of TSP, in your investments, in terms of guaranteed income, and through FERS.
How do you do that? Make sure you understand the cost of staying and the cost of going of leaving. I'm not trying to tell you to do one thing or the other, I'm just trying to help you understand what you're really after. Think about what you're really after, and how you're gonna do it there as opposed to here.