2020 – The Year of the Emergency Fund

For some of us, 2020 was supposed to be the year of resets, freedom, and new beginnings. It didn’t turn out that way, unfortunately. Sigh.

With no end in sight to the coronavirus pandemic, we cling to hopes of a vaccine and medical treatments.  It’s all scary, tiring, and depressing. This, combined with a draining job, has resulted in my not posting much this year.

The Job

The job is still draining and stressful and I’d rather be doing any number of things instead, but given the current environment, I’m grateful to have any money coming in. Three more people in my division have been let go. One of those let go was in my team.  Read More

The Debt Slave: Do You Feel Trapped in Your Job?

wage slave

It’s 5:45 in the morning and your weekday alarm clock sounds, abruptly yanking you out of a peaceful and cozy slumber, AGAIN. How do you feel? Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed? No? Perhaps groggy, but functional? Or do stress hormones start flooding your body before your feet even hit the floor? A concrete cloud of obligations, expectations and deadlines weighing you down during your hour long commute to your cubicle?

You’d like to take that alarm clock and smash it against your bedroom wall, pull the covers over yourself and quickly slip back under the surface of consciousness. But you can’t. You’d like to have control over your own time, but you can’t. You need that job. You live paycheck to paycheck. You have bills to pay and a standard of living to maintain.  (Wage slave). If you have debt, it’s even worse. The wage slave can downgrade lifestyle and change their job. A debt slave MUST.KEEP. WORKING. at the highest salary possible.

I can relate. This is my life right now.  I hate debt.  I HATE debt.

stress

My workload ebbs and flows with production cycles.  A while ago I was facing burnout; pulling weekenders and all-nighters, taking forever to get basic work done, getting daily tension headaches, body-aches. I was eating asprin like candy. More crows feet and laugh lines greeted me in the mirror. I was so stressed, that I ended up doing something that I only did one time before in my life. One day I had to take a sick / mental health day off  from work. I was a wreck.

Fortunately, the workload lightened; sometimes by a lot, and the world was ok again. Unfortunately the crows feet and laugh lines didn’t lighten. Sigh.

Now, I’m squeezed between two very large, high profile projects with senior executives watching, and I’m dropping the ball. Co-workers are rushing in to do work that I should have had mostly done by now. Goodbye to any possibility of a salary raise.  I’m spending this weekend working to catch up and getting headaches again. Ugh.  I want off of this stress roller coaster, but the price of exit is too high. I must keep working at this job. I don’t want to paint my job poorly, most of the people are quite nice and good to work with. I’ve learned from personal experience that that is worth its weight in gold. I’m not in an abusive job (anymore), so I’m not looking to leave. There are things that I really like about my current job and I’m grateful to have it.

work-stress-depression-400

It’s just that debt reminds me that I have no choice. I’m not here because I want to be. I’m here because I have to be. I’m working, but not enjoying the benefit. Seeing others my own age and younger with their spouses, homes, cars and exotic travel destinations makes me feel like a failure.

They say that depression is born in the gap between where people want/expect to see themselves in life, and where they actually are in life. This is often the case when we magnify and give too much importance to our perceived failures. Maybe that’s what I have. Or maybe I’m just coming to grips with reality. Maybe the vestiges of my youthful optimism have been burned away.

If you have a lot of debt – deep debt – then you know what I’m talking about. When you look ahead, all you see is a long dark lonely road of debt slavery where you realize how trapped you are. You realize that, if you are fortunate enough to have a job, for the next X years of your life, you will work to make others richer. You realize that you will have no choice but to drag your tired body out of bed every morning, get in your car / on the bus and go to work when you’d rather do anything but. You are a debt slave.

At nearly 40, I’m renting a room and riding the bus to pay back debt. I’m putting off life experiences… I’m right back where I started in life. My standard of living will be lower than my mom’s was. At least she could afford her own apartment and car when raising my siblings and me.

I am accepting that this is where I am and trying to deal with it. I’m serving my time.

Enough of this. Time to catch up on my work.
Where’s my asprin?

What about you? Has your job gone to the dogs? What are you doing about it?

careerdog rwbayerscpa com

“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)

Extreme Saving and Early Retirement

mmm financial independence chart

Image Credit:  andhigherstill.com

Are financial freedom and financial independence still possible for me? Are they possible for you?

I’ve started thinking that once I’ve eliminated this mountain of debt, I could keep my savings rate high for a few more years to try to do some catching up on retirement savings. I know its too late to catch up to 20 lost years of compounding interest. I know that Financial Independence (complete retirement) may never be possible, but at least I could get to place of ‘Financial Freedom’ (aka ‘working retirement’) within the next 10 years.

Meaning that I’ll have to keep working after 50, but I can work where and how I want, knowing that I’ll have enough return from my investments to always have money to afford a basic place to sleep and food to eat. No staying at a terrible job out of desperation. For example, once in Financial Freedom, I could do contract work for 6 months each year and then travel and relax the other half of the year, or get a job overseas, or take a lower paying job in a cool environment with less stress, or hell, work for myself. It’s easy to get giddy at the possibilities.

What do I mean by Financial Freedom and Financial Independence? The image below shows my (over)simplified definitions.

Freedom vs independence

Image credit: doubledebtsinglewoman.com

 Image term definition: * FU Fund = F@%% You! Fund – This is the money that you keep in savings to protect you if your good working environment suddenly becomes toxic/unstable/etc., and you have to leave before lining up another job.

Want to learn more about extreme saving and early retirement?  Two of the best known sources on this topic are Mr. Money Mustache and Jacob @ Early Retirement Extreme. Both of these men ‘retired’ in their early thirties as a result of living on little and saving a lot.

Mr. Money Mustache:

The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement

Getting Rich from Zero to Hero in One Blog Post 

How I Retired at 32 (Yahoo Finance Article)

Jacob @ Early Retirement Extreme

 How I became financially independent in 5 years

How I live on $7,000 per year

As you can tell, Jacob is the more extreme of the two. Both of them have great information-packed sites including forums and other resources.

Could I save 75% net income for 7 years to reach Financial Freedom?  I’ve seen this table in a few places online, so I’ve re-created it here.

Retirement Chart

At this savings rate, I could be out of debt in 3 years, and ‘working retired’ (financial freedom) 7 years after that at 50 years old. Wow!  Is this even possible for me? Right now my living expenses account for about 23% of my net income per month for a 77% savings rate. Yes, it is possible with sacrifice. Is this reasonable for me over the long-term (several years)? Hmmm.

Therein lies the rub. At this rate I don’t know if I will last in this career for 10 years. I don’t even know if I’ll last in this job for another year. The last few months have been quite stressful. I don’t know what the future holds. Even so, it’s still a goal to aim for and food for thought.
Anyone else consider extreme saving for early retirement?

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“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)