Tell no one

I’ve been talking to DW about financial independence for a while now, and she’s been great and supportive and approving.  But it wasn’t until my recent post about livingafi’s Job Experience series that she really got engaged and excited about it.  I gotta say, it’s been amazing to see her get so interested and involved!

(DW on left.  ttf with poor typing skills on right.)

I’ve been really grateful to livingafi for this change.

Since the last set of links went over so well, I’m sharing another set that I really enjoyed.  This one explores what it’s like to work toward financial independence, especially how the journey and arrival can affect your relationships:

If you’re anything like me, you really want to share your journey with others.  It’s such a profound, life-changing shift, and you see so many positives to your steadily-lessening consumption and steadily-growing financial stability that you want everyone to join in and reap the benefits!  Well, consider starting a blog instead.  After all:



The Job Experience, by livingafi

This past week, I read and really enjoyed The Job Experience series of posts by livingafi, and I wanted to share it with all of you.  This series documents basically the entirety of his career, in short, digestible chunks.  The entire series is pretty lengthy, so I’ve linked to parts that I really liked below:

Other than being a thoroughly enjoyable read, I really took away a couple key pieces of encouragement.  First, you don’t have to be a natural saver to reach financial independence; you can even have a rocky start and really turn it around and get on track.  Second, even though I complain a lot, I have been really lucky in my career, when compared to some people’s hellish experiences.  I’ve had my doozies in terms of work environment and company culture, but I’ve never had to work 60 hours in one week, much less week after week.  I’ve been able to get away with ~40 hours most weeks in my career, and I’m pretty thankful for that.

This quote from the last post I linked above is particularly encouraging to me, who is still years away from FIRE:

I often see people on financial independence forums say things like:  I’m saving so that a future version of me will be happy.  As the current version of “future me,” let me say this:  I’m incredibly happy that past me has stayed the course.  And that’s a drastic understatement.  This needs to be over — and thanks to the choices I’ve made, it will be, soon.

10/25/16:  One more quote that I really wanted to share, this one from the effects of work link:

Everything has shifted now.  I don’t want to be great. At anything, really. Instead I want to be happy. And that requires a mental adjustment to wanting to be merely good at a few specific things — a good husband, a present and loving family member, a supportive friend, and a decent human being.  I want to pursue things that provide pleasure and satisfaction on a day-to-day basis.

This really rings true to me.  When I was younger, I wanted to do great things; now, I just want to enjoy life and be a good husband and friend.  Maybe father one day.  Like livingafi, I don’t know if this is all from work or all from getting older, but I imagine it’s a combination of those things; as I experience more of life, I find that I want to spend more time being happy and less time pursuing great accomplishments.

Of course, as DW rightly points out, my ambitions haven’t really died – they’ve just shifted to the journey toward financial independence and reclaiming my time for myself.

Sick notes

I’ve been sick since Monday, so I’ve not been at work yet this week.  I’m on the mend, so I’ll be in tomorrow; however, today, my office demanded a doctor’s note for the time I’ve been off.

I did go to the doctor, who confirmed what DW and I already knew:  that I have a viral infection and need to rest and let my body fight it.  I now have a note that lets me to stay home* until Friday; however, it’s pretty clear that work has been more worried about me being signed in than me getting healthy again.  It’s important to rest and let your body mend itself when you’re sick; you should be able to tell when it’s using your energy for fighting the infection, since you’ll have less energy for your usual activities.

I feel pretty strongly that getting doctors’ notes for short absences like this is ridiculous:**

  1. From the doctor’s perspective, now they need to waste time seeing people who don’t need to be seen, just to send a note to employers that employees need time to heal when they are sick.  This time could be much better spent seeing patients that actually need their services rather than just adding additional busywork burden on our medical system.
  2. Now the sick individual needs to get out of bed, become presentable, and travel, all of which take energy and prolong the healing process.
  3. This shows a level of distrust from the employer of the employee, which typically won’t make the employee like their place of work any more.
  4. There’s also a financial aspect to all of this:  since walking would have taken significantly more energy and time, I spent $25 to cab to and from the doctor.  I also spent $30 out of pocket and an additional $178 of insurance money on this pointless trip.

You already know how I feel about this whole sick-note, must-be-at-work-as-much-as-possible, better-work-at-least-40-hours-per-week culture, but it just keeps getting reinforced as time goes on.


* Figuratively speaking, of course:  I work from home.

** Especially since my company gives 40 days a year of sick leave, so – theoretically – the message is to take care of ourselves.

The power of working more

Meet Susie Q, a hypothetical newly-minted software-engineering grad taking her first full-time professional job for $58,000 pa, or ~$4,830 pcm.  30% of her gross pay goes to taxes and benefits, leaving her with ~$3,380 pcm to allocate.

She’s been living with roommates for four years and wants her own place, but she knows that any space of her own will already be better than what she has, so she looks for a studio that is biking distance to her new job.  She ends up in a small 500sqft space, with utilities included, for $900 pcm.

Since it’s just her, she goes out with friends on the weekends; but she knows she needs to start saving, so she’s careful and keeps her spending to $100 pcm out.  The rest of the time, she cooks at home and spends $300 pcm on groceries and craft beer.

Her cell phone with Google Voice costs her $25 pcm, and renter’s insurance takes away another $10 pcm.  Total monthly spending comes in at $1,335, leaving $2,045 for saving.  Susie’s doing pretty well for herself already!  She’s saving 60% of her take-home pay, putting her on track to retire in 12.5 years, or when she’s 35, assuming no lifestyle inflation but also no raises*.

Susie Q is a real go-getter, and she proves herself immediately to her company by working 80 hours a week to help complete a project that is behind.  It takes a month of 80-hour weeks, but she does it, and she cements her position in the company (and in her bosses’ good graces).  However, where she was originally set to make $28/hr, she actually worked that entire month for $14/hr.  The first month, she still saves $2,045; each month brings another $2,045 of savings.

Now let’s back this example up and assume that Susie Q got a job through a contracting agency instead of going full-time at a specific employer.  She starts with the same $28/hr, and she ends up on the same project at the same company.  She works the same 80-hour weeks for her first month, but now, since she’s hourly, she actually gets paid for those bonus hours.  Instead of bringing home $3,380 that first month, she doubles her pay and brings home $6,760**.  So now she’s able to save double and sock away $4,090, right?

Actually, it’s even better than that.  She saves $5,425 that first month – $1,335 more than just double!  This is because all of her expenses – the whole $1,335 she spends to keep herself housed, fed, and entertained – are already covered for the month, so that extra sum goes straight into savings.

In a salaried position, Susie would have to work 2.65 months to get the same level of savings as working two-months-in-one-month as a contractor.  This is because each month requires her to pay living expenses before she can start saving.

Now, I’m certainly not a fan of 80-hour weeks (and have never worked one myself), but working extra hours in an hourly position (or working a second job or having some other side hustle) seems like a good way to get ahead***.  That’s why I think I’ll look into switching to a contract position sometime later this year, once we’re settled.  Working extra hours now takes more than just those hours off the time until I can retire, and keeping me at work will make sure I don’t have too much time to spend money on restaurants and entertainment.


* Basically, assuming that her costs and her salary keep pace with inflation.

** Actually, she brings home a bit less, because graduated taxes.

*** As long as you don’t get burnt out.  I don’t recommend targeting 80-hour weeks as your standard week unless you know you can handle it and it’s only for a short period of time.