A super quick summary of where we are:
In Year 1 of my Tech Support position, I’d mostly adjusted to the routine and the politics of my software support job.
Then, in Year 2, I became better and faster, but at the same time the job stress started to increase.
This post finds me starting my third year of work in September of 2001. But before I get going with personal experiences, let’s take a step away from the tiny life of the human named livingafi and see what’s happening in Silicon Valley as a whole.
The NASDAQ composite index had reached a peak of 5,000 at the end of my first year in September of 2000 before it started to decline. It would eventually find its bottom around 1200 toward the end of Year 3, in October of 2002. Hundreds of tech companies went bust during these two years, shedding tens of thousands of terrific high-paying, upper-middle-class jobs.
Before landing my office gig, I would never have thought that the performance of a market index would have much, if anything, to do with day-to-day job satisfaction. It simply didn’t occur to me that one number would wield so much influence over day to day operations of companies, and subsequently employee happiness.
But it did. Let’s get into why, exactly, that is.
Navigation Tip: There are links to additional pages (1-9) below, under the sea of wordpress.com garbage.
I still have never read YMOYL. Not sure if I’d get anything out of it at this point, but it’s impressive the number of people for whom that was THE book.
Financial epiphanies like this, to my mind, are vastly more transformational than any religious conversions (or deconversions, in my case).
Hey GC, thanks for stopping by. Yes, you could probably skip reading YMOYL because it’s just a reinforcement of things you already know and do.
If I got my BS in 2009 instead of 1999, I surely would have found MMM’s blog instead of YMOYL. Might not even know what that book was! The internet’s really changed everything… the vast majority of people seek answers to life problems online nowadays. It’s probably for the best –more efficient this way, with search engines and all.
I actually found YMOYL back in 2005, I wish I’d found it earlier, before I went back to school for my masters degree. After I got my bachelor’s degree, I was saving 90% of my income from my job. I thought I was doing something wrong! So I went back to school for my master’s degree. Then I met ex and let him lead me down the path of spending all my money.
I still love YMOYL and recommend it to people who don’t like blogs.
I think “I wish I found it earlier” is the number one sentiment from folks who find MMM, EEE, YMOYL, etc. It sure would have helped me in Year 1 as well — although, the counter argument is that people aren’t necessarily looking to overhaul their lives until they’ve identified that they have a problem. It’s sort of like the AA thing: If you don’t think it’s an issue (yet), you’ll never look for a solution. I still shudder to think where I’d be had I not found YMOYL when I did. BTW, super-glad to hear that your spendy and destructive ex is just that — an ex. Without him weighing you down, you’ll get where you want to go for sure.
I’ve picked up bits and pieces from all over, some of YMOYL works and some doesn’t for me (every dollar and every year is not created equal, but I can’t exchange future dollars for earlier years). Probably why I’m still wandering the internet, there are gems everywhere, but no-one source has The Answer. Before YMOYL, I had a ‘Rich Dad’ phase. Although I didn’t want to get into real estate, I did like the concept ‘before you buy a Porsche, buy cash-flowing real estate yield and let your investments buy you the Porsche’. Of course, I dialed it back to a used MiniCooper and a mix of dividends and bond interest, but the general idea was sound 🙂
Another part of YMOYL that sucks: All investment advice. Completely agree that there are wide differences in opinion when it comes to certain details in the FIRE journey. Some folks like DRIPing, others all paper, some renting, some quit early and find part-time employment just to ‘get them by’ while their initial pile of assets grow. There’s really no single right path and the best thing to do is gather as much data as you can and make an educated decision that works for you. I’m also extremely reluctant to be a landlord. I don’t want the hassle, but
somemany people on the forums really enjoy it.
I LOVE this series, and I agree with another poster about the layout being very nice. It is long, but the images and the breakup between pages really aids in readability.
I really enjoy your blog, and particularly this series. Great stuff.
I’ve been reading a lot of FI / RE stuff for awhile now. Yours is the only blog that I am reading from beginning to end (I came close with MMM though). Your POV just seems to resonate with me the most, though my prison seems much more gilded than yours was. Still, freedom is freedom.
For some reason, I HATED YMOYL. I sensed there was something to the underlying premise, but the style and diction (it seemed overly sentimental or patronizing or something) made me want to vomit so much, I could not get through it.
One thing I have noted is that those who “see the light” wrt financial stuff later in life (like myself, though I am not that old but do have a wife and kids) have a more uphill battle with the consumptions side of the equation. It’s not like I can just rip my kids out of their expensive extracurriculars (which easily cost as much as owning an additional unnecessary car) without significant relational and societal repercussions. But there is more than one way to skin a cat…
I didn’t like the writing style in YMOYL either. But I read it for the content and suggestions.
One of my friends who is my age — 39 — has also been trying to scale back and he is running into some of the same problems you’ve outlined. E.g. Downsizing the house, he will say things like: “Are you kidding me? With a wife and three kids who each need their own bedroom and are used to an abundance of space in an affluent area? Dad will be viewed as crazy and subsequently hated for uprooting everyone.” It seems impossible (although it’s not), and as a result he’s sort of giving up on it. I do see his point of view. It is difficult. People who pretend there is no cost associated with making these sorts of choices are lying to themselves and their readers.
But there is also a cost in continuing to do what everyone else is doing. These are tough decisions, there’s absolutely no question about it.
The worst part of the giving up is that he’s going back to his old investment patterns. “Won’t ever be able to have 15% of saved income grow enough in the market with measly returns to enable retirement — need to hit it big” is what goes through his mind most of the time. So he’s doing things like putting money in VIX and hoping the market explodes and buying covered call options… I am aware the entirety of the market resembles one big casino, but that being said, some investment approaches are significantly more likely to result in losses than others.
Going through burnout right now and I needed this. You are an absolute artisan with words. Thank you so much for writing this account, it makes me (and i’m sure so many others) feel less broken.
Keep it up. I re-read his job experience series at least once a year, and recommend it for friends who are looking for a way out, or feeling burned out. His voice really helps.
I actually just left my job for a higher paying one, mostly because of his posts. If he could manage the Goblin hordes, so could I. by my estimate, this move will shave off about 3 years of my original 15 years to retirement timeline. Hopefully more, when I pay of my mortgage and car in the next 1-2 years.
The best advice i found in these posts is the daily exercise, after I put in my morning exercise, I found that the problems that used to make me want to vomit, suddenly seem like – if not easy- but at least solvable. On the down side, when I can’t follow my workout routine, I’m just dragging through my day…