The Job Experience, StartupVille: Years #9 and #10

Personal Update

packing lunches

Calvin gives tips in lunchtime frugality

Sometime after buying our home in early 2008, I sit my girlfriend down and have The Talk.  (Actually, it’s The Talk, Take 1 of 101 but who’s counting?)

To that point, she knows I’m a saver.  Heck, she’s generally a saver, too, but her saving is sort of directionless.  She saves because she simply doesn’t like to blow money — she intrinsically possesses a good sense of value and understands that spending for the sake of spending doesn’t make her happy.

But my saving is, on the other hand, fairly focused.  By this I mean that I have a specific goal in mind for the money I’m putting aside:  I want to retire early and leave work in the dust.  Being employed at a nice company with a reasonable load and responsibilities has done nothing to change the way that I feel about all of this.

She sort of knows that I don’t want to stay in software/IT forever.  I make comments to this effect on a fairly regular basis.  Some of these take the form of transient and non-serious bitching, while others offer real hints to what, exactly, my long term financial plans are, like:  I can’t wait to leave this industry.  It won’t be long now.

Thing is, I’d never explicitly told her the whole story.  So I do.  I tell her about Your Money or Your Life.  And how I think about expenditures in terms of how long it took me to make that amount of money, e.g. that dinner out cost me 2 hours in the office and is therefore not worth the trade of life energy.  And how I’m pretty sure I’ll be done before 40, and by ‘done’ I mean no longer showing up to an office every day to donate my time to MegaSoftwareCo or GenericIndustry.

At first, she panics a bit.  What will you do for health-care?  How will you spend all of that time?  Are you sure you’ll have enough?  I don’t want you mooching off of me!  I’m not sure how I feel about a stay at home guy.  Why can’t you just keep getting another job when you’re sick of wherever you’re working?  That’s what everyone else does.

It takes time to explain that I don’t think I’ll ever be professionally satisfied in an office environment, and I don’t want to be an entrepreneur either.  I give her bits and pieces of some of the stories that I’ve told over the course of these Job Experience posts.  I remind her that my fate is continually in the hands of employers — the same employers that have shifted the location of my office over and over again, generally dumped too much work on me, and kept me on a tight leash throughout.  And I don’t want the rest of my life to be lived out this way.

You’re happy at StartupVille though, right?  Can’t you find another place like that?

Yes, but it’s still not enough for me.  I want to be free of this nonsense.

Don’t you want to be rich someday?

I’m already rich.  I have everything I could possibly need — friends and family.  Food and shelter.  A stable government and community. You.

Could I still work if you retire?

Yes.  Although I’d prefer for us both to quit around the same time, so we can enjoy the rest of our lives together, like, not working, exploring the world, relaxing.  Still, if you really love your job, I wouldn’t bug you about it.  Keep it.

But I don’t like my job, you know that.

Then climb on-board the early retirement carriage, m’Lady!  Let’s plan on leaving this ridiculous race by 40.

I’ll think about it.  It sounds okay — a little crazy, but also pretty exciting.  We can really do this?

Yep.  Absolutely.  We can really do this.  In fact, we’re already on our way, big time.


It’s not perfect, but there’s no yelling, and some genuine interest:  A decent start.

We Tied the Knot


We got hitched in early 2009.  Because, why not?  We shared the same values, trusted and supported one another consistently, and lived zero-drama lives like an old married couple already, anyways.  Might as well make it official.

Also, on a sadder note, we found out in late 2009 that we can’t have children due to medical reasons.

It’s not a big deal or a sensitive subject anymore, because we’ve come to terms with it over time.  But back then, it’d be an understatement to say we were disappointed.

But that’s life.  In some areas, you’re allowed to actively choose your fate, and in others, you aren’t.

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19 Responses to The Job Experience, StartupVille: Years #9 and #10

  1. Steph says:

    Hi, I love your writing and this blog is rapidly becoming one of my favourites. I am glad I am not alone in enjoying doing *nothing* and liking pottering about. It’s very difficult to explain to people though. That’s why some blogs etc are a bit of a refuge in a crazy consumerist world. Please keep writing… You are very good at it.

    • livingafi says:

      Thanks for the kind words. It *is* hard to explain that you’re okay with doing very little and just enjoying being alive without work or too many other distractions. A lot of people have trouble with this idea. For years I tried fairly hard to pretend that I liked working and being ultra busy but, truth is, I really don’t. (God knows I’ve had my share of years where I did nothing but work… glad that’s just about over.) Keep up the “pottering” – that makes me happy.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I can relate to your comment about being judgmental about other people who are not as financially saavy. I have found myself constantly internally judging my coworkers and friends, even more so as I become closer to FI, and it makes me feel like a toxic person. Maybe this is just part of my personality that I have to live with and try to keep under control.

    • livingafi says:

      Right, I frequently wish I could turn that part of me off (the judging.) The best I’ve found I can do is a) catch myself thinking these thoughts and b) intentionally push them aside and continue to pay attention to the moment. It’s very difficult to make this level of awareness go away entirely. Fact is, you’re an expert in personal finance, and experts in any field can’t help but notice details in their areas of focus — whether they want to or not. All of that being said, it can get in the way of relationships sometimes. Might be one of the very few negative aspects of FIRE.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Sorry to hear about the infertility woes. We’re not even in the same category (having children should be possible–with assistance), but it was still very disappointing and frustrating. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have no control whatsoever 😦

    • livingafi says:

      My sister in law has two children (boys), and we’re spending a lot of time with them. It’s not a perfect substitute for having some of our own, but they’re pretty awesome to hang around. Sorry about your own challenges in this area – it sounds like you have options to explore, which is encouraging.

  4. Frankie's Girl says:

    Wow, what a bizarre situation waiting out the startup company’s survival/failure… I was on a sinking ship (along with my husband, who I met at work) and we both bailed after a certain point. They were discussing outsourcing our main work to India (with disastrous results, I might add) and I broke down and jumped ship shortly before it got to that point, but the husband held on for almost 2 before finding a better place… and the company was dissolved within 6 months after he’d left. We weren’t FI at that point, so not really much choice, but it does make me wonder if we’d have stayed and rode it down if we had been FI. I heard that there was a nice little severance package – but only about a month’s worth of pay, so not enough incentive to hang on.

    And the kid thing. Been there, done that, and still beyond angry at the fact that we can’t have children. And punch-in-the-gut bonus – blew lots of money in the process of just trying. Much sympathy and empathy for you and your wife.

    • livingafi says:

      Hey FG. I’m really sorry to hear about your own, as you put it, ‘kid thing’ troubles. I don’t think you ever really get over it — you eventually just learn to deal with the disappointment. Re: outsourcing, I find it interesting how many frustrating experiences overlap between jobs and industries. I know that it saves companies money, but there’s a significant cost in terms of morale, productivity, and service. It was smart of you to leave when you did. Just another reason to want to achieve FI, so you no longer have to worry about your current company pulling the same moves and putting your job at risk. FI means your job != your survival, which is a rare and awesome achievement. From what I understand, you’re practically there.

  5. I love that discussion you had with your manager about your stash. I recently had a conversation with one of my coworkers that went like this.

    Coworker: So how long could you last if you lost your job?
    Me: Well it’s hard to say….if I cut way back, maybe two possibly two and a half……..
    Coworker: Months????
    Me: Decades.

    The expression on people’s face is always same….total confusion. I just smile inside and carrying on with my day.


  6. Have you considered adoption or fostering? Just curious.

    I am miserable – depressed, want to set the place on fire miserable – when there’s nothing to do at work. I HATE standing around and pretending to work, partly because it’s usually just busy enough my bosses will bitch if, gasp, I talk with another co worker. Fuck retail.

    Can you tell I love my job?

    • livingafi says:

      Sorry work sucks to that extent. Prior to landing office-jobs, I worked retail in spurts through high school and college, and being idle in that sort of environment is definitely more difficult. In some jobs, you can, in the privacy of your cube, fritter away time. But I still remember in retail that if there’s nothing to do you still need to stand around on the floor and wait. This makes time pass agonizingly slowly. Totally feel your pain. Re: adoption, not seriously, no. The truth is we spend most free weekends with my SIL and kids (our nephews) and somehow that helps a lot — two adorable boys, 6 and 8 now, old enough to play foursquare with, young enough to not yet be embarrassed about hanging out with an aunt and uncle 🙂

      • Tom says:

        I got a good chuckle from your reference to playing Four Square with your nephews. (Though maybe you are referring to some app?) At the risk of revealing my online identity, I can say that I was Four-Square champ for two days one summer at the youth center growing up. You likely heard of me. 🙂

  7. FriendSinceCollege says:

    Just to confirm how loyal livingafi was to StartupVille, I will let the readers know that we used to hang out pretty often during this period (and still do). Since I have kids we would stay in most of the time. I remember a night when StartupVille was in its death throes. LoyalEmployee already knew that the sale to Mega was done and didn’t tell me. I work at Mega, doing something unrelated, but still I was surprised that he could keep it in. The next morning I checked Y! And saw the news that the acquisition occurred.

    I should mention too that I worked at SoftwareCompany as well. I started in 2004, right as livingafi was leaving. And just for completeness, my other option at the time was at FinancialCompany, so when that didn’t work out, I think you can guess who I passed that opportunity on to… To say the least I find the irony that we have hop-skipped jobs over 10 years remarkable, and pretty accidental. Given my similarity, it’s great to have a friend that is doing this. I am getting a free education (price of a couple beers, bought in NH). Glad to read these and see how things are moving along.

  8. Amy K says:

    I love that you had such a positive impact on your manager. My husband also had Tea Time on his calendar for a while at his previous job – I think it did great things for morale to get together just to shoot the breeze.

    I’m in a Do Nothing job now and it’s pretty sweet. I consider looking for a place closer to home once in a while (half an hour on Rte 3 and 128 each way) but there’s no way I could find something this cushy.

  9. Pingback: Confessions from a High-Paying Job | microBillionaire

  10. Alex Kenzie says:

    Like thegoblinchief, working at a job with no work makes me depressed beyond belief. So drained and de-energized! Gah.

    Anyways, I’m definitely enjoying passing the time by reading your blog. Thanks!!

    Side note: not sure if you cover this later, but did you have a totally mustachian wedding, or did the union ding the bank account a little bit??

    • livafi says:

      We spent about 2K on our wedding with thirty-ish people which is a decent amount per head — we kept costs down by instead being sure to not invite too many humans. Immediate family and inner circle friends only. She didn’t want a nice ring, though, so I saved money there. “Let’s buy a house with that money instead,” she said. That’s my kind of woman 😉

      BTW, sorry to hear about your own job-related woes. Keep your head up, though, you’re on a path that will lead you out of this. And you can always look for other opportunities along the way. God knows I did.

      • Alex Kenzie says:

        Wow, well done! We spent $7k on a 50-people wedding (open bar – need I say more?) but with the generousity of our guests, ended up breaking even.

        In four months I’m moving to a bigger city with more opportunity, so I’ll be into a new job soon enough 🙂 Your experiences definitely inspire me! Many thanks.

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