The Job Experience, MegaSoftwareCoSupport: Year #11

Internal Shifts

This is, approximately, how my brain rearranged itself in Year 11.

This is, approximately, how my brain rearranged itself in Year 11.

Despite what you might think, given page after page of work related content, I haven’t entirely forgotten that this is supposedly a blog about financial independence.

That’s right.  It’s time to talk a bit about FIRE.

I hinted in my Year 10 post that I’m becoming impatient with the whole working thing.  I know I can take a large block of time completely off work and I’m tempted to do it. Further, I’m really looking forward to doing nothing for long stretches.

This line of thinking becomes more dominant in my train of thought.  During my time with Mega, I start to focus (almost?) obsessively on quitting.  While I know I haven’t saved enough yet, I do have this magic number in my head that I’m striving for and I tricked myself into believing I’d leave the job when I hit it.  That number was a 500K net worth.

I have to say that on the one hand, thinking about RE was good because it’s a form of optimistic dreaming.  And dreams are energizing and motivational.  But on the other hand, I think that obsessively focusing on this, or anything else for that matter, probably isn’t all that healthy.


moneypit

This was the year I keyed in on our current residence as being a source of financial trouble. I’ve mentioned before that it’s a 650K place with about 1500 sq. feet.

I’d run the numbers and I knew that the place was costing us a ton of money, and we were just throwing it away. Also, at this point it was clear we weren’t going to have children, which meant we could get a smaller, cheaper place without any fear of needing to upsize at a later date.

But it seemed as though we were stuck. My wife and I had decent commutes to work, in opposite directions no less. If we moved, this was sure to be disrupted.

Additionally, she had absolutely no interest in finding a new house purely for cost reasons. Her viewpoint — which is perfectly valid, by the way, if not all that frugal — is that we can afford it, and we’re comfortable, so why would we go and muck everything up with an unnecessary move?

Thing is, in my mind, it is necessary. We would save close to 18/K year instantly by downsizing to a place in the 300-350K range.

This is a battle that continues to this day. We like our house and like where we live, but it costs too much. Back in Year 11, I could at least justify our situation by saying “Oh well — it’s not like I could afford to retire right now, even if we downsized.”

But that’s no longer the case. The new reality is that if we downsize, we can both quit —  easily, safely, and responsibly.

Put another way, there’s zero doubt in my mind that we’re currently working solely to afford our home.


On a very different topic, right at the tail end of my experience with Mega, Mr. Money Mustache launched his blog.

And it was incredible. To see someone younger than me achieve the feat of early retirement was extremely motivating and exciting. I immediately started following his posts with great interest. Although he doesn’t generate nearly as much content nowadays, it remains my favorite ER site.  In particular, the forums are quite active, full of intelligent and practical users who want to help people out — including, occasionally, me.

At the same time, I hit and surpassed my 500K net worth target.  The only problem is that I simultaneously realized that 500K net worth alone was not enough to cut it for retirement, given my current spending rate of 25K-30K.  (The variability is almost entirely due to home improvements.)

It’s precisely at this juncture that I made two key decisions.

  1. I had to leave Mega right away.  I couldn’t see holding on to a job that seemed to be getting worse every single day, especially when I knew I had at least another year or two of employment to go. Two years at a really horrible job lasts a LOT longer than you think and I saw no reason to put up with it.
  2. It’s suddenly important to start firming up plans to leave my industry.  How much money do I really need?  Will I actually be downsizing or not?  I’d been on work-save autopilot for a while now, but it was time to switch controls of the FIRE ship to the manual setting and bring this sucker in for a slow, methodical landing.  Aside:  I think this is an important step for everyone getting close to the end of their journey, to create and finalize plans for making the jump to a work-free existence.  It simply takes a while to figure out the logistics that are going to work for your own unique situation.

On another positive note, I find that I am continually grateful to be on the FI path.  All I need to do to feel incredibly good about my life is to imagine going to work every day with a zero net worth. 

Because as difficult as I find it right now, at least I know I’m going to be done with it soon.  If I didn’t have a stash, I’d be looking at at least another decade or two of the same old same old before I was done.

And believe me, it already felt pretty damned old.

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10 Responses to The Job Experience, MegaSoftwareCoSupport: Year #11

  1. Dwayne Hoover says:

    When you were getting towards the end here, did you ever consider the option of simply working PT but extending the journey to FI by a few years?

    • livingafi says:

      Absolutely, I’d much prefer to work part time. Problem is that I don’t think it’s possible on the IT/Engineering Support side of things. Sometimes strict programmers/developers can manage this sort of arrangement, but organizations only have FT positions available for support — my guess is that this is because of rigid availability requirements. I’d love to hear from any readers that think I’m wrong or can share ways to go about making it happen though.

  2. Steph says:

    When I was a wage slave it was in an open plan office, I actually would have loved a soulless cube. I began to really hate some people as I just couldn’t get away from them and I wasn’t allowed headphones to help me concentrate above everybody’s voices. Introverts and open plan offices (4 people to one bank of desks) are not a very good mix. Sometimes I would pretend I needed to make a private phonecall so I could go into an empty office and sit there in peace for a few minutes.
    At one point everyone was offered voluntary redundancy and I took it and ran. It was enough to pay off our mortgage as our house was v modest. The year after I left (I was pregnant by this point) I bought another small house and renovated it and sold on for a nice profit. I haven’t really worked since having my daughter but knowing how to live frugally is very freeing and gives us as a family so many more options. A bit of a rambling comment, sorry.

    • livingafi says:

      That’s really tough. I didn’t get into it in this post but my cube was right next to sales at Mega and those guys were also on the phone constantly, very loud, and frequently talking about very obnoxious non-PC things that really get under your skin. It’s great you were able to responsibly get away from that job and spend more time with your family, very cool. “Voluntary redundancy.” Love that corporate-ese.

  3. Good stuff, sounds like the next update will shed light on what makes FU money so important. Even better if it’s FI money! Real world issues (and vacations) have killed my blogging lately, but I need to get revved back up. Lots of interesting things going on.

    • livingafi says:

      I’ve had some of my own real life things going on as well (mom moved to senior housing last weekend, had to clean out a house of clutter and list it. More than ‘clutter’ actually but that’s another story.) Family’s first, though, much more important than blogging or my day job. I have been looking forward to more details on your lifestyle inflation posts, though. Get em out, please! 🙂 BTW, yeah, if you enjoy reading about incomprehensibly awful jobs and insane people, you’re going to love Year 12 but hate the final entry (Year 13-present), because I found another really nice place to ply my trade.

  4. I eagerly await Cthulu-119, the radioactive isotope of vanilla ‘Thu.

  5. Tom says:

    In retirement, I’m finding those home improvement and maintenance costs creep in more frequently than I would have expected. Little things here and there – and some bigger ones. I try to adhere to a pretty low budget, for now, so those costs tend to upset the cart a little despite primarily doing the work myself. Not sure these will ever go away completely – it’s always something.

    When I first had an opportunity to occasionally work from home back in the mid-90’s I had a very difficult time getting much work done, due mostly to lack of motivation (and probably because the technology for working remotely wasn’t what it is today). Funny aside – I was making a long distance call one day from home and dialed 9, then 1, for an outside line (as if in the office) out of habit and accidentally hit 1 a second time. Imagine my surprise when the cops showed up at my door and insisted on walking thru my apartment to make sure no one was being held against their will. Wonder if this has happened to others. Years later I found myself to be much more productive working from home and actually liked it (mostly) despite living alone. Yes – I have loner tendencies so it was easier for me to tolerate. I loved waking up early and getting right to work. I was paid by the hour so it was perfect for someone trying to build a stash. I was never paid 1.5x for OT – that would have been sweet.

    I worked on an extended project that required driving 6.5 hours Sundays and Fridays (I hate flying) and living onsite during the week. Most all of my communications with various teams was done thru phone and IM. 95% of folks I worked with daily were in far flung cities. Even folks in the same office used IM – even if they were in the next cubicle. Weird to have that kind of culture where people got irritated if you stopped by their desk to talk instead of using IM. So it was sort of ludicrous to have the company pay my expenses when I could work just as easily from home. Luckily we convinced management of that fact after the first year. On the plus side of IM – we would attach cool little emoticons and I had an awesome collection before I left that job. It was always pretty awesome when someone sent you a new one. (Sadly, this was one of the few positives on my own personal job from hell.)

    • livingafi says:

      Thanks for the stories — the accidental 911 call sounds like it spiced your day up pretty good.. Here’s hoping you’ve moved on from your own job-hell experience by now!

  6. A W S says:

    Interesting observation in regard to working at home. Especially today. Some of us are working like that from March 2020. Never been better whilst climbing the corporate rotten ladder. No office politics and empty smiles. Tons of money saved commute but more important to this is the most valuable commodity- time that is saved. Goodbye commute. Good luck ya all.

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