Tag Archives: money

Annuities are FUCKED UP… aren’t they?

As the resident personal financial advisor for my family (despite that I have no idea what I’m talking about half the time), I’ve jumped into understanding my parent’s financial situation (the good the bad and the ugly) as I will have to help my mother manage her finances for the rest of her her life once my father is gone. He may live longer than her but she is relatively healthy right now and he has terminal cancer, so it’s likely I will be the only person able to really help ensure her quality of life since she understands zilch about money.

My parents are doing ok financially – not great – not as good as they should be doing given how much my father earned throughout his life — but they overspent and now they’re left with about $300k in retirement funds and $400k in real estate, give or take a few hundred thousand since I can’t get a straight answer from my father (who unfortunately doesn’t like to talk about this stuff because his go-to answer about any important financial question longer than a few years out int he future is ‘i’ll be dead then’). Continue reading

When You Come Home from Work Shaking With Anxiety…

There are plenty of signs that my current job is on its last legs, and soon it will be time to move on. Although I can potentially obtain another role with the same or even a higher salary, at this point there is the logical side of me that says “stay just another month” as each month is coming to an end, just to save up for my future, just to get to a point in life where I won’t need to be stressed so much about finances, where I can focus on living instead of worrying every day.

My objective in life is to be in my 50s and to be able to take my children and friends out to dinner and get the check, without worrying if I can pay my rent. I imagine I need $2M by my 50s in order to afford this lifestyle. That seems rather impossible, but with my current savings if I can earn 10% YoY for the next 17 years, I’d have over $2M. The 10% annual growth is unlikely, though, so bringing it down to a much more likely 5%, that only gets me to $1M at 50. This doesn’t include any additional contributions between now and then, so it’s still possible… I need to save about $40k annually for the next 17 years in order to hit my goal.

Today, with my current lifestyle and savings, I’m able to save ~$6k a month or more. To be conservative, I would easily save $72k a year at the moment. If I can sustain that for the next 17 years, I will clearly hit my goal (unless all hell breaks loose in the economy, of course.) However, I know I cannot maintain this career for 17 more years. I also don’t want to — I don’t want to get to 50 and look back on my life and see that I didn’t create anything significant or impact the world in a positive way. Yes, I can “start” my life at 50… assuming I have kids soon, they’ll be in high school then, and I can go back to school or change careers at that point with $2M in the bank as a safety net, but that seems sad to me… I cannot imagine spending my children’s entire childhoods and adolescence working a job that requires me to rarely be home… missing out on important life events and just being there for my kids. I really don’t want that.

Of course, if I can’t have kids, this is a moot point… if I end up not able to have children, then two things happen – I can stay employed in this type of role for longer, saving more money, and I don’t have kids, so clearly I would be not spending as much either. Regardless, I still want children, and I’m still going to try to have them.

If I do get pregnant and have kids, I know my life has to change, as does my expectations for the future. I don’t think I’ll be able to continuously save $40k+ a year – some years, I’ll be lucky if I can max out my 401k. If I want to change my career, I’ll likely need to go back to school and invest in that and start at a lower wage for many years. I’m not going to do that until I know for sure what I want to be when I grow up… which may never happen. But this career isn’t right. This career is going to cause me to have a heart attack before I even make it to 50.

There is other $ variables at play, that I don’t consider when planning my future, as they’re all “extras” and “nice to haves” but cannot be counted on. My husband makes a living as well, and although his salary is much lower than mine, he still is able to save something each year, and eventually he can earn more as well. Then we have our parents who may pass down something to us one day, but planning for a life with a potential inheritance seems both futile and deeply morbid. Neither of our parents are well off, but there’s a chance we’ll get a few hundred thousand dollars or more one day down the line. That alone could pay for our retirements. So, the reality is I’m in a good place… the $500k mark in my networth will be a sigh of a relief, a moment to celebrate maybe a glimmer of financial freedom… the opportunity to take a few more risks… to start to find out what really matters to me in this very short life, versus just working for works sake.

I have a new boss. New boss is great in the sense that new boss is really good at her job. New boss is everything someone in a senior leadership role in this career should be. New boss is, in many ways, the opposite of me. New Boss (I’ll call boss “B” for the sake of simplicity) is a tiger. B doesn’t take shit from anyone and knows what she wants and she gets it done. B knows what to do and how to navigate the political waters of the workplace with ease. B is on the ball, all the time, and doesn’t let emotions get in the way of decisions.  B is not someone I can aspire to be like — my entire being cannot be that person. I can’t fake it. I can’t just wake up every morning and put my “B” cap on and suddenly be this great senior executive. B will never be me.

In the meantime, if I want to stay, I have to impress B. I am already starting from far behind as B was clearly told things about me in the interview process that were far from flattering, and B has visibility into my salary and knows that it’s high for my current role (it was high but fair for my prior role where I was running the department, not so much for my smaller and smaller role, which is shrinking by the day.) At some point the numbers just won’t work. At some point either they would give me a pay cut or let me go.

B is very strategic. B knows there is a large amount of change required and will make those changes in an organized manner, getting the most value out of me as possible before I am removed from the organization. If I continue to provide value, I don’t think I’ll be fired immediately. I could be wrong, but the organization seems to have a policy around being fair, and if I’m doing the job requested of me and fulfilling the role, I do not see being tossed out as long as the company is doing well and isn’t going through any formal layoffs. In the case of formal layoff it is clear I’d be one of the first to go. But as long as we’re doing well and I’m doing my job and getting things done on time and at a quality expected of me, I should get to stay.

Yet I’m not sure I’m capable of getting the things done that are required of me on time and at the level of quality expected. I’m determine to try – focusing on doing my very best and giving it my all for ~3 months is not a bad objective, even if my future tenure is limited. That’s 90 days, $18k+ in savings, and ideally a good reference to walk with based on the fact that I really did try my best and, as the song goes, I guess my best wasn’t good enough.

According to my latest networthIQ entry, my networth today is $468k. With that $18k additional, that gets me to about $486k, within an arm’s reach from my $500k goal.

Or, I get another job that pays less, and is more sustainable, and I get to $500k sometime later this year — which is the goal anyway and theoretically I could work through the end of May, get to $486k, take my PTO dollars and some of my savings, take 3 months off and travel the world, come back with $475k in the bank, get a job that pays less than my current one (say $7k take home per month after tax vs $10k), save $4k a month, save $16k for the rest of the year, get to around $491k by the end of the year (and that’s WITH taking 3 months off and taking a job that pays much less when I get back.) So even if I take a ~$3k paycut and take 3 months off, I should still be within striking distance of my goals.

OR, I just suck it up, work in this role through the rest of the year by giving it my all and somehow being “not firable” … save $70k more, get to around $538k, get pregnant sometime this summer, stay at work for the 9 months of my pregnancy, say 5 more months in 2018, save another $35k, get to ~$575k then freelance for a few years earning a lot less, but living off the money I was able to save fighting through this job for … 15 more months. That seems like a very long time and between now and then we could easily have a mass layoff which I’d be caught up in anyway, but logically staying 15 more months gives me +2 years in my current job (good for the resume), and the amount I’d save is almost worth it. With interest, I could have $600k saved up when I leave work for a more flexible lifestyle for a few years when my kids are young. My objective, then, would be to not tap that $600k… to make enough money to pay rent/mortgage/taxes, for food and any vacations/entertainment travel with whatever I earn (and what my husband earns.)

In that reality, with $600k untouched for 10 years growing at 5-6% YoY I get to $900k-$1M by 44. That’s not the $2M by 50, but it’s still rather exciting that this seems possible — better if I stay in my current role for 15 months (or obtain another role that pays the same or more that I can successfully stay in for 15 months!) … or I just say fuck it, stick this out for 3 more months, take a few months off, then come back and get a lower paying job that I can sustain throughout being pregnant and the early years of parenting.

At least, thanks to savings a substantial amount in my 20s, I have options.

 

 

Didn’t Get the Job – Back to the Drawing Board

The hiring manager seemed to love me. Within two weeks of applying for the job via a cold online application I was in late-stage interviews, presenting a powerpoint I put together in front of 1/3 of their pedigreed team including their CEO. When I asked why I didn’t get the job, she was very nice about it – “culture fit,” she said, adding that based on what I said in the interviews and what my references said I needed more stability to thrive. Maybe that’s true. Or, maybe they just picked someone more junior who was lower risk to the business.

I’m not devastated, as the timing was moving way too fast and I wasn’t ready yet to throw in the towel at my current company – but I did get excited about the opportunity and how FINALLY I could move away from sales-focused marketing roles into something more focused on product. Even my old boss, who I thought didn’t like me, told me over lunch that he thinks I’m great and jumped in to give me a reference that should have sealed the deal. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.  Continue reading

Keeping Married Finances Separate – Is it Possible?

We’re married, now what?

Against the wiser half of my brain, Mr. HECC and I did not go through a formal financial planner before we got married. We didn’t get a prenup (he’s opposed to them and even though I think it would protect me I find them terribly unromantic and I wasn’t going into a marriage with any easy out of divorce, since I think the point of marriage is that you shouldn’t get divorced.) I hope I won’t link back to this article later filled with regret, but I’m feeling good about that decision at the moment.

When it comes to finances, many married couples merge their finances by default. In the case of a divorce (at least in California) the money gets split anyway, so why keep it separate while married?

We’re both very fortunate that we bring no debt to the table. While he has been less proactive in his career and has saved significantly less than I have, we both are financially stable compared to most newlyweds. I believe together we have about $450k in savings – not bad for “just starting out.” However, I’m still unsure on how to handle finances going forward. Right now we’re both working and fairly independent so it’s easy – we split major household costs — food and rent — and then everything else we pay for out of our own budgets and earnings/savings. What I don’t want to happen for either of us is that we don’t strive to earn more income because the other is making up for it. Neither of us LOVE working so it would be unfair to the other person. If I end up taking a job that makes less money, I should just focus on spending less on myself. If we cannot afford to live in this area, then we need to move.

In this WSJ article from 2014 financial planners/writers argue for and against merging accounts as a married couple. One says keeping accounts separate is the secret to a peaceful, happy marriage – and the other says merging accounts builds trust. The commenters tend to think having separate accounts is bad, one of them writing “it’s nothing more than an exit strategy.” I disagree.

I don’t think we have to merge accounts to talk about finances and plan together as a team. I also feel very passionate about having my own money. If my husband were to get sick and need help, or even if he were to want to go to school and not be able to afford it, I’d put the money down then he’d “pay me back” over the years. I’ve borrowed money from him as well because he keeps his savings more liquid and mine is tied up in investments. In the end during retirement we’ll split what we have.

He knows I’m much better about financial planning than he is, sans my shopping addictions, so he generally trusts me to manage our money within reason. I like him keeping his own separate because then he never feels a lack of independence or ability to buy his own shit (i.e. he can back as many Kickstarters as he likes even if I think it’s a waste of money, and I can go splurge at Nordstrom Rack even though that’s probably a bad idea too.)

When we have kids I think things will change. Kids are expensive and to be fair to them we’re going to have to marge a chunk of our finances to cover their lives which will be a lot of our income. If we buy a house, things might change as most of our savings will go into that together. But I really don’t see what’s so wrong with keeping our accounts separate. Yes, it makes it easier to split our finances should we ever get divorced (not that I’m planning on it) – but it also is good for us to know who is really pulling the financial weight in the marriage and who has to contribute more to the household if their earnings aren’t as high. Luckily Mr. HECC is awesome with kids and will be a great part-time stay-at-home dad should we decide that makes sense one day.

In any case, a part of me thinks it would be nice to have totally merged finances, but I don’t see the point. Half the internet has me thinking I’m a horrible person here, but wiser financial savvy people (esp women) don’t want to merge their bank accounts.

We are probably going to keep doing what we’ve been doing… separate accounts but he pays the rent check and I pay him back (eventually) for what I owe — I pay for all food on our 2% cash back card and then I deduct half of that from what I owe him. I’m thinking now that we’re married we might want to merge our travel and healthcare costs – but even that seems unnecessary at this point. Ie for healthcare he currently pays $400 a month as he doesn’t get it through his work. My work will cover him at 50% with better insurance, so if he goes on my health plan (which he might) I think he should pay the full amount he is responsible for, and I’ll pay my piece which is less because my work covers more of my amount. It is his choice to not get a job with health insurance therefore I don’t think I should have to subsidize that. I believe people need a little kick in the ass (husband’s included) to improve their careers and nothing sabotages that more than just paying for their inability to seek better employment.

Now, if we have a kid, and one of us decides to stay at home to take care of them, or if someone goes to school for their master’s, that’s different – but I don’t consider opting to not look for a better job a reason for me to pay more for him, and he agrees.

It might not be romantic, but marriage is a business as much as it is about love. To us it’s more about love and less about business. I hope I can inspire him to save more towards retirement over the years, and also to either take on a job that pays more or become a teacher which will pay about the same but provide more flexibility for taking care of children and also likely more happiness in his life. I just don’t think merging finances is really something we need to do. I know he doesn’t want to do it.

According to a 2010 report, keeping money separate is a leading factor in couples breaking up. But it’s hard to really claim that to be true because it would consider couples keeping money separate and not sharing any information about how they spend the money with each other and couples that just keep separate accounts but who are transparent about their spending.

The argument that sharing forces you to commit is a silly one. We wouldn’t have gotten married if we weren’t ready to commit. Yes it’s harder to disentangle yourself if your merge your finances, but I find that an immature reason to merge your money.

Another argument is that separate money undermines the financial stability of marriage. I guess that could be true, but as long as you remain responsible for your own money and having enough to cover your own emergencies, why create shared accounts? I still want my own financial security, and my focus is on helping Mr. HECC achieve his. He wants to, and I think he can – he’s much more frugal than I am, so it is easier for him.

Instead of feeling like you have to lie if you want to splurge a bit, keeping money separate allows you to know what you have and keep living like an independent adult. I’m glad we agree on keeping finances separate, and I hope we continue to be able to do this successfully and still be happily married.

 

Networth Update May 2016: $365k

2016 networth goal $500k – aborted. I’ll be lucky if I break even this year. It’s my own fault. I’m making a really solid income I’m just spending way too much on my wedding. I mean – wayyyyy too much. I’m torn on how bad I feel about it. On one hand, financial blogger self feels nauseous about how much this wedding costs – and how I failed to manage to keep the budget within my very generous parent’s contribution that at first seemed impossible to exceed. Well, it seemed impossible to exceed before I fully understood the difference between $2000 and $6000 wedding dresses and how the higher petal count of garden roses makes them just so much more elegant than a standard rose and that DJs really aren’t our style and venues which rush you out because another couple is getting married an hour after your celebration ends make the whole day feel so unfortunately rushed and unromantic.

Ok. I went overboard. Way overboard. You can see how overboard in my networth chart for the year to date:

It’s going to look flat for the next few months. I’ve paid off the entirety of my dress and alterations, as well as deposits on the florist and photographer and videographer. I still don’t understand how despite how much we’re spending on this shindig it still feels I have to cut corners all over the place.

I’ve revamped my networth goal this year to $400k. It’s $100k under where I was hoping to be at this point but then again it doesn’t look like I’m having a kid anytime soon — and the real goal is $500k before my first child is born. If I add in my future husband’s savings and count it in my networth we’ll be close to $500k by that point. I’m still going to account my own networth separately going forward though – I don’t really think we should merge our bank accounts. We’re doing just fine splitting rent and food at this point. When we have kids or buy a house I guess we’ll have to figure it out.

So… I don’t think I’ll be able to save any money until after the wedding. I’m still maxing out my 401k this year… about half way there so far… but the rest of the wedding expenses will wipe out my sizable take-home income for the next few months. We haven’t even planned a honeymoon because that will be too expensive and there’s no time… though I’d like to take one. In any case, I figure July will be the first month this year I can start saving something. I have a zillion weddings to go to this year as well which are across the country, so I’ll be spending a lot even after my wedding is done. I’ll somehow make it work.

If I break even by July 1 — say, $360k — I have $40k to make up in the next six months of the year… or $6.6k per month. Fortunately with my income that’s doable but I really cannot buy anything other than gifts for my friend’s weddings and plane tickets (you know, and food and rent and such.) I just really really really need to keep my job. Odds are looking ok on that but not great. If I lose my job all bets are off. I’ve been struggling to manage wedding planning and job together so once that’s over I can get back to focusing 100% on work… hopefully I’ll last that long.

Farewell $500k goal… on my way to $400k this year. Next year I think $500k is really possible with interest and such or at least getting closer to it. 2017 will be my half million year, I hope.

He’ll Teach Himself How to Be Rich…

Ramit Sethi and James Altucher frequently spam me with email content that I actually want to read. Both are brilliant marketers, having built their own brand around taking a strong stance in the world of finance (if you don’t know them — that’s Sethi, with his make more vs save more philosophy, and Altucher with his whole shtick of I’ve been rich and broke and rich and broke and rich again, all while being depressive and charmingly neurotic.)

Both write LONG emails. Both are anti-establishment yet pro money. They clearly each have a lot to say. And, of course, both have written books and maintain a sizable following of their personal brands. If I were a more productive and focused and confident person I could maybe do that as well, but still after all these years I hide behind anonymity because I’ve yet to decide to quit my job for good and become some sort of motivational personality. Cue that annoying cheerleader song.

Every so often one of the emails sent by Ramit or James sparks a little flame in my mind that twirls around until I put it out with a blog post. Today, Ramit’s pitch was on “invest in yourself.” This isn’t anything new from him, but he did detail out how in his childhood he grew up in a lower class family and his parents found $800 to send him to an SAT class because they believed strongly in investing in what matters. He extends that philosophy to now investing $50k in “luxury items” per year (which he can do because I’m sure he’s making well over $1M per year with all his speaking and writing and workshops and such) – but underneath the clever marketing ploy to convince readers to invest in his programs for their personal growth (and fund his next $50k worth of luxury purchases) lies a good point — we have one life, invest in the things that make us better.

This year, I’ve decided to invest in a personal trainer. She comes to my apartment complex three days a week in the morning and calls me up if I’m not out of bed yet. I hate working out and I hate waking up even more, but that $50 a session / $600 a month is completely worth it. Health is everything. As the stock market starts to tank this year (and my portfolio appears to have paper losses of about $25k year-to-date (uhh, that’s just 9 days of $25k “losses”), it’s a good reminder that investing isn’t everything. Or, sometimes investing in yourself is just as valuable as investing in some hot growth stock with a miraculously low P/E despite an overvalued market.

I’m still going to try to sock away at least $30k this year of net new savings, and for all I know this year may end up being a wash. But really, at this point, I’m letting go a bit when it comes to aggressive savings. It’s time to live a little. I’ve got one or two years left before I have kids (hopefully), so it feels like as good a time as any to spend a little more than I normally would on things like health, education, hobbies, travel and other experiences (i.e. upcoming wedding.)

While I may never sign up for one of Ramit’s super expensive classes, I do agree with his general sentiment – invest in yourself first. It’s like oxygen masks on an airplane – make sure you can breathe first before helping others. Soon I hope to do nothing but help others. For now, I’m figuring out how to breathe.

Biggest Purchases in My Life

I’m turning 32 in a few months, and I’m looking at my overall networth and if it could be higher right now if I had not made some “big” purchases. Really, though, it would be higher if I didn’t make all of the small purchases!

  • $17,000 – second car, paid for all cash (used from a dealer) — I don’t love this car, I wish I picked another, but it’s fine and safe
  • $16,000 – stock in private company (purchased stock options), worth $0 today (insert frown face here)
  • $10,000 – DUI fine, legal fees, et al. Worst expenditure in my life, for many reasons.
  • $8000 – first car, paid for all cash (used from a craigslist seller) — lasted me about 7 years, was a great car (V6!) and I miss it; probably could have lasted longer but it ended up not starting and getting towed from my parking space, wasn’t worth paying to get it out of the pound. Should have been able to sell it for at least $1000, so that was a waste.
  • $4500 – invisible braces, cosmetic and somewhat health related, so far worth it but I wish it wasn’t so expensive!
  • $4000 – “unlimited” laser hair removal — WORTH IT — though the place changed owners and “unlimited” was more like “limited”

Those are really all of my big purchases in life thus far outside of college and my annual rent ($16,200 a year for my share of a 1br.) Oh, and of course about $300k in actual stock… I guess you can say that’s a purchase.

Looking at spending $40k+ on my wedding in comparison seems kind of nutso, even if my parents are contributing a large chunk of that.

What are the biggest purchases you’ve made in your life?

When a Woman Requests a Prenup…

So I’ve spent my 20s acquiring a decent sum of savings. I’m not a millionaire (yet) but I have managed to save $350,000 – not immense wealth, but not pocket change either. I have no idea where my career will take me over the course of my life, but I admit as a person who thinks a lot about finances the idea of merging my financial future with another person – irregardless of how much I love him – terrifies me more than, say, jumping out of a plane without a parachute. Or my dress ripping apart in the middle of my wedding leaving me in my birthday suit.

When doing some preliminary prenup research on Google the links are all the same — dudes who are trying to figure out how to convince their fiancees to sign a prenup without completely destroying their relationship. I haven’t found one link (at least in the top few pages) where a woman is the one who wants the prenup. And do I really want a prenup? I don’t know. It just seems wise, especially with the 50% divorce rate, even though I don’t have any remote intention of ever getting divorced.

The reality is that my hubs-to-be is unlikely to save or earn as much as I do. He also is very adamant about us keeping separate accounts as we do today, though maybe splitting a bit more of our costs beyond just our rent (which I already pay more for) and our food (which we split 50/50.) I don’t know — I always come back to the fact that marriage is a business contract. It’s MORE a business contract than some lovey-dovey festival of forever commitment. You can commit without a marriage license. But if you plan to have kids in the near-term future then marriage does make sense. It at least provides some stability – theoretically.

I admit I’m worried about financial issues going into marriage. Luckily we both have no debt and if anyone’s got a spending habit it’s me. If anything I’m probably better off without a prenup as over time I may end up in a looney bin and should he decide not to be wed to a loon at the time, I’ll need the alimony to survive. Worst case scenario, of course, but it could happen.

Why does it feel so cringe-inducing to even bring up a prenuptial agreement? When I did, he quickly changed the subject, and I could tell he was very hurt at the suggestion. He wasn’t surprised that I asked, but he certainly wouldn’t give the request any serious consideration. And that leaves me with basically two choices — get married without a prenup, or don’t get married.

They say prenups are much more important in second marriages where kids are involved, et al, but if you have a sizable sum of money going into a marriage or expect an inheritance then they may be useful in the first. It just seems like this whole marriage thing is VERY SERIOUS BUSINESS and I’m not equipped with the necessary advice to enter into such a legal agreement. I wish the government made premarital and financial counseling a requirement before getting a marriage license, because at least then it would force us to address these issues like mature adults. But I guess that’s too much to ask in my relationship. And if I were in his shoes, I’m sure I’d feel a tinge of betrayal as well if I were asked to sign a prenup, so I can’t blame him for being so upset at my initial ask. I just wish we could have an adult conversation about it and make a rational decision — but how rational can a decision be if it’s based around the “what if we get divorced” question before we’re even married?

Financial Independence – What it Looks Like to You

When one is on the road to wealth, the dream of financial independence lingers in the distance. Financial Independence means different things to each person. For some it may mean being able to take year-long luxury vacations around the globe and returning home to a mansion. For others, just being able to live a modest lifestyle and not have to work in order to afford it is enough.

I ran into this interesting article discussing financial independence.It posed a few questions which help paint a clearer picture of what this dream would really be like:

  • What time would you wake up?
  • Would you be awakened by an alarm clock or by your body’s clock?
  • Once you arose, what would you do first? Second?
  • When and what would you eat?
  • What would be the main activity of your day?
  • How would you spend the evening?
  • What would determine when you went to bed?
  • What would your home look like?
  • What kind of vehicles would be a part of this typical day?

I thought I’d take a stab at answering the questions, as they probably will help guide in my determining my ideal lifestyle with or without said financial independence. How would you answer these questions?

What time would I wake up?
Probably 8 or 9am.

Would you be awakened by an alarm clock or by your body’s clock?
Body’s clock. I hate alarm clocks.

Once you arose, what would you do first? Second?
I don’t know. If I don’t have work to go to, I tend to just waste time. I’d probably be bored very quickly. I’d likely waste away my days unless I had a project to work on… like work.

When and what would you eat?
If I had “luxury” financial independence, I’d have a cook who would make me healthy delicious fresh food everyday. I’d also be a better cook because I’d have a nice kitchen and a maid who would clean up after the mess I make. I’d frequently dine out – sometimes at fancy places but mostly at modest restaurants. I’d try to eat healthy. I’d have a personal trainer.

What would be the main activity of your day?
Well… other than sleeping and watching television, which would get old fast, I’d want to be working. Maybe I’d take classes. If was wealthy I’d want to just spend my life learning. I’d probably take a bunch of psychology, art and writing classes. Maybe I’d just get a bunch of master’s degrees. I’d spend a decent amount of time floating around my pool. I’d travel and take lots of road trips across the country.

How would you spend the evening?
Cuddling at home with my boyfriend, watching movies, taking relaxing baths in a luxury bathroom that I designed. Sleeping.

What would determine when you went to bed?
What I was tired. It would usually be pretty late. I’d be doing something creative at night and fall asleep whenever, knowing I didn’t have to wake up at any set time in the morning (unless I had class.)

What would your home look like?
It would be in a neighborhood where I had friends who lived close by, who were also financially independent or had more flexible lifestyles. It wouldn’t be giant, but it would have a sizable yard with a private pool (optional) and enough room for entertaining and having guests. I would personally design my own unique kitchen and bathroom. I’d have a robot that does my laundry and folds/hangs my clothes!

What kind of vehicles would be a part of this typical day?
I’m fine driving the basic honda/toyota type car. If I was the rich kind of financially independent, I might buy a Tesla. But I’d be too scared to drive it because I tend to bump into inanimate objects. Maybe I’d splurge on a Lexus or something. I don’t need a Ferrari.

What is most interesting about this analysis is that clearly I’d be massively bored if I was financially independent. I like to work. In fact, I can’t imagine ever retiring. Still, I want to achieve financial independence. To me, financial independence is $2M in networth, or $1M with a modest lifestyle in one’s 30s/40s that is growing to $2M. It isn’t some super fancy lifestyle. And even if I was financially independent, I’d want to work. I would just want more flexibility in deciding where and when I work. And I’d also want to have the opportunity to take more classes and change careers frequently, not caring about taking lower level jobs to be learning something new all the time. Hmm.

Absolutely Terrified of Making the Wrong Decision

All my life, I’ve been a jill of all trades, master of none. I’m at the point in my career where I want to invest significantly in becoming an expert in one area – but I’m still perplexed as to what that one area is. I always come back to the fact that my current savings of $325k, growing at 5% annually for the next 30 years, gets me to a $1.4M nestegg in retirement. That assumes, of course, that I’m not touching any of that money until retirement – but that’s quite a reasonable expectation if I can manage to make enough yearly to at least cover my expenses.

So – I could move to somewhere super cheap, take on a few side jobs to cover housing, health insurance, et al – and whatever I have left over use for travel or taking art classes. Kids will be expensive, that’s for sure, but my boyfriend would also be working – we would never be rich, but we should have enough to have a decent retirement. Heck, if it 325k compounds at 10% year over year then in 30 years when I’m 62 that would be worth over $5M.

Why bother spending $100k now on myself when I don’t trust the investment will pay off. I just don’t have much faith in myself and for good reason. Even now as I browse the help wanted ads for a variety of different positions I return to how today I’m qualified only for roles people are desperate to fill, if that. I started to put together my resume and I couldn’t think of one valid accomplishment in my current role to put on there. Not one. Clearly I deserve to be laid off. In the meantime, I’d like to actually add value that I can talk about later. As a trusted mentor once told me – no job is forever, focus on doing the things that will help the company but that will also be the achievements you’ll put on your resume. I ought to get to that asap, if there is still time left.

There are so many different things one can do in the world – but it’s hard to imagine what would actually make me happy over the long term. If I was already a millionaire and money wasn’t an issue, what would I do? I’m not the type who actually wants to sit around all day, or who wants to spend years traveling the world. The funny thing is – I like to work. I like to work a lot. I like to feel like I’m actually contributing to something greater than myself. So I don’t want to just sit on my ass and waste my life away. But then, money aside, what is it that I would actually be able to do? I’m really awful at so many things. I’m pretty bad at responsibility overall – which is pathetic, but true. I’m forgetful, unorganized, and while I tend to do a lot of things at once I’m a terrible multi-tasked. I’m pretty much the antithesis of who anyone would want to hire today. I should be doing whatever it takes to keep my job because god knows it is going to be awful hard to get another one.

But then I come back to my frustration with myself, and acknowledging that maybe I’m not ready for this position. Every role I’ve taken on in my career I’ve started from scratch, pretty much. New field, new industry, everything new. I liked that – it was exciting and kept me on my toes. But it’s also been really hard. And I’m just not good at certain parts of my job that I don’t think are trainable, it’s just either you are good at it or you’re not. Needless to say this is not a long-term career. I give myself 60 to 180 days at this point. Maybe less. Not by choice. And given my performance, I wouldn’t blame them.

It’s just I don’t see myself ever succeeding at anything. I’d be wise to quit while I’m ahead, hibernate my life away, invest my cash and wait until it compounds enough to actually see the light of day again. That’s a bit dramatic, but it is actually an option. There are things one can do for little money to entertain themselves. One laptop or pen and paper if you really want to rough it and you have all you need to write the next great american novel. A few colored pencils and a sketchbook and you can draw your days away. Reading is pretty cheap, so is going to the occasional movie or watching television. Exercise is free. Food can be affordable if you cook yourself. Really, work doesn’t have to be the central part of one’s life once you have a decent savings. I’d never want to quit work entirely – but I don’t want to have to rely on it. I want time to live.

On the other hand, I am completely the type who lives to work. I can’t not think about my job – ever. I’m always thinking about what needs to get done, the overall industry, and creative ways to tackle problems. I don’t actually go on to execute these well, but I know I am happier when I have a job I can throw myself into 110%. So if money wasn’t an object I’d probably still work. I’d still want to get really good at something so I can finally feel successful and productive. But what is that one thing? I’ve always been interested in too many things. Too many interests left me with no direction. I don’t know how I got where I am but it all feels like a giant sham. And it is. I’m tired of the charade. I just can’t fake it, and everyone sees it. When you’re in a field where results are easy to quantify, there’s no place to hide, for better or worse.

When I invest in the stock market I always invest in what I think is stable or is solving a key market problem that will only get worse over the coming years. In other words, I’m smart about my investment choices. If I were a business and I knew everything I know about myself, I wouldn’t make the investment. That’s why I’m so scared. I don’t think it’s worth it. I don’t actually believe in myself one bit – not to do anything I actually want to do. Be an accessories designer. A photographer. A film editor. An interior designer. I don’t know. Be something that has nothing at all to do with enterprise software. To create something tangible. To spend my life on projects that have a clear beginning, middle and end to them. And to reach some level of creating something that is well received by others. That others want to see or buy. To actually create that said thing. If money were no object, I’d be a maker, not a marketer. But the grass is greener and I had my time in life when I was studying the “making” side of things. That didn’t go over so well either.

In any case, I do need to figure something out. It won’t be the end of the world to go on unemployment and have six months to get my head on straight, but that isn’t forever. I just hate feeling like I’m back at square one, yet again.