So I did a probably very stupid thing and asked for my performance review to be changed.

I don’t know why I do things that will cause more harm than good, but at this point I know I’m mere days or maybe months away from getting fired and if I can’t remind those in charge about my positive contributions to the organization I really ought to have more than just one foot out the door at the moment.

I fee like absolute shit. Because even though my role has changed, I face the same challenges that had me failing in the last one. Only this time I interact with slightly less people so maybe that’s the point. Keep me in a bubble where I can do what I do best and try to limit any opportunity for growth or engaging with others in the org. It just feels like I’m being pushed out slowly. Maybe that’s the natural method in big companies. I’m used to small ones. They can’t take away my comp outside of firing me, and they can’t fire me without risking legal issues at the moment given I’m fresh off maternity leave, so they just send me ALL the signals and wait… either I take the hint or I wait until a major fuck up or next performance review season (whichever comes first) then I’m out.

I know I ought to just stay quiet and try to be invisible. That’s the smart thing to do. What I did has no real positive outcome, other than letting the big boss know about what I’ve done that’s actually good, since I’m guessing all he saw was that I got a low score and that I’m causing problems on the team and that I probably should be fired ASAP. So my message was more — hey, I agree I’m not a leader, I agree I suck at communication, I agree I’m pretty shitty in a lot of ways, but also here’s a quick list of all the good stuff I’ve done nonetheless. I don’t know. It was probably remarkably dumb like everything dumb I do so maybe not so remarkable for me. Just, typical. I’m sure my former boss is pissed and annoyed, and her side of the story would be she’s not changing the score and she’s going to fire me as soon HR will let her. I’m hoping that’s not until the end of the year if I just get shit done on time and try to communicate to the best of my ability which is never good enough.

Yea this was a dumb move. Maybe. It’s my second bad review in a row so it’s not like I have anything to stand on. She’s probably wishing she fired me last year. I get it. She probably should have. I’m grateful that she didn’t.

I don’t really feel so motivated by this review, though. More hopeless. What do I do to improve? I don’t know. A lobotomy? Perhaps. My general strategy is to stay silent but I seem to be horrible at that. The lobotomy sounds like a good idea. Perhaps complete excising of the brain. What a useless pile of mush.

I don’t yet regret sending this email, but I do regret what led up to getting the bad review. I regret that I’m incapable of consistency even though I’m capable of occasional spurts of fucking awesome work. Which doesn’t matter. People want reliability not sometimes exceptionally awesome. So. Here we go again. Down the drain spinning spinning spinning.

Did I just accelerate this flush? I guess I’ll find out soon.

End of the Month Check In: Progress and Stagnation

Well, it’s somehow (basically) June and closing in on the half-way point of 2021. Insanity, right? As the world slowly chugs back to normal-ish, I’m spending most of my time moving projects along and figuring out how on earth I will unpack my entire garage when I don’t have a closet (my family renter has the largest room with the walk-in-closet, which he uses as a library since he owns very little other than books.) So. I have to figure that out.

Despite my whining about work stuffs, I’m feeling pretty good about making it through the year as long I can keep chugging along. No hopes and dreams of getting a knockout performance review and being promoted or anything like that. I could stay at this company 10 years more and would probably never see a raise or title increase. Which is why I’m still, albeit less obsessively these days, thinking about what’s next.

But I also have realized that IF I can negotiate a WFH situation (not sure I can into next year) then it might make sense to stay for a bit longer. It’s definitely worth applying (and hopefully interviewing) starting around Feb next year, but I don’t have to jump to the next thing. This job, as stressful and frustrating as it can be at times, seems somewhat manageable for me. I have a sense for how to do it well, even with some of the newer things my new boss wants me to do, and I think I can sort those out too. Again, I’m kind of limited in going above and beyond since I seem to get penalized every time I offer any creative ideas to make things better or do more than is expected of me (which seems to be the requirement for a high performance review and promotion?!) BUT it’s kind of nice to, for once, have some sort of feeling that I can just stick it out, get the work done, try to fly by invisible, make people happy, and have time to maybe get healthy and maybe see my kids a bit before they’re off to school and such.

So I’ve got these 7 months left to get through with the best work I can do. I think it’s achievable as long as I tell my ego to shut the fruck up. I’m being treated horribly but no one cares when I’m making as much as I’m making this year and I get it, that’s fair, I don’t deserve to be treated with respect or anything. At least no one is yelling at my face. I also feel good(?) knowing some of my colleagues are leaving soon because the environment has gotten toxic, so I know it’s not all me. I think their leaving is a huge loss to the organization but doubt it will be enough for things to change. People don’t stay in jobs that long here anyway, you do your 4 years of vesting and then you move on or you can’t keep the same income. It’s sad that’s how it’s structured as companies don’t really care if they lose that knowledge and talent, but I guess it saves them money over time. Anyway. I can leave anytime between Jan 1, 2022 and April 1, 2023. I’ll be in no rush and just try to find the right next fit. The only rush I’m in is trying to get into a new company before I attempt to have my last baby. I don’t want to go through this company as the woman who took 3 maternity leaves, and I’d also like to find a company that covers IVF since I’ll be 39 (!,!,!,!??) when hopefully getting pregnant with my last kid.

Anyway, this month has been pretty flat for net worth growth because it went down then came back up. It’s kind of sad that I didn’t sell out of more of my company stock as it hasn’t come back up and my dreams of hitting $3M this year are no longer viable. That’s ok, though. I’ve got a solid plan to get to $3M in about 5 years. And I’ve decided one I get to $3M, which includes having $150k per 529 plan locked, loaded, and forgotten about, I can relax a bit when it comes to spending.

My plan is basically pay the mortgage a year in advance so I always have that safety net (won’t lose my house for a year) and just let it all roll. By 43 or so we should have $3M unless the stock market tanks. A lot of that increase will be gains on the current investments but it also includes still putting a lot of income to savings. Once we get to $3M, I don’t think I’ll need to save as much. We’ll still max out our retirement accounts, but I’ll feel good about where we are so we can spend more on home furnishings, maybe save for and add on to our house or even move to the town where I really want to live. I figure my in-law will probably live with us for 5 more years, and him putting money to us instead of rent helps too. So instead of our mortgage being $7k, it’s $5k a month, which includes about $2k going to principle, so we’re basically paying $3k a month to live here, which makes my brain feel better knowing we were paying $2.5k for a 1 bedroom apartment and now we have a house with a yard. I try to ignore the lost gains on the downpayment and principal.

Anyway…

Here is where we are start of June and updated stitch goals for the year. It’s unlikely we can be up another $450k this year (my estimated additional savings for us as of June 1 is about $200k after expenses (due to the remainder of my stock vesting and living fairly frugally for the rest of the year), so that would mean our total investments (1.78)  would have to increase by $250k or about 15% in 7 months — unlikely.)

GOAL Apr May Jun
Retirement $775.0 $521.5 $715.0 $715.7
Taxable $1,100.0 $804.5 $856.0 $822.1
Cash $0.1 $0.1 $0.1 $0.3
529 A $150.0 $91.6 $105.0 $106.2
529 B $150.0 $41.3 $73.0 $74.7
529 C $65.0 $63.7 $65.0 $65.5
Home Equity $260.0 $250.0 $257.0 $257.6
TOTAL $2,500 $1,773 $2,071 $2,042

I’d say more realistically we’re looking at closing the year out with $2.2M, maybe flat, but if flat then hopefully there will be a run up at some point where we’ll see increase in the stock market. Or it could all crash and we could close the year out at $1M. Who knows. That would suck. I want to get to the point where we have $3M in investments then I can just live life and not worry about saving a ton more and let those investments ride for years so they can go up and down and not bother me much. Then with $3M invested it will get to $5M eventually, especially if we continue to max out our retirement accounts but not add more to our savings otherwise. I’ll probably start a small UTMA for my kids once eligible for gifting them again (since we’re superfunding 529 this we can’t give them any gifts again for 5 years) – I figure I’ll start doing small contributions to UTMA in year 6 and then whenever they get their first jobs I’ll start matching their income so they can all start Roths. That should fall in line nicely with when I’ll have enough saved up to feel like I can do that without impacting our future. It also will be around the time when my mom will need money probably so I want to make sure I have enough saved where I can help her if needed and pay to fly out to visit her frequently when she can no longer travel (that hopefully will be in a bit longer, but good to know I have the money to do it so I don’t have to worry about spending a lot on flights to see her.)

What I feel best about is where the 529s are right now. My parents gave me the gift of my education and while I can never pay that back to them, I can pass that gift down to my kids. And I will. With $225k already saved in 529s, I’m well on my way to making sure my kid’s undergrad is covered in full — and if the market works for me it’s possible they can have grad school covered and/or their kid’s college education covered (and if I’m still alive by  the time my kids have kids — the I should be in a place financially where I can help put them through college too.)

I’m hoping I am alive that long as my health has been not the best lately, but I’m starting to feel a bit better with random “flares” of who knows what. I know everyone thinks my health issues are related to my having given birth earlier this year and maybe they are but the headaches seem possibly vaccine related (they got really bad after second shot then went away about 3 weeks after the shot) but the fatigue is concerning and my eye blurring issues (two episodes of my right eye vision going blurry for 15-30 minutes) still have me worried even though the eye doctor said she found a benign thing in there and that could explain it…

My neurologist offered and MRI and I’m so fucking claustrophobic that she said I really don’t need to do one now since it’s super unlikely based on my symptoms and her office testing that they’d find anything. She also seemed comfortable with the idea that the headaches were caused by the vaccine as she has heard that some people do get headaches for a few weeks after the vaccine (yet everything I read online about it says side effects should go away in 36 hours.) My allergy tests all came back negative so I don’t know what’s up. I think I’m going to make another appointment with my doctor once I finish my at-home 72 hour EKG as we’re seeing if anything is going on with my heart (though the weird chest spasms seem to have stopped — I doubt they’ll find anything.) Maybe that’s a good thing and I can just put this all behind me, which I’d like to do, except every once in a while I’ll feel incredibly fatigued, like my lungs are just weak, and no matter how much I breathe in I can’t get enough air. Maybe it’s just anxiety and panic attacks but I don’t know… even my initial EKG saw that my PR interval was slightly depressed but not enough to diagnose a heart block since my heart rate was low at the time. I’m really curious what this EKG will find, if anything. I just want to feel better. It’s taking too long to lose weight after baby and I’m still considered obese which I’m sure isn’t helping. I know it’s hard to lose weight while breastfeeding but still I have to get the weight down.

So outside of keeping my job and saving as much as possible this year towards my $2.5M goal, my other main goal is getting back to the “overweight” and not obese BMI category. I’m not going to get to a healthy BMI this year but I can inch closer. If I want to even consider having a third kid… and getting pregnant in 1.5 years (!) especially with IVF I need to drop the weight. And I don’t want to feel like this for the rest of my life. At least doctors will treat me better if I’m a healthy weight.

I’m also wondering about if I want to stay sober for good. I never considered myself an alcoholic but at this point in my life I can look back and see that of all the moments in my life I regret about 90% of them occurred when I was drinking. I was a binge drinker and it was hard for me to stop at one drink when socializing. I had a lot of fun being a drunk idiot too, don’t get me wrong, but I just am not the right kind of person when I’m drinking. I think I can manage a glass of wine with dinner when I go out on a date, but I don’t want to to do the social drinking that has led to me being an idiot and saying shit I can never take back. I’d say the other 10% of things I regret are due to my likely undiagnosed bipolar disorder as I can definitely see periods of my life where I was manic and I’m scared of who I was then and just hate myself for it, but I’ve decided I have to just close the book on that and move on and try really hard to focus on knowing when I’m in a phase like that so I can just stop myself from saying whatever it is I’m thinking at the time because it’s not real and it’s not me. My therapists never believe me that I’m bipolar but I know I am. Drinking while manic is the worst for me. Though it’s not exactly good while depressed either. :/ So, yea, I’m going to try to reduce my drinking. Really cut myself off at 1-2 drinks if I do decide to drink. I haven’t had a drink in over a year (due to being pregnant and breastfeeding) and I don’t see why I can’t continue on this way. It’s rough as I’m so socially anxious and I really do find it easier to engage with other humans after a drink… or two. But I’m old now and a mom and I don’t really want to be social like that anymore. I’m worried I’ve fucked my liver with my occasional binge drinking through the years. It was not frequent, but it was still pretty bad when it happened. Plus, not drinking saves $$… though I’ve been putting that to overpriced tea at Starbucks and Peets. At least that’s a bit healthier for me. Oh, and I’m trying to cut out caffeine as well outside of green tea and matcha. That mostly means not having the occasional latte and especially not having Coke Zero an Diet Pepsi which is horrible for me anyway.

So if I can get to the end of this year mentally stable, with my kids thriving, with $2.5M (or $2.3M) in the bank, with my job intact, etc etc, and alive, I’ll call it a win. Really I’m considering this job my $2.5M job so I’d like to stay in it until I get to $2.5M, but we’ll see about that. This job is my $2.5M job and the next job needs to be my $3M job so I have to find the right fit and right salary to make it worth a move. The only thing I can do is just try to go the best I can at this job and stop going to get overpriced tea so much. But it’s my one self care pleasure in life so I allow myself that.

 

What a horrible performance review…

Not that I was surprised by a word of it… given my demotion was already announced… but seeing that I scored “below expectations” hurt. I wish my work was ALL below expectations because then it would feel better deserved… like, if they though all of my work was a solid 2 of 5, how could I feel bad about getting that score? I’d feel bad that I suck at my job, but not saddened by the score itself.

What made the review hurt so much is the callouts of the good work I did in the year. Yes, the same year I worked from home in a pandemic while pregnant with a 2 year old screaming because we couldn’t have my father-in-law come over for childcare and we couldn’t risk putting my son in daycare since both my husband and I would probably die if we got COVID. Yes, that year.

Had I been a perfect employee before this year then I guess I’d have some sort of case — but let’s get real. I was on a PIP last year that I managed to work my way out of, but then things went downhill fast. And my boss reminded me that I’m not a leader and will never be a leader. While she’s not my direct boss now (I’m layered into her at this point) she is clearly not interested in interacting with me and will do so only when absolutely necessary for a project. I don’t blame her for it. I’m a frustrating person to work with. I know she really wants to fire me, but my guess is that between having just come back from leave that HR convinced her to give me a few more months and a role with less responsibility (sort of) so it would be easier to let me go next year should I get another horrible review.

It doesn’t really matter at this point — I know I can’t stay. They don’t want me to stay. My compensation is fine, it’s more that they know what they’re doing in providing raises and stock refreshes $0 of anything is all I need to know. And they are doing me a huge favor keeping me employed this year (as long as I do my work) so I can transition out without getting fired, as long as I don’t wait too long to do so. Though I really don’t have any references I can put down for a new job… which means… I can’t get a new job. Like, ever? Maybe someone will just be impressed by my background and not want to talk to my former bosses? I’m pretty screwed. I can’t leave. I can’t stay.

All I can do is try to do good work this year. I don’t know how I get a new job. I honestly don’t think I can.

My new boss and I have a weird relationship. He’s really great at functioning in this corporate environment. I’m learning from him how to do that better. But I’ll never be him. I don’t fit here. I don’t know where I fit or what I should do next. My new role supposedly has me focused on some of the things I do best but it’s pretty clear my management skills and communication skills are not going to cut it. Every meeting I’m in and running I just feel like an idiot. I’m trying really hard to not talk much and help make sure everyone else gets to talk, but then I am not running the meeting effectively by moving things along and ensuring that we aren’t wasting the whole meeting listening to a few people share their ideas.

I’m just frustrated. Because I don’t know how to be better. I’m trying and maybe they’ll see slight improvements and that’s enough to get me to the end of the year and another 2 on my next performance review… 3 if I make absolutely no mistakes. I’m sure I’ll make mistakes. I already have. I need a fresh start. New job. People I’ve never worked with before. And then I need to figure out how to fake another personality. Which is never sustainable. But I need to throw out my typical joking self and just come across as serious and as a dependable worker. Somehow. I don’t want to leave this role and move to my next one until I’m ready for that.

It’s pretty bad now, though. I am fighting tears in every one-on-one. I asked my boss for feedback on my meeting today and told him I know I’m not good at meetings but I’m trying to get better. Thank god I’m working remote because I can kind of hide the tears. I don’t really want another job because I don’t want anyone else to take a chance on me and then be disappointed. At least now they know what they’re getting and they can kick me out at any moment. In a way that makes me feel better, because if I still have a job at least I know they feel my work is worth what I’m being paid based on that “below expectations” performer that I am with occasional good work. I mean, I’m not aiming for that. I’m TRYING to do good work. But I’m not a good employee. And that’s on me. But I’ve been demoted to a role requiring leadership again when I’m a horrible leader and will never be a leader, though I guess my boss now is the buffer between me and the leadership team, which means I’m not quite a leader, or – I don’t know. I’m an overpaid project manager? Anyway, 7 more months and then I guess I need to figure out what’s next.

All I know is I’m really fucking sad. I’m trying to stop caring and just do the work and do everything my boss is asking me to do. I’m hoping that’s enough. I’ll take another 2. But at this rate next year I’ll get a 1.

I’m Not Sure I Can Last 7 Months Here

On one hand, my situation is quite good. I can work from home for now. I have a handful of high-visibility projects, but the amount of time I spent on them is limited since I manage outside consultants who do the work and then I manage review cycles and such, but I’m not actually doing a lot of hands-on work anymore. I theoretically have time to eat healthy and exercise, but I can’t motivate myself to do much of anything because I’m constantly stressed about all the things that aren’t moving forward fast enough, that are running into walls, that I see are going to crash and burn and I can’t do anything about it.

I came back from maternity leave and was thrown a project that I did not have enough time to complete. It should have been started before I got back, but that’s not how my team rolls. So I got back and had to quickly navigate a bunch of issues before I could even get started on the work. Just a week of getting my head on straight and I was already far behind. Now I’m up against the wire, lacking budget, and I don’t see how to get from where we are now to where we need to be. This is the first time I felt like there is a low probability this project will be done on time. And because it’s for a time-sensitive thing, I can’t NOT get it done on time.

I’m incredibly depressed right now. I’m still struggling with some weird health issues. My headache has largely subsided but my heart feels like it’s struggling to beat. While it certainly sounds like anxiety, I don’t it’s all that. My chest is spasming and has a motor sensation that comes and goes. I’m being run through a bunch of tests at the doctor but who has time for all the tests and I’m not sure my doctors really believe me. Last night I felt so weak and heavy, and my face started to tingle and it was just not good. But I don’t have time to focus on my health, I have to make work work.

I go back and forth between considering leaving this job. I’d want to find a new job before I leave, if possible. I do have time to be doing virtual interviews. But any new job will be stressful even if it’s a good job. I don’t think I’m in the best space right now to start something new. At least my company knows me and for better or worse they’re keeping me for now. I just want to get to the end of the year and then I can seriously start considering leaving. It’s a huge amount of money on the line. It would be absolutely ridiculous to leave.

But I’m feeling more and more like, beyond this company, I can’t sustain being the breadwinner here with our $7k a month mortgage and needing more money to fix this old house. I dream of moving somewhere else, where we can afford a nice house with a nice private yard in a good neighborhood with good schools, where I don’t have to be so stressed all the time. I mean, even a lower-paid job could be stressful so who knows. But I don’t think I can do this for 29 more years. I’m really just struggling with my health. And that’s with me working from home and not having a whole lot of work to do. But the stress is bad for my heart that seems to be having issues. The EKG found something possibly irregular so we’re doing another test to find out more. Of course I have a 4 month old and I’m not sleeping enough. But even when I get a pretty good night of sleep, I still feel like shit.

If the headaches and heart palpitations and heavy numb tingling feeling and throat swelling sensation are ALL caused by stress then that’s reason enough to leave this job. Isn’t it. Or do I just hold my breath still and wait. It’s just 7 months. That’s nothing. But at this point I don’t know if I’ll be alive at the end of it. And that’s wouldn’t be a death by choice.

What’s Next? 12 Month Count Down

The good news — if you can count this as good news — the weeks are flying. While I’m still struggling with coming back from maternity leave to the first year of no raise at all (I didn’t expect a performance-based raise, but it seemed the company gives out COL raises typically so I was still a bit surprised to get nothing.) While yes this is a year that many companies didn’t give any raises, my company performed strongly last year and I assume (though don’t know for sure) that others got bumps in pay. I was placed in a different role so maybe they feel I’m overcompensated for my new position. In any case, it’s clear the writing is on the wall. Maybe they’re willing to keep me as long as I do my work at my current pay rate, but I do know they throw money (at least in stock) at people they want to keep. And I’m not one of them.

And that’s fine. I don’t want a reason to stay. So maybe they are doing me a favor by giving me more reason to leave. I don’t have to run out the door right now. Even though the value of my stock is down a bit, it’s still worth sticking it out at least until the beginning of 2022. Part of me wants to stick around in 2022 long enough to max my after-tax account and get my match, which means I’d have to stay enough months to put $34.5k into an after-tax Roth. Theoretically, with bonus, I could do that in about 6 months. My thought is I don’t put anything into a 401k as I would more likely have access to a 401k than a after tax/Roth at a new job, plus any match at my new future job will be on 401k contributions in the future. And if shit hits the fan next year and I do not get a new job then my taxes will be lower anyway. So I stay until I get 34.5k into my account, which is about 6 months with bonus and my contributions. That means I stay until June, but I could also consider bumping up my contributions after March if I’m sure I’m leaving in June because there’s no point in putting funds into an ESPP if I’m leaving before the next purchase date.

That seems like a long way away. I really am focused now on getting to Oct 1, then April 1, then I’ll see what happens. With the stock market flatlining, I know I keep buying stock on sale but it’s still feels like I’ll never hit my goals. But at least the weeks keep happening.

And I’m really grateful for being able to work from home right now. If I was working in an office I’d be rushing to get out the door at the moment, or already on the road sitting in traffic. Instead, I’m enjoying the last few minutes before work hours with my 4 month old breastfeeding and blogging. I do miss the office a little bit (I never thought I’d say it) as living in a house with two young kids, my father-in-law and my husband I don’t really get any “me” time outside of going to sit in the parking lot of coffee shops occasionally… and then rushing back to feed my baby. With my first son by this time I was back at work and pumping. I could pump at home but I also love the bonding experience of feeding my baby all the time and it’s not really that hard when I’m home all the time (though sometimes he cries through a meeting if he’s hungry and I can’t stop to feed him, but usually I can book meetings around his feeding times.) Pumping at work wasn’t really that great outside of being able to hide in the mom’s room and make it my own occasional secret office for a year. There were times when I was engorged in meetings running over and that was no fun. I love that I’m not engorged at all these days. I make just the right amount for my son who is growing perfectly. And right now it looks like the earliest I’d have to go back to the office is in the fall, but hopefully not until 2022. I don’t know what will happen now that the CDC is saying people who are vaccinated can be inside with others without a mask. It feels like the end of this pandemic is near — which is a good thing, of course, but it does mean at some point they will want us back in the office. I just hope it’s not that soon and I can start looking for a new job at a company that is more flexible or at least closer to my new home.

What is rough right now is trying to figure out what’s next. Can I get a job doing what I do now (or did before I was moved out of the role?) Probably. It probably won’t pay as well, as I was recruited by the head of my department this time and I while I don’t think I’m overcompensated, I do think that most companies under compensate this specific type of role. So I can get paid less to do the same role, or I can try to change positions, back into more of a leadership role, and maybe make the same, but probably have to manage people and such, which I don’t really want to do right now.

I COULD stay in my current company and just accept that I will be losing compensation each year without stock refreshes and raises. The biggest issue with that is I don’t trust I’ll get my bonus each year. This past year was the first year I didn’t get my full bonus. I still made over $200k with the bonus I received, but had I not gotten it at all my compensation (without stock) would not be enough to cover my bills. I think I need to find a job with a higher base even if that means giving up on some of the variable compensation. Though I’m not sure that’s really possible. Next year, IF I get my full bonus my current role is worth $280k. That includes full bonus, stock, 401k match, ESPP discount. That’s a great income! Without bonus, I’m at around $250k for the year. It will still be hard to find another job that gets me to $250k without bonus. But most of that compensation is front weighted in the year. By April 1 I will have 144k of that income. Plus ESPP growth, which I’m not including, which will be another $15k-$20k probably. So if I hit April 1, I’ll already have made $160k or so for the year. The only reason to stay until June is to max out my after tax 401k.

The following year, my total compensation goes down quite a bit if I stay at this job. I’m looking at $220k total comp with bonus, about $190k without bonus. And it goes down even further the following year. It just doesn’t make sense to stay. And my bosses know that. They know how to play the game. If they wanted to keep me long term, they would be giving me stock refreshes and such. So it’s just a question of when I should leave, not if.

My goal is to do all of my work to the best of my ability this year so I leave with great references and maybe people can forget how I struggled a bit in the previous role. That’s not to say my current position is easy… it’s one fire drill after another. But that’s not just me. There is just a certain adrenaline-driven management style that is not for everyone. Some of the respected members of the department will be leaving in the coming months, by choice, and not all have announced yet so I wonder if there are others I don’t know about yet. It makes me feel a bit more sane to see the respected folks heading out, knowing that they also cannot function in this environment, even though they probably have raises and stock thrown at them. If they can walk from their platinum handcuffs, I can surely walk from my golden ones.

But… I really don’t know what’s next. I read job postings daily and I haven’t seen any that jump out as the perfect fit. I don’t have the energy at the moment to start a new job. I’m hoping when my baby is a year-and-a-half I will feel more myself again. I do know that 18 months after my first son I actually felt healthy… and got pregnant. But there were a few months in there when my brain was functioning properly.

I still want a third child (because I’m insane) and that still means that I want to start trying when my son is 2. I’ll be 39 and will likely do IVF. I can’t believe I’ll be 39 (and then 40.) What happened to my life? I’m plenty adult now, but I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing and I don’t feel like an adult. I don’t even have a real kitchen table yet.

I’m hoping my next job can be one of two things — one where I can run the show and hire great people and lead strategy, or one where I can focus on one particular thing and do it really well. I’m leaning towards the second option as I’d like to go somewhere that respects my skills and also invests in helping me grow, vs walking into another mess. Though at this point in my career I wonder if any company is not a mess.

I’ve said my current job is my “$2.5M” job… I want to have $2.5M in net worth before leaving this company. It’s still possible by June next year, depending on how the stock market performs. I think it’s worth holding out until at least April 1, or July 1, or $2.5M, or something close to that. It’s hard to focus on doing the best I can in this role and also really investing in figuring out what’s next. I still feel so unemployable. I do get recruiters reaching out but then it’s clear I’m not a fit for the roles. I don’t have the management experience required, usually. But I haven’t done any outbound applying in forever. So maybe I’d get a few hits. Who knows. I feel like “applying season” is just around the corner. But I also feel like it’s such a long time to survive in my current role, and I just need to focus on that.

And I need to be a good mom to my kids… I’m trying to find 1×1 time with my toddler (daily walks to the park, some activity on Saturday morning, another activity on Sunday afternoon) while being around as much as possible to feed my baby. The house is a mess. Some of that is my fault but my husband isn’t on top of cleaning up either. If I really wanted a clean house I would have to lead that, and I suck at cleaning, and I’m tired and it just piles up so quickly. I can’t imagine how I’d be having to go into an office right now. So I need to constantly remind myself how lucky I am. To be able to afford the house (even though it is costing me $86.5k a year for the next 29.5 years, or 66k a year if you don’t count principle since I keep that.) If we didn’t live in a HCOL area it would probably be better but we’re not moving for many reasons so I have to make this work. And I need to find a job where I can stay, hopefully, for the next 4 years, make enough to pay my mortgage, and have maternity leave for my third kid that is long enough where even if I work in an office I can stay home with my baby until they’re 5 or 6 months, ideally.

I know it will all happen… somehow. Maybe not the third baby part. But life. It just happens. It keeps happening.

2021 Net Worth Goals Update

A month ago I posted my 2021 net worth goals. Checking in to see how things are going…

  • Retirement: $614,629 ($521.5k then)
    • Current: $715k (cool, already beating my goal, guess I should raise it!)
  • Taxable Investment: $822.5k ($804.5k then)
    • Current: $856k (also hit goal already nice, need new goal)
  • Emergency Fund: $60k ($60k then)
    • $62k (still good)
  • IVF Fund: $65k ($65k then)
    • ok this is $0 because I didn’t want it sitting and I moved it to my investments. But I can sell some investments when/if we decide to do IVF.  Going to remove this goal.
  • 2 Yr old 529: $196k ($91.6k then)
    • $105k (need $91k more but might reduce this goal)
  • 0 Yr old 529: $151k ($41.3k then)
    • $73k (need $78k more but might reduce this goal)
  • -3 Yr old 529: $63.7k ($63.7k then)
    • $65k (good)

New 2021 Goals…

GOAL Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec REM
Retirement $800.0 $521.5 $715.0 $85.0
Taxable $900.0 $804.5 $856.0 $44.0
Cash $0.1 $0.1 $0.1 $0.0
529 A $150.0 $91.6 $105.0 $45.0
529 B $150.0 $41.3 $73.0 $77.0
529 C $65.0 $63.7 $65.0 $0.0
Home Equity $270.0 $250.0 $257.0 $13.0
savings needed:
$264.0

Will check in again each month to see how I’m progressing towards these new goals!

To the next 23 years.

It’s nice to think I’ll live to 100, but it’s doubtful. I still plan financially for a long life “just in case” but the reality is my health is already headed downward. I can improve my health by exercising and eating healthy (which I am trying to do now slowly as I get back into thing after having a baby) but right now with my newly-diagnosed blood clotting disorder and potentially unrelated headache symptoms that have now gone on for days since getting the second covid shot, I just feel like my body at 37 is already starting to fail. So I’m giving myself 23 years. That’s how long I have until I’m 60. Anything after that, unfortunately, is gravy. I mean, my morbidly-obese cancer-stricken father made it to 67, but 60 seems like a good goal for now.

Twenty three years isn’t long at all. And I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what matters to me in this life. I try to avoid thinking about death as I’m terrified of it, even though it’s inevitable, but instead I try to focus on, ok, I’ve got 23 years, or six “four year vesting periods” before I am at high risk for a variety of illnesses, should I even make it that long.

One thing I know for sure — I love being a mom. I do want a third child, but I’m not sure my body can handle it. My plan was/is to do IVF and try to have a girl (*I have a lot of conflicting feelings about this as I think gender is a social construct but it’s also a “real” social construct and a mother and her daughter tend to have a different kind of relationship compared to a mother and her sons), but as of yesterday I’m wondering if I should just let nature do her thing and if I get pregnant again I get pregnant again and if it’s a boy I should be happy with that outcome as three brothers can be nice as well. Going the natural route, as long as I can lose weight quickly, would enable me to get pregnant sooner (if I can) versus waiting to wean and start IVF. With my clotting disorder it seems like IVF may be too risky overall. I need to talk to a doctor about it. If I can’t get pregnant naturally (at 38) then we could always do IVF then, but I don’t have to make that my first option. It’s always possibly baby 3 could end up being a girl by chance, although it just as likely could end up being another boy.

And who knows if my health will allow me to safely get pregnant again anyway.  I need to lose weight, but I’m struggling a lot this time. I don’t feel like I’ve been eating a ton lately yet the scale is stuck at 188-192 and it keeps bouncing back up. I’m avoiding most sugars and have really improved my diet yet here I am. I need under 180 fast to relieve what my weight is doing to my body and then continue to work to get it down much further. If I do get pregnant again, I want to start the pregnancy at or as close to a healthy BMI as possible (which means losing 50lbs!) which given I’m struggling to lose .5lb a week will take, uh, forever. I do remember last baby I didn’t lose a lot of weight until a year in when baby started eating food and breastfeeding less. Then the weight started to come off. And I dropped 10lbs in March last year but that’s because I either had COVID or pandemic-induced anxiety and didn’t eat much in a month and was walking miles a day. I need to start walking that much again and I’d like to be able to lose weight while still eating (healthfully.)

This headache situation is no fun right now though. It’s honestly scaring me. I’m hoping it’s just long-term side effects from the vaccine and will go away soon. It’s been this on and off stabbing pain throughout the left side of my head. I took Excedrin this morning and it transformed into a huge amount of pressure, then my left arm and face felt heavy. I’ve been lying down and feel a little better, but afraid to get up. I’m slightly nauseous. I just want to feel myself again.

The stress of going back to work isn’t helping. I’m trying to refrain from getting stressed as it seems to be a trigger for my recent uptick in medical issues but I just have more and more anxiety by the day. It’s not like my old-time anxiety that I hand somewhat a handle on. I just feel like the weight of the world and so many things is crippling. I’m behind on EVERYTHING. So, gosh, why do I want another kid? Well, the only thing in my life that feels right at the moment is being a mom. And I think I’m a pretty good mom thus far. I can be a pretty good mom to two children but to me family is really everything and there isn’t much of one out here on the west coast so I need to rebuild that. Hopefully I’ll live longer than those 23 years and I can enjoy many years with my children and maybe even their children too. It’s crazy to think how old I’ll be (if I’m still around) when they might have kids. Makes me wish I had my children younger, I just wasn’t thinking about “the other side of it” when putting off having my kids until my mid 30s. I’m glad I had my 20s but it wouldn’t have hurt much to start having kids in my earlier 30s. My dad would have even gotten to meet my firstborn and to this day it kills me that he wasn’t able to meet his grandchild, when I know that would have really made him so happy. And he’ll never know about his second grandson or whoever else might come next. I remain heartbroken.

I want a family. A big-ish one. I want to turn this house into a home somehow. It doesn’t feel like one yet. Or maybe sell this house and buy another place that feels more like a home one day. This place is just a bunch of boxes. Rooms that are all the wrong size and put in an odd layout. I can fix it up but probably never will. The bathroom remodel took a toll with all the decisions. Probably better to sell and move. To the city where I wanted to buy. Though houses go for $1000+ a square foot there, more in the areas we’d want to be. It’s insane. And I don’t see myself moving into a well-paid role… ever again. I can’t handle the pressure. I need something that is more stable and lower stress. For my health. It was fine when it just impacted my mental health but now that it’s putting me at risk for an early death or other issues that could disable me I just want to part in that game. I’m hanging on for dear life for the next eight months to get the last of my stock but after that I’m reevaluating everything. I just want time. The most precious resource of all.

I’m scared, too, that a manic episode will return. I’m so far removed now from the one I had in 2019. My therapist won’t believe me about it, she thinks I’m just depressed. It’s terrifying when you lose control over what you say and do. For the most part the whole time period was quite benign, but I definitely regret some things I said. I don’t know who I was then. I was someone else. It’s sad that I felt GOOD then, like I was entertaining and charismatic and all the things I want to be in my vat of awkwardness. Clearly I wasn’t any of that at the time, but I felt that way. Now I’m on the other end of it, I guess. I don’t even know if I’m depressed. I’m just tired. Tired of chasing after — proving that I can “do this” whatever this is. “Not failing.” Making money. Growing that money. Buying a house. Keeping the house. Being an adult. Supporting a family. I’m grateful for it all and know I don’t deserve any of it. Yet it’s still hard to hold on. I power through the days. I count down the weeks. I watch the clock pass by until it’s night again and I can close my eyes to sleep for 6 hours straight if lucky. And yet I know one day I’ll look back at these moments and miss them too. Isn’t that funny. These are the best days. I want to start feeling like they are.

Health scares and reminder of how short life is

When you’re on the journey to FIRE it’s easy to forget that life is short and maybe shorter than you think. A few months ago I opened my eyes from a nap and my right eye was blurred for 30 minutes. It resolved and I didn’t think too much of it after a while but last week it happened again. I finally went to my doctor who referred me to an opthamologist. Suddenly I was stuck in Dr Google as well reading all of these horrible things that can cause one eye to go blurry like that. So far my eye doctor found something in eye eye that could be its own thing or a symptom of something bigger so she’s running a ton of tests. The only thing I’ve figured out thus far is that it seems to be tied to blood pressure spikes so my doctor also ordered me a 24 hour blood pressure monitor to see if we’re missing anything there.

At the same time I managed to be one of the lucky ones to get an allergic reaction to my COVID vaccine. It was mild but it was still scary, as a day after I got the vaccine and my Zyrtec wore off my throat started feeling like it was swelling up. To be fair to the advice nurse I called she did tell me to go the ER but I didn’t want to have to leave my 3 month old baby and figure out how to pump and get him breastmilk in a bottle when he hasn’t taken a bottle yet, so I popped another allergy pill and stayed home. I survived. Don’t do this at home kids. Though I did. But you get the point.

I’m back at work now too. I feel so grateful I can work from home. Life would be so much harder if I had to drive an hour to work each way. I really don’ think I could do that right now. I mean, I would if I had to, but it would probably break me. I’m barely getting through the day as is. I’m wishing I could just slow down and enjoy this time. I don’t know how I left my first son to go to work when he was 3 months old. I don’t want to leave this baby ever. Not for a while.

And on top of all of this I am feeling that I’m getting to the end of my childbearing years, and I really want one more kid. Maybe I’m crazy, but a biological urge, and just something I know. Of everything in the world that feels wrong — being mom feels right. And I don’t want to not try and then regret it. I mean, what’s the point of saving all this money? I did this so I can have a family. I don’t really care about buying myself stuff anymore. I just want to build out a family because I’ve basically lost mine. With my father passing away I have no real connection to his side of the family, even though I go to events with them sometimes like weddings and such. And my mom’s side I’m connected to but not in the same way I want to be with a family. Not that one can guarantee their children will grow up and want to be part of the family always. But family is all that matters. And I have the chance to build my family…. one more kid… I don’t know if I can handle being pregnant again and I really don’t want to rush into it, but there isn’t much time left.

Right now I’m just focused on my basic health. I gained too much weight in my pregnancy, so I’m slowly removing pounds. I’m sure that will help my medical conditions as well. I was up to 212 when I gave birth and now I’m about 188. So I have 28 pounds to lose to get to where I was before I got pregnant, than another 10-20 before I get pregnant again if I can manage to get to my goal weight. I want to get to a really healthy weight before getting pregnant (likely via IVF) and then focus on not gaining as much weight in the pregnancy. I know I planned to also do that this time but it was hard being pregnant during COVID I just got depressed.

So maybe I can have it all. I pretty much have stuck to my plan otherwise. I am just worried a bit about my health issues. It’s scary to lose your vision out of nowhere and not know why. It may still end up being something serious, but my doctors aren’t rushing me for an MRI so they don’t seem too concerned about the worst case scenarios. I’m trying not to be. It’s hard to keep my mind off it. I’m 37 but this is the age medical issues start occurring in people who have been healthy before. I’m terrified of going blind too — even though so far I haven’t been told I’m at higher risk for that with my eye issue (PAMM) but we really aren’t sure what’s going on yet. I’m very aware not only how short life is but how short QUALITY life is. So what if I live to 100? What if I lose my vision at 60? I’m sure people can have a good life without their vision but I don’t know how I could live without sight or any other sense. I’m trying not to think catastrophically but in the good of it, I feel motivated to really focus on getting healthy. I’ve been eating so much sugar and drinking caffeine and as a week ago I cut out caffeine entirely and I’ve substantially reduced my sugar intake. So that’s a start.

Budget Review: March Spending $14.6k

I know people are shocked by how much I say we spend in a month (even in a low-spend month) so below I’m sharing our March expenses to explain where the money is going…

While we certainly can cut from the budget below, this is a realistic ‘tight’ budget for a month. It would be more comfortable to plan for $16k a month expenses. I don’t think we can easily spend a lot more than $16k a month either. While that’s a lot of money to spend per month, I also want to share how it would be difficult for us to need more than this, especially once we have superfunded the 529s and completed funding our retirement account, so savings is no longer needed.

TOTAL *EXPENSES* (Non Savings): $14,668

LIFE: $2928.69

  • Kids – $521.16
  • Home Products – $298.66
  • Hobbies (Photography) – $100
  • Personal Care – $0 (*covid times = no hair cuts etc, normally would be ~$300)
  • Shopping etc, Her – $781.09 (*includes gifts for kids)
  • Shopping etc, Him – $583.89
  • Snacks & Drinks – $168.71
  • Entertainment – $54.98
  • Vacation – $200 (set aside for a future month)
  • Gifts – $141.11
  • Subscriptions – $78.99

FOOD: $2049.34

  • Dining Out – $659.96
  • Groceries – $1389.38

MEDICAL: $449.76

  • Life Insurance $200 (*Her’s only, He still needs to get it)
  • Medical, Other: $249.76

TRANSPORTATION: $840.61

  • Gas $140.61
  • Insurance $100
  • Maintain $100
  • Future Car: $500

HOME – $8400

  • Mortgage – $5000 (*our family renter is contributing to this total, but including without his contribution here as this is our true expense should he no longer be able to live with us)
  • Taxes – $2200
  • Insurance – $100
  • Electric/Gas – $330
  • Water – $150
  • Gardener – $150
  • Internet/Phone- $470

I Need a Career Change.

There are a handful of things I like about my career:

  1. It pays well.
  2. It pays well.
  3. It pays well.
  4. Oh, and sometimes I get to learn new things and talk to people who are interesting who are not in my field.

I really need a career change. I have no idea if other careers would be better, but I’m done with his soul sucking, mind numbing, logic-lacking field. I am overwhelmingly sad about failing to have any sort of direction in my life, ever. What if? What if? What if?

The question now is — is is too late? People say it’s never too late. Well, surely it isn’t, if money isn’t any issue. And if you have the type of brain that absorbs information vs gets distracted every second. Like mine.

I’m trying to learn math now. It’s very hard for me. I’m taking the classes on Brilliant.org. I don’t know where it will lead me, but it seems any job where logic is respected requires advanced math knowledge. I don’t see getting a formal education in anything making sense. That requires references. Hah. Asking people to recommend me. No. Not going to happen. But I have a dream to take the GRE and get a perfect score in math. I just want to be good at math. I don’t know if I can be. I find it fascinating. Compound interest is sexy, you know? So. Maybe there’s something to that. Or not.

I have no patience. So I’m not a good employee. I’m a visionary sort of, but a lazy one. Maybe I could figure out math which would lead to something else analytics related. If my mind could calm down for one damn second long enough to grasp concepts and build on them (ok that would take longer than one damn second but you know.)

SHUT UP BRAIN.

I am tired. I am really depressed. I’m over everything. I don’t want to go back to work. I dread it. I am excited to hold my breath and try to earn the remainder of my stock. But I need a plan. A direction. Something. I like to solve problems. That I know. Am I good at solving problems? Well, no. But I enjoy it when I do. So. Now what?

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