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?

Scared and Stuck.

I’m not in a particularly good life situation right now.  My job isn’t safe at all. I’m basically starting over and any wrong move will have we walked out the virtual door. They know I’m overpaid in my new role–which means they have even less reason to keep me. Or to ever increase my pay again. Only to possibly decrease it. Or leave it flat and let inflation do the dirty work.

Even if I manage to stay –do good enough work I’m a solid 3 out of 5 year after year–is my life just this? Because the longer I stay the longer I lose relevance in the job market. My role, in any other company, would both require more technical skills and pay about half of my base salary. I can’t actually survive on that. Nor do I have the right profile to land a job that pays the same or more.

I’m not being overly dramatic. This is the truth. And why I wake up every morning dreading my life. Wondering what is the point? Why am I such a failure? And, more importantly, how the fuck do I provide for my family?

Here’s where we are net worth wise as of April 1:

Cash $80,633
Taxable $829,501
Pre Tax $456,057
Post Tax (Roth) $238,265
529 Fund (2-3 kids) $232,879
Home Equity $207,288
TOTAL $2,044,623

Lost a bit with market dropping. Still, with $2M net worth I thought I’d feel better about life. I don’t. I feel like I’m suffocating. Will we starve? No. At least not for a while. But it can get ugly fast.

I want to make sure we can afford the next 5 years. Maybe after 5 years my job situation will make sense. And pay better. Right now I have 5 years to figure out.

We obviously could save less and spend a bit less, but if we can keep to this plan for next 5 years we’ll be ok.

Income Tax (40%) Expenses Saving Remaining
2021 $313,350 -$125,340 -$126,000 -$25,000 $62,010
2022 $273,000 -$109,200 -$168,000 -$57,500 -$4,200
2023 $276,090 -$110,436 -$168,000 -$57,500 -$2,346
2024 $279,273 -$111,709 -$168,000 -$57,500 -$436
2025 $282,551 -$113,020 -$168,000 -$57,500 $1,531

The above assumes the following:

  • Our total tax rate on taxable income is 40%
  • I earn a minimum of $170,000 a year for the next 5 years
  • My husband earns a minimum of $100k plus 3% raises for next 5 years
  • We both max out retirement accounts every year as pre-tax money (to keep our tax rate down)

We won’t be saving nearly as much as we have been — but at least we can get through the year without dipping into savings too much (and probably not at all if we’re careful — the remainder this year can cover any overage in next few years.

BUT that’s assuming also that…

  1. can get a job that pays $170k for next 5 years (especially if I lose this one)
  2. that my husband keeps his job and can get a 3% raise each year

Maybe I can find another job that pays $170k but there’s no guarantee. Especially not if I want to start over in a new career. Or try to find something a bit more junior that gives me time to figure out what I’m good at and move up in a normal sort of way.

It would be helpful if my husband could earn $150k and then I would earn $150k and we’d be ok — or at least in a much better situation. However that isn’t going to happen. So I just need to figure this out.

Yet again it feels remarkably hopeless.

2021. How Can I Make This Year Good?

Two weeks. Two weeks until I go back to work from my maternity leave. How did that happen? Where did the time go? Sure, I had a baby and he has DOUBLED in size since he flew out of me all of 3 minutes and 3 pushes, but what else happened? Wasn’t I going to unpack all of the stuff from when we moved into this new house at the end of last year? Finish my wedding album I’ve been postponing due to PTSD from my wedding day? Make a portfolio? Learn a lot of things to change careers? Spend quality time with my kids?

At least for the time being I can work from home. It sounds like companies overall are leaning towards having employees come back to the office sooner than later now that people can get vaccines. I actually started my vaccine regiment last week (legally) due to a health condition (ok I gain too much in pregnancy and haven’t lost enough yet) and I have my second vaccine date scheduled in two weeks. My arm is busted and I’m concerned it won’t get better again but I think that’s probably due to poor administration of the vaccine than the vaccine itself. Anyway. I’ll be vaccinated so if my work says everyone vaccinated needs to go back I’ll need to go back. Fuck. Suddenly moving an hour-and-a-half from the office, permanently, doesn’t seem like such a good idea.

Although. The whole moving an hour-and-a-half from the office WAS a good idea because it means I won’t stay in this job that makes me miserable even if I don’t get fired. I’m still wallowing in self pity as my work-friend-who-told-me-he-was-quitting-a-few-zillion-times-prior-to-getting-my-job seems to be thriving. I know he’s not the malicious type and he managed to win the position by being, you know, reliable and strategic and stuff, so I can’t be mad at him. But it still hurts. And the worst of all of it is how I wrote a note to my former boss who is now my boss’s boss about how I fail all the time at everything etc etc when I was manic and cried a lot in front of her and, well, that was nail in my coffin that’s been long built waiting for me to be buried six feet under.

I’m TRYING to focus on being positive in this grande return to the office. I know it’s not a forever return, just a return until I get my stock and can move on to whatever is next. And I want to do a good job. It’s 12 months. That’s forever but also not a lot of time at all. If I break it down into 4 quarters, I just have to figure out what I need to do in each quarter to add value and not make anyone’s life harder than it is. That means 1. getting all my shit done on time and 2. keeping my mouth shut. No great ideas. No creativity. No wanting to improve things from the way they are. None of that. If I have any chance of surviving the next 12 months, it’s being forgotten as much as possible and being reliable/dependable when people do notice me. That’s it. I’m not chasing a promotion. There will never be a promotion. I’m at a dead end and the walls are closing in. So what? That’s ok. I can play the game as long as the game is still allowing me to play.

Job postings continue to depress me. I’m trying not to worry about that too much, but odds are I’m going to have to take a step back no matter what next is, even in the same field. That’s ok, though. I just have to get lucky to get into a company that wants to help employees move up over time. One with bosses who mentor their employees. Maybe I can find a better fit. I don’t know. I’ll certainly try. In 12 months. Or less. I made this this long, what’s another 12 months really? The longer I can work remote in those 12 months the better. Head down. Get work done. Hide. Hope they forget me. But not enough to get rid of me. Please. I hope. I hope I don’t come back form maternity leave and immediately get fired. For those projects I didn’t finish. But I went out earlier than I planned due to health reasons.  I’m hoping that won’t be enough to kick me out. Not yet anyway. Maybe I’ll have 3-6 months to prove myself. And I can hang on. I can do my work. Whatever is thrown at me. I won’t be a rockstar. I’ll be the opposite of that. Hiding in plain sight.

I’m feeling lukewarm about my prospects of survival this year. I’m trying to accept if I don’t make it then it’s not the end of the world. It will be very sad to miss out on the remaining stock. That’s about $683,000 in 12 months. Even on the high end at another job the most I’ll see is about $250k-$350k for 12 months. And likely it will be less than that. I make it to June, and I’m looking at $585k lost in 12 months. By Jan that slides down to $285k for 12 months and by April “just” $250k. This year is worth it. Next year starts opening up the possibility of finding a job that puts me in the running to make a similar amount, or at least find a public company with stock that’s growing so my income goes up again vs goes down.

I am NOT looking forward to my belated performance review that will be all sorts of icky. I know I got a chunk of my bonus so hoping that means I’m not getting fired immediately. It’s the first year I didn’t get all of my bonus so that’s not a good sign, but I still go most of it. Would be kind of strange to give me most of my bonus then fire me — but stranger things have happened, right?

The funny thing is I’m kind of looking forward to going back to work. I feel incredibly unproductive right now. I need some sort of structure to my days. I just wish it didn’t take up my ENTIRE day. If I can find a job that offers flexible schedules, that would be ideal. Until then, I’m gonna hold my breath and push through the rest of this year. Even nine months before I’m ousted would be a huge victory. I have to do this. I hope I can.

Rebalancing my Tech Heavy Portfolio

I still remember when I purchased my first few shares of individual stock in my “fun money” account. My rule to myself was put most of my money in index funds and throw some money at tech companies because why not. I bought some apple, some amazon, some Netflix, and a few other companies.

Over the years, I bought more shares of tech companies. It was fun watching them increase in value. I sold off the losers. They kept growing. I kept throwing extra money at tech companies because I had maxed out my IRA or 401k and index funds outside of my retirement accounts seemed just – boring. Dumb, I know.

I just took a look at my large cap stocks (not counting the $ in 529) across both taxable and retirement accounts (in both my husband and my accounts) and it’s about 68% tech, 22% index funds and 10% non tech individuals stocks. It got extra overweighted in tech when I decided to hold on to my company ESPP — which was a pretty good move in that it has multiple in value quite a bit but bad in that it has me way overweighted in tech. I plan to sell off a bit of it when I leave the company on a bad year (since a chunk of it will get taxed as income and my cap gains tax rate can be very high.) Nonetheless, I’m wayyyyy overweighted in tech. It’s relatively concerning. $549.4k concerning, to be exact. Plus any of the $180.4k in large cap index funds that is in tech.

Overall, these tech stocks are 33.7% of our portfolio. It’s too much. But I don’t want to sell off the tech stocks I have (outside of the ESPP which I’ll sell off once I’ve left the company and earn less), I want to invest elsewhere with future savings to balance everything out. But that may be a bad idea should tech crash and burn this year, which is might. I’ve already lost a lot (can’t keep up with it) by holding my RSU vs selling off immediately on vest.

My new rule is that I won’t buy any more tech stocks. If I want to buy any tech stocks I need to sell some of my existing tech stocks and buy new tech stocks with the proceeds. This will be hard because I always want to buy new tech stocks that I think will do well. But I need to stop that because at this point it’s gambling not investing. And it’s not just my money, it’s my family’s money (all of my husband’s savings are in index funds but now we’re managing the family portfolio jointly.)

At least my emerging markets, small cap and international funds are all in index funds. It’s just my large cap portfolio that’s a mess. And that’s not good since large cap is supposed to be the most stable part of my portfolio. Yikes.

What should I do? Sell off a chunk of my tech gains and take the tax hit or hold and focus on building out the portfolio around these stocks so their weight goes down?

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