Author Topic: 11 Months since last wage/MMM visit  (Read 2586 times)

TheOldestYoungMan

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11 Months since last wage/MMM visit
« on: April 21, 2019, 08:19:08 AM »
TL:DR  Started FIRE before I was really ready, only regret is not starting earlier.

My goal was to have $300,000.00.  Then I would FIRE.  I had $238,000.00 in low cost index funds and the balance in rental property- ish.  I had planned to FIRE in August of 2017.  Four days before I was to leave, and more than two weeks after handing in my notice, Hurricane Harvey wiped me out.  My rental property was destroyed as was any home equity (which I hadn't ever counted but thought of as "safety factor").  I had to take on an additional $50,000 in debt to fix my home, and sold the rental property for a ~$30,000 loss.

I went to my boss hat in hand and asked if I could stay, and he agreed.

My personal life was a total hell.  I lived in a tent inside the ruins of my house.  At night and on weekends I worked until I collapsed.  I understood alot of the concepts of what work needed to be done, but had essentially zero experience with drywall and the like.  My job was the only refuge I had.  There was food there, and it was clean.  This represents the first and only time in my life where I looked forward to going to work, and dreaded weekends.

And there was no end in sight.  The job was too big for me to ever finish on my own, I just didn't know enough to get things done timely at all.  And I was so deep in it, I just couldn't see a way out.  There just wasn't enough time, I was exhausted, and I still had to do the everyday things, and I was reeling from having been so close to FIRE and then it was all snatched away.

So I asked my boss if I could work just a little bit less.  Even a half day a week to be able to meet with a contractor would have been great.

Not only did he say "no."  But it seemingly destroyed our relationship that I asked.  I still don't understand what happened, but work became a living nightmare.  Suddenly, in his eyes, I was the laziest, most incompetent employee he'd ever seen.  Never again was any appreciation for my efforts shown.  All my existing projects were stripped away, replaced with the worst sort of work.

Instead of meaningful tasks, I was given the equivalent of "dig this hole, then fill it back up."  And when I tried to point it out, that was just confirmation of the flaws in my character.

So that started in January, and I toughed it out until May.  I took it longer than I should have, I'm not proud of those months.  But I was exhausted, and desperate.  I wasn't valuing myself properly at all, the hole I was in was so deep and so dark that I'd forgotten completely there was any other way to feel.

One morning, it was a Tuesday, I'd almost called in sick to work.  My stomach was in knots, because it'd been a week or so since my boss was last an out-and-out asshole, so I knew it was due.  And I couldn't bear the thought.  I was in pre-panic attack mode, literally fighting tears the whole way into work.  Praying that I could make it through the day.

But as I walked through the door, there was my boss, first thing, with something nasty to say.  And I snapped.  I stood there and took it, and said the same sorts of placating things you say, and then went to my desk, cleared any personal stuff off my computer (which didn't take long because I'd sanitized it just the past August), packed up my personal stuff, typed up a letter of resignation.

I gathered the personal equipment that had been issued to me, went to his boss and asked if there was any way I could work there but not work for my boss (this was a long-shot request, and I could tell he wanted to say yes, but it just wouldn't have been practicable), was told no, so I handed in my letter, turned in their shit, and left.

It was an out-of-body experience.  Looking back, I was just pushed too far past my ability to cope for too long.  My boss probably wasn't as unreasonable as it felt at the time, it was just more than I could deal with it, and that's on me as much as anyone.  I'd done what I could to ask to be treated better, but it was their right to decide not to, it's not like anything they were doing was illegal.

I just couldn't take it.

The first week I just slept.  I woke up, ate a little, drank some water, did the hygiene things, then went right back to sleep.  Probably 22 hours a day for a full seven days.  Deep, restful sleep.

There was no plan.  I'd told nobody I left.  Word had gotten out professionally, and my previous job had called to see if I'd come work for them, which was honestly probably a lifesaving phone call.  That one call changed the whole experience from one of despair to one of hope.  I did have options, the world is bigger than just one place, and I had time to sort it out, because of what I'd learned here at MMM.  Also, people were worried.  People I hadn't seen in ages insisted I meet them for lunch.  And every lunch was a job offer.  I will forever be grateful for these people.

After resting up, I finished off the house.  Even with my limited competence, months of working (plus some generous efforts by family/friends and a drywall contractor and painter) had gotten it almost done.  I say finished, but out of the corner of my eye I spy an outlet that still needs a cover.

I am a man after all, every home improvement project needs some details left undone to slightly annoy others.

My old roommate moved back in, which further eliminated stress because a little bit of rental income goes a long way.

I hit the garden pretty hard, because I'd always wanted to, then realized I didn't like gardening much, so I moved on to other things.

I've taken fewer trips in these months than I had expected, but they've been far more enjoyable than any vacation I ever took when I had a job.

I built the best computer I've ever owned, carefully selecting each component and then relentlessly hunting for the lowest price I could find, something I hadn't had time for since I started working but couldn't afford before that.

Because I'd quit my job with fewer assets than I'd planned and with alot more debt, I know I'll probably have to go back to work eventually, so I plan to go back sooner rather than later, the theory being that the longer I don't work the worse off I'll be when I finally go back, but I find I worry about it less every day.

I haven't scrimped or penny-pinched.  I've done literally everything I wanted to.  I bought a last-minute ticket to meet up with a friend, bought enough, ahem, medicine, while in Colorado to last me a couple of years, and also tried that particular medicine for the first time.  Holy shit is that the first thing I've ever done that was exactly as good as advertised.

But I feel great today.  I've felt great for literally hundreds of days in a row.  I even got sick in January but it didn't really feel bad, I just slowed down a little, took it easy around the house for a few days.  No need to go to the doctor, I had time to just rest.  There's a slight guilt, because I'm not really contributing anything to society at the moment, but I kill it by reminding myself I will one day work again.  Probably.

There've been hard days certainly, but nothing to make me miss how life used to be.

Looking back, I wish I'd done this earlier.

There's a concept out there called a Gap Year, and I feel like if I'd done that back in 2012 when I changed jobs, I wouldn't have been such a wuss through the whole Harvey thing.  Having had plenty of Time to philosophize about it, I think our society should look at a gap year every 5-10 or so working years as something you absolutely do if you can afford to.  With sympathy and pity should we look on anyone who can't afford it, and the expectation of anyone should be actively trying to save for it.

One thing I'm surprised about is that I didn't visit this board at all, didn't check for new posts from MMM, or anything.  I've also completely stopped reading the news, as that was always a "while I ate my lunch at my desk" sort of thing.

I DID go meet the people running for city council/mayor in the last election.  Everyone I know still works, but I see the people who want to hang out more often, because I always have time for them now, and I always enjoy hanging out more than I ever did before.

I don't even notice the everyday sorts of chores.  Forgetting to do laundry is no longer a catastrophe.  I always have eggs in the fridge, and if I ever did run out, well, I have plenty of time to go to the store.

Today I'm off to visit family for Easter, but I can't say I even knew it was April before the invitation was extended.

If it wasn't for trash pickup days, I believe I'd have stopped keeping track of the day.

Now I do avoid being on the road during rush hour, and I absolutely refuse to shop on Saturday or Sunday, on account of there being entirely too many people in the world.  I am occasionally annoyed because I run into a crowd, because while today is Monday it's a Monday that is a random holiday and so instead of doing what I had planned, I'm in traffic or in line somewhere.  Only occasionally though.

I've learned that I am spending more than I expected to.  One example: I thought I'd spend less on stuff for around the house, but I'm actually spending more.  I used to think yardwork was something I only didn't enjoy because it took time away from more enjoyable things.  Nope.  I detest yardwork.  So I pay a guy to do that now.  I used to force myself to do that shit when I had the income to easily afford it.  Now, I'd rather get a job then do that.  Easily.  Same with cleaning my house.

I expected to get back into some things that I didn't.  Not even sure what these televisions are for.  I remember enjoying things on TV when I was a kid, but I couldn't name a single show on air today.  Maybe the Simpsons? Is that still running?

I do go to the movies alot, not for me, I just have a friend that's going through a hard time and he always wants to do that, so I go to, and the movies are fun.

This post isn't very organized, I apologize for that, but it occurred to me this morning that I hadn't been on here in ages, and I want to express some things.  Echoing what others have said:

FIRE is a skill not a goal.

You're ready before you think you are.  But, you know, don't be silly about it.

That you might *gasp* fail and have to go back to work won't seem scary once you've stopped working for, maybe, a month?  I'm genuinely excited about the prospect of what I might do next.  Because I know now that the wage won't really matter.  I really do have enough already.

I was $100,000.00 short of my goal, at least, but I've not watched my spending at all and have more now than when I got my final paycheck.  Granted, first quarter 2019 not exactly typical.

And finally:

Gratitude.  Overwhelming and unconditional.  The information provided on these boards, assembled and offered for free, for fun, I have no doubt, saved my life.  Every day is a gift you've given me, and I thank you.

Financial.Velociraptor

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Re: 11 Months since last wage/MMM visit
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2019, 08:40:35 AM »
Wow that is tragic.  I can see myself getting caught in the same trap.  I kind of hate to criticize because you were clearly traumatized but did it ever occur to you that still having 200k was "FU" money and you could have afforded to find different work even if it paid less?  No one should ever work for an asshole boss.  Life is too short.  HATE that you had to experience that. 

Still, your story is inspiring and I think will serve to let others know that flexibility is a core FIRE skill.

I'm 6.5 years into FIRE and thinking about trying to find part time work for a non-profit after a big summer trip I have planned with the GF.  I figure I can make enough to cover my meager budget half time (not that I need it).  The main thing is wanting to contribute and not work for another huge faceless corporation and help exploit the planet for fun and profit.

Gogogogogogogo!

edit: removed a "trigger" word by request.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2019, 10:22:54 AM by Financial.Velociraptor »

six-car-habit

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Re: 11 Months since last wage/MMM visit
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2019, 11:40:10 PM »
 Nice "stream of consciousness" post !  Glad to see you've got a positive attitude on all this , have friends that care, and are living your life for today and beyond.

Kyle Schuant

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Re: 11 Months since last wage/MMM visit
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2019, 12:16:32 AM »
Thanks for sharing your experiences, not many have the courage to admit it's not all smooth sailing. But you have your shit together so you'll be fine, well done.

happy

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Re: 11 Months since last wage/MMM visit
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2019, 01:16:16 AM »
Wow, what a story! You've been to hell and back. Its so good that you have come out of it with such a positive outlook. In the end thats the most valuable thing one can have.

Freedomin5

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Re: 11 Months since last wage/MMM visit
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2019, 03:36:21 AM »
Great post! Thank you for sharing!

Bingeworker

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Re: 11 Months since last wage/MMM visit
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2019, 11:54:33 AM »
Great story!  Thanks for posting it.  I love the accounts that give closer to a whole picture and aren't the relentlessly positive accounts that sometimes seem mandatory.  I'm glad things have turned out well for you overall, and it looks like you will deal with any future difficulties the future will throw at you.

LibrarianFuzz

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Re: 11 Months since last wage/MMM visit
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2019, 09:33:29 PM »
Great post. I'm still many years from FIRE (but trolling the Post-FIRE board for inspiration and hope.)

I plan on LEAN firing with limited assets (paid off house, very small pension, Roth IRA) and your post was very helpful to me. $300k is doable for me; I can't relate to some of these posts here that are like $2.2 million in assets.

I also feel like I have trauma from work and can barely imagine the day when I can write my letter of resignation. Nice to see what it looks like on the other side.

FIREby35

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Re: 11 Months since last wage/MMM visit
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2019, 07:02:27 AM »
Congratulations on making it to the "other side." I, like others, am not "RE" but still troll the "Post-FIRE" section. I have not had the opportunity to be fully without a job. But, we (my family and I) go on "mini-sabbiticals." It is amazing how those breaks can allow all the "dust to settle." I find myself, as you described, being content with doing nothing much. When I have to jump back into the fire of work, I start asking myself how many more years I will keep at it.

Anyway, thank you for sharing your story and perspective.