Author Topic: how to avoid getting sucked BACK in?  (Read 4795 times)

scrubbyfish

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how to avoid getting sucked BACK in?
« on: February 23, 2015, 04:04:10 PM »
Better phrased: When a money hack saves you money but is super stressful/convoluted, what do you implement to steer clear of the stressful hack? i.e., Things like credit card churning is too stressful for me, so I don't do it. But habits I was already in, like applying for autism funding coverage, I'm finding it hard to keep kicked.

Aren't some "savings" just not worth it? But once you've developed the (stressful) habit, how do you keep yourself away from the temptation of saving the money?

*

I'd really LOVE to hear from other people about where you got stuck in situations as stressful as crappy jobs and/or how you succeeded in "retiring" from same.

You know how some people ER from careers they've come to hate, feel a moment of bliss, but then panic and return to some hours at another crappy job? That's what I keep doing, but with life activities and funding "opportunities" instead of with jobs.

For example, my son is eligible for a program called Autism Funding Unit (AFU). The program is supposed to make available up to $6000/yr for occupational therapy, counselling, camp, etc. In reality, the program is infuriating, so many service providers won't accept claims with them, parents may go months and months without reimbursement or approval, the office loses forms until the camp registration date has passed, etc.

And yet, I keep going back for more. As though it will be different tomorrow. (Like one might with an abusive relationship.)

My question isn't about AFU -thousands of people are already trying to sort that silly system out- it's just an example of where I return to crap. $6000/yr is so enticing! But to get it is a pain akin to having a shitty job.

Where have you backslid into crap you'd previously walked away from?
How did you keep yourself from backsliding into a crap thing at all or again?
How to not get enticed by a carrot that looks fresh from a distance, but is furry and soggy from up close?
« Last Edit: February 24, 2015, 09:00:26 AM by scrubbyfish »

Adventine

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Re: how to avoid getting sucked in?
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2015, 04:46:21 PM »
6000 dollars worth of financial assistance for your son is no joke. Good on you for wanting to maximize it, despite all the red tape.

As for avoiding getting sucked into bad situations again and again, I would suggest  good old fashioned grit. If a new job doesn't turn out so well, I just keep at it until a) the job gets better or b) I find a new job that is a better fit. I stayed in a PR job I wasn't happy with because the alternative was derailing my FIRE plans. I stuck with it for 3.5 years before I found a position that was much more suited to my skills. It was really tough sometimes to keep telling myself I had to suck it up until I had a better alternative. I use the same approach with shitty service providers.

Try again, fail again, fail better. And eventually, I find I'm not failing any more.

Hang in there, scrubbyfish! You're a great parent for doing so much for your son.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2015, 04:49:22 PM by Adventine »

lhamo

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Re: how to avoid getting sucked in?
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2015, 07:24:05 PM »
How to not get enticed by a carrot that looks fresh from a distance, but is furry and soggy from up close?


OMG -- LOVE THIS!!!!

As someone who is still knowing on a decidedly furry and soggy carrot, I'm probably not the right person to respond to this.  But I did walk away from two pursuing job opportunities recently when the signs just seemed bad.

1)  Directorship of a new Foundation in China.  This looked really exciting at first, and I did put some effort into developing materials and thinking about what I could bring to the position.  Then when I finally got around to sending in my stuff, it bounced back as undeliverable.  The person who had been their director of HR was gone, and no replacement email address provided.  Considered poking around my networks a bit to try to find a backdoor channel, but then admitted to myself that with everything else going on in my life at this point (this was back in September/October, MILs surgery recently completed, still awaiting news on cancer diagnosis, DS considering applying to special program, etc) I did not need or want to be seeking out a high profile position with an organization that I could guess would be extremely challenging to work with (founders are well-known, high profile startup type people who probably expect people to put in even more hours than are currently making me miserable).

2)  Around the same time as this position was floating around, there was another opening for the directorship of a high profile NGO.  Former boss actually encouraged me to apply for it, and I considered it, but again decided that it wasn't the right time in my life to be pursuing something like that.  It honestly didn't look like the best fit, either -- this particular organization does a lot of political schmoozing and I have some doubts about the background/motivation of some people they have on staff.  I probably wouldn't be a good fit.

One thing that is helping me think about where to go in the future as well is that I did some career planning work back when I was in my last transition phase, and found the notes I kept from that -- that combined with some more recent stuff I have done has confirmed that I am NOT well-suited to administrative-type jobs.  I am a program planner/designer at heart and that is where I thrive.  I can do program administration just fine, but general office admin type roles suck the life out of me.  I need to keep my strengths and passions clearly in front of me when I look at opportunities, or else I get sucked into the "I can do that, and that and that" kind of thinking and lose sight of the fact that just because I CAN doesn't mean I SHOULD.

I would have a really hard time dealing with your situation with the Autism funding.  The program designer in me would want to FIX THINGS and the frugalista in me would find it hard to walk away from "free money" -- but the reality is you are paying for your pain in precious life energy and the waste is just tragic in so many ways.  And it does seem this agency is beyond fixable.  What a shame.  So much crap results in so much waste and inefficiency.

 

scrubbyfish

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Re: how to avoid getting sucked in?
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2015, 08:54:19 AM »
...keep telling myself I had to suck it up until I had a better alternative. I use the same approach with shitty service providers.

Thanks, Adventine :)

So, the stick-it-out-til-I-find-something-better is tricky here, because I don't think there's going to be another version of "$6000 pretend dollars" to move to.

On the other hand, as long as I let go of ever owning a home and continue to live frugally, I essentially have enough to fund this ourselves.

In this situation, it's like getting to FIRE, being tempted by offers of freebies, and feeling compelled to pursue those vs use one's own cash up. When the only alternative is to spend more savings, how do folks avoid getting sucked back in to stressful money saving habits?

Thegoblinchief

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Re: how to avoid getting sucked BACK in?
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2015, 09:36:09 AM »
Money is an accounting chit. The desire to save money and reach FI is NOT about saving money - it's about saving your finite life energy. Here, money-saving runs counter to life-energy saving. Only you can make the valuation on your own life energy, but thinking in these terms helps me a lot.

Incidentally, I think this is why so many PF blogs annoy me, because they're so focused on little tips or hacks to save money, but so many of these suck life energy away like nothing else.

I'm a red panda

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Re: how to avoid getting sucked BACK in?
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2015, 10:29:56 AM »
If the amount of stress outweighs the savings, then for me- I'd spend the money.  However, your example is not a trivial amount of money.  Maybe consider the reimbursements a part-time job. It might be easier to handle the stress.

But if you can afford it, and it would be easier and worth it, just pay out of pocket.

scrubbyfish

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Re: how to avoid getting sucked BACK in?
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2015, 10:54:17 AM »
Love the gif :)  It made me happy!

Yeah, I can see you guys all know exactly what I'm talking about, and that helps a lot, as do your concrete suggestions. Yeah, that's a good point, too, that while it's easy for me to decline hacks that save a few dollars but cost a lot of energy, it's harder for me to do in areas that are a difference of $6000/yr.

So...

1. Keep at the forefront of my mind that money is not about money, but about life-energy. Evaluate: Does this action preserve and increase my life energy, or does it sap it?

2. If I decide to go for the big stuff, consider the paperwork a part-time job. (Further to this, if someone said, "I will pay you up to $6000/yr to fill in these forms, wait on hold a lot, re-fax the forms several times over several months, listen to bull, and buy things you don't need," would I take the job? And further, would I take the job if the payment was not cash, but doilies? See #3.)

3. Go back to the metapicture. AFU and I disagree about what helps my kid's autism. They think only occupational therapy, iPads, etc, do. The things I see helping the most are not funded. Is any of what they're offering part of my family's ultimate goal? Or are they really offering the equivalent of free pens, wicker baskets, and doilies? If the latter, can I discipline myself to decline the free doilies in favour of staying true to my bigger vision?

4. Break it down. Because each appointment costs $115-$150, and we're only allowed to use it for secondary supports, $6000 can also be read as "52 hours of second-best supports". So, if someone said to me, "In exchange for filling in these forms, waiting on hold a lot, re-faxing the forms several times over several months, we will give you up to 52 hours of things that aren't the most effective things," would I say yes?

Good stuff.

Hmmm... I would like a coach that says to me every week: Scrubby, you spent three hours this week doing AFU processes? Is that within your larger vision? I feel like that's what I need, in order to not get sucked back in.

deborah

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Re: how to avoid getting sucked BACK in?
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2015, 04:34:31 AM »
Maybe you could look at it this way. I'll assume for the purposes of this thread that you make $12,000 per year at your current work and you spend 20 hours per month to do it. The government is giving you $6,000 worth of Autism funding - so because it is equivalent to  half your pay, you can afford to work half the time you work to get it - 10 hours per month. You possibly don't actually work that much for it, even with you getting stuffed around so much. Make it a game, adding hours as they happen (you could even advise them each time how many extra hours you have spent because they have mucked you around - it might make them really think) and once they have gone over the limit, tell them.

happy

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Re: how to avoid getting sucked BACK in?
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2015, 05:02:29 AM »
I have a terrible issue with my inner hasselhoff, which tries to stop me from doing all sort of things that turn out to be not so bad after all. So  I would have to sit down and do some self-examination to check out if my inner hasselhoff was skewing my perception and needed a good whack in the abs.

I do draw the line though : some things clearly aren't worth it. For example I tried doing online surveys for a while but realised that often I would spend 30mins answering preliminary questions on a series of surveys, only to be repeatedly told I didn't fit their desired demographic for the survey. (hint: I think I was too old!) . Its not very well paid anyway, but this really watered it down to very slim pickings indeed and I stopped.

But $6k is a lot. Maybe try to dispassionately add up the hours like Deborah said and work out how many hours work it takes, taking the frustration element out.

Retire-Canada

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Re: how to avoid getting sucked BACK in?
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2015, 06:28:33 AM »
Aren't some "savings" just not worth it? But once you've developed the (stressful) habit, how do you keep yourself away from the temptation of saving the money?

I just run a business case analysis. My time is worth between free and $250/hr depending on how much I like/hate the activity in question. I see what the costs are including my time and what the benefits are and decide accordingly.

The closer you are to FI and the less you need the money the higher your hourly rate should be.

You can also look at "savings/profitable" opportunities like a sale at a store. You aren't saving 25%/$100 you are spending 75%/$300.

Credit card churning or whatever you are looking at requires you to spend the most precious resource you have - time. You can't make more and you don't know how much you have so you need to spend it wisely.

-- Vik
« Last Edit: February 25, 2015, 02:34:21 PM by Vikb »

scrubbyfish

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Re: how to avoid getting sucked BACK in?
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2015, 08:31:49 AM »
ha, I had EXACTLY that experience with the survey work! Spend so many minutes over and over, only to be told every time that I don't find the demographic sought. So that, I unsubscribed from.

Yeah, I usually break anything down to hourly rate of pay -so I'm willing to push a utilities company on one of their scams because $109 for 40 minutes work is good pay. I apply that, too, to NOT walking 90 minutes across a noisy stretch of town to save $2 on a can of beans (my mum).

With AFU, there's no resolution, and they're way too big and "government" to care what's happening for the families, so they don't give a hoot how frustrated everyone gets. I could make a game of it if their process didn't directly impact our lifestyle so much (learning last minute a camp we're scheduled to be at was never processed) or if they offered better than "doilies" in payment. If it were $6000 in cash or helpful services I would still be frustrated but I'd be game to play. I guess it's like having lhamo's job, where the boss keeps oozing sweet nothings and delivers far less. And yet, I can totally feel that I'm going to keep applying! I'm like a smoker trying to quit! I know the activity is irrational, I know it's "bad" for me, but I can't seem to give up that hit. In the AFU case, all it can think is two things: I spent $1600 to get this annual funding, and it's $6000/yr.

It sounds like some of you are able to act on the rational, which is excellent! I gotta get myself to do exactly that. Just need to figure out how.

What's hasselhoff?!? lol   My brain is going "...David...Knight Rider...Hulk?"

happy

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Re: how to avoid getting sucked BACK in?
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2015, 12:49:14 PM »

MoneyRx

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Re: how to avoid getting sucked BACK in?
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2015, 01:03:47 PM »
Have definitely had to rethink some things about trying to sell on craigslist because of this. I have sold my used phones on there and have had a few experiences where someone makes me drive somewhere and THEN tries to lowball me on what I was asking.

This time around, I made people meet me at or very near my place or wherever I am at the time. That way I don't waste my time and gas. I had a few people do this again, and eventually resorted to ebay.

Man selling phones is the worst, a lot of slime balls.

Anyway, next I will be selling my car and I am starting to think about the best way to sell it. I hope to mnimize the time I spend dealing and meeting people. I am thinking about having people meet me at my bank so if the deal goes down, we have a notary right there and I can deposit the money right away. They have coffee so I could sit inside and hang out while they test drive. I know there are guides out there, but anyone have any experience/advice on this? I am also thinking about switching to full coverage insurance on it temporarily for letting people test drive.

scrubbyfish

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Re: how to avoid getting sucked BACK in?
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2015, 01:07:13 PM »
This: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/?s=inner+hasselhoff

Oh! Ha! :)    Love it, thanks!

Having spent the last few hours playing, dancing, and discussing world matters, I feel refreshed and my brain is working well. I'm now bringing all of the above thoughts into this approach: Implement the simplest access to the money. In the example of the Crazy AFU, for example, I can accept that they struggle to fund most things, get confused, lose stuff, and so on. BUT! Every once in a while I can find a practitioner who will accept their funding oddities AND offer something helpful. I can direct the $6000 to that one practitioner. In other words, I can let go of some of the efforts to optimize, and keep only the ones that optimize the money AND my time. Six hours, eight emails, three phone calls, 120 minutes on hold for a $160 camp? Nope. But 30 minutes' input for 52 free counselling sessions? Yes.

Will my son get all the services the government says he's "supposed to" have? No. Is that a problem? No, because the government is talking out of its ass anyway. Is my son being served independently of government ideas and funding-psyches? Yes. Is he happy and thriving? Yep.

Yes, some things (jobs, discounts, etc) are frustrating, but what we Mustachians are urged to do is walk away from systems and approaches that drain us, that steal our lives. Regardless of the carrot dangled -cash, freebies, security- the entire premise of Mustachianism is to not get sucked in. Somehow, I've mostly managed to not get sucked in to Joe Jobs, that's always been obvious to me. I need to take the great leap that other Mustachians have had to take, but in my equivalent of a Joe Job or big house. Basically, a Joe Job or a Big House or a Hobby are gazingus pins for many, but for me it's "free services".

scrubbyfish

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Re: how to avoid getting sucked BACK in?
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2015, 01:16:38 PM »
Have definitely had to rethink some things about trying to sell on craigslist because of this. I have sold my used phones on there and have had a few experiences where someone makes me drive somewhere and THEN tries to lowball me on what I was asking.

MoneyRX, that's another GREAT example! I really appreciate that others get what I'm referring to, and are coming forward with their struggle in whatever the "getting sucked back in" danger is for them.

I know I quit selling things on Craigslist, etc, because the net hourly gain wasn't worth the time/energy. That was another one I was able to shuck. When I think about it, I realize that this whole matter relates directly to my income/net worth levels. When my income was zilch, I very willingly spent copious hours for any amount. Now I wouldn't spend more than two hours for $100. I see that part of what happens for me is I imagine with AFU (example) that I will get $160 for 30 minutes work, since that's what they promise ("just fill in this one simple form"), but since I'm seeing that's not true, I'm gearing up to "quit". That sounds similar to what's happening with your phone-selling. Maybe it's just a process that needs to happen at every new level of income/net worth in relation to direct experience of each task.

I don't have experience/advice re: selling a car in an optimal time/energy way, but I hope someone does. (Or a good one, too, for a whole AAM thread in itself!)

lhamo

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Re: how to avoid getting sucked BACK in?
« Reply #15 on: February 25, 2015, 02:44:23 PM »

Having spent the last few hours playing, dancing, and discussing world matters, I feel refreshed and my brain is working well. I'm now bringing all of the above thoughts into this approach: Implement the simplest access to the money. In the example of the Crazy AFU, for example, I can accept that they struggle to fund most things, get confused, lose stuff, and so on. BUT! Every once in a while I can find a practitioner who will accept their funding oddities AND offer something helpful. I can direct the $6000 to that one practitioner. In other words, I can let go of some of the efforts to optimize, and keep only the ones that optimize the money AND my time. Six hours, eight emails, three phone calls, 120 minutes on hold for a $160 camp? Nope. But 30 minutes' input for 52 free counselling sessions? Yes.

Will my son get all the services the government says he's "supposed to" have? No. Is that a problem? No, because the government is talking out of its ass anyway. Is my son being served independently of government ideas and funding-psyches? Yes. Is he happy and thriving? Yep.


Now THIS is some awesome maximization.

Well done on working through to this strategy.   I love it.

Exhale

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Re: how to avoid getting sucked BACK in?
« Reply #16 on: February 25, 2015, 06:52:25 PM »
The desire to save money and reach FI is NOT about saving money - it's about saving your finite life energy.
+1 - well put!