Author Topic: Is it ok if I just vent for a second (money plans versus "life")  (Read 3163 times)

EconDiva

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Is it ok if I just vent for a second (money plans versus "life")
« on: November 15, 2015, 09:51:59 AM »
In 2012 I was fed up with feeling like I wasn't going anywhere in my "career".  As part of a very vague plan to do better financially I realized I MUST increase my income.  I was living in Atlanta making $44K and paying about $650 a month in rent...not too bad but I wanted to "do better".  I knew I wanted to retire one day, I wanted to be able to travel a few times a year.  I had a few goals that required more income.  Plus, cost of living was starting to slowlllly increase and eat into my stagnant income.  I said I'd move to another city with a better job offer and move back to Atl once I'd increased my market value such that I'd be worth $90k.  $90k is a great life....for me....in Atl.

I took a job making $52K in Chicago and was able to find a place that didn't cost too much more than I was paying in Atlanta, plus I now didn't have the expense of a car.  Long story short, I then got a job making $56K, then $60K, last year $70K and a promotion this year to $85K.  And guess what else?

I'm starting to slowllly get my financial life in order but I'm not any happier.  It's so frikkin cold in Chicago.  Beautiful city but it's not for me long term.  Now I'm almost at this somewhat random goal of a $90K income and I'm like....ok so now what?  I want this income but back in ATL.

So I'm constantly looking at homes and rents there and I've found...prices there have gone up since I've left.  The rent in my old apartment has increased by something like 40%.  Most of my friends are starting to say they're having trouble keeping up with the rise in cost of living there (many of them are in the $40k-$55k income range).  I'm constantly doing job searches there and finding that there aren't many jobs I'd qualify for that make what I make right now.  So even if I landed a $90k job back in ATL now, if I get laid off from it there likely won't be another $90K job I can get very easily there (I'm in pharma research and have a bachelors and there isn't much pharma in Atlanta).

So basically I'm coming to conclusion that I might actually need to stay here for much longer than I expected.  Because if I moved back to Atlanta the smartest thing to do would be to rent or buy a home that I can afford on about a $50k income, because if something happens that will likely be the income I'd be able to maintain living there based on my education, work experience, and the job market.  Which means I'd be living the same way there as I did when I left when my goal was to 'live better'. 

In short, my narrow focus of getting more money hasn't materialized into what I thought it would be.  Maybe my plan was silly to begin with.  My level of happiness living here has dropped and although I've done a little better on paper I can't say I actually have a solid workable plan for my future.  So yes, this was a very random vent but I guess I just wanted to say...chasing financial goals doesn't 'always' end up making you a happier or better person.  If there's anyone else out there like me that's putting all of their life into just this area, remember that life is so much more than this....be balanced and really know what you want out of life so you don't go running after supposed goals that may or may not make you happier. 

Ok, random vent over I guess.

lbmustache

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Re: Is it ok if I just vent for a second (money plans versus "life")
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2015, 10:12:26 AM »

In short, my narrow focus of getting more money hasn't materialized into what I thought it would be.  Maybe my plan was silly to begin with.  My level of happiness living here has dropped and although I've done a little better on paper I can't say I actually have a solid workable plan for my future.  So yes, this was a very random vent but I guess I just wanted to say...chasing financial goals doesn't 'always' end up making you a happier or better person.  If there's anyone else out there like me that's putting all of their life into just this area, remember that life is so much more than this....be balanced and really know what you want out of life so you don't go running after supposed goals that may or may not make you happier. 


You are chasing the wrong thing: MMM doesn't advocate chasing higher incomes really. More about optimizing what you have (but earning more money is always better, because it means you can save more).

Your goals: retire, travel
Minimum income needed: $50k according to you

What age would you like to retire at? Kids, spouse, etc? Reassess where you income is going and figure out how you can live on less money.

$650 is pretty cheap rent-wise, I was paying $895 and earning $35k (gross). More money usually just leads to more lifestyle inflation. People here are chasing the financial goals of financial independence and early retirement :)

okits

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Re: Is it ok if I just vent for a second (money plans versus "life")
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2015, 10:15:29 AM »
:( I'm sorry you're unhappy.

At the very least you can say that you tried something bold to try to improve your life and find happiness.  Nothing worse than finding yourself sitting someplace you knew years ago wasn't the right thing, but fear and inertia kept you rooted in a dead-end way of life.  Taking action and making an effort is a big thing, at least you are trying something that could be better than what you already know you don't want.

Is Atlanta your hometown?  Where your friends and family are?  Just love the city or feel most at home there?  You may not love Chicago, but is there another pharma research hub you can try out that will maintain or boost your income and career?  Allot some money for periodic trips back to Atlanta if that will increase your happiness.

And as for the money not making you happier, I can confidently say that if you've reduced your debt/grown your stash, you will be glad for it if it helps you walk away from a bad job situation/put a bigger down payment on a house/survive a health crisis financially intact/reach another important goal sooner.  It may not make you happy right now, but could save you misery (or make you happier) down the road.

ShaneD

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Re: Is it ok if I just vent for a second (money plans versus "life")
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2015, 10:27:33 AM »
EconDiva, I totally hear ya: we're in the process of looking for a place to relocate to, and one of the biggest fears is that, if we don't like the new place, we'll get priced out of the old place. (Our apartment will shoot up in price, for example, as soon as we leave.) It's a bummer that you're not liking Chicago, and I completely understand the need to vent. And to that I say, Vent away!

But once you're ready to move on from the feeling to the doing stage (and again, I'm all for allowing oneself appropriate time to hang out in the irritated feeling stage), sounds like it's time to get creative and think beyond the binary options of A. Atlanta and B. Chicago. Yes, you're not feeling like you've progressed, but I'm sure your bank account shows elsewise -- and that bank account is what will give you some flexibility to get creative. Don't underestimate that power -- and don't kick yourself for trying something new. You said yourself that Atlanta doesn't have a lot of pharma options -- so had you not left Atlanta, who knows where you might be right now. Had you gotten laid off at $44k, that'd be a whole lot more difficult than getting laid off at $90k but living on less.

So the question becomes: Where can you go that has the pharma options you need but doesn't have the things you don't like about Chicago (such as the cold) or Atlanta (such as higher COL)? Using Richmond just as an example (no idea if it has pharma), that perhaps might be a place where you can retain the higher income/lower COL, while also having less cold/winter. Just because you don't want to stay in Chicago long-term doesn't make your move a failure or anything. And it doesn't make it final either. Feel the feels as needed, but don't let yourself get resigned to feeling stuck. There are myriad ways that people get stuck beyond their control. But in this situation, stuck is a choice.

Alternatively, find that $90k job in Atlanta, take it, and see what happens. Live on less like you said, and maybe you won't get laid off. I understand the fear (we've been through it multiple times ourselves), but there's always the possibility that it won't happen. And if it does, THEN head to another town like (again, just an example) Richmond for a while. Call it Plan D.

You're absolutely right that chasing financial goals does not guarantee happiness. Not at all whatsoever. What it does is give you more control over your options. You're in control here. Do not forget that. Once you're ready to get proactive, dust yourself off, get to researching, and come up with some scenarios on how to improve your happiness while continuing to reach your goals. Maybe not over-the-moon happy: there will always be trade-offs and discomforts. But happier-than-in-Chicago happy is out there. You just have to find it.


ETA: okits post came in while I was typing, and I just want to add a resounding Amen to it:

At the very least you can say that you tried something bold to try to improve your life and find happiness.  Nothing worse than finding yourself sitting someplace you knew years ago wasn't the right thing, but fear and inertia kept you rooted in a dead-end way of life.  Taking action and making an effort is a big thing, at least you are trying something that could be better than what you already know you don't want.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2015, 10:29:59 AM by ShaneD »

EconDiva

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Re: Is it ok if I just vent for a second (money plans versus "life")
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2015, 10:36:51 AM »

In short, my narrow focus of getting more money hasn't materialized into what I thought it would be.  Maybe my plan was silly to begin with.  My level of happiness living here has dropped and although I've done a little better on paper I can't say I actually have a solid workable plan for my future.  So yes, this was a very random vent but I guess I just wanted to say...chasing financial goals doesn't 'always' end up making you a happier or better person.  If there's anyone else out there like me that's putting all of their life into just this area, remember that life is so much more than this....be balanced and really know what you want out of life so you don't go running after supposed goals that may or may not make you happier. 


You are chasing the wrong thing: MMM doesn't advocate chasing higher incomes really. More about optimizing what you have (but earning more money is always better, because it means you can save more).

Your goals: retire, travel
Minimum income needed: $50k according to you

What age would you like to retire at? Kids, spouse, etc? Reassess where you income is going and figure out how you can live on less money.

$650 is pretty cheap rent-wise, I was paying $895 and earning $35k (gross). More money usually just leads to more lifestyle inflation. People here are chasing the financial goals of financial independence and early retirement :)


I wasn't reading/employing MMM tactics at the time I made this decision/move.  I do understand part of what MMM reinforces is living off of less. 

I guess what I am saying is very general here:  make sure you're living a balanced life and not sacrificing some things that make you happy.  But I'm sure most people here don't need to actually know that.  I'm just learning it myself I guess.

Yes, I do have the goals of traveling and retiring early.  I'm working on what the numbers needed for that truly are.  I can't base it on how I live/what I make now (or would make in Atlanta right now--$50k--but I'd base it on how I'd like to live in retirement which isn't easy for me to do.  I likely won't be at this job or income near or at retirement so I can't estimate based on needing 50%, 80%, or whatever % of replacement of my current income.  I could base it on the expected income needed to live in Atlanta come retirement age I guess, as I believe that may be where I end up around retirement age.

Were you paying the $895 in Atlanta?

To add on to your other comments, I'd like to retire at 50.  I'm 36.  I'm a single female with no children, won't have any children but would like a spouse some day.  So many things to consider :)  Time to delve back into my plans, crunch some numbers and get back on track with planning.  I guess part of my vent is I'm having a hard time planning out where I want to be in 5, 10 years.  Getting some stability in my life will help me plan for retirement better...at least I think.  Since the age of 22 I've moved on average every 1.5 years.  Moves cost money, expenses change when you move...no wonder why getting a good budget in place has been a struggle for me.  I don't want to keep doing this anymore so I kind of think I need to make a decision to either plan to stay here or....not.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2015, 10:39:24 AM by EconDiva »

EconDiva

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Re: Is it ok if I just vent for a second (money plans versus "life")
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2015, 10:49:22 AM »
:( I'm sorry you're unhappy.

At the very least you can say that you tried something bold to try to improve your life and find happiness.  Nothing worse than finding yourself sitting someplace you knew years ago wasn't the right thing, but fear and inertia kept you rooted in a dead-end way of life.  Taking action and making an effort is a big thing, at least you are trying something that could be better than what you already know you don't want.

Is Atlanta your hometown?  Where your friends and family are?  Just love the city or feel most at home there?  You may not love Chicago, but is there another pharma research hub you can try out that will maintain or boost your income and career?  Allot some money for periodic trips back to Atlanta if that will increase your happiness.

And as for the money not making you happier, I can confidently say that if you've reduced your debt/grown your stash, you will be glad for it if it helps you walk away from a bad job situation/put a bigger down payment on a house/survive a health crisis financially intact/reach another important goal sooner.  It may not make you happy right now, but could save you misery (or make you happier) down the road.

I'm actually not all that unhappy :)

I never knew I'd be living in Chicago today.  I'd never traveled out of the country until I'd gotten my current job.  Within the past year they've sent me to Paris, Hong Kong, Barcelona, Vienna, and now in 3 weeks I'm going to the #1 city I've been wanting to visit since the age of about 21---Tokyo.  And they're letting me take a few days off to see my brother who lives there that I haven't seen in 7 years!

I'm extremely grateful.  I'm not a religious person per se so I hope this doesn't offend anyone but in way I think I am 'supposed' to be here...I've learned so much and been given opportunities since being here that I don't believe I would've ever had in Atlanta. I have grown in so many ways so overall my experience has been very positive.  My family and friends have praised me on reaching goals and I've had a few people tell me I've inspired them to try out things they've been putting off forever.  So don't get me wrong...I'm not "miserable".

It's just that I had this ultimate goal of "leave Atlanta, get a better job, come back making $90K".  It just all seems so silly now in a way....

To answer your question, Atlanta is where I'd spent the majority of my adult life.  All my friends are there.  It's my real home, basically.  I haven't quite ever adjusted here in Chicago...that's another story and I don't know exactly why I haven't.  All I do is work and work is what keeps me here because overall I don't see myself getting a much better job than I have right now today.  I just don't know how much longer I can stay here just for the job.  Maybe I need to just find ways to be happier here, I don't really know the answer. 

You mentioned making enough to make frequent trips back there.  I was actually thinking the opposite lately...save enough to buy a home cash when I move back there...that way an adjustment back to $50k or so wouldn't matter too much with a paid off home.  If I start making frequent trips there now I will find myself farther away from retirement which kinda goes against the goals I had for use of the increase in income I chased after by coming here....

lhamo

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Re: Is it ok if I just vent for a second (money plans versus "life")
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2015, 10:54:56 AM »
How much of your $85k Chicago salary are you able to save?  Can you save enough to buy a house outright in Atlanta, or wherever else you might be able to find a good pharma job in a warmer climate (is Raleigh-Durham an option?  Have no idea where the industry centers are...)  If you didn't have a house payment or rent, then a $50k salary would still allow you to save quite a bit. 

I think you may also be overthinking the retirement budget planning.  Housing and transportation are the biggest variables.  Other expenses don't change THAT much with a move.  Maybe a few hundred dollars up or down.  If you find you are able to live comfortably on $25-30k in a higher cost of living area like Chicago, then unless you plan to move to Manhattan or SFO you can probably live on that or better wherever you end up in retirement.  Less if you can buy a house outright.

Not trying to be unsympathetic -- I know how frustrating it can be to not live where you want to live.  Look on the bright side -- as a single person you are more or less in control of your choices and don't have to take the needs/desires of a partner into account.  Personally if I were you I would save up a good chunk of money from the current great salary, and then try to find a job in a place that felt more like home, even if it pays less.  Developing skills that are transferable to other industries, so that you aren't tied to pharma, might also be a good tactic to pursue.


EconDiva

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Re: Is it ok if I just vent for a second (money plans versus "life")
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2015, 11:12:40 AM »
How much of your $85k Chicago salary are you able to save?  Can you save enough to buy a house outright in Atlanta, or wherever else you might be able to find a good pharma job in a warmer climate (is Raleigh-Durham an option?  Have no idea where the industry centers are...)  If you didn't have a house payment or rent, then a $50k salary would still allow you to save quite a bit. 

I think you may also be overthinking the retirement budget planning.  Housing and transportation are the biggest variables.  Other expenses don't change THAT much with a move.  Maybe a few hundred dollars up or down.  If you find you are able to live comfortably on $25-30k in a higher cost of living area like Chicago, then unless you plan to move to Manhattan or SFO you can probably live on that or better wherever you end up in retirement.  Less if you can buy a house outright.

Not trying to be unsympathetic -- I know how frustrating it can be to not live where you want to live.  Look on the bright side -- as a single person you are more or less in control of your choices and don't have to take the needs/desires of a partner into account.  Personally if I were you I would save up a good chunk of money from the current great salary, and then try to find a job in a place that felt more like home, even if it pays less.  Developing skills that are transferable to other industries, so that you aren't tied to pharma, might also be a good tactic to pursue.

Right now I save about 20% of net....lifestyle inflation.  I know, I know....that's really bad.  But with a few pretty painless changes in habits I think I could get that to 40% of net pretty quickly/easily.  Then work to do even more from there.

Good point about overthinking the retirement thing; I agree that housing costs are a definite concern. 

With that said your post is exactly along the lines of what I had been thinking lately; save enough to buy a home wherever I move to next.  By having my housing costs (basically) fixed; it would alleviate my anxiety over increasing rents and I'd be more comfortable moving to a place where I'd be taking a pay cut from my current income.  The wild card being I don't know how long I can stay here to save up that amount but in the meantime I guess I'd simply need to 'learn to like Chicago better'.  (Disclaimer:  I don't hate it here...just not where I see myself forever.)

Exflyboy

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Re: Is it ok if I just vent for a second (money plans versus "life")
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2015, 07:17:51 PM »
My first thought in reading your story was that you are not enjoying life right now.. But you are setting up your financial prospects to be more happy in the future.

So your making over 100% more than you were with similar cost of living (although the fact your only saving 20% leads me to think you have done some significant lifestyle inflation too.. I.e you were living on $44k.. but your certainly not now).

Assuming you can get your spending under control.. Have a look at MMM's savings rate chart.. i.e at a 50% savings rate you would FI at 17 years.

Now look at what your savings rate was in ATL vs what it SHOULD be right now.. then compare the difference. Lets say today you could be FI in 10 years, Vs where you were before at 40 years (purely guesstimates at the numbers).

Now ask the question.. are you prepared to put up with a lifestyle that sucks in order to be FI x years earlier.

If the answer is yes.. Well keep doing what your doing, become a millionair then retire and whatever you want in almost any place you want to live. If being FI in less time doesn't mean that much to you.. Go back to ATL.

I'm sorry if this is me giving you a solution when all you wanted was a listening ear.. but this is a way to think about your predicament.

Another thought.. I was making roughly what you are and was $160k in debt back in early 1997... I was FI 17 years later.. It can be done.