Author Topic: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life  (Read 10871 times)

Ready For Change

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Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« on: December 27, 2014, 11:13:48 AM »
Iíve been lurking for a while on the MMM forum, and I want to put my story out here.  I have a feeling this is going to come across as complainypants and I apologize for that because believe me, I am amazed and grateful for what I have.  My agitation comes from not knowing what to do about it.  Iím motivated by what I read here, but I am having a hard time applying it to myself.  I am willing to put my numbers up, but not sure that's really what's at issue here.

The bottom line:  Iím 50 years old, but Iím the child youíre all worrying about.  I depend on a family arrangement for income.  Yes, Iím one of those people.  My "income" is approximately $70K a year, but 75% of that is variable and out of my control.  I have been a good steward of this income, knowing that it will decrease by half when one of my benefactors dies, but ďgood stewardĒ in this case means insanely conservative investments, because I donít ever know when my income stream may get cut. I live and invest like an 80 year old on a pension. Since I'm putting it all out here ... chances are, I will inherit several million dollars when the second benefactor dies. They are both in their late 80s, so this is going to happen sometimes in the foreseeable future.  But that, both the amount and the eventuality of their deaths, is obviously not something I can intellectually plan for, and certainly not something I emotionally hope for.

I have emotional issues about this situation as well.  At worst I feel like my means of support is a shameful secret, at best it is a fact of life but certainly doesnít bring me any self esteem or sense of competence.  It doesnít help that one of these benefactors hands me money, and then emotionally abuses me out of envy for what they didnít have at my age, which ties me in knots of anxiety and defiance every time I spend a dime on myself.  I feel like a child.

This family situation arose as I was a young person in college, working too many hours at too many jobs and about to have a nervous breakdown.  I am a ďtype AĒ underneath it all, but Iím also an insecure person and I was not very focused as a young adult.  Once the family situation kicked in I left school and took various entry level jobs, actually followed Your Money Or Your Life for awhile, but then decided I could get by without working. 

To make matters more complicated, I am married to someone who is decidedly non-mustachian.  They basically earn what they spend, minus 7% in a pension fund at work.  I am ďin chargeĒ of the money for both of us, but I keep our finances separate because while I am not comfortable with the way my partner spends money, I am also not comfortable making demands - they, after all, have earned their money to do with as they please, within remaining financially stable.

So ... Iím not looking for a pity party, but Iím ... adrift.  Do you think I should go back to work, even though Iím doing ok without a job, and feel less than enthusiastic about being an employee?  What could I do that would actually make this worthwhile?  Should I go back to school and become a 50-something first time employee?  Should I be more aggressive with my investments (basically all in CDs or Treasuries at present), and if you think so, what would you recommend? 
« Last Edit: December 27, 2014, 11:26:50 AM by Ready For Change »

Murse

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2014, 11:25:47 AM »
You are being too vague for anyone to truly help. People are going to need the numbers and the specific dynamics of your situation in order to give you any valuable feedback.  It does sound a little complainy pants to me but there is no way to know until you give us your full situation.

Distshore

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2014, 11:54:12 AM »
I'm not sure that your question is about money.  To me, Mustachianism is about living your best life, the one that you'd plan out if you had the mind of a 40-year-old when you were born.  Most of us have to work to get the financial independence to be able to live that life, but you already have it.  OK, cool.

So what are you doing with your life?  What is your best life?  What lights your fire, makes you laugh or run or be angry or passionate?  Is it kids, animals, maths, language, gardening, family....???  How do you spend your limited days on this crazifying, beautiful, endangered planet now, and how do you want to spend them?  How do you want to make life better for yourself and your loved ones?

Let's start figuring that out, and then you will have a stated goal that MMMers can help you make your way towards.

Cassie

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2014, 11:57:13 AM »
You didn't finish college, you have not worked in almost 30 years so the best you will initially do job wise is an entry level job. You need to think about if you can deal with that & is that what you want to do.

mozar

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2014, 12:02:28 PM »
I have always wanted to talk to someone like you. I know a few people who inherited a lot of money in their 30s and are struggling in life. Inheriting money really takes your drive away. Actually my grandfather told my mother that she would inherit money when he died. So that was twenty years ago and she stopped trying to have a career. She just got the money a few months ago. Anyways, advice. How about starting a small business that helps people? Go to a country that you know is poor and directly ask what they want. I just saw a video of people who make biomass metal kilns for ugandan people. Have any interests? Agriculture, architectur, clean water, plumbing and sanitation, medicine, refugees, art, robotics, etc. Start thinking outside yourself. You have such a great opportunity. You could become a great pianist or a patron of the arts. Start a vc fund for women in the internet. We all have our lot in life, we all have our priveledges. But start with seeing a cognitive behavioral therapist. I recommend the books Codependent no more and Feeling Good.

lhamo

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2014, 12:10:08 PM »
I can't remember where I heard it, but the following question has been very helpful to me in figuring out where to go on different issues:

What would you do if you were not afraid?

Some things come to mind:

1)  Counselling or coaching.  You have been given an incredible gift, but it sounds like there is a lot of emotional/psychological baggage surrounding it. 

2)  Volunteering.  Start by helping others, and then maybe you will appreciate more what you have.  You may also find it leads you to a career that you can find value in.

3)  Starting your own business.  You have a great situation in that you have money to cover basic expenses and can take time to experiment and build a business that you really enjoy.

4)  Experimenting with a more aggressive investment strategy.  Try applying Jim Collins' investment strategy to at least part of your portfolio and see how it goes. 

First and foremost, stop seeing yourself as a victim.  Read some books commonly recommended here in regards to dealing with dysfunctional relationships -- "Co-Dependent No More" has been recommended by several people, as has "Boundaries." (Note:  I haven't read either of them -- waiting for holds to come through at the library.

Good luck and keep coming back for support/inspiration.  Compared to some of the challenges faced by many here, you are in the catbird seat and with the right kind of support and encouragement you can probably put a positive spin on things both psychologically and financially in relatively little time if you really apply yourself to making the necessary changes.

netskyblue

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2014, 12:16:37 PM »
I second the previous poster's suggestion of counseling.

When you boil it down, the way you put it, you allow someone to emotionally abuse you in exchange for money.  In what universe is that OK?  You need to get yourself out of that situation, and I don't mean just refuse the money and cut off contact.  You need to get yourself into a mental place where they aren't abusing you anymore.  But I'm not a therapist and can't advise you how to do that.  Just know that for your own well-being, it needs to happen.

maricela

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2014, 12:17:24 PM »
What are you doing with your days now? Not having to work is fine, but being a completely non- productive human being is not being a part of society. Productivity can take a variety of paid and unpaid forms though.

wtjbatman

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2014, 12:35:57 PM »
You are being too vague for anyone to truly help. People are going to need the numbers and the specific dynamics of your situation in order to give you any valuable feedback.  It does sound a little complainy pants to me but there is no way to know until you give us your full situation.

+1

We don't know who you are, you are anonymous to us. Feel free to share (a lot) more details so we can actually help you, not these vague generalizations ("I'm one of those people" huh?).

slugline

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2014, 12:50:54 PM »
I think this is reading clear enough. We don't need more numbers because this question isn't truly about the money. RFC, I think you should take a portion of what you have accumulated and take a risk on a new career or business. Until you do, you'll have that nagging voice inside reminding yourself that your life is one you did not build yourself. I bet you really are ready for change.

Ready For Change

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2014, 04:12:24 PM »
First of all thank you so much for everyone who took the time to respond.

There are a few things I should probably clarify. The situation is positive, but I donítí feel Iím at the independently wealthy jumping off spot that I seem to have implied, sorry if I was unclear.

My savings portfolio is about $600K, and because I have lived so fearfully, it is basically earning an average of 2.3%.  There is one investment in the pack which actually brings the return percentage down, face punch, which Iím vowing to address this year.  I own my own home and car free and clear and have no debts, but let me be clear, this $14,000 interest is now what I try to live off of.   I find myself taking $5-7K from the annual $25-50K+, er, beneficence, so a total living expense somewhere between $19 and $21K.  I am comfortable with my lifestyle and find the challenge of living on this money acceptable and invigorating, but I donít think I want to go lower.  Still, please feel free to face punch me for doing so poorly with the investing part.  I am so frustrated with how I have handled this I have two black eyes and a broken nose already, a few papercuts will hardly make it worse.
 
Turning 50 and finding MMM were real wake up calls, I was both astonished and appalled when I read of how many people have managed to get a return in excess of 20% this year.  I have been afraid of stock investing  - even mutual funds - since losing a lot of money in the ? late 90's.  Young and ignorant, I managed to buy stupidly high and sell ridiculously low when I panicked over losing ďtheirĒ money, and have avoided the market ever since.  I have also been stupidly generous to the wrong people, probably out of guilt for my own good fortune, which also needs to stop, although Iím willing and interested in putting my effort into bettering ... well, something beyond myself.

So, from a purely financial standpoint:

A first step, I want to live off interest - or my own personal income if I manage to make some - and not the benefactor principal.  I would like to set a goal of $24,000 post tax income as my personal earnings goal / spending budget for 2016, and I would be happy with suggestions for investing changes to get me there. 

Clearly, I would like to do better than that, compared to the investors here thatís an embarrassment.  I would like to take the money in excess of $24K and turn it into an accomplishment I can be proud of.  But I am still frightened of losing the portfolio principal.  For better or worse, that portfolio is ... itís the equivalent of the best job I can get, the place I can rely on for an interest Ďpaycheckí that makes me solvent.  The idea of losing that Ďjobí and having to start over at 50 welcoming people to Walmart, or having to live off the benefactor gift, waiting for my check like Iím on welfare, are just not options, when itís in my control to prevent the situation.

To those of you who have addressed my emotional vulnerability, thank you for listening and not being cruel, I know I could have received the ďboo hoo is youĒ award instead. I have worked on therapy including codependence work, and I do get it ... these feelings of inadequacy and anxiety and indebtedness are inside of me, and no one else can get me untangled.  My undeserving ďlife driftĒ is the explanation for why itís ok for benefactor 1 to humiliate me in public, call me names and in general be rude and disrespectful toward me, but to be honest, that abuse - which was physical when I was smaller - has been going on since I was a baby and didnít perform up to par.  I never did figure out what was required, because nothing ever seemed to be the right thing, perhaps because the problem was never me in the first place. I have shown my numbers and my willingness to be careful and prudent and sometimes even self denying with this money, only to be criticized an hour later as if I had spent it all on a trip to the moon.  In one ear, out the other, then embarrass me a little bit for good measure. Benefactor 2 is not judgmental, but is functionally autistic and rigidly perfectionistic about his own self - Iím not terrible, but Iím not exactly real, either, Iím just the only available depository in his money game.  I believe that he loves me in his way, but itís all very vague for him.

I have tried to make peace with this, both by limiting my exposure, by being respectful and by trying to do right by their gifts.  I have not been good at finding my true path.  Iíve wanted to ... hear words of approval that Iím just never going to hear.  I still dread hearing more words of disapproval, and ... ďHold still and donít make it worseĒ seems to have become my lifeís motto.  It's so much less painful than failing.  But I know this is not right, there is more in me than holding still.

So, thank you for listening, and if you can  ... please help me say, ďoh screw that holding still shit already!"

« Last Edit: December 27, 2014, 04:21:34 PM by Ready For Change »

happy

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2014, 05:06:34 PM »
You know  you have achieved something extraordinary: a 600k stash, and a 20k lifestyle, despite that fact that you didn't earn the money. Most people spend everything they earn and some. Its hard to build a stache even when you are earning the money. To have the strength of mind ( albeit guilt driven) to not spend, when you have been gifted the money is highly unusual and something to hold your head up about.

Forget about benefactor 1s comments. They'll be tough on you no matter what you do : no matter what you'll never be good enough. I've got one in my life.  Just say to yourself "there's x being x, again" and try to let the words wash over you. Like water off a ducks back.

Your first job is to teach your self about investing. Its not a one size fits all approach: some things you have to decide for yourself.  Read John Collins stock series, Bogleheads wikki and the various investment books recommended on this forum. Keep it simple. Take it slow. You don't need to chase 20% yields, even if you just get up to 5% you'll do fine.  So then you have a job: "investor". Many folks would like to be able to say that :)

Then once you feel good about being an investor,  find something to commit to that gives meaning or sense of purpose. Figure out whether you need a schedule to motivate you, or if you are a self starter and can do without. Others have mentioned all sorts of possibilities, I won't repeat. I don't think it matters what, pick something, commit to being engaged with it for a couple of years and see how you go. If it doesn't work out try something else.

Murse

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2014, 05:16:46 PM »
First of all thank you so much for everyone who took the time to respond.

There are a few things I should probably clarify. The situation is positive, but I donítí feel Iím at the independently wealthy jumping off spot that I seem to have implied, sorry if I was unclear.

My savings portfolio is about $600K, and because I have lived so fearfully, it is basically earning an average of 2.3%.  There is one investment in the pack which actually brings the return percentage down, face punch, which Iím vowing to address this year.  I own my own home and car free and clear and have no debts, but let me be clear, this $14,000 interest is now what I try to live off of.   I find myself taking $5-7K from the annual $25-50K+, er, beneficence, so a total living expense somewhere between $19 and $21K.  I am comfortable with my lifestyle and find the challenge of living on this money acceptable and invigorating, but I donít think I want to go lower.  Still, please feel free to face punch me for doing so poorly with the investing part.  I am so frustrated with how I have handled this I have two black eyes and a broken nose already, a few papercuts will hardly make it worse.
 
Turning 50 and finding MMM were real wake up calls, I was both astonished and appalled when I read of how many people have managed to get a return in excess of 20% this year.  I have been afraid of stock investing  - even mutual funds - since losing a lot of money in the ? late 90's.  Young and ignorant, I managed to buy stupidly high and sell ridiculously low when I panicked over losing ďtheirĒ money, and have avoided the market ever since.  I have also been stupidly generous to the wrong people, probably out of guilt for my own good fortune, which also needs to stop, although Iím willing and interested in putting my effort into bettering ... well, something beyond myself.

So, from a purely financial standpoint:

A first step, I want to live off interest - or my own personal income if I manage to make some - and not the benefactor principal.  I would like to set a goal of $24,000 post tax income as my personal earnings goal / spending budget for 2016, and I would be happy with suggestions for investing changes to get me there. 

Clearly, I would like to do better than that, compared to the investors here thatís an embarrassment.  I would like to take the money in excess of $24K and turn it into an accomplishment I can be proud of.  But I am still frightened of losing the portfolio principal.  For better or worse, that portfolio is ... itís the equivalent of the best job I can get, the place I can rely on for an interest Ďpaycheckí that makes me solvent.  The idea of losing that Ďjobí and having to start over at 50 welcoming people to Walmart, or having to live off the benefactor gift, waiting for my check like Iím on welfare, are just not options, when itís in my control to prevent the situation.

To those of you who have addressed my emotional vulnerability, thank you for listening and not being cruel, I know I could have received the ďboo hoo is youĒ award instead. I have worked on therapy including codependence work, and I do get it ... these feelings of inadequacy and anxiety and indebtedness are inside of me, and no one else can get me untangled.  My undeserving ďlife driftĒ is the explanation for why itís ok for benefactor 1 to humiliate me in public, call me names and in general be rude and disrespectful toward me, but to be honest, that abuse - which was physical when I was smaller - has been going on since I was a baby and didnít perform up to par.  I never did figure out what was required, because nothing ever seemed to be the right thing, perhaps because the problem was never me in the first place. I have shown my numbers and my willingness to be careful and prudent and sometimes even self denying with this money, only to be criticized an hour later as if I had spent it all on a trip to the moon.  In one ear, out the other, then embarrass me a little bit for good measure. Benefactor 2 is not judgmental, but is functionally autistic and rigidly perfectionistic about his own self - Iím not terrible, but Iím not exactly real, either, Iím just the only available depository in his money game.  I believe that he loves me in his way, but itís all very vague for him.

I have tried to make peace with this, both by limiting my exposure, by being respectful and by trying to do right by their gifts.  I have not been good at finding my true path.  Iíve wanted to ... hear words of approval that Iím just never going to hear.  I still dread hearing more words of disapproval, and ... ďHold still and donít make it worseĒ seems to have become my lifeís motto.  It's so much less painful than failing.  But I know this is not right, there is more in me than holding still.

So, thank you for listening, and if you can  ... please help me say, ďoh screw that holding still shit already!"

Sweet deal, we can begin to get to work. For the investing ask others as I am very aggressive, I will however say this, if you can not control your emotions with investing, you are better off staying out of the market and learning something like real estate (depending on your area could be better for you.) Assuming the 4% rule once your AA is fixed, your current portfolio should throw off 24k (if I understand correctly this is what you said,) If you can live on this for the rest of your life, great you are already FI. Meaning anymore money that is given to you by this abusive person can go towards extras. In your post you mention wanting to make something of yourself, your first goal should be identifying what this is so that you can begin working towards it and investing this incoming capital.

Now on to the psychology, you need to see a professional for this part. There is nothing we can say to make it better.

All I can say is your life is your own, you get to choose how you perceive things and who you let in your life. In my opinion, the cost for this money is/was too high. If you are FI, (sounds to me like you are) then you can do anything you want. If you want to create an income, go for it, if not, don't. Identify what it is you want from life, then go after it. Don't think you have not accomplished anything in life, a 600k stash is an accomplishment in itself.

thedayisbrave

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #13 on: December 27, 2014, 05:22:03 PM »
You know  you have achieved something extraordinary: a 600k stash, and a 20k lifestyle, despite that fact that you didn't earn the money. Most people spend everything they earn and some. Its hard to build a stache even when you are earning the money. To have the strength of mind ( albeit guilt driven) to not spend, when you have been gifted the money is highly unusual and something to hold your head up about.

Forget about benefactor 1s comments. They'll be tough on you no matter what you do : no matter what you'll never be good enough. I've got one in my life.  Just say to yourself "there's x being x, again" and try to let the words wash over you. Like water off a ducks back.

Your first job is to teach your self about investing. Its not a one size fits all approach: some things you have to decide for yourself.  Read John Collins stock series, Bogleheads wikki and the various investment books recommended on this forum. Keep it simple. Take it slow. You don't need to chase 20% yields, even if you just get up to 5% you'll do fine.  So then you have a job: "investor". Many folks would like to be able to say that :)

Then once you feel good about being an investor,  find something to commit to that gives meaning or sense of purpose. Figure out whether you need a schedule to motivate you, or if you are a self starter and can do without. Others have mentioned all sorts of possibilities, I won't repeat. I don't think it matters what, pick something, commit to being engaged with it for a couple of years and see how you go. If it doesn't work out try something else.

Couldn't have said this ^^^ better myself. 

Mini-Mer

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #14 on: December 27, 2014, 05:48:49 PM »
Welcome to the forums, RFC! 

The idea of 'passion' has always been interesting to me.  It comes up a lot here, because one of the reasons to pursue early retirement is to pursue a passionate interest.  Personally, I've never had one.  My work isn't it, but I haven't found anything else I'd want to do full-time instead.  But if I want to spend my retirement weeding the garden, reading novels, and taking the odd trip, that's probably fine too. 

Have you run into Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project? The book starts with the question: nothing's wrong, so why am I not happier?  I also found Julia Cameron's "Artist's Way" useful.  The book isn't my cup of tea - lots of god-talk - but the exercises were still helpful.  Neither book starts from the premise that you know exactly what you want to be doing, or even that there is a single solution.  But I found both helpful for coming up with things that I have found worthwhile and enjoyed doing.

I'll leave the actual financial advice to the experts, since I have also been conservative and sometimes negligent on the investment side.  (Which has not been the end of the world either!)

mozar

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #15 on: December 27, 2014, 06:05:22 PM »
Just to clarify I wasn't saying you should spend your money. I was saying that you have the gift of time. You could fund raise for a nonprofit, join a board, convince other people with money to give to you to be a vc. People love giving other rich people money "for a good cause." I didn't really understand why you have to spend time with the money people, but thats neither here nor there.

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #16 on: December 27, 2014, 06:44:53 PM »
IMO, becoming a better investor will only slightly relieve the stress of being dependent on benefactors to cover living expenses until you die or receive a large inheritance.  However, this will not necessarily make you happier. 

Avoiding failure and criticism reduces stress and anxiety, but it will not bring you happiness.  Unless you develop and achieve challenging goals (i.e., not passive income / handouts / inheritance) that you can be proud of, I wouldn't expect that you will be any happier with more money.   

Milizard

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #17 on: December 27, 2014, 07:42:31 PM »
This is a strange place to say this, but I honestly think that you would be happier with a job and earning your own money for a while.  I say this from my own perspective gleaned from my own life experience growing up in a codependent sort of atmosphere.

Letj

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #18 on: December 27, 2014, 07:50:05 PM »
IMO, becoming a better investor will only slightly relieve the stress of being dependent on benefactors to cover living expenses until you die or receive a large inheritance.  However, this will not necessarily make you happier. 

Avoiding failure and criticism reduces stress and anxiety, but it will not bring you happiness.  Unless you develop and achieve challenging goals (i.e., not passive income / handouts / inheritance) that you can be proud of, I wouldn't expect that you will be any happier with more money.

Either that or she lets it go/grow a thicker skin. Once I started changing my expectations of how others should behave toward me, I was less bothered by their actions or behavior. As I get older, I care less and less about pleasing others.

pbkmaine

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #19 on: December 27, 2014, 08:08:56 PM »
Whether you get a job or not, I think you need to find/do/create/make something uniquely yours. You sound empty. What would fill up the space within? Writing a book or a poem, taking or making a beautiful picture? A number of other posters have said it - you need a purpose in life.

jodelino

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #20 on: December 27, 2014, 09:07:23 PM »
What about beginning by finishing college and trying to find yourself in that context? You could schedule visits with counselors at your local community college, state university, and/or private university, and have your credits from your earlier college experience evaluated, and see what it would take in number of courses, time, and money to complete a degree. With the additional insight and self-knowledge that you've acquired since your first stint in college, you will probably be better equipped to address the anxieties that de-railed you the first time around, and you could avail yourself of the counseling and group therapy that are available on many campuses.

You might get a great deal of satisfaction from completing that degree, and the combination of academic structure and intellectual freedom might be wonderful for you. And you can tell the "benefactors" that this is important to you and that you are pursuing it, and hold your head up high.

As a former college professor, I can attest that professors really enjoy adult students. One of my all-time favorite students was a guy in his 50s who came to college after years in the Army followed by a well-paying union manufacturing job. He wanted to be a journalist and writer, and he made that happen, and it was a beautiful thing to see.

By they way, I'm curious about where your spouse is in all this. You sound like you are very alone with some of your emotional struggles. I'm guessing you are a woman whose husband kinda likes having her around the house, but maybe I've got that all wrong. But I wonder if not only the "benefactors" but also the marriage keeps you isolated. Others have suggested volunteering or being on a board, and that could be very valuable. You might also benefit from joining an activity group: a writer's group, a book club, an investing club, a sports team, a mediation group, a local environmental organization, a local political campaign--really any kind of group in which you would meet other people and join with them in a shared goal.

Good luck, and thanks for sharing your story.

« Last Edit: December 27, 2014, 10:21:40 PM by jodelino »

Primm

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #21 on: December 27, 2014, 10:35:03 PM »
Whether you get a job or not, I think you need to find/do/create/make something uniquely yours. You sound empty. What would fill up the space within? Writing a book or a poem, taking or making a beautiful picture? A number of other posters have said it - you need a purpose in life.

This is the perfect way of saying what I was thinking. You sound sad and empty.

Find your passion, then do it. Whether or not you do it for money is not necessarily relevant, since you have a source of income already that is unrelated to work. But I agree with someone upthread who said they think you will develop a sense of purpose and self-importance (the good kind!) if you get a job and work for your own independent income.

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #22 on: December 28, 2014, 04:35:43 AM »
You need to understand that you do not in fact "depend on a family arrangement for income": because you have saved a stash of $600,000 over the years and have expenses of $20,000 per year (plus your spouse's income coming in to the household) you are free of ever needing any more money from your "benefactors".  All you need to do is to put your money into Vanguard or Betterment funds (take a look at the investment forum here for advice) and then take out your $20,000 a year.  Even if you earned nothing on your accounts, you could take out £20,000 a year for the next 30 years!   
 
If you invest your money right, you will not be living off the money you get from your "benefactors", and that will not be your income.  So don't spend that money as income, just add it all to your investment accounts and forget it.  If you want to give your "benefactors" the finger and never have anything more to do with them, you can do that, too.

Have you been paying any social security contributions (some systems let you do this on a voluntary basis)?  Would it be worth your doing this?  I assume you will in any case have some rights based on your spouse's contributions, so you might want to look into that as an additional source of future income which further frees you from any financial dependence on that "family arrangement".

As to what you do with your freedom: do whatever you want to.  The world is your oyster!   I think you would probably find volunteering more rewarding than working a job for someone else and less financially risky than starting a business.  I would suggest finding something local where you it will be easiest for you to see the results of your efforts.  Helping those who have suffered from family abuse or become homeless as a result of family abuse might be a starting point which would resonate with you.

I retired at 50 and feel like I started a new life then, one which to me is enjoyable, satisfying and worthwhile.  I am sure you can do the same.  Best of luck to you.

DeltaBond

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #23 on: December 28, 2014, 05:55:36 AM »
You know  you have achieved something extraordinary: a 600k stash, and a 20k lifestyle, despite that fact that you didn't earn the money. Most people spend everything they earn and some. Its hard to build a stache even when you are earning the money. To have the strength of mind ( albeit guilt driven) to not spend, when you have been gifted the money is highly unusual and something to hold your head up about.

Forget about benefactor 1s comments. They'll be tough on you no matter what you do : no matter what you'll never be good enough. I've got one in my life.  Just say to yourself "there's x being x, again" and try to let the words wash over you. Like water off a ducks back.

Your first job is to teach your self about investing. Its not a one size fits all approach: some things you have to decide for yourself.  Read John Collins stock series, Bogleheads wikki and the various investment books recommended on this forum. Keep it simple. Take it slow. You don't need to chase 20% yields, even if you just get up to 5% you'll do fine.  So then you have a job: "investor". Many folks would like to be able to say that :)

Then once you feel good about being an investor,  find something to commit to that gives meaning or sense of purpose. Figure out whether you need a schedule to motivate you, or if you are a self starter and can do without. Others have mentioned all sorts of possibilities, I won't repeat. I don't think it matters what, pick something, commit to being engaged with it for a couple of years and see how you go. If it doesn't work out try something else.

Couldn't have said this ^^^ better myself.

Same here, I agree with these folks and I have delt with my share of giant ropes attached to financial help from emotionally abusive parents.  As you know right now, if someone is breathing, there is chance for change, and I'm so excited for you wanting to do this.  Here are my thoughts, in the simplest form...

1) Obtain the assistance of a financial advisor.

2) Its your money, either your spouse can be on board or get none of it... sorry, your business there, just sayin.

3) For mental health: You don't have education or skills to get a lucrative job, but what about a hobby/discipline where you can make things - metalworking, woodworking, ets?  You have the funds to buy the equipment to really enjoy something if you like it.

4) For mental health: others mentioned volunteer work and I can't agree more.  Its very satisfying.

5) You need a will, if you don't already have one.  Donate your money if you want, but have a will.

6)  Life isn't over till its over, you're not too old to really do something with yourself.  If you want to do a solid career, don't be too shy to go back to school.  You can afford that, too.  That woudn't be a waste of your time.

TerriM

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #24 on: December 28, 2014, 08:21:14 AM »
This is a strange place to say this, but I honestly think that you would be happier with a job and earning your own money for a while.  I say this from my own perspective gleaned from my own life experience growing up in a codependent sort of atmosphere.

Ditto.

I totally understand the guilt and situation you're in.  My brother lives at home because he never graduated and is just now going back to a community college.  He got a job from knowing people there.  Still living at home.  But the worst part is that he was always viewed as "less" by my mom for not having a degree.  Now of course, she's pleased that he's going back to school.  My mom always said "No one will hire you without a degree" which has been untrue.  The guy is a salesman and very bright.  He could sell anything.  He could be a CEO.  But it takes guts and the support of those around you to achieve great things, and he didn't have the support.

You're getting beaten down much worse than he is.

STAND UP FOR YOURSELF TO YOURSELF!!!!!!!

You are a human being of value.  I don't care whether you're benefitting from someone else's benevolence.  You are worthwhile.  You have value.  You can work more than a Walmart job.  Look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself these things.  Then make a plan.  You don't need to be reliant on Ben #1's money, but because you are, you take her beatings.    The first way to stop these beatings *is* to go back and get a job.  Even if it is at Walmart!!!  Because then you are one step above _unemployed_ which is what you're really feeling bad about.    You need to feel good about yourself, and right now, you feel bad about living off of someone else's hand-outs.   But you don't need those hand-outs anymore, you just need a job.  Any job will get you the $20K you need to live off of.  So ask yourself what you are good at.  For the last 30 years, you've been doing something--cleaning? cooking? writing? tinkering?  What have you done, and what are you good at?

jodelino

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #25 on: December 28, 2014, 09:44:59 AM »
As has been said above very well, you've achieved something extraordinary by living well below your means and saving instead of blowing the wealth that has come your way. Don't beat yourself up over missing out on the last 5 years of stock market gains. You got burned in the '90s by buying high and selling low and that spooked you. Of course legions of people made the same mistake in the '90s. Some of them were unable to recover from those losses. Not you! And some of them forgot the lessons of the '90s and jumped back into the next bubbles, buying overpriced McMansions in 2004 and investing in Enron stock and again selling low in 2008-9. Not you! As others have said, you are well positioned to slowly and deliberately learn about investing, to decide how to handle your impressive 'stache and to contemplate what to do with the millions that may be in your future.

William Bernstein's "If You Can," available for free on his website and for a pittance at Amazon, contains an excellent reading list for embarking on an education in investing. The pamphlet is addressed to millenials, but is great for any beginning investor, which is what you are. Onwards to a future that is intellectually, emotionally, and financially rewarding!

NinetyFour

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #26 on: December 28, 2014, 10:08:18 AM »
William Bernstein's "If You Can," available for free on his website and for a pittance at Amazon, contains an excellent reading list for embarking on an education in investing. The pamphlet is addressed to millenials, but is great for any beginning investor, which is what you are. Onwards to a future that is intellectually, emotionally, and financially rewarding!

Here it is:

http://www.etf.com/docs/IfYouCan.pdf

southern granny

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #27 on: December 28, 2014, 10:24:23 AM »
I will leave the investment advice to others more qualified than me.  Being in my 50s also, I believe that mostly what is bothering you is knowing that more of your life is behind you than in front of you.  I think  you would benefit much from becoming part of a charitable group.  You find community, self worth, and just a general good feeling.  I volunteer at a soup kitchen.  Someone like you would be a great asset to our group.  Most people work, so we have a real need for younger people such as yourself that can get there during the normal working hours.  So many of the volunteers cannot get there before 4 or 5.  The soup kitchen opens at 5, so there is a need for people to be there at 1 or 2 to start chopping vegetables or getting the meat on to cook.  We have met some great people both among the volunteers and some of the people who come to eat.   There are so many groups.  If a soup kitchen doesn't appeal to you then consider habitat for humanity, or an animal shelter.  What charities are your benefactors interested in.  You could honor them by working with those charities.  You are very fortunate.  Enjoy your good fortune but consider how you could serve others.  Have a wonderful 2015.

JetsettingWelfareMom

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #28 on: December 28, 2014, 10:47:54 AM »
That's quite a story. I can tell you have undergone some therapy already to address the emotional response you have to money, but you feel it's not enough. You think the money is ill gotten and consciously and subconsciously do things that hurt your principle because you don't deserve it. And then you go hat in hand grovelling for more. Some suggestions on your investment and charity strategy:
1: Get a mediator. i.e. a financial professional for your portfolio. I think you need one more than most people because your emotional triggers (I didn't earn this money so I don't deserve it) are causing you to make mistakes. Barring that:
2: Have you ever considered peer to peer lending sites such as Prosper? Once again set up an algorithym, or somehow automate the process to avoid emotional cues. I've heard just plugging in investments while avoiding business loans (somewhat more likely to default) is a good strategy.
3: Your charity has probably left you feeling used in the past due to your emotional trigger. Simply put, con men are great at sniffing out emotional vulnerabilities and exploiting them, and since you have one, you've probably thrown money at the wrong people to sooth your guilt, which gives you trust issues about charity altogether. You might need an intermediary, or focus on non money ways of giving back, especially for the younger generations.
4: Your benefactors will die soon. Can you forgive them? It's the most powerful healing process there is.
5: No more manufactured scarcity. What message do you want to imprint upon the world before you go?
That's all I've got....good luck and God Bless

lhamo

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #29 on: December 28, 2014, 10:57:41 AM »
I'm so glad you found this community and were willing to post about your situation -- it is going to be amazing to watch you change your life, which I am confident you can do.

Here's one possible game plan -- just some ideas of what you might do to get things going on a different track in 2015:

1)  Put $50-100k of your $600k into some kind of relatively liquid account.  This is your living expenses for the next two to five years.  So that you can feel secure even if you have some bumps along the road.  This probably isn't the smartest thing to do financially, but having been in a situation where I feel financially vulnerable (DH's job could disappear at any time), I know how well a large cash stash can help you sleep at night (ours is about 2-3 years of basic living expenses, but really larger than that as we could also tap into Roth principal if needed)

2)  Read up on basic, low maintenance investment strategies and pick one that seems to fit your style.  JH Collins has one that many people here are using.  Bogleheads forum and er.org are other good places to look for recommendations.  Put the rest of your $600k into that

3)  Find some meaningful way to spend at least part of every week that gives back to others.  Given where you are financially and psychologically, I actually agree that it would be ideal if this was PAID work, even if for a minimal wage.  Try to align this work with something that is important to you?  Love animals?  Work at an animal rescue.  Enjoy spending time with old people?  Do home support visits or drive elderly people around for shopping or medical appointments.   Value the contribution veterans have made?  Work at the VA or some other veterans' support agency.  Like kids?  Find work in an after school program.  Love books? The library.  Love plants?  Join your local plant lovers' society or neighborhood p-patch organization.  Love the outdoors?  Work on a trail maintenance crew.  There are SOOOO many things you can do that give back, and in a way that resonates with your values.  And you can get paid for doing even basic work in these fields.  If you find it is hard to get a paying job to start, then you could volunteer in order to get the necessary experience and learn more about the field and the opportunities.  Not the right fit?  You don't have to stick around.  You can switch it up.  You have SOOOO much freedom to explore until you find the right fit for you.  And you should think of it that way -- exploration.  With YOU in the driver's seat. 

You may find that after a certain amount of time you don't find something that clicks for you long term, and you really don't enjoy working for money.  And that's ok, too.  But I think you should try it.  Being in the right work environment, especially one where you are regularly seeing the difference you make in others' lives, is great for self esteem.  I went through a horrible depression a few years back related to a career meltdown -- my dream job essentially turned into a nightmare, and much of my self-esteem melted away as the job melted down.  I was in a bad, bad state.  But within two weeks of starting my new job, where my skills were appreciated and I was immediately given a high level of autonomy, my depression lifted.  It was that fast.  Being valued and seeing you make a difference is wonderful for the soul.  Sure, any job will have its downside, but in your case it sounds like you have been beaten down by others and yourself for so long that having somewhere to go where people are glad to see you and appreciate what you can contribute would be really good for you at this stage in life.  At least until you become comfortable with the fact that your current level of investments really is enough to support you long term.

4)  Seek professional help in resolving the abuse situation, both how it currently manifests in your relationship with your benefactors and the scars from the past.  I'm really sorry you have had to deal with this, but you can get out of it.  Be aware that there is the possibility that as you stand up to these unhealthy relationships and demand to be treated with respect, the money might get pulled.  AND THAT WOULD BE OK!  Maybe actually the best thing for you.  You have enough to live on and you can figure out ways to maximize it over the long term.  You don't need to be chained to these dysfunctional relationships to live your life.  But it will take time and most likely professional help to build your self esteem and your toolkit up to the point that you can deal with your mother's highly honed abusive skills. 

5)  Try to find ways to put a little bit of joy into each and every single day. 

6)  Come back here, a lot, for support.  We're in your corner and want to see you succeed. 

Good luck!



Spondulix

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #30 on: December 28, 2014, 01:33:11 PM »
I read a fantastic book you might like called "the Seven Stages of Money Maturity." The author is a financial advisor and Buddhist teacher, and his book helps walk through your own relationship with money. He profiles a client who sounds a lot like you - someone with a good stash of inheritance but feels tied to the money, but also who is looking for purpose in life. The book gets into some of the projects that she takes on, and the transformation he sees working with her.

Even without an inheritance, I know when I was out of work I felt no sense of purpose! It's easy to resent whatever is supporting you during that time (for me, it was my spouse). So I'm curious if you feel control of your life in some ways, or if part of the aimlessness is just having too much time and no goals or purpose.

TerriM

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #31 on: December 28, 2014, 08:34:06 PM »
Do you have the support of your wife?

Ready For Change

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #32 on: December 28, 2014, 09:06:22 PM »
Wow.  Just ... wow.  The amount of helpfulness and support here is absolutely amazing, thank you to each and every one who posted.

I actually took everything that was said to me and broke it into categories: 1.  general encouragement, which I am going to look at every day.  It has been so, so great to hear people being positive and real about my life, even if I donít know you.  2.  financial advice, which is where I may begin because itís the easiest area for me to deal with.  3.  reading recommendations, also an easy one. 4.  emotional advice, which I will be mulling over but I definitely agree that itís time to get professional help in dumping some of this baggage.  5. advice with what to do with my time / energy, which is all over the board, but really exciting!  I hope itís ok that I go on posting here, using this thread as a journal. Your feedback is welcome and appreciated.  Time to go look over some of this in more detail.  Again, thank you.

jodelino

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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #33 on: December 28, 2014, 09:20:16 PM »
Please do continue posting. I would love to hear how things unfold for you.

And thanks again for sharing your story so openly and generously. It has resonated with me in some deep ways and prompted some helpful reflection on my own life and family history, and on my own family's relationship to money.


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Re: Case Study: Unlimiting My Life
« Reply #34 on: December 29, 2014, 03:32:46 AM »
I'd just like to say: thank you for coming back and posting.  Quite often someone asks for advice and is never heard from again, so it's great to have your response here.  I too would love for this thread to become your journal.