Today is my first official day after leaving my previous career. Usually I only blog about things where I can speak with some authority and experience, but since I feel that some kind of outlook (for the records, see previous records) would be interesting in the future, I’ll try to describe what my plans and situation are despite this really being the first time ever that I do not have somewhere to to show up every morning.
It is also the first time, I haven’t felt like I was in a career-tunnel. I prefer the word tunnel, as in tunnel-vision. Track is the more popular word, and I don’t know about you, but for me, and I think many in my field, tunnel is more appropriate, since there is very little discussion (and in some case even acceptance) of alternative tracks. Once you go down the road (which I did at 16), your next move is made for you. So it is with these highly specialized occupations(*).
Now things are much more open-ended, so let’s see what’s on the menu.
(*) You might have heard this one before: We all know what BS stands for, MS means More of the Same, and PhD means Piled Higher and Deeper.
Financially speaking, before the market crash, I was comfortably in the sub-3% withdrawal zone, whereas now I am definitely pushing 4%. Psychologically speaking, I am going from savings rates of over 75% to savings rates around 0%. In other words, I am getting much closer to what people living on the edge is calling a “struggle”. I do not like this. Statistically speaking, the market is more likely to go up in the future than it is to go down. That means, that the 4% rate is not as much on the edge as it would have been last year when it was 3%. In other words, when I run firecalc now, it must be understood that the likely cases are in the upper range of the Monte Carlo outcomes, that is, if history is any guide.
Still, I plan to NOT withdraw any money just yet and instead cover my expenses with my copy-editing job. I can do this by working on average 30 minutes a day. I think I can handle that 😉 This is where the main benefit of having a low economic footprint and being adaptable becomes important. In fact, I would argue that being financially independent is much better done by reducing expenses than by accumulating a lot of money.
The reason is that money, stocks, and bonds, as we have recently seen, involves substantial amounts of counter-party risks. As a retail stock-holder I have very little control over the company. Other than taking my money (if there’s any left) and leaving, there is little I can do. Hence, relying on this for 60 years, 60 years where many things can happen (consider the period between 1930 and 1990), is not compatible with my risk tolerance. In contrast to the current administration I do not believe that money is the solution to all problems and in particular that more money is the solution to bigger problems. It is true to an extent, that is, that money is the solution to most problems within the current system, but you can be sure that money will not solve anything outside this framework. It is just pieces of papers representing contracts that may or may not be enforced (those at AIG who received bonuses to have them rescinded will know what I’m talking about).
Hence, I will be spending time thinking about how to further increase my/our economic resilience and financial independence. You might have picked up some clues that we have been thinking about moving. We are. I am looking at undeveloped land (park the RV, install a well and a septic system, build a strawbale house or similar), but I am also looking at small downtown bungalows in communities that are not car-dependent and sprawled out in suburbia and strip-malls.
Additionally, I will also be focusing more time on growing our own food as well as other things. Currently DW is growing tomatoes which seems to work pretty well, but our annual harvest is about one meal (or the tomato part of five meals). I intend to learn how to fix our bikes (currently I know how to clean the chain and fix a flat, but that’s about it), possibly our car (definitely the RV systems, which I’m already, at least not completely incompetent about), and more interestingly, perhaps, I’m thinking of getting into hobby machining and getting a lathe and a mill, so I can make small parts for repairs; maybe start fixing clocks; I have been fascinated by watches for a long time, and I have a general fascination with mechanical devices from the pre-electronics era.
That was the future, what about the present?
I hope to be able to spend more time blogging. I generally write best, when I’m inspired and that usually happens around 11 am, where I used to be at work. Hence I would sit and get a great idea for a post but be unable to write it down due to corporate regulations. This restriction is now gone. This means that I will also be able to refocus my book-writing efforts (manuscript currently at 61000 words) and finish it much sooner.
As I mentioned, I’m going to spend half an hour a day editing, but the rest of the time I’m going to dedicate to our non-profit start-up. Curiously, everybody at my old job, or maybe I should say everybody in general (DW keeps joking that I’m now “unemployed” (technically correct, I think, I’m getting ALL my income on 1099s now) and living in a trailer park, which apparently is considered the bottom-rung of the earn-spend ladder in America), have been very concerned or adamant about the importance of being employed, that is, having to go somewhere every day and follow orders. This is really interesting since employment in the modern sense is only about 200 years old. Before that people worked from home producing crafts, tending their garden, taking care of their kids. It is only recently, well since 200+ years anyway, that people have taken to go to offices and factories for 8 or 10 hours every day only to lose so many life-skills and so much time that they now have to pay steep rates for other people to fix their problems and/or get histrionic if they don’t get the “service” they expect.
Essentially I am going to go traditional. I am going to work from home selling edited papers “for a living”, learning how to fix even more things, and then spend the rest of my time building up a non-profit think tank with a dozen other idealists.