Tuesday, September 3, 2019

One Year Later

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September 1st marked one year since I left my 25-year full time finance job.  It is hard to believe that one year flew by just like that!  Todd and I celebrated with an afternoon outing at Pete’s Seafood, where I enjoyed an awesome lobster roll, followed by a shared Truffe Frambois at Extraordinary Desserts

So how do I feel about leaving the workforce?  How has my life changed since then?

I definitely feel that it was the right time and right opportunity for me to leave my old job.  I knew that big changes were coming.  I have lunch with some of my old work friends still.  From what they’ve told me, it has made me glad that I’m no longer working there.  Some predictions have come true, such as the fact that the accounting/finance departments have been pretty chaotic with all the transition of moving the headquarters from Dayton, Ohio to San Diego.  With all the new hires in San Diego, I’ve been told that many don’t know how to do their jobs, and there isn’t anyone to ask because all the experts in Dayton are gone.  So it’s like the blind leading the blind.  My frustration and stress the 2-3 years prior to leaving my job was high already, with tons additional responsibilities piled on me constantly.  I have no regrets leaving.  My take on leaving the workforce is very similar to Beat The Bush on YouTube’s take.  I felt like the job was slowly killing me and taking years off my life.

Financially, I am pretty happy with where we are one year later.  Sometimes I do miss my income, which was pretty substantial and contributed roughly about 40% of our household incoming cashflow.  But we have not dipped as much into our savings as I had thought we would.  With the exception of paying for Todd’s used 2017 BMW i3 with cash, we haven’t had to transfer money from our investment accounts to cover for normal monthly expenses.  Of course, we had a plan to cut back on spending, and we have.  I’m pretty proud that I’ve been able to cut down on a lot of discretionary spending.  I’ve found that once I left work and my stress levels have gone down so much, I don’t feel the need to buy myself things to make myself feel better.  I no longer needed the temporary bandage of buying something to make me feel better about having to work at a stressful job.  I have everything I need.  I still want some fun things, and that’s where I implemented my $100/month fun budget.  I’m content with it.  Surprisingly, our net worth still has grown a bit in the last year.  How can that be, you ask?  Money grows money.  Compounding interest is a miracle.  We’ve made saving a large percentage of our incomes over the last 25 years a priority in our financial plans.  Once the “snowball” started rolling, it built bigger and faster with the momentum.  When I left work, our money was making more money per year than I was.  We weren’t just accumulating money for the sake of having more.  Money represents FREEDOM to us.  Freedom from having to work at a job you dislike.  Freedom from having to pay high interest rates on shorter-term loans.  Freedom from worry.  It’s priceless really.  I grew up in a really modest household and that is one thing I knew I had to do for myself when I started my career:  to save and have enough so that I’m free from the fear of losing my job, or working somewhere I hate.  Fortuately, I was lucky that for 20 years I really enjoyed working at the same company.  The last 2-3 years it got much worse.  And by then, I knew I could leave if I wanted to.  So eventually I did. 

Will I ever work again?  Well, I have worked at my own business Pacifica Grace Studio.  I took a break for the summer, because many of the things I made (candles, wax melts, body butter, etc.) were not in demand during the summer.  I’m now planning for the fall, whether I should continue to put out products or not.  It was never an income generator.  I barely covered my variable costs, let alone fixed costs.  But it was pretty fun and a great learning experience to start my own handmade business from scratch.  I don’t know where it’s going though, and I’m ok with that.

As for working at an accounting or finance job, I’m very open to part-time or contract gigs.  I don’t think I want to work full-time again.  I’ve taken on more household responsibilities over the last year and I actually enjoy it quite a bit.  But I do miss having regular contact with other human beings.  And just being somewhere outside the home on a regular basis.  The extra income certainly wouldn’t hurt.

One thing that I think is kind of funny is how people react to me nowadays, especially people I don’t really know that well.  I think people’s identities are pretty tied up with what they do for a living.  Or if you are a stay-at-home-parent then it’s being a mom or dad and all that it entails.  I don’t have kids, and people give a pause when I tell them that I’ve left the workforce.  The next question is usually, what are you doing with your days then?  You’d be surprised how time flies really fast and my days go by just as fast as it did before.  It’s just filled with different things now.  I try to get all the household stuff, chores, and errands done so that our weekends are free for just relaxing and having fun.  Previously our weekends were full of chores and errands. 

A typical week day looks like this for me:

  • Get up between 6-6:30am
  • Exercise or walk outside from 7-8am
  • Coffee or tea break while reading blogs or watching YouTube videos
  • Chores that are more physically demanding
  • Shower
  • Run errands or groceries
  • Lunch
  • Sometimes a nap
  • Read or research into something I’m interested in
  • Clean up around the house
  • Prep for dinner
  • Cook dinner with Todd
  • Eat dinner & clean up
  • Watch some TV with Todd
  • Spend time journaling
  • Nighttime skincare routine
  • Bedtime

Of course there are variations and some days I meet up with friends for lunch.  But time still goes by really fast between 8-5.  I am a goal-setter and a planner by nature, so I still plan a lot of structure into my days so I can be somewhat productive.  Monday mornings are always meal planning and grocery shopping.  Several loads of laundry happen on Wednesdays.  I spend half an hour vacuuming different parts of the house three times per week.  Working out and showering seem to surprisingly take a lot of my time.  But I have control over how much I want to do or not do in any given day.

Is it pretty cushy compared to when I worked full-time?  Of course it is.  I am living my best life!  It isn’t how I had imagined it though.  I thought it would be more glamourous and I would spend a lot more time at the beach or something.  But it is as stress-free and tranquil as it could be.  (As long as I stay away from the news.)  All the sacrifices I’ve made over the 25 years I worked full-time was worth it.  Life isn’t about working until you’re old, sick, or dead.  Life is about discovery, enjoyment, and learning new things.  And now I have the time to do that. 


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