As you may have noticed, my timeline for releasing episodes (which I’ve intentionally left vague) has gotten a bit wonky. However, there is a reason for that, and I wanted to take an opportunity to explain some of the things that have happened, and some of the things I was trying to do. There will be some background here, and while I’ve talked about this a lot, I don’t know that I’ve talked about it here. Forgive me if I repeat myself, or if you’ve already heard.
In Episode 001, I mentioned that I am a Software Engineer by trade, and the art and science of Catching FIRE is a goal/hobby of mine, not my life or my job. I want to share my experience, my thoughts, and my understanding. One thing I have been aware of is that Software Engineering as a profession is a pretty lucrative one, and not everyone has that opportunity. To that end, I decided to experiment with a different kind of position, to better get a sense of what it is like for people in that situation.
Let’s begin with the premise, and the assumptions, shall we?
Since I’m contrary by nature, I think of assumptions as the kind of complaints and excuses people will make when I say something. I know that’s not always the case, but it’s the way my mind prepares for things. So the premise is that I’m essentially preaching about catching FIRE, sitting in a comfortable DINK situation with a skillset that translates to an above average capability of earning money. However, the math itself almost always works out (although it looks different at different spending and earning levels) in favor of anyone catching FIRE. But of course there are certain things about certain positions that I just don’t know. Things that are known within that industry, but not so much outside of it. So what is someone who prides himself on accuracy and lack of assumptions to do? Well, I got one of those jobs. One of those jobs that will hire any able-bodied person, and provide a paycheck in exchange for hours. This kind of unskilled labor can be done by essentially anyone who doesn’t have a disability. NOTE: If you do have a disability and are attempting to catch FIRE, I’d highly suggest heading over to my Friend Joon’s site at Brain Quirk Cash, or checking out her book, Rising ().
So I started working unskilled labor at a precast concrete place, for the amount of $12.37/hr. I wound up claiming 3 on my taxes, since I’m not a fan of providing the government an interest free loan. However, with the amount of money I was making, at the beginning there wasn’t any extra to put somewhere else so that I would get the interest. The culture at this job was way different than I was used to. Some of my experiences and thoughts are better suited for elsewhere, but I can say that the entire idea of not knowing when I needed to be at work the next day until the afternoon of the previous day was quite jarring. This particular place also made it a point to never tell you when you are going to get off. While there was a day when I finished in 5 hours (and I could have stayed and helped out elsewhere), my days were usually between 10 – 16 hours. I’ll be leaving this place soon, but I’ve got a good idea of some data points I was missing, and I’ll crunch some numbers for people in that situation.
One thing that I realized was almost a mistake, is that I brought my normal work ethic to a place in which that appears to be rare. There is no loyalty between the company and employees (at the bottom, anyway), and the way that things are setup, there is no need for that to exist. I am used to jobs in which I’m actually invested in the success of my teammates, and they are invested in mine. When things happen, part of my concern is what the effect will be on my crew.
So when I received an emergency call about my sick dog, saying that I would need to make The Decision within an hour, I went back to my work area, explained the situation, and said I didn’t want to screw anyone over. As I should have expected, but didn’t, that concern for my crew was misinterpreted as my situation not actually being an emergency. My dog died while I was tying rebar because I didn’t want to screw over people who didn’t give a crap about me. This was a direct result of me projecting my values on other people, along with the fact that I considered this job both research and penance for some personal reasons. My dog paid a bigger price than I did. I wasn’t there when he died, and that is something I will never forgive myself for.
So yeah. Not only have I been dealing with attempting to adjust to this new job, where I spend a large majority of my day not being at home, I’ve had some personal issues that left me in bad shape mentally. This show has suffered.
Catching FIRE is not always sunshine and rainbows. Real life is not always neat or pretty. Sometimes it’s messy. Sometimes personal tragedy strikes. Sometimes we slide into substance abuse. Sometimes our brains get into a cycle it seems is damn near impossible to escape. Sometimes we get into a funk, and not even the music of songbirds or the colors of a beautiful sunrise can jog us out of our melancholy. Sometimes the markets dip and our Net Worth (NW) suffers. What is a Mustachian to do?
You may have noticed that the market comment above seems out of place with the other situations I mentioned. There is a reason for that. Not only do I hope to put those market dips into perspective, but the response is similar. With the market, it’s all about the long haul, and patience is your friend. With behaviors, we want to build an outlook that we can happily carry into our retirement. We have to find the root cause and research solutions patiently. And while it seems like all of this stuff is a holding pattern instead of actual progress, it’s still taking steps that will benefit our lives.
I am sorry. I will come back to this subject, but I still start crying and my brain still goes all crazy when I think of these things that happen. I really wanted this post to be super helpful, and insightful, but I just can’t right now. If you want something that does a more satisfactory job of coming to a conclusion, go check out this post from The Goblin Chief.
Episode 3, called the Magic of Math, with be airing soon. We’ll go over a fair amount of calculations to get some extremely useful metrics.