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December 30, 2013


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It's interesting that these folks do not actively track and budget their spending at a very granular level. It goes to show that it's the basics that count. Spending far less than you make and investing what's left.

Although I will say that being more active about budgeting and saving is more important for us because we are just now trying to get our finances in shape. I think over time our budgeting routines will turn into habits and we won't have to be as structured about it. But right now, especially on only one income, we need it.

Thank you MI17!!

I really appreciate your acknowledgment that you don't like your current job. You have a very lucrative skill set - I would consider moving into a better work situation sooner rather than later. More personal success will give you a better quality of life :-) Possibly a 2-3 month sabbatical would assist (if your company has a program). I love consulting in the software space (you may as well) -- you can work a 6 month contract (often times for 6 figurs) -- then take the next 3-6 months, "off" to learn a new programming language and engage in other personal development that also helps your career.

Clearly you have both done exceptionally well financially. Well done!!

I feel really sorry for you that you hate your job and hate going into work every day.

I have now been retired since 1992 but I loved my job and looked forward to going into work every day. My education was all in engineering but when I started my final job in 1960 working for a very large aerospace company computers were just starting to be used for analysis and I was given the opportunity to work with a team of other engineers developing computer codes that used state of the art analytical procedures to perform analyses on missiles and their warheads for the Navy's fleet ballistic missile system. We cooperated with some of the leading experts in a new field of analysis that were professors at the University of California and it was very satisfying to be able to greatly improve the quality and speed of the analysis being performed and to free the engineers from a lot of drugery in their work and use our new computers to do all the tedious number crunching. The raises were good, the promotions kept coming, my 401K kept growing and in 1992 just after the Cold War ended my company offered us a nice Golden Handshake if we wanted to retire that year, which fitted in beautifully with my plans.

There's no way in the world I could stay in a job like yours, I would just have to find another one to my liking. Last year all of my former close colleagues held a getogether and it was great to talk about all the good times we shared.

Happiness trumps money every time in my opinion.

Do you really only spend $1800/year on groceries? That is amazing--how do you do it?

@Nate - I have cut down my hours at work way ahead of schedule (along with proportional pay cut) to work more on some side projects that will hopefully produce some income in the coming year. I am just very unhappy at this job and couldn't stand working full-time any longer. Working part-time makes it a little more tolerable.

The software area I have specialized in gives me the upper hand at the moment to force the issue, but I'm under no illusion that this won't put me on some company blacklist that'll bite me later. But I just don't care whether or not I stay at this job anymore.

Would love to hear more about your software consulting experience. What software area, how you got started, how you continually find work, however much you'd care to share (but understand if you don't want to).

@Old Limey - I'm very much trying to improve my job situation. Easier said than done though. I am constantly searching for better opportunities, but have not found any that would put me in an appreciably better situation. In addition, I am working on my own projects that will hopefully bear fruit.

It's not completely bad. My co-workers and immediate manager are good people. It's the constant unrelenting schedule pressure and micro-management from middle management that I cannot stand.

@Betsy - We bring home leftovers from meals at our parents' every week. With Asian families, meal leftovers can feed your family for another 2 or 3 meals easy. Plus, some groceries are probably in that generic "cash" category.

// Hey MI17!!

I started typing a response, but it is starting to read like a book. I will reach out to FMF and see if he might entertain a guest post on the subject of technology consulting for Fortune 1000 companies.

Depending on your discipline (C, .Net, Java, mobile, mainframe -- what's your flavor?) you could easily make 70-100 per hour in Southern California on a 6-18 month contract. You have greater flexibility with your time (in many cases) as well -- because you are assigned to a PROJECT (outcome based performance) instead of being attached to a manager (where you may have to play a lot of politics for years to get ahead etc.).

I manage large software/IT projects as a consultant (project/release manager).

I regularly help programmers "take the leap" (it's not a difficult switch) to consulting in order to increase their quality of life :-)


// MI17,

I studied CS/IS and business. I started working on software projects 5 years ago. I graduated into the, "Great Recession". I happened into consulting by accident (I originally wanted a full time position because that is what I was told I was, "supposed to do").

I took my active income from 38K to >200K a year by the time I was 28 years old on contract for Fortune 1000 clients. I live in North Carolina.

Based on your dissatisfaction, I would guess that you are either: a.) working on a "maintenance team" (care and feeding legacy systems that are boring to you) -- b.) you have a poor manager -- c.) you don't have an, "engaged" team -- or d.) some combination above.

You might do well to speak with a great recruiter in your area about contract positions for "enhancement projects" where you have greater flexibility with your time (remote couple days a week) and working on something more exiting. You have a excellent skill-set, leverage that into s happier situation :-) You may end up with greater quality of life and more money!!!!



Great job! Just curious, can you go into a bit more detail as to how you are able to be (what I personally consider) a high income earner, yet you hate the job or the career field? Keep up the good work.

@#17, well done! Sorry to hear about the job situation, and completely understand that feeling. And it is much easier said, than done, to make a switch. There are so few commensurate opportunities available, that wouldn't require a geographical move, or a cut in pay.

My own thought is that you are trading time for money, and there is a big price to pay after another decade or two. Family pressure (parents, peers, spouse, and needs of children) can make that change even more difficult. The 'micro-managing' issue will not go away. May I recommend an excellent book, which helped me in your exact situation... "A Survival Guide for Working With Bad Bosses: Dealing With Bullies, Idiots, Back-stabbers, And Other Managers from Hell" by Gini Scott. It helped me get a sense of detachment, which is necessary to adopt in order to avoid becoming the kind of person your family doesn't deserve. Hope it is helpful for you, and anyone else in this same situation. Again, nice job on your PF progress!

Wow, amazing how my family's situation (age, kids, jobs and net worth) is almost EXACTLY the same as yours. I'm not crazy about my job either! Keep up the good work, and it's nice to read about someone who has taken such a similar approach and been successful. All the best to you in 2014.

I know that I'm being picky, however.....

Your assets add up to 1.2 million and debt is 380 thousand. This means that your net worth is really 0.8 million. I don't know why you would have so much cash on hand and still have a mortgage. I can see some safety cushion but that amount of cash seems excessive.

@Nate - Thanks, I definitely plan to look into contracting.

@Finest - I love writing software and am good at it (if I may say so myself). I always performed above expectations and still enjoy this core part of my job. But this core part becomes smaller and smaller as one advances to senior levels. At that point, things like project management and leadership and supervising junior employees are your expected duties. Those are the things I don't enjoy, am not good at and have no interest in doing. I even straight out told my manager I do not want to be a "leader". I rather stay an "individual contributor" and will willingly forego any promotions and salary increases. But not wanting to climb the corporate ladder is HERESY in corporate america and the denizens just can't wrap their heads around this attitude. As a result, I no longer perform (or you could say, I can't adapt) according to these new expectations and expect things to come to a head one way or another, sooner or later.

@#9 - Will check out that book recommendation. I was already becoming the kind of person my family doesn't deserve, hence the reduction in work hours. It helps, but not a final solution I don't think. A sense of detachment is exactly what I need to work on. You have great insight into my situation.

@doug - I guess I didn't explicitly include the value of my home in my assets; I just mentioned the amount of equity I had. Whether home value should be included in net worth is another point for debate. Re: the excessive cash, I am looking to buy rental property in the very near future.

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