2017 Financial Independence Savings Overview

  1. 401 (k) up to employer match
  2. HSA
  3. IRA
  4. Max the rest of 401 (k)
  5. After Tax Accounts

401 (k) up to employer match

If your company offers a contribution by matching a certain amount or percentage that you put into your 401 (k) you want to make sure you are obtaining all of those extra funds.  (Note:  What your employer contributes does not count towards your max contribution for the year)

HSA – Health Savings Account

Max your Health Savings Account (if available) 2017 Max Contribution for Individual $3,400 and Family $6,750

An HSA is triple tax advantage, meaning:

  1. You are not taxed on the money you put in
  2. Earnings you make in the account are not taxed
  3. When you take money out for qualified expenses, you are not taxed.

If you take money out of this account for non-qualified expenses you are taxed at 10% which is much less than the average person’s typical tax rate

Fund your HSA by Payroll Deductions to avoid paying FICA taxes (Social Security and Medicare) which will save you 7.65% (Assuming you are an individual contributing the full amount this would save you just over $260 for 2017)

Links to Learn More

http://www.madfientist.com/hsa/

http://www.madfientist.com/ultimate-retirement-account/

Learn from my mistakes

Year 1 (2014) didn’t contribute anything extra to my HSA

Year 2 (2015) contributed $1800 from my bank account, paying $137.70 more than I had to because that is the amount I paid in FICA taxes that would not have been taxed if I would have funded my HSA by payroll deduction

Mistakes I am currently making, paying medical expenses with my HSA instead of paying out of pocket

IRA – Independent Retirement Account

As long as you have employment compensation you can contribute to an IRA.  For 2017 if you have your own job (employment compensation) and are age 49 and under then you can contribute $5,500 to your own IRA.  If you have employment compensation and are age 50 or older you can contribute $6,500 to your IRA in 2017.

Note:  If you are married and only one of you is employed, you cannot put money into the non-working spouse’s IRA.  (Each person has their own IRA, unlike a HSA which you can have one account for the family.)

What you need to know about Roth vs Traditional IRAs

Traditional IRAs are tax deferred (you are taxed when you take the money out), the funds you use to fund your traditional IRA will be completely deducted from your taxes if your AGI is below $62,000 for single or $99,000 for married filling joint returns (see phase out amounts).

Roth IRAs are taxed now, and you do not pay any taxes when you take the money out (see phase out amounts to see if you qualify).

Links to Learn More

http://jlcollinsnh.com/2013/12/05/stocks-part-xx-early-retirement-withdrawal-strategies-and-roth-conversion-ladders-from-a-mad-fientist/

http://thefinancebuff.com/case-against-roth-401k.html

http://www.madfientist.com/traditional-ira-vs-roth-ira/

How to Access Retirement Funds Early

 Learn from my mistakes journey

Year 1 (2014) We almost missed contributing to our IRAs, but luckily we were able to contribute to our IRAs for 2014 in 2015 before we filed our taxes.

Note:  You can also enter the amount you are planning to contribute to the prior year’s IRA contribution and file your taxes before you actually put your money in.  April 15th is the last day to put money into your IRA for the previous year.  I would still recommend front loading (putting all your money in at the beginning of the year) your IRA if you are able.

Year 1 (2014) IRAs were 100% Roth because we took the advice of a Financial guy who works for Fidelity that came to our work and he basically said, “If you are young [and going to be working for a long time] just go with Roth, if you are close to retirement then it makes more sense to go with traditional.”

Year 2 (2015) I contributed $3,000 to my Roth IRA before I understood the quickest route to Financial Independence and more importantly this article Traditional IRA vs Roth IRA by the Mad Fientist.  (The remaining $2,500 I put in a Traditional IRA).  I did not bother to change any of the Roth to Traditional because I figured I will need my Roth eventually for my Roth Conversion Ladder (which I viewed at the time as the best option to access funds before the traditional retirement age) and my attitude towards investing is set it and forget it.

Year 3 (2016) not typical FI path, we bought a new vehicle at the very end of the previous year (2015) and had a baby, which also led to me making purchases I wouldn’t normally (I will have to write more about these events later)

Year 4 (2017) putting our son in a fancy “school” as opposed to a less expensive daycare

Max the rest of 401 (k)

The Max contribution for 401 (k), 403 (b) and most 457 plans for 2017 is $18,000 for those of you who are age 49 and under.  If you are age 50 and older you can contribute an additional $6,000 for 2017.

After Tax Accounts

You pay taxes on these funds before you put them into the account and you pay taxes on the gains (any amount higher than the initial amount you put in).  You can take out funds from these accounts at any age without penalty.

How much you will be taxed on the gains depends on how long you held the investment for.

Short-term capital gains are investments held for a year or less before being sold and are taxed at your normal tax rate.

Long-term capital gains are investments held for more than one year taxed at a lower rate.  Currently the tax rate is 0% for the 10%–15% brackets, 15% for the 25%–35% bracke

Post whatever you want here and it will be approved!

Hey YOU!

My time is very precious and valuable, so if anyone (including yourself) writes a comment to this article, it will be approved.  All self promotions going forward that are on other pages will probably be marked as spam.  But, for the sake of the crazy internet, I will try to keep  this as my “featured article” while I am still getting my site going.

Thank you,

and post away,

-SAS

My 5 Lunch Levels

Being a working mother on the path to Financial Independence my most valuable asset is my time.  I take my precious time to earn income in a career I often don’t enjoy because I don’t want to have to work like this for the rest of my life.  I have found it pretty simple to give up a lot of things that were important to me before I had to join the adult world (getting my hair done, buying new clothes, etc.) because my freedom now means more to me than those things.  However it is really hard to get through a long work day without out a break.

The only break we all typically get is for lunch, and I find that lunch is often my only chance for a social outlet, which brings me to my 5 levels of lunch:
1.)  Bringing Lunch to Work
I will be honest with you, I have never really done this, it takes to much effort for me, be it time or just needing new surroundings.  I like warm and fresh food, but lets face it I am lazy and there are some things I would rather spend a little more on for the convenience.
2.)  Going Home for Lunch
This is awesome when your husband is an amazing cook and you work at the same place with a fairly short commute.  It does however take more time, because in addition to the driving you have to take the time to cook and clean up after.  (I used to be so paranoid about being away from my computer and off of chat that I would bring my computer home and work during my lunch just because I loved this option so much and feared my manager).  This option is guaranteed just the two of us.
3.)  Eating in the Onsite Cafe
We have an onsite cafe at work and while the “specials” of the day are $6-$13 per person, I can easily get a freshly made burger (always pass on the $1 cheese and $1.50 fried extra) or soup for under $4, my husband will tend to get what he wants and pay extra for it over saving money, so when we both eat there the total average is a bit higher but he tends to be money conscious.  Occasionally, a co-worker or two will join us but it is often it is just the two of us.  When my husband isn’t in the office this is always my first choice, it takes the least amount of time and effort.
4.)  Going Out and Splitting Lunch
Often we will go out with his co-workers/friends and split lunch, because we both really enjoy the socialization and getting a new environment, yet don’t want to be spending a ton of money, or grossly overeating.
5.)  Going Out for Lunch
Sometimes his co-workers will choose a place that splitting isn’t really an option, and sometimes I am having such a bad day that I just don’t care about money because I am so stressed, so to heck with it, get the fries and shake if you need it dear husband and we will both get our own meals on top of it!  It may be an emotional decision, but when you are stressed you are far more likely to spend money on things if you think it will make your life easier or make you happier.  It is a quick fix, sometimes it feels so worth it to actually socialize with human adults in the real world and not think about what we are spending, I just got away from the office and all the stress of life for a little while.  Sometimes it is probably still worth it to my husband, but I will here them talking about work and I will just start getting anxious not getting the reward of social interaction while being away from the office longer and feeling punished for making a more expensive decision.
While I don’t necessarily regret going out for lunch, I just find it so fascinating that is has almost become a required expense to get any human interaction in my day outside of my husband or son.  It is a needed escape, but I also feel like the majority of people need that break from the office in the middle of the day.  I have a manager who often eats lunch at his desk (even if he goes out for fast food) sometimes only goes downstairs for his diet coke, but I just can’t live like that.  Working more hours, spending less time with family, hurting your own body by sitting on your butt all day all for the good of the company.  I don’t want to ever find myself like that, while I have been willing to eat at my desk, come in early, and stay late, I don’t want to put my work for a company before myself and my family for the rest of my life.
I have to wonder, is this just life at a fortune 500 company, or is this just most work in general, is there a job I could enjoy for years to come that I could somehow have the opportunity to find and accept?
What extra expenses do you find yourself consuming do to your job?
(92 days until I’m vested)
-SAS

Baby Steps to Financial Independence

There are a lot of things that are highly recommended (and I would encourage) that I don’t currently do myself, like keeping a detailed budget for each category of spending and seeing how we stack up and can optimism each category.  Three things prevent me from doing this. 1.)  I generally try not to spend excess money everywhere at all times  2.)  My husband isn’t always on board with how frugal I would like us to be  3.)  Even though I am using services that basically track this anyways I don’t want to take the time and energy to analyze all this information every month.  Basically I am more into not spending money than my husband is and some things are not worth disputing again even if I do not agree with it (example gigabit internet).   One thing my husband and I do agree on is saving money.

We front loaded our IRAs, have our 401(k)s where we want them, set aside a cash buffer, and now for the first time I have set up multiple automatic reoccurring investment purchases into our brokerage account
To more baby steps or more babies, I think I’d be fine with either
SAS

What I’m Currently Overthinking

The truth is I don’t have enough time in the day to write about all the things that I’d like to.  Some would be highly researched items providing high content and hopefully value to others, some things like all the events leading up to tomorrow.  My husband couldn’t handle waiting until May to start applying for jobs so he is already a ways into the process, which makes the reality of having to make a decision of where we should be feel very imminent.  If we stay here we have dual incomes and have a lot of money to be made.  If we move back, he will still increase his income and we will be surrounded by friends and family (aka help and support).

I read all these articles about mother’s regretting opting out of the workforce to be a SAHM (Stay at Home Mom), there is no doubt about it, I like saving money, and potentially the more money we earn the more we will save.  I could potentially get a job after moving but 1. I fear it would pay way less, and 2.  I am so burnt out right now the thought of a new job and all the work that goes into getting a new job just sounds exhausting.  There are almost too many options for career paths I could take if I were to start over, I have some options, but not having a plan is kind of scary for me.  Part of me really wants to just be okay with living off of one income for x amount of time and then figure things out once I recoup and get my drive back.  Part of me is afraid that being a mother will make is so I wont be able to recoup and find my lost drive and I will regret leaving the income I currently have.
On the bright side when my husband started to interview for Minnesota jobs I picked up my son from day care and sang “We get to go home, home, home, home to Minnesota” (sung to the tune of “I like to eat, eat eat, apples and bananas”).  As things got more real, my husband and I started to flip flop on our roles, he became the advocate for Minnesota, and I started to focus on what we have to gain by staying here.  When it comes down to it I want my husband to take the opportunity he thinks is the best fit for him.
Which brings us to being in Minnesota Thursday – Sunday for his Friday interview and  what I am sure will be a fun filled Saturday.  I will be alone with our 14 month old probably dreaming of the days when I will get to share my son with others who love him.
I swear every day I am switching what I think the better choice is sometimes even half days!  When I surf the web I am almost always on mom sites or finance sites like dqydj.com (Don’t Quit Your Day Job) was today’s find because I was researching charts and numbers for maxing your 401k each year, something you can’t do without a job and something that I strongly encourage everyone to strive to do.  Yet when I am at work, or even here writing, I want to go back to Minnesota, even if I end up living in my parents basement for years.  I feel like Texas is the logical choice that my head is trying to steer me to, but the heart will always choose family and Minnesota over almost everything.
So if anyone happens to actually read this, what do you think?  Do you go with what you want and make it work, being okay with whatever the outcome is, or do you stay where the money is?  There are so many variables I may just have to make a chart, but the family and friends thing is HUGE for me.

Making a Goal and Pushing Beyond It

When I was younger I actually used to run for the fun of it.  I would catch myself wanting to switch to walking so I would make a goal that was easily achievable, I would run to that mailbox that I could see up ahead, and when I got there I would keeping running to the next big crack in the road.  I would keep pushing myself beyond what I wanted to do by making small little achievable goals.  After about 1-5 of these pushing myself further I actually finally would switch to walking, but then I would find another target and tell myself that is when I would start running again, and I would, I didn’t need the goals of when I could allow myself to stop until I found myself wanting to stop.

I have found myself wanting to stop working, and I always had the goal of becoming vested, but it always seems so far away from the misery I was currently in.  I found myself wanting to stop the fastest path to FI that I know of, so I found myself making a deal with myself. Make it to $100,000 in your retirement accounts before you stop working.  I did the math, I was on the path to achieve this for the year, but I changed my percentage from equal payments getting me to the allowed 18k for the year (calculated after my 100% of my bonus went into my 401k, my own version of front-loading) to the highest amount if I were to stop once I am vested but just in case I keep working and get a raise I left a little buffer so I can still get my employer match after I am vested for the year.  A faster way to get to my goal, but it requires changing my percentage much lower at the right timing so I don’t go over 18k before my last pay period of the year. The interesting part about this type of goal is if the market dips or crashes it will cause me to suck it up once again and trudge through.  Who knows maybe if we don’t relocate I won’t have to obsess so much about how much longer I have to work where I cam currently at and find productive ways to make the best of it.
107 days until I’m vested
-SAS

Money is a Driver

Financial Independence is not just about being able to Retire Early, although more often than not you see if lumped together and called FIRE! There are many communities dedicated to FIRE, and the reason for going after such a pursuit varies from person to person. I see a large majority hate their job, so they want to save up as much as possible so they can leave it for good. When I stumbled upon the FIRE path I didn’t hate my job. Interestingly enough I had many people close to me telling me I needed to get out of there and find a new job or a manager, but I thought it was good for me because it pushed me, and I found myself with a career and title normally given to those with 5-8 years prior experience. How I got to be a Project Manager in the first place is a whole other story, but when you look at what they get paid, I knew that if I put my time in, I could transfer to almost any company in the future and have a very nice salary, potentially more than my husband even! So money was my driver to stick to this path/opportunity that kind of fell in my lap. So that is what I did for the first year and a half and in my mind I was doing the right thing.  
Insert lots of events with my manager, having a baby/maternity leave, and a whole slue of events and I found myself desperately looking for a different manager, even if that meant a different position. If I would have been vested in 2016 I probably would have quit, but man am I determined and stubborn even if it isn’t healthy for me. Long story short I feel like things back fired on me because I have split positions now (neither being a Project Manager) and I am still under the same manager.
114 days and I am vested (who’s counting right?), but where do I want to go from there. If I follow the path that makes the most money I would probably stay put. Will I feel free once I am vested, no probably not if I continue to let money have it’s pull over me. I am not happy at my job, but I cannot guarantee that quitting would make me happy.  
Family is the most important thing to me, and that extends beyond my husband and my son. Pretty much all of my family and friends (his too) live in Minnesota where we both are from. When he got a better job offer with relocation we were both pretty excited to get away from the winter. I am sure it is one of those ‘the grass is always greener’ things, but I really am sick of missing out on all the gatherings, and not having a support network nearby. If we were to move back I would probably not ever get as well of a paying job as I have right now, and the dual income is the fastest way to Financial Independence, but at what cost?
The easiest solution I can think of is where my husband magically gets a job that pays more than his and my current income combined, but that would leave me financially dependent on him. Same is the case if we moved back to Minnesota, I am burnt out and I could not imagine returning to another environment like the one I am currently in. Sometimes I get so irrational with how I view money that I think if I had a second child I could stay home and not feel guilty about it because then my income wouldn’t be making as big of a difference.
Which leads me back to my original point, the path to Financial Independence isn’t just about retiring early, it is about supporting the life you desire. I desire freedom. I love being around family and going to big family gatherings (especially because I fear these will not exist forever) that I can accomplish in Minnesota, my husband however prefers Texas. Although he is willing to move back, there is more demand and opportunity to earn more if we stay. We already own a house and it is a lower cost of living. I am sure many humans much like myself prevent themselves from doing what they want out of fear. I don’t fear I will regret walking away from a miserable situation, I fear I will regret leaving the potential income and tax sheltered benefits that come with this job.

What’s Your Story?

We all have a story to tell, the journey of life that we are on that has shaped who we are and the decisions we make, even what is important to us.  I find that many people are so wrapped up in their daily life that they pass by all these people and never get to know them.  Why not sit down with someone and become inspired?  Probably because we let ourselves think that it is not that easy, I know I do.  I isolate myself a lot, heck sometimes I am so worried about what I am thinking and what I am feeling that I don’t even think about all the others around.  The journey I am on right now has me yearning to get out of the cubicle and into something more sustaining or meaningful, even if I am the only one who thinks so.  I would love to document and share the stories of other individuals in our world, but would anyone care to listen?

If I were try to document what is important to individuals would they be open and honest with me, do they even know these answers themselves?  Being self aware is not always an easy thing for people to do.  I can guess at my own motives for why I do the things I do, but sometimes I wonder if it is simply because I try to do what I think others and society want from me.

What I thought I wanted to do with my life and education when I was younger is very different from what I want to do with my life now, and I think fear prevents me from trying.  It used to be fear of failure, but now I am wondering if it is fear of being worse off then I am right now.  I am constantly changing my ideas everyday, and I would love to hear more from people who are able to look back at their life with clarity and help all of us interested individuals see all the different options there are in life.

So what is your story? Who inspires you? Are you content with this journey we call life?

9-5 Isn’t For Everyone

Those who have told me I need to have a job understand that I am highly motivated, and don’t do well sitting idle.  What they may not realize is sitting in a cubicle from 9-5 is not motivating at all, and when you are a person like me dying to be a creative individual thinking outside the box and being micro managed by someone who is constantly critiquing and trying to shove you back in the box, things don’t work out so well.
In school Teachers either loved me or hated me, I pushed the boundaries and asked a lot of questions, some thought I was just being one of those difficult children making their life difficult while not caring about anything, and some realized I was capable of anything I put my mind to and enjoyed going above and beyond what was asked of me.  I do remember one case where where the Teacher changed their view about me.  I believe it was the second quarter History Teacher of my Sophomore year.  I could really tell he was annoyed by me, but then I did something to change his mind, (this was during my 2 year blur) was it the extra assignments I did, or doing well on tests?  I honestly couldn’t tell you, all I remember is by the end of the class that same teacher who was annoyed with me earlier, really enjoyed me and my learning style by the end.  This sticks out to me because this was very rare to actually see an adult change their opinion about me.  I had lots of teachers who really enjoyed me, and plenty who were annoyed by me and happy to see me go.
Being an “adult” now myself I realize most of those teachers who were not able to enjoy me were not able to see situations through others points of view.  When you try to be a dictator to a strong willed individual you are likely to get one of two options.  See their strengths and make them work to your advantage for everyone’s enjoyment and benefit,or keep trying to break them and become very frustrated when they do not easily fall in line.
What is different about being an employee in a corporate world is the teachers are are sometimes your manager who have direct control over your compensation and merits.
 
Where I went wrong was thinking that having money and an income was more important than my health and happiness.  I still think that way, I am so focused on the benefits of financial independence that I refuse to leave an unhealthy situation before I am vested (when I get to keep the money that my employer puts in my 401k)
After reading some of the comments at https://www.quora.com/Why-do-people-hate-9-to-5-jobs I can’t help but wonder if I am one of those people who will always be frustrated with the 9-5 and being told what to do.

I Want to Share a Secret With You – I Feel Weak

The break is over and I have to head back into work tomorrow morning but that is only after I drop my son off for his first day at his fancy “school” of a daycare.  I am dreading going back to work, and I know I will make it until I am vested, but all I can think about is running away from the FI path and be a dependent for awhile just so I don’t have to work.  I feel like everyone I talk to doesn’t get the struggles that I have missing out on all these family events.  People are what is important, and I hate having to spend lots of time and money to get to those that are important to me. Life is short, and it would break my heart a little to not be able to spend some good quality time with all of my Grandparents before it is too late.

I grew up in a family of four, my parents and my brother who was four years older than me.  He died when I was 15, there were days when I would come home from school and I would be crying on the floor unable to pick myself up just because I was thinking about having to go to diving practice, my mom held it all together taking care of me as I was a complete mess. At first I tried my hardest to keep my life as it was before all the AP and honors classes, but I couldn’t do it.  He died in the summer that I was going into my sophomore year near my high school, so I used that as a reason to transfer schools and diving teams (I was varsity since 7th grade, and my freshman year they brought in some nasty gymnasts that I didn’t want to deal with) I quickly learned that life went on for everyone around me, I never really went to practice or hardly competed at all that year. The second quarter I switched back to my original high school where all my friends were, but my life was in a blurry stand still.  I really don’t remember a whole 2 years of my life. I took some college classes and high school classes, got into car accidents, ended up with online schooling at one point where I really only did about 3 hours of work a week. (I had 2 math classes that I never did any work for so made a deal with the teachers to get my final as my overall grades, I ended up with As) I ran away from my problems and couldn’t even tell you what the nothingness I was doing during this time.  My parents became my best friends.  By my senior year I was back at the Community College passing classes successfully again, I didn’t care that I didn’t see my peers at the high school.  I was so disconnected.

Moving a crossed the country from my parents has strengthened my relationship with my husband, but ever since having this baby I miss being around family.  (Both my parents grew up on farms with 5 other siblings all but one has kids all but one family on each side lives in Minnesota.)   I miss my extended family.  I never really bothered to make friends down here in Texas because before the baby we played games online with friends and family back home, my husband still does this, but I’ve had to give it up (plus they’ve switched to new games that I’m not interested in).  I miss my community and my support system.  At work I spend the majority of time only in my cube where no one notices me (except my manager definitely notices when I’m not there– how dare I go home to feed my baby and eat lunch even though he said that was okay, I should be done with that stage by now) my husband’s manager is awesome, even he has pointed out I need a new manager, at least I have him and his team to eat with at lunch every once in a while otherwise you might have found me in a straight jacket from the fear and isolation I let myself experience in my work environment.  Yes, I’m probably being dramatic, and I love the thought of working at a well paying job now so I can retire early and not have to work the rest of my life… but what is the best decision for me?

I cannot imagine any job that I would actually be excited to go into work for right now, but I’ve felt so free lately getting a break from the office.  I haven’t been needing antidepressants, I’ve been enjoying and appreciating my son more, I have been dreaming exciting dreams again, I have all these ideas of ways I could attempt to make money without having to work a 9-5 but I never commit to any of them because I am afraid.  I like being able to invest the max into my 401k, and having a 401k!

I feel weak because I hate even thinking about my job so much that I am considering leaving it.  I feel weak because I consider being a dependent, I feel weak because I don’t know if I would just be running away from my problems again if I were to take any action.

I have fears, if I were to leave this job I would be starting over on a different career path that wouldn’t pay as well.  I have fears that if I left this job I wouldn’t not be able to get another well paying one like it again.  I have fears that if I left this job I would regret it.  I have fears that if I stay I would be doing myself a disservice.

There is a chance I will be able to transfer internally to a position and team that I would be excited to work with, that I could find motivation and inspiration for the work that I do for the company.  I will try to make this happen, but I also have my own fears of inadequacy of a technical background in this world of IT that always seems to be a little negative voice in the back of my head preventing me from applying or accepting the true worth that I am able to provide this giant corporation if I was given the chance (even it is myself that needs to provide this).  If an internal transfer doesn’t pan out I can’t imagine staying in a box just to earn a paycheck to be free later, I desire to be free now.  Free from fear, and free from a boring monotonous life that is not worth my time.

I write this stuff down because it is raw and it is scarey for me, and writing it now will provide so much more insight when I look back from a different situation.  This year (2017) is going to be an interesting one, and I can’t predict what is to come but that is okay.

The Graph That Tempts Me to Diversify Into Bitcoin

The graph that convinced me bitcoin was here to stay:

https://btcvol.info/

 

When I saw this graph, I realized that the probability that bitcoin would disappear in one violent flash was doused. Volatility of the currency is important because it implies the risk of holding that asset. If you are holding volatile funds that swing from high to low numbers then there is a good chance that a significant portion of other investor will panic and abandon the asset, driving down the price either temporarily, (delaying your returns) or permanently.

http://www.coindesk.com/price/

 

At this moment there is no way to know the future, like always. But, going with the 2 year trend of a reduction in volatility it is somewhat apparent that a diversification of assets into bitcoin makes sense. Either immediately, or in the near future.

I’m a Planner

Graduate from college
Get a good job
Focus on Career
Get married
Have children
Climb the Corporate Ladder
Etc.

Prologue

I can’t even remember how young of an age I started planning. Get good grades to get into a good school, then get good grades at that school to help get a good job, start saving money and when old enough get a job to earn and save even more money for college. How do I decide what I want to major in? I really liked being creative, but I also wanted a job that paid well. It was suggested that I look into computer programming, but I didn’t want to sit in front of a computer all day (talking to a computer as I saw it). At this time in my life I was a life guard and did pretty much everything at a online news publication service expect program (designed and placed ads, google adsense, website management, talked directly to clients and to programmers, etc.) and I really liked it so I figured I would go for the most creative aspect of business which was marketing. I was always saving my money for college, I wouldn’t go to movies with friends, I got a job paying more than minimum wage at 16 which almost all of those wages went towards college. I put most of my money into CDs (Certificate of Deposits) which paid anywhere from 3-7% interest at the time. I also did PSEO (Post Secondary Enrollment Option) which basically meant I was technically in High school, but I went to college and the state paid for everything, including books. So when I went off to the 4 year college after officially graduating from High school in 2010 I wasn’t really in freshman classes and jumped into the core classes. You only had to pay per credit for the first 13 credits and max of 18 credits per semester, but you could get approval to take even more per semester so I did that too. Living in the dorm with my meal plan and parking permit 3ish hours away from my parents I realized I could be saving a lot more money if I went back to the Community College for the few classes I could take there that would directly transfer for my degree. I wasn’t really into the fake/convenience friends which seemed to be what most of my peers were about. I had gotten a job as a PCA (Personal Care Attendant) and was involved with one organization, but I didn’t feel like I would be missing out on anything (truth is tragic events left me much closer to my parents then most, so I was excited to live with them again). So Spring semester I was back at the Community College taking everything I could that would transfer and decided to take a weigh training class to keep my sanity. I could only get the Community College to let me take 19 credits, and it was only a Weight Training II class that fit my schedule, so I got the teachers approval for that when I explained all my previous experience including leading after school strength and conditioning in high school. I am only going into so much detail to help show that I’ve always been a little hyper focused on money (at this point I viewed debt like the plague) and mention that it was this weight training class at this community college where I met “that cute guy” as my mom called him, who I tried desperately to keep as only a friend. He had other ideas though, and guilt me into hanging out with him as I tried to cancel. I was a PCA for my friend’s older sister at this time, sitting at a floor hockey game with her when he was texting me, “but all my friends already ditched me.” Originally it was supposed to be a whole group of us who did core workouts together in class, but it was clear he didn’t ask anyone else from class to go bowling that night. After bowling we were sitting in my parents basement, and and I was literally hiding under a pillow because I didn’t want him to kiss me, he got that kiss, and he now calls me his wife, so I guess you can see who won that battle.

Get Married

Because when you find the person you want to spend the rest of your life with why wait?  He followed me back to the 4 year college (majoring in Computer Science per my encouragement).  We got engaged pretty early so to appease others we made sure to leave some time before getting married in the Summer of 2012

Graduate From College

I was getting sick of school so I basically fast tracked and piled it all on to get a bachelors degree as soon as possible.  I had 18 credits when I graduated high school, and did things like taking 21 credits in the summer of 2012 before getting married and wound up with a 4 year degree in 2.5 years.  I officially graduated with a major in Marketing and a certificate in Educational and Computing Technology in December 2012.  So I was married, and Graduated all before I could legally drink.

Get a Good Job

Although I had great references from some of my professors, I couldn’t land a job in the city where we went to school so Summer 2013 we worked on selling our first house while I got a job in the cities he took a summer course and headed back for his last semester as a renter while I lived at my parents house.  I worked at a high end gym which specialized in one on one training (as in one client and one trainer in the gym at a time kind of high end) the people I got to work with were great, but when you realize the owner isn’t doing things legally and doesn’t hold true to his word you take the first job you can get and hand in your two weeks notice.  Job #2 after college:  “Manager on Duty” aka Mattress Salesman, my favorite stat was I was ranked #16 in the entire Mattress Firm Nation 6 days after passing my commission test, interesting enough I always ranked in the top 30% or higher in the Minneapolis North District, I point this out because I transfer with this job to Austin Texas where it was a whole different over-saturated where I did not have the opportunity to preform well.  We moved to Austin in January 2014 for my husband who landed his dream working on microprocessors (or so he was told) as opposed to coding for health care if he would have taken an MN offer.  I got to meet salesmen that were like the “typical used car salesman” so when the environments were cut throat or sitting in an empty store, I bargained for having weekends off so I could actually spend time with my husband (as opposed to potentially make more money)  I had a lot of time to kill so my husband encouraged me to teach myself how to code java and apply to where he was working stating, “they even have English majors.”  This is what I consider my first good job.  I interviewed and accepted thinking I was going to be a developer, started training learning I would actually be in QA (Quality Assurance)/Testing and was given the opportunity to transfer to a different manager before even getting out of training, working on shadow IT, it seemed to fit my background better so I wasn’t going to reject it.  My husband was also pretty convincing in telling me that 1 being a developer is the best and 2 testing is not somewhere you want to be.  I don’t think I really did much work with shadow IT before I was being trained in as a Project Manager, which I thought was a great opportunity because as a career it pays very well and you normally need a lot more experience to get into.  So got a good job as a Project Manager at a fortune 500 company.

Have Children

So my husband was perfectly fine not having any kids, but I always felt it would be my one regret it I looked back at my life at the end.  He didn’t want to be an old dad so he basically said now or never.  I wanted to focus on my career for a bit more at this point (have enough experience to be able to leave and come back and still be able to get a good job), but if my choice was now or never, I was going to choose now.  2014 one miscarriage and one surgery (hate spending money).  Early 2016 adds our son to the family (FYI daycare is EXPENSIVE).

Focus on Career?

This become hard because my first priority is my family, I was not expecting as much of a change in my priorities as what I went through.  I had a very difficult year, but I went back to work right at 6 weeks (too soon) because my husband enjoyed having two incomes, it is probably for the best that he got to see how quickly I deteriorated as was finally supportive of unpaid leave, I didn’t end up using the unpaid leave but did end up going back on leave after being back at work for a month, but that would be a whole different article/series to explain.  After returning the second time is was still a huge struggle and I can honestly say I probably wouldn’t have sucked it up if I was already vested.  I am super determined to hit that date though, and I tried asking for work in other areas which I will have for next year, but I am still under the same manager, so it will be interesting to see what 2017 brings.  2016 got me considering changing careers completely, and how can I focus on my career if I don’t know what I want to do with it?  If I want to make FI (Financial Independence) my main focus I will be staying at this company for a while.

Climb the Corporate Ladder

It wasn’t all that long ago that I just accepted that this is what you do after you get a good job at a good company, you just keep reaching high and higher.  I can recall a day at work though where I looked at my manager and his peers, and the managers above them, and realized if the amount of time and lifestyle that they live is what it takes to be where they are, then I don’t want it.  The majority are overweight, seemingly far to unhappy, and they have to deal with a lot of shit from both directions that just doesn’t seem worth the hassle in my opinion. If you made it this far perhaps you remember me stating that I didn’t want to be a programmer because I didn’t want to spend my day in front of a computer.  Well that is what I am currently doing, and would have to continue to do if I wanted to  be more like them.  I am tired of hearing “appearances matter” when I actually think it is the quality of your work that matters far more than the amount of time you are seen at your desk.  I don’t really like to focus on negative things, so I wont go into my current work situation much more for now.  I will say though, sitting here writing this even while getting over the flu while on break leaves me in a far more optimistic view on life than the life inside of a cubicle.

Etc.

I have rushed through life and hit a lot of major milestones just to realize, what’s the rush?  I didn’t enjoy the moment, because I was just getting through it to get to the next step, but if I don’t look forward to the next step anymore I have to wonder the true cost of living in the corporate world and straying away from my core values.