Rich People Problems

Rich People

Today I’m going to reflect on how very good Mr. FI and I have it now that we are on the road to being FI. It’s not often enough that I sit down and actually think about how this journey we’ve embarked upon has changed our lives for the better in so many ways that we did not imagine. Not only in the obvious ways, such as being able to leave the rat race behind and have more time to do things we love, but in other aspects of our daily lives as well. As in changes happening right now.

One big change that I’ve come to realize is how aggressively saving money for retirement has decreased our stress about having money, and changed how we view happiness and what causes/creates it. This is something I often forget as my mind is usually caught up on what having that money will do for us in the future. But what about now? Sure, that money is for early retirement and that’s where we hope to put it, ultimately. But in the case where one of us loses our job or something unexpected happens where we both can’t work, let me tell you, knowing that we have money in the reserves is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Striving to become FI can garner future benefits, but current ones as well.

As I’ve mentioned briefly in a previous post, the future at my current company is up “in the air.” I may still be working for them by the end of the year, or I may work for a new company if we are bought out. Or, our site may close altogether and I’ll have to find a different place of work and dust off the ol’ résumé. On top of all that potential change, there’s no official end date in sight. So my security blanket of planning is out the window (sounds like a planner’s worst nightmare…oh wait, that’s me).

Rich People
I did not stress for one millisecond about how losing my job might affect Mr. FI’s and my livelihood.

When finding out I no longer had job security, I had mixed emotions. Shock for one, but also relief*. I did not believe our company being sold was an option. Up until last month, my coworkers and I were under the impression that our part of the business made our company a good amount of money and was therefore “instrumental” and a “safe” part of the business to work for. Never in our wildest dreams did we think we would be sold – at least any time in my time there. This was the first “secure” job and paycheck I’d ever had. But I suppose that’s a lesson in itself.

No job is secure. That’s another great reason to seek financial independence.

Along with this little epiphany, another one dawned on me that wouldn’t have had it’s full effect unless I was there to see the panic set in around my building first hand. I was one of few (if any) of my coworkers that was not worried about “making it” if I were to lose my jobs in the next few months.

That’s right, I’ll say it again.

I did not stress for one millisecond about how losing my job might affect Mr. FI’s and my livelihood. There was no worry about how we would make our next house payment. No worry about if we’d be able to pay for food or electricity if we were to lose my next paycheck. In fact, the moment I found out that I may not have a job by the end of the year, the only worry that popped into my brain was:

Oh no…are we going to be able to afford the kitchen remodel we’d been planning for the last year???

Suddenly I realized how unimportant my “worry” was in comparison to probably 85% of people in my building. It was a “rich person problem.” But that can’t be right…we’re not rich. Or are we? According the the definition of rich on Dictionary.com, it seems we are.

Rich: having wealth or great possessions; abundantly supplied with resources, means, or funds; wealthy

While we make a good number of thousands less per year that other people in the FI blogging community and are much further from our FI goal than many, we are by definition, rich.

It’s hard not to look out into the FI community sometimes and think that we’re behind, in both income and achievements. There are many blogs written by people in professions involving engineering of some kind, bringing in the big bucks and killing it in the savings department. Then there’s us–relatively simple financial careers, just starting out and not knowing what we’re fully capable of yet. But then scenarios like this happen, outside of that “we-have-it-together” community, and we realize, “Hey…we’re doing pretty darn good.” It’s a reality check and I’m glad I was fortunate enough to see it.

So no matter where you are in the FIRE community, making mullah out your ears or a modest salary, it’s pretty cool to know that by working to reach your financial goals of the future, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised about your present financial situation as well (in fact, you may even be rich!). One of the biggest benefits of having and understanding money is realizing what it can do for you. In our case, it’s given us the ability to sit back and see what happens with my job instead of worrying about if we’ll make it before I find the next one. And if that’s not a reason to figure out your finances, I don’t know what is.

*While I actually really do like my job and the company I work for (it does have its flaws, of course, but what job doesn’t?), I’m excited to have the opportunity forced upon me to really consider what I want to do next. To do so without the worry of having to find something right away is a relieving bonus.

How about you? Do you consider yourself rich? How has your pursuit of FI or ER changed your life?

Comments

  1. Howto$tuffYourPig

    The threat of losing a job is tough to deal with. I went through that several years ago and lost my job at the end of last year when the company claimed bankruptcy. I can’t say that I didn’t see it coming! Thankfully we have been savers from a very early age and my husband is still doing well. We don’t have money for a lot of extra’s, but we have plenty to live on and in this world that’s all we can ask for! 🙂

    1. Post
      Author
      Mrs. FI

      Wow – It’s nice to hear that someone who lost their job so recently came out of it okay! Let me tell you, that is NOT the story I’ve been hearing from most people. Then again, most people don’t seem to be savers 😉 I’m hoping I’ll find a job comparable in pay when the time comes for my current one to end, but if I don’t, we’ll be in the same situation as you and your hubby – no extra’s, but enough to get by and be happy. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Jessie

    This is great to read! I love that you were able to avoid the stress.

    I am curious about the details of your lack of worry though, if you don’t mind sharing. We are putting an impressive (to me, at least) amount of money into retirement, and this has the benefit that we live well below our means. If my husband lost his job, we’d stop saving but wouldn’t have to touch our emergency fund – my salary can easily carry us.

    However, if *I* suddenly lost my job….we’d be in trouble pretty quick, if I couldn’t replace any income. I suppose a mix of unemployment/part-time work could carry us through okay. But while we have a growing retirement account, that money isn’t accessible without paying a steep penalty. If we cut back to bare bones the emergency fund could replace my needed income (what we need to supplement DH’s salary for paying the bills) for 4-6 months probably which I guess isn’t bad but also wouldn’t exactly be a worry-free state!

    This is maybe just a function of the fact that me & DH have very uneven incomes. I’m just always interested when people say they have no money worries in the event of a job loss — because most of us in the FI world have limited cash on hand, right? Even if we were closer to being FI, I think me losing my job would be fairly difficult — we’d need to actually *be* FI and have accessible money, you know?

    It’s extremely possible I’m just not bringing the right perspective to this 🙂

    1. Mr. FI

      Hi Jessie,

      I would say that one job loss isn’t really a worry for us. We make almost identical salaries, and one of our salaries covers all that we budget for month to month. It wouldn’t leave any savings, but we shouldn’t have to tap into the emergency fund for it. On the other hand, if we both somehow, in the most extreme circumstances, lost our jobs we would then worry! We have enough to cover our budget for 3+ months in liquid assets…I’m optimistic enough to believe one or both of us could find a new job in that time period to recover most if not all of our initial pay. For the worriers and the pessimists, this might seem like very rough waters. And it wouldn’t be pleasant by any stretch for us, but we’re young, educated, and have connections within our community that would help us in a situation like that.

      If worse came to worst, we could tap into retirement savings, although like you said, that would carry a sizeable tax penalty and would be less than ideal. We would do everything we could to avoid that.

      So it really depends case to case for people. To say that all people pursuing FI should feel safe from job loss would be inaccurate. It’s mostly true for us personally, but a double job loss would be very tough albeit less scary than if we had continued spending/saving like we did before getting on the path to FI.

      Hope this makes sense!

      1. Post
        Author
  3. Steve Adcock

    I love this post. The freedom of not worrying whether or not you will make it simply cannot be overstated. While there are many out there who would probably consider you to be “lucky”, I don’t. Over the course of your life, you have made decisions that were in your best interest – enough to accumulate the savings needed and lifestyle necessary to enable you to lose your job TOMORROW and not worry. This isn’t luck. This is good decision-making.

    And more power to you for making those decisions. 🙂

    1. Post
      Author
      Mrs. FI

      That’s a great way of putting it- it’s not luck, it’s good decision making. I wish more people realized that it’s not luck that got us here. Or loads of money for that matter. From the outside, it looks like we have had it easy because we didn’t have to really struggle to get where we are today. While in a sense that’s true (we were fortunate enough to realize what debt does from other’s experiences and are frugal by nature, making it more easy if we didn’t understand those things) it doesn’t mean we didn’t have to work to make our current situation a reality. Sometimes I think our friends and family think we make a lot more money than we do because we’re not struggling to make ends meet. While we can’t (and shouldn’t) tell all of them what we make, we try to make it a point to bring up that it’s our savings and our mindset about money that got us to where we are today, not our paychecks.

      Thanks for your insightful comment as always!

    1. Post
      Author
      Mrs. FI

      Oh my gosh, so good it’s beyond words! Stress is Public Enemy #1 in my book, and working towards becoming FI is kicking it’s metaphorical butt 😉

  4. Jeff

    I surely agree with this. When I first started getting serious about paying off debt (and then about FI) it afforded us so many more options. We are not doing as well as others – nor are we nearly as close (like you guys) but we are doing better than many others, and we dont worry about money at all. If we need to do something around the house, we can either do it right away or plan it out while we save. We’ve been able to switch jobs, work less hours and more – all because of our FI plans.

    1. Post
      Author
      Mrs. FI

      That’s great that your plans for becoming FI have helped you in so many ways! I’m so very thankful we started down this path and that we have found others like us who are also finding these same benefits and sharing them, like you and your blog. Thanks for your comment and may your trek towards FI continue to afford you options!

  5. our next life

    Part of why we don’t share numbers is that we don’t want to foster the comparison game, and you show exactly why. Just as you have had the wisdom to see that you’re wealthy, it’s good to see that you’re doing extremely well, regardless of what those software engineers might be doing.

    Like you, we had a sort of wealth epiphany not long ago. It’s weird because society paints “wealthy” as a picture that looks a lot more like a billionaire lifestyle, and a lot less like what we FIers are doing. But society’s image is just wrong! 🙂

    1. Post
      Author
      Mrs. FI

      I like that – “Society’s image is just wrong.” That should be everyone’s mantra and we’ll all be better off 😉 Also, I enjoyed your post about how “comparison isn’t always helpful.” It’s an extremely true statement and something I’m trying to remember. I’m competitive by nature, so sometimes it’s hard for me to realize how good we have it and instead of getting caught up in how much better someone else may be doing in comparison. I’m working on it though and hopefully this journey will help me get over that. Thanks for your comment and have a great day!

Comments are closed.