Day 214 | $17,519 paid | $71,194 till freedom
64 / 68 Total Days Biked to Work (94%) | 58 Consecutive Bicycle Commutes to Work
After hearing it mentioned countless times on various personal finance / early retirement blogs and message boards, I decided to finally read Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin & Joe Dominguez. I was already familiar with much of the book’s content and ideas, and had already had most of the life-changing realizations that the authors try to communicate prior to diving into it.
However, YMOYL is more than a book, it’s a 9-step program to financial independence. Rather than reading it once and putting it on the shelf, I’ve decided to take action and go through the program.
Step 1 is to make peace with the past by finding out how much money you’ve earned in your lifetime, and to then calculate your current net worth. I decided to fly through this step, as I know I haven’t made a whole lot of money (thus the intended shock effect would be significantly lessened on me) and I already know my current net worth is $ -33,158. I get it, I’ve made some unwise choices with money over the past 7 years, moving on.
Step 2 is to A) Establish the actual costs in time and money required to maintain your job, and compute your real hourly wage, and B) to keep track of every cent that comes into or goes out of your life.
I’ve been tracking our expenses ruthlessly for more than a year now and have accounted for every penny, but calculating my real hourly wage is something I’ve been scared to do. However, getting debt free and changing my life around is not going to happen when I’m living in denial, so here it goes, starting with October, the most work-intensive month of the year. All figures include 20 minutes worth of commuting a day.
And here are the stats for the least work-intensive month of the year, Februrary:
So over the course of a school year, my wage fluctuates somewhere between $11.87 and $19.83 an hour. Honestly, that’s not nearly as dismal of an amount as I expected to end up with. Instead, I think the most shocking part of this is seeing how much I actually work laid out on the table. After working multiple back-to-back 91 hour work weeks, and my lightest load all year being 55 hours, a “40-hour Grind” is starting to sound pretty luxurious.
There are a number of questions I have to ask myself in the face of this data. Do I love what I do enough to dedicate that much of my life to it? If my priority in life is to be a good husband and father, does the amount of time I spend at work reflect these values? If I had an opportunity to make the same amount of monthly income working a 40-hour a week day job at $25 an hour, would I do it? What If I made $35 an hour sitting behind a desk for 8 hours a day and increased my income by 23%? What if that increase in income allowed me to work YEARS less in the future? Is combining my paid day job with my passion really such a smart idea if it causes me to neglect my home and personal life?
I do know this: As much as I love certain aspects of my job, it is still a job, and it’s primary function is to earn me money. My ultimate goal is to be financially independent and retired by age 35 so that I can dedicate my life to working how I choose to, not how I’m obligated to. Is working my current job in line with this objective? That is a question I will have to ponder over the next weeks and months. In the immediate future, I will have to increase the efficiency and quality of my work so that I don’t continue to over-commit myself in an unhealthy way.
Month 6 Progress Report coming soon.