A rare event: real news about my personal finances. I got a job. A real, W-2, full time(-ish), benefits package, signed contract, legit job. Whew. W-H-E-W! Expect to see changes in what, when, how, and why I post. As I type I can’t announce it yet, but I’m so pleased to share the news that I’ll write as much as I can, then insert the details in a paragraph after the news embargo is lifted.
(news embargo lifted)
And after a delay, here is some of what I know about the organization and the job, so far. (I expect a steep learning curve.) “The Economic Development Council for Island County (EDC) is pleased to extend an offer to you for the position of Project Manager.“
And for those unfamiliar with the area and the organization;
“The EDC works to create a thriving economic environment where business can grow and create jobs while preserving our unique quality of life.
An independent nonprofit, the EDC is the County’s designated partner with the Washington State Department of Commerce. We are the voice of economic development for the diverse communities of Whidbey and Camano Island, and we collaborate with elected officials, government, business and other community organizations on advocacy and programs.“
Me? Economics? Cool!
Here’s why this is such a big deal for me.
The rest of this blog post is my personal backstory, and may also be part of a book with the working title of, From Middle Class To Millionaire To Muddling By, the sequel to Dream. Invest. Live. I’ve experienced and learned a lot since then.
I retired in 1998 at 38. I haven’t been bored since. Even at the beginning of retirement I found things to do. Believe it or not, I actually followed someone else’s advice. Don’t do nothing, or at least, not yet. But, also, don’t do the same thing; because, at that age, it was possible to find out more about who I am/was beyond the job title that was tied to my degree. That advice had merit, but it also was too simplistic. Anyway,…
My black belt was a few years old, so I felt confident starting a business teaching traditional, old-school karate. Alas, as my first business, I made mistakes in marketing and such. Then, there was an upheaval in that style’s upper management that made it difficult to promote any of my students. Oh well, I had sufficient funds for comfortable survival. (#MassiveUnderstatement)
A couple of years later I wanted to give my wife a skinnier husband for Christmas and I wanted it to be me. The story is more involved than that (duh) but it resulted in me bicycling from coast to coast across the US. I didn’t lose any weight, body fat, or waist size, but I did send out so many emails that writer friends encouraged me to write a book. (Just Keep Pedaling) I guessed I’d become a writer.
Hmm. I bet I can be a better writer than that. Lots of logic and some serendipity later I decided to write a three book series of nature essays about three lakes along a local mountain highway. (Twelve Months at Barclay Lake, Twelve Months at Lake Valhalla, Twelve Months at Merritt Lake) An Editors Award for the first one encouraged me to continue.
As I finished the fourth book I also began a new chapter in my life. I asked for a divorce. I also moved to Whidbey Island, leaving the mainland to the mainland’s way of life. Let’s see what an islander’s life can be like. With my net worth divided by two, but still with more than enough, I decided to help others with their businesses and their writing. A new gig!
You may have noticed that since 1998 none of these businesses had been W-2 jobs. They’d been 1099 gigs.
A year or so later, I decide to buy a house on Whidbey because I was that comfortable, but I got a mortgage because I wanted to leave most of my funds in my stock portfolio.
Friends on the island convinced me that I could describe personal finance well enough that I should write a book about it. Nice. Thanks for the compliments. Then a New York Times best seller made that emphatic. I stopped dithering, and Dream. Invest. Live. was born (and so was this blog).
Coincident with the publication of the book, the Great Recession (the Second Great Depression) began. Still, my desire for work was optional because my portfolio rebounded as many justifiably worried because theirs fell.
So much for that. Two felonious corporate assaults later my portfolio crashed 80% in four months. (The felons eventually were found guilty years later, but my money was gone. Investing does involve risk.)
I didn’t feel good; so I checked with doctors about my worsening condition, Their tests, not their treatments even, would cost $8,000. I wasn’t convinced that insurance would pay for the tests. The issue was stress. I don’t need to spend $8,000 to tell me that. Instead, it was cheaper to take a vacation that might de-stress myself, and my self. Surprise, I had a life-changing revelation, and felt compelled to write about the trip. Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland.
Maybe I should get a real job. Unemployment hits new highs. Ah, but I could sell my house. Except that I couldn’t because many others couldn’t either. No income. No way to tap into my assets. And my IRA dwindled as I hit the emergency button and made early withdraws from my IRA. I was penalized with penalties. Soon, my net worth was down 98%.
Eep. Ah, about that job.
The next six years were a chaos of part-time jobs that added up to seven days a week of typically 10-14 hour days, but with only four days off per year. Per year. And the income didn’t cover all of my bills. I almost lost my house, but the government saved me and it. Thanks.
A dear friend shepherded me through becoming a real estate broker, which looked promising. An early accelerated pension helped. Early Social Security made it all almost viable.
Still missed that steady paycheck.
Then a pandemic. Oy.
Over a decade of struggling and rarely getting ahead, and I had more than enough of at least one thing; stress. My health had been deteriorating, but got worse and become non-negotiable. Not enough money. Not enough security. Not enough time to recuperate.
Years of the stress of real estate was too great and the income insufficient; so, I quit four months ago. That didn’t improve the money or security, but I had to, as a necessity, buy that time on debt to hopefully begin to recuperate. And recuperation truly begins.
But, a paycheck? Nope.
Until March 2023, when I actually got a job. I got a job in something I care about for paycheck and benefits that are ridiculously welcome. More than twenty years since a regular paycheck. What a transition at 64 years old.
It was my first job interview in years, despite many applications. Somehow, I survived it – and got the job.
Now, to adjust to the needs of the job, the people, the organizations, and understanding how it all fits. The good news is that it is about something I’ve tried to do for years informally with various entrepreneurs.
For regular readers, expect some changes. My blogs will have to elbow their way into the remaining bits of my schedule – which has always been full. Some blogs may shift to new owners. Some projects will be postponed. A few will advance, though more slowly. There’s the sequel to my science fiction novel, a screenplay based on family folklore, my photography, and tending my mental and physical health throughout. Oh yeah, and the sequel to Dream. Invest. Live. This is why my recent blogs posts were interrupted a bit. (possible #MassiveUnderstatement)
Stay tuned. Thanks to all who follow along; and congratulations to anyone who read this entire synopsis of my life since 1998.
Reblogged this on About Whidbey and commented:
Do you want to take over this blog, AboutWhidbey.com? Thanks to a new job I get to work and write about all of Island County, but in a new way. I am now a Project Manager for the Economic Development Council of Island County, which means I’ll be broadening my view beyond Whidbey Island. Hello, Camano. Nice to see you, again.
That means that it is time for someone else to take over AboutWhidbey.com. If only one person wants it, fine. If several do, well, we’ll find a way to manage that.
In the meantime, here’s a link to the longer version of my story…
HUGE CONGRATS TOM!!! Sounds like a perfect position for you! 🙂
Congratulations! I think you will be a good fit for the EDC!
Oh, that’s exciting! I’m super happy to hear you’ll be helping others in Island County, you are very good at that…
I found your blog post at the same time I was checking my email in my freak-out mode. I’ve been offered a job…in Hawaii. Not sure I’ll accept, but so cool that YOU have similar good news as me! Congrats, congrats, congrats!
You know Hawaii must be spelled with an !, not a linguistic thing, but Hawaii!!!
I got through it all! And so did you! I’m happy you found a job you are already passionate about. That is rare to find. I hope the learning curve isn’t too steep and the monetary benefits balance out whatever stressors are involved in the position.