I haven’t felt so relieved in years. The check cleared the bank. A steady income? Nice to see you, again. Life isn’t all about money, but when you’re frugal by necessity rather than choice, it does matter. My first paycheck from my new job as Project Manager at the Economic Development Council for Island County has been deposited. Debt is already decreasing and my mood is already lifting. Those aren’t the only changes.
Gig work has its advantages, but it is frequently unsteady. That unreliability is manageable as long as there are enough gigs that pay well enough on a consistent enough basis that there are no gaps in revenue. A day off means a day not making money. I congratulate the gig workers, the people whose pay is reported on 1099s, who can comfortably manage their bills and afford those gaps. It can be good as long as you can pay your bills. #ALAYCPYB
It has now happened several times that, while I was in the gig world, I’d talk to gig workers who first thought I was joking about reliably getting not one but two days off – every week! Workers who, if sick, get paid to stay home! Workers who, regularly and for no reason that has to be explained, get to take other days off for something called a vacation! Most catch on quickly enough because most gig people I know have had regular paycheck jobs; but they can become so habituated to working every day that reminder takes effort.
My stress is already reducing. Ah. The type of job and the people involved are important. So is a dependable paycheck. (Thanks, folks; especially, as I learn a new set of priorities and processes.)
A new source of revenue can it is easy to fall into the trap of ‘I can buy this and that, and one of those, and…’. Frugal friends know I am not likely to do that. I did splurge and buy new things like new thumb drives, hardware hooks, and a box of wine. But I intend to maintain my provided title of Mr. Frugal.
Debt, paying it down. The cost of that new used car that replaced my old truck is hidden in there. So are the home loan funds (HELOC) that paid at least some bills in the last two years. Put it all together and it equals about two years’ gross salary to get back to only having mortgage debt. The mortgage remains at ~4.5% thanks to a renegotiation about a decade ago. (Yes, loyal longtime readers, it has been that long. And this blog is older than that.) At the time I was interviewed for someone’s article about such a high interest rate. They thought I hadn’t thought it through. I think I’ll keep it, for now.
Stress is down and optimism is up. My core thoughts are switching to positive. Welcome back! That’s probably the most important and fundamental benefit, but it is so subjective that only poets could express it properly. I am not a poet. I’ll return to writing about more objective observations.
My doctor might appreciate it from a different perspective. Even my trip across Scotland and the subsequent book, Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland, was inspired by my need to relax. Many of my health issues are related to stress, so I am looking forward to the change.
Pardon my real time break as I put a chuck roast in the oven. One of today’s splurges: chuck roast (from the bargain bin), with veggies, homemade cornbread, and probably a glass of wine from that box I mentioned.
OK. Oven warming. Back to writing.
So, I’ll see my doctor next week. This is a good time to benchmark my situation. We’ll see whether the data reflects the shift over the next few months.
And then I plan to get the car in for maintenance, my head in for a haircut, I’ll visit my dentist, find an eye doctor after mine retired during the pandemic, … You get the idea? Splurging? Yeah! But not as much on things as on things that matter.
Ironically, making money will also make changes in who gets some of it. A change in income will mean a change in health insurance, which is nicely and partly covered by the new job, but will also mean the change in my subsidies may actually increase my insurance costs by a couple of hundred dollars per month. A change in income will mean a bigger change in my social security, but that calculation is so complex that I’ll let Social Security calculate it.
Those changes will change again because both will change as I hit seniorhood, 65 years old, which happens in less than a year. I expect bureaucratic confusion.
Bureaucratic confusion is difficult when in the Gig Economy, but is much more manageable with a steady income. More stress reduction.
There are other changes that I won’t describe because they are part of my more entrepreneurial projects. Maybe that can be a separate post.
What won’t change are things like my writing. I thought I was done and going to announce the completion of the tenth book in my ten book series of nature photos of Whidbey Island, but I found one key typo of two words – minutes after I uploaded the book to the publisher/printer. Doh! Expect a delay. I am also writing the sequel to my first sci-fi novel, Firewatcher. The first draft is done, with probably nine more to go. I still plan to write the screenplay to a bit of family history/folklore that local professional screenwriters have encouraged me to ‘drop everything and write that!’ And this new job/career can be the capstone in the sequel to my book about personal finance, Dream. Invest. Live., called From Middle Class to Millionaire to Muddling By (working title) – which looks to be better than just muddling by.
As several friends have mentioned, this job seems well-suited for me. I get to help others develop Island County’s economy by developing many things, including their businesses. Sure, I’m trading hours for money, but most of what I’ve worked on for the last decade has been trading hours for – hope, exposure, compliments? I’ve already had fascinating conversations with a broader community, and expect to connect with more. My passion is for people and ideas, and that’s part of what I get to do in this role. How cool is that?
It is spring, and very welcome as blossoms work their way up past the remains of autumn and winter.
A couple of aphorisms come to mind as I read your good news.
“When one door opens, several others slam shut.” – As you come to grips with your new opportunity, you realize the sacrifices in freedoms and prior commitments that will be required. Alas, if only personal cloning were a thing by now.
“You can never step into the same river twice” – This might have some relationship to rejoining the rat race after a hiatus. But what really strikes me is that there is a tsunami of fiat flowing through the US economy right now and one would be remiss in not finding a way to let some of it stick to one’s boots. Hopefully, there are a few fish to hang on your trophy wall as well.
Congratulations, EDC seems like a good canvas for your talents.