Giving my notice this week was part of the plan.  There was an anticlimactic inevitability about the whole thing after planning for it for so long.  Though bittersweet, it went very smoothly.  My co-workers were all supportive and encouraging, and it was great to talk about my dreams to friends and colleagues and get so much positive feedback. 

My financial perspective, or perhaps my luck, has shifted a bit.  In my quest for housing I can afford and still keep my cupboards stocked with saltines and ramen noodles, I came upon a Craigslist ad for an apartment in the foothills of the Sandias, about 20 minutes from Albuquerque, and I made the trek to check it out.  It is surrounded by incredible views and hiking trails, and access to the main house most of the time when the owner is out of state.  The best part? It’s FREE, in exchange for keeping an eye on the place and doing some light cleaning.  Obviously the owner got plenty of responses to this ad, and it felt like a job interview.  It is a job in the sense that it will allow me to forego other, less appealing jobs. Luckily my borderline OCD tidiness comes in handy in certain situations, and I blew away the competition.  So now that particular albatross has been dismembered and I have another piece of my financial puzzle in place.  According to the permanent budget calculator implanted in my brain, between the GA stipend and the housing arrangement I have my needs covered.  Whatever creative means and schemes I pursue beyond that goes towards savings and discretionary spending.  I’ve already maxed out my Roth for the year, my emergency fund could last me 2 years, and savings account rates are in the Arctic.  Additional savings is not high on my list of priorities.

Die Broke by Stephen Pollan and Mark Levine is not one of my favorite personal finance books.  Not that I disagree with the premise or some of the points made, but I don’t like how it is geared towards the rich and much of the advice (such as leasing a car being a wise financial move) is pretty ludicrous.  However, the authors do make one point that has always stuck with me: “Your work is not your life. Your work is what you do so you can have a life.”   In other words, we’re all independent contractors.  I feel like I am finally embracing my inner independent contractor and making my own rules.

There is great freedom and there is frightening personal accountability in this situation.  I feel like I am entering into a period of “retirement” in the sense that I have my financial needs covered without the bonds of a traditional job.  Like anyone facing such a period of liberation, there is the pressure to make the best use of my time and opportunities, for exploration, for learning, for creativity.  I have grown so accustomed to working according to the schedules and proscriptions of others, and now I’ve been hired on as my own boss.  Am I up for that role?

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