Friday’s Frugal Five

Happy Friday!

I’m always impressed by Angela’s consistency in posting one of these updates every week.  Mine are sporadic, but I do enjoy writing them!

If you’ve been reading you know we’ve hit one of those rough patches with lots of unexpected spending.  It was really nice to have an uneventful, normal week to get back on track with the finances.

Here’s a few frugal wins from the week:

  1.  I got the bonus points for my Hilton Amex card!  This time I decided to sign up for the card that doesn’t have an annual fee, even though the points award was slightly lower.  (I seem to have a hard time canceling cards with annual fees before the fee get charged again.)  If you’re interested in the card, check it out.  (*this is a referral link, I get points if you sign up this way.*)  The minimum spend is only $1,000 so this is a quick travel hacking win.  The points will get you at least two nights at most hotels!
  2. I work at a corporate headquarters and we just switched the company that provides the cafe services at our locations.  I luckily avoided the temptation to buy lunch there this week – I’ve heard that the quality is a little better, but prices are generally a bit higher.
  3. To avoid the pricey cafe options at work, I packed lunch three days (including leftovers of this amazing NYTimes chicken shawarma today) and used a gift card one of the other days.  The gift card was from my Discover credit card cash back.  (I did go out to lunch on my own dime once this week.)
  4. My Ebates account was missing some information.  I finally updated it – I’ve got a whopping $5.89 coming my way in August.  YAY!  If you want to sign up, click here.  (Another referral link)  Ebates helps you get rebates on online purchases you are probably already making.  It’s not a lot – especially if you’re trying to curb your consumerism like a lot of finance-minded folks are – but these are things I would have been purchasing anyway, so it’s a nice bonus.
  5. I signed up for the Cents Positive retreat!  It’s 4 months away, so I’m still not 100% certain I’ll be able to go.  But the tickets were about to sell out so I grabbed mine before it was too late.  I’m really hoping to make this happen.

What were your frugal wins this week?  

The Importance of Self-Care

Two weekends ago my husband and I were in recovery mode.  We had spent the first part of the week on vacation in Chicago, but our vacation was unexpectedly extended by a trip to the emergency room for our daughter.  Luckily, she stabilized quickly and she was released two days later.

However, there was a lot of stress associated with this event.  We were worried about our daughter.  We had lots of instructions regarding what medications she needed to take after she was discharged, and she also needed to be seen at home for follow-up care.  We didn’t have a place to stay; our hotel was sold out.  (Luckily the hospital let us stay there in an unused overflow area.)  It was uncertain how we would get home, because we canceled our flights and couldn’t re-book until we knew when she would be released.  We also had to find a new place for our dogs to be boarded and coordinate for my friend’s dad to transport them to the new location.  In addition to general life stress, there was also the worry of the large medical bill and the extra costs for having to extend our stay.

Even a couple days after she was discharged, when the weekend rolled around, we were still recovering from that stress.  My temper was short and I was frustrated.  On Saturday I told my husband that I needed to go for a run the next morning to clear my head.

I needed to take care of myself, so I could take care of the others who depend on me.

Running Away the Stress

I’ve been a runner for a long time.  There are many reasons why I do it:

  • Physical health – to keep my heart fit and to burn calories to keep my weight in a reasonable range
  • Goal achievement – that sense of accomplishment you get when training for and completing a race
  • Mental health  – to deal with anxiety, and to keep my mind sharp and focused
  • Emotional health – to manage stress, worry, and uncertainty.

That Sunday morning run did wonders for my emotional health.  Simply put, going for that run made me a much more pleasant person to be around.  I cleared my head of stressors and frustrations and came back a more patient mom and wife.

My Self-Care Bag of Tricks

Do you have a bag of tricks you can rely on when stress is mounting and nerves are fraying?  Here are some things I’ve learned over the years that work for me:

  • Exercise/Outdoors time:  I don’t always have the time or energy to run; a simple 10-minute walk around the neighborhood can do wonders.  Five minutes of stretching or yoga can help too when I’m short on time.
  • Sleep:  With a toddler and an old dog in our house, there have been a fair number of nights of disrupted sleep in the past 18 months.  It’s become shockingly apparent to me this year how much sleep impacts me.  When I have a night of poor sleep, the next day I am more anxious and less optimistic, and my ability to make complex decisions is slowed.  Being well-rested is a daily goal for me.
  • Nutrition:  Too much caffeine, sugar, or alcohol generally makes everything worse.  Healthy foods make me feel better.
  • Relationships:  Spending time with my spouse or catching up with friends gets me  out of my head and reminds me to enjoy life.

Financial Impacts

Those things I listed above?  There is very little incremental cost involved in incorporating them into my daily life.  Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive.  But it is important to figure out how to make it a priority – especially when dealing with a stressful life event.

How do you practice self-care?  Do you have any tips and tricks to share?

Q2 Goals Update: Some Bumps in the Road

At the end of last year I set some goals for 2018 with an expectation to provide quarterly updates.  How’s it going, halfway through the year?  Well…we had some bumps in the financial road in Q2.

The Chaos of Life in Q2

My husband lost his job in April.  We’ve had some random extra expenses recently, including finding out our dog has diabetes and needs insulin shots twice a day.  I also planned a mini-vacation for our family to Chicago for last week, thinking this was a good time to go as my husband is between jobs and we wouldn’t have to fight for him to get a few vacation days at a new job.  While I was able to book flights with points, I didn’t have enough points for a hotel stay.  I wanted to stay at a family-friendly hotel close to downtown attractions since we didn’t have a car and were traveling with a toddler, so I did shell out some money for that.  (It was worth it, BTW.  And our toddler did awesome on her first flight, first bus ride, and first ride on the “L” train.)

I wish the story of our vacation ended there (we had a great time!), but it doesn’t.

We ended up taking our daughter to the ER early in the morning the day we were scheduled to fly home from Chicago.  That visit resulted in a 2 day stay in the hospital.

The good news: our daughter is doing great, and we made it home safely, just a couple days late.  (Can I repeat:  this is great news, and overshadows the bad news by quite a lot.  You can’t place a value on knowing your child is healthy again.)

The bad (financial) news:  The hospital visit will result in a significant out of pocket expense; we had to book last minute flights to get home; and we had extra miscellaneous expenses like an additional two days for dog boarding and two days of meals.  (Interestingly, we didn’t have extra hotel costs; the hotels in the area were all sold out and the social worker graciously found us a place to sleep in the hospital for two nights.)

So the bottom line is that we had a few surprises thrown at us in Q2.  As you’ll see below, we’re still making progress on goals, but the pace will slow down for the foreseeable future.

Financial Goals

Max out 401(k).  On track…for now.  I may end up cutting back my contribution for a few paychecks to cash flow some of the medical expenses instead of having to pull it all from savings.  It kind of depends on how long it is before we get the bill and what Mr. FIREDup’s employment situation will be in the coming months.

Finalize will. Finally done!  We also bought life insurance.  Hopefully a blog post to come soon to share more on these experiences.

Fund 25% of Financial Freedom goal for non-retirement funds.  At 24.4%.  YAY!  If Mr. Market cooperates, this should be complete before the end of the year even if I can’t made any additional contributions.

Make 2017 IRA contribution.  Done in February.

Minimalism/Simplicity

12 Items in 2018.  My plan is to limit clothing related purchases to 12 or less items this year.  As of today, I’ve purchased seven items.  I’m on track for the year, but it doesn’t look like I’ll come in much below that number.

Blogging

Average one post per week.  Nope.  I wrote 2 in April, 3 in May, and 4 in June.  My new goal is at least two per month and ideally 4 per month.  This blog is a hobby. 🙂

Share quarterly updates on progress against the Financial Freedom goal.

Capture

I’m really happy to see that we are still making progress here.  We’re up from 71.5% at the end of Q1.

Stretch Goals

Attend FINCON 2018.  Nope.

Get 2nd mortgage balance below $10,000.  Man I would really like to do this, but at this point it seems unlikely.  It mostly depends on the employment situation for Mr. FIREDup over the next few months.

How are you doing against your goals for the year, financial or otherwise?

Get What’s Yours When it’s Time for Social Security

Social Security isn’t talked about much in the FIRE community, and even Millennials/Gen Xers who plan to retire at a traditional age generally distrust the notion that it will even exist to provide benefits when they retire.

But even if you think your benefit will be small, you should be informed about the program to ensure you get any and all benefits owed to you.

I also have a personal interest in this, as my mom is approaching an age where she needs to shore up her strategy for taking benefits.  It’s essential for her to make the right decision as Social Security will be a significant part of her retirement income.

I recently read the book Get What’s Yours to better inform myself about Social Security.  Here are some of the biggest takeaways.

Only 1 to 3 percent of people wait until age 70 to take their Social Security benefit.  For most (but not all) retirees, waiting until age 70 generates the largest benefit.  The age 70 benefit is 76% larger than at 62 and 32% larger than at 66.  Delayed retirement credits of 8% are added to your benefit for every year you wait to take benefits past your full retirement age (FRA).  For reference, people starting to take benefits now generally have a FRA around 66.  Delaying benefits from a FRA of 66 to age 70 in this case results in a guaranteed 8% annual return for 4 years!

Interestingly enough, a recent study by Stanford economists suggests that most of the rich do what everyone else does – take their benefits as soon as they get them.

Social Security benefits are based on your top 35 earnings years.  Earnings up to age 60 are indexed to reflect the rise in average wages each year.   In other words, that $20,000 salary you made 35 years ago, after being indexed, would look more like $50,000 – 60,000 in current dollars.

For early retirees with less than 35 years of earnings, the remaining years would clock in at zero.  So while an early retiree’s benefit would be lower, they WILL still see a benefit.

The benefit formula is progressive.  Social Security provides a higher income replacement percentage for lower income earners.  In 2016, the ‘bend curves’ were as follows:

  • 90% of first $856 of monthly earnings base
  • 32% for monthly earnings from $856 to $5,157, and
  • 15% of the monthly earnings base over $5,157

So in a simplified example, someone with an average annual income of $40,000 could expect to get a monthly benefit of $1563 (a 47% income replacement ratio), while a person with average annual earnings of $80,000 could expect a monthly benefit of $2373 (a 36% replacement ratio).

Social Security provides a wide array of benefits.  You may be able to get benefits that aren’t based on your own earnings record.  Benefits may be available to spouses, ex-spouses (if married 10 years or more), children, surviving spouses, and divorced surviving spouses.  Your parents may even be eligible for a survivors benefit, should they be your dependents at the time of your death.

Social Security also pays out benefits to qualified workers who have been determined to be disabled.  A disabled individual taking Social Security may also be eligible for benefits for his or her family.

Deeming is no longer allowed.  Some Social Security rules were changed in 2015.  If you are eligible to take both your own benefit and a spousal benefit, if you now take your spousal benefit you are also “deemed” to be taking your own retirement benefit.  Social Security will pay out the larger of the two values; unless you were grandfathered in, you can’t take a spousal benefit and let your own benefit grow.  This does not apply to survivor or divorced survivor benefits.  (This is the strategy my mom plans to use – she will take her survivor benefit and let her own benefit grow until age 70).

A portion of your benefit may be taxable, if your combined income exceeds certain thresholds.  The thresholds are not very high, so many retirees are paying taxes on at least a portion of their benefit.  However, you will never pay federal income tax on more than 85% of your benefit.

Protect yourself from mistakes.  When filing for your benefit, the authors recommend putting notes in the Remarks section of the application to indicate the specific date you want to have your benefit begin and which benefit you are taking.  If you don’t specify, and you are filing after FRA, they will automatically provide you with retroactive benefits up to 6 months, which could impact your delayed retirement credits (and thus the amount of your benefit).  Make sure to get a copy of the signed and dated application.

Social Security will still be there for Millennials.  Even the most pessimistic forecast indicates that at least 75% of the benefit should still be available.

Statements can be found online.  Social Security stopped mailing annual statements in 2011.  You can create an account at http://socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.  Check your earnings history to make sure it’s accurate!

What are your thoughts on Social Security?  Is it part of your retirement plan?  Or are you excluding it from your retirement planning considerations?

It’s the Unexpected Stuff that Gets You

We are coming up on almost 7 weeks of unemployment for my husband.*  (I can’t believe it’s already been that long!)

From a financial perspective, we are doing OK.  I’ve left my 401(k) and our daughter’s 529 contributions at the same rates for now.  Did you know that Vanguard has a feature where you can skip investment contributions for a set period of time?  I used this feature for my IRA and brokerage accounts – contributions have been suspended for a few months.  I also cut back savings and canceled my employee stock purchase contributions (which probably needed to be done anyway).

Mr. FIREDup is getting unemployment right now, which helps too.  In our state the max unemployment is a little over $300 a week.  It’s not much, but it’s enough to at least subsidize day care expenses.

Due to unemployment, timing of the husband’s last check, and June being a 3-paycheck month for me, we haven’t had to dip into emergency savings yet.  But I question how much longer that will last.  Because we’ve had some unexpected expenses – and those are the ones that eat away at the financial bottom line.

We aren’t the only ones who have these unexpected expenses, right?  Usually there is surplus money at the end of the month to cover them, but we don’t have a lot of surplus right now.  (Finance experts would say you should have a budget category for these miscellaneous things…)

Some recent examples:

  • Vet expenses.  We have a 12 1/2 year old pug.  I got her when she was a puppy.  She’s been with me through switching companies/jobs, getting divorced, moving, getting married, and having a child.  She is, in fact, my first furry kid.  But age is starting to take its toll on her health.  In December she had an incident of vestibular disease.  If you’ve never seen it in a dog before, it’s scary – I thought she was dying!  Luckily she recovered quickly.  But last week she was again showing signs that something wasn’t right.  Friday we found out she has diabetes.  It’s easy to treat – two insulin shots a day.  But the office visit, blood work, insulin, and syringes added up to an ugly total vet bill.  There will also be an ongoing cost for the insulin and supplies.
  • Busted windshield.  A rock bounced out of a truck on the highway and cracked the windshield in my Forester.  Of course it was too big of a crack to be patched and the replacement windshield cost is just a little less than my insurance deductible. 🙁

These are just two examples of the random expenses that seem to pop up regularly for us.  It’s easy to cover these things when you have plenty of cash inflow, but it’s more difficult when budgets are tighter.  I think this is probably what keeps a lot of families from getting ahead.  If I skip that one latte a week I might have otherwise had, that’s going to break even with paying my vet bill in…oh, about a YEAR AND A HALF.

Do you have random expenses like these in your household?  How do you budget and/or pay for them?

 

*Editorial note:  Mr. FIREDup found out that another person from his former team was let go about a week ago.  There are many more things that could be said about this but I’ll just leave it here for now.

Friday’s Frugal Five

Happy Friday!  Here’s a few of my fun frugal stories from the past week.

  1.  Toddlers are interesting little humans.  I’m still amazed that I already have a kid that’s old enough to have opinions.  My daughter has been wearing a pair of hand-me-down sandals since the hot weather started.  Unfortunately, the Velcro on them has worn out and they kept coming undone.  A couple of times we’ve tried to get her to wear some other hand-me-down sandals, and we’ve even tried on new sandals at the store a few times.  She wasn’t having it!  Luckily we found a way to salvage her beloved sandals.  We purchased a 3M Velcro strip kit for $2.99 at Target last weekend.  My husband cut the strips to a smaller size, used the adhesive to attach them to the worn-out existing Velcro areas, and then stapled the new Velcro on for good measure.  It’s been almost a full week of daycare, and they seem to still be working well!
  2. I used our local Buy Nothing Group for the first time!  My daughter stopped taking bottles months ago, but the bottle drying rack has still been taking up valuable counter top space.  The bottles we used also still had plenty of useful life, and I even had some bottles sitting in the closet that I’d never even used. The thing about being an older mom is that it’s harder to find friends to give things away to when you no longer need them.  I could have taken the bottles and drying rack to Goodwill, but I felt like that wasn’t a very direct way to give the items to someone who might really need them.  So I posted them on our local Buy Nothing Facebook group.  It’s not a very active group, but luckily someone responded pretty quickly that she was interested.  She came by to pick up the items yesterday.  Not only did I remove some clutter from my house, I was also able to find a good home for some very useful items.   (Seriously, that bottle drying rack was amazing.  So well designed!)
  3. Yesterday when I was getting ready for work I noticed some old sandals I hadn’t worn for quite a while.  I decided to wear them to work.  I have had them so long that I’m not even sure how old they are!  My best guess is that they were purchased in 2006 or 2007.  Because I hadn’t worn them for so long, I was able to trick myself into feeling like I was wearing something new.
  4. I’ve had a no-spend work week with food and drinks.  One day I used a cash back gift card to eat at Chipotle.  My friend took me out for a belated birthday lunch yesterday. (Thanks MP!)  I used a rewards card to pick up a free Starbucks on Wednesday.  And the other three days this week lunch has consisted of some form of leftover taco meat combined with toppings plus random other sides.
  5. This week I worked out at our work fitness center twice.  I often forget how lucky I am to have access to a free fitness center at work.  Yes, the equipment is kind of old.  But, there is a variety of equipment, and they have GREAT programming.  They also do fun activities and challenges.  For example, on Wednesday they were doing a drawing for Global Running Day for anyone who ran that day.  Today I did one of the many workout classes they offer.

Have you ever received or given away something through a Buy Nothing Group or Freecycle?  What were your frugal wins for the week? 

Friday’s Frugal Five – A Holiday and a Birthday

With the Memorial Day holiday on Monday, my birthday yesterday, and my husband currently between jobs, I decided to take this week off work.  Here’s what we’ve been up to, and how we’ve kept it frugal:

  1. Last Friday we drove 2 1/2 hours to my mom’s house.  She lives on a farm in the country, so we never spend much money when we visit; there just isn’t much to spend money on!  Despite the very HOT weather, I went for one long gravel road run on Saturday morning.  In the afternoons our daughter played under the trees in the shade and blew bubbles, splashed in the kiddie pool, and played in a sandbox.  Mr. FIREDup also enjoyed taking outdoor photos during our visit.  Unfortunately my daughter and I have both been battling colds, but other than that it was a really nice time.  We came back home on Tuesday morning.
  2. Since it was already a short week, we took advantage of one of our daycare’s policies.  If your child is out the full week, they only charge half price tuition.  Given how much our daycare costs, this was a nice little amount we were able to save this week, and we also got to spend the whole week with our daughter.
  3. Yesterday was my birthday!  We didn’t do anything too exciting.  We did go out to lunch and used a BOGO (buy one get one free) coupon for Philly cheese steak sandwiches, so our total bill for the three of us was only $10.95.  Then we stopped by the Starbucks two doors down and I took advantage of my free birthday drink coupon.  I decided to try out the Nitro cold brew with sweet cream.  It was pretty tasty, and since I wouldn’t buy it that often given the price point, it was a nice treat.
  4. Yesterday also marked our daughter’s first library visit.  Where we live has both a city library system and a suburban library system.  I’ve been using the city library system for the last several years, mostly to check out e-books.  It’s been several years since I used our suburban library system, so Mr. FIREDup and I both signed up for new cards and checked some books out for our daughter.  I also picked up a booklet that outlined all the programs going on in the library.  I was absolutely blown away by the number of things they have to offer.  There are summer reading programs for small kids, school age kids, AND adults, in addition to tons of free programming for both kids and adults (including several entrepreneurial related topics).
  5. I took advantage of a couple of gift cards this week too.  My mother-in-law sent me a gift card for my birthday that I used to offset the cost of a couple of new items for my wardrobe.  We recently got a new dishwasher, and as a part of the deal they were running at the time, they were offering a rebate for the installation cost.  We got the rebate in the mail recently and I used it to pay for a lunch that we purchased while we were out exploring the city this morning with our daughter.

How is your summer starting off?  What fun, frugal things have you found to do so far?

The Mindset of Up-and-Coming Millionaires

Happy holiday weekend Friday!

Did I capture your attention with the title of this post?  It was actually the catchy title of a webinar I listened to earlier this week.  The webinar was put on by Fidelity, who manages the 401(k) for my employer.

Here are a few fun takeaways from the webinar:

24% savings rate

Based on a Fidelity analysis of 133,000 participants with 401(k) balances of $1 million or greater, 24% is the average total savings rate for individuals who have hit the million dollar milestone.  This is comprised of 15% of their own pay and another 9% in matching contributions or profit sharing from the employer.

Does anyone out there get that much match or profit sharing?  Because my employer’s is MUCH less than that.

HSA Shout-Out

The Health Savings Account (HSA) has been a darling of the FIRE community for a while now.  It also got a shout-out in the webinar!  HSA contributions are made pre-tax, grow tax-free, and are not taxed when withdrawn for qualified medical expenses.

Unfortunately, my employer does not offer an HSA.  But if yours does, consider contributing – it is a great way to shield current income from taxes or simply just help pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses before your deductible kicks in.

Unlike FSA contributions, HSA contributions are ALWAYS yours, even if you leave an employer.  Mr. FIREDup still has some money in his HSA from the job he just left, which we can tap into for medical expenses if needed.

Compounding is Key

Millionaire status is within the reach of more than just high earners.  The key is to invest early and often.  Check out this scenario from the recap:

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This hypothetical example uses a conservative rate of return of 4.7% and annual salary growth of 1.5%.

$1M in 40 years won’t have the same purchasing power as it does today, but it’s still impressive!  The key is to start the habit and make it automatic.

Do you have any tips for up-and-coming millionaires?

3 Weeks In: The Effects of Losing an Income

It’s been three weeks since Mr. FIREDup lost his job.  Here’s an update on how things are going so far.

Summer Fun

A noticeable effect has been that we have more fun family time!  Mr. FIREDup can now do weekend chores during the week.  We aren’t spending Saturday morning at the grocery store, and he can mow our fast-growing spring lawn any weekday the weather cooperates.

You know those pesky little tasks around the house that never seem to get done when you’re working all the time?  We’ve got a list of those, and he can usually complete a couple things a day.

It’s really nice that his time off coincided with the weather improving significantly.  We’ve had more time to go to the park and enjoy other outdoor family activities the past few weekends.   He has also had time to indulge in one of his newer hobbies – photography.   That photo at the top of this post?  He took that on Monday while hiking in a nature area near our house.

The weeknight after-work dinner hustle has also calmed.  Mr. FIREDup is a great chef and now dinner prep is well underway by the time I get home with our daughter!

Excitement…but Uncertainty

I’m very excited to see what new opportunities might open up for my husband.  His particular work is a narrow niche, and there aren’t a tremendous number of opportunities in our local market.  I think this makes him feel a little uncertain about his prospects.  However, it’s also exciting because he can find something he really enjoys doing.  There have been a couple of promising leads, but nothing formal has materialized yet.

Gratitude

I’m extremely grateful that we came into this situation in good financial shape.  My solid salary and our generally good saving habits mean that this switch to a single-income household hasn’t derailed our finances.  In all honesty, if we were willing to tighten up our financial habits a bit, I think we could live on this income and still save for FI…it  would just be at a much slower pace.

Financial Freedom = Flexibility for Lifestyle Design

This pause in the rat race of having two full-time working adults in our household has made me think a lot about financial freedom and the trade-off between time and money.  Can we design a lifestyle with more flexibility, even if it slows down our savings?

What if my husband takes a part-time job that allows him to get home earlier to make dinner every night, or which gives him a day off every week to take care of household chores?  What if he takes on freelance work (something that is very common in his niche) rather than another traditional 9-to-5?  What if he finds a new full-time job, and that allows me to look for a part-time opportunity?  What if both of us could work part-time?

It’s exciting to think about how we can design our future lifestyle so that we have enough money to live comfortably but also have more control over how we spend our time.

Have you made trade-offs between time and money?  What mix of work works best for your (or your family’s) situation?

Almost Everyone is One Bad Boss Away from Getting Fired

We’re two weeks out from my husband’s job loss.  Since that time, I’ve relayed the story of what happened to him to a few friends.  When you talk about something slightly taboo, it often encourages people to share stories of their own.  Here are two such stories.

  • I’ve kept one of my good friends at work in the loop on the crazy things going on at Mr. FIREDup’s company.  Ironically, her own sister (who I’ll call E), who also works at our company, is going through a similar situation of her own.  E is a high achiever who has been successful in her career.  She came to our company as an executive and has been promoted since joining.  Somehow E has gotten on the bad side of one of her current executives, an intimidating woman who has worked at the company for nearly 30 years.  An incident from last week confirmed that her executive has a vendetta against her.  It’s not clear why.  It’s likely that she will either be asked to leave or need to find another job outside the company.
  • Another friend, a former work teammate, confided that she, too, has been through what my husband experienced.  She was asked to leave her previous employer because she was not performing in her job.  In fact, she had never shared this story with anyone at our company until telling me, which is understandable.  It feels shameful and demoralizing to go through this kind of experience, even though I know from firsthand experience that she is a conscientious, hardworking employee.

So what gives?

I’m not a conspiracy theorist.  I think the majority of the time, companies operate logically, and that people are fired for legitimate reasons.  But companies are made up of people, and people are flawed.  We have different personalities and different expectations.  Sometimes people are persecuted/forced out for reasons that don’t appear legitimate.  And when you work for someone else, you put yourself at the mercy of someone else’s whims.

Essentially, if you work for someone else, you are one bad boss away from getting fired. 

How does this relate to personal finance?

  • Build up an F-U fund.  Save or invest it however you want; the important part is making sure you can pay your bills if you find yourself unexpectedly unemployed.
  • Keep your skills sharp.  You never know when a good work situation can turn bad.  Today’s great boss could move on to the next thing, leaving you with a new boss that you clash with constantly.  Or the company that’s performing like gangbusters today could hit a slump tomorrow, leading to layoffs.
  • Consider other income streams.  There’s a reason the personal finance world talks a lot about side hustles.  Multiple streams of income = diversification.
  • Work hard, but remember work isn’t everything.  You are replaceable in your job.  Really.  You are.  If you lost your job today, would you lose your entire sense of identity?  If so, it may be time to reacquaint yourself with your friends, family, and hobbies.

Any other suggestions on how to weather the ups and downs of crazy employment situations?

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