Living paycheck-to-paycheck and working full time was not getting me the results I wanted in life. In my case, perhaps “paycheck-to-paycheck addiction” is a more accurate term.
The addiction of payday begins with rewarding myself for working 80-plus hours. Dinner out and a movie. A new toy. Maybe some new clothes. A weekend getaway. Lunch out every weekday for two weeks before running out of money a day or two before — you guessed it — payday!
The downside of my paycheck-to-paycheck addiction included all the things I was ignoring — a meaningful family life, my financial illiteracy and money issues, and an overall disorganized, procrastinated life.
So when the opportunity to exit presented itself in 2010, I fearlessly took that opportunity — in my own typical, though not so unique style, a.k.a., short on planning, quick on jumping. And much like the consequences of jumping from a spinning merry-go-round after riding too long, I stumbled about, got sick, and then began regaining my balance.
It was probably one of the best decisions I’d made in a very long time. Had I hesitated, I might be living with an outcome much sadder than the humbling experience that ensued.
In the course of the next six years, I did something I consider fantastic and also something very bad (or at least strategically ill-advised, haha).
Doing The Fantastic
I talked my wife into quitting her job so we could spend more time together. For a security-driven person like my wife, this was no small decision — and hurrah for her for taking the leap and working together with me toward a better future.
Spending more time together proved to be invaluable. I regained someone I felt that I was starting to lose. Of course, that’s the short version, haha. But if faced with the same decision under the same circumstances, I’d do it again.
As another benefit, leaving behind the paycheck-to-paycheck, full-time job reminded me that life could move at a much slower pace and with less urgency. It was good to catch my breath again.
Doing The Strategically Ill-Advised
Still, life costs money. So we lived off of my part-time income and my 401k and a credit card. I was such a complete financial illiterate! And well, I now know that I could have done better things with that 401k.
All I can say about this is: terrible, terrible, terrible. In my case, it gave us five relatively-carefree-years of a slower pace of life that proved to be very good for us. Had I been capable, however, I would have done it differently.
Goodbye paycheck-to-paycheck life, Hello Life
Now let’s fast forward through my 401k and end up, more or less, penniless — and in poor health— in 2015. In October of that year, we move in with my in-laws, and by 2016 I enroll in financial literacy kindergarten — and start this blog.
Starting in March 2016, I put my health in order. I’m grateful that I saw rapid progress on that front.
In December I started a new part-time situation and moved into our own apartment.
Now 2017 begins and promises so many good things. I bring with me my wife, her part-time job, a part-time business, a small measure of financial literacy, a new apartment, a new part-time situation, and about $12,000 in debt to paid off.
And to think: it all started with kissing goodbye my paycheck-to-paycheck life six years ago.