This post is by staff writer Smithee, who may just be the financial opposite of Flexo.
You’re going to think I’m crazy. At the very least, you’re going to think I haven’t learned how to live a financially responsible life. I’ve written here many times about my struggles with just making ends meet, and for a while, I thought I was in the clear. Last Spring, after thirteen years, I forced myself to pay off my credit card debt, and by the time August arrived, I was finally saving money in earnest. Then I got laid off the very next month, and since then, things have been unpredictable at best.
So, I’m 35 years old with less than one month’s worth of emergency savings. My wife and I are living off of her salary and my Unemployment income. What better time to move from Dallas to San Diego, right?
The short version of the long story
In 2002, I was living in Seattle and loving it, even though I was broke and living in a clean version of squalor. I moved to Dallas to be with a woman I loved, who dumped me within 72 hours of my arrival. I was stubborn and even more broke, so I stayed. I eventually met a different woman and we have a happy marriage, but we don’t like Texas. I’ve been here for about 8 1/2 years. Dallas has been very good for my career, and I like all of my friends here, but this part of the country doesn’t suit us. We visited a friend in San Diego a couple of years ago and fell in love with it.
My wife does some very specialized work with accounting software, and there are only a few people in the U.S. who have comparable skills and knowledge, so she gets a lot of attention from recruiters. She’s been unappreciated at her current employer since the beginning, but because of her contract, she can’t easily go to work for one of their clients, or most other places in Dallas / Fort Worth. Another state like California, however, is wide open. She followed a San Diego lead from a recruiter on a lark, and against expectations found the job offer tempting. Last Friday, she accepted the offer to start work there at the end of February.
Wisdom versus happiness
As I wrote for Consumerism Commentary and read more about personal finance, I came to the conclusion that my family isn’t going to follow a standard plan toward retirement. Given our ages and non-existent savings, we’ll never catch up by having normal careers and saving modest amounts. It’s simply impossible. The only advantage we have is that we don’t have children, and unless something radical happens in our brains and we decide to adopt, we won’t have children.
If we ever want to retire, the only available option is to “make it big” somehow. We both want to be successful in some corner of the entertainment industry. In her heart (and on her hard drive), she’s really a writer. As for me, I’ve been trying a little of everything, trying to figure out what I’m good at and trying to build an audience.
Then again, maybe we won’t ever want to formally retire. Maybe we’re the sort of people to work especially hard for eight months then take four months off every year. At this point, anything is possible… except for the normal plan of starting work out of college and saving every year until you’re in your 60s and coasting until death.
The new plan
All of the above is a rationalization of our decision to incur some significant credit card debt again, before finding a way to crawl back out. I don’t see a way around it. My wife has a set date she needs to be in San Diego working, and I need to follow her there as quickly as I can in order not to have two sets of monthly payments. I want to do this with the minimum of impact on our credit scores, but I am sure they’ll take a downward turn. I just hope it’s more of a stroll than a free-fall.