Monday, April 19, 2021

No Job. New Plan?

It's been a couple months since my sudden retirement, readers, and the days have been calm. Rewarding, even. This is the type of balance I need, at least while the pandemic drags on, Mrs. Done by Forty continues to work, while nearly nine months pregnant, and Toddler AF seeks our attention every moment. It's a lot, but it's a balance we can live with. For me, taking the corporate job out of the routine has added by subtracting. I'm happier. Calmer. More at peace.

What am I doing with my days? The short answer is spending a lot of time with Toddler AF, which means coloring (and buying packs of coloring books when I can find them on sale), reading children's books (and flying through the library's recommended reading lists), teaching him how to type out words on the laptop, squishing playdough into shapes, finding science experiments to do online, and getting all the time in the backyard we can before Arizona's sadistic summer drives us back inside or into the pool.

When he finally, thankfully naps around one, I catch up on reading, ride my bike (though that is not working the past few weeks as it's already too hot by the afternoon), work on the cars a bit (oh yeah, we bought, um, two used cars since I wrote that post about making one car work), taking my new-to-me Saab station wagon out in search of highway onramps, and catching up with friends on the telephone. Or nap. Sometimes I just nap.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Is $400k Middle Class? Income Quintiles: 2021 Update

Is $400k Middle Class?  Income Quintiles: 2021 Update

2021 is determined to deprive us of nice things, so some tired click bait has been making the rounds again: claiming that a $400k income somehow qualifies as middle class in some coastal cities.

I don't have to link to this junk, right? No, I don't. We won't. We don't have to give wealthy misanthropes the attention they thirst for.

Still, anytime that popular media goes off the rails with definitions of the middle class, it's a good time to center our understanding on what people actually earn in this country. As always, I'm using my favorite, easy to understand method: income quintiles.

Monday, February 8, 2021

A Kinder Means Testing

Don't Means Test Stimulus Checks
Now that congressional Democrats have moved past the Republican's latest political showboating (this time in the form of a twelve hour vote-a-rama) the non-fascist party can move forward with a COVID relief bill. They'll likely do so through reconciliation, a process that allows certain bills to pass with only 51 votes in the Senate instead of 60. Since it's apparently not possible to get ten Republicans on board with a relief package if they don't control the White House.

The catch with reconciliation is that it can only be used once per fiscal year, and only for laws related to taxes and spending. Who and what determines whether a bill is related to taxes and spending? The Byrd Rule, named after West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, provides a six pronged test of the bills. And the Senate Parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough (the first woman to hold the position), will deem which parts of the bill adheres to the Byrd Rule.

Okay, now that I've scared off most of the readers with parliamentary wonk links, the three of us can get to what I really want to talk about: what's being reported about the Democrats' misguided plans to provide relief checks to fewer Americans than was provided under the Trump Administration & the prior split Congress.

Monday, January 25, 2021

And I'm Out

I wasn't sleeping, and for the usual reason. I was so stressed from work most nights, thinking about deadlines I wasn't able to meet and the series of conversations I'd need to have explaining when we could deliver, that I couldn't turn my brain off enough to relax & doze off. Sometimes I'd be up just to one or two in the morning, sometimes I'd be up through the night. 

After that, being productive at work the next day was more or less impossible. I'd end up even further behind by the end of the day, even more stressed out about how everything was going to be done in time. Lather, rinse, repeat.

COVID certainly wasn't helping. Mrs. Done by Forty and I were juggling full time work and Toddler AF, trying to make sure the kid was engaged and learning (or at least not running face first into furniture) all while sticking to our rule of no screen time. Throughout the day, we'd take turns stepping away from the laptop to relieve the other, swapping our employee and parent hats, and using nights and weekends to catch up on work. And we have a new baby on the way in April, which just added to the anxiety.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Baby, Baby

Like so many other Americans, we celebrated a bit these past couple weeks. We felt some relief that a (too-small) majority of Americans made a choice for competence, decency, and democracy. And because of that, we're allowing ourselves to feel a little hope, too.

It's premature. The primary problem with voting an authoritarian into office is that they're hard to get out by the same method. Trump was never going to go quietly. He's already using the office of the presidency to spread outright lies, misinformation, and blatantly trying to incite chaos and violence on behalf of his supporters. By the time we're reading this on Monday, Trump's legal team will file even more baseless lawsuits in the hope that one of the cases might make it to the Supreme Court that he's stacked with unqualified allies.

Which all goes to say, it's not over. When you're facing a political opponent without morals or an allegiance to our country, it never really is.

Monday, September 21, 2020

The Justice We Choose

I don't know what to write about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passing. I only know enough to be dangerous about her tenure on Supreme Court, the significance of her service, or what this will mean for the nation.

I think I know what will happen next in the Senate. Republicans will prove once again that they stand for nothing besides power, and they will give a new justice the hearing and confirmation they would not grant to Merrick Garland

These GOP senators listened to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony, and then listened to Kavanaugh's unhinged response, and decided to confirm him anyway. It seems naive to pretend these same Republican senators are going to suddenly find a conscience, or be shamed into decent behavior by pundits pointing out their hypocrisy by reading their own quotes on Merrick Garland.

Senate Republicans will confirm the justices they want and will refuse to consider justices they don't. It's as simple as that. 

Monday, September 14, 2020

FIRE Buys You Class...Whether You Want it or Not

Pursing financial independence is an exercise in class mobility. No matter what economic class you start in, or what class you like to tell people you're a member of, when you have enough money to never have to work again, you're functionally wealthy: you're now part of the upper class.

Doing so at an age so young that it can barely be understood by friends and coworkers just underscores the point. 

You're not just wealthy, you've become part of this new class at an insultingly young age, and everyone around you would appreciate it if you would at least feel a little bit bad about it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Equality or Equity?


We Americans, it seems, are at the end of our pandemic ropes. Whatever collective actions we were going to take to whip this virus, it sure looks like we've already taken them.

We are tired, tired of all of this, and we want to return to some sort of normalcy. Return the kids to school because we're told we have to return to the office. We want to return to our favorite restaurants and vacation spots. To sports. To campus. To the way it was before.

Safely, of course. With masks and distancing. We don't want anyone to get sick. We are good and caring people, but we can't stay inside forever. Life must go on.

Monday, August 17, 2020

One Year Out: Are We On Track for Financial Independence?

I turned forty last week. It felt weird.

But my birthdays always do. I've never been a big fan of the day. The attention, the singing, the taking stock of the past that is supposed to happen: all of it feels odd to me. I appreciate the sentiment that I am loved and that people care enough to let me know it. But the bad feelings tend to outweigh the good. I'd just as soon pretend it was a normal Wednesday, have a beer or two, and call it a night.

To add to the pressure, there's this whole financial independence goal that thirty-two year old Brian thought would be a good idea to write about, you know, before actually doing any math to see if it was possible. As the date gets closer, my pessimism grows. And the goal is public, which just adds to my anxiety.

We're a year out from the deadline. Will we be financially independent by then? And even if we are, will we feel confident enough to leave work by then?

Let's take a peek at the numbers and see what's what.