FIRST A LITTLE HISTORY TO SET THE SCENE
Seven years ago, my father, who was living with us, was slowly dying. During that time I made the bizarrely irrational decision to go from part to full time work. I don’t know what possessed me but I blame it on the scrambled ideas which inhabited my brain during that very painful period of my life. I started that fulltime job in real estate administration the day after my father’s funeral.
My job was full of busy, stressful activity and much aimless noise. But it helped me to not think for long periods of time during the day, and that was a blessing. I eventually became proficient enough at my job to be headhunted by one of the company’s top agents as her personal assistant. And my responsibilities (and income) climbed from there as I stepped up into other jobs within the same industry, as did the stress that goes with working for highly motivated, self-focused individuals. Some of my bosses were adequately pleasant but others were mean-spirited individuals who trampled all over those in their way and treated those around them with a blatant disregard for their feelings. Dealing day in and day out with such people eats away at your serenity.
My latest job almost finished me off. First my neck seized up and I could hardly move it without pain. Then tension headaches, which I had suffered from intermittently since shortly after starting full time work, kicked up a notch and morphed into migraines. Repetitive strain syndrome (RSI) attacked my right shoulder and arm – the one that moved the mouse, for real estate admin work is mainly mouse work with not a lot of typing. At the same time, my right tear duct decided to close over so I had a permanently flooding eye, the exact one that can focus up close and on the computer. My other eye sees long distance and so they work in unison to create almost perfect eyesight – when not flooded. Try and see a computer screen when you are crying – it’s so blurry you could be in fog. That is what I was dealing with every day in a very fast-paced, deadline-driven, neurotic environment.
Now, seven painfully stressful years since I started on this self-destructive path, I have bought myself four months of freedom.
HOW DID I BUY THOSE 4 MONTHS OF FREEDOM?
A few years back, I became annoyed at having to answer to my husband for every purchase that I made despite earning a fulltime wage, and so I came up with THE PLAN.
Out of my income, which went directly into a separate account to the main one, we set up two monthly automatic payments to each of our newly created personal accounts. This was like a wage to ourselves, and we could do what we wanted with that money without fear of condemnation from the other spouse. I am not talking about a lot of money, but it gave me a sense of independence and went a long way to solving a few problems. At that stage, the idea of buying my freedom hadn’t even occurred to me.
I went through periods of spending and saving that small wage, but over time it accumulated – at first a few hundred dollars and then a few thousand and so it grew. I always thought I would use it for cosmetic surgery when I got too old and ugly. No, not really – I would be terrified of going under the knife when it wasn’t to save my life. But, anyway, my personal fund grew.
My current (not current anymore) boss set targets of houses to list and sell before Christmas and when we hit those targets, we could go home on paid leave until early January. Now we actually hit those targets at the end of November, but she kept me on for an extra week before saying I could have the next week off and then take any holidays which were due to me because she was going overseas and didn’t need me back until January 13th. That wasn’t exactly the agreement when the targets were set, but five paid days of freedom were better than nothing. By then, I was so destroyed from trying to combat my physical ails as well as her foul moods, that I already had an inkling that I wouldn’t be back and packed up my few belongings and took them home with me. In fact, after a week of trying to take back my mind, I knew I had reached the end of my tether. I spoke to my sister and my friends and finally my husband about handing in my resignation. My sister and friends encouraged me but my husband immediately queried what I was going to do for an income, and that’s when I came up with THE PLAN.
WHAT WAS THIS MAGICAL PLAN?
I worked out my monthly income after tax. Then I went to my personal bank account and saw how much I had. I divided that by my monthly income and found I had 3 ½ months of wages in there. And during those four months, I would have accumulated another two weeks’ worth of our small wages. So that made four months before I had to start earning again. I then transferred that over to the account where my wages usually went and I had four months to plan a new source of income.