User:Woozle/blog/2012-03-11 1551 Our Financial Situation

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Our Financial Situation
2012-03-11 1551

I keep finding myself wanting to explain our somewhat unusual financial situation; most recently, a conversation on G+ has turned to employment status, and I felt I needed to have a reference page for the whole story so I could just link to that rather than explaining it in-thread.

This is the short, oversimplified version. I may add details as they come up in conversation. This page reflects our status as of right now; if our status changes substantially, I'll post a new page with updated information (and link from here)

My last full-time job was in 2001, as a contractor doing business database work for Carrier Transicold.

Shortly after that, life got complicated for unrelated reasons, and then for several years I was dealing with a situation that didn't realistically permit regular employment (home care for a profoundly autistic child). I was able to resume looking for work in 2010, and got several recruiter interviews but no employer-interviews. I've stopped putting forth any substantial effort in that direction, but still have my ears pricked for any job that "sounds like me" (i.e. I could make a strong case that it's a good fit for my skills).

I am nominally living off the support money provided by Harena's mother for her and the two remaining kids (hers, from prior marriages), but I do supplement my resources with income from occasional computer consulting (both local and remote). There are lots of complex ethical tangles in this, but I've made absolutely sure that nobody considers me to be "mooching". In effect, I'm living off the plutonomy (via H's mom) -- but not in a way that's really under our control or that leaves us with any kind of surplus (much less feeling like members of the 1%, which I don't think we are anywhere near being: I should think that one-percenters at least have enough money leftover for things like a new set of tires, new gutters, house repairs, etc.; we generally don't (oh, and medical care would be nice too; we have no health insurance)).

I tend to resolve this ethical dilemma ("Am I actually pulling my weight?") with two thoughts:

  1. It's not as if I haven't been working this whole time -- often doing things I find especially unpleasant and not really part of my skillset because we couldn't afford to just pay someone else to do it faster and better. If make an effort not to be self-deprecatory, I can also point to quite a few substantial accomplishments over the past decade -- just not nearly as much as I would have hoped to accomplish, given that amount of time. In short, I don't think I'm lazy, though I do vastly prefer typing on computers over doing physical labor.
  2. I'm reasonably confident that if I were living alone, undisturbed, I'd have a decent income within 6-12 months -- therefore this situation represents something of a sacrifice for me, on a purely pragmatic/financial-bottom-line kind of level. (Obviously financial pragmatism is not always my primary motivation.) Now that we've resolved the Josh problem, I do expect to be able to rebuild my income within another year or two, providing that civilization doesn't collapse in the meantime.

Right now we seem to be operating at a small deficit, slowly eating up the money I set aside last fall (from several consulting gigs in a row, plus Christmas presents from my parents). I've been putting substantial time into software to help us track our budget more closely (see htyp:FMyMoney); once we've got a solid grip on what our budget is, we'll have a better understanding of what we need to do in order to be more solid financially.

As far as how to allocate my "work" time, I'm caught between feeling that I need to focus on income-generating activities and feeling that the somewhat privileged position I'm in (not actually having to work much to pay the bills) means that I should focus more on saving civilization, which (frankly) motivates me a lot more than finding ways to make money does. I've got at least one project which may combine the two interests, but there's still a long way to go.

I should be able to sort this stuff out a lot better once we have the budget firmed up.

None of this entry is intended as a complaint. I'm primarily discussing my personal information as part of a larger conversation, a dialogue about how people deal with money and employment and the issues that surround those things... and secondarily because I don't like the feeling of hiding for fear of the assumptions people might make if they were to come across some particular about our situation without knowing at least the broad outlines of the background story.