This message comes to you from the grid. As in i'm off the grid. I debated to post this or not since the Internet is well ..the Internet. I've lurked for over 5yrs on this board but never joined. Just wanted to say a quick thanks for what you guys/gals post. Ahh figured it's worth a short story and maybe someone wants a new read. Summary in a single post
Here I go.
Why FI? Well for me it was watching co-workers of mega corp crumble. Treat payday like it's the last. Money is just a tool that can open options, but you still have to choose.
I thank my parents. They are frugal and knew how to get champagne taste on a beer budget. I lived and grew up in the country, so I like having space. Parents made us do chores growing up. Always had to earn items myself. If I wanted something it was get a job and you can buy it yourself, you'll appreciate it more. I remember my parents telling me the things I think are important now won't be. And so it went I had less than those around me growing up. Today I thank them for it. It has made me focus on what I really want. This doesn't mean I'm without material things but the ones I choose I weigh heavily.
"Let me 'splain...No, there is too much. Let me sum up" haha.
High school changed schedules so I realized I had enough credits to grad a year early. Spent that extra time working two jobs, one at taco bell, the other mowing a large estate grounds myself. All work and no play is bs. Usually took a week to mow, but I managed to make it 2x12hr days while attending night school at community college. This managing of time allowed weekends for the goofing off with friends.
Few jobs later worked at a large plant building tractor trailer axles. This was the better job with the high pay. Was about to start college but had alternate plans to join the service for the communications field. My parents were fully behind whatever I decided. After listening to the guys working at the plant I realized most had the same stories. They were suppose to leave for the military but didn't. I somehow knew then I should just drop everything and go.
Did the military and it was the best experience. If you know what your doing it for and have a plan the experience is invaluable. Like many others, I also married. Haven't wanted kids since I was 16, so I got clipped right away.. Got out of the service and jumped in with mega corp. After military life, the mega corp seemed like lies and false promises. I remember then thinking to myself wtf everyone lived over extended lifestyles. Nose to the grinder I put in the time. Really thought this was going to be our new life. Living the American dream in the burbs lol. We soon hated it, and realized it wasn't for us. Made good money and a big promotion. Co-workers gave me crap all the time about having an old car (mechanic skills, welding etc), and always renting not buying a house. I told them I like to stay mobile if it hits the fan. In the year 2000 Cary NC I was right, Tech crumbled. I still stayed another 5 long years cause outside things seemed to deteriorate and collapse. Watched some lose it all, Made it through 10 layoffs. I kept my distance and formulated a plan to be FI. I loved the work, but hated the mega corp atmosphere. Not to mention the co-workers didn't like me cause I wasn't one of them. Realized you always have to make people believe your like them in some ways so your not an outcast. Played the game to pretend because I wasn't like them at all. Realized I should of left over 2 years ago. Decided to change things up and apply the plan in an extreme way. About that time the wife separated. We were on good terms and still talk today. With the mega corp scar I vowed to never work and live like that again. Cookie cutter be damned. Sure it is holding a grudge, but has given me the extra motivation to go all the way outside the box. Yes people thought I was nuts to leave the good job. The boss was giving my quarterly review when I told him I quit. He asked if anything they could do to change my mind I said no. He offered to hit him up if I ever wanted to come back.
Took my box of skills and bounced oconus as a private consultant working in the fast lane down range of war zones. Very extreme sacrifice and discipline. Call it war profiteering or whatever you want but this was my path. If it's a location in Afghanistan or Iraq I've been there more than once. It's like backpacking, only at night your camping with the Taliban next door. Won't go into gory details of the dangers and pitfalls I've encountered. Best left for the imagination on that one. And before you think of a response to ask, in this case you really don't know till you know. Every moment your at work. Sleep if you get any, your at work. Noisy neighbors can keep you up sometimes all night. You open your eyes your at work, but paid for 84hrs/wk of it. Only problem was most in this atmosphere lived like rock-stars or vacationed like one. Hell with danger situations of this scale people tend to blow money cause it really doesn't matter. What good is it if you die. It's like the extreme thinking of large house mortgages, who cares i'll be dead before it's fully paid. You all know the mentality. You have to hold perspective. Once again played the game and did my own thing. Loved the work, but this time really liked the people. Paid off debts seemingly overnight and snowballed retirement portfolios, stocks, mutual's, rolled 401ks into self IRAs. Over the next several years this went on. Good timing came 2008. When the market numbers were severe in the red I adjusted my savings ratio and pushed over a large stack of chips to go all in. I've stayed frugal even with high salary. While others buy new cars and larger houses, I'm aligning investments. I'll tell you watching others flipping jobs trying to plan from these types of positions is like a bad game of musical chairs. When the music stops few make it while most are left scrambling and holding nothing. Some worse than they started. As my buddy would say; "like a lotto winner bumping rails off a hookers a$$". Traveling the world is out of my system.
Today, over 5yrs later, I'm still down range majority of the time, but almost finished. Changed "shirts" a few times but the same company. In the US I own land with a nice house and vehicles. No mortgage or debts allow a chance to stay ahead and live an easier life. The new game has been management, but I'm wanting to finish up and work part time. Motivation is to be able to spend more time with friends and family. Now that my dad has retired it gives opportunity to spend time with him. Something I see to many regret not doing. I've been off the radar so long, I'm sure I'll be adjusting to a normal paced lifestyle. Not many people know what I've been up to except my parents and a close friend. I've even worked out any small differences with the x-wife over the years. Guess you could say we grew up and married too early. We still see each other when I visit the US. She doesn't know much about what I've been doing either or how much I've been making. It was never about the money for her, but I don't share numbers I've never wanted money to be a factor of who is with me, or the status for friends. Even though I'll never marry again, she's cool with that, Nothing says you have to marry to be happy with someone. I'm ready to close this chapter and open the next one. With less than a year left I've been thinking a lot about how I got here and where I'm going next..
To say things are different now is an understatement. Retire now?. . .nah, maybe 40, I always see myself working something to keep busy. The new plan is enjoy living more working less. I'm 34.
" You know, we are sitting here, you and I, like a couple of regular fellas. You do what you do, and I do what I gotta do "