Less Stress and More Happiness

Less Stress and More Happiness

To explain why I think financial independence leads to less stress and more happiness, let me tell you a brief story. One day at work my boss called me into an unscheduled meeting:

Boss: “Jason, we are going to have to let go you. The company has decided to go in a different direction.”

HR Woman: “We are prepared to offer you 6 weeks of severance…”

You’re Fired

I basically stopped listening after that. I was at this job for only a few months before being let go. When I received their job offer, I was so excited to take the role and have a positive impact on the business. Just after I was hired, the head of my department was replaced and a new management team came in. There was significant turnover in the short time I was there. I found out afterward that many of these changes were not voluntary. That is not an excuse for my dismissal though; if I had made myself indispensable to my employer, they would not have let me go. Despite the challenging environment, I take responsibility for not meeting leadership’s expectations.

My Ego Was Crushed

It felt terrible to be thrown away like that. The experience hurt my confidence more than anything else in my career. On the brighter side, the working environment at that company was horrible and I was glad to be out of it. I had been working 60+ hours a week, including most Sundays. When I called my wife to tell her the news, I felt a sense of relief. I was finally rid of this terrible work situation.

It’s Important to Have an Emergency Plan

When I was laid off, we did not have any children yet and Mrs. WPF herself had a great job. We had no trouble paying the bills for a while on her income. We also had an emergency fund, my severance and unemployment to get us through financially. Our savings plan took a hit while I was out of work, but overall we were just fine. It really does pay to have a savings cushion and a plan for an unexpected hardship.

Life Goes On

I found a new job a few months later and we moved on with our lives. I became a valuable resource in my new company leading to a fantastic relationship with my boss, strong performance reviews and large raises. We also had our first child at this time and for a variety of personal reasons decided to cut $94K from our annual spending so my wife could leave her job and stay home to raise our son. We are blessed to have this option available to us. One of the reasons we felt comfortable making that decision, was that I was employed at a stable growing company and my boss was a mentor, a huge supporter of me and my work.

Remember that Paychecks are not Guaranteed

Something in my head changed though after being laid off. The possibility of losing my job again was always at the front of my mind. This fear became even stronger when we became a one income family. In addition to my earlier firing, I’d survived many rounds of layoffs in my career. I know there always is the possibility of losing my job no matter how well I perform. If I was laid off today, we would not be able to pay the bills without digging into savings. I never want to be in that position.

Risk Aversion

Unlike what you may believe by reading about my willingness to take a $200K bet, I consider myself a risk averse person. By becoming financially independent, I won’t have to rely on a paycheck to put food on the table.  In order to get there, I’m willing to take on calculated risks with investments that have a proven track record in order to accomplish my goals. Especially now, while I have earned income to live on if something goes wrong. My risk aversion drives me to save and invest as much and as efficiently as possible so that I’m not dependent on anybody else for my financial support.

Today’s News

Today, I found out that my boss resigned. Yes, the same one that had been a mentor and a huge supporter of me, so much so that it gave me the confidence for us to become a one income family. I’m going to miss working for her. Today, my job is not nearly as secure as it had been. It’s disappointing, but having savings to fall back on keeps me less stressed and makes me way happier than anything I can buy with that money today. In the end, less stress and more happiness is what financial independence means to me.

20 thoughts on “Less Stress and More Happiness”

  1. Sorry to hear that your mentor is leaving. But wow, what a difference a financial cushion can make. I think we all take our jobs for granted at some point. It’s very easy when the paychecks keep rolling in and it seems it will stay that way forever. Although we aren’t FI yet, cutting expenses and paying down debt have given us SO many more options. We can cover emergency repairs on vehicles and anything else that comes our way.

    1. You’re a personal finance blogger, your not supposed to have vehicles! Don’t you have a bike? Just kidding. I agree, getting out of debit is a great starting point. Then the bigger you grow your savings, the more options you have.

  2. Thanks for sharing such a personal story. My husband and I have both experienced re-organizations and great bosses leaving our companies this year. These experiences also make me thankful for the emergency fund we have established so we’re covered no matter what happens.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Rochelle! Having a plan for a financial emergency is key. Reorgs are so frustrating from an employee’s perspective. In the end, management needs to maximize profits for the shareholders so I understand why they are necessary. It’s also why it’s better to own a company (or at least own shares) than to be an employee.

  3. I’m a little confused. I got every promotion I got all the way to the top of the company due to my boss leaving or getting promoted and me getting their old job. Shouldn’t you be excited about the fact that you are in the hunt for her job? If you aren’t a candidate for your bosses job when she leaves then I’d be seriously rethinking if that company is at all a good place for you to be investing your time? I may be missing something and I’m not trying to judge but I’d never work anywhere or for anyone if I wasn’t one of the most likely replacements for my boss should my boss leave the company.

  4. Thanks for the feedback Steveark. There are a few levels and years of experience between me and that role. I will certenly be trying to pick up more responsibilities though and hope I can earn a promotion myself.

  5. Anytime we are let go, it can be a tough situation. I feel you that I wouldn’t let that insecurity strike me twice either after losing my job and wondering what next! It sounds like God worked an incredible plan with this situation and is prompting you to become better prepared and you are heeding the call. Good on you! Margin is your best friend for sure!

    1. We do our best to prepare for whatever life throws. You can never be ready for everything. Having a gap between our earnings and spending helps us build savings and prep as best as we can.

  6. It’s still a highly competitive job market out there. Glad that you found something that was a better fit. Your “hell job” is probably much more common than your “I have a great boss job.” I’ve found over the years that people don’t leave companies, they leave bad bosses. That’s a nice position to be in, if you are financially secure. Sooner or later, age discrimination will become a little more evident for the Millennial generation. For people that haven’t done the necessary preparation, that’s when the chickens will come home to roost.

  7. I was reeled in from the “You’re Fired” pin on Pinterest (well done man; did the Mrs. take that over yet or still no dice??).

    I’m late to the party on this post, but soooo sorry you had to go through this unfortunate experience.

    Keep positive and stay winning…I always look at it when God closes one door, another always opens, we just have to keep turning knobs until it opens.
    Take care!

    1. Haha no dice on outsourcing the Pins. This was one of my original’s too. At least I now know who the one Pinterest visitor was today!

      You’re right about one door closing and another opening. If not for this event, I’d probably be less focused on saving and this blog may not exist. It’s funny how things work out sometimes.

  8. Very cool, just reading a bunch of your articles today. Didn’t know you were in NYC too! I hear ya about the rent in the luxury buildings. Friends are like, yeah the gravy train will keep rolling and it’s fine to spend a ton of money. Welp, people who started in 2010 are complaining so much about what’s been happening to the industry in just 7 years! The writing is on the wall, financial independence is definitely the way to go. It’s rare to see people with FI mindsets in NYC I feel, everyone is thinking there will always be a tomorrow. Probably a keeping up with the Jonses problem due to bosses and coworkers and peer pressure.

    1. When you are living in a closet sized apartment in NYC, I can see how it would be easy to upgrade your lifestyle before focusing on savings. In the high cost of living areas, you need to make very focused spending choices to achieve a high savings rate. Doing so is the exception, not the norm which makes it all the more difficult.

  9. I know all about getting laid off. Glad that you were able to make it through as just a small hiccup. I think losing a job changes a person’s relationship to money. For me, it made me crave the freedom of never NEEDING a job to survive. That’s definitely the way to curb a big source of stress.

    1. I’m sorry that you’ve been through it also. What does not kill us, makes us stronger. Thanks for sharing.

      I wonder how many others are focused on FI because they’ve experienced how unreliable a job can be.

      1. Good question. I definitely think there are many of us who started this journey because we realized that no job is ever 100% guaranteed. I also think there are a number of FIRE folks who are just tired of long commutes, crappy bosses, working nights, and feeling like they have to keep doing it or else. I’d say 90% of us fit into one of those two buckets. The other 10% are magical unicorns who love their jobs and just figured out this is a cool thing to have in their back pocket too.

        That’s just my wager.

  10. That’s really the whole point in working toward FI even if you love your job – it just takes one change (and sometimes one you have zero control over, like a boss leaving) to make that job less secure, or even just less fun than it used to be. FI gives you control over the situation and control of when it’s time to say no.

    1. That’s exactly right Angela. Nobody is forcing you to retire early from a job you love just because you hit your number. On the other hand, it’s so easy for a job to change or be eliminated. I doubt there are majority of people out there that regret saving too much.

  11. Even if your wife hadn’t left her job she would still be raising your child. Do you feel you aren’t raising your son by being employed?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *