My pile of savings has been steadily increasing over the last two and a half years, since deciding that a life in the office was an increasingly bleak prospect I began to financially engineer an escape.
The omnipresent oppression of the corporate life hasn’t quite got me down yet, but when my knees finally buckle under its pressure I want the supple and supportive cushion of some investments to fall back on. The alternative of dragging my metaphorically shattered body to MegaCorp and back again, day after day, just isn’t that appealing.
And so it goes, I work, I save and I repeat. Habit at it’s time-sucking best.
For the most part, life is the same in it’s post-saving set up as it was before. I still go out and hang out with friends. I still go on surfing and snowboarding trips. Fuck, I even buy a coffee every now and then.
Cracks begin to form
But everynow and then things are noticeably different as a result of my secret wealth.
A few weeks back a suspicious looking invite made it’s suspicious way into everyone’s calendar, highly suspiciously sent out the evening before for a 10am meeting the following day. A teleconference invite, the worst kind of invite. Entitled something along the lines of;
Dear Stupid Members of the Horde who will do anything to keep their monthly salary. Important business update! Make every effort to attend!!
The Hive Mind
My highly developed senses prickled at this, something dangerous was afoot.
If you work for one of the many MegaCorps you get used to someone moving into a position of power and feeling like they have to swing their junk about, just to let everyone know how terribly important and powerful they are. It’s all part of it.
This tends to result in endless “restructuring” and “efficiency realising” exercises as time marches on. Seemed another one was on its way, I could smell the stench of the Redundancy Monster through the passage of time.
The announcement was protracted out over a couple of days, I suppose to keep someone in power feeling powerful. End result for Mr Zombie wasn’t much, he’s still got his job at MegaCorp. A few others weren’t so lucky.
I did find myself in a state of calm during the announcement, mulling over the pros and cons of staying in my job or being asked to leave with a nice redundancy payment.
Peeking out from my Zen Bubble, the majority of the Horde didn’t seem to share my thoughts.
There was a world of commotion out there, the ying to my savings induced yang. Plenty of worried emails were sent, red faces worn by worried workers and the stench of panic hung in the air. For many, that unwavering stream of future income in the form of salary was starting to shimmer and waver, it wasn’t looking all that certain.
It would have been a pain if I got hacked with the Redundancy Axe. Looking for a new place to work would have been an upheaval. Especially in the specialised role that I find myself in. But it wouldn’t have been a rushed affair that needed to completed with any immediate urgency, I could have used some of my savings and taken the time to find the right role for me.
It seems that having savings, rather than a larger house or a nicer car, is a rather awesome in these situations.
I’m certain the people impacted will be just fine in the long run, but I suspect they have set themselves up for a stressful time of it.
Before the announcement was completed I sent an email to a group saying that perhaps we should cancel our cinema trip in case some of us couldn’t afford it come 5pm. It elicited not a single response. I stick by it, it was a funny email.
A wandering mind
Did make me wonder, if I had got the “It’s us, not you” talk, my P45 and a redundancy payment, what would I do? One of four things;
- Jump straight into a job search and be back at work for another MegaCorp without missing a beat and bank the whole redundancy payment.
- Travel for a few months on the redundancy payment and start looking for a job on my return.
- Use the redundancy payment and savings to embark on a new venture.
- Sit about in my underpants until the redundancy payment was exhausted, panic and then re-start work.
Let’s all agree on something, they all have their positives.
The first would allow me to keep up the momentum I’ve built over the few years. The middle two would be much more of an adventure, but would likely take a huge chunk of my savings away in the process. There’s a lot more risk wrapped up in them. The last would leave me feeling a guilty and ashamed mess.
It’d probably be the first at the moment, but give it a couple of years and the second two options start to look more and more appealing.
Thing is, without the savings your options are reduced to frantically looking for a job before you burn through your redundancy money.
Real Life Ain’t No Fairy Tale
The point of this rambling is that this is the first time I’ve really felt different to other people as a result of ignoring the norms and saving over 50% of my net salary.
As the months roll by and you continue to save, that becomes your norm. And it’s all to easy to forget that the vast majority of people aren’t living like you. Although I walk around shaking my head at fancy houses and needless commutes, endlessly complaining to Mrs Z about cars on finance, I still think at some level people can’t be that bad with money. Surely they must have some savings.
From where I’m sat, on my couch, fingers dancing across the laptop keyboard, some old school In Flames blaring away, it seems so fucking obvious. It’s crystal clear to me that borrowing money is, for the most part, a shitty decision. That buying the biggest house and the flashiest car you can just afford the monthly payments on is approaching personal finance like a labrador might. And labradors are known more for their love of rolling in fox shit, not their personal finance abilities.
And yet this is how 95%* of the population approach it. *figure plucked straight out of thin air
It’s very easy, once on the path of saving to Financial Independence to forget that having savings provides other benefits too. It’s not only Early Retirement or Financial Independence that make saving 50% of your income a good idea. Hopefully the shock that the Hive Mind provided serves as a reminder to the employees of MegaCorp to sort out their finances.
For me, it’s been a reminder that I’m on the right track.
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(I am aware that being made redundant can be a right pain in the ass. Weenie over at quietly Saving is going through it right now. Head over to voice your support 🙂 )