The 'work' of 'studying' Footbag
I am participating in a study about advanced freestyle players. This study is being done by a college student overseas. I can't wait to see the results of what he finds. I'm honored to be a part of it. Check out my blog: http://footbagfreestyle.blogspot.com/2014/06/freestyle-footbag-official-study-log.html for the first article. This will be a 30 day logging experiment. I plan to publish all the details at http://footbagfreestyle.blogspot.com.
Life is fun. Sometimes it feels like work, but it rarely is.
We will be teaching and doing demonstrations for hundreds of kids, as a reward to them for helping to raise money to reopen the Oxbow Park Observation Tower which was damaged by a suspicious fire a few years ago. Thanks to Dragonfly Footbags and footbagshop.com for making this happen.
On December 4th, 2013 you gave a speech on economic mobility. I felt like you were speaking directly to me and others who are in my situation. I am a very average American who considers himself lucky to have been born here, and immensely proud of our our country and the direction you are taking us. I have also come to the realization that I will not be able to retire at 65 as was the dream, and that since I already live on a fixed income at a job I love, that I decided to retire early, and keep working through my retirement so I can enjoy every moment of every day like a retired person does. I am writing this article so you can get a better idea of how you can help me, or more accurately, how you can help my child and future generations, as I don't think there is anything you can do to help me specifically... outside of petitioning my company to recognize me for what I am, not for what degrees I don't possess.
You hooked me in when you were talking (Reference the Presidents Speech) about how our "frustration is rooted in our own daily battles - to make ends meet, to pay for college, buy a home and save for retirement." While I earn a nice living with the major computer company that I teach for, my wife works on-and-off in catering, and we still can't seem to make ends meet. We live in a modest condo in a nice suburb of Chicago, we have a 15 year old son who wants to go to college to be a pilot and we dare not dream of buying even a modest house, as we barely qualified to refinance our condo to keep from going under last year.
To make ends meet and to pay for college... There is a balance between enjoying life and affording life. We try to scrimp and save on essentials, but the base cost of living exceeds our actual income by about 10%. I'm working on getting some side work to fill the income gap, but that means I'll spend even more time away from my family. Tax cuts are great for rich people, but for the average joe, they don't amount to much. For instance, I don't notice when I get an extra couple of bucks a month back because of a tax reduction. So I don't think there is much help you can offer there. For my child, and for the future of our country, we need to stay on track with pre-k programs, enhancing public education and making higher education more affordable and accessible and simultaneously cultivating industries in America that require the intellectual and physical skills of the kids who succeed in our schools. I'm stuck in my giant company where I am, primarily because I lack a degree from an institution of higher education. There are so many of us who have so much to offer, but because we couldn't afford a college degree, we skipped it and went into the workforce. The government already runs the public school system, why not extend that to include higher education? Make college degrees available to lower and middle income families, and make it possible for middle-aged people like myself to pursue a college degree, to restore the hope of a well-paid future to millions of Americans!
To buy a house... We have a condo in a nice suburban neighborhood. We dream of a house with a backyard for our dog, and plenty of room to move around, but that is a pipe dream. We can barely afford the condo we in, and we can't sell it until we are no longer upside down on the mortgage. Even if we could, the most we could qualify for is 20% more than we have, for which there are zero houses available in our town at that price. For the future, we need to get a handle on the banks that put our mortgage system into jeopardy, we need to prosecute people for their crimes against America, and ensure that it doesn't happen again. We need to make home ownership into a reality for my son, I just don't see it for me.
To save for retirement... The way things are headed, I can't see a scenario outside of winning the lottery that would allow me to stop working and 'enjoy my retirement.' With a modest condo we can barely afford, to make ends meet as it is, and in three years, our son goes to college. With all the loans required for college, we will up to our ears in debt for the next 20 years. Which puts me at 67 years old. The American dream is dead for me. I will need too continue working until the day I die because my income is stagnant and inflation is rampant. Saving for retirement is not an option, because anything earmarked for retirement will be immediately usurped by the day to day needs of life, and my son's college education.
The reality is, I'll be working until the day I die. Which is why I started my 'Early Working Retirement' a few years ago. I have come to the realization that I'll always be working to make the ends meet, because I have spent the last 25 years trying to accumulate wealth and have nothing to show for it. I am ashamed that there are many others like me, but I'd be even more ashamed if we did nothing to make sure that we are the last generation to suffer this reality. Lets make early childhood education, and a college degree a requirement of education, and ensure that there are good jobs to be had, to make the dream of home ownership a reality for our children, and to save for retirement so future generations won't have to work until they die just to make ends meet!
When I considered the similarities between what it takes to be a great employee, and what it takes to be a great footbag (hacky-sack) freestyler, I came up with this little movie...
FYI, I love my job and I am not looking for a new one. This video brings together my thoughts in a way that would be suitable for attaching to a resume. But because I am always on the lookout for additional income that will help with getting through our day to day needs. Thanks for watching!
I read an article on why more Americans are coming to the conclusion that they will need to continue working until they die. The article, "7 Reasons Americans Can't Save for Retirement" is written by Emily Brandon from USNews & World Report in 2011, and looking at it from today's perspective, we can see that it was an accurate prognostication of the future for so many of us.
The article outlines how "Living beyond our means, Little employer help, Not saving automatically, Too much debt, Savings isn’t a priority, No emergency fund, and Spending our windfalls instead of saving them" has become the norm for today's Americans. They nailed me, 6 out of 7 are accurate for me three years after the article. I truly believe that I can have my cake and eat it too! I should be able to afford a comfortable, meager lifestyle and not go into debt doing it. The reality is, we end up Living Beyond our Means in the sense that we always end up having to choose 'who to pay late.' As there are always bills hanging over our head, Savings is Not a Priority because all our money goes to paying bills and we never seem to get caught up. I know the importance of having an Emergency Fund but I'm never able keep one filled up. When we get Windfall Income, it gets spent immediately. We do have a savings account with automatic deposit, but we inevitably use the money to pay a bill that is critically late. I am lucky to have my dream job, and it happens to be with a large company that treats my family an I to excellent benefits. Even though we were nailed by this article, I still wouldn't have it any other way! I am looking forward to working for the rest of my life.
Join me in taking an Early Working Retirement and developing a personal lifestyle that accepts our eventual fate. I know I'll be working for the rest of my life, and I don't have any fictional number of years left working. I am spending my time enjoying what I have. Enjoying spending time with my family, enjoying every meal I eat and every day I 'work.' It is okay to live hand to mouth, as long as we can enjoy every minute of it!
I find it difficult to budget our finances when we are living hand to mouth on a week-by-week basis. Since we've been living this way for the past 25 years, I have become an expert on how to accept what the realities of our situation. One thing that happens when living hand-to-mouth is that we eventually fall behind on our bills and someone's going to get paid late. We even factor in which bills get paid late based on whether they report our delinquency to credit agencies and how much the reconnection fee is. I know we are in deep when we pay our bill based on when they cut us off, not when it is due. That is the reality of living from paycheck to paycheck with nothing extra left over, ever. It is not a bad life though, so don't mistake my pragmatism for whining. I'm not whining, I'm just saying.
And therein lay the hidden burden of late fees and stupidity charges. For instance, I misread the parking-amnesty policy in my home town of Oak Park. I missed the part about how while it is okay to park overnight without getting tickets, that the policy does not apply to permitted routes, which is where I parked that one fateful night. It also happened to be the same night I borrowed my mom's car, and got a ticket on hers as well. That is a stupidity charge that I can't afford, but must. I usually forget about parking tickets for just long enough that they double in cost, I call that a Double Stupidity charge. My other Stupidity Charge already this year was from an online product order gone awry from gogopillow.com. On Dec. 17th we ordered what we thought was two of these items for a total of $40, which I was against, but I ordered them anyway. The website did not give me a summary page to tell me how much the shipping was, but it turned out I ordered 2 each of 2 models and paid $40 shipping in the process without any option to review the order before it was placed. They were supposed to arrive before xmas but came in a week after xmas. When we went to return them, they said they don't return the cost of shipping charges nor do they cover the cost of return shipping, which we argued and they said they will escalate it to management. But no guarantees. So we expect they will reject our claim for full refund and we will be out about $60 in shipping costs. I believe they intentionally design their website like that and then intentionally charge $20 shipping because they know people will return them and they still make $17 per order even if returned. The gogopillow.com website is intentionally misleading and I cannot be the first to go down this rabbit hole.
A late fee is a late fee, and I hate to estimate how much we paid in late fees last year, but it is likely well north of $1,000. My point is that between stupid things I do, online scams I fall prey to and late fees that I have no choice but to pay, I bleed money. Already this year, assuming this gogopillow nightmare doesn't resolve itself, and remind you we are only 1 week into 2014 and I have already laid out $120 in Stupidity and Late fees.
I can't escape the realities of today's economy, so I accept them. If it is this bad for my family to stay just above water, what must it be like for the truly poor. I can't wait to see how this works out in 2014, oh that's right... I can wait. It will happen. Stupidity and late charges are both good explanations of why we are always behind on our bills and at the same time, they are the punishment.
When I realized that I'd never be able to stop working AND keep paying the bills, I decided to take an Early Working Retirement. As soon as I did, it changed my entire outlook on life. It allowed me to treat my work as play, and to truly enjoy my day-to-day life and every aspect of it.
People who know me, know that I never stop doing. That I always have some tasks in process, some big ideas on the back burner and I keep myself busy. That is part of the key of being Early Working Retirement, is that by staying busy, it keeps my fervor for life at an all time high!
I am about to print this trading card up and use it as my business card. Why would someone who is enjoying their Early Working Retirement need business cards? To stay busy, that's why. And I would like your input. I am nearly ready to order the printed cards, so if you could take a quick look at these card examples and let me know if you see any typos or glaring omissions of any kind. If you would like a copy of the card, please let me know.
Time seems to fly by. Income is fixed. I go to 'work', come home, eat, sleep, love. repeat. Life can seem monotonous at times, and as I cross another annual tradition of my birthday, I am taking notice that while life sometimes seems like I'm a hamster in a habitrail, that it is still pretty great and I'm thankful that I'm still alive and kicking!
My wife and I go to work, because our hamster exercise wheels generate the money needed to put the wood shavings in the living area and food into the food chamber. My son hopes to soon get a job and get his own wheel to spin. We live a pretty good life, although we seem to spend much more of our time spinning our wheel to produce the cash needed to live comfortably, we live a good life. It would be nice to get away for more vacations, but we can't save money for vacations because our expenses equal or exceed our income and we are always in a hole. It seems every time we get a little ahead, we run into some unexpected expense that all but drains our income buffer and we are back to having little to no cash flow. Either way, if the whole world were a habittrail, then ours is likely nicer than most of the rest of our planet.
As an Early Working Retired person, I am at peace about having to work the rest of my life just to pay the bills and get by. I get to spend all my spare time focusing on my family and my hobbies. I have given in to the fact that I'll never get ahead, that no matter how fast I spin my wheels, I'll always be spinning them, just to get by. I'm okay with that. I just hope my son can do better financially.
I take comfort that while I only have to spin my wheel for 9 hours a day, that my other time is spent loving and caring for my family, pursuing my projects like promoting and playing the sport of footbag and generally loving the current moment, without worrying about the future. I know the future is going to involve plenty of 'work' but if I can keep this job or otherwise continue to literally love what I do for a living, I can happily go on 'working' until the day I die.
Today I turned 47 years old. I have played footbag freestyle for about an hour a day, every day for the past 7 years. Since I turned 40. Mentally I maintain an age of 19, and that is important for my youthful exuberance. I love being me. I built the habitrail that I live in, and I love it!
Thanks for all your support!
The reason I started my Early Working Retirement is because I came to the realization that I'll be working some kind of a job just so I can pay the monthly bills… every month for the rest of my life, so I started early.
That doesn't mean that I'm not enthusiastic about life, it means that I've come to terms with my inability to accumulate wealth and I've decided to enjoy my enthusiasms in the moment. I identify first as a son, a husband and a dad, second as an athlete and thirdly as a teacher. My third enthusiasm pays me almost enough to keep the first two enthusiasms going strong. I have so much fun with my family and my sport, plus I have my job as a teacher at a major computing company which is how I pay the bills.
My wife, son and I eat dinner together almost everyday, and I've been playing footbag freestyle everyday since I turned 40 which is 2531 in a row today. I work 5 days a week, plus whatever consulting, graphic design or videography projects I might have going. In an effort to get more consulting clients and graphic design projects, I launched this website.
In order to stand out, I'm printing up some Business Cards in the style of sports trading cards. Here is an idea of what the front and back of the new cards will look like.
An Early Working Retirement lets me enjoy the moments I'm in, instead of rushing through life to 'get to' Retirement
Lets face it. There are no guarantees in life, except for maybe death and taxes. Even the best laid plans dissolve in the case of illness or death. No one plans for the worst of times, and I don't see the value in stressing out over my 'retirement planning' when I may not live long enough to save enough money to stop working. Not to mention the boredom of traditional retirement.
When I talk about work, I feel the need to put the word in italics because my job is so much in line with my passion, it really doesn't feel like work. I work as a teacher, and it just about pays the bills. I am an athlete who works out everyday and I still look forward to more competitions. I am a father and a husband, and I work at being the best I can be. And by being Early Working Retired, I am free to enjoy myself at
By declaring my Early Working Retirement, I free myself from the inevitable guilt that would arise from my inability to succeed financially because I am always living hand-to-mouth and can never save anything. It allows me to truly enjoy every moment.
Learn more about Early Working Retirement
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