Myself included! It is the battle cry of those of us who have declared our Early Working Retirement... "We work so we can exist, and that's got to be good enough." I am going to continue working so I can sustain my day-to-day existence. Somehow, even though we live in a tiny condo with what is considered in our area to be a tiny mortgage, and we drive a 12 year old car, we can't ever seem to get ahead. I work a 40-hour a week job that I love, and my wife works as much as possible and even then, we can barely make ends meet let alone save for college or retirement. Many of us have hit the glass ceiling and the salary cap, and cannot progress any further in the work we currently love to do. As time progresses, the longer someone stays in a job without pay increases, the more inflation causes an effective pay-cut. I am already living on a fixed income, just like a retired person. The solution is that I need to supplement my income and take on additional freelance work. But it has to be the kind of work I want to do with people I want to work with.
The reality is that it takes more than just hard work to get to a full retirement. I have been trying to save money my whole life, but every time I get a small nest egg, some emergency arises and, 'poof', it is gone.
I used to consider myself as a part of the Middle Class. I grew up in a wealthy community in the midwest and I was fed the American Dream of working hard and retiring to enjoy my later life in peace and dignity. I was fed a line. Firstly, I have come to the conclusion that 'Work' is a means to an end. I love what I do which allows me to consider myself to be Early Working Retired. But it still barely gets the bills paid. Secondly, if I need to be classified, I believe I have slipped into the Upper Lower Class from the Lower Middle Class. I suppose it is nice to be an upper classmen, but not the class I had hoped to be at the front of.
What is most important is that I need to enjoy my life now. And I do. My wife and I just got back from a week-long vacation of kayaking in northern Michigan. We have our own kayaks, and we got in the water for 6 days in a row. It was great. We vacationed on the cheap, and had a blast every day! Part of being Early Working Retired is appreciate the people and the things I have and the life I live.
Today, I return to my 40-hour a week job and a renewed vigor for succeeding financially. I want to be able to come home from vacation with money still in the bank. I want to put my son through college. As of today, I am committing an hour each day into new product and business development and I am committed to supplementing my income by 'working' a little bit more than I used to. Of course, I will only pursue projects that make the world a better place, and ultimately to be able to run my life without having to report to a building for 40-hours a week. That is the long-term goal. In the meantime, it is back to the grind. Knowing that my fixed-wage work is merely a means to pay the bills, and that my supplemental projects are what will ultimately help us to return to the middle class and really be able to afford to live the way we want, motivates me to pursue my other ideas even that much more. The new American Dream is to be able to rise above sustenance working and be able to save some money. The challenge is to stay motivated! I am up to the challenge!
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