Thursday, May 17, 2007

Don't Quit Your Day Job - Part 1

I managed to squeeze in 45 minutes worth of revisions on my romantic suspense on the train the other day -- the train I take home each day after work. The crowded, noisy train. I can usually block everyone out - I don't know them so it's easy to ignore them. I put my head phones on, tune out the people, tune in the music and try to lose myself in my story. Most of the time it works.

When I'm tired it's harder to do.

At home it's harder to ignore my family -- including the dog. So, it's harder to write, most of the time when we're all home together. I'm tired at the end of the work day and all I want to do is veg on the nights Todd and I don't go to the gym.

I find myself wishing I could quit my day job and stay home and write. You know how that feels. That sense of longing when you say to yourself, "If only I could do X, I'd be so happy."

But then I run the numbers. The former army engineer in me can't help it. The IT support person I am now won't let me do anything else. So, I run the numbers and I run them often to see what my options are.

Reality is that my husband and I have worked very hard to achieve what we have. We both grew up poor and used ROTC to get through college followed by nearly 14 years in the army. We are now enjoying the fruits of our labor - well sorta. We're also putting our daughter through a private college. I find it ironic that we worked hard to pull ourselves out of the low-income life we came from so we could pay through the nose to provide a better life for our daughter. I know others can relate to this.

Anyway, back to the numbers. My husband and I haven't worked this hard to give up what we've worked for. We don't have a lavish life - far from it. We don't take 'real' vacations (although I hope that changes next year). We go to writer's conferences or motorcyle events - Todd's other passion. So, we'd want to have enough income to continue doing the things we enjoy doing.

We buy cars that we expect to last 10 to 15 years. I'm still driving my Honda Prelude that's 20 years old now. We'll probably have to replace it this next year as it's finally showing it's age.

But I won't go back to the days of struggling and wondering where my next meal was coming from. I won't go back to the time of having to forgo a doctor's visit because it would cost more money than I had.

My goal is to retire debt free and have enough retirement income to cover all our retirement expenses and not worry about how I will pay for increases in medical expenses, property taxes, gas -- you name it. Just watch the news today to hear how hard it is for people to cope financially, especially those on fixed incomes. Hell, just look around your neighborhood or your extended family - I'm sure you'll find at least one person who is a senior citizen (not sure I like that label) who is having to make a choice between essential items that need to be paid but where money is insufficient.

So, I run the numbers and I continue to write within the confines of my working life because I can't afford to quit my day job and maintain what I've achieved.

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