Monday, September 29, 2008

Progress So Far (Q3 2008)

I can’t believe I made it to the end of September. I really can’t. There have been times when the stress of work and the anxiety of waiting for this process to take it’s logical, deliberate course has been almost too much to bear. But here I am, my dear reader. I am staring at a calendar that tells me that I have survived another quarter and have moved closer to the beginning of something precious: absolute, simple freedom. :)

Now that I am here I figured it was time to check in with the Enemy and see how far along I have come:

Getting Rid of Consumer Debt/Student Loans
Start: Ongoing
End: September 1, 2009

My debt reduction plan continues unabated. By tomorrow, I will be able to say that I retired approximately 62% of the consumer debt I accumulated since I bough my townhouse. I am still on target to finish paying it all off by next September though I could always pay it off in full using part of my savings. The more I put in savings the more this becomes an attractive possibility. I think I will feel comfortable signing a big fat check sometime in the next several months. But, again, this consumer debt is parked in a 0% credit card, so it’s not as if I am incurring a monthly interest charge. I don’t have a strong incentive to pay this off at the moment, apart from the psychological boost it would provide.

The student loan debt is still humongous. I’m continuing to make minimum payments, which is annoying because I am paying a great deal towards interest. Again, I think this will not be much of an issue once I start a new public interest job. As I mentioned, my law school has a program that pays off student loan debt if you work in the public interest field. This will probably be the subject of a future post.


Sale of Stuff
Start: July 2008
End: December 2009

One word: nowhere. After de-cluttering my townhouse earlier this year I was left with five or six items that I put up on craigslist. Maybe the prices I advertised were too high or maybe it’s just the economic times we live in but I got exactly 0 responses for all the items I posted. I will try again in a couple of months and see if I can unload some stuff. If I can’t I will just have to wait until I hold a proper yard sale before I leave the townhouse next year.


Selling the Townhouse
: October 1, 2008
End: September 1, 2009

My dear reader, you have NO idea how gratifying it is to finally start focusing on how to get rid of my townhouse. It is the single biggest obstacle to my freedom, both literally and figuratively.
Starting this Thursday I will be contacting real estate professionals, attorneys and tax advisers to try and outline all possible options. Once I get all the facts I will be in a better position to plan my exit strategy. I can’t wait to get started! :)


Leaving My Job
: December 17, 2009
End: December 31, 2009

I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way I came to terms with the possibility that I could, in fact, leave my job earlier than next December. This is actually the most significant development since I started this process and I am grateful for it. :)

From the beginning, I could justify leaving my law firm because by the time I did I would have enough cash to feel comfortable and secure for years to come. While the plan calls for having enough money in the bank to make $10k a year in interest, the reality is that I could probably live off whatever salary I get from the dream jobs I am currently researching without tapping into my savings. Bottom line, even if I were to leave my job in 6 months or even 3 months, I would still have enough in savings to make leaving my job early worthwhile.

What this all means is that the date of my departure from the law firm is no longer based on how much I have in savings. In fact, freedom for me now depends on how soon I can figure out the practicalities of getting rid of every unnecessary physical thing in my life. As soon as I can dispose of the townhouse and get rid of my furniture I will be in a position to quit my job. What a difference a change in perspective can make.



Carolyn said...

You get an A from me!

Great Job!

Anonymous said...

Are your savings safe or will you have to really embrace simplicity?

Jade of the Jungle said...

Gold star for effort!

I'm looking forward to recess, myself.

J x

Moti and Amanda said...


What a blessing that your stint in the world of soulless jobs is giving you such a nest egg. The change in your perspective, the emotional freedom to be able to choose the next steps while having truly enough -- these are beautiful things. I am glad for you.

I'd give you an A+, but I used to teach and don't believe in grades. :)


Jack said...

Carolyn, Jade,

Thanks guys! Still going forward, bit by bit.


They are pretty safe; have parked everything into a couple of high-yield savings accounts that are not invested in anything. I have separate 401ks that are invested in a variety of mutual funds.

Jae Jagger said...

What type of public interest job? Did you write about this, and I missed an entry?

Daizy said...

Impressive! Has this fast-forward progress made you think more about your plans after you quit? Health insurance and housing are my biggest problems, everything else is pretty easy.

Elizabeth Halt said...


Hey - I was reading one of my favorite books at the coffee shop today and I thought of you. It's called The Working Poor, and there's a chapter (8, I think), where he talks about a doctor in Boston that started to hire attorneys for his staff because it was very hard for him to address certain health issues in children without addressing aspects of their health that fell outside of medical intervention - poor food that might be helped by food stamps or housing issues like lead paint that a landlord won't fix, etc. Anyway, it's a good read regardless, you might read that chapter. Maybe it's an idea for you ..

Jack said...


Yes, I'm definitely more fortunate than most. I really only want to have enough in the bank to have the freedom to live simply. That's the secret.


You know, still doing the research. Have narrowed things down a bit but probably won't have anything super definite for the next couple of months. And yeah, I did mention something about this sometime back.


Yeah, some of that stuff is floating around in my head at the moment. Still making a list of things to finalize and health insurance is definitely in there somewhere.

Anonymous said...

I think it's exciting and wonderful that as you work towards your goals, you're discovering more opportunities are opening up for you. :- )

My Eco Self said...

I think there is something about the economy which is affecting sales - I just tried to sell some things on Ebay - really expensive clothes - and I got practically nothing for them. I might as well not have bothered.

Jack said...


I will have to check it out. And believe me, some of those very issues are in my line of sight as I figure out my next job.


Precisely. As the process moves forward different possibilities are opening up. I wouldn't be aware of them otherwise.

My eco self,

Yeah, it certainly seems as if there is something going on. I would not be surprised that the current crisis is making people weary of buying anything. I think i'm just going to ask for very little next time I put stuff up and see what happens.

Me said...

Great progress report :-) I like how you put a time line on your happenings and events... I try too but life gets in the way. So now I just go with the flow and hope it all works out ;-)

I'm not shocked by the selling of things... right now John and I are both shit up a creek without a paddle... he can't sell his house and I can't sell my extra car... I know those are big things but if sold they would leave a great big "+" in the budget for us! Interested in a 2004 saturn or a 2 bedroom house in the midwest????


chat at you later :-)

Carrot said...

Thanks, Jack, for the comment on my blog. Hopping freight trains and being broke- it doesn't get much simpler than that!

Nicola said...

oh, awesome. i have to make sure my husband reads this post! you are so impressive!

Jack said...


The timeline was the original one I put together when i started the blog. To have to refer back to it keeps this whole process honest. Let's see how far I can go. :)

And, unfortunately no! :) Let me know if you are interested in a townhouse in DC instead.


I've got to say that you have one of the most interesting blogs I have seen in a while. Makes me want to be hobo like ASAP! Any plans for coming out my way any time soon?


Thanks for the kudos.

Anonymous said...

List your stuff on Craig's List again. And again. And again...

I listed our van for sale on Craig's List and got nothing - not even one call. I listed it again - and still nada. Then I advertised it in the local paper (which was an expensive listing) - still nothing. I resigned myself to the fact that we would have to put the darn thing in the barn for three years!

But then one day about ten days before we left, and just as I was about to start getting the van ready to store it, I decided to try again.

I ran inside and grabbed the camera. After snapping a few pics of the vehicle, I placed the ad on Craig's List - not expecting anything at all, but figured I had nothing to lose.

Fifteen minutes later, I checked my email for something else - and found a response!! I called her, then headed out to clean the van (I hadn't bothered to clean it since I never thought I get a response). I was still cleaning when they pulled up into our driveway.

They took the car out for a five-minute drive and came back and handed us a check!!

So - keep listing. You just have to time it right so the right person sees the ad.


Heather's Moving Castle said...

Anything is possible!! I was so excited to read that you may be able to retire from you current situation sooner than expected. I would think it would be very stressful to stay in a situation that you are unhappy with or ready to move on from. Three months is one thing; a year and half can feel like an eternity. I've been there.

I would think people would be jumping at the chance to buy your townhouse? Have you listed it on ebay? Or is that not a good idea? I've seen other homes listed there.

Good luck!

Jack said...


Yeah, believe me, I am definitely putting that stuff back on craigslist. Since I wont be needing any of it I can probably sell everything for little cash and still come out on top. Hope I have better luck next time.


You have captured my predicament perfectly. I am pretty much in a prison at the office until I feel I have had enough. But no worries, my mindset is definitely changing, so I think I will be leaving sooner, rather than later. And yes, ebay may be an option. Have to figure that out.

Jolyn said...

I am curious about the public interest job that would pay off your student loans -- you would still need a place to live, yes? What ideas do you have for that once you sell your townhome? (Which you WILL do! Slump market or no!) If you're working and still tied down geographically?

If you covered this previously, I apologize. I'm trying to catch up here after a little "simplifying" myself, which involved reading less of blogs and being more in the present with my family...

As a military spouse, Christian SAHM of three, one with special needs, our priorities are much different. But the concept is so similar. I just want to encourage you on your journey. I truly hope you find the purpose you're looking for along the way.

Anonymous said...

Jack-- the go-to online classified in some regions of the northeast has switched from Craigslist to Kijjiji, you might want to try it. (I was recently off-loading some things of my own, and while Craigslist resulted in zero responses, I was overwhelmed with inquiries from Kijjiji).

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I was not a lawyer, but a highly paid, high tech sales exec. Left last December for the exact same reasons as you, although I'm a 48 yr old mother of twin boys (who spent $70K to create a family 4.5 yrs ago). I decided to work on my "bucket list" (education, kids, love) and it's been an incredible life experience. Although I'm much less financially advantaged than you, I am preparing to sell my $750K home in Oregon and I gave up my dream of going to Lewis & Clark law school(yes, at 49 I would have started!) due to a tragic family death. I am so, so grateful beyond belief that I gave up all the stress and money for the time to spend with family and reflection on a new work life that only involves helping others whether it be as a Director of a fertility/egg donation clinic or adoption. It took me this long to figure out that all this "stuff" we kill ourselves to accumulate means absolutely nothing. My granite countertops, cherry cabinets and marbled floors and bathroom don't love me or make me laugh or bring me joy like my relationships do. My mantra this year has been "I'm doing a lot less workin' and and lot more lovin'". So much more joy and love has been experienced in this one year already. Your personal story brings me great joy to hear and I know you will never regret your decision, but truly fall in love with your life more each day. This is "heaven" on earth! Ya Baby!

Anonymous said...

Question about your posting here. You mention living off $10K per year in interest from a bank account(s). I'm not asking what you have in the accounts, but I am curious how much is required in a bank account (you choose a reasonable interest rate) to generate $10K per year in revenue?