Friday, January 2, 2009

Progress So Far (Q4 2008)


It’s that time again! I know it’s a little overdue. But hey, with all the holiday merriment and multiple hangovers from the past week now behind me I figured it was about time to check in on how the war against the Enemy is going.

[And, as an aside, feel free to crack jokes about how a lawyer is using quarterly reports to gauge how much closer he is to meaningful simplicity. The way I see it, I have been reviewing and analyzing 10-Qs, 10-Ks, 8-Ks and almost every other type of SEC filing under the sun for 1/5 of my life. To use a similar format in this context is somehow perversely justified. :) ]

So, without further ado, here is Jack’s 2008 Q4 (8-K) report for the quarter ending December 31, 2008:

Getting Rid of Consumer Debt/Student Loans

: Ongoing
: September 1, 2009

Checkmate! As of this quarter I officially have NO consumer debt. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: getting rid of debt actually makes me feel LIGHTER. There are less bills in my mailbox each month. There is less mental energy being wasted on debt in general. Ultimately, less really is more.

On the student loan front, I am waiting to start my new job later in the year before figuring out how to get my law school to pay for some or all of my student loans.


Sale of Stuff

: July 2008
: December 2009

In a reverse from last quarter, I have actually found some buyers for some of the stuff I’ve put up for sale on Craigslist. The process I’ve set up is also freeing in its own right. I’ve gathered all the things I’m selling into one closet. Every time I sell something, the closet gets less cluttered. The cash I get after a sale goes into an envelope. I’ve already deposited over $300 dollars into my savings account. I might have 5-6 items left to sell and then will be holding a garage sale right before leaving my place.


Selling the Townhouse

: October 1, 2008
: September 1, 2009

Now that my house is on the market, all I need to do right now is wait and see. A quick sale would be a godsend, but I’m prepared to wait until the summer to reassess options. The important thing is that the process has started and, for better or worse, the most obvious manifestation of the sick consumerism that gripped me not so long ago will be shed this year.


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

As I’ve said before, in the end, deciding to leave my job early was inevitable. My heart is just not in it anymore. Life is too short to waste an extra year of your life waiting to get paid. Maybe things would be different if I had a family and kids to think about. All I know is that I can’t do this kind of work anymore. Just two more months and then it will all be over….



Anonymous said...

I found your blog via an article by the ABA about the "top stories of the year" (congrats on making the list)

I find it very interesting and can relate to you on many fronts. And I give you a lot of credit from getting away from the rat race. I work in a larger firm as well, and struggle with many of the same issues.

There is something that rubs me the wrong way, and I'd love to hear your response to it. I don't understand why, just because you are ready to be out of this crazy life, that it is okay for other people (your lenders and, eventually, taxpayers, at some point or another) to carry your financial burden. What I'm getting at is your student loans and your mortgage.

You have been making a very substantial income for what 5-10 years now? And doesn't sound like you have used those funds to do much besides live in excess. yet, because you now want to work in a public interest field, someone else should have to pay for your student loans? I don't really get that. If you lived on next to nothing and stuck your job out for another year or so, you could probably pay down your student loans completely and pay down your mortgage so you could afford to sell your house without a short sale.

Maybe this is a sore subject for me because I'm not happy with what I'm doing. Yet I'll be doing it for at least another year in order to do the very same thing - pay down my home mortgage and pay off my student loans. We are living very frugally and supporting 5 children. And, though I make a very reasonable salary, it is no where near what yours is (although we are in a lower cost of living area).

**I should note that I have only begun to read your blog, so I may have misunderstood your position on these issues - feel free to correct me.**

Would love to hear your thoughts on this subject - do you have any moral qualms about walking away from these financial obligations?


Carrot said...

Good work, Jack. :)

weston said...


Don't have much to say other than to tell you that this is the first time that I can recall ever finding a blog and then reading every single post and all the comments within 24 hours.

I'm rooting for you Jack. Now I have to get some work done.

Anonymous said...

How did you end up having more success with craigslist? Lowering prices? I've had problems myself, trying to sell stuff on there, and it sometimes just feels like a waste of time & energy, and I ended up just donating a lot of stuff to Goodwill.

Anonymous said...

How exciting ! I really can not wait to start hearning about posts where you are living the life you want. Essentially ... you already are by working on what you want, but really doing it is going to be awesome!


I have a similar "work to live" lifestyle. I live WELL on a modest income that could be bigger IF I wanted to work harder and work more hours. But ... I want to do things like travel and cook and spend time with people. I live the most " scaled back " of my yuppie friends. They used to laugh at me until the market fell this year and now they ENVY my cheap apartment and cheap little car because I can wait this market out with little stress!

Anyway.... I got off on a tangent here, but I'm looking forward to more of your writing !

Anonymous said...

Congrats, Jack! You are doing well. Making the honor roll. I'm downsizing too...mostly donations, though. My things aren't worth much! Good luck with selling the house.

Anonymous said...

I just wonder whether you are trading a highly paid job with a another legal job which has slightly less stress but a lot less money?

I would love to hear your views on that.

Jack said...


Thanks. I just found out about it but I don't really know what to make of it.

Excellent points. A couple of clarifications: 1. I'm hoping that my law school will eventually pay for my student loans once I transition to a public interest job. Harvard has a loan forgiveness program available to all alum who chose the path I have now chosen. Funds come directly from the Harvard endowment. 2. Currently selling my house at its market price. A while ago (you can track back to an earlier post on this very issue, which includes a discussion on morality) I decided NOT to walk away and just leave it to foreclosure. A short sale is one of the options available if I can't sell at the market place. I will probably consider that option fully when the time comes, so your point is well taken.

As for the excess of the past, there really isn't anything I can do about it at this point. When I finally got my head together I decided not to look back and concentrate on the future and what I could do with the knowledge I gained. Hence my paying off $35K+ in credit card debt and the whole Plan itself.




Thanks for the kudos. Check back when you can.

Jack said...


Well, I basically lowered my prices quite a bit. I also think that selling right before xmas helped quite a bit. I would just keep posting until you get a bite.

Anonymous (Amanda)

Thanks :) Sounds like you are living a fun, full life. More than anything, it sounds like you are where I want to be in a year. Good luck.



Jack said...


Well, to be honest, that is something that has been festering in the back of my mind. I think the fact that I want to be very choosy with the job I get later this year will mean that I will have more control over job satisfaction and stress reduction over time. But I guess we will both find out when the time comes.

Elizabeth Halt said...

you're making great progress! :)

Anonymous said...

i'm so happy for you for having no consumer debt! we're still working on those pesky credit cards, but hopefully in the next eighteen months will have zero balances on them (depending on the economy--that yearly raise/bonus hubby usually gets may be non existent this year-- and on "emergency" expenses). i find that when i let that goal slide it comes back to haunt us in a big way.

i know you haven't decided about having a family, but you are being so smart to tackle your debt issues before taking on those kinds of responsibilities...

Anonymous said...

To be a total law nerd, shouldn't it be 10Q, not 8K.

Nikki ( said...

best of luck. pretty bad-ass goal, written out in report form or not. :) I ran away from corporate w*ork three years ago and haven't looked back since. Let me tell you, it feels good, real good.

Jack said...



@A Square Peg,

I hope you get those cards down to $0 ASAP. And yes, this is pretty much preparation before those very important steps.


How 'efing embarrasing! Very good catch. I was initially going to break my status updates into 8ks and 10qs starting with this post, so that's probably why I goofed.

Nicola said...

good for you!

Jack said...

@Click Clack Gorilla,

And let me tell you: you are where I want to be in 3 years.



Anonymous said...

Jack: Try the middle way. (see Hesse, Buddha, Lao Tsu) Less risky.