Effort, Achievement, and FI

As educators, wrote an article I recently read, we must teach our students the relationship between effort and achievement. That is to say, there is a direct correlation between the effort we expend on a particular endeavor and the likelihood that we’ll have success in said endeavor.

Effort, Achievement, and FI--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

This may sound like a basic concept, but, like so many basic concepts, once you take a minute to unpack it, it has profound implications.

The more effort I put into something, the more likely I am to have good results. 

Many times, I water that advice down in my head. I pretend there’s not a direct correlation between my level of effort and my achievements: “I’ll just run three times this week instead of four. I’ll skip the mid-range run.” Every time I skip a mid-range 6-mile run, my longer 10-12 mile run is super painful and I’m slower. Over an entire training period, that means I’ll run (even) slower on race day.

“I’m tired, so I’ll wake up at 6am instead of 5am. I can still write a blog post.” That’s when I publish 2 posts per week, not three. Over time, I notice my page views slipping and readership going down.

“I’ll just wing it in class, instead of preparing a lesson plan for the week. I can prep before class each day.” My classes are not as good, I’m scrambling for activities to fill the time, and over time, my students don’t make as much progress learning English.

The truth is, consistent, daily effort pays off. It pays off in life, and it pays off (literally) when you’re working towards financial independence.

Making More Money

In the past two and a half years, I have expended a great deal of effort towards my new career–ESOL Teacher. When I started teaching in September of 2015, I knew very little about teaching English. I worked very hard to network with other teachers, observe their lessons, ask questions, and take copious notes. I started a Master’s Degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, and many nights and weekends were spent reading, on our online classroom, or in class, an hour and a half away. Continue reading “Effort, Achievement, and FI”

On Negotiating as a Woman

Sometimes it takes the perspective of time before we’re able to see situations for what they really are.

Recently, I had some insight into my job negotiations last year and I realized why women can have such a hard time negotiating for pay.

Last year, I started a new part-time gig as an ESOL Teacher for a school district in the next town over (an ESOL Teacher is a Teacher for Speakers of Other Languages, also known as an ESL Teacher). I applied for the job because my hours at my first district are quite low, and this district was very close to my house. I suspected the district was fairly desperate for a teacher.

The interview went great, and the superintendent who was interviewing me essentially offered me the job halfway through the interview. Despite this, when it was time to talk dollars, though,  I wrestled with myself a bit before telling her my hourly rate.

On Negotiating as a Woman--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

There were a couple of reasons for this.

One is, I’m new to being paid hourly. As a contractor, my hourly rate is higher than my salaried wage. This is because I’m not fully compensated for all my prep time for my classes. I’m not paid for miles, insurance, retirement, or any other benefits. If a child doesn’t show up for class, I’m not paid. The school district doesn’t have to pay half of my Social Security wages, which is a full 6.2% of my earnings they would pay if I were a W-2 employee. When I started working as an ESOL Teacher, the hourly rate felt high to me and I had no experience in the field, so no one to ask.

But over time, I’ve realized that my hourly rate isn’t as high as I thought. At the end of the year last year (2016), my first full year as a contracted worker, I realized that I made substantially LESS per year than I did as a salaried worker. Part of the reason is because I worked less hours and didn’t work summers, but part of the reason is probably because I’m probably under-compensated for my time. It took me a while to realize this.

Since I’m paid and compensated hourly, it was difficult for me to know exactly how much I’d make as a contractor until the year was up. I often don’t know exactly when I’ll work because of testing, field trips, and holidays. I can estimate, but it’s just that–an estimate.

However, when I was negotiating with this school district, I was still wrestling with the “large amount” of money I made per hour. So when the superintendent looked at me and asked my rate, I had an internal struggle. I don’t know if she could see it on my face. I finally told her my rate, but rounded down to the dollar below.

Something interesting happened after that. She started in on a bit of a verbal tear. “That’s a LOT of money,” she told me. “I don’t know if we can pay you that. I don’t know if my current ESOL Teacher makes that much money. I can’t pay you more than her. I don’t know if we have the budget for that. I just don’t know if that will work.” Continue reading “On Negotiating as a Woman”

Thinking of Changing Careers? Why and How I Did at 36

Have you ever dreamed of changing careers, but don’t know how to start?

I haven’t. Seriously. Except for my first few years in the workforce, I’ve always worked in marketing or sales in one capacity or another, and I had always loved it. Two years ago, this month, I was a marketing manager for a theater company. But here’s why and how, two years ago this month, I changed careers.

Changing Careers--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

I really liked my marketing job. It was part-time, flexible, and the first real job I’d had in the almost-eight years since my first child had been born. I loved the autonomy, the professional identity, the praise I was getting for a job well done. Everything about the job, basically… except the summers.

See, I worked for an opera company, and the “season,” the time when we staged our three big productions, was the first week of June through the second week of August every year. During the season, my part-time job became a full-time job, and I worked nights, weekends, whenever. I was salaried, so although I could work less during the rest of the year to make up for the summer weeks, I earned exactly the same paycheck through the summer while I worked like crazy.  Continue reading “Thinking of Changing Careers? Why and How I Did at 36”

Are You Camp Earning or Camp Saving?

I have subscribed to Ramit Sethi’s emails for years, ever since he was a fledgling blogger at I Will Teach You To Be Rich. His websites are now slickly professional and he runs a multimillion dollar empire, selling courses on how to increase your earnings. I’ve never bought a course, but his emails are full of advice about negotiating and growing your business, and he writes compelling headlines (if you don’t believe me, sign up and see what I mean). He’s helped thousands of people earn more money in their businesses.

Are You Camp Earning or Camp Saving--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Three days ago, he sent out the email, “What Successful People Don’t Tell You.” It linked to an article by the same name. The premise of the article is that people who truly love their jobs will never stop working, no matter how much money they make, because “you would enjoy being on the beach for about 3 weeks…then you would get bored and want to get back to work.” Apparently everyone that this guy has ever met who’s made big money feels this way. Okay. Let’s accept that premise for a sec.

Ramit goes on to slam the FIRE community, for delaying gratification and staying at a job they potentially hate, eating rice and beans, and leading colorless, boring lives (including WALKING as a hobby for God’s sake), only to retire early and then have no purpose for the rest of their lives.

Apparently, there’s a subreddit detailing the dark underbelly of FIRE, which is that once people have sacrificially saved for 14 years, they then have no purpose beyond amassing their $600,000 so they can live off the $24,000 a year in perpetuity.

The article ends by asking you to pick a camp: Continue reading “Are You Camp Earning or Camp Saving?”

The History of Our Side Hustles

In last week’s post, I laid out several streams of income that Mr. ThreeYear and I expect to utilize during early retirement. That led me to remember all the times we’ve had side hustles during our fifteen years together.

Mr. ThreeYear and I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit that runs through our collective veins.

Side Hustles--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

I grew up as the daughter of a small-business owner. Although my dad was a pediatrician, he was also the owner and operator of his practice, and I grew up listening to him talk about managing his business for ultimate profitability. He was great at utilizing available resources to help him grow his practice in an extremely poor region of the country (rural South Carolina). Seventy-five percent of his patients received Medicaid, and despite the very low payout rates for those patients, he applied for government subsidies and programs to not only allow his business to survive, but to thrive. When he sold his practice a few years ago, he had over 14,000 pediatric patients in a town of only 4,600 inhabitants! Continue reading “The History of Our Side Hustles”

The Six Streams of Income We’ll Rely on in Early Retirement

Even though Early Retirement is a few years’ off for Mr. ThreeYear and myself, since we plan to continue to work when we move abroad, we do plan to retire early (before we’re in our fifties and sixties), and have ever since we began our personal finance renaissance in 2008. Our current goal is to double our net worth by the end of 2019, and even if we leave those investments alone and add not another penny to them, we’d still be able to retire a few short years after that. When we do retire, we’re looking forward to the possibility of multiple streams of income to tap into.

Six Streams of income--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Though Mr. ThreeYear and I primarily invest in index funds (we have a “slow and simple-don’t get greedy” philosophy), we currently plan to have several streams of income available to us when we retire. Some will be passive, and others active. While this wasn’t necessarily a conscious plan on our part, life has worked out this way and we’ll take these streams of income we’ve developed along the way. Continue reading “The Six Streams of Income We’ll Rely on in Early Retirement”