Jan 25, 2020: 66 Days to a New Habit

Originally published/last updated on myearlyretirementjourney.com on Jan 25, 2020.

I read once that you can develop a new habit on average in about 66 days or a minimum of 2 weeks.

In 66 days from today, I plan to be job-hunting free (and close on a house!). The emotional rollercoaster of the job hunt has proven to be too much for me.
I’ve tried so many quit dates that I’m hoping this will work since it’s backed by science.
If I apply to no more jobs between now and March 31, I will have a developed a new habit, or more precisely broken a bad habit.
I declared today my quit date around this time last weekend and had been good about not applying for almost a week. Then Thursday night in a moment of weakness, I sent out “just one more” application.
This was fueled by a an offer for an onsite for a call center specialist job on Wednesday of this week. I responded Thursday around 11:30a. After they didn’t confirm my interview date by close of business Thursday, my brain automatically wanted to self-soothe by finding that hope elsewhere – a new job application.
This is why I have to break the cycle.
Speaking of breaking cycles, I cold-turkeyed an old associate I had been trying to shake loose shortly after we reconnected. It was a bit harsh, probably mean. I certainly wouldn’t like it if it had happened to me – it has, and I didn’t.
No more reaching out to people unless I can fully commit.
House/ Home Hunt
As my life of late has centered around two things – job-hunt and house-hunt, I have an update on Thing 2 as well.
I progressed farther in the process. Here’s what I did this week, in achronological order.
1) Submitted intent to vacate my apartment when my lease ends (THIS IS HUGE!).
2) Filled out loan applications with 3 lenders. Actually 4 now that I think about it…one just never got back to me. Rude. And they were actually one of the most responsive the first time I tried this house hunt thing.
3) Submitted a few inquiries to a builder whose homes I’m interested in.
4) Ran some numbers and found the best deal. The numbers on my spreadsheet were so soothing in a jumble of new words, large numbers, and percentages.
5) Figured out how to use the employee-sponsored legal plan to find a real estate lawyer. (Spoiler alert: I can’t use them as a settlement agent if I go with a new build. But I’m still proud of my thriftiness.)
That list seems small, but these tasks occupied most of my thoughts this work week.
Walking on the bright side.
Work has become less sucky, namely because our call volume has leveled out. And if it stays that way, I don’t see myself wanting to leave anytime soon.
My next problem to solve is what to do with all my free time.
What can I do between 8-10:30a and 8:30p to 12m every weekday?
I don’t have any goals on deck at the moment, other than to reach financial independence.
I think the only thing I wanted to accomplish this year is: Not cry. Stop applying to jobs that just break your heart.
What can I say, I’m a simple girl. I live a simple life.

How to Overcome Anything

Originally published/last updated on myearlyretirementjourney.com on Jan 14, 2020.

In case you missed my last dozen or so posts, I’m 0 for 3 with the FIRE tenets.

  •  I was not able to turn my blog into a money-making machine. At least doing it my way.
  •  I tried the side-hustle life, and my body disagreed.
  •  I have not been able to significantly increase my income. This is was what I tried to do in 2019. What I did experience, on the other hand, was quite a lot of emotional distress in its stead.
I think what kept me at my last job two years past its expiration date was this hidden but known feeling that I would not be able to properly convey my skills and experience in high-stakes settings like an interview. I want to take as much responsibility for the outcome of my job hunt as possible because my behavior is the only one I can change.
Each rejection just recalled old feelings of rejection and I would spiral. I delved into rejection from middle school crushes. Friends that moved on to live other lives without me. Extended family that have extended me very generous courtesies over my lifetime but ultimately prioritized their needs over mine. Slights and rejections from customer service people. I felt all those things over and over and over again.
Each new application would generate this hope that all would be right again if this company would just see me. See me, hire me, rescue me. I didn’t even know I needed to be rescued. When did I become a damsel in a distress, anyway, when my entire existence has been focused on being as independent and self-sufficient as possible.
As much as I thought acting would be a curious endeavor, as I’ve always enjoyed film and theater, I knew I couldn’t handle the rejection. I chose a technical field because I thought my “smarts” would speak for itself. I’ve been reading more about “smart” people, really any “people” who have marketable skills but have struggled with the interview process. I didn’t realize fully it was a subset of skills onto itself.
Outwardly, I blame the interviewer because I feel if I’m not able to communicate my message and value to you, you’re asking the wrong questions. I’m the talent!
Inwardly, I feel like a failure and the aforementioned feelings resurface. So, I started reading more about resilience. How do all these personal finance people I read about flit through job after job pushing forward their career trajectory seemingly unfailingly,  and I’m having such a hard time just trying to move one step up.
I’ve been told more than once now to consider mindfulness. Oh, baloney. It’s that yuppie hippie stuff.
I can do this. If it’s a skill and I have enough time to prep, I can master anything. But before the interview, during the interview, after the interview, I can’t turn my mind off. I’m so busy assessing the panel and what I think they should be saying or what I think they might be thinking, or what I think they want me to say, I black out sometimes. I stumble over my words. But sometimes I say exactly what I want to say and answer exactly what they ask, but it doesn’t seem to be enough.
The cycle continues.
Then I read this one statement in the article that helped to shift my thinking. Failure is a part of life. And my response to this type of trauma – shattered beliefs about myself, others, and the future – is a normal response, not a mental defect.
Sometimes you just need someone to affirm what you’re already thinking. Failure is a part of life. And when I question my worth, my value to others, and hope for the future, this is a normal response. It is not a character flaw. The extent I might take it and the length I wish to go are things I can change.
This is where people are different. Responses to trauma or adversity can go one of three ways. The research suggests some of us will live in that spiral and it will manifest as anxiety, depression, PTSD, or worse. Some may acutely experience those symptoms and recover back to a baseline. Others of us can experience trauma; even manifest pathology; overcome and come out better than we were before. I think where I’ve been misled is that the third group is the norm. No. According to the article, either of these outcomes is equally likely.
However, there are things we can do to build resilience and experience growth after adversity, i.e. post-traumatic growth.
As I’ve said, if there’s a way to prepare for future outcomes, I can do that.
Here’s how.

1. Recognize failure is a part of life.

This is where I have the most trouble. As a Christian, I fantasize about the Garden of Eden and Paradise, when we were all whole and pure and without sin. We did not know evil. I want to return there. I want my life on earth to be as close to that as possible. When something undesirable happens to me, my prayer is always to go back in time and not make the choice that led to this terrible outcome. I often want to wish away my negative outcomes. But in order to pursue growth after adversity, I must eliminate wishful thinking. Wanting to not have experienced this trauma, to not be in this situation, to not have to overcome one more thing does not actually rewind time. Most of us will encounter some sort of trauma, adversity, or failure. For some of us, it will be the thing that derails our entire life. For others of us, it will be a bump in the road. And for those of us lucky enough to be equipped with the tools necessary, we can grow past our trauma. Recognizing failure is a part of life is the first step.

2. Change your thoughts.

Oh, okay, I’ll just do that. No, I know it’s not that simple, but it is effective. Thinking affects feeling. You may know it now, but this was not always something clinicians recognized. However, the field of neuroscience has proven that what we think affects how we feel.
The prefrontal cortex plays a role in emotional responses and hormone regulation. In overly simplistic terms, the left prefrontal cortex is activated when we are happy and the right prefrontal cortex is activated when we are sad. Strengthening the left (happy feelings) prefrontal cortex reduces activation of the right (sad feelings).
The amygdala is near the prefrontal cortex and also involved in mood and emotional regulation. It was once believed the amygdala was responsible for emotion and the prefrontal cortex was responsible for cognition. More and more scientists are realizing emotion and cognition are more intertwined than was once thought to the point that concepts such as emotional intelligence and cognitive behavioral therapy are part of the current therapy landscape.
If you’ve ever done or said something without thinking, more than likely your amygdala was taken over by what it perceived as a threat. The prefrontal cortex did not get a chance to tell it to stand-down – that you, the human, was not actually in physical danger.
Now, we know when an emotional trigger threatens to hijack your amygdala, you can have a cognitive intervention. Afterall, this is America, we do not negotiate with terrorists!
Remind yourself that some failure, obstacles, and/or negative stimuli do occur, and you were gloriously designed to process and overcome them. Gather all the facts and think about what has actually occurred. Distinguish between the reality of the situation and any disproportionate emotions and defeatist thinking. Is the worst case scenario you’re imagining really likely? Will this one misstep really ruin everything forever? Is this really the worst thing that has happened to anyone ever in the universe’s entirety? After an especially discouraging experience, practice regaining control of your amygdala with the help of your prefrontal cortex.
Thought exercises to strengthen the left prefrontal cortex, or the happy brain, include activities that hack the repeated exposure effect. These cortical strengthening exercises include repeated exposure to healthy thoughts; jettisoning regrets or other unhealthy thoughts; and increasing healthy behaviors like meditation or mindfulness. Other examples include amplifying positive emotions and celebrating the good stuff -your accomplishments, your small wins, and your personal victories. Developing your left brain can lead to quicker recovery from distress.

3. Change your behaviors.

You’ve accepted failure is not going anywhere, and it’s not just happening to you. You’re working on cognitive interventions and retraining your response pathways. The third step to achieving post-traumatic growth is fundamentally changing your behaviors. This is where you can reset the upset.
Some examples of this include:
  • Do things you enjoy.
  • Create a new identity. Do you remember from your school days, when over the summer, there was always someone who came back with a newer, more improved version of themselves. Do that. Make it a lifelong journey, if you have to.
  • Relearn optimism.
  • Relearn hope. There’s a school of thought, that humans who have encountered repeated failure can acquire something call learned helplessness. If the outcome is not going to change, why try? Some walls will not be knocked down, but can you unscrew the door? Is there another way out of your problem? Can you call for help?
  • Repurpose or share your trauma.
  • Serve something greater than yourself. This is a form of spiritual fitness.
  • Rebuild your sense of agency and self-regulation.
  • Recharge your self-motivation.
  • Build new relationships or nurture worthwhile relationships with family and friends; develop trust and shared meaning and experiences with others.
  • Practice mindfulness for 30 minutes everyday or do something that makes time stand still. One study showed a group of participants who practiced mindfulness for 20 to 30 minutes a day for 8 weeks reported a positive impact on their mood and outlook.
You won’t be able to rewire your brain overnight or even in a week, but it is possible to achieve growth after adversity. It is possible to build resilience. It is possible to get past this unbearable trauma. It just is.

2019 Income, Expenses, Savings

Originally published/last updated on myearlyretirementjourney.com on Jan 14, 2020. 

Here’s a preliminary look at my income and expenses or as the bloggers say, everything I spent in 2019
First, here’s a look back.
June 2019 Financial Update 
Single Girl Money | March 2019 Financial Update 
Single Girl Money | Dec 2018 Income and Expenses Update 
Single Girl Money | Dec 2018 Savings and Investment Update
FIRE Tracker
2019 Budgeting Spreadsheet Snapshot
Snapshot of 2019 Income and Expenses

2019 Income

I had two employers in 2019 – Call Center #1 from Jan to July and Call Center #2 from Oct to Dec 2019. I was technically unemployed for August and September, however I received 2 paychecks in August from Call Center #1. The first was for hours worked from Jul 15 to Aug 2. The second paycheck was 2 weeks of paid out vacation time. That was nice!
Gross Pay (rounded): $91,000
Take Home Pay (not including 401k): $51,000

2019 Expenses

Last year (2018), my expenses totaled about $34,000.  When I made my Working Budget for 2019,  my expense target was $26,000.  Let’s see how I did. 
2019 Target Expenses: $26,000
2019 Actual Expenses (rounded): $29,000*
This is a little bit lower than it probably should have been. The reason being I stopped student loan payments in Jul 2019. So I didn’t make any student loan payments from August to December 2019. At a little more than $500/month, I did not make about  $2700 worth of payments.  *So for real comparisons in the future, my expenses would be closer to $31, 700.  I’m actually pretty pleased with either number. It’s a couple thousand less than I spent in 2018 without trying that hard.
Everyday Expenses
Notes on Everyday Expenses ($5291/yr)
  • I’ve been able to keep my grocery bill under an average of < $200/month.
  • Went most of the year without a phone, although with the budget plans out there, I probably could pay something similar and have cell phone service for the whole year. It’s just not that high on my priority list right now (although most of my family and colleagues would disagree).
  • Went 4 out of 12 months without some sort of TV/ cable service (line item = Entertainment).  That said after trying regular cable, Sling, DirecTV Now and Hulu Live, Hulu Live is my favorite.  It’s cheaper than regular cable and it tees up the shows I want to watch without a whole lot of clicking around. But the price went up from about $44 to about $54/mon in December and I had to stop service and reassess. 
Notes on Housing ($11,289)
  • This is for a studio apartment in North Carolina. It’s altogether too high, and I’ve been trying to do something about it for the last 2 years or so.
  • At first it didn’t make sense to just move to another apartment, but I couldn’t find anything I wanted to buy that actually lowered my housings costs without increasing my commute. And there was the fact that I wanted to be able to leave NC in the near future. 
  • Now that my job is more flexible with remote work and I was unsuccessful in securing a job out of state after searching for a year, staying in North Carolina in a more affordable area seems to be a more viable option. 
Notes on Student Loan ($3902)
  • As I mentioned, it’s a little lower this year than it should be because I was able to stop payments with my loan servicer in Jul 2019 pending my job loss. 
  • Notably, my payments decreased earlier in the year from about $570 to $529 because my adjusted gross income for 2018 was lowered due to my 401k pre-tax contributions in 2018. Win!
Extras ($4694)
  • I took a few trips this year, and while costly by FIRE standards, I managed to stay right around what I received as a bonus in 2019. Travel-hacking was a bit too involved for me at this particular juncture, but not out of the realm of possibility for future me. 
  • The rest was for money spent in relation to job hunting to include eating out, clothes, hair, parking, supplies, emotional eating. 
  • This year if I find myself on the job market again, I’d like to stay between $100 to $300 or less. 
Gifts/Tithes/Darling Family ($3522)
  • I’ve decreased spending on my family vs 2017 by almost half (from $7,000 to $3,500). And in 2020, I’m planning to donate more of my time. 
  • I haven’t yet put a cap or limit on this. How do you say no to your family? 
2019 Magic Math
When I look at my expenses spreadsheet and think about FIRE, I like to drill down to my core expenses. If I removed Extras which was mostly travelling and financial contributions to my Family and even Student Loans, most of which I could theoretically eliminate or significantly decrease in early retirement, my expenses would total (28,698-3902-3522-4694) about $16,500!  Considering $11,000 of that is housing, that number seems very doable.  This is one reason I really want to improve my housing situation, cost wise anyway. 

2019 Savings

Savings this year comes from 401k contributions, Roth IRA, and anything I had direct deposited to my savings account. 
2019 Savings Goal: $45,000
  • 401k Goal: $19,000
  • 401k Actual: $18,996
  • Post-tax Goal: $26,000
  • Post-tax Actual (rounded): $21,000
2019 Actual Savings (rounded): $40,000
I was able to max out my 401k (less $4). I was able to max out my Roth IRA at the eleventh hour. I contributed a little less to my broker account mainly due to unemployment and I’m still hoarding some money in cash, I think for the first quarter of 2020, until I figure out my housing situation. I’m closer than I’ve ever been to buying a house.
Savings rate: 41% to 44%
  • Based on take-home pay: 21,000/ 51,000 = .41
  • Based on gross-pay: 40,000/91,000 = .44
Overall, I’m pleased as punch with the state of my finances. I don’t love work anymore than I did at the start of 2019. Although not the 30% increase I was looking for, I did increase my hourly rate by 6.7%. I quit my job and realized I’d rather wait until I reach my FIRE number to take time off work. I traveled and realized it’s not something that’s high on my priority list at this time.  And I don’t know if I see myself doing too much of it in retirement/ early retirement.  Maybe a trip or two every couple to five years, but that could change.  That said, one day I still do want to do the Teach English in Spain program for at least a year. I reconnected with old friends and realized it’s not something that’s high on my priority list either now or in the distant future. I think I still want to have interesting and new experiences but I’m still not sure what that looks like.
Wishing you a prosperous 2020!  

Where Shall I Live?

Originally published/last updated on myearlyretirementjourney.com on Jan 11, 2020. 

So while I have stepped away from the edge… a bit… I still have some cool irons in the fire so to speak.
Eleven days into the new year and I’ve only applied to 4 jobs. Maybe I can quit this obsession after all. As my self-proclaimed mentor has already advised I need to come to terms with my call center life.
This week is bound to be angst ridden as I’m hoping to hear back from my hottest iron in the fire. The hiring manager all but said, we’ll call you on the 13th and hope you can start by the 27th (of Jan). I’ve been betrayed before.
Knowing how I get with variable outcomes, I slated my weekend with things to keep me busy. Saturday’s schedule included a 9a walk followed by a 2p softball meetup and ended with a boardgame meetup.
I did none of those things. I had a bad night last night thinking of the 118th nail in my call center coffin – a rejection from the aforementioned hiring manager.
I’d already decided that I’m not renewing my lease when it ends in April 2020. I’d come to the conclusion that if I didn’t get this job (or any other job), I had to find a cheaper place to live. This led me to re-evaluate homeownership which landed me on an affordable townhouse 80 miles south in a less-than-ideal neighborhood.
Be not afraid.
Wanting to clear the skeletons of this prospect, I woke up in haste and set out to see what I could see.
Nothing bad happened.
The neighborhood was indeed rough around the edges. Lots of litter. But no bullet holes; only two houses were boarded up; another had all the windows broken and looked as though it had been in a fire (who knows how recently). All in all, the neighborhood was kind of quiet. Some families with young children. No loiterers, but it was also around 11a on a Saturday.
The weather was breezy so that helped the mood as well.
Altogether, doable. I now have a viable Plan B in case this week is rife with disappointment and strife. Having a viable Plan B makes it that much easier to deal with an undesirable outcome. Having a Plan B takes away some of the doom and gloom, woe is me type of feelings.
So I ran my numbers one more time and compiled them in a handy chart I can glance over throughout the week to self-soothe when negative thoughts threaten to hijack my amygdala.
Even in the face of disappointment, I am okay. I shall be okay.
My Plan B is aligned with my FIRE goals. It is aligned with my goal to reduce my housing costs, not quite to $650/mon as I was hoping, but an improvement nonetheless.
As for Sunday, I have a 10a Yoga class; followed by an outdoor ballgame, and a wellness workshop later in the afternoon.

All the things I loved about 2019

Originally published/last updated on myearlyretirementjourney.com on Jan 1, 2020.

So admittedly, 2019 was not my year of the remarkable success I imagined. Just your run of the mill success – safe, alive, adequate health, not poor.

But there were some times where the little things really made me smile. Be reminded, I’m a simple girl who is easily saddened but also easily pleased. I love eating junk food, watching television, and just sitting outside (something I don’t do much of). So to encapsulate some simple joys, I thought I’d list them here and count my blessings (in no particular order). Maybe you can relate to some…

All the things I loved in 2019

  • Season 1 of Body Cam (what a breakout hit!)
  • For The People, Season 2, Episode 10
  • My fuzzy robe
  • Clean socks
  • My apartment that I don’t really have to heat or cool after October
  • Married to Millions
  • My Roku!!
  • New Aladdin song “Speechless”
  • Travel Reimbursement for interviews
  • A new calculator Aunty MERJ bought me when my old one died
  • A job when I had no job (not little but I’ve minimized it to fit my whoa-is-me narrative)
  • The crab at the Chinese buffet down the street
  • Seeing Africa and South America
  • My friend getting a baby. She was so happy and it seemed so meant to be!
  • How happy my aunt gets when I visit (eventhough I’m a grumpy goat)
  • My deep fryer
  • All my blankets
Well, that was quite anticlimactic. This list turned out way shorter than it was in my mind. I don’t want to spend another minute thinking about it. Happy New Year!

Archives | All my posts on Housing and Home-Buying

Originally published/last updated on myearlyretirementjourney.com on Jan 1, 2020. 

Housing has been on my mind since before I started this blog. You see, I moved into my brand new luxury apartment in 2015 with the plan to move out in two years. The plan was to save enough for a house. That’s what my peers were doing, and it seemed like the natural next step for me as well. Then two years came, and I realized I couldn’t really afford a house as nice as my apartment. So I stayed.
Then I realized I didn’t actually want to buy a house in North Carolina because I didn’t want to live in North Carolina. So I renewed my lease for another year. Then I actively tried to find a job in another state; when that failed, I renewed my lease again. I’ve thought about different housing options, but because it has just been easier to do nothing that’s what I’ve done.
But if I’m going to get serious about FIRE, I really need to do something about my housing expenses. I currently spend $1,000 to $1,100/mon on housing for a studio apartment with no oven and one window, and my target spending for 2019 and now 2020 has been $26,000/year. So, my housing expenses are entirely too much!

All (most of) my thoughts and posts on my housing dilemma

  • Season 1, Episode 3 The Case for Geoarbitrage
  • Season 1, Episode 4 How I Negotiated Down My Rent
  • Housing for Profit?
  • Housing for Profit? An Update from Sandra Rinomato
  • Comparing An Actual Retiree’s Budget to My Proposed Early Retiree Budget
  • Why My Credit Scored Dropped 16 Points: What NOT To Do
  • Using Scenes From My Childhood To Figure Out Where To Live Next
  • Single Girl Life | My Week Ending Oct 19, 2018: Mega Billion, Rollercoaster, Crockpot Pork
  • A November 2019 Update: New Job, Aunty MERJ, Homeownership
  • Nov 23, 2019 Life Update: A Year of Self-Sabotage, Regrets, and Lack of Self-Control
  • Is it worth moving halfway across the country to save $300/month?
  • Dec 24, 2019 – Work, Life, Money Update
  • Why I decided to get back into volunteering

Archives | All my posts on Job Hunting

Originally published/last updated on myearlyretirementjourney.com on Jan 1, 2020. 

I’m ready to be done with this job hunt. I’m sure you’re ready to be done reading about it. My housing dilemma was wrapped up in the job hunt as I thought that would be an easy out. New job, new place. That didn’t work.

The job hunt has left such an ugly stain on my heart and my story, I wanted to trap all the posts in one place. I’m hoping there’s a happy end to this story. But there’s an equally likely chance I’m already living it.
Here are all the posts about my job hunt in 2019, and a little from 2018. With the ringing in of the new year, I’m hoping to put this catastrophe behind me. Pivot. Adapt. Overcome.
WARNING: They’re not nice!
  • Passed Over for a Promotion
  • On Being Kicked and Staying Down
  • Dream Bio vs Current Bio: How I Still Don’t Know What To Do With My Life
  • Journey of 20 Job Applications: July 7 Update
  • Journey of 20 Job Applications: July 8 Update
  • Journey of 20 Job Applications: Jul 9 Update (Discouraged)
  • Journey of 20 Job Applications: Jul 12 Update, What a Difference a Day Makes
  • Journey of 20 Job Applications: Are these pre-interview questions rude?
  • Journey of 20 Job Applications: Jul 13 Update, So Many Hoops
  • Journey of 20 Job Applications: Jul 19 Update, Living a Double Life
  • Journey of 20 Job Applications: Jul 26 Update, Losing My Mind
  • Journey of 20 Job Applications: Aug 1 Update, Am I Unemployed?
  • 10 Very Descriptive Statistics, Keen Observations from 20 Job Applications
  • Unemployment Diaries: Aug 5, 11a
  • Unemployment Diaries: Aug 6, 3:50pm
  • Unemployment Diaries: 1 Week Later, Torn
  • Unemployment Diaries: 3 Quarter Horses in a Race I’m Not Sure I Want to Win
  • Unemployment Diaries: Tuesdays, 70 Job Applications, Spain
  • Unemployment Diaries: 3.5 Weeks Later, The Dust Settles
  • Unemployment Diaries: 4 Pieces of Bad Advice I’ve Been Given
  • Unemployment Diaries: 5 Weeks Later, Psychological Implications
  • Unemployment Diaries: 6 Weeks, 100 Applications, 1 Offer, Plastic Bag Suffocation
  • Unemployment Diaries: Week 7, 2 Phone Screens and a 5-Step Plan to End My Life
  • Unemployment Diaries: Oct 1, 2 Months of Expenses, More Let Downs, and Aunty MERJ update
  • Underemployment Diaries: 1 Week Later, A Quick Update
  • Tries and Fails: Blogging, Job Hopping, Increasing My Income
  • Underemployment Diaries: Week 2, Disgruntled Lamentations
  • Medical Information Manager Salaries
  • Underemployment Diaries: Week 3, Are you there, God? It’s me, MERJ.
  • The Surprising New Face of Today’s Gatekeepers: Race and Gender in Pharmaceutical Medical Information Interviews
  • A November 2019 Update: New Job, Aunty MERJ, Homeownership
  • Nov 23, 2019 Life Update: A Year of Self-Sabotage, Regrets, and Lack of Self-Control
  • Dec 9, 2019: 2 Months At New Job, Still Terrible
  • I got the offer! 

Archives | All my posts on Aunty MERJ

Originally published/last updated on myearlyretirementjourney.com on Jan 1, 2020. 

Sometimes my blog posts can be read and enjoyed as standalone posts, but most of the time I’m cataloging my life so each posts builds on the other. I thought I’d create a page that captures all the posts (2018-2019) about Aunty MERJ because she seems to pop up quite a bit, at least these days. This way visiting readers can have some backstory.

Who is Aunty MERJ?
She’s my aunt who raised me from age 7 to 17. She favors me not because I’m that special, but I think I pay the most attention to her. Human suffering is my weakness. Anyway, now she lives in a retirement community in Tampa and her health is failing.  As a result, I’ve become her de facto care coordinator.  I’m not very good at it primarily because I’m not much of a nurturer and I don’t really want to do it. But she took such great care of me, and I feel very guilty doing nothing. Also none of my other family members have really signed up to help.
Based on my research of her numerous disease states, she has a life expectancy of 73.4 years. In 2019, she turned 70, so her expected date of expiry is 2022 (up to March 2023). Even with all that, she lives life joyously everyday. I don’t know how she does it! 

All the posts about Aunty MERJ

  • Today is a better day...made better with bacon
  • Made it 4 days without crying
  • Burying my head in the sand
  • Incredibly Sad and Alone
  • Why I decided to get back into volunteering
  • A November 2019 Update: New Job, Aunty MERJ, Homeownership
  • Unemployment Diaries: Oct 1, 2 Months of Expenses, More Let Downs, and Aunty MERJ update
  • Single Girl Life | Jan 19, 2019: Irons in the Fire, The Company You Keep, Aunty MERJ Update
  • Single Girl Life | My Week Ending Nov 2, 2018: Why is it so hard to be a human?!
  • Sunday Funnies | Getting Thai Food With Immigrant Aunty
  • Single Girl Life | My Week Ending Oct 5, 2018: Meaningful Work, Making Money, Missoula
  • Single Girl Life | My Week Ending Sep 28, 2018: Regrets, Resignation, Murphy Brown
  • Single Girl Life | Aug 31, 2018: Insider Secrets, Customer Disservice, Miralax
  • Notes on Life | My Week Ending Aug 24, 2018: Fasting, F Bombs, Liar
  • Comparing An Actual Retiree’s Budget to My Proposed Early Retiree Budget
  • My Back to School Shopping and Life List
  • Notes on Life | My Week Ending Aug 17, 2018: Corner of Tears, Sleepless in RTP, The Bold Type
  • Oh The Places You’ll Call! Caring for Aging Parents
  • Notes On Life | Aug 10, 2018: Crazy Rich Asians, Systems Fail, The Good Kitchen
  • Notes on Life | Aug 3, 2018: Floor Mattress, Blogging Nook, Writer’s Retreat
  • The Incredible Lightness of Giving: How FIRE Helped Me to Be More Generous
  • This Morning at the Elder Care Center
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