Living Life in the Technology Bubble

It’s a new month and our net worth has increased to $1,542,269.  That’s an increase of almost $25,000 in a month.  To say the real estate and our economy in general feels like a repeat of the 2007/2008 bubble would be a bit of an understatement.  Of course, I’m not crying myself to sleep at night with these gains, but I fully expect to see a correction, deflated bubble, etc etc at some point, so I’m just logging the numbers and am ready to start subtracting instead of adding to our net worth if that happens.  (I’m a bit of a “Permabear”)

Last weekend, I was out with a group of about 10 guys that mostly all work in the tech industry (including myself).  We were really enjoying a lot of geek type talk and as the night wore on, we found ourselves at a seedy dive bar in the Pacific Northwest.  As I looked around the place, for some reason, it occurred to me that the group of guys at our table had a combined income of something like $1.5 million a year.  I almost fell out of my chair when I realized this.  (This is a long ways from my youth of eating hot dog casserole)  While there are certainly plenty of other places in the country that this same phenomenon could have taken place (and likely did), I don’t think it’s probably a normal occurrence across the country.  Bottom line, I feel incredibly grateful that I find myself in this situation and I think that’s one of the things that drives me to save as much as I can.  Along with being a Permabear, I also try to realize that I could lose my job tomorrow and find myself in a completely different economic reality.  The more we increase our net worth, the less I worry about that.  Clearly my defensive approach to personal finance stems from a childhood where we were constantly at risk of not having enough to pay the bills.

So, month by month we continue our march towards financial independence.  It feels like a slow grind at this point but I’m grateful to have the monthly gains we’ve been seeing.  On a somewhat related note, last week I was perusing Reddit and came across a post in the “40Something” subreddit.  It was a guy in his mid 40’s talking about feeling like his 40’s seems to be just all about working.  He said there’s not much else happening in his life and he feels bored and stuck.  As I read through some of the other comments, it seemed very similar to how I’ve been feeling.  I’m sure this is where the whole idea of “midlife crisis” comes from.  Some of the posts said things like, “Yeah, that’s just the way it is.  Everything is set in motion and you just have another 20 years before you can retire!”.  While I was relating to most of what people were saying, as soon as I saw that I thought “Nope!”.  No way in hell I’m working another 20 years like this.  I’m so grateful I took a longer view of saving and investing and started in our 20’s.  I don’t think I can keep slogging along like this for 20 more years.

3 comments

  • It was really great reading this. Identify with so many elements of this. I honestly can’t recall how I felt about the concept of working until I was 60 or 65, but like you, now, the concept of ’20 more years of the same’ is just incomprehensible. And like you, I’m gritting my teeth, waiting for something to happen, without pretending to know what that might be (with the added interest that we have not yet had a serious downturn in real estate in Australia.

  • For a lot of folks, the same realization you had about you and your friends around the table, that never happens on the expenses side. With income, we usually get one paycheck and we think in terms of annual salary, so we realize how much we make. When it comes to how much we spend… it’s in a million different places.

    But that’s how lifestyle creep works on the other side of the ledger (spending) – one day you wake up and you realize that your monthly expenses are WHAT???? Keeping aware and checking in every so often is crucial.

    • jack

      Good point Jim. While I track our expenses, I’ve often wondered how well other people I know track theirs. I do know a number of my friends use Mint.com, but I don’t know how much they pay attention to it. I suspect the majority of people have no idea how much they spend each month.

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