What Is Casual Dress Code Even

It looks like I’ve been getting a lot of traffic on my “Should I Think Less About FIRE?” post. It seems like it came from someone’s email newsletter, but I can’t tell from whom? In any case, thanks internet stranger! And welcome new readers!

I know I’m on break, but I had a couple quick things I wanted to talk about with regard to my new company’s casual dress code.

First of all, “casual” pretends it is not a dress code, but it totally is. It mirrors what I think a lot of us had as school dress codes. As far as I can tell, casual means that one can wear jeans and T shirts, but that things that are more skin-revealing (even tank tops or off-the-shoulder looks which are trendy right now) or bodycon are really out of place.

Even within the realm of T shirts and jeans, some tees are normal and others are out of place. Lightly patterned tees (stripes, dots, little dog prints, etc.) are fine, but emblazoned words and three wolf moon-esque shirts are not. Also, fit is extremely important. Especially if one is literally wearing tees and sweats, the right fit is the one thing keeping wearers from being seen as truly unkempt.

Second of all, my business casual-leaning wardrobe is really close to feeling out of place at my current work place. I’ve been defaulting to my silk shirts and jeans and I’m worried it’s causing people to see me as too dressy to be technical? Like sometimes people don’t bother telling me things I can completely understand because they are “subtle”, but like I would really appreciate people to just tell me in order to perform my job thank you very much. Maybe this is just in my head? A projection of imposter syndrome, perhaps?

In any case, I think I’d be well-served to add a couple more pairs of jeans to my rotation and some non-silk shirts. I don’t really want to just wear tees, personally. Feels too informal. Some minimalist cotton or linen blouses, I reckon, but no button-ups because even as a bust size B, those tend to pucker like whoa. Recommendations welcome!

Third of all, I have a $50 credit to Saks through a new Amex partnership via my Platinum card. I can burn the credit between now and the end of the calendar year. It’s enough to buy maybe a third of a garment? Not really sure how and whether I’ll end up using this.

Alright, back to my exponentially increasing to do list!

Does your workplace have a “casual” dress code? What does that even mean? Any minimalist cotton or linen tops you’d recommend?

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Taking A Break

Hey y’all,

So, between the new job, wedding planning, combining finances, Ireland trip, and contemplating the end of the republic, I’m pretty busy right now. Therefore, I’ll be taking a hiatus from putting up content on this blog. I’ll still be reading other people’s sites here and there and may comment and put up sporadic posts, but will probably not resume regular posting at least until the fall.

Hope you have a good summer!

-YAPFB

First Thoughts On The New Job

A mishmosh of thoughts in no particular order:

My commute is so much shorter than at my last job and it is amazing. That extra 40 minutes a day makes a huge difference in my energy levels.

There’s a lot for me to do here. Which on the one hand is okay since I have a pretty good idea of the steps I need to take to make a real impact. On the other hand, I’m still feeling lazy and like I just want to continue to read books, idly amble about the neighborhood, eat at all the nice lunch buffets nobody else goes to because they’re busy working, and watch GLOW all day. Is that too much to ask? (Yes, obvs.)

I feel like I’m ramping up on our systems very quickly. It probably helps that I spent a ton of time in my funemployment researching the company, interviewing the team for pre-job input, and reading MBA-esque books to prepare.

I don’t understand people who get “bored” in retirement. Were it not for money and all that, I could have readily extended my month of funemployment for years without a problem.

How am I so freaking tired from sitting!?

My anxiety is being super mellow right now and I’m kind of concerned? This is the first time I’ve majorly switched contexts and have felt basically nothing. Like, super blasé. No anxious flutters, no desperately wanting to impress or please. No excitement either, even though I felt really pumped about this transition only a month ago. Is this normal? Am I depressed right now?

Everybody seems nice, inoffensive, and not cynical here. It makes me feel weirdly uncomfortable… what does that say about me as a person?

I think part of the reason I feel so emotionally uninvested right now is probably because fiancé and I have decided, unless there’s a significant turn in the political tides, that we need to seriously consider moving next year. I feel ambivalently like I am both overreacting and underreacting. It’s been taking up a lot of brain space. Ugh. I don’t even know how to live life as if everything’s “normal” anymore.

I’m so unused to talking to new people. So many times new colleagues came up to me with, “Hi!” and I responded, “Good! I mean, hi!” Facepalm.

Have you ever felt “meh” during the first week at a new job? Any tips for making the transition back to work?

 

Financial Update – June 2018

Each month I will post an update on my finances to both give you, the reader, some insight into my situation and to give me markers of my progress on my financial journey. My updates consist of two parts:

  • Financial Progress Table – Tracks net worth progress.
  • Spending Table – Compares monthly spending to an average (for me) “bare bones” budget, keeping me accountable for additional expenses.

For now, monthly updates include only my personal net worth and spending. As my fiancé and I combine our finances, updates will shift to cover going values instead.

Financial Progress

Each net worth goal in the Financial Progress table is broken down into undisclosed units of money. My current goal is to reach “Financial Freedom.” By the time I reach this goal I will have:

  • A retirement account that can support us when my fiancé hits 65
  • Two college savings funds funded for four years of in-state public university tuition, room, and board
  • An emergency fund for six or more months of living expenses
  • Sufficient liquidity for my fiancé and/or I to make a career change with one to two years’ runway
  • A mortgage less than two times my gross salary without bonuses

Once “Financial Freedom” is achieved, the focus will then working be towards “Financial Equilibrium”, where the income from investments covers all our ongoing expenses.

June 2018

Spending

I’ve created a “bare bones” budget which represents the average minimum amount I can expect to spend each month. This is the minimum amount I need to comfortably live in case of a job loss, emergency, etc. I expect to frequently go over my “bare bones” budget in a number of categories (here’s looking at you, “Groceries & Dining”), but I want to remain accountable to myself when I do so.

For privacy reasons, there are two things I do not include in my spending updates: my monthly mortgage and charitable donations (pegged at 10% of my net income).

June 18 spend.png

Monthly Summary

I spent a lot of money and my net worth went down due to lack of income. Oh well. No big deal. There are things I’m way more anxious about than money right now.

Summer is finally here which means it’s time for travel! I visited my brother in Chicago for his graduation and I got really lazy about taking public transportation so I spent approximately $200 just on taxis alone.

I also booked our flights to Dublin for our honeymoon this fall, so that took up another $600 or so after using up our Amex points. I’m kind of annoyed by the personalized pricing mechanisms that make ticket prices escalate between searches for the same itineraries. I usually can just clear my cookies or use a VPN to see base level prices but it is a hassle.

Credit card related pro tip, though: If you want to liquidate your Amex points for 1 cent/point, just book some travel and ask for a refund within 24 hours. The refund comes back in the form of cash instead of points.

Other overages came in the form of food (obviously), thrice annual water bill, and a new scanner so I could use some of my free time to finally digitize all the papers I’d been storing for years. I also had to shell out $100 to pay for my SDIRA that houses my Lending Club account. Just one more way that my P2P investing experiment has been super disappointing.

Notable things that happened this month include:

How were your finances in June?

What Kind Of Life Do I Want To Live?

I have been pretty alone with my thoughts lately, which has put me in a wee bit of a quarter life crisis.

It’s fine. I’m fine. Everything’s just f-i-n-e.

To pull myself out of this morass, though, I want to do something positive. Like identifying what kind of person I want to be in my life. I need a goal in order to create a plan, right?

Some of the things I outline below are less plausible than others based on my current behaviors, which I note. Some are also less important to me than others, which I also note.

Alright, with that said, let’s get started. I want to, in my life:

Very important

  • Raise two well-adjusted children. (more likely)
  • Maintain good health well into my old age. (likely)
  • Be seen as a highly technical person. (unlikely)
  • Create a deep and lasting impact on the lives of others. (unlikely)

Commentary: I have a bit of imposter syndrome when it comes to being seen as a “highly technical” person which, for those not in STEM, is code for “has an iota of intellectual worth.” This reflects a really dumb and toxic part of STEM culture but it’s in my brain now and I have to deal with it before it eats me alive. I’d also like to make a lasting impact on others which, given my current introverted, risk-averse, what-if-I-mess-things-up-even-more? nature is harder. I think developing a more specialized skill set will help me make it more possible though.

Important

  • Foster multiple children. (somewhat likely)
  • Be the kind of person that invites mentees or those in need into my home for meals with my family and makes them feel loved and cared for. (unlikely)

Commentary: It is important to me to be a generous person showing love for the people and in the language I care most about: children and food, respectively. While I think fiancé and I will end up fostering one day, I think I need to be more proactive about establishing other types of relationships with others wherein I am offering knowledge, assistance, and just warm human kindness instead of just taking it.

Somewhat important

  • Speak multiple languages. (unlikely)
  • Have my art or writing recognized at a national level. (very unlikely)
  • Create a successful company that works to solve difficult societal issues. (very unlikely)
  • Establish a large charitable foundation. (very unlikely)
  • Have someone write a biography of my life posthumously. (very unlikely)

Commentary: Here we get into various legacy-building items. I guess I want to be remembered? It feels vain to say it, but it’s true. I’d also like to be a polyglot– I am currently monolingual to a fault in spite of years of language instruction. Ideally I’d like to be able to speak Spanish (easier since I’m okay-proficient, just downloaded a bunch of Spanish-language podcasts to listen to) and Mandarin (way, way harder). Unless I force myself into an immersive setting, I don’t know that I’ll be able to make much progress on this.

Not very important

  • Establish multigenerational wealth. (likely)
  • Write and direct a movie. (very unlikely)

Commentary: It’s funny that one of the least important but ideal things (establishing family wealth) is perhaps one of the things I spend the most time on. I’d also like to direct a movie one day but given that I have zero related skills, that seems like a big leap.

What kind of person do you want to be? Are you that person already?

Should I Think Less About FIRE?

My funemployment, as I suspected, has been far too short.

One of the surprising things I’ve found is this time has been how little I have been interested in money lately.

On an average day, I can spend my time reading books, going on walks, traveling to nearby towns I haven’t visited before and wouldn’t normally venture to. I have been singing a lot lately, something I haven’t done in years, and feel enthusiastic again about learning new things.

Without the obligation of employment hanging over my head, I am fully capable of letting go of my money anxieties. I’ve started to remember the core-YAPFB, the one that I haven’t really known since I graduated college. Core-YAPFB is super chill, not particularly ambitious, but is a pretty happy gal that likes good food, good friends, and good stories. I really like core-YAPFB. Rarely does core-YAPFB compulsively check Personal Capital, project out her FI/RE date, optimize her money-making and money-saving ventures, or even really care about running up her $ numbers.

That is, except when thinking about going back to work.

When I start thinking about work, my FIRE-obsessed brain goes into overdrive. If I let myself ruminate on it, the prospect of what has to be done, getting in the good graces of my colleagues, etc. is stressful. I’ve trained the pathway in my brain to go from the thought of work to the thought of work stress to the though of “oh my gawd I can’t do this for forty years” to FIRE.

But clearly, since I haven’t even started my job yet, work itself is not the issue. Rather, it is my method for dealing with low-level anxiety, i.e. obsessing about FIRE, that is the problem.

I find that when I am fully invested in my work, I am actually very good about both keeping my spending down and not even really thinking about FIRE. FIRE is something that instead occupies my mind during periods of high (often self-imposed) stress and ennui. Rather than directing my energies toward productive activities– getting what work I need to do or improving myself in non-financial ways– FIRE takes over what spare cycles I have, and often to a somewhat detrimental effect.

Given that I have the rough structures in place for FIRE– automatic retirement and investment contributions, rough outline of a budget, and the like– it really is a waste how much I think about FIRE when I could be focusing on literally anything else.

So I am going to add a new goal to my list for 2018: No more thinking about money unless (a) it is part of necessary maintenance to keep financial systems going or (b) relates to building a system in earnest for a specific and well-defined financial issue. No more idly beating myself up for spending too much on food. No more browsing /r/financialindependence out of boredom. Either decide to really adopt a system to fix already identified problems or move on. And if my anxiety brings me back to thinking about PF and FIRE? Use that energy elsewhere for something more important. Start building that life I want to live now.

Do you get overwhelmed by FIRE or PF-obsession? 

 

Three Notes On Families

I’m en route to my brother’s graduation in Chicago (activity and food recommendations welcome!) so this one is going to be even more slapdash than usual.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about families.

1.

The administration’s new policy of separating all families at the border, including those making asylum claims, makes me sick. These families come to the US for relief and shelter, and we kick them while they are down. There are some snapshots and accounts reaching the public: this audio clip released on ProPublica broke my heart.

We donated to RAICES Texas, who is offering legal representation and bond money to those incarcerated for their border crossing. We will also be attending our local chapter of the nationwide Families Belong Together protests on June 30th. Our true blue federal representatives are already on the right side of this issue (and by that I mean the left side), but we’ve made calls to them anyway. Even our Republican governor is saying and, on a surface level, doing the right things for now.

At times I cannot believe this country, my country, would do this. But America’s history is full of racial violence, segregation, and cruelty. And yet we must fight for its ideals.

2. 

I recently finished reading Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko. The book has felt really appropriate to this moment.

Pachinko follows a Korean family through the generations, from Japanese occupation and colonialism through the second world war to the nineties. It’s an epic about family– chosen and “blood”– sticking together in a country that is intent on dehumanizing and forgetting them.

The book makes me think about how often we as humans have used ethnocentrism to caste people, even those who have fully integrated into the dominant culture. It makes me think of the intergenerational trauma that gets passed down in every family where no more than a few generations back at any point in history, the family narrative was one of war, genocide, migration, and hurt. And how quickly that is forgotten by the young ones who don’t live through it. How really all families, to a degree, are “mixed” and yet how culturally divided families themselves really are. Human history as waves of trauma and their rippling effects.

3. 

I think to my own family, itself mixed, intercontinental, and broken. I wonder how many disagreements between my parents and myself– on race, on sexual norms, on gender– come from differences in the culture versus a legacy of trauma. Is culture just a product of the trauma of the times?

I’d been taught from a young age that family was the most important thing. And by family, it was meant “blood” family. Your parents, your children, your grandparents, cousins, etc. Blood sticks together. “Blood” family– not friends, not even your spouse– they were the only ones you could trust when things got hard. How much of that message came from trauma?, I wonder.

And yet it is my chosen family– my friends, my partner, my community– among whom I rely and feel safest. Is this a function of my American-ness, my millennial-ism? Perhaps. Papering over the deep well of hurt and resentment from my family’s past makes it easy to start fresh and new, for me to move forward with my own life. But it also feels ahistorical and flippant.

What am I hiding from? What am I unwilling to engage with in my family’s past?

What are you doing to end family separations at the border? Have you read Pachinko? How do you feel about your “blood” vs. chosen families? Any recommendations for things to see, do, or eat in Chicago?