The Working Dead

Lately I’ve been thinking about the different strategies there are to getting out of debt.

When it comes to our family, we had two viable options:

  1. Cut a lot of additional expenses and slowly cruise to debt freedom.
  2. Keep expenses at a stable level, but add an additional income stream to accelerate The Cause.

I have a tendency to go a little extreme. More accurately, I look for the maximum possible outcome for a given timeframe. So, we went with a third option:

3. Cut a lot of additional expenses and add an additional income stream to aggressively accelerate The Cause.

Since mid-January, I’ve been working my day job full-time in addition to a second, part-time side hustle. After work I come home, see the family, eat dinner, help put the kids to bed, then get on the computer and work on the side gig (I do web development for my regular job and my side income) for three to four more hours. I do this three or four nights a week, and sometimes I put in some of the extra work on Saturday.

I may have underestimated how exhausting the third option would be.

Don’t get me wrong: I am truly thankful to have an additional income stream coming in. The work is in my wheelhouse, and it’s really helping to pay down our debt at a faster rate. I don’t have a good estimate how much faster just yet. The work is a fixed contract and will dry up in May or June most likely, but I’m happy to have it for now.

Additional income can be more effective than cutting costs. We were able to find more than $230 monthly by cutting expenses, but it’s not hard to find much more than that with extra work. For example, my state has a minimum wage of $7.85 per hour. Working 15 hours per week brings in $471 per month, more than double what we cut monthly. Fortunately, the breakdown of my side work is more than minimum wage, and coupled with the cuts we are already making is proving to be very effective.

But the additional work has made me feel like a bit of a stranger in my home. My wife, Amy, has mentioned that she has felt lonely lately because I’ve been so busy. Even though I’m in the house, I’m home but not there. We are making it work for now, but it’s certainly not a pace I could keep up for a long period of time. It’s clear to me now that I would likely leave any job that required me to work this heavily for too long a time period.

The process has been somewhat enlightening. Although I am thankful and blessed it’s not the case, there are plenty of Americans working multiple jobs to make ends meet. I can’t imagine how exhausting it would be to work all the time only to pay basic living expenses. In our case, I’m simply nuts. For others, it’s a necessity.

I am working to find some semblance of balance. The thing that keeps me going is we’re really close to what I call The Beginning of the End. Once we reach 25 percent of the debt left, then that is The Beginning of the End. We are not there yet, but we are close. Another thing that keeps me going is that I know this isn’t forever. It isn’t for the rest of the year. Just a few more months, and we’ll be set. The timeline resets; we return to zero.

The other day, Amy was talking about The Year of No and her friend made a comment indicating she was also doing the same type of thing this year. Amy replied, “I can’t take much credit, it’s mostly Eric. He busts his butt to get things paid off, I’m just really along for the ride.” I need to take this time to clarify this for the whole world: Amy is essential to our goal of getting out of debt. As previously mentioned, working multiple jobs to make ends meet is terrible. But with kids in the mix, it becomes total insanity. Amy helps take care of our three rugrats, so I can spend the time I need to work on this extra hustle. It’s but for a short while, and then things will return to our usual normal.

Once I can truly see the light at the end of the tunnel, once we get to The Beginning of the End, I will feel better. But today, right now, I am tired.

I just need an overwhelming amount of love. And a nap. Mostly a nap. – Townes Van Zandt

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