I Want Out of My Life

Life is hard. That’s nothing new or unique. Neither is wanting things to be easier. Still, this is what I’m experiencing.

A lot of my anxiety comes from money. We are blessed with good incomes, and extremely disciplined with our budgeting, but it just seems so easy to let spending get away from us. I am so afraid of financial turbulence, even though we have plenty of room to cut back if things get tough. I guess one problem with budgeting so strictly is having to figure out how we’re going to pay for unexpected things. Ordinarily that’s what savings is for, but between buying a house and floating my wife for 2 weeks while COVID kept her from working, our savings is uncomfortably thin. There are always credit cards for emergencies, but we worked so hard getting out of debt the last couple years that I really don’t want to start relying on credit cards. In any case, we would have to re-examine our budget to figure out how to pay those bills anyhow. I know most people wish they were as secure as we are, with low debt and all our needs and some wants taken care of, but for me it feels like trying to keep a sandcastle from blowing or washing away.

Then there are the challenges of homeownership, which also require money. Most notably, I need insulation and new windows. Living in the south, winter is a much cheaper time to climate control the house than summer, so I have some time. Still, windows and insulation are significant expenses. I have the cash to pay for insulation if I do the work myself. The windows will almost certainly need to be financed. We can make room in the budget for them, but debt is something we can’t cut back on if things get tough, and I get anxious thinking about taking on more of it. With those two big things weighing on my mind, I’m too overwhelmed to look at the smaller things I can do around the house. I would advise anyone else to work on the small things and rack up victories, but I feel frozen on doing all but basic home maintenance.

Speaking of maintenance, there are the cars. Car maintenance is something we’ve never budgeted for, because routine maintenance is predictable and inexpensive enough that we’re usually comfortable just taking it out of savings, but again our savings is thin right now. I bought a car that was in much worse shape than the dealership let on, and I need to put money into it just to get it into sellable condition (I won’t keep it because I will always resent it and always be waiting for something else to break). Once it’s sold, I’ll need to figure out how to pay off the balance of what I owe on it, because I almost certainly won’t be able to sell it for what I paid for it. I’ve been borrowing a friend’s car, and I thought it would be nice to change the oil and try to fix some rattles, so that’s an expense on the tally sheet. I’d love to get window tint for my wife’s truck. That can wait, but I can’t help but wonder how long? Where will that money come from? It doesn’t just magically appear. Again, I feel so overwhelmed by my car situation that I am frozen into inaction on even starting small repairs.

Then there’s work. I had my annual review last week. I “met expectations,” which is objectively good. Subjectively though, I’m drowning in boredom. I will always stand by the quality of my work, but I probably only do honest productive work about half the time. The other half, I’m taking care of personal business, reading the news, or just staring off into space. I’m glad I’m not in a sweatshop environment, but working somewhere with such low expectations is demoralizing, and that was only reinforced when my boss told me I’ve been doing a good job. I could certainly get another job, but I like my company. They pay me well, they’re respectful, and they encourage personal and professional growth. I have already expressed interest in moving up, and they were receptive to that, but career moves don’t just happen. I’m not sure what sort of situation I’d be leaving for if I left this job. Maybe the bigger issue though is I’m tired of my career. I worked really hard and overcame a lot of odds to get to where I am, and I will always be proud of that, but I feel like it’s played out. I think I’d like to do something working with my hands. I’ve always said it’s not about the money, but with a house and a couple car payments, it sort of is. Moreover, my wife will definitely be changing jobs in the next 6 months or so, and chances are good she’ll be taking a pay cut, so I think even if I could take a lower-paying job doing something else, I couldn’t do it for at least a year if I want to keep us stable.

Which then begs the question: if stability is getting harder and harder to maintain, what if we knocked the house of cards over? What if we quit our jobs, sold the house, moved somewhere cheaper, and started a new lifestyle? The lifestyle we enjoy is nice, but we both agree that the nice things are not the most important things. What’s important is that we have each other. I have had this thought for 6 months now, and I can’t shake it. I’m tired of the crowds, the traffic, the weather, and the politics here. I’m tired of my career, and my wife is tired of hers. We could run. Rationally though, I know that my demons would follow me. Problems don’t vanish with a move, they just take different forms. Our problems may go from wondering how to balance our budget to how we’ll afford housing that month, or from worrying about being bored at work to worrying about getting hurt and being unable to work. Maybe we’re forced to go from owning to renting, and forfeiting our chance to start building wealth as we pay for and work on our house. If we do buy another house, it will also need work because that’s the nature of what our budget will allow us to buy. So why trade my current problems for new ones? May as well stick with the problems I have a handle on. May as well stick with my current lifestyle, a voluntary prisoner.

I’ve spent a decade dreaming of the life I have now, working hard and diligently to attain it, and getting lucky at multiple points along the way. I am so grateful for the life I’ve built, and I feel so ungrateful for not appreciating it more. It’s a lot of responsibility though, and it’s getting exhausting. My therapist says get a hobby, which sounds good, but hobbies cost money and take time, time I feel like I don’t have, or that I ought to spend doing more productive things (like sleeping, to recharge and face the next day). Would it be enough to just do something really irresponsible to break up the monotony? Well, what goes up must come down. If we go stay in the mountains for a month to unwind, we’ll have to figure out how to pay for it afterward, which sounds even more stressful than what I’ve got going on now. I want a break from responsibility. I want out of feeling the weight of the world. I want to build pillow forts and take naps and drink hot chocolate and not worry about tomorrow.

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Not very helpful comment, but wow you are well-spoken. I am impressed with your ability to use words to describe feelings, anxieties, and stressors that I’m sure so many people could relate with.

Sounds like you’ve got a ton on your plate. Money is hard. Working in an unfulfilling job is hard. Needing to take a break when you know that taking a break will increase your stress that is making you need to take a break is hard.

I hope you’re able to find some time for a nap or pillow fort or at least some hot chocolate. I think you and your wife have more than earned it!

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I’m sorry it’s taken a while to reach out and respond to your post, I was trying to make sure I had read through it properly.
Feeling stagnant in a job position is hard, and when it comes to feeling that if you leave that job you’d be unsure of financial stability it adds further stress for sure.
Have you been able to hold conversation with management about progressing and what the next steps are? I’m sure you have, it’s hard when opportunities haven’t been present. Some jobs it’s like you have to wait for someone to retire to be able to make a move. And I guess depending on the type of job there can be limited areas to branch out in. I know with my job I have other areas I could always shift towards should I need to break away.

I don’t think it’s unnatural or odd to feel this way in life. I know I’ve felt like I could just pack up and leave, and then I wonder also if I’d be just as bored or have the same issues follow me.
As you stated sometimes it can come with you.

Home maintenance can be a hard one. When you’re looking at all the things that need to get done it’s like “should I start with the small easy stuff and if I do will have have room, time, money to complete the bigger stuff?!”. Are there smaller projects which aren’t as expensive that can be achieved at the moment?
Sometimes it feels like slowly chipping away and a rock with a toothpick. Saving with the balance of mortgage, bills, ect. It’s hard!
I guess there’s always the pro vs con list when it comes to moving and selling. What has the market been like? Has it been easy finding and buying? Will you get value from your house as it is, or will it be worth it in the long run to do those renovations?
And yeah there’s always the renting situation, but sometimes it can be hard saving to buy because often rent is just as high if not higher than mortgage.
I know that’s not so much advice or helpful, but sometimes it’s that hard decision and sometimes it feels disappointing in the moment, but it can be so much more worth it in the long run.

With your car, I know here we can request to see that the car is road worthy. And if it’s from a dealership then it definitely has to be road worthy and under warranty.
Would it be worth anything selling for parts to go towards something else?

It can certianly be a hell of a task to figure out if throwing in a totally different direction to life is going to pay off and I wish I could give the reassurance either way.

I do hope that every step you take does feel a little lighter for you

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I have asked about progressing. One thing I love about my company is they encourage and foster growth, and they do so at a reasonable pace to promote success. I’ve already started doing some work that’s closer to the area I’d be interested in moving up to. I’m just not sure if that’s the move I want though. I’m an engineer, and I feel like I’d rather go work in the factory, or even get out of the company altogether and be a mechanic. Either way will pay much less though, especially since I’d be going in “inexperienced” since being a driveway mechanic isn’t a qualification. I could always go back to engineering if I got tired of busted knuckles and greasy hands, and any engineering manager would understand why I wanted to go work hands on, so that’s a good safety net, but I’d likely lose at least a third of my pay.

We love our house! As much work as it will require, it’s an excellent space. The work just feels overwhelming. I lose sight of the fact that we’ve only been here 8 months, and we have forever to do these projects. Yesterday in therapy, we talked about me trying to have a vision of the end result instead of looking at the challenges right in front of me. That will take time and effort to learn and practice, but eventually I could be one of those people who says “we worked for 3 years on perfecting this space, and it’s been so worth it.”

As for moving, it’s more of a desire to leave the area we live in. 7 million people, 8 lane highways, an hour long commute, blistering hot summers, and the national epicenter of book bans and critical race theory debates, never mind all the other culture war stuff going on. My advice to me would be to keep doing my thing and to try not to let it affect me, but it’s so prevalent. Not just in the media–people all around me are weighing in with strong, hard-line opinions. It seeps in after awhile, and it makes me sad.

My car is technically roadworthy. The problem is it needs a lot of repairs, things like brakes and motor mounts that were so bad the dealership couldn’t have possibly ignored them, things that are ticking time bombs for bad failure. I could get past that if the car was priced appropriately for its condition, but it was priced more appropriately for a car in good, solid condition, 3-4x more than it should have been. I actually thought about parting it out :laughing: I might get my money out of it that way, but it would take a long time, which isn’t ideal as long as I’m making payments on it. Selling it as a whole parts car is a bit extreme, I’d probably lose 75% on it. I could sell it as is and be out 50%, but that’s still a lot. What hurts the most is being lied to and feeling like a sucker, and having no recourse. I contacted consumer protection agencies, and the dealership ignored them. The next step would be to sue them, and I just don’t think that’s a road I want to go down.

Thank you for your thorough response. Thank you for hearing me. :hrtlegolove:

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That’s always the hard part isn’t it? The “experience” qualifies people for higher pay grade, which can be understandable. Sometimes it feels divisive in some places I’ve worked.
There very well may come a time when things are going a bit steadier and making that move is an option, it’s just really painful having to wait it out.
Ideally they’d let you have a few days doing one and the other and getting there would still be the decrease of pay when you’re doing the mechanics, but it would feel more balanced at least, but then they’d be looking at filling a spot the other days.

Ohhh so it’s a newbie! I’m someone who can get very overwhelmed with too much stuff and when I don’t know where to start or I just want it all to be done I shut down and don’t do anything. People think I’m lazy, but it’s just that I literally cannot function without order. So even though I have all these things to do and want to do them all at once, I try to list out what I’m going to accomplish and when/a time frame. And every time I get that nagging “but you also have to do this and this” I refocus myself and remind myself that x project isn’t until x time, push it out of my mind. I know that’s a hard thing when you’re unsure of finances, those things just have to be pushed to the end of the list sometimes if they’re not an immediate urgency.
I usually start with “what can I do right now without having to leave the house to buy anything”. Then I move to the things that are easy to just quickly get and be home with, not too expensive. Then I look at the other stuff, and you’re already doing the budgeting with those too which is good.
Sometimes I now feel comfortable depending on my friends to give me that push. When I was buying carpet I put off going to look for it for so long because I was so unsure of what I was doing. So I finally told my friend and she came with me. I gutted the old ones myself so I didn’t have to pay for removal.

The world has been absolutely chaotic with so much negativity and political outrage. I can imagine being bombarded with it constantly is stressful. Rural living can be easier and sometimes not. The tourists are awful. Just awful people migrate down for events or holidays.

That’s horrible about the dealership! And I’m surprised they didn’t take action! I love the ole “I’ve cc the ombudsmen in this email”. Usually works a trick hah! But seriously, it’s horrible that people have to be dishonest to make a buck. And really, in the end they’ll just lose business for it.
Ahhh yeah, that’s really frustrating. I mean there’s always an expectant loss of income when reselling a used car or now used car, but that’s a big hit.

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