Progressing towards my goals
On my Goals page, I’ve listed my short-, medium- and long-term goals. My primary short term goal is to have a total of six months pay in savings, in case of emergency or job loss.
Yes, even in the public service, job loss is a possibility – a change of party in government (particularly if the Liberals win an election) can foreshadow departmental downsizing. Anyone who was in the Queensland public service during the Newman years (2012 – 2015) knows what it’s like to spend every day for months on end worrying whether you’re going to get a pink slip when you walk into work each day. Around 20,000 people lost their jobs in ‘Can-Do’ Campbell’s decimation of the public service. Don’t be fooled by the figure of 14,000 that was bandied around – that meant full-time equivalent positions, not the actual number of people. A lot of part-time workers got the boot, a large number of whom were women. I heard a number of anecdotal stories about women who were due to return from maternity leave, only to be told that there was no job for them to come back to. I was probably fortunate to be at the lowest rank during that period – doing ‘grunt’ work in an area that brings in a lot of revenue generally made my position less dispensable than those of my more highly ranked colleagues.
But I digress. When I first published my Goals page I already had managed to save up three months worth of living expenses – that’s just regular daily expenses, not three months pay. I’m happy to be able to say that I reached my first mini-goal during July – three months full pay is now available in my emergency/eff-off fund! And if necessary, it would cover just my regular, daily living expenses for a good five months.
It’s interesting to note the difference that having that little bit of financial backing makes to my peace of mind (refer above re job losses). While this is only the first step on my journey towards FI, it’s the first significant stepping stone I’ve reached. I wrote here about how my mindset started to change after being promoted, but that it took some time to adjust to not being in a financial ‘famine’ mode. It’s a funny thing, but when you’re in that place where you know in the back of your mind that you don’t have anything to fall back on if life suddenly goes pear-shaped, you subconsciously exist in a kind of survival mode. And that mode of thinking has significant impacts – research shows that poverty affects your life expectancy. Not that I’ve ever come anywhere near being in poverty (touch wood), but when you don’t have a lot of earning power you’re always acutely aware of the precariousness of your position. I experienced it as a constant level of underlying stress and tension, and I was always worrying about money. I was surprised that it took some months for that feeling to dissipate, but then, I suppose when I look at it objectively, I was in that lower-paying job for eleven and a half years (aside from the times I was temporarily in higher level roles) so I suppose it makes sense that it took a while to decompress.