My Year of Living Dangerously

2007 is just about over, and the big thing about this year for me is that I got through it without having a "real" job. Not without racking up some serious debt and loads of troubles along the way (my car got re-repossessed yesterday, for instance), but the only boss I had all year was myself and it was incredibly satisfying.

They say that entrepreneurship is about living for a while like most people won't, so that you can live the rest of your life like most people can't. That's a great saying in general, but as I'm turning 36 in January, that "rest of your life" bit seems less of a prize than it once did, I have to say, and poverty as a lifestyle choice sorta sucks. Actually having a car in my parking spot right now, and the money to take my kid on a vacation to see his grandparents or to places like Legoland makes having a "real job" not sound bad at all.

Creating a wildly successful company at the age of 25 and then having your 30s to do cool stuff? That's the dream, which is obviously a decade gone for me. Trying again 10 years later... well, there's even more to give up, and even less of bonus later on. No 401k or IRA, no house, vacations with the kid, etc. Thus not only is there more to give up now than in my 20s, but there's more on the line later on. Deciding to give up on starting my own business thing and getting a real job doesn't suddenly give me a retirement income or provide financial stability. As time passes, the exponential earnings that savings generates can't be caught up on just by earning more salary, so the older I get, the more vital a "home run" of some sort becomes to the rest of my (and my son's) life. How's that for something to keep you awake at night?

There's risk-adverse people, risk-takers and whatever it is I am, which is sort of "risk-numb". Even on analyzing the past year right now, I just don't feel it like others do. I'm really not sure if that's a good thing just yet. :-)

Being consistently broke this year has given me a great perspective though. I'm fascinated and disgusted at the same time by the people who use sites like Wesabe or Mint to tally, organize, count and recount their money over and over again. I mean, do you realize that more than half of the U.S. doesn't have any savings beyond a 401k, and the bottom third has no savings at all and heaps of debt? From reading the echo-chamber on the blogs you'd think everyone would find these sites useful. They're not, especially to the 100MM people in the U.S. that aren't in the middle or upper class. Seriously, where are the online financial services that will let me schedule out a bunch of bills, and pick and choose among those I can afford to pay this month based on an income that's less than the total debt payments? That's what I - and the other 1/3rd in the U.S. - would like to see, believe me.

Anyways, 2007 has been on the whole, a great year. I'm happier now with the direction of my life than I have been in years and really look forward to 2008. Man, 2006 was a disaster and then some, and the years leading up to it weren't much better so this is a big change for me (and why I'm blogging about it). I feel like I'm back on track mentally which is so nice, and if I can just keep things together financially good things are to come.

So here's to a great 2008. I wish you luck, and hope you return the favor.



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