For a little while, DH and I were making joint more than what Obama/Biden’s campaigns considered “middle class” (we never did make it above what Biden/Harris consider their cutoff for tax increases, but that’s an insane number). It was really nice. Like… money just did not matter at all.
I was just about to start living like someone who makes a lot of money– sending DC1 to a fancy summer camp, going on a vacation that wasn’t family or wedding or work-related (what can I say, I dream small), and then the pandemic happened. So we went back to spending like we were upper-middle-class meaning buying whatever we wanted at the grocery store and maybe a bit less comparison shopping. And we’d hit that point a long long income ago. Other than deferred maintenance and replacements we didn’t actually DO anything with the money, but boy did I dream. Kids need more Spanish? Maybe we should spend a month in a Spanish-speaking country one of these years. Or the kids could go to Interlochen, which my cousin went to but my family could never come close to affording growing up. (Are my dreams too small?) But.. pandemic.
So I don’t really know what it like to spend as if one is making more than 250K/year– we never got there with spending. The money just kind of piled up and I put it in IRAs and donated some and finally got nice countertops for the kitchen, replaced our grad school and first-year-with-a-real-job cars, and did a bunch of home maintenance stuff that suddenly came up because we’ve been living in this house for well over a decade now.
And then the money ran out at DH’s company. So they got furloughed. And then it turns out there was less money than expected, so the layoff that was supposed to happen in December is happening in November and the grant that was supposed to happen in January got rejected on a paperwork issue and the other grant that could have happened in January wouldn’t actually happen until April if it gets accepted. And the company owner is getting closer to 80 and really wanting to wind down and retire for real. So… this might be the end of this job that DH really enjoyed.
Now, with just my income, after two hard-fought raises to get me closer to market value, we are still upper-middle-class. We can still buy whatever we want at the grocery store. With the money I’ve kept in cash once it became clear that DH’s company was having problems we probably don’t need to make any major changes to our lifestyle or purchases. If DC1 goes to a fancy college with a big endowment, we may be eligible for some financial aid, whereas with DH working we would not be. (And we might have to take out loans depending on where zie goes instead of cash flowing what the 529 doesn’t cover.)
DH probably doesn’t ever have to work again so long as I keep employed. He can be FIRE, but without the money-making blog, just living as a house-husband.
He’ll probably want to work again eventually, and I admit, I do like it when he brings in money. That paycheck was awfully nice while it lasted. Being high income is really really nice and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But it’s also nice having someone completely trustworthy and intelligent around to just take care of things with the house and family, so long as he doesn’t spend all his time pulling weeds. (We’re keeping the lawn service this time so he will not have an excuse to mow.)
So, I don’t know what will happen. This job is probably done– most of the other members of his company can’t wait until April for uncertain income. They’re likely to find work elsewhere. And then there will be nobody in the company. The company owner has paid salaries out of pocket before and taken out loans etc. but seems disinclined to do so this time around. And DH really doesn’t want to do another systems architecture project to tide things over like last time. We don’t really live where DH can do things based on his PhD (other than being an adjunct or post-doc which are low-paid and he doesn’t want to do if we don’t need the money). His best option is probably to do contract work from people in his network. We’ll see if that is forthcoming, though he wants to take a longish break before sending out feelers. Most of his friends at the big companies on the coasts have left said companies and gone to work for less money at start-ups.
I don’t have a moral– this is just an update. I’m about to get a house-husband which is very nice in many ways. And our family will now just be bringing in lots of money rather than unfathomable amounts, and we’ll no longer be saving up insane amounts. This won’t become a travel blog since we tried to go to Portland for our 20th anniversary and ended up with a Pandemic instead. Obviously we were not meant to go anywhere. The possibilities are no longer endless. I won’t have obnoxious posts about what to do with all this extra money.
Money goes to:
My backdoor roth IRA
DH’s spousal IRA (starting in 2021)
DC2’s 529 plan
General expenses (which will be going up since I’ll have to add DH to all my insurances).
I don’t yet know if we will be taking out of savings or if we’ll just be living off my salary (I haven’t gotten paid yet for the year, but preliminary estimates suggest I take-home a little more than we spend in most years so long as we don’t buy two new cars and remodel the kitchen again). I don’t get paid in the summer unless I have a grant, and I don’t have plans for submissions any time soon, so I will have to draw down from savings in the summer. But we’ve got enough in there that we’ll be fine and will probably still have next summer’s emergency fund left by the time I get paid in October.
So… a bittersweet update. But far better to have been temporarily insanely high income and to have saved it than to have never gotten those savings at all.
Again don’t let anyone tell you that money doesn’t buy happiness. Boy is it nice to have more income than you could ever need. It is lovely even if you put that money away to buy future security and future happiness. I bet it’s even lovelier to be confident enough in that income stream to bump up spending. (And we still can’t afford to buy a house in Paradise…) I wonder if it’s good that we didn’t get used to that high income since we won’t really have to be cutting, or if I regret not having had those experiences we could have had (could still have if we spend down savings…) And I feel a little sad that we weren’t able to give our kids the benefits of expensive summer camps and fancy travel and so on. But they’ve still gotten a lot of benefits from growing up upper-middle-class (and occasionally traveling with me to conferences), and they have a lot of life left to live. We have a lot of life left to live.