Every Now And Then I Get Reminded Why I Think The Way I Do
I work on the night shift for a large manufacturer in a union shop. Last week all of the employees paychecks were held up. Some time early in the morning on Friday a few people noticed that their paycheck hadn’t been deposited, so rumors started buzzing. Later that morning the company said that there was a problem with the bank that sends the payments and it was nothing on their end or the company that does payroll that caused it. They said it would be fixed by Monday (and it was). Some coworkers were freaking out and calling the union hall and screaming about how they wouldn’t be able to make Christmas happen this year, “pay the light bill”, “put food on the table”, etc, etc.
I have sympathy for some individual cases and some of the employees that are paid less, but I’m glad that I’ve built up enough security that if I get my full paycheck three days late it’s not a big deal.
My dad worked at that factory since before I was born. I remember the strikes and lingering uncertainty around the prospects of the factory packing up and moving to China or Mexico. One strike in 1994 lasted for over a year. I remember my dad picking up odd jobs here and there and making some cuts in the household that we weren’t used to.
I started working at this plant in 2004, right before going to Iraq. Although I take my job seriously and all of that while I’m there, I’ve never really thought of it as something that’s guaranteed to be there long enough for me to work until I’m 60-ish, get my gold watch, collect my pension and then live a life of leisure until I die. I’ve always had the mentality that it’s good to have savings and a “plan B” in the way of retirement and other job skills. I know that if I lost my job today I wouldn’t be able to find anything that paid anywhere near what I make now, so I’m better off living a lifestyle below my means just in case something happens. Honestly, I don’t know if my job will be around long enough for me to retire. There’s good reasons to think it will, good reasons to think it won’t.
When I was just starting out in life a guy I worked with loaned me Millionaire Next Door and Rich Dad, Poor Dad. That same guy also tried to get me in on his Amway deal, attempting to entice me with the photographs of the beachfront properties owned by successful Amway salesmen he kept by his desk. This guy’s Amway pitch didn’t go anywhere, but those two books certainly did by opening up my eyes to what “wealth” actually means. I worked at a place that had me dealing with all different kinds of homeowners around the city and I started to see that people who appear rich aren’t always and people who appear poor/middle class might actually be pretty well off. I had just gotten into some bad debt at that time trying to acquire some of the things that I thought defined success, so it was good to get that kind of financial direction at that time.
After listening to a lot of people complain about being broke by payday and certain experiencing it myself, I think the first financial/preparedness goal I set for myself was being in a position where what day of the week it was didn’t matter. If I needed something Thursday night, it would be just the same as if I spent the money the previous Friday night. The next step from that was making it so it didn’t really matter what day of the month it was. If I had to pay all of my bills on the 1st, 15th, 17th or whatever, it wouldn’t matter. I would hear people talk about how they didn’t have any bills to pay with that week’s paycheck so they would go out and blow it, planning on living on a tight budget next week. I didn’t want to be that guy.
Anyways, when I started working at the place I do now I really started thinking about having all of my ducks in a row just in case I had to go on strike or lost my job. I remember one rumor in 2007 about a plant in China that would shut us down that really put a fire under my ass. I thought about what kinds of employment I would pursue if I lost this job. I decided I would finish school just to give me a slightly better chance of getting meaningful employment and I did that last year. I planned on getting the most out of my job and getting myself into the best situation possible to deal with the prospect of having to find a lower-paying job someday.
Thinking this way did lead me towards the world of preparedness. I think most people get into it by thinking about things like zombies, EMP’s, TEOTWAWKI, etc and going down from there. I guess I came to it from the other way around and started with the mundane things.
I still don’t have all the answers on what a post-current job world would look like, but I think I’m in a spot where at least I would have better options than I would’ve had I not tried to come up with a plan. It’s not an issue of being smarter than anyone, but I accept that things can change and when they do, it’s best to move on instead of trying to kick a dead horse. Instead of grinding my wheels about getting paid late, it wasn’t a big deal for me because I had given the issue some forethought. I would hate to have that kind of dependency and live under that kind of stress. I would like to think that if the plant ever closed, I would just be able to move on instead of dwelling on it and demanding the return of something that isn’t there.