Dangerous Spreadsheet Games.

october 18th, 2013.

This year I've taken on short-term corporate gigs via a temp agency. It doesn't call itself a temp agency but it's basically a temp agency.

The corporate gigs make my soul gag but they pay soooooo well. If I work one of these gigs five days it pays my bills for a month. If I work another five days then it pays for groceries and for taking my sweetie out to brunch on weekends. If I work another five days then I can sock away cash for retirement and a trip to Japan. And then aNOTHer five days and there goes the month and see that's where they getcha.

Since yesterday I've been playing a dangerous game with a spreadsheet. Here is the dangerous formula

x   =
(weekly expense) * 52
(weekly corporate income)

“dangerous” because it encourages me to think of work as indenturement. Assuming this plan starts January 1st, 2014, x yields the number of weeks I'd need to work a corporate gig in order to be free for the rest of the year.

I've been running this formula with “bare-bones” weekly expenses (date of freedom: May 14th, 2014). Been running it with “real-ultimate-fantasy” weekly expenses: new bike, new computer, and a trip to France for me and my mom for her 60th birthday (free: August 13th, 2014). Been running it with my hourly rate jacked up 50% (free: June 9th, 2014).

Gratifyingly: several line items in quote-unquote “bare-bones” expenses are quality of life factors like therapy, a NYTimes crossword puzzle subscription, travel to visit family, Halloween costume, holiday cards, etc.

I think of each of these as extravagances, and of myself as indulgent for insisting on them, but without them I buy my freedom only like a week or two earlier. On closer inspection, these special items only account for 5% of my annual budget. But they're like 80% of annual fun and satisfaction. A little butter on your toast. A little smile with your coffee.

Maybe corporate isn't the right fit (cf gag). But the mid-term elections are coming up. Maybe there's a contract out there to help some well-meaning Green or Democrat or even Libertarian build their web presence. Sock away that cash. Purchase my freedom.