Millstones, musings on finance versus personal issues, and illness

· by Steve · Read in about 5 min · (959 Words)

This morning we had to attend court to officially transfer our millstone (ie our mortgage) from one bank to another. The mortgage we took out 5 years ago was good value but the business was bought by another bank who are not as competetive, so we’re switching over to a better deal, as well as reorganising our financial affairs generally from this month due to my altered working arrangements This is now technically the third mortgage I’ve had over the last 10 or so years - I’m an inconstant customer πŸ˜€The bonus is that our monthly debt repayments will be quite substantially reduced due to all this juggling, which gels well with my new lack of reliable income. That’s not to say they’re insignificant (this is Guernsey after all, where land & property is as expensive as anywhere you’ll find in the British Isles), but certainly more manageable and gives me the financial room I need to experiment. Did I already say what a star my wife is for letting me do this? πŸ˜€

I’m well into my second week of working for myself and I’m still very much adjusting. I’m starting to establish a working pattern which incorporates Ogre, future business development, and active contracting work although when doing all that there’s less time in the day than you might think - especially when you count firefighting spam and website issues (someone used a site scraper I hadn’t seen before to take down the ogre3d.org website yesterday). I’ve spilled over a couple of times into the evenings for specific Ogre work but I think I have it under control - I’m doing it because I want to rather than that I feel obligated to, which was how it had got before. The most important thing for me to keep in mind is that although contract work helps pay the bills, the reason I made this major change was so I could call the shots and explore new business avenues for the long-term, not to reactively work for others all the time. Whilst I could just take all the work that’s available (and the temptation is certainly there since it pays), that’s not necessarily a good long-term strategy - ‘opportunity cost’ comes into play here. I’ll have to monitor it - the balance I have this month is a little more loaded towards contract work than it will be in the future since I have a project with a specific deadline that I’d already committed to, but I’m staying realistic about scheduling other work.

I’m still looking for that magic work / life balance but feel I’m definitely making headway toward it now. As I’ve said, Guernsey is a very expensive place to live - it’s really nice, but dear God is it pricey. The prominence of the finance industry and the monetary excesses associated with it has basically made it quite hard to make ends meet if you’re not in, or associated with (legal, accountancy etc), that sector of the economy - and being a stubborn bastard I’ve never really been naturally drawn to it. Shuffling money about has never lit my fire no matter how well it pays, and I’m the kind of person who has to put heart and soul into what I do. So most of my working life has been spent working my arse off trying to progress financially as much as I can in my chosen, less naturally lucrative, field whilst simultaneously trying to ‘break out’ into other areas in my spare time. Whether I was studying or working, my spare time was never really spare.

I don’t think I ever realised just how stressed it was making me - I think perhaps Marie knew, and occasionally it would occur to me (when the RSI and exhaustion were really acute), but like I said, I’m a stubborn bastard and tend just to grit my teeth and carry on regardless. The only reason I realise now is that I’ve been more relaxed these past 2 weeks than I can ever remember being. Well, except perhaps in the Canadian Rockies a couple of years ago when we just got into the mountains, away from everything for a while. I went out with some friends from (ex)work a week ago and they all said ‘Wow, you look really chilled out’. I guess being constantly ‘on’ in the past really did show. πŸ˜€I’m sleeping better, I’m no longer clock-watching in the evenings and berating myself for being late starting on Ogre or related work. I still twitch a little if I don’t check my email in the evenings and at weekends, but I’m getting there. It’s all part of the process πŸ˜‰

Anyway - what this experience has taught me is that although you do need to plan and work hard for the future, and our daily lives are ever more pressured in the always-on, manic, less personalised modern world, beware of getting too obsessed - take some time out for the present too, or you might miss it and never realise. The number of grey hairs facing me in the mirror every morning are a testament to that, but I think I realised in time.

Unfortunately though, I seem to have picked up a nasty stomach bug which manifested itself last night and this morning, hence why I’m spending time musing rather than working today. Even though sick time is unpaid time for me now, I know very well that work done when you have a high fever is rarely good work, and it’s best to rest up rather than force it. I just hope the ramblings above are coherent since my head is rather fuzzy right now! Time to take some more aspirin I think.