An Open Letter To My CEO
talia jane

Personally, I made some bad financial decisions on a home renovation. It left me on the verge of bankruptcy, all savings evaporated, and with nearly $1 mil in debt, ranging from 5-figure high-interest credit cards to 6-figure family loans to large 5-figure IRS bills and so forth.

Here’s what I’ve done for the past two years:
* I rented out my entire house and moved into the basement. I live there now. No, it’s not glamorous but it saves me $15K/year.
* I do not own a car. If I can’t get there on foot or by bus, I don’t need to go there. After all, renting out my garage space gets me another $100/month.
* I do not own a personal cell phone, let alone an iPhone. I use the Android phone I get at work.
* I call the phone company every year and beg them to reset my internet fees to $20/month
* I lived off of $1.50 day-old sandwiches at the grocery store, until I moved to a new job with free food. I do not eat out — maybe once a month on special occasions.
* I eat nearly every meal at work, including weekends. Yes, this means voluntarily working weekends at my job, in part because that means I can expense a meal on Sunday, and we often have leftovers in the fridge. (I also just like finding any extra things I can do to make my employer happy and do my job better.)
* I am laser-focused on doing my job well, because I know that if I slip, I am potentially in big financial trouble.

In other words, I got my entire monthly budget down to $150/mo — including utilities for my tenants. I actually feel privileged to have a tech job that allows me to do this — most of these perks didn’t exist 10 years ago. And I have just 18–24 more months of this until I’m on solid footing again.

And this, by the way, is what I do while earning $225K-$250K a year.

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