Operating on the Edge

Operating on the edge

Whew, the last two days have been very stressful. At 1 am on Wednesday, I was just putting the finishing touch on the million dollar playground article and was about it publish it when I started to have a problem with Retire By 40. When I tried to reach the site via a new window, the browser just showed a blank white page. Luckily, I had one window opened so I could publish the article. However, that didn’t do much good because the whole site went down soon after. This is bad news because I’m operating on the edge, time wise.

I contacted the server’s technical support and they turned off all the plugins and enabled the default WordPress theme. This brought the site back up, but there were a lot of missing functionalities. I put a lot of time into the Thesis theme and I don’t want to remove it. A theme controls how the site looks.

Anyway, I spent the last two days bugging the technical support team at Thesis and my hosting company. They tried to debug, but couldn’t figure out why Thesis stopped working. Other themes were working fine. On Wednesday night, I set up an alternate theme that I could work with temporarily. I didn’t have high hopes at this point because they hadn’t made much progress.

At this point, I’m very grumpy because I hadn’t been getting enough sleep at night. I had to take a nap at 4 pm because I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. Of course, RB40 Jr. fell asleep too. This was not good because his naps are 3 hours long. Then he couldn’t go to sleep at his usual bedtime at 8 pm. When I woke up, I saw an email from Thesis’s tech support. The problem somehow resolved itself and the site is back. This is good and bad. It’s good because the site is back, but we have no idea why it went down in the first place. I really hope this won’t happen again. At least, I have a backup plan now if something goes wrong. I can go to the alternate theme for a while.

Operating on the edge

So what did I learn from this episode? It’s not good to operate on the edge. I don’t have much time to write and maintain the site. I usually work on an article for 2 days before publishing it. So normally, I would work on Friday’s article on Wednesday and Thursday. Since I spent most of the last 48 hours debugging, I only have a couple of hours to bang something out. I really need to catch up on my sleep tonight.

I really hate technical issues. I don’t know enough to debug them and they detract from the writing. I guess it’s a learning experience because now I have an alternate theme I can switch to the next time something goes wrong. The technical teams can debug while I keep working on the articles. It would be nice to build a queue of articles, but I haven’t been able to operate that way.

Back to Personal Finance

I imagine this is how a lot of people get into trouble with debt. Everything is fine until there is an emergency, and then the whole situation crumbles. A family might be able to buy groceries, pay for rent, deal with the car payment, and eat out. However, when there is a big bill from an automobile accident or illness, then their finance can’t handle it. They have to put those expenses on several credit cards and then pay the high interest rate. If they can’t pay the debt off in a few months, the high interest will keep them in the red for a long time. To prevent this problem, we need some financial safety net.

I hope that transition to finance wasn’t too abrupt. I told you, I had to bang this one out quickly. I’m not quite sure how to deal with the time deficit. I think that’s a big problem for a lot of people too. I guess you just need to sleep less for a few days and catch up when things are better. That’s really tough at 41. I already don’t get enough sleep.

Image credit: flickr by MShades

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.
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10 thoughts on “Operating on the Edge”

  1. Brilliant connection between debt and emergency shut down of your blog. Very creative!
    The money gurus are all saying 6-12 months emergency/cost of living fund.
    Jane Bryant Quinn says a couple of years worth for older/retired folk. She asks, “Can you afford a downturn in the market w/o causing a cash emergency?” Meaning, are you liquid enough in $ for any emergencies?
    Even our dog’s vet clinic, said to have an emergency cash fund of several thousand bucks (5,000.!) just for vet bills. Whew!

  2. Two important elements of Murphy’s Law apply here:
    1. If anything can go wrong, it will.
    2. If anything can’t go wrong, it still will.
    And remember, Murphy was an optimist.

  3. Sorry to hear about the technical problems RB40. I’ve been building my blog on WP lately, and things have been pretty smooth sailing so far. I hope I don’t run into a problem with my theme. You’re lucky that you are retired; otherwise you wouldn’t have time to be a dad and run this blog in addition to being a working stiff!

    I agree on your comments about debt. No one wakes up and says, “I want to sink myself into 20k in credit card debt.” I think it just happens due to emergencies, shopping addiction, or perhaps desperation. I think the solution is financial mindfulness, using the steps you lay out.

  4. Interesting! I had two WordPress sites go down in the last few weeks completely spontaneously. One is still up, but I can’t access the log-in page and the hosting folks can’t figure out how to get me FTP access so I can fix it. The other one went completely down and I had to FTP in and remove all the plug-ins and switch to a default theme to bring it back. Very strange. It has something to do with auto-updating and is very annoying!

    • The tech support should be able to remove all plugins and switch to the default theme for you. Tell them to get on it. Good luck!

  5. I think you could apply your three lessons back to your blog.
    1. Build an emergency fund: Obtain articles from guest writers, and build up your own reserve of less time-sensitive articles, written in advance.
    2. Live below your means, by providing yourself with more lead time before each particle is due to be published.
    3. Build your wealth by investing. This one is a little more tricky, but perhaps you could subscribe to a technology that would help you auto generate certain recurring articles. For instance, a once a month article that covers consumer sentiment, employment, housing sales, and GDP data.
    Thanks for your all your hard work. I appreciate it, and I know your other readers do as well.

    • I’m just not very good at writing ahead. I tried a few times and it didn’t work out. I’m better at writing just before publishing. It’s not the most efficient thing to do, but it works as long as there is no technical issue…
      I’m getting a new staff writer to help out twice a month. 🙂

  6. Glad to hear that it all worked out in the end, but what a hassle! I think the parallel to debt makes perfect sense. Having a financial cushion for emergencies is absolutely crucial, which is what makes living paycheck-to-paycheck so dangerous. I’d much rather save more than I think I need in order to avoid a potential crisis later on.

  7. Joe,

    Don’t worry about your article, it describes perfectly what happened and how it is important to have back-up (emergency found, alternate them, 2-3 articles in advance) or plan B.

    I wish, what happened to you will not happen to our blog, I am not sure I would have the patience and the effort you put. I need to learn that from you.

    Have some rest and take your time, to come back fresh.

    Cheers, RA50

    • I don’t know. I think technical issues are bound to occur. I usually run into a big problem at least once or twice per year. Hopefully, that’s it for 2015. It’s a pain to fix these problems.


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