More about Mr. Need2Save (the left brained one):
I earned my undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from my state university in the mid-90’s. I grew up in an average blue collar middle class family, so going to college wasn’t a forgone conclusion – in fact, I’m the first person in my family to go to college. My parents certainly couldn’t afford for me live on campus (nor should I have expected that), so I was a commuter student and held part-time jobs all through school. Although I helped pay for my books, my parents paid the tuition and I’m very grateful for their help. I escaped college with only taking a small loan to buy a computer and my parents didn’t take any loans. That $15,000 investment, in early 90s dollars, has paid off pretty well. I don’t think spending five or six times as much at an out-of-state or private university would have changed where I’m at today, as I believe where you went to school is only a very small part of your success.
Upon entering the workforce, I really wanted to start my career as a hardware design engineer, but those jobs weren’t plentiful in our area at the time. After essentially working as a product engineer at a small company for a couple of years, I found an opportunity at a medium sized technology company – but it was a software engineering role. At the time I perceived software engineering as a step down given that I had an Electrical Engineering degree. Why did I take all those mind numbing advanced math classes if I was just going to write software? Given the explosion of the Internet and software in general over the last twenty years, I think I made the right choice. I’ve also taken advantage of my employer’s tuition reimbursement program which paid for 90% of my graduate degree.
I really enjoy the work that I do, the projects I’m involved with, and the great team of people I work with. Software development and its associated fields are constantly evolving, so there is always something new to learn and experiment with. Although I’m not artistically talented in the traditional sense (we would be dead broke if I needed to paint or sing for a living!), software as a profession has allowed me to explore my creative side. Over the past few years I’ve moved into leadership and managerial roles, and that transition has been rewarding as well. I’ve had a few very good mentors over the years and I hope that I’m providing the same guidance and growth opportunities for my team.
On a personal note, about six years ago my brother-in-law challenged us to run a half marathon. Those first few months of training were rough, but we got through that first race and now I’m hooked! Thousands of training miles and many pairs of running shoes later, I’ve run countless 5k and 10k races, around 10 half marathons and 3 full marathons with no stopping in sight. I’ve also dabbled in a few triathlons and century bike rides. Besides the obvious physical health benefits of endurance training and competition, I think I’ve gained significant mental and spiritual strength as well.
As much as I enjoy what I do in my professional life, there is so much else I want to learn and experience. Achieving financial independence will allow me to try, and fail, at other endeavors without worrying and being stressed about the financial impact.