Crossover Into A New World

We’ve reached the end of the stone calendar. Time to reset the Mayan clock back to zero. Considering everything I’ve been going through, waking up to a brand new world is appealing. Let me check; yep, looks about the same. But, I know things are changing. There’s a mathematics term commonly used in various arenas: crossover. When two lines or trends intersect, they’ve crossed over each other. That point shows up well on a graph, but it may be hard to discern in a life. So, maybe we are in a brand new world, but we just can’t tell.

To my engineering colleagues, please pardon this simplification. Crossover is a simple thing. Think of a rocket trying to liftoff. The rocket has to produce more thrust than the rocket’s weight. But the rocket doesn’t start at full thrust, sometimes it has to build up a bit. At the same time, the rocket’s weight is dropping because it’s burning its own fuel. At some point, at the crossover point, the thrust has increased and the weight has decreased and they balance. The rocket doesn’t begin to liftoff until after the crossover point. (Actually it’s held back a bit longer for stability, and the thrust curve is a bit different, but hey, I wanted to use a straightforward picture.)

People familiar with the Financial Integrity Nine Step Program know of a different crossover point (Step 8). Crossover happens when a person’s passive secure income exceeds their living expenses. Ideally, the income grows faster than expenses and the rest of life can be spent with enough and maybe more than enough. In the best scenarios, income increases and expenses drop. I’ve seen it happen because when there is sufficient surplus cash, it is possible to buy better solutions. It is possible to spend more up front to save more later. Off-the-grid houses are an excellent example. They may cost more to build, but eventually they pay for themselves and leave a homeowner with no utility bills.

Assumptions must be made. The rocket scientists assume the rocket was built correctly, that the fuel is good, and that the engine doesn’t fail. My one rocket launch blew up after it left the pad. Oops. (Details unavailable.) My personal experience with my financial crossover point was based on a relaxation of the “secure” part of the “passive” income. I thought diversification and backup plans would suffice, but it doesn’t feel that way right now. I know others who have reached Financial Independence crossover point (FI crossover), only to see other assumptions fail. Expenses can rise. Health care costs are hard to predict. Relationships dramatically change living expenses. I witnessed that through my divorce. What was enough for a couple to be retired may not be enough for two single people. Of course, the flip side can happen, too. Two struggling single people can drop their living expenses by becoming a couple. Two incomes that weren’t enough, may be more than enough together.

Rockets succeed and rockets fail. Financial plans succeed and financial plans fail. We’re all just making the best guesses we can with what we’ve got.

At the moment of the crossover point, there is little confidence. Eagerness and anxiety are in balance as well. Optimism and pessimism can see both futures. Does the rocket leave the Earth or does it make a big hole in it? Is it really possible to retire and life the life I want, or have I missed something, or will I run into some bad luck? At the crossover point, there’s no way to know. At that point, the rocket is still on the ground and the income is barely paying the expenses.

In an astronomical sense, the world reached a crossover point yesterday. It’s a yearly event, so it is cyclical and not exactly the same, but it is familiar. The days in the northern hemisphere have begun to lengthen again. The sun has set as far to the south as it will for a while. We know the change has happened, but it is difficult to witness. The solstices are the slowest changes in the yearly cycle. Throughout the rest of the year, the change in a day’s length is more rapid. The day actually changes the quickest at the equinoxes. At the crossover, we rely on experience and trust.

November Sunset – Twelve Months at Cultus Bay (Not the solstice, but we not see the sun then.)

I think we are reaching numerous crossover points within society, civilization, and the environment. Some see the changes coming, just like those financial independent folks that chart their money on their Big Wall Chart. Many are in denial because the changes aren’t dramatic enough to readily witness; or, even if they witness a change, it can be hard to believe it comes from this source or that. One of the appealing things about rockets is that the difference between one side of the crossover point and the other is definitely dramatic and unequivocal. We’re entering a new world. We just can’t tell what it is from where we are.

I know I am entering a new world. My income and expenses are driven by multiple crossover possibilities.

My investment income dramatically fell. That’s why I am temporarily not making mortgage payments. Yet, I am an optimist and realize the possibility that those stocks have bottomed and may recover. My business income is rising quickly, which is handy because the business expenses have risen too; but, next year I might actually make a profit if this trend continues. That would be a crossover point worth celebrating. My consulting business is improving. I’ve even been approved as a personal finance expert over at expertbooth.com. (Online sessions at \$1/minute.) Consulting, writing, speaking, and art sales all greatly benefit from word-of-mouth referrals. My books are becoming better known. My speaking engagements are speaking for themselves are hosts talk to hosts. And my art is well enough known on Whidbey that many identify me as “that photographer”. The Ten Thousand Hour Rule is basically a crossover point where accumulated effort and momentum finally reach self-sustaining levels and an overnight success is born – after a 10,000 hour gestation. I’ve definitely been working long enough and hard enough, and have established enough art inventory. Ideally, that would become my (relatively) passive income.

My expenses continue to diminish. Partly that is external, but the forced financial exercise has awakened a personal realization of how little is required for me to enjoy my life. I’ve scaled back numerous times before; and here I go again, finding a lifestyle that is more enjoyable and that costs even less.

Dropping my expenses means I’ve dropped my crossover point. Every extra bit of income becomes that much more powerful. The difference between one side of my personal finance crossover point and the other will be that much more dramatic.

• If you want to learn how to figure out your personal finance crossover point, go to financialintegrity.org, and remember that is step 8. There may be some homework involved.
• If you want to learn how to figure out various crossover points related to rocket science, whew, well, there will be lots of home work involved.
• If you want to learn the crossover points within society, civilization, and the environment, ah, well, there’s the entire world wide web.
• I didn’t mention it above, but some of the most significant crossover points are related to the possible Digital Singularity, that I’ve written about before.
• If you want to help me with my crossover points, spread the word, post reviews, buy some art, call me to consult about finance, or social media, or self-publishing, or karate, or . . .

We’re crossing over to a new world, and the only thing we can be certain of is that it won’t be like the world we knew. Stay tuned.