I am always amazed when I see statements like this coming from people in highly-paid professions. It seems like the OP has already figured out that financial insecurity contributes a LOT to stress and can force us into very sub-optimal decisions. Props to them for connecting those dots.
I hope everybody reading this post takes a moment to review their financial readiness for different levels of calamity. If you don't have an emergency fund, make some small adjustments to pile up the cash ASAP.
For it to be useful long-term, you'll need to find a policy with both guaranteed renewal and guaranteed coverage increase as your income rises, before any chronic conditions appear (or are diagnosed) or things like car accidents occur and become pre-existing conditions.
There are other details that make shopping for a policy tedious/tricky, such as differences in "own occupation" coverage, post-disability inflation protection not being standard, and the fact that you probably want to choose a company that'll be solvent 40 years later (since there's no pre-existing condition exclusion-exception portability like for health insurance, AFAIK).
Meanwhile, while you're employed, those payments, which can be $50-$100/mo post-tax, may be a total waste, since your employer is likely paying for group disability coverage, and no (reasonably-priced) policy will double-pay. Usually, anything you get from Social Security (or any state-mandated) disability will also reduce the benefit. That is, the total from all sources will be capped by the most generous policy at somewhere around 60% of pre-disability income.
The market seems to be geared toward self-employed professionals, such as dentists, rather than the typical tech worker.
All that said, here's my advice: If your employer offers you a "tax option" or "imputed income" on the disability insurance premium, choose it (and if they don't offer it, ask for it). Paying the extra few dollars per paycheck in tax will mean that 60%-of-pre-disability-income won't be subject to income tax and would actually be close to a total income replacement.
AFAIK private disability insurance folks love "typical" tech workers because they're less likely to malinger than most self-employed professionals, to a degree which makes getting private long-term disability insurance a bit of a challenge if one e.g. runs a software consultancy or SaaS business.
(FYI for folks who might find themselves in that situation at some point: I got Petersen International Underwriters https://www.piu.org/ to do a policy for me, despite having at the time a "quite complicated" story on the financial front . They don't sell insurance directly to consumers so one has to use a broker; insubuy.com was adequate for the very modest needs of moving information from my emails into their inbox.)
 A major risk in underwriting folks for disability insurance is moral hazard; if malingering on insurance is preferable to going to work, some people might be tempted to do so, and since long-term insurance policies might last until current facts about someone's business/career are no longer true, you have to make a best guess on "OK, does it look like their $200k+ income will continue, or will they eventually face the choice 'Shut down business and get a job at Target or leave the workforce and bill us for $10k a month.'"
It's been more than a few years since I've looked, but any love didn't, then, translate to a diversity of products, transparency in pricing (e.g. ease of obtaining quotes), and/or significantly lower premiums (or discounts for periods of double coverage).
That's only true if you want to increase your spending as your income increases. If you start out with an upper-middle-class paycheck and lifestyle and get disability insurance for that, and save 100% of any pay raises on top of that, then a simple cost of living adjustment is more than enough. And even without a COLA adjustment, your long-term savings should be accruing faster than inflation anyhow. Rough math says that if you can't save enough to replace 2% of your income in a year, then you can't afford to retire after working 50 years.
>That is, the total from all sources will be capped by the most generous policy at somewhere around 60% of pre-disability income.
This is more than it sounds like, since private disability benefits are untaxed. For anyone with a six figure income, that's $5k/mo in after-tax income. Plus, this income is 100% portable within the US - you no longer have to live within the high COL areas where the tech jobs are.
For many people, I think you have this backwards. That is, they seek an increased income in order to support increased spending, such as for raising children.
Regardless, the kind of savings discipline you propose seems like it would apply to a minority of those near the start of their careers.
Michael Jordan has a coach. Programmers and other brain workers have therapists.
It's so obvious to me that having a neutral person who helps you track and set goals, track your moods, and help you process work relationships and events has a huge benefit.
But people ignore this! They are in this macho culture where you need to be self reliant and going to a therapist is weird and weak.
So instead of getting help, they place the burden on their friends and family and co-workers to tolerate and correct their shitty behavior.
Your friends or wife is not your therapist. They are not trained, are not impartial, and wouldn't you rather be having a good time then forcing them to listen to your constant whining?
I'm diagnosed bipolar and have gotten things under control with the help of a therapist WITHOUT medication. It's a powerful experience and a cheat-code to productivity.
When I read your post it sounded like you were being a little too hard on yourself. Something that helps me is instead of thinking about how far there still is to go, thinking about how far you've come so far. Or as Adam Grant says:
"After reaching a goal, raising the bar often increases motivation but decreases happiness.
To enjoy your success, imagine how your past self would see your current achievements.
If you knew 5 years ago what you’d accomplish now, how proud would you have been?"
You're doing great. Thanks for sharing again and keep it up!!
Huge props to you for stepping out and sharing what you were going through. If only this was more commonplace for others in your situation.
At the end of the day, we all deserve to be happy, and I hope you reach that point very soon through careful management of all things “life”.
As someone prone to depression throughout their entire life, I have to agree that a bad job situation can make a depressive-leaning person's life really bad. I've been going through similar things for the last few months.
I think this is also pushing me to get my own therapist lined up again, as it's been a while. Like you, I know that there are some things I need help with, and there's no shame in that. But god, finding mental health professionals is so hard! Just don't slide back, it's so easy to do, and it can really hurt for a long time.
Although my situation was not anything like as bad, I went through a similar situation two years ago. The two things I wish in retrospect I'd done differently are (1) get therapy sooner and (2) get out sooner. The feeling I had the day I quit that employer is one of the best feelings I've ever had, even though it was a place I thought I loved. I'm still doing the same job at a different employer, but the difference is night and day.
At least in my past situation, a huge part of the issue was in recognising that I was in that situation in the first place. These types of workplace issues have a nasty habit of creeping up slowly, day by day, week by week, so that you don't notice them. I kept thinking "it's just this current situation around [x] thing", when really it was the whole environment.
Add even a small amount of home/personal life stress on top of that (dealing with very young or teenage kids, moving house, illness, money worries, relationship problems, ...) and it can be the straw that broke the camel's back.
I really wish good therapy (with a therapist of your choice) was something which health insurance/the NHS paid for (at least in the UK, it doesn't). I hate to think of how many people in these types of situations are put off by the cost.
'Shoring up' for the long term is the best you can do for yourself on a practical level now - work, earn, save, clear debts, that's the practical steps.
Medically get all the help you can - be it meds, therapy, new ideas..
Maybe get some new ideas happening for you too? On a philosophical front I mean, I find episodes of depression come with a big slab of "what's the point" and have thus sometimes found (but this is very individual I guess) that exposure to new stuff - meditation, buddhism, books/reflections on philosophy etc helped in the sense of 'seeing a bigger picture'. Getting 'out of oneself' type activities are helpful during episodes IMO as it reduces (a little) that introversion which seems to happen and be quite damaging when in the depth of depression.
I had two years out of work after depression and substance abuse treatment (I managed to keep my job during this period whilst barely functioning for a couple of years, more due to bad HR management than anything I did, i.e. inertia/incompetence on their part). It took 12 months of the out of work time just to get recovery up to a level where I felt I'd be capable of working again, and then another 9 months to actually get a gig..
It's a long road, without light sometimes it feels.. but it will pass if you ensure you keep the minimal practicals together and ensure you get outside help to deal with what's going on in your head. You are absolutely not alone.
Take care and good luck!
No one deserves to ever feel deppressed, I say this confidently, having been swallowed by depression once and succesfully coming out to tell its woefull tales, it's great to see another person escape from its cold, lonely, and sad clutch.
This is part of my issue as well.
But most importantly, thank you for your story. (It seems that someone is cutting some onions at my desk, either that or a lot of dust in my office.)
Never underestimate the power of sharing your story.
Just one thing that occurred to me. Reconsider the necessity to find a good therapist. It can be so immensely helpful.
Best of luck on your ventures and your health!
When I had depression I found this a very difficult and frustrating task that was depressing by itself. I don't want to say that most therapist are bad but they are humans and it's very hard to find one that matches well with the patient.
I've been on and off anti-depressants since I was sixteen, and I'm 33 now. My self-confidence has been basically destroyed, and I've kind of been just a shell of a human being ever since middle school. I've never figured myself out, and I've never felt like I've had time to, or the space and energy.
I've been in and out of therapy, I've been to rehab, and I've seen lots of professionals - psychiatrists and therapists.
My current psychiatrist is helping me a lot - but it also seems like it's two steps forward, and three backwards. During the spring, I gained a lot of confidence, and felt like I was back on track, and it only took one thing going haywire in my plans, for everything to once again fall off the rails.
Like you - I finally broke down to my parents (who have been amazingly supportive over the years) - and this isn't the first time I've broken down in front of them - but hopefully it's the last.
I've decided that the career path I've sought for myself, which is the line of work they both worked in, isn't for me.
My main goal right now, which I'm going to need their help with (because at this point accomplishing basic tasks like opening my email / checking my physical mail - are terrifying to me), is to sell the house I purchased several years ago. This thing has been a boat anchor, and has helped keep me stuck by requiring a certain level of monthly income.
After that, I hope to quit my job and set out across the country to do some soul searching. Hopefully via the house sale and savings I've accrued, I can keep myself afloat for a while, while I pursue new opportunities.
My goal is to enter a new industry, that is arguably more rigorous than the one I'm leaving, but I feel like my current position has contributed quite a bit to my deterioration in mental health, and that it's not what I love - or even want - to do.
Ultimately, I keep myself going by remembering the alternative is not an option. I try to think that things will get better, but it's difficult at times. The one thing I can always rely on fortunately (and this isn't true for many), is family and my close friends. Networking is very important, and so is remembering that everyone, including you and me, deserves to be happy.
Your journey is yours alone to make, so don’t take this advice but rather an anecdote.
When I was able to better understand what I valued in life (which is also constantly changing) I was able to find a lot more peace in my day to day life. I do what I value. I avoid what I do not. Much of what I value comes with challenges, pain, and difficulty, but because I value it the friction proves beneficial in the long wrong. I eschew things I don’t value (social media), but constantly reevaluate and challenge myself.
Good luck. I hope you find what you’re seeking.
I really do value that feedback. I have also stopped using almost all forms of social media. I can't drop twitter - but that is because I value a lot of the content I read there (mostly related to game development).
I've also learned that I need to focus on what is important to my health, and less, on what is important to others.
These are hard lessons for some individuals to learn. It's amusing - because very much of my behavior is self-centered.
I think the key lesson I've learned throughout my continual growing process, is that thoughtless compassion and service to others, grants you the ability to also be compassionate towards yourself.
Living in your problems, hating life, focusing on negatives all the time, wraps your head around your own negativity and dissatisfaction with life.
It's a fine balance that needs to be maintained, and it's easy to slip up in that regard, but I think it's also critical in healing and recovery.
And even then - living this and thinking it, are two totally different things.
1) long walks in nature
2) eat well
3) sleep (If necessary get a prescription for trazodone, they’re cheap $7.50 for 90 pills)
4) antidepressant meds
Interestingly "Doctors in Shetland are to start prescribing birdwatching, rambling and beach walks in the Atlantic winds to help treat chronic and debilitating illnesses for the first time. From Friday [5 Oct 2018], doctors working in the 10 GP surgeries on the islands will be authorised by the archipelago’s health board, NHS Shetland, to issue 'nature prescriptions' to patients to help treat mental illness, diabetes, heart disease, stress and other conditions." 
It sounds like you can barely work. Is it possible for you to get a easier job or one that’s more physical? Taking care of the bare minimums like food and shelter are priority number one. Everything else comes second.
Therapy and meds can go a long way but you’ll still face living with a disability.
The outlook is bleak unless you can provide for yourself and at least enjoy eating.
I recommend cats and cspan.
1. Break your fall.
Depression, and any 'invisible' illness, are highly distracting. Like trying to getting an A while getting electric shocks during every class and study. It can be done (not by me, but by some I guess) but it is really really hard. You'll miss obvious problems, solutions, and obvious signs that act as cues at other times. You need to turn down the voltage a bit.
First, quick fixes. These are antidepressants. They are a good temporary measure but not more than 3 maybe 6 months. Depression kills all forward progress, and antidepressants can release some of this pressure temporarily - freeing you to begin moving to long term solutions. That is really all antidepressants are good for.
2. Find out-of-the-box effective solutions to your depression - immediately.
First, I have been helped by western herbals (St. John's Wort is proven long term effective but takes time to get going), ayurvedic Indian herbal treatments (start with Ashwagandha), Chinese herbs, gut related bacteria and probiotics (strong ones like kombucha every day - not gentle 'nudges' like yogurt).
Focus on the medicine vs the doctor/treatment. Dr visits can take a month or more and are expensive - your health can't wait. Focus on the herbs themselves vs visiting the ayurvedic practitioner, acupuncturist, or Chinese Herbalist. Via the internet, I stole bits and pieces of the most effective treatments in non-western medicine and cobbled together my own solutions.
Second, Yoga exercise routines, and add the Yoga mindfulness stuff later if you can (but at least the exercise routines). You must do this. Yoga is proven and will help you - but you can't stop there (and will find it hard to start if you have not broken your fall yet). Exercise and treatment must always be combined.
Third, mindfulness. Know you will make it through. You may not know how yet, but you will make it. Fake it 'til you make it is a proven strategy - but not enough alone.
3. If you do not have the ability to share your focus with your job (balancing your health treatment and your job) get a quick fix (antidepressant) going right away to 'turn down the voltage'. And let whatever happens to you job - happen. Panic and anxiety about a job you may be losing is waste of your very precious and limited resources (you may even find your wrong about your fears!).
Remember your solution order -
1. Break you fall (quick fix) and turn down the voltage a little.
2. Come up with long term solutions/strategies to turn it down a lot, and keep it down.
3. And finally - focus on your job last. Your good health will do much more for your job and life than your very best but highly distracted efforts can ever do.
Best of luck - I will be watching for your updates.
You have a chronic problem - you must treat it like one.
Federal income tax in France is greater than 45%. There's nothing cheap about that. I much prefer the freedom of saving my own money, especially when working in something as lucrative as tech.
13.3% of all income (State) +
39.6% of all income (Federal) +
5.3% of all income (Federal double tax on State Tax - thanks, Donny) +
6.2% of all income (Social Security - Individual)
Then of course your employer pays another 6.2% of gross earnings on your behalf for social security too. And of course, in tech, your employer has to pay for your healthcare too, an average of $19,616, which also actually comes out of your paycheck.  Feel free to work out what percentage of your gross earnings that amounts to and tack that on top also. Good thing we've got the freedom to save the remaining ~33% while people go without basic health cover and social services.
In years I earn a lot, I'd actually be better off in Canada.
That being said, the reason France can offer robust services while California cannot, even though tech worker taxes are similar between the two countries, is because France taxes everyone that way. In France, the 41% tax bracket (just a little lower than the top bracket of 45%) kicks in at 71,000 Euros (about $80,000). The U.S. federal rate in that bracket is 25%. Then there is the 20% VAT paid by even the lowest income people.
Medicare contributions have no cap, and are 1.45% by both the employer and employee and the 0.9% Obamacare surcharges on the employee only portion (until 2035) kicks in over $250,000 also. Therefore, social insurance contributes a marginal 3.79%
So, the numbers to the best of my knowledge should have been:
39.6% of all income (Federal, including the Donny double-tax) +
2.34% of all income (Medicare, Obamacare - Employee Contributions) +
1.45% of all income (Medicare - Employer Contributions)
Then you still have to deal with the fixed portions, the $19,616  in healthcare premiums, the $7,347 you'd have paid in social security tax and the $7,347 your employer would have paid in social security tax. 
France offers much more social security than whole US.
A more realistic total combined tax for most people is well under 50%.
Most higher earners in e.g. tech or professions will be in the 40% band at least, where the true marginal rate is c.49% (40%+2%+13.8% / 113.8%).
The "top" marginal rate is c.53% (45% tax+2% employee NI+13.8% employer NI / 113.8%) although the highest marginal rate comes between £100k and c.£123k as the personal allowance (bottom 0% band) gets withdrawn making the effective rate (40%+50%x40%+2%+13.8% / 113.8%) = c.65%. (And at the very low end of the scale, as benefits get withdrawn the marginal combined rate of tax and benefit withdrawal is also extremely high).
We don't allow joint filing for married couples which is a significant benefit, especially for single earner couples with high earnings, in the USA.
Then we have mandatory minimum private pension contributions (given these all go into a defined contribution scheme, it's just pay by another name), the apprenticeship levy, etc etc.
Overall, I'd say the UK and "high-tax" parts of the USA (California, New York etc) are similarly taxed at least as far as income is concerned.
Do you think any employer in the uk would magically give you the 13.8 if employers ni went away.
And most STEM jobs including tech don't get into the higher band at 46,350 I think you ignored the tax free band.
After taxes, insurance and maxing out my 401k (i.e. all the stuff that comes out of my paycheck) I take home 56% on the East coast (in a high tax state no less). I also pay less sales tax and transportation costs than I would in CA and I can afford a house with less than six figures (gross) household income.
- 14% from 9 964 € to 27 519 €
- 30% from 27 519 € to 73 779 €
- 41% from 73 779 € to 156 244 €
- 45% beyond 156 244 €
And the table here for the social contribution that are taken out of your pay before the taxes above are applied: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotisations_sociales_en_France...
- 23.5% for tax credit for other people (i.e. think about solar panels, etc.)
- 15.7% for primary/secondary education (i.e. from kindergarten to 12th)
- 13.6% for counties and other local / regional structures.
- 11.5% for interest on the debt.
- 9.35% for the Defense budget.
- 6.35% for Universities (education and research) => This is paying for ~ free education!! Probably the best deal in the French system compared to the USA.
- 5% for Europe
- 4.3% Police
- 1.9% Judiciary
Also the top marginal rate is 37%, not 39.5 (Thanks Donny.)
And SALT? Rather than “thanking” Donnie for the reduced deductibility, perhaps complain that they are so high as to exceed the allowable cap in the first place?
You pay 0% up to 9807€ of income. Anything above that and under 27086€ you pay 14% on it. Then between that and 72617€ you pay 30% on it. And then between that and 153783€ you pay 41% on it.
Finally, you pay 45% only if you make more than 153783€ per year and again, only on euros that you earn above this threshold.
As an associate professor early in my career my income tax amounts to around 12% of my salary I think.
However, it is far from the whole story: when you get paid, the employer pays taxes, then the employees pays taxes, and only then, you have your income, which is taxed again.
In the end, you get around half of what your employer pays. It means the "more than 45%" is spot on. It works a bit differently for those who are self employed but the numbers are similar.
It is different for civil servants, and as an associate professor, you are probably one. They are taxed much less, which makes sense since they are paid with tax money.
If you want to account for everything that is removed from your salary between gross cost for the employer and your net after taxes, it will surely be between 50% and 60% in average. But then we can talk about the benefit of all this.
I don't know for you but I strongly prefer that and the ability for everyone to get an education, health, unemployment, retirement, infrastructures, etc. than doubling or even more my own salary. Viruses won't stop spreading if you have money. Health is a social and political issue, not a personal one. I like being able to drive everywhere and not just in cities where people are rich enough to pay for roads. I like that when a friend is fired from their job they can keep their appartement until they find a new job. I like teaching to everyone who wants to learn rather than to the children of people rich enough to pay for tuition fees. I like that my parents will get a retirement salary and won't be in my charge when I may also have kids to take care of.
Now of course our system is not perfect and I largely idealized it here. But it is far better than if everyone would get their gross salary, paid no taxes, and would be able to care only for themselves.
On the contrary, this matches what is "Income tax" in the US.
> If you want to account for everything that is removed from your salary between gross cost for the employer and your net after taxes, it will surely be between 50% and 60% in average. But then we can talk about the benefit of all this.
But that is the discussion, I don't think anyone considered that there are higher taxes in France without any benefit for it.
How does saving your own money preclude you from thinking about others?
1. France is not a federal state.
2. Income tax doesn't pay (directly) for health insurance. Income tax also doesn't pay for social security. You're comparing apples to oranges.
The money I save from French taxes (I left this year) I can easily afford all manner of insurance plus I get paid a heck of a lot more to save quite a bit of money.
French employment is over 10% and the economy is stagnant. Could it be if you incentivize unemployment you get more of it? It sure seems like that in France. Chronic and intentional unemployment is not unusual in France. And everyone gets to pay for it. Disposable income in France is also significantly less than in the US.
Contrast that to e.g. Denmark where taxes are arguably higher but making redundancies/reducing workforce is not anything close to as hard or expensive for the employer.
> I've put off finding a new therapist and psychiatrist because of the same catch-22 that was affecting me earlier, being depressed removing my motivation, but writing this post and reliving the last few months has reminded me that nothing good will come of continuing that.
Basically, they sit there and listen, and let you talk about things. Giving you advice? No way.
Being an authoritative person? No. I was not able to fully accept that the empathy therapist show is FAKE, it's not real. You're literally paying them to sit there and listen to you.
I wasn't able to get over the fact that they don't care about you or your life, at the end of the day it's a business.
For instance, let's say one day you lose your insurance? All of sudden your therapist isn't going to help you anymore, etc.
It's all bullshit.
I care about the software projects I'm on, and really want them to succeed, and my clients to gets lots of value out of those projects. But I'm not going to work for them for free.
If you want to talk to someone for free there are friends, family and acquaintances. But that comes with its own set of obligations. If every time I saw a friend I complained about the same issues over and over again I wouldn't have many friends.