Almost three years of contractor life…

In August, should we last that long, Bill and I will have spent three years living in Germany for the second time.  As I explained in my first article about about the difference between Army life and contractor life, there are significant differences between living in Germany with the military and living here as “hired guns” for government contractors.  For the most part, Bill and I have enjoyed our time here with him as a civilian.  We’ve made an effort to see and do a lot more locally, have made some friends, and even attempted to learn more of the language.  This time, we feel very comfortable in Germany and it’s feeling more like home.  Which is probably why the developments of this week seem especially cruel.

Just this week, Bill told me that his company lost the contract he was working on.  Chances are good that the incoming company will offer Bill a job, but there is no guarantee that will happen.  Consequently, this week has been rather stressful, since the contract Bill works on will expire this summer.  We were definitely not planning to leave and even have a cruise planned.  I’m going to be super bummed if we have to cancel, although I did buy “cancel for any reason” travel insurance strictly because I knew this could happen.

I try to be philosophical and realize that Easter is a time of renewal and rebirth.  It could turn out that this event will lead to good things.  But right now, we’re dealing with the uncertainty of what comes next when a company loses a contract.  It’s especially stressful when you’re thousands of miles from “home” and will probably have to come up with the money to move back there should that become necessary.

So, this is yet another aspect of living the contractor life that can be worrying and stressful.  Bill and I would like to stick around for a couple more years, mainly because we moved six times within the last seven years of his time in the Army.  We have been here two and a half years and it’s finally starting to feel somewhat familiar.

And yet… although I have been to almost all of the European capital cities, I still have yet to see Berlin beyond the airport.  There’s still a lot I want to see and do and neither Bill nor I have any desire to go back to the States anytime soon.  At the very least, we definitely need to see Berlin.

It seems like this kind of thing always happens just when I pay off my credit cards, too.  Last time we lived here, I got really close to paying USAA all I owed them.  I think I was within $300 of having a zero credit card balance.  Then, Bill was unexpectedly called back to the States to take an assignment in Georgia at a post that was due to close less than two years after our arrival.  We moved, and were faced with the prospect of having to sleep on the floor for a month while we waited for our furniture to arrive.  We also moved into a house that had no refrigerator.  Before I knew it, I was whipping out the credit card to buy all the stuff we needed.  I know some people are fine with a month on an air mattress, but I’m no longer willing to put up with charley horses and sore backs.  I had a big credit card bill again in no time.

Last month, I finally paid off USAA and now have zero credit card debt.  I also came up with a plan to eliminate my student loans within the next two years.  Sure enough, weeks later, we find out we might end up having to move.  Maybe the end lesson is that I shouldn’t try so hard to pay off debt!

I guess I’ll just try to keep the faith.

Ah Stuttgart… please don’t tell me it’s the end…


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