Full Text – Chapter 8, Dead Zoners

What follows here is the full text of Chapter 8 from Pilot Math Treasure Bath. Having just read back through it, I feel more disappointed than vindicated that I was correct to include this chapter in my book. I’m giving it to the world for free here because I’m afraid COVID-19 is going to turn far too many of us into the equivalent of Dead Zoners before the end of the year.

I want you and your friends learn from the mistakes of the past. I want your family to make it through this time with less stress in the near-term, and certainty of a bright future. I firmly believe that if you pay attention to and follow my advice, your family will make it through these tough times better off than most.

If you find any of this useful, I think you’d benefit from reading the rest of my book. It’s available as a paperback or Kindle eBook on Amazon, and on Kobo. Now, without further ado…

This book exists because the state of our industry fills me with optimism. US airlines are expanding, retirements are looming, pilot supply is insufficient to meet demand, and our world is addicted to air travel. All of that is good news for someone starting out a career as an airline pilot.

Sadly, history shows that I need to spend at least a few moments trying to temper my unrelenting enthusiasm. All it takes is one bad day to go from what we have now to a really terrible decade in this industry. Whether we are talking about health scares, a financial crisis, or a major terrorist attack, there are numerous threats to the good life that we enjoy.

Should something cause the music to stop, we could all find ourselves in a very different environment. If (or perhaps more likely when) this happens, it will affect the way we employ Pilot Math. I’m going to start illustrating this by using the current generation of “deadzoners” as an example. Here’s today’s history lesson:

At the end of the 20th century, the US economy was booming. The dot com bubble was still inflating, deregulation meant that airlines were free to figure out how to actually make money, and airline pilots were still treated with deference. Times were fantastic!

Pay rates for a senior widebody captain were sky-high. In today’s dollars, they were in the ballpark of $600,000 per year, or more. In addition, every major airline had a pension fund that promised to pay 60% of a pilot’s Final Average Earnings (FAE) for the rest of his or her life. During their working years, pilots spent money like it was going out of style, knowing that they’d still be pulling in more than six figures every year in retirement. Nobody saved for the future because there was no need…60% FAE is a lot of money!

Tragically, a lot of bad things happened in relatively rapid succession.

The first problem was Uncle Sam’s fault. Congress wrote tax law to allow pension plans like those the airlines used to offer. The IRS allows companies to contribute pre-tax money into these funds. That tax treatment is supposed to incentivize companies to do the right thing for their people. Make no mistake though, neither IRS nor Congress wants to give up a single dollar of tax income if they don’t have to. They can’t afford it. (Someone needs to explain Pilot Math to the US Government.)

In theory, a company like an airline should contribute more money into a pension fund than is required to meet their payout obligations. This would protect against a market crash. It would be the morally correct thing to do.

Companies don’t want to tie up a bunch of money in a pension fund, but I think many of them would have chosen to fund their plans a little better if they could have. The problem is that he IRS won’t let this happen. They only allow a company to put enough capital into the fund to meet payout requirements, after accounting for accrued interest. It’s a very count-your-chickens-before-they-hatch situation. There are specialists called actuaries who do the chicken counting. They gaze into mathematical models equivalent to crystal balls, decide what kinds of investment gains a pension plan can expect, and tell a company how much cash it’s allowed to put into the pension fund each year.

The IRS watches this process very closely and only allows a pension to be “over-funded” to a certain level. If the company were to over-fund to an even higher level, perhaps expecting bad times ahead, the IRS would accuse the company of tax evasion and start arresting people.

As we just mentioned, the stock market was on a tear through mid-2000. It was called the “Dotcom boom” until it became the “Dotcom bubble” then the “Dotcom bust.” Over several months, the stock market experienced one of the largest drops in history. Companies went bankrupt, investors lost billions.

Suddenly, all the pension plans that had been anywhere from healthy to legally over-funded were in trouble. The value of the assets in which they were invested wasn’t even enough to pay out their obligations. The retirees drawing on the pension fund continued to decrease the principle available, exacerbating the situation.

As companies looked toward the future, it was mathematically impossible to fulfill all their pension obligations without huge cash infusions into those funds. The problem was that in the crashed economy, spending on air travel had dropped and the airlines weren’t making enough money to do that. It didn’t help that they were still trying to figure out how to make money in the first place, with deregulation not that far in the past.

Then things got worse.

Some evil men corrupted the minds of some religious zealots and used them to crash airplanes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon…and the world panicked.

Commercial airlines resumed operations fairly quickly after 9/11, but it took a long time for the American public to feel comfortable flying again. The problems that the Dotcom Bust was causing for the airlines only got worse.

Many deadzoners will tell you that airline executives jumped with joy when this happened. There was simply no way they could continue to meet their pension fund obligations in this environment. The cynics say that the airlines used this situation as an excuse for getting rid of the pension plans altogether. I have no way to know if this was the case, but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t take a math genius to realize that the economics of this situation left companies with no choice.

A series of bankruptcies preceded a series of mergers that left us with three major airlines (Delta, American, and United) and Southwest as the fourth major domestic player. As part of those bankruptcies, the US Government allowed these companies to simply give up on trying to fund their pension plans.

Some companies got to “freeze” the plans. The funds would remain invested and each pilot would get a payout when he or she retired; however, the company didn’t have to contribute any more money to the plan.

Other companies had to fall back on the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation. The PBGC is a government-run insurance agency just for pensions. Airlines (and other companies) had been paying premiums to the PBGC, and it had in effect insured their pension plan. The problem here is that, as with most insurance policies, the benefits the insurance company paid out weren’t anywhere near what had been promised. Most pilots who will receive PBGC money in place of their expected pension will receive pennies on the dollar for what they were promised. Many will receive even less.

This was a rough time for the entire industry. The mergers and bankruptcies continued for the better part of a decade. It didn’t help that SARS, bird flu, swine flu, and the 2008 financial crisis continued to…uh…challenge…the airlines throughout this time.

Another part of the bankruptcy process involves cost-cutting measures mandated by bankruptcy court. At my company, management told the pilots that they had to take a large pay cut if the company was to survive. The pledge was that they were only going to cut pay once. It’d be a huge amount, but it do the trick. The pilot group accepted reality and voted to approve the cuts.

Shortly thereafter, management came back and said that the pilots would have to take another pay cut if they wanted the pension plan to remain solvent. In the end, the pilots accepted nearly a 50% pay cut…and lost the pension anyway.

Naturally, with times this tough, everything scaled back and many pilots were furloughed. The ones that survived furloughs were stuck with almost zero progression for years. Every pilot at Delta Air Lines knows the name of the guy who was at the bottom of the seniority list during these years because he was stuck there for a decade!

Before the pension finally died, the company offered early retirement to many pilots. Take a lump-sum or a reduced payment now and you still get your pension, or you can stick around for a few more years and roll the dice. Many pilots took the early out, for better or for worse.

However, most pilots weren’t eligible for that golden parachute, and had no choice but to stick things out. These are the deadzoners – the pilots who were employed at a major airline the day it went bankrupt. They lost their pension, but unlike us, they have less time to use new 401K plans to build up retirement savings. They were immediately behind the retirement savings power curve because they’d lived the last decade (or two or three) thinking that they didn’t need to save. They’d always had a pension to look forward to.

Today’s deadzoners will tell you that their companies could have preserved their pension funds. Some of them accuse their companies of intentionally pushing things toward bankruptcy. We’ll never know if those accusations are true or not, but we do know that the current generation of deadzoners will never be “made whole.”

I feel bad for them. I wish there was more we could do for them. I would even support policies that paid them a little extra at my expense because I realize that I would not have the great job I do today if not for their sacrifice. We’ll see if our companies and our pilot groups have the creativity and moral backbone to make that happen.

When I look at our industry today, I can’t help but perceive a shadow of doom looming over my sea of optimism. Pay and benefits are high. The economy is booming. People are happy. All it will take is one bad day and we could find ourselves hurting, much like the deadzoners.

Thankfully, few airlines still have a pension, so none of us has been deceived into thinking that someone else will take care of retirement for us. Anyone starting at a major airline these days has plenty of time to take advantage of 401K plans and other savings to put away enough to enjoy a comfortable retirement. However, if things were to go bad and we saw another round of 50% pay cuts, the Pilot Math equations would get out of balance very quickly.

I hope that this doesn’t happen. I hope things will stay good for a very long time. However, we need to be realistic about the fact that things could go wrong. If they did, we’d each have to take some significant action.

One of the reasons the term “deadzoners” even exists is that they can’t help telling everyone they meet about how badly they got screwed. In their defense, they did get screwed. Unfortunately, as many of them approach retirement, they’re starting to worry that they’ll run out of money before they die.

I feel terrible for that generation of deadzoners. I hope they’re taking advantage of these good times to make up as much of their shortfall as they can, within reason. Unfortunately, some of them spent too long clinging to hope of a restored pension and failed to take the action necessary to protect their families financially.

Poor Old Joe falls into this group. When his company went bankrupt and he took his massive pay cut, he had just closed on a gorgeous “captain’s house.” This house had it all…4,500 square feet, 5 bedrooms, a home theater, a pool, new furniture to fill it all up, with tennis courts and a golf course just down the street (and a $500/month Homeowners Association fee to cover their upkeep.) He’d treated himself to a brand-new Corvette to park in the driveway. He’d raised some smart kids and they all got into top private schools. His daughters had been taught that they deserved to dream big for their weddings and had spent accordingly.

Having taken a 50% pay cut, Joe couldn’t afford any of this, but he refused to give it up. He told himself: “My family is accustomed to a certain standard of living. I refuse to deny them that. It’s not their fault we’re in this situation. It’s the damned airline’s fault!”

Sadly, Old Joe never realized that it doesn’t matter who was at fault. The money was gone and it’s still not coming back.

Joe attempted to fund all this with two bad choices. First, he took on debt. Second, he chose not to maximize his contributions to his new 401K plan because he needed the cash elsewhere.

You’ve seen the spreadsheets. You know that Pilot Math doesn’t work if you are spending like crazy and/or not saving. Poor Joe was immediately doomed.

Eventually, he realized the dire straits he was in. He pared back his expenses slightly, and started increasing his savings. However, he still didn’t want to give up his house or his toys. He felt at least a little bit entitled and had a tough time facing reality. (Funny, I thought those were exclusively the traits of young whippersnappers who don’t know how hard we old graybeards used to have it….) Although the government, or the market, or the company, or…someone…screwed him, Poor Old Joe also played a role in his current financial emergency.

I’m not telling you about Joe’s generation to pick on him. He was a victim on many fronts: severe macroeconomic turbulence, a lifetime of consumerist brainwashing, and a company that had to declare bankruptcy because it had no mathematical way to honor the promises it had made. I hope my generation of airline pilots can figure out a way to help Joe as he enters retirement. However, we need to understand the severity of his situation so we don’t make the same mistakes.

If (or when) our industry again hits hard times, we cannot afford to ignore reality like Poor Old Joe. In the event of a bankruptcy or other catastrophe that cuts our pay or benefits, we need to adjust our Pilot Math to protect our families’ future.

What follows here is essentially an emergency procedures checklist. None of this is fun, or desirable. I imagine I’d be very angry and feel wronged at finding myself in this situation.

Unfortunately, like some emergencies in aviation, my feelings about the situation don’t matter. If my aircraft catches on fire, my choice is to try to put the fire out and land ASAP…or burn up. If I lose all my engines, my options are to find a suitable runway…or crash.

If I suddenly become a deadzoner, my options are to follow this checklist…or crash financially. So, here goes. In case of economic tragedy, do this:

Cut housing costs

Houses are expensive. There’s mortgage, interest, taxes, utilities, maintenance, furnishings, and more. If I’m living in a house that I can barely afford on my current salary, it would be simply illogical to continue living in that house after taking a massive pay cut. Even a house that may have been “sensible” in the past might end up being too much to handle in a severe downturn.

As a new deadzoner, I would consider moving to a new part of town, or even a completely different part of the country. If I was previously commuting to my airline job, I’d consider moving to my airline base to make myself available for the extra pay opportunities that will eventually arise when things recover. If I lived in a state I loved with high taxes, I’d consider moving to one I don’t love as much to pay less tax. This move doesn’t have to be forever. If times improve, I could move back to a place I like more. However, the fire marshal has to agree that the emergency is over before I get to taxi back to parking, right?

I’ve mentioned BiggerPockets.com repeatedly throughout this book. Their community is truly a wealth of ideas for minimizing housing costs. Before I moved, I would start spending a lot of time there reading about ways to help make ends meet.

One of the reasons I love including real estate as part of my Treasure Bath is that it opens up some great opportunities if things go bad. If I’d been studying real estate for years on the day of a market crash, I’d already have an education that would equip me to move quickly and find a better housing situation. If I already own some smart rental properties, I’ll have a recession-proof stream of income to help support my family while my wages are low. One of those properties could even be a fallback plan. This is exactly how I view one home that my family owns.

My wife bought a house when she got assigned to Ellsworth AFB, SD, in 2006. We were only there a few years and didn’t have enough equity to justify selling it when we moved away. It’s a nice 4/2 with a big yard, located within walking distance of one of the best elementary schools in Rapid City. It’s an ideal rental, and we’ve had tenants in it ever since.

We don’t owe that much money on the house. Though we’re waiting to pay that mortgage off for the tax benefits, we have a pot of money earmarked for just that purpose if it became necessary. If everything went to hell, we could have that house paid off in a matter of days and move our family there. We love the area and the cost of living there is very low, as long as you’re not a tourist. I’d have to commute for work, but our family could survive there very happily, even if I took a giant pay cut.

This is the power of having a Treasure Bath. It gives you options to stand in the worst possible storms and brush the water off your jacket like it’s just a trickle.

Cut car costs

We don’t realize it because many of the costs are easy to overlook, but owning a car is extremely expensive. If you don’t believe me, there’s a free calculator on Edmund’s that you can use to prove me right.

If economic disaster strikes, there is no excuse to be making payments on and driving expensive cars. If I suddenly got hit with a 50% pay cut, I’d sell at least one of my cars. If we were making payments on two new cars, I might consider selling both and buying a used Toyota Corolla or Nissan Leaf. My wife and I can share a car. When our kids get old enough, they can become the family taxi service.

If you’ve already figured out Pilot Math, you’ll be way ahead of the game here too. Worst case, you’re only making payments on one car at a time. You realize that tying your ego to your car will only drown you in a flood of economic disaster. You have affordable, efficient cars that minimize (optimize) the costs of car ownership as much as possible. These cars have high resale value and become increasingly desirable in bad economies. You’ll have no trouble getting your money’s worth if you decide to sell one. If you have more than one car, and they’re all efficient and paid off, you may be able to keep them anyway.

Get rid of toys

I own an airplane – a 1950 C-170A. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s a frivolous expense. You could describe a boat, jet skis, RVs, pickup trucks, and many other toys the same way. In the face of an economic disaster, my toy would go immediately. Worst case, it’d get parked in a hangar and I’d stop insuring it for flying operations until I could afford to fly it again.

There is simply no excuse for drowning in the depths of financial disaster with your hands holding white-knuckled to your toys.

Have “The Talk” with your family

History and literature are replete with stories of families reaching financial ruin because the a spouse or parents were ashamed to explain their hard times to their families. They tried to ignore the truth and let their families live (and spend) as if nothing had changed. Willfully avoiding this truth will never help you.

In this situation, you absolutely must sit down with your entire family and explain your new financial reality. This could have some severe lasting impacts. Elective shopping trips will be cancelled. Kids may have to give up spots on expensive traveling sports teams. Our society seems stuck on the idea that a child is entitled to attend any college that will admit him or her. This won’t be the case for your kids, and they must understand that. (If you’re having trouble coming to terms with this, you need to read Malcolm Gladwell’s fantastic book, David and Goliath. He argues very convincingly that going to a big name school isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.)

Your kids will need to pursue scholarships. They may need to start at a local community college. They may need to work to fund some part of their education. There is no unlimited free ride. You’ll have to adopt a similar mindset for school trips, home remodeling, and weddings. (You just read the chapter on Baby Pilot Math, so you’ve hopefully started brainwashing your kids to favor these strategies anyway.)

As a guy and a cheap-ass pilot, I’m scandalized by all the wedding-themed TV shows around today. One show features girls who walk into stores planning to spend thousands of dollars on wedding dresses…and they almost all end up going over budget. Others highlight a stream of increasingly over-the-top weddings that cost more that most American families spend on college. The hosts of these shows gush over how wonderful everything is and always assure the bride that she has “earned” her special day.

If a child’s parents are paying for the wedding, or if the wedding is being funded with debt, then almost by definition, the child hasn’t earned anything. If your family is in financial chaos, you cannot afford to spend an unlimited amount of money on a single party.

That said, the existence of these TV shows, and the rest of the wedding “industry,” show that our society still values the institution of marriage. Weddings are important ways for us to celebrate a milestone in our kids’ lives, and gather families together. In discussing this section, my wife informed me that simply refusing to pay anything here probably isn’t an option. The cheap and unsentimental pilot in me resists this notion, but I’ll defer to her superior judgement in this case, like I do in most cases.

If you’re going to help pay for a child’s wedding, and I won’t fault you if you do, the important thing is to have a plan. When you decide it’s time to have kids, you and your spouse will need to start having a series of conversations. When can you kid get a smartphone and will he or she have to pay for it? Will you provide a car for him or her to drive? Will you pay for college, and if so, then how much? Do you plan to provide money toward your kid’s eventual wedding.

As long as you’re thinking about these things early, you can use Pilot Math to designate a mini-Treasure Bath set aside for each of these purposes. If you want to pay toward an eventual wedding, then start putting a few dollars each month into a specifically designated investment account early in that kid’s life, just like you should have done with a 529 plan for his or her education. This wedding investment account will be subject to taxes, but at least it’ll be earning interest for a couple decades first.

We’re talking about this situation based on the assumption that we’ve fallen on hard times and money is suddenly tight. One of the most beautiful, enduring principles of Pilot Math is that if you save as much as you can while times are good, your family will be okay when times aren’t. If you suddenly have to come up with a bunch of money on short notice, it’s an emergency. If the money has been sitting in an investment account for a decade or more, a furlough or other catastrophe doesn’t change anything. The money is still in that account. If the economy tanks, the balance in this account might decrease, but it would take a very bad recession to wipe out a decade or more of investment gains.

When the time comes, don’t simply ask your kid, “What do you want for your wedding?” This open-ended question runs the danger of suggesting that there are no cost limits. Instead, I’m hoping to go with something along the lines of, “We love you, we’re proud of you, and we’re happy that you’ve found someone to marry. We want to help you celebrate. Here’s the amount of money we’ve saved up to contribute. How can we help you make this enough?”

Hopefully, you’ve been teaching your kid about Pilot Math for his or her entire life. He or she should at least understand how to look at this little Bath full of Treasure and budget it out. With my kids, I’m hoping that if his or her desires exceed the amount we’ve offered, he or she will work to fund things in other (debt-free) ways. If they’re going to ask me for money, they’d better be willing to ask the in-laws. I hope I’ll also be able to inspire enough of a work ethic in my kids that they’d take pride in going out and earning some of the money they need themselves. (I have, thus far, failed miserably at my goal. Thankfully, I still have some time.)

I also plan to suggest that my kids get creative about how they do things. The blogosphere has a seemingly infinite number of writers who talk about how to do a wedding on a budget. I won’t insist that a child uses all of the ideas out there, but there’s nothing wrong with considering some of them. My wife and her friends made centerpieces for the tables at our wedding. We hired the spouse of a friend from my squadron to take pictures. She did a fantastic job for a very reasonable price. These are just a couple ways we saved a little money while still enjoying a fantastic experience with our friends and family.

I feel that between planning and saving ahead, encouraging your kids to find at least some of their own funding, and encouraging them to be creative, it’s possible to help your son or daughter have a wonderful wedding experience, without having to simply say “No!” to everything or bankrupt yourself.

For better or for worse, things like weekend entertainment and family vacations will need to get a lot cheaper in this situation too. It turns out that human beings knew how to have fun long before the advent of theme parks and international airline travel. You’ll need to work with your family to find ways to have fun without spending a lot of money. I’d expect to spend a lot of time enjoying the mountains or beaches near my house.

Side Hustle

I made side hustles part of Pilot Math (next chapter) more because they enrich our lives, than because we airline pilots need the cash. In the face of economic disaster, that changes. A pay cut or furlough at a major airline is the perfect excuse to start or expand on a lucrative side hustle.

If you’ve been enjoying something as just a hobby or doing low-volume business, you should look for ways to start monetizing your efforts more effectively. If you’ve already adopted this Pilot Math principle, you might have something profitable already in place. In a best-case scenario, you might be able to increase your profitability enough to make up for your lost airline pay.

Although I’m pretty hard on deadzoners like Poor Old Joe, not every pilot in his position made such bad decisions. I’ve flown with more than one senior captain who started or already had a side-hustle when our company went bankrupt. Many of them now have an overflowing Treasure Bath thanks to these businesses, and in spite of the same economic challenges that still give Joe fits. There was no functional difference between these deadzoners other than the fact that the ones who are currently solvent went out and did something to improve their situation instead of avoiding the truth and complaining.

For some deadzoners, the military was this side hustle. Whether they went back onto active duty to fight the war in 2001, or they were just able to pick up full-time orders in the Guard or Reserves, the military saved their families. I’ve heard that Southwest even worked with the Air Force to help make sure that some of their pilots got activated, precluding the need to furlough them. Having military service as a fallback in case of economic crisis is one of the many reasons I believe the ultimate career path for a military pilot includes joining the airlines ASAP while keeping a foot in the Guard or Reserves.

Continue Saving!

A market crash is the worst possible time to panic and stop saving. (It’s also the worst possible time to sell!) When the market is down, it means that stocks are on sale. Over the very long-term, the stock market always goes up. No matter how hard it falls, it will beat all previous record highs in the future. One of the reasons to cut so many costs in hard times is to protect your ability to continue investing while assets are cheap.

If you take a 50% pay cut, you must realize that it will take a very long time for your pay to get back to where it was. (Adjusting for inflation, today’s wonderful pay rates are still only starting to approach the levels they were at before 9/11 and the waves of bankruptcies.) You will spend many years not making as much money and you won’t be able to pump as much into your retirement accounts as you’d like. This means that the power of compounding interest is even more important. You need to do everything you can to get money into your accounts ASAP to give it the maximum amount of time to grow before you need to start drawing on it.

You also need that money to be in the market when the recovery starts to happen. You’ll spend the rest of your life kicking yourself if you miss out on that opportunity. Ask anyone who panicked in 2009, sold everything, then waited until 2012 to start investing again.

[End of Checklist]

This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list. There are many other useful things your family may be able to adjust if (or when) our industry has another bad day. I feel that it’s important to have frank and open discussions about finances with your spouse. He or she needs to understand Pilot Math, and you two need to know exactly what your financial plans are. I believe that you should also discuss your emergency plan for a worst-case scenario. This list should be taken as a starting place from which you build a plan specific to your family’s situation.

While another black swan event would really put a damper on the fun of our career, this discussion only continues to prove the power of Pilot Math. If you’ve worked hard to fill up your Treasure Bath as quickly as possible, you can potentially make yourself invulnerable to a bad day.

If your Treasure Bath is so full that a 4% withdrawal rate can cover all of your family’s needs, then who cares if you take a pay cut? We’ve already discussed the idea that you could declare FIRE and quit mandatory full-time work once the volume of your treasure bath equals 25x your annual spending.

Take a moment to think about how powerful you’d feel in that situation.

(Yes, if the market just tanked, 4% of your current account balance probably won’t cover your spending like it would have the day before. If you’re already drawing from your Treasure Bath you’ll need to adjust your spending for a while. If you have a side hustle, or even reduced pay at a full-time airline pilot job, you should still be able to make ends meet. Times will get better, and your portfolio will end up worth more than it has on the day the market crashed. You’ll be able to raise your spending again at that point.

It’s also important to note that it would take terrible timing on a really, really bad day to affect your Treasure Bath catastrophically. People a lot better with money than you or me have examined the entire history of the stock market. There are only a few 30-year periods where a Treasure Bath containing 25x annual spending would not survive even the worst collapses in US history…even when those periods included the Great Depression. In most of those cases, the balance of those savings doubled by the end of the 30-year period. Michael Kitces has studied this extensively and you can read his research if you want a second opinion.)

Imagine that Joe is your neighbor. On the day that disaster strikes he’ll be shell-shocked, walking around on the verge of tears. He and his family will be overwhelmed with fear and uncertainty. Everyone will be angry, but there will be nowhere to turn for help. From that day forward, Joe will be at work all the time. He’ll have to be because of all the expenses he has to cover. He’ll miss out on important family events, his health will suffer, and his job will become an obligation instead of a passion. Poor Old Joe.

In contrast, you have a Treasure Bath full enough to support all of your family’s needs, you won’t have to worry about anything. You may have to forego some luxuries, but you won’t be facing deprivation or the embarrassment of having any of your property repossessed. Whether you get to keep your major airline job, you end up furloughed at a regional airline, or you end up elsewhere, you won’t have to be frustrated about your pay cut. You won’t have to work extra hours…all because you won’t need the money. Sure, you won’t turn down the drastically reduced paychecks, but they’ll only add to the comfortable depths of your Treasure Bath. You’ll even have the option to work less than full-time, allowing Joe to pick up all your extra flying, and continue enjoying time with your family.

We’ll discuss later how to present the ideas behind Pilot Math to your non-pilot spouse. If you’re finding it difficult to get him or her onboard, illustrating this type of financial security in the face of an economic crisis should help. Your spouse might not understand the potential benefits of turning your full-time airline job into a side hustle, but he or she will absolutely support a plan that means your kids don’t go hungry if you lose your job.

You may have no intention of abandoning mandatory full-time work now while times are good. However, if things suddenly change, having that Treasure Bath ready to go gives you all the options. It’s like having an extra hour of fuel in the tanks when you get to your destination to find that a thunderstorm has popped up, or having an extra 5000’ of altitude between you and the mountains when an engine failure forces you to drift down. I cannot overstate the sense of power and security that comes from maximizing your application of Pilot Math as early as possible in your career. Having a Bath full of Treasure makes you invulnerable to many threats that keep most pilots up at night.

I hope we get to ride these high times for decades, but if something happens, Pilot Math can make sure you weather the storm in comfort.

Like I said, if you found this chapter helpful, I think you’d appreciate the rest of Pilot Math Treasure Bath too. Please consider ordering your copy on Amazon or Kobo today!

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