For those that have read Full Time Finance for some time you know my wife’s career has changed a lot over the years. From full-time employee, to stay at home mom, to part-time consultant all in the last 3 years. To that end today I want to provide a bit of an update and also explain why my wife is sticking with part-time employment and being a stay at home mom. I also wanted to provide some insight into our status to FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early). Ultimately this post is talking about being content.
A Refresher On Why My Wife Stopped Full-Time Work
A quick refresher, when this blog started in 2016 my wife was employed full time at the same employer I am. She worked as a trainer, working 40 hour weeks most of the time, punctuated by 60 hour weeks or travel every 4- 8 weeks. Not exactly the ideal profession for someone who at the time had a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old. Like many other women, she felt she was missing out on our kids growing up. She was not content. So shortly before our youngest’s second birthday, my wife pulled the plug on her career.
After Childcare and Taxes, My Wife’s Full-Time Pay Was Not Worth the Effort
Honestly, it made a lot of financial sense for my wife to pull the plug on her full-time position since after paying for daycare and taxes her remaining income was minimum. It was hardly worth the effort for her to work considering the cost of daycare for 2 kids. Add to that my own income increased by nearly 30 percent during this period and it actually paid us for her to pull out of work.
A Refresher on Why My Wife Became a Consultant
Anyway, fast forward 9 months. My wife quickly learned that not working was not for her. She ended up missing something in her life, that sense of purpose and accomplishment that work provides. Being a stay at home wasn’t enough. So when her former employer came knocking with an opportunity to do some consulting work she jumped at the chance. She formed her own sole proprietorship and began to work 10 hours a week or so as a consultant.
My Wife Makes More As a Consultant Net of Expense Reductions
It was honestly the best of all worlds. She got to have that sense of not missing our kids grow up. She also got to have that working sense of accomplishment. An added benefit was her business profit, which was high enough to cover 75% of our yearly expenses each of the last 2 years. In fact, she makes more an hour then I do! Add to that we no longer pay for daycare, although we do pay for some part-time preschool for the purpose of socialization for our youngest. Net of the expenses allowing for work she now makes more working 10 hours a week then she did before working 40. Truly a great situation for our family, one of which we couldn’t have planned if we tried.
But If You Quit Your Job Will It Be Impossible to Get Rehired?
Anyway, Sam over at Financial Samurai had a post the other day that asked the question is the fear of being unhirable after early retirement overblown.
Well I can’t answer the question from the perspective from the average person. But I can answer it from my wife’s perspective. At least 3 times this year she has been contacted about full-time positions. And I don’t just mean contacted by a recruiter, I mean contacted and point-blank asked to apply. In one case the pay for one of these positions was nearly 3x what she makes now and 80 percent higher than the job she left 3 years ago.
Consulting Helps, But Some Offers Are Exclusive Of Her Current Activities
Now, this was in some cases without any of the contacting parties even knowing about her consulting position. After all, an added benefit of a consulting gig is keeping the skill set and resume fresh. Well, I can tell you this work experience was not visible to some of the contacting organizations. So at least after 3 years of appearing to have no additional work experience in an up-market some people are still hirable. I will give you one more caveat before I leave this thought though. My wife’s skill set lies in a very specialized field of engineering. So I can’t determine from this singular data point how applicable the situation is to the average retire or stay at home worker. I’m not even sure it would apply to my own situation.
Saying No to More Money, Being Content
Anyway, if you can’t tell from what I’ve written so far my wife has turned down each of these opportunities. When I take a step back and think about that I realize how lucky and privileged we are. If my wife were to have said yes to one of these jobs net of expenses it would have easily increased our savings by another half a year of expenses after da care. Our retirement date could creep in significantly and any remaining financial concerns would finally disappear. Yet we said no, and we are able to say no, to all this.
At Some Stage Being Content Becomes More Important
Why? Well. we obviously go back to the reason my wife pulled the plug. If she wasn’t happy working full time away from the kids before, nothing has changed to make that better today. She didn’t stop due to finances, that was just a benefit. She stopped because it made her content. The value of that happiness, in my family’s case, exceeds the value of another half-year of expenses.
I know for years I have written about how money is just a tool and the real goal is happiness. That you shouldn’t sacrifice happiness now for happiness later but instead optimize happiness across your entire life. Well, our current situation is that belief in action. We could very well improve our retirement date, but I don’t really want to retire before 55 anyway. So what would be the point? Running up the money scoreboard certainly can’t be more valuable than my wife’s happiness. And as such the status quo continues.
The Same Scenarios Apply to Side Hustles
In fact echos of this same discussion also occurred this week. We discussed the possibility of me starting a business as a side hustle. I’m all for multiple income sources in certain contexts given the posts here in the past. I also have often fancied the concept of having something I created myself as an income source. But my wife asked the right question when we discussed them this time…
What Would More Money Change?
Why? If I made another 10K, 50K, 100K or even a million off a side hustle what would it truly change about my current situation? Would I stop working? Go on more trips? Would I go buy out Amazon? The short answer, no. I’m sure I would find a way to spend or save more, but I don’t exactly have a burning desire or need for more. I have no plans for it. I am content with what I have.
Kind of like we’ve talked about before around needing something to retire too. Well if you really are pursuing more money then you need to have a purpose for doing so, otherwise. it’s wasted effort. The simple reality is, I don’t have a need for money such that it would justify the time it would take to run a business. I could perhaps sometime down the road, but not today. Since my goal is happiness and not running up the money scoreboard there is simply no reason for me to start a hustle or business. In fact, the effort it would take to run such activity might take away from my current contentedness.. So in a way starting a business would be a hindrance to my goals rather than help.
Acknowledging the Privilege and Timing of Being Content is Not Applicable To Everyone
Now I would be remiss if I didn’t state the immense privilege this entails. I am fully aware that very few people get to make these types of decisions in this context. Our fiscal discipline and quite a bit of luck have lead us to this point, one I know few get to experience. That being said I know I’m not alone. In a way, this situation is exactly what most people talking about FIRE are talking about when they discuss early retirement. The concept of enough where it is less about money and more about being content. In my case, I want to continue what I did before…