When I came back from hiatus, I mentioned that I quit my job. I did this back in September of last year. That’s right, just before everything hit the fan, I left the stability of a job I really didn’t like so that I could go into a field that I really liked. And I haven’t been paid since.

Not to go too far into my personal life, but there is just my wife and I, along with a couple of stray cats (those are hers), a rented house, and a car (that’s mine) with a car payment. We knew back in 2004 or thereabouts that I would need to take some time off work to do some student teaching. We planned ahead, she kept her job, and we cut way back on spending (not really, but we don’t waste nearly as much). So, six months after, was it worth it?

Yes.

I am glad to have had the opportunity to do what I’ve always wanted to do. It will lead to a career change that I think will be a net positive for both my family (wife and two cats), myself, and the students I am in contact with. Is there anything I would change about the whole process? Really, the only thing that comes to mind is that I could have done this earlier, when I was still young enough to pull off all-nighters without feeling like a zombie after.

My wife makes decent money. There are plenty of jobs that pay more than she makes, but she enjoys her job, and that is more important to me than the money. We can survive on what she makes. This is a good thing. This is really a good thing because we know that when I go back to work, we’ll be able to live on my salary alone. If we decide to have (non-furry) kids some time in the future, she won’t have to worry about the finances during the time she isn’t working. More importantly, now that we have a benchmark to know that we can survive on one salary, we can save huge amounts of money when we go back to earning two salaries.

This is a mistake that many (nearly all) people, especially young people make. When you start out in the work force, you aren’t making much money. You adjust to survive on that amount, or you find something that pays more money. When you start making more money, people start spending more money as well, forgetting about longer term goals. I’ve done it myself. The news media and the government are all worried because they’ve done the same thing.

So, is there any way to fix this problem? Sure there is! First, start looking at exactly how much it costs for you to survive. We’re talking bare minimum here. As long as you are making at least that much, you’re okay. Now, start thinking about how much certain luxuries cost.

  • Cable
  • Cell Phone
  • Internet
  • Newer car
  • restaurants
  • amusement parks
  • Starbucks
  • toys
  • gadgets
  • etc.

I’m sure there are plenty of other things that can go on that list, but I just wanted to toss a few out there.  While I have been doing my student teaching, the TV shows that my wife and I enjoy watching have switched days and times.  We were in a position where two or more shows we like were on at the same time.  We have cable already because we don’t get reception (and because we like the Food Network, Sci-Fi, BBC, and other channels), but we decided we needed wanted a DVR.  Now we can watch our shows at our leisure.  Because my schooling was done on-line, we needed the Internet.  We both also have annual passes to Disney.  All in all, our lives are pretty good.

Now, does knowing that we can afford to survive without me working mean that I want to continue to not work?  Not only no, but hell no!  I miss working.  I miss being able to spend money on my family or myself without having to worry about whether it is in the budget.  So I’ll be going back to work as soon as possible.  But again, it is a good feeling to know that this time right now is probably the most difficult life will ever be for us.

So young people, if you are working a low-paying job, feeling like you don’t have enough money to do the things you want, use that feeling as an incentive to do something more.  But also take a few seconds out of the day to be glad that right now, when you aren’t making much money, and you work very hard– right now is probably the worst it will ever be for you, and you are surviving just fine.

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  1. […] Excerpt from:  How bad is it, really? […]

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