More to me than a job

Since the 18th August, so almost a month, in the new role, I’ve been grappling with the added commute.  Today, the boss asked me how I felt about the roll etc.

I am steadfastly unmoving in my rejection of a permanent role with a 2 hours commute per day. 10 hours a week!

My close colleague cannot understand it.

But I must be more than my job.  I must have time to do SES.  I need time to do errands.  To get a script for the GP and then fill that script – other than on my one day off a month (cause you never need it then).  I need to be able to volunteer my time to church or the coop or whatever next piques my interest and fancy.  I need to be awake enough to commit to seeing my family weekly, ideally.  Certainly not monthly! I need to feel like I could go to a movie or a meal on a weeknight, and not be wrecked for the next day and the week that follows.

Jo at All the Blue Day hit the nail on the head about who I am, when I read this phrase in her post today:

extreme busyness (joining the committee of every group we ever belong to, and becoming indispensable)

That can be me.  And in some regards, it can be a bad thing, but it’s part of the whole of who I am and what I do.  I don’t just want to be a worker.  I don’t just want to do good when I’m paid, and otherwise form a permanent imprint in the sofa! And the longer I’m away from home with work, the more I yearn to solely rest and work on the butt print!

The question is – at what level of pay will I be swayed?  The close colleague asked on the train ‘for half the pay, would you take a job closer to home’ – I clarified, half of my now wage (more than ‘usual’) or half of my base wage?

But I’d already done the sums.  I mean, that’s why I love to read personal finance blogs.

With a mortgage (and tenants) I’d need a $50k job to cover my costs.  If I was to sell my property (and not factor in drawing on savings, or the money earnt in that sale), I’d need $70k. So in answer, yes, I’d take a pay cut, and still be able to live in this lovely apartment, have some walking around money ($120 per week) and cover my essentials.  I even factored in $40 for public transport, which is about what it costs now.  I wouldn’t take international holidays without some pain, and I wouldn’t be buying things willy nilly.  But I could do it.

The question remains, at what price does a role exist that meets my criteria – namely, a reasonable commute from home?  Only time will tell.  But I am able, and willing, to put the money back on the table to get what I need.

This entry was posted in Issues, Life

13 Responses

  • You sure know how to ask the big questions, Sarah! Decisions like that are made more complex by personal relationships, because what we would do as a single person, with a partner, or as a parent, are all different. Some careers require you to be strategic and never to turn down an opportunity, while others are less linear. In the library world, it is common to work as a librarian for many years and maybe make a lateral move occasionally. There are chances to be a manager, but no one is frowned upon if they don't take them, or if they choose to act as a back-up only. I think if I felt pressured to be upwardly mobile, I would find it difficult. When deciding whether to stay a librarian or become a library manager, my thought was: I work about the same number of hours in either position. So why not have more authority and more pay, as well as the ability to direct my own work? I have friends who have remained librarians for a long time and they get discouraged with the decisions their bosses make, and their lack of influence. They can go home at the end of the day and not be responsible for making those decisions, but they have to live with the consequences of what their bosses decide. As for myself, I would rather be making them! At some point I may have the choice of managing a much larger library, much further from home, for the same pay. Some would do it for the experience and prestige, but I wouldn't. Another job may come up that is administrative (policy and consulting) – for more pay. But that one has no staff and no public service component! So I am leaning against that one too. So in your situation I would also look at the content of what you do, and how it makes you feel at the end of the day. Interestingly, I am a bit crushed right now by commitments outside of work, and I am looking for ways to scale back – work is relaxing in comparison!

    • I appreciate you saying and thinking it is a big question. It can seem so minor, but it can also have a huge effect on one's well being.

      I definitely like having some authority, though I don't think I really 'see' it. I think a lot of the success is partly due to the length of time working with the same people, proving my character and my word, and helping where I can. I actually wonder if moving to an office closer to home will be a lot harder, as I will have to forge those links a-new! But that's a challenge in and of itself and shouldn't discourage me.

      Interesting to have Lucinda weigh in before I replied to yours – I feel like it makes some sense to move into a role closer to home (both our rental, but also my owned apartment) should I have children in nine months time (not at ALL the plan). I mean, why wait til it's too hard to do the commute due to a baby and coming back from maternity leave? Best now, before babies aren't adding to the burden!

      I also remember there are people who do nothing outside of work, and perhaps even seldom socialise. Some how I can't get comfortable with that idea for me, no matter how much I envy it at times!

  • I wish I had more time to do other things in my life and to "be" something else but have become addicted to the pay in promotion positions. I know all too well, the being exhausted and just sitting on the lounge. Luckily I have holidays to catch up on friends and other things.

    I understand your choice and dilemma. But what about saving for children? Would you raise them in an apartment?

    • At least your honest to your addiction!

      How much money should I save? Cause it seems so infinite… I don't plan to give up work entirely, though naturally circumstances might change, and I know that.

      As to raising them in the apartment, I'm more than happy to. The BF and I discussed it before our dates! I know, insane (ok not kids, but the idea of long term apartment living). As I said to him, and my parents say in my place 'if you lived in Paris, you'd be in an apartment'. That would be my dream, to raise children in France. So yes, I think I could and would, without too much concern on this side of the equation. Parks are plentiful, and I know our neighbour with a child uses them daily. So long as I could have a healthy garden of some type (even community one) I'd be content.

      • Moving office, before or after a child, wouldn't bother me. I changed schools numerous times and not just for promotions.You always find people you like and others you don't.

        I've never lived in a flat and don't think I'd like it. I like space around me, air, shrubs and a fence between me and neighbours and no one above of below me. But if you like it then you'll probably be fine with kids. Though traipsing up and down with a pram and all the shopping might be annoying.

        As to saving, I read an interesting thing. Live on the money you would have if you didn't have the two incomes as prep for when you won't have the two incomes, and save the other income. When I had my children, I had no paid maternity leave so it was tight.

        There is no set amount to save. Babies can be cheap – you can spend as much or as little as you want on them. It is the loss of income and then child care that are the big things.

        • You're right – I could probably move with or without children, it's a flimsy reason!

          I do agree that the traipsing would be a bummer. My former apartment is on the ground floor, which comes with it's own security concerns at times. Here, we have a lift, though I try to use the stairs as much as possible. Thankfully our current stairwell is enclosed, and could easily house a pram (currently has a push bike there). But I can totally see how you would prefer a house, it's how I grew up too!

          The BF and I don't currently fully share finances. We earn on par, so I suppose I could do some calculations if all our costs were shared, and I only contributed half (I currently suspect I spend more than him, but I'm not sure). I completely FREAK out at the costs of child care in Australia. It's one reason I'd love to live in France!

          • Well, one vote for the "outback" northern suburbs. No Br eak and enter worries, ground floor security is not a worry either. We often leave our doors unlocked. Very often! Mostly, in fact. One known break in in our street in the last 3 years. Kids play in the street. Neighbours all keep an eye on each other's kids. Funnily, I hear from friends, "I saw your son at X." often. I think it comes from not cramming people together in flats. Living in separate houses, the density is not so, well, dense. So there are fewer people to know, or not to know.

  • I think that's a very healthy attitude to have. I've been thinking about this a lot lately as I'm applying for full time jobs for almost the first time in my life. There are certain jobs that I don't think I would want to do, even if the money is better, and I know that I can live easily on small income. However, I want to be able to save money and will need a higher income to do that.

    At the moment I'm only working one day a week in paid work (spending the rest in unpaid work on my thesis), and it's nice to have extra time to do things. I know it can't last forever, but I'm making the most of it before I get locked into full time work.

    • It so easy to set boundaries in the transition from studying to working – because you know you have it in you to stick to a very tight budget. Five years since graduating, I certainly know my lifestyle has inflated. I often think if I had less money, I'd eat less rubbish (you know, the $2 here and there on the arvo snack attack would be constrained). So I completely encourage you to hold onto your student frugal habits the best you can!

  • It’s a tough question because ‘the commute’ is not only about career planning but also (possibly!) family planning. A 2 hour commute would be a killer if you were trying to combine work and parenting.

    But then again…maybe you want to ‘go for broke’ BC (Before Child) to stack your resume high with experience and earn as much as possible before a career break for parenting (however short or long.)

    I think I’d be inclined to go with the most prestigious career move and work out the rest from there (including a possible house move.) I say that only because I’ve seen so many friends trade in on the career moves of their twenties throughout their thirties and forties.

    I also have to second L’s advice. If you can, I’d do anything possible to move to one income now. You might plan to work early after having a child. But kids can throw any best-laid plan for six (premmie baby, yours or child’s health issues etc etc.)

    OK my comment is nearly as long as the post! Enough 🙂

    • See the thing is – I can earn the same (higher) pay a 30 min walk from home (imagine if I scootered there!) So I could still sock away cash AND be closer to home. It's only if I'm not successful in a promotion that I wouldn't be able to earn the greater amount.

      I'm ready for thrown plans with babies – well I mean I know nothing can be planned. And I continue to aim very high with savings, if nothing else for the 'family' home we might buy in a few years.

  • This is a tough call. I feel overworked when I get home after 5 (because I leave for work at 6:30 in the morning, so that's what I count as my "working" hours). I can manage when it happens sporadically because the day after I feel more relaxed, but I couldn't be away from home 12 hours a day on a daily basis. Time really is more valuable than money after minimum expenses are met, imo.

    • I agree – I could door to door as working hours, cause let's face it, you wouldn't be 'on the road' if it wasn't for work!

      I'm glad to know I have you in my corner – there's two loud people who don't see my logic in real life, it blows me away, but no amount of talking seems to sway either party!



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