This post is sponsored by a wonderful bourbon/OJ drink that I’m currently drinking and that helped me to open up about the unpredictability of my life in its current state.
Today Mr. Chedda told his boss’ boss that he’s quitting and his last day on the job will be two weeks from now.
He doesn’t yet have a new job lined up, and he probably won’t receive any paycheck for the next six months or so.
He also isn’t ready to retire/downsize/FIRE/whatever you like to call it.
Right now I’m feeling kind of anxious. I don’t know what my life will look like in 2017 and I really don’t love that feeling. I actually really dislike that feeling. I’m a natural planner and you probably are too, if you’re trawling the web reading personal finance and financial independence blogs. I set and meet goals continuously.
I have models of my income/expenses/investments for years to come (did you know I’m an economist/statistician/data scientist?). I have a goal of how many books I’ll read in the next month (5) and of how many hours I’ll spend practicing clarinet and ukulele this week (3). I spend a lot of time thinking about the optimal way to do things, and I make my life more efficient and effective and happy wherever possible. And right now I just can’t plan for the upcoming year.
My husband and I have become financially independent, not completely, but to the extent that we no longer need to make household decisions based on needing a paycheck every two weeks or even every two months. We could live off of our current savings for more than 6 years.
Oddly, the pile of money that seemed like it would be a security blanket has actually made us more uncertain of our futures. It meant that we could take risks we would never consider taking if we were broke.
It means that Mr. Chedda is quitting his job.
A few days after we returned from our honeymoon, Mr. Chedda came home from work late. He wasn’t as chatty as usual as we ate dinner, but I attributed it to the long day at work. After we ate he sat by me on the couch and leaned against me, burying his head in my neck, and I knew that something was really upsetting him.
He let it all out—he was worried because he felt like he had to quit his job in the very near future, but he was afraid of being unemployed.
He has worked at a shoddy job for a few years now. It’s not that bad, but it’s also just not that good. It pays the bills, but hurts him physically to do.
It turns out that while we were away on our honeymoon, his boss quit and left immediately. The week we returned, his coworker put in her two weeks’ notice. In the month or two since then, he’s been picking up lots of slack (which involves literally picking up lots of stuff) and it’s really been upping his chronic pain level. Lifting heavy stuff really isn’t a good way to treat his twice-operated-on shoulder.
He comes home every night and ices his shoulder and wrists on and off for hours. He can’t keep doing this job for much longer without seriously gambling with his future health. Neither of us wants him to have to have another surgery. That’s the biggest reason why he needs to quit NOW.
We talked it over and agreed that staying at his current job was not a good long term plan. He desperately needed to get out to preserve his health and his happiness.
We ran through lots of possible scenarios. In the end, he had two options.
Option 1: Get a new job in a similar field
As soon as he heard about the other employees in his office getting out of dodge, Mr. Chedda started applying to other jobs. He hadn’t been planning on switching jobs this year, mostly because of inertia, but the dismal situation at his office spurred him into action.
He got one bite on his resume really quickly. They interviewed him within the week and we were really hopeful that it would be a good fit for him.
Then the offer came in. They would match his current salary but not give him a raise. Okay, we thought, at least he’ll be in a better environment.
But there was a kicker! His new job offer was for a mutual fund company, which would require him to move all of his investments (and mine, as his spouse) to their funds. And those funds are not cheap! Based on the increase in expense ratios, if we were to move our money from the low-fee Vanguard funds it’s mostly invested in now to the ones run by this pricy new actively managed mutual fund company, we would end up paying $5,000-$6,000 more per year.
That effective pay cut made the new job a lot less attractive. Being the employee of a mutual fund company was never a dream of his anyway, but if he was going to work for a soul sucking corporation, shouldn’t he at least get paid well for it?
Enter option 2.
Option 2: Take half a year off while finishing his teaching degree, then become a teacher
Mr. Chedda has been mostly done with a Master of Arts in Teaching degree in Secondary Math Education for a few years now. He worked on the degree part time while employed at the job he’s quitting from, mostly because he got most of the tuition covered.
But to finish the degree, you have to student teach in a classroom full time for a semester. That’s not really something that you can swing while still working a full time job, so he never did it. Until now.
Since his current job has become so cruddy, becoming a teacher has seemed much more appealing. If he’s going to quit his job anyway, why not grab onto that opportunity to give teaching a try?
Teaching was always something he thought he would be interested in, and he spent a few summers during and after college teaching summer courses. He has the temperament for it—he’s always been more patient with children and teens than I have and he just seems to understand when to be firm and when to joke around with them.
So that’s the plan!
He’s quitting his job now, will stop doing it and never look back as of a couple weeks from now, and then come January he’ll be placed in a local high school as a student teacher.
Will Mr. Chedda get a student teaching placement?
The university that he’s getting his degree through is trying to place him in one of the two school districts neighboring us. BUT they can’t guarantee anything. Since Mr. Chedda is at such a high risk of re-injury at his job right now (boo!) he really has to quit, even though we don’t already have a school lined up for him to student teach in!
What will he do over the Summer?
Uh, who knows? Even if everything goes as planned he won’t be getting a teaching paycheck over the Summer. Keep your eyes peeled because I’m sure I’ll be updating you with some sort of side gig/tutoring/camp counselor job info. Well, I’m not actually that sure. I have no idea what he’ll be doing. Maybe he’ll have given up on teaching and gotten another average office job?
Will he get a teaching job for the next school year? Where will it be? Will we have to move?
Yeah, so even if Mr. Chedda finishes his degree and gets a great student teaching placement, what will happen next? Will he get his dream teaching job for the coming Fall? (Yes! I hope!) Will he decide he hates those smarmy teens who just don’t care about Calculus, and give up on teaching altogether? (Maybe…)
If he does get a teaching job he loves, but it’s in a different DC suburb, we’ll have to move. We’re suckers for the short commute, so we are very picky about living near our jobs. My job is close to a bunch of metro lines, so it’s easy to commute to from almost anywhere in the area, but if he got a new job and we moved maybe I’d start looking for new jobs again too.
The conclusion is…there’s no conclusion. I can’t map out our income or our lifestyle over the next year. I don’t like to admit how little control I have over our financial goals this coming year.
Still, I think that my lover’s happiness is worth way more than the certainty of our plans.
Our relative level of financial independence has certainly added some unpredictability to our lives. But I’m really grateful for it. If we were in actual financial trouble I would be actually anxious, not the kind of anxious that you get when you’re just giddy and nervous and wondering what the future will hold.
Instead, I feel calm but uncertain. I don’t feel in danger. I don’t feel sad or scared. But I definitely wouldn’t mind getting the news that Mr. Chedda has gotten his dream job and will be paid double his previous salary. So, keep your fingers crossed for us. I’m sure everything will work out, but I wouldn’t mind peeking at the last page of the book now to find out the ending!
Does the amount of money you have saved in your stash affect your decision making? What do you think of our decision to forfeit half a year’s worth of salary for Mr. Chedda to go after a career change?