Wednesday, November 18, 2009

So I Quit My Job

A couple of days ago, I mentioned that I had big news to share. All the right people have been told; this won't surprise anyone who reads it on the internet.

For the last ten years, I've worked full time for contractors in the space program in Houston. I've worked in safety for the Shuttle and the Station, in quality assurance for the Station, and on Constellation for the Orion Project.

Orion is our next vehicle; it's a descendant of Apollo. With Orion, we plan to haul humans into space, to the Space Station, and to the moon. For the last two years (almost to the day), I've served as a meeting coordinator, technical writer, event logistics manager, and general Jill-of-all-Trades on this project. And last Thursday, I handed in my notice in order to accept a part-time, short-term position. I still will serve in our space program on the Constellation Program; however, I'll be working in Mission Operations, a completely different project.

I know many people out there think, "Why, in this economy, with so many people hurting for money and jobs, would you quit a long-term, secure, full-time, well-paid job?" Well, I'm so glad you (sorta) asked.

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I posted about becoming debt free? Remember how I said that we are completely free to decide how, where and why we spend out money? Well, an ancillary product is that we also are free to decide what level of income we want.

I know, that sounds crazy, doesn't it? I mean, obviously, everyone wants a very high level of income, right? Well, Emily at Under $1,000 per Month has really helped me to articulate a long-simmering, sub-concious belief: We choose who we will be, how we will live, and what we will do regardless of income. Even with only one full-time income, my husband's, our monthly income is more than 2.5 times higher than her family's. And that's after the cost of health/dental/vision insurance, higher taxes imposed, retirement savings, long and short term disability insurance costs, etc. Yet Emily is living our dream. Oh sure, we would do some things different. We want a farm, for one. I'm not interested in living in a tiny space for another. For a third, based on our apparent infertility, we won't have a large family, and we'll minister to the world around us as foster parents. So our missions and choices would be vastly different, yes.

The only difference between Emily's family and mine is what we chose to do with our potential income. Emily chose to trade her potential income and disposable wealth for the value of being at home with her children. Mark and I, for the last few years (understanding that as a single mother in the beginning, I had far less flexibility to choose than I do now; someone had to make money) have sold our time with Burgundy and our purported values (green living, frugality, time lavished on those we love) for disposable income.

Let me say it much more simply: Emily bought the opportunity to live out her values using her potential income, and I sold that same opportunity.

Not to say that we've gained nothing from the sale. We're debt-free and have only our house for which to pay. We live in an excellent neighborhood, and our daughter attends one of the very best high schools in the state of Texas. I have expensive hobbies (you don't even want to know the value of the stuff in my craft room). Burgundy will not require student loans for college (indeed, she watched us go through FPU, and she's committed to staying debt-free for life. Burgundy's amazing fiscal responsibility is another post though). A real, intangible benefit has been that my husband, who is far under-earning his potential, has not had to deal with the stress of having it all on his shoulders. That's been nice as we've tried to work out integrating our family. One less thing to stress him out and argue over.

Which brings me to my next point: If we value the time with our family and the benefit of having me at home, why am I only going part time? Why not quit entirely?

A couple of reasons: First, I don't want to quit entirely. Part of this new-found freedom is the opportunity to really examine our values. My family is first, of course. But with a teen, I don't need to be at home all day every day while she's in school. The new job will allow me to continue to bring in a very good income (more on that later) while only being absent from the house while my daughter is at school (excepting the summer, but more on that later, too).

The second reason is that I think Mark is not quite ready for me to quit entirely. Our mortgage payment would be a little high (38.5% of take-home), and who wouldn't be concerned about suddenly being the sole breadwinner? It feels like tight-rope walking without a safety net. And taking care of his peace of mind and well being is important, too.

As for the change in income, because the new company offered me a significant hourly increase (about 20%), my actual take-home pay will decrease by only about 40%.

We are very excited about this. The kids (I genuinely think of Julia as my kid) and Mark are excited about folded laundry and homemade meals. I'm excited about a clean, organized home and decluttering. We're all excited about having more time together that isn't spent doing chores and playing catch-up. This is a wonderful, amazing thing.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, congrats! I'm really excited for you, and definitely humbled that my blog has helped you come to this decision.