Mr SSC isn’t the only member of our household casually pursuing new jobs that might help with our desire to put more emphasis on family rather than work. And while his California offer didn’t meet our threshold financially, I have found myself a possible opportunity.
Some of you may recall my musings on working part-time, as well as my desire to teach instead of working for a giant corporation. And as our family gets closer and closer to FI, we have realized that money isn’t everything, and being so close to FI gives us some flexibility. I mean, really, isn’t this the point of being financially independent being able to say – “I don’t need you Money, I want to do what I want with my life!”
To make a long story short, I had a job interview this week for a teaching position. It is essentially everything I could want, except a shorter commute. I would have summers off to spend with the kids, which is wonderful because I kind of think its a crime to keep kids in school/daycare year round. I want them to learn to be bored and find adventure in the backyard, and dread the coming of the school year that will ruin their freedom. This new job will be lots of hard work the first year since I have to create two classes a semester, but I am okay with that, as is Mr. SSC. Teaching is my dream job after all. At some point during the layoffs last fall, and pondering everyone’s fill-the-bucket lists, I realized that if I never tried out teaching, I would regret it my entire life. So, when I saw a teaching job in my current city, I had my application in within 2 days. Luckily, I made the short list!
Overall the interview went well. But, the interesting part was the number of times I was asked (usually in a tone of disbelief) why I would want to leave my cushy, highly-paid corporate job, to be over-worked, under-paid, and likely under-valued as a teacher. I was asked this so many times during the afternoon, that by the time I was done and driving home, I was beginning to question my sanity. I mean, this new job’s salary is ~40% of what I make now. Granted I would only work 9 months a year, but no matter which way you slice it, that is significant. Especially, with our goal of being FI in a couple years – because obviously, this would cause a delay.
So – am I crazy? Mr. SSC and I had a long discussion the evening after the interview, since I then had more details on the work and salary and expectations. He said I was chasing a dream – and that isn’t crazy. Plus, since I wanted to teach after we are FI, this will boost my resume and maybe even lead to a better job in a more ideal geographic location. It is always nice to know that your spouse doesn’t consider you insane. But, we all tend to undervalue our spouse’s opinions, so I had several chats with friends the next couple days… and one of them put it in perspective very well, and I think it pertains to all of us chasing FI.
My wise friend said something along the lines that probably most of the faculty I had met with likely have never had much extra money. To them, you budget because you have to, and they likely still think that having more money will solve all their problems. Meanwhile, I chased the money in the corporate world and I learned that it doesn’t automatically give you happiness and fulfillment. So in a way, I have become enlightened regarding the role that money plays in my life. But, explaining that to someone who barely can make ends meet each month is difficult to do. The lack of money causes their problems, so the only solution they see is that more money means happiness.
I wish I had realized this before my interview. Then I could have just said “I am tired of chasing money, I want to chase happiness and teaching makes me happy.” Instead I rambled on about how teaching has always been my goal and passion, and blah, blah, blah…. when all they were thinking is “is she too crazy to hire – who gives up a job that pays so well?”
Anyways – keep all your fingers crossed for me – I should hear back in a week or so after the other candidates are interviewed. Will I get to keep making lots of money, or will I get to say good-bye and start chasing a new dream? Either way, it is a wonderful feeling knowing that we are getting close enough to FI that we can start to make some changes.
Oh, and as a funny aside… at one point the department head was telling me about their 401k plan and how “I know most young folks don’t think about retirement….” and I just smiled and accepted his advice. I kind of felt like I had a secret identity!