Slowly Sipping Coffee

I’m tired of chasing money – let’s chase happiness!

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!

25 thoughts on “I’m tired of chasing money – let’s chase happiness!

  1. Erik @ Hippies de Land Rover

    Hahaha, great ending ” I kind of felt like I had a secret identity!” made me laugh 😀

    Any way, great for you! I hope this financial “step back” do not delay too much your FI.

    Why don’t you wait a little longer on your well paid job so that it allows you to achieve FI faster, then you move into teaching?

    I ask you this because we are in a similar position, I do work for the corp. world great position great money but I want to pursue a PhD and do research that’s like my dream job.
    Never the less I know that doing this would cut our income significantly and thus delay our FI we are kind of evaluating if it’s better to wait 2 more years to achieve FI or do the move today and delay FI ’till 4 years.
    big dilemma :S


    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      It seems like it would make sense to keep getting paid well, but the type of job I am looking at for teaching are few and far between. And for one to pop up in my current town is great, because than my husband can keep his job. But, at this point fate will decide which way we take… I’ve done all I can!

  2. Fervent Finance

    Congrats on the great interview. I don’t think you’re crazy if that’s any consolation :) I think about giving up my six figure income for the trials and tribulation of entrepreneurship all the time. My first year in business would probably be a 90+% pay cut! You should pat yourself on the back for putting your family in the financial position where this is a possibility! Good luck!

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Yeah – we are so cultured to chase after more money, it just feels so wrong to step away from it. But – we’ve just got this one life and who knows how much time, so taking some risks to feel fulfilled is worth the financial uncertainty. I just don’t want to spend my life looking back and saying “What if?”

  3. Elephant Eater

    Good luck! I certainly don’t think you’re crazy. Then again, having another crazy person like me tell you that you’re not crazy may mean that you actually are !?!?! 😉

  4. amber tree

    Fingers crossed. chasing a dream is worth the effort. It is more than a plus if your partner is supportive to the idea. If it brings you happiness now, and delays FI a little bit, then you do not loose in my opinion. your FIRE plan anyway included a teaching job. So, I guess you reached FIRE sooner than later, no?

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      I was thinking about that – if I take this job would I have reached FIRE? I would say not quite – mostly because I think of our family as a team – and we aren’t close enough to FI that Mr. SSC doesn’t have to work. But – I would definitely say that we have enough to call it FU money! Plus, if I get this job, it would be a nice transition to FIRE. Instead of racing to the finish line at a full sprint like we’ve been doing, we are just going to take it at a jog and enjoy the scenery for a while.

  5. Brian @ debt discipline

    Good luck! I’m sure you might be able to show the department head a thing or two about the 401k thing. :) So true, so many people think more money will make them happy, but often just being smart with the money they have can be the difference they need.

    1. Mrs SSC

      I have spent well over most of my life thinking more money means more happiness. I’m hoping I can teach my kids differently so that don’t grow up with that same paradigm that traps us

  6. Tyler

    I have taken a pay cut to work somewhere I feel is more conducive to my lifestyle. The important things in life aren’t where you work or the money you make and as you grow to financial independence it matters much less how much you make. What matters is do you enjoy your life and if the answer is no then you need to make some changes.
    I really hope you get the job it sounds like you would really do well.

    1. Mrs SSC

      Thanks – I am feeling hopeful. Mostly because its a win-win either way… if I don’t get the job, I’ll still have a sweet paycheck, and eventually someone will give me a job teaching!

  7. The Personal Economist

    Good luck, I’m chuckling about the 401k comment!
    My husband changed his career to become a teacher, although he had to go to university for 4 years and it took a while to get a permanent full time job. It sounds like you dont need a qualification? But he loves it and it has had just a positive impact on our family as he is around during the school holidays and like you we try to minimise afters school care / vacation care. It also opens up another option that he could continue to work and if I don’t, we can still travel for 3 months of the year.
    Just 2 things I would point out as I have real life experience with this (my mum was a teacher too). Even though you may work school / college hours, you generally still have to put them in some kind of care before or after school. Plus, it gives you more flexibility eg my husband gets home at 4pm, but then he does about 2 hours of work /prep 5 nights a week from 8-10pm ish (so did my mum). So I’m just trying to say that it seems flexible and everyone says you only work school hours but it is not the reality at least during school term time and I’m forever defending this point of view to other people,
    I’m about to write a post on this, but the research I’ve been reading says happiness is a function of:
    – relationships
    – sense of purpose
    – feeling in control of your finances
    And it says that income is has a positive impact on happiness but up to a certain point (about A$100k household income – in US $ about $80k) and that to ‘buy’ extra happiness with income over that about amount costs a lot more.
    So I would look suggest you look at your decision in terms of those predictors of happiness and I think you may find your choice to go into teaching will improve relationships you will have more time with your kids (and speaking from experience that will make it easier for your partner too) and it will give I you a sense of purpose,
    I suspect you are already off the scale in terms of being in control of your finances anyway!
    Good luck!

    1. Mrs SSC

      Luckily, I don’t need any more training :) Yeah – I do realize that teaching is hard work, and a lot of work. I figured out that we would have to get after-school care with the new job, but at least then we don’t need before school care! But, I like the idea of the flexibility – if i have to grade or prep a little at night after the kids go to bed – that is okay.

      I can see how relationships are a strong factor in happiness. I have been lucky to have a few very strong relationships, and a close-knit family, and having that security and love to fall back on makes any stressful situation tolerable.

  8. Jason

    As a college teacher I first say that I LOVE my job. Like most of my colleagues I wish I was paid more and like many of them I have contemplated the corporate money. I am not sure I would make more, etc, but I would’ve liked to have tried beyond the couple of years I was there.

    I would say that most of the reactions from your potential colleagues is not only the money, but I know that many of us feel like we are under a constant microscope. With public budget cuts, the drumbeat of college costs, helicopter parents, and a lot of students who feel entitled, it gets to you after a while. That is why a lot of people leave academia. That and it can be difficult to find a F/T gig that has some stability (e.g. multi-year contract, tenure, etc). Most of it is 1 year contingent positions or adjunct.

    I also teach overloads to be able to create greater FI, even though it hurts my research. I want to pay off debt faster and reach FI as a professor. I know a lot of professors who do that and are concerned with budgeting, etc.

    Despite that all I honestly think I have one of the best jobs on the planet. Everyday is different. Yes it is stressful. Yes I think that most of us are overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated, but lots of people feel like that. I get paid to think. I get paid to write. I get paid to do research and teach on the stuff I find fascinating. Not many other people can say that. I don’t want early retirement, but I want financial independence. I think you will find teaching can lend itself to that.

    If you need any assistance navigating some of the waters I can help. I mentor all types of new faculty (including you crazy scientists) at my current position.

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Thanks Jason! That is some great advice. I never really thought much about helicopter parents at the college level. But – yeah, you do have an awesome job – that’s why I want a similar one! Thanks for offering assistance – if I get the gig, I will need it!

  9. Our Next Life

    My favorite line in this: “It is always nice to know that your spouse doesn’t consider you insane.” Something only married people will understand. 😀 Good luck getting the offer! I think it’s awesome that building up your financial stockpile is giving you the flexibility to follow your heart, instead of chasing the dollars. That’s EXACTLY what it’s all about, right? Our hearts want us in the forest, and on mountaintops, not in any buildings at all, so we’re singularly focused on saving to escape work completely. But that’s not the only way to FIRE, or FFLC. If teaching fires you up and fills up your soul, then DO IT. And if you do it and find that it’s not what you expected, then at least you know, and you can go on with your life with no regrets. Either way: awesome. Fingers crossed for you!!

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Thanks! I wish I could teach on a mountaintop – but maybe in a few years. We have to finish saving first :) I like the way you put it “fills your soul” that is exactly what my current job is missing!

  10. TheMoneyMine

    Good luck with the offer!
    And if I can add to the other opinions, you are NOT insane :) You have just made a priority of what would make you happy. Isn’t what FI is all about?
    And to the fact that money doesn’t bring happiness, I think this is proof that it does.
    Once you have enough to not worry about it, you can make decisions that aren’t based on money, which is awesome. Enjoy! :)

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Yeah! Another vote for not insane! It is nice trying to make decisions not based on money – but it just feels so weird!

  11. Tawcan

    Congrats on a great interview! Yes money is important but I think in the long run happiness will always outweigh money. If the job feels right to you, go for it!

  12. Maggie @ Northern Expenditure

    This is so great! I’m so glad you went for it. It’s totally worth it to change plans to chase dreams! I’m excited to hear the outcome. Even if you don’t get it, you’ll be better poised for the dream at the next opportunity!

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Thanks! It is true – having one interview under my belt after almost a decade of zero interviews, will definitely put me in a better position next time.

  13. Jacq

    I hope you get the job!
    I have a friend who made the change to teaching (via an alternate route program ) and is so much happier. It was hard work and in the transition funds were limited but totally worth it for the joy she exudes when talking about her students.
    My mom went back to school to become a teacher when I was in high school, the hours are long, but she kept the summers off with us kids. :)
    Seeing her hard work, I opted to double major in science and education with the intent of making money in industry first, so I can choose to teach, and not worry about the pay later.

    Congratulations on the chance to pursue your dream & Mr SSC’s support.

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