Slowly Sipping Coffee

Our first baby step towards FFLC

I did it!  I got a teaching job for the fall!  As some of you know, I dream of teaching at a college. Its what I wanted to do before I met Mr. SSC, and what I daydream of while spending long, tedious days in the office. Many years ago,  I even turned down a teaching job out of graduate school to be with Mr. SSC.  Career vs. love – that was an easy (but painful) choice.

With the recent downturn in the oil industry, I started day dreaming again about what I WANT to do. If I could start all over, what would I choose? I realized if I was 80 looking back on my life, even if I stayed in my current job and retired at 40, I knew I would be disappointed with myself for never trying my hand at teaching.  Mr. SSC and I discussed it, looked at how we were progressing financially, and decided that if a good job came up for me, I should try it!

So, around the holidays, I started perusing open jobs.  I applied to one in a lovely mountain state, and three near Houston.  The mountain state job and one in Houston never got back to me… I’m assuming I was too good for them. Lol.  Another turned me down, and the last one gave me an interview – and a job!

I am super excited about this new job, because while I will make $100k less/year (OUCH!), I will have summers off.   I do expect it to be hard work though – making lectures, lesson plans, grading and more grading… but, I am hoping that the enthusiasm of chasing my dream will keep my energy up!  Often I wonder if I am crazy to give up a such well paid job, for an underpaid, over worked job – but I have never been so excited!  All but one of my closest friends and family are on board too… so that helps me feel like I am doing the right thing, even though it may not seem logical financially.  I mean – in the FI blogosphere, we all talk about ways to make MORE money, not LESS.

What does this mean for our finances?

The million dollar question. Literally.  Honestly, I’ve run scenarios and losing that extra salary makes a minimal dent in our FFLC date.  We’ve saved 80% of our goal, so at this point investment growth is fueling most of our gains, not our savings rate.  At a 4% growth, my job switching only puts us back 8 months.  Hopefully – 4% growth is achievable, but these days, who knows?

I’ve projected our budget, based on previous years.  We will have to watch our miscellaneous spending and grocery spending.  We can cut out the maids. Our son heads to public school this fall, so we only will have to pay for some after-school care.  In a perfect month, I think we can still save $3800/ month, or my take-home salary. Not bad.

Non-financial upsides

There are several other perks we are looking forward to.  Mr. SSC is looking forward to being able to start his work day earlier, and beat rush hour. Now, he will be able to be home in time to eat dinner with the kids.  Starting next year, I will have summers off, so the kids don’t have to go to daycare year round.  I loved summers off as a kid, as any normal child would, so I’ve always felt guilty that the kids don’t experience that.  Even this coming summer, we are only putting them in daycare 3 days a week, so that I can prepare courses.

Another benefit of slowing down our race to FI, is that I will get the chance to pad my teaching resume.  I planned to try out teaching once I ‘retire’ from industry, so taking a job now and gaining experience may allow me to be more competitive for jobs in a more desirable, mountainous location.   If we can make that happen in a few years, any income I make teaching will mean less we have to withdraw from our investments.  That would put us in a great position financially.  Thinking about it this way makes me realize that by taking a financial step backwards now, is likely going to put us ahead in the future.

I’m so excited that I have hardly been able to sleep the last few days.  The sky seems bluer, the air sweeter.  I’m usually an optimistic and cheerful person, and I realize that shedding a job I am dispassionate towards may make me intolerable.

Now to sit down and figure out my last day, so I can start a secret countdown….

I’m curious – have any of you ever taken what seems like an illogical step financially that improved your life?  I’ve been money focused for so long, giving up so much salary still feels so wrong.

40 thoughts on “Our first baby step towards FFLC

  1. Erik @ Hippies de Land Rover

    “…Often I wonder if I am crazy…” Let me tell you… YOU ARE!.. lol :)
    Just kidding! it sounds wonderful what you did, I do agree with you you have to do what makes you live better, every day counts! and it’s much better to be happy than rich, besides the step back is an investment for the future as you mentioned.

    Congrats again!

  2. Fervent Finance

    Congrats! What will you be teaching? $3,800 take home on a teacher’s salary? NICE! That’s a lot more than I pictured. I guess no income taxes helps. Is that with no retirement deferrals?

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Well – I am guessing a little on the take home pay, and we live on a little less than Mr. SSC’s salary – so technically I probably won’t be bringing home $3800 – maybe closer to $3500 :)

  3. Tawcan

    Congrats on getting your dream job! Totally awesome. Money is great and all but to work at a job that you’ve always dreamed of will be really neat. You guys are doing great financially already and as you mentioned, you’ll manage with the slightly lower income. There’s nothing wrong with slowing down your path to FI and enjoy life a little bit more. Having summer off to spend more time with kids and not paying daycare would be great.

  4. Maggie @ Northern Expenditure

    When I read it on Twitter, I was scared that I had fallen for another April Fool’s shenanigan. :) But I am SO EXCITED for you! I think we have several choices ahead of us that won’t make sense on paper, but will work out best for our family. In the end, it’s all about FREEDOM. And your freedom meant pursuing this dream. Chase it, my friend. And I’m excited for the journey! (PS – I keep telling my husband to just quit his job and figure out what he wants to do… we can make it work. He keeps telling me it’s fine and he’ll figure it out eventually. So maybe one day he’ll be willing to take the drastic leap!)

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      We do like our April Fool’s jokes :) Thanks for the support – its a scary step, but I am 99.99% positive it will all work out just fine! The kids are already excited that they will have more time off. I’m even thinking of next summer finding a cheap beach house or mountain house to rent, just me and the kids. I love the idea of having more time for adventure!

  5. Kate

    Congrats on following your dream! It’s not crazy at all, especially since you can afford to do so. So often we forget about living in the present while chasing our dreams of ER in the future. It’s great that you’re living more for today.

    I hope it’s everything you’ve dreamed. If not, I’m sure you’ll be able to find another corporate job without any problems :)

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Thanks so much! It is so hard to live for today sometimes when you are a perpetual planner. It feels odd to step back and say – wait! this is the future! this is what I have been saving for!

  6. Ramona


    Speaking as one who also gave up a huge salary, let me assure you it will all work out in the end. I started planning our work escape back in 2007. Target date was 2018.

    I gave up my job in 2014 and recalculated scenarios. Well, surprise, no change to our official date at all. Circumstances just ebb and flow, and once you have the plan, you work the plan.

    Fall of 2015 saw me step back into employment, just part time, with a much smaller income. Recalc shows – retirement still 2018, however if all goes to plan over the next year, move that date to mid 2017. I’ve started the official countdown!

    It helps when there are two earners, no question about that. Being able to take some time off was a definite boon to both our stress levels, and allowed us to refocus.

    This is a great step for you both, and having read many of your posts, you too will find a way to make the smaller salary matter not at all.

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      That is funny how your date never changed despite taking different paths than planned. Way back in the day we were planning retiring at 50, so 2027, but then we realized it would be easy to knock it to 2020. After just a few months of simplifying and making some changes it went to 2018. And now, if this works out I may never retire! lol!

  7. Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies

    Teaching has been my dream job since I was a 7th grader. I’m wrapping up my 8th year in the classroom, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. This summer, I’ll have about 3 weeks off between summer school and meetings (oh, the meetings, there are so mannnnnny meetings). But I think it’s different in K-12 :) Congratulations. The education world needs more people pursuing their passions to teach!

  8. Beth

    Congrats! I am actually just in the beginning stages of planning to go back to school in order to teach elementary school. I have always wanted to teach and applied to colleges, but haven’t heard back, so I’m going to try K-3. I have it planned out that the semester after our mortgage is paid off will be the start of my student teaching and thus the end of my desk job. We will be able to live off of my husbands salary Once I land a teaching job, we can save my entire paycheck until we are FI. I will lose about half of my current salary, but I think it will be worth it. I will have more time to spend with my little one (maybe ones by then)!

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Thanks! I bet teaching K-3 would be fun – and then you can see how you like it before you go to school. Lots of my kids’ teachers go to school part time to work on their degree while teaching, so that could be an option too.

  9. Elephant Eater

    Congratulations! This is super inspiring to see you take this leap. After having our child my wife never went back to full time work and it was the best decision she ever made, even if it cost us a few bucks. I certainly understand the FIRE concept, but once you have kids the demands on your time are so great that efficiency in reaching FI takes a back seat to living a more balanced life IMHO. This is why we’re starting to take steps to start our transition earlier and differently than originally anticipated as well. Good luck and congratulations on making this unconventional decision!

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Thanks so much! Yes – saving money was fun, but kids definitely want to make you take a step back and trade some of that money for time. And really, the only reason I think we want to FIRE is to get a balance.

  10. Jason

    Congratulations on the job switch. I know how you have wanted to do this for a while based upon your blog. Question for you? Are you a lecturer? Instructor? Do you have any advising responsibilities? You might want to consider, in some respects, as FI already, because you have, in some respects what you want to do.

    I can relate though on having some anxiety about doing something new after being money focused. I have to admit that even though I love teaching I have been teaching extra courses because I am more focused on FI that has taken some of the luster off of being an academic, but I wouldn’t change it all. I am sure you will do great.

    Yes it is a lot of work and you will find the bureaucracy a pain in the butt, but if you help just one student it makes you feel like a million bucks. That is worth the money and all the other stuff that goes with it.

    1. Mrs SSC

      Thanks! It is an interesting position as explained to me – it will be what I make it. I have a minimum number of classes to teach, but I can advise students, I can do research. But if I don’t want to advise or do research that is fine. But, the job description isn’t always the same as the job, so I’m curious to see how it works out over the first year or two…

  11. Mr. PIE

    Congratulations on the new job. We have been following your blog for a while and been inspired to start our own one!
    My wife has been doing some voluntary science teaching at a middle school and would love to do more of this when we hit our FIRE goal in about three years time

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      I often think how sad it is that there are passionate people who want to teach when they ‘retire’, but it doesn’t pay enough for us to want to do it as a regular job.

  12. Investment Hunting

    Congrats. I think this is a fantastic move for you. To your point, your retirement fund is almost there. If you only had 20% saved, you would probably stay at a higher paying job. Since you’re almost there, finding something to do that you’re passionate about is awesome.

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Yes, its sad but true, if we weren’t as far along with our savings goal, I probably wouldn’t be willing to make this switch yet.

  13. Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor

    Wow, congrats! That is really exciting, and it’s pretty cool that you have enough financial flexibility for this “big ticket” decision to not make a huge difference in your overall goals. I just wrote about how we’ve sacrificed net worth for “real worth” or just building what we believe is a good life for us. It’s great to be in a position to be able to do so!

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Thanks, it is nice to know that we have saved enough that we won’t get far off-track with the job switch. And it is so nice to make a decision that is about me, and not money!

  14. Our Next Life

    I know I said congrats already, but I’m going to pile on more. CONGRATS, PROFESSOR SSC!!! 😀 I think it’s super inspiring that you’re making this big change — and isn’t this exactly what financial freedom is for??? So that we can follow our dreams? And this is your dream, so good for you for going for it. I hope it’s a great change. Also, you want to start showing Mr. ONL how the wife can leave her highly paid but not quite as highly paid job without slowing down the couple’s progress toward FIRE?? I’d appreciate that. K, thanks. 😉

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Thanks! I am so excited. Know, I just need all the paperwork to go through to make it official! I’ll try to start making a bunch of graphs and charts that you can show Mr. ONL that show how we aren’t going to be too far off track – and then you all can make your charts and he will be like “Whoa! We don’t need two incomes anymore!”

  15. Prudence Debtfree

    This is wonderful news! Congratulations! This is exactly what the pursuit of financial freedom is all about. Teachers who have had a former career make great teachers. I know this because I have some colleagues who switched to teaching in their 40s. There is something uniquely effective about them. I wish you very well as you launch upon your new career. (And boy, you must have been earning a LOT if your salary is going down by $100,000! Most of us would be under zero. And it might be a good idea not to say “no more” to a cleaning service just yet . . .)

  16. Mrs SSC Post author

    Thanks! I am really hoping that I can use my different careers and experiences to help the students. Yeah – I do earn a bit – that’s why I have had trouble quitting before before – since its easy money, and a lot of money…. I just haven’t felt passionate about the job in years.

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