Author Topic: Is it all about the money? - job question  (Read 2963 times)

Lanthiriel

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Is it all about the money? - job question
« on: January 27, 2016, 11:22:36 AM »
I do marketing for a mid-sized engineering consulting firm. My base salary is about $61k, and last year I received a $3k bonus. We also have fairly generous medical ($2100 in an HSA/year) and 401k (8% match with me maxing out my contributions). My firm likes me, has been consistent with raises, and is clear that there is a path for growth for me here.

I probably average about 45 hours/week, but about 2-5 days/month I'm here until 10PM or later for a special project (largely because technical staff have conflicting deadlines and don't get to my stuff until it's due NOW). I realize this doesn't seem like a ton of hours to a lot of people, but I am someone who needs a lot of down time. My husband will wander in to the living room some nights to find me staring at a wall because I just cannot process anything anymore.

On Monday, after getting fed up with the constant barrage of unreasonable deadlines, I applied to a job at the local university. I have always wanted to get back in to an academic setting. The happiest I've ever been has been while I was in school, and I'm hoping that I can pick some of that feeling back up. I thought it was a long shot, but they called me back right away. I had the interview yesterday, and it was amazingly pleasant. The job is within my wheelhouse, I clicked with the staff, and best of all, even on salary, you're only allowed to work 37.5 hours/week. We did not discuss salary, but I know what "step" I would be, and the range is anywhere from $48-$82k. I plan on asking for $80k. The problem I am having is deciding how low I would be willing to go given that:
  • The University is technically on a hiring freeze due to budget issues, so I know they are not in a very stable position and there could be layoffs.
  • Also because of budget issues, they have reduced benefits to an HDHP health plan with no HSA assistance (but a lower deductible than my current plan) and a straight 5% match on 401k contributions.
  • There is no clear path for growth. I would probably be in this position for a long time unless I actively sought other opportunities within the University.

Besides the hours ceiling, the other very attractive benefit of this job is tuition reimbursement. I could take undergraduate classes for free or pursue another graduate degree and only have to pay taxes on the tuition. Like I said, I love school, and have already been browsing programs that I would love to take classes from.

If it's relevant, the husband and I are on the "slow and steady wins the race" retirement plan, and are on track to FIRE in 14 years when we'll be in our mid-40s.

Any advice? WWYD?

Bearded Man

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Re: Is it all about the money? - job question
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2016, 11:32:46 AM »
If you take the uni job, can you go back? Can you get a comparable job if it doesn't work out? Also, how is your prospective boss? Colleagues?

I was in your shows twice last year. I declined because it was a 55% pay cut, even at the 70Kish a year salary they were offering in one case.

In the end, I passed on one that actually paid slightly more with much more time off only because the reviews online were horrible. Constant layoffs, ridiculous workloads for remaining staff, etc.

Lot's of people assume government jobs are always more secure. That is not always the case, and statistically, not really significantly more.

I'd look into the new job more before deciding. In your case it would likely be a bump in pay. If the environment checks out and you can go back if it doesn't work out or get a comparable job, what is the risk?

ender

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Re: Is it all about the money? - job question
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2016, 11:36:24 AM »
So as I understand it, your current job burns you out enough that your husband often finds you completely zoned out and burned out.

Your total compensation is about $70k, if you got $65k salary that'd be about $68k in total compensation (plus whatever the difference in HDHP deductible might be) which is similar to your current comp. Except you could take classes for free, but let's say that doesn't even matter as a benefit.

You'd also be getting 7.5 hours additional a week back. The university likely has more vacation/sick time too, so it's probably effectively even more.

Likely you'd be able to work there for a few years and then go back to your current company too, my guesstimate is that the job market in Alaska is favorable to competent employees?

seattlecyclone

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Re: Is it all about the money? - job question
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2016, 11:38:31 AM »
Is it a state university with a 457 plan available? Those can really be a big boost for an aspiring early retiree, probably worth taking a small pay cut all on its own.

Altons Bobs

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Re: Is it all about the money? - job question
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2016, 11:49:10 AM »
I was unhappy at a job years ago, I didn't really care where I would land, I just wanted a change. I got another job that paid me $1k more only, so I left. Within a year or so, the new company I went to folded, which was fine by me. I got another job that paid me almost double.

I would say life is too short to stay at a place where you're completely burned out. You should do what feels right and everything will fall into place. You have to be flexible and don't worry too much about the instability or that you may get laid off. You will find something better if that happens.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2016, 01:19:43 PM by Altons Bobs »

Lanthiriel

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Re: Is it all about the money? - job question
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2016, 12:20:18 PM »
I appreciate the responses. Sometimes the internet is good for confirming what you already know. I think I'm going to set my floor at $70k so that I'm at least not taking a hit. Fingers crossed I'm offered the job!

The job market is definitely solid up here, and I have a great reputation in my current industry. I shouldn't have a problem getting hired if this job goes south. Maybe a break from consulting is what I need, and I can come back with more energy if I need to.

norabird

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Re: Is it all about the money? - job question
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2016, 01:25:38 PM »
can you take classes for free? that would be worth so much to me.

Axecleaver

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Re: Is it all about the money? - job question
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2016, 01:47:22 PM »
I think you have a little more room than that, even. Your total comp today is about 71k:
61k base
4880 from 8% 401k match
3000 bonus
2100 hsa
$70,980 on a 61 base.

A matched offer where you don't lose money would be roughly 66k:
66,700 base
+5% 401k match (~3.3k)
+$900 from lower deductible (I'm guessing, you didn't specify)
$70935

It's typical to ask for 10-20% more when you change jobs. That would get you to the 80k ask which is very reasonable. An offer of 66,700 means you don't lose money. Additional quality of life benefits are lower hours and access to free classes. You may want to assign dollar values to these and let yourself accept a lower salary to enjoy those benefits. You decide what they're worth to you.

Regarding your bullets about why they might offer you less money, none of this is your problem. This is their problem to overcome. If they can't get to your number because of reasons, then you say thanks and let me know if the situation changes. Good luck!


AZDude

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Re: Is it all about the money? - job question
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2016, 03:12:05 PM »
What is your budget and overall financial position? If you are in a good spot and this will not significantly alter your life, then take it. If you are somewhat precarious financially, then stay where you are.

JZinCO

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Re: Is it all about the money? - job question
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2016, 03:59:12 PM »
I'll add that working at a university, everyone talks about free classes. Woo! IRS says tax free up to $5,250/yr. But people don't take classes because they just don't see the benefit. There's no hustle because everyone has graduate degrees anyway! Only if you know you can take advantage of the opportunity should you value it in.

That being said, I love the benefits here. Over a month of holidays per year for example.

source: https://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/ch11.html

Lanthiriel

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Re: Is it all about the money? - job question
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2016, 07:50:49 AM »
can you take classes for free? that would be worth so much to me.

I can take classes for free. The school actually has a really cool three-year MFA in Creative Writing Program that I would never take if a) I was working the hours I am now and b) I had to pay for the whole thing. They add graduate level classes to your salary and you pay taxes on them, so really it's basically 75% off. This is a big motivator for me to take the job.

What is your budget and overall financial position? If you are in a good spot and this will not significantly alter your life, then take it. If you are somewhat precarious financially, then stay where you are.

We're pretty stable. My husband is an engineer, and we're paying off the last of his student loans this year (~10k right now), which is our only debt aside from a 3.5% mortgage. I've set up our finances so that we can manage, if a bit bare bones, on just one of our salaries.

That being said, I love the benefits here. Over a month of holidays per year for example.

This so much! My current job has "unlimited PTO"... as long as you hit 2,000 hours for the year. On a 40-hour work week schedule, you only get 80 hours of leave of any sort (holiday/sick/vacation). I did take 5 weeks last year, but only because I worked enough to justify it.