Author Topic: Living a perfect life but not saving enough  (Read 22382 times)

Grassisgreener

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Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« on: March 07, 2014, 09:28:49 PM »
tl;dr- Everything in my life is great, but I don't make much money.  Should I try to switch jobs and possibly ruin a good thing?

I have everything going for me right now.  I have a two year old son and a great wife I love.  We bought a house that's 3 miles from our respective workplaces, and our son's day care is a wonderful, nurturing place a mile from our house.  No debt other than a mortgage (less than $900 monthly payment).  I have a teaching job at a school for kids with LD's, but class sizes are so small that it's a very relaxed environment.  I'm home by 4:30 each day to play with my son.  No weekend hours, two weeks off at Christmas, an entire summer off, completely paid health care, no being on call, the whole nine yards.  I get to live like an early retired person for about three months each year, which is pretty impressive.

The problem is that I get paid $34,000 per year (5th year teaching), and I don't see that salary going up by more than 1-2% per year.  There's not really any room for advancement because of the size of the school, and I have no interest in administration even if that was an option.  My wife makes about $43,000 per year in a slightly higher-stress teaching position.  Both of us are in our early 30's, neither of us are in pension systems.  We're currently saving around 15% under 10% of our income in retirement accounts plus another 5% into principal on the house, which according to the "shockingly simple" article means we'll be retiring in our early 70's 80's early 70's... which seems crazy.  We take home about $4100/month after retirement savings and spend somewhere around $3500/month ($40,000/year).  We know we can make some improvement, but since a quarter of that is our mortgage payment, I think we deserve only a mild face punching.

So, all that to say Iíve started to consider pursuing a higher paying job so that we can be saving more for retirement, emergencies, and medium term goals (our two cars are 14 and 9 years old, respectively).  Our current situation is fine financially, but there are many different events that could seriously change our math.  Having another kid, for example, will probably eat up most of our $600/month slack, causing us to cut back further on retirement savings, leading to Very Bad Consequences in the long run.  The general Mustachian wisdom strongly suggests that I should be trying to bring in more income.  However, other general Mustachian wisdom (spend your time with family doing things you love, donít let a job run your life, focus on being there for your children) would suggest that maybe Iím better off keeping my low paying job and my summers.  A higher paying job would almost certainly involve a longer commute, longer weekly hours, and no summers to spend having fun with the kid(s).

The other option would be trying to find summer employment or trying to pick up a side gig on the weekends.

So, the question is: how much (financially) is it worth it to have a job that lets you lead the perfect life?

On a more practical note, Iím not sure which higher paying job I would try to get.  I have a Masters degree in Chemistry but canít stand chemical research, so I guess chemical or pharmaceutical sales?  I looked into pharmacy school, but that would put me out of work for three years and cost me close to $100k, so not happening.  Any suggestions (other than the 50 jobs over $50k article) would be appreciated.

Edit: Budget

Expenses: (excuses in parentheses)

Mortgage: $821 (400 principal, 303 interest, 118 escrow.  93,500 and 15 years left on a 119,900 house at 3.875%)
Day Care: $520
Car Insurance: $60 (Actually paid $700 for the entire year already)
Gasoline: $80 (mostly seeing family on weekends)
Electricity/Gas/Water: $270 (thermostat at 68)
Internet: $40
Ting Cell Phone: $67 (4 lines, 2 of which we're reimbursed for by in-laws)
Doctors/Dentists/Medicine: Varies wildly, but probably around $150
Life Insurance: $73
House repairs/improvements: Varies wildly, but probably around $150

Subtotal $2231

Now for the face-punching stuff:
Grocery store/Target/Wal-Mart: $400
Eating out: $160 (includes subsidized lunch at wife's school)
Weight Watchers: $18 (to counteract the previous two entries)
Netflix: $8
Entertainment: $30 (one or two date nights per month)
Other Shopping/Misc. $150

Total: $2997

Well, that's embarrassing- all of our "typical month" averages only add up to $3k but our spending has been around the $3500/3600 level.  Something always comes up- February featured serious plumbing bills.  I've attached a screenshot of our spending from January/February farther down the tree.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2014, 10:48:28 AM by Grassisgreener »

Left

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2014, 09:52:25 PM »
could you work something else on the months you are off? you could bring in about $6k/months and bring up total for year to $40,000. Part of you "living like a retired person" is that you aren't :S You don't have the savings for that, not saying that you have to work but it isn't exactly retired living either. I wouldn't work too hard on the weekend, not when you have a summer for earning more. With the "higher" stress job on wife, I'm sure she would like to see you on weekends.

The healthcare provided is a big benefit to the job (unless by completely paid means you are paying and not employeer).

Are you maxing the ira/401k and trying to save more on top of that? With a combined income of $77,000, if both of you maxed your ira/401k ($17,500 each) you still have $42,000 left to spend a year. (I'm not sure if your income was before or after tax, I assumed it was before) After taxes, your take home would be slightly below the $40,000 you spend, and you have 3 months to make that up. If/when you have another kid, you guys could pull back on retirement savings then. I'm assuming you guys pool your money in the household? Since your paycheck will be smaller if both of you maxed ira, you guys would be mostly living off of wife's paycheck, if that means anything to you both maxing out ira.

Grassisgreener

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2014, 10:32:31 PM »
Thank you for the quick response.  I think working this summer (like everyone else does) is going to be the way to go until we're sitting around with big money in the bank.

While typing this response, I decided to figure out exactly how much money we're putting into retirement accounts... turns out it's about $6300, which is a far cry from the $36,000 we'd get from filling up our 401(b) accounts.  Look how much learning happens here- I just realized that we're saving less than 10% of our pre-tax income!  The yearly numbers you used were pre-tax; the monthly numbers I posted reflected everything that was pulled out of our checks or put into a retirement account.  Our yearly take-home (after taxes, dependent care FSA, dental insurance, and our $6300 retirement) comes out to around $49,000/year.

I'll throw up an edit on the original post.  Thanks for getting me thinking.

mxt0133

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2014, 11:45:07 PM »
I would recommend looking at it from the expense side vs the income side, as the "shockingly simple" article also states.  You say you live 3 miles from work, you could easily bike that or walk it.  That could allow you to get rid of one car.  Take a serious look at your budget and I would be surprised if you couldn't get it to 20-25% in a few months with a few tweaks. 
Are you including your principal payments on the house, this counts as savings as well so you might have a higher savings rate than you think.

I was just offered a position that would pay slightly more but with a potential of a higher future income as the place is in "start-up" mode and I would be getting in early.  The hours would be much more than at my current job.  The thing is my current job is close to perfect right now, flexible work schedule, less than 40 hours, mostly low stress, and good pay.  So I could reach FI sooner, 2-3 years, if I choose the higher paying job but then I would miss out on spending time with the family and personal time.  The irony is I received the verbal offer on Friday while having picnic with my son at a museum in the middle of day.  I know I would not be in that position if I had a more demanding job.

MDM

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2014, 12:22:52 AM »
So, the question is: how much (financially) is it worth it to have a job that lets you lead the perfect life?

On a more practical note, Iím not sure which higher paying job I would try to get.  I have a Masters degree in Chemistry but canít stand chemical research, so...suggestions (other than the 50 jobs over $50k article) would be appreciated.

Can't answer the first question for you - that's an individual (or joint with your wife) decision.

Re higher paying job: middle school or high school chemistry teacher?

Keep up the good work on the "figure out exactly how much money we're [taking in, spending, and] putting into retirement accounts" front - much better to know than guess.

Ayanka

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2014, 12:57:49 AM »
Just thinking out loud, please do not shoot me if any suggestions are inappropriate because of other living circumstances.

Could you be teaching some remedial chemistry courses to one or another high school/college student? I don't understand it either, but apparently some people think chemistry is hard.

Your son is currently 2 years old, how much longer will he need this amount of daycare? (Inhere the answer would be 6 months to a year, but I know it is different in the US.) Did you count that in when calculating retirement age?

You are spending 3500 USD of 2500 Euro every month, not including healthcare. Even with a mortgage of 900 USD or 650 Euro, where do you spend it on? I personally think that maybe you could trim in other departements, but that might be because of not understanding some costs. Are you willing to take big jump and post a (rough) budget?

EK

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2014, 05:07:23 AM »
I think it's okay to keep a job you love that doesn't pay well, but if you do, the fact  is you will need to really work on cutting your expenses if you ever want to retire. At what age would you like to retire?  Figure that out, and then you can work backwards to figure out how much that gives you to spend per year and create a budget based on that.

Why not post a budget and let the nice people here help you figure out some ways to spend less?

jhartt3

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2014, 05:20:09 AM »
you nbeed to count your house principal payment as savings or at the very least factor it out of your expenses

ZiziPB

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2014, 05:27:49 AM »
With your level of income, you should be paying minimal taxes if you take advantage of all tax preferred savings options and various tax credits available.  Read this thread carefully and do the math - I suspect you could save a lot more money than you are saving currently without impacting your after tax income too much:

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/welcome-to-the-forum/optimize-your-taxable-income/

ender

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2014, 07:59:00 AM »
Post your budget.

Grassisgreener

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2014, 08:45:49 AM »
Thanks to everyone for the kind words.  I do ride a bike to work multiple days a week (haven't gotten badass enough yet to ride while it's cold and raining) thanks to MMM.  Since our cars are valued at less than $5,000 put together, our property taxes and insurance are pretty darn cheap.  Once one of them dies we'll seriously consider moving to a one car family.

Quote
Re higher paying job: middle school or high school chemistry teacher?

That's actually what I'm doing now, just at a small school.

Expenses: (excuses in parentheses)

Mortgage: $821 (400 principal, 303 interest, 118 escrow.  93,500 and 15 years left on a 119,900 house at 3.875%)
Day Care: $520
Car Insurance: $60 (Actually paid $700 for the entire year already)
Gasoline: $80 (mostly seeing family on weekends)
Electricity/Gas/Water: $270 (thermostat at 68)
Internet: $40
Ting Cell Phone: $67 (4 lines, 2 of which we're reimbursed for by in-laws)
Doctors/Dentists/Medicine: Varies wildly, but probably around $150
Life Insurance: $73
House repairs/improvements: Varies wildly, but probably around $150

Subtotal $2231

Now for the face-punching stuff:
Grocery store/Target/Wal-Mart: $400
Eating out: $160 (includes subsidized lunch at wife's school)
Weight Watchers: $18 (to counteract the previous two entries)
Netflix: $8
Entertainment: $30 (one or two date nights per month)
Other Shopping/Misc. $150

Total: $2997

Well, that's embarrassing- all of our "typical month" averages only add up to $3k but our spending has been around the $3500/3600 level.  Something always comes up- February featured serious plumbing bills.  I've attached a screenshot of our spending from January/February.



Right off, it looks like our shopping budget is what needs to be whittled and/or axed.  Thanks for your time!

Quick edit: Day care will be partially taken care of by the dependent care FSA in the coming months.

BZB

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2014, 09:01:55 AM »
Not sure how easy it is to get this job, but when Mr. BZB used to work for the US Forest Service, he knew a lot of teachers who would work the summer fighting wildfires and make a good chunk of money over the summer. You'd have to be willing to be away from your family for a week or two at a time though, and of course you need to be in good physical shape to pass the tests. http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r4/jobs/?cid=stelprdb5354175
 

ender

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2014, 09:11:51 AM »
$578 on food for two people and a two year old kid is quite a bit. Most people here in that category probably spend 50% that much, that's about $250 right there which could be reclaimed.

I would increase your entertainment budget and reduce your "misc spending" from $150 to something more meaningful. I'm trying to think what fits in there.

Also, you don't seem to have anything for gas/car repairs/car replacement? You've got car insurance so I'm assuming you have car(s).

phred

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2014, 09:23:58 AM »
With a masters in chemistry you could teach at the community college -- either at night or over the summer.

AccidentalMiser

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2014, 09:39:04 AM »
A few quick comments:

My son recently got a job as a chemist at a nuke plant, he started at about 55k and is now at about 60k.  (I've been in the nuke industry all my adult life, but he got the job on his own with his bachelor's degree.)

If you spend 3.5k per month (which you could probably trim a little) and your wife makes 42k and you make 34k, you should be able to save 2k per month, you just need to commit to it.

If you love your life, resist the urge to make radical changes.  If I were in your shoes, I'd find a side gig during the summers, save as much as possible and be thankful for your perfect life.


Grassisgreener

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #15 on: March 08, 2014, 09:40:06 AM »
$578 on food for two people and a two year old kid is quite a bit. Most people here in that category probably spend 50% that much, that's about $250 right there which could be reclaimed.

I would increase your entertainment budget and reduce your "misc spending" from $150 to something more meaningful. I'm trying to think what fits in there.

Also, you don't seem to have anything for gas/car repairs/car replacement? You've got car insurance so I'm assuming you have car(s).

The $400 for grocery/Walmart/Target is, I would say, about half food and half general household spending (diapers, office supplies, kid stuff, occasional home improvement items, etc.).  It's probably still something we should cut aggressively.

The "misc spending" includes stuff from Amazon, random fees, car repairs, haircuts, and some other stuff I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting.  I did put $80 in for gas, but didn't put in a line item for car repairs.

Grassisgreener

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2014, 09:46:17 AM »
If you love your life, resist the urge to make radical changes.  If I were in your shoes, I'd find a side gig during the summers, save as much as possible and be thankful for your perfect life.

Thanks- seems like that's the general consensus.  I know that most people don't get a lifetime of good times (and some people don't get much at all), so I need to remember to take advantage of it while it's still here.

With a masters in chemistry you could teach at the community college -- either at night or over the summer.

I did try for a position like this when I was between jobs two years ago, and wasn't able to find anything.  Perhaps it's worth it to try again.


Not sure how easy it is to get this job, but when Mr. BZB used to work for the US Forest Service, he knew a lot of teachers who would work the summer fighting wildfires and make a good chunk of money over the summer. You'd have to be willing to be away from your family for a week or two at a time though, and of course you need to be in good physical shape to pass the tests. http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r4/jobs/?cid=stelprdb5354175
 

Thank you, I'll look into this for my region.  Being away from family for weeks would be hard.

ch12

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #17 on: March 08, 2014, 09:50:14 AM »

Expenses: (excuses in parentheses)

Mortgage: $821 (400 principal, 303 interest, 118 escrow.  93,500 and 15 years left on a 119,900 house at 3.875%) Paying down the loan is not an expense. Only your mortgage interest is.
Day Care: $520
Car Insurance: $60 (Actually paid $700 for the entire year already)
Gasoline: $80 (mostly seeing family on weekends)
Electricity/Gas/Water: $270 (thermostat at 68) This number is insane. I have my thermostat set at 70 F, and my electric and gas together come to ~$68 for February. I live in Wisconsin in 1130 sq ft.
Internet: $40
Ting Cell Phone: $67 (4 lines, 2 of which we're reimbursed for by in-laws) Deduct the part that's reimbursed - that's not an actual expense
Doctors/Dentists/Medicine: Varies wildly, but probably around $150
Life Insurance: $73
House repairs/improvements: Varies wildly, but probably around $150

Subtotal $2231

Now for the face-punching stuff:
Grocery store/Target/Wal-Mart: $400
Eating out: $160 (includes subsidized lunch at wife's school)
?!
Weight Watchers: $18 (to counteract the previous two entries)
Netflix: $8
Entertainment: $30 (one or two date nights per month)
Other Shopping/Misc. $150

Total: $2997

Well, that's embarrassing- all of our "typical month" averages only add up to $3k but our spending has been around the $3500/3600 level.  Something always comes up- February featured serious plumbing bills.  I've attached a screenshot of our spending from January/February. You need to have a line in the budget for the things that come up over the course of about a year divided by 12 months.



Right off, it looks like our shopping budget is what needs to be whittled and/or axed.  Thanks for your time!

Quick edit: Day care will be partially taken care of by the dependent care FSA in the coming months.


+1 to working in the summer - arebelspy is also half of a teaching couple, and they've got a variety of income streams

+1 to learning to optimize your taxes http://blog.personalcapital.com/financial-planning-2/average-american-pay-no-taxes/ I think that you are leaving money on the table. With your income and family size, your federal taxes can be very low.

People are going to disagree with this, but Weight Watchers, Netflix, and entertainment are actually important categories for your quality of life and happiness.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2014, 09:52:16 AM by ch12 »

ender

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #18 on: March 08, 2014, 10:18:36 AM »
$578 on food for two people and a two year old kid is quite a bit. Most people here in that category probably spend 50% that much, that's about $250 right there which could be reclaimed.

I would increase your entertainment budget and reduce your "misc spending" from $150 to something more meaningful. I'm trying to think what fits in there.

Also, you don't seem to have anything for gas/car repairs/car replacement? You've got car insurance so I'm assuming you have car(s).

The $400 for grocery/Walmart/Target is, I would say, about half food and half general household spending (diapers, office supplies, kid stuff, occasional home improvement items, etc.).  It's probably still something we should cut aggressively.

The "misc spending" includes stuff from Amazon, random fees, car repairs, haircuts, and some other stuff I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting.  I did put $80 in for gas, but didn't put in a line item for car repairs.

These sorts of "bucket categories" are almost always sources or stuff that "just comes up."

For most people, they have lots of holes.


nereo

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #19 on: March 08, 2014, 10:23:54 AM »
Hey there

Ok, let's back up a bit here.  One aspect I cannot understand is your claim that with your current level of savings you won't be able to retire until you are in your 80s.  I think you've majorly overestimated this, or you are stashing money under your mattress instead of investing it where it will get a reasonable return.
You mention that you are saving ~$6300/year currently, and that you adn your wife are in your early 30s.

If you start at $0 and save $6300/year and average 6.5% returns (historically an 'average' return in stocks after inflation) you will clear half a million$ in 30 years, and 800,000 in 36.  That should be sufficient to live on at your current spending rate. Add in SS benefits for both you (are you in the US?) and your spouse and you are set LONG before you hit 80.  It's certainly not early retirement, but it is a retirement.

Add to that: you said your house will be paid off in 15 years, which could free up $800/month for savings (about $10k annually).  Add that to the above scenerio and you'll clear $800k in under 31 years.

All the earlier suggestions on how to increase your income in the summer nad lower your spending overall still applies; if you do one or both you can reach FI much earlier than in your early 60s. 

How did you come up with the idea that you needed to save $6300/year for ~50 years to reach FI?

Grassisgreener

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #20 on: March 08, 2014, 10:45:08 AM »

How did you come up with the idea that you needed to save $6300/year for ~50 years to reach FI?

I used MMM's "Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement" article.  $6300 is about 8% of 77,000.  Saving 10% per year, according to his article, allows you to retire in 51 working years, which would put us around 80.  If we add a little more nuance to his shockingly simple math, we can factor in the $30k we already have in retirement accounts.  Like CH2 said, we should have added in the 400 in principal we pay on our house to bring us up to $11,100 yearly, giving us around a 15% savings rate.  Off to correct the original post again.

nereo

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #21 on: March 08, 2014, 12:16:24 PM »
How did you come up with the idea that you needed to save $6300/year for ~50 years to reach FI?

I used MMM's "Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement" article.  $6300 is about 8% of 77,000.  Saving 10% per year, according to his article, allows you to retire in 51 working years, which would put us around 80.  If we add a little more nuance to his shockingly simple math, we can factor in the $30k we already have in retirement accounts.  Like CH2 said, we should have added in the 400 in principal we pay on our house to bring us up to $11,100 yearly, giving us around a 15% savings rate.  Off to correct the original post again.
Ok - I understand what you did now.  While I like MMM's simplistic approach, I think it went a bit off the rails here.  Your calculations included mortgage, etc.  As he notes in many of his posts, the only number that really matters is what you spend (or in this case, what you plan to spend in retirement). Your current income is irrelevant, and thus your savings rate as a percentage of your income is not important. If your income suddenly was cut in half but you miraculously managed to keep your savings the same (thus doubling your savings rate) you wouldn't need less time to get to reach your benchmark for your retirmenet account.  Of course, you would have figured out how to live on less, so maybe you'd realize you need less to retire on.  It's a somewhat circular argument.

Regardless, for planning purposes, I (and MMM) recommend the following: estimate how much you need per year to retire on.
For a 4% withdraw rate, multiple that number by 25x.  In your case, it looks like you would be somewhere between 25k and 30k with no mortgage or childcare (but with other expenses).  that means you need $600k to $800k to retire fully on nothing more than your investments. 
If you were to take your $30k savings and add $6300/year to it every year, and earn the very conservative 5% MMM suggests after inflation, you'd reach your target in about 30 years.  It's worth noting that on average, over 30 year periods the stock market has returned 7% in real-earnings (inflation adjusted).  a 5% real-return and a 4% withdraw rate is conservative on both ends of the equation. 

The point of all this is that I think you're grossly overestimating how long it will take to reach a comfortable retirement with your savings rate.  Now, if you could increase your savings to $10k - $15k per year (summer income?) and your investments did closer to the 7% that is the historical average over 20-30 year holding periods, you could hit your $800k goal in 22-26 years.
Bottom line: save a few thousand more and spend a bit less and you can be FI much, much earlier than you are calculating.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #22 on: March 08, 2014, 12:46:48 PM »
These are all good suggestions; I didn't check anyone's math.

Another one: Can you save on your son's daycare in the summer, when you are off work? They might be able to work something out with you.

There are, of course, a lot of summer job opportunities for teachers. If you can't find one close to home, though, you could check out my work-at-home gig. You could keep it going during the school year for just a few hours a week and then ramp up in the summer. http://frugalparagon.com/2014/02/05/why-the-frugal-paragon-loves-leapforce-at-home/


phred

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #23 on: March 08, 2014, 01:46:14 PM »
Random fees are almost always the budget killers.  Anything from the coffee donation can at work, the candy bar from the vending machine, the newspaper from the news agent, the impulse items at the grocery.  It all adds up.  Stopping at fast food for a quick $6 meal can't hurt the budget that much, yet at the end of the month my credit card always seems to have an unplanned $200 to $300 included.
  Since your wife is obviously intelligent, she could learn to cut your hair.

Another pt-time job idea: put together a mobile chem lab.  Hire yourself out to homeschooled groups one or two days a week.  Work as a summer daycamp counselor; include some chem related project or some chem magic demonstrations.

Nudelkopf

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #24 on: March 08, 2014, 02:20:22 PM »
The problem is that I get paid $34,000 per year (5th year teaching), and I don't see that salary going up by more than 1-2% per year.  There's not really any room for advancement because of the size of the school, and I have no interest in administration even if that was an option.  My wife makes about $43,000 per year in a slightly higher-stress teaching position.
Where do you live? I know American teachers make a lot less money than Australian teachers... But seriously, you're being paid half of what I am, and I'm in my first year of teaching. What does the size of the school have anything to do with what you're being paid?

I agree with the other posters that you ought to find a second job that you can fit into your summer holidays or after-school.

geekette

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #25 on: March 08, 2014, 04:38:51 PM »
One thing that sticks out to me is that life insurance cost, which seems high.  Is it term insurance? 

Argyle

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #26 on: March 08, 2014, 05:30:09 PM »
I see some potential cuts.  Drop the daycare during the summer ó that will save you $1560, plus you get to be with your son.  Better than getting a summer job and continuing to pay for daycare ó your summer job is now caring for your son.   And when he goes to school, you'll save $6420 per year ó you can put that straight into retirement. 

Do you have a pre-tax daycare spending account available?  That could save you 1/3 on daycare also.

And you're paying $60 per month for car insurance?  Drop all the inessentials and raise the deductible.  My car insurance is $16 per month, and it would be less per car if I insured a second car on the same policy.

Then pay attention to your food shopping etc.

Presumably by the time you reach traditional retirement age, you'll have no more mortgage, so that 1/4 you're spending on mortgage will be long gone.

Basically you're living a cushy life right now, according to your report.  So you may not see the need to retire early anyway. 

Letj

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #27 on: March 08, 2014, 06:09:50 PM »
You have a wonderful stress free life which most people only dream of.  I see no reason to change.  I suggest you do what we did. If you can pick up cheap foreclosures in your town, you could buy them, renovate in your spare time and rent.  It's pretty simple to do and it would bring you some extra cash and early retirement.  Even if you're not handy, you could start learning basic plumbing and construction.  I recommend you start hanging out on biggerpockets.com to learn as much as you can.  In evaluating a property as a potential rental, make sure that the rent you can collect is no less than 2% of your total acquisition cost (purchase, repairs and holding costs).

Grassisgreener

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #28 on: March 08, 2014, 06:19:43 PM »

The point of all this is that I think you're grossly overestimating how long it will take to reach a comfortable retirement with your savings rate.  Now, if you could increase your savings to $10k - $15k per year (summer income?) and your investments did closer to the 7% that is the historical average over 20-30 year holding periods, you could hit your $800k goal in 22-26 years.
Bottom line: save a few thousand more and spend a bit less and you can be FI much, much earlier than you are calculating.

Your math is pretty convincing- thanks for working it through.

Work as a summer daycamp counselor; include some chem related project or some chem magic demonstrations.

My wife and I are actually running two weeks worth of a CSI-themed camp this summer at her school, which should bring in $1-2k extra.

Can you save on your son's daycare in the summer, when you are off work? They might be able to work something out with you.

Yep- we don't have to pay day care during the summer.  Since both my wife and I are home during the summer, even if I got a job we wouldn't have that expense.


Where do you live? I know American teachers make a lot less money than Australian teachers... But seriously, you're being paid half of what I am, and I'm in my first year of teaching. What does the size of the school have anything to do with what you're being paid?


I'm in a small metro area in the US Southeast, and I'm making about $10,000 less than the standard public school teacher.  My school is private, so it gets all of its operating funds from tuition and donations.  We have 70 students who pay about $20k/year to attend.  With this money, the school has to pay a mortgage on a fancy building, keep everything running, and pay 25-30 staff members.  Unless they get way better at fundraising all of a sudden, I just don't see myself making much more.

One thing that sticks out to me is that life insurance cost, which seems high.  Is it term insurance? 

One of us has a 30 year term policy (30 years vs. 20 years bumped the price up quite a bit).  The other has a smaller whole life policy that was bought when we had a family member selling it and we were young and stupid.  We don't think the person with the whole life policy would be able to get a decent term policy because of health concerns.

Do you have a pre-tax daycare spending account available?  That could save you 1/3 on daycare also.


We have a pre-tax daycare spending account at the moment, but it doesn't save us much money compared to the child care tax credit, which gives us 20% of our child care dollars back (cuts off at $6,000).

Not to /thread here, but I want to thank everyone for their time and suggestions today.  It's been a great opportunity for me to examine closer my current situation and priorities.

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #29 on: March 08, 2014, 06:22:28 PM »
The $400 for grocery/Walmart/Target is, I would say, about half food and half general household spending (diapers, office supplies, kid stuff, occasional home improvement items, etc.).  It's probably still something we should cut aggressively.

The "misc spending" includes stuff from Amazon, random fees, car repairs, haircuts, and some other stuff I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting.  I did put $80 in for gas, but didn't put in a line item for car repairs.

Try itemizing and categorizing all of this stuff for a couple months, and I'll bet you'll find places you can cut pretty painlessly.  I don't know how much diapers are, but the rest of it shouldn't add up to that much, and should probably be put into other categories so you can really see what you're spending.

Ditto the comment about the little expenses that add up to a lot.  I've cut out most lunches out, coffees and various random small purchases, and it's been astounding how much difference it's made.

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #30 on: March 08, 2014, 08:44:47 PM »
Partially retired early on isn't a bad thing. A different approach would be to add up the days you work (or the hours) in a year. I worked ~1900 hours last year. 5 days a week for 46 weeks. I need to check my timesheet to be more accurate.

If you work 20% less but retire 20% later, isn't that equal? My coworker works 50%, but he'll work twice as long. On the plus side if he dies early from a freak event like cancer at least he's already enjoying life.


horsepoor

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #31 on: March 08, 2014, 08:53:31 PM »
The $400 for grocery/Walmart/Target is, I would say, about half food and half general household spending (diapers, office supplies, kid stuff, occasional home improvement items, etc.).  It's probably still something we should cut aggressively.

The "misc spending" includes stuff from Amazon, random fees, car repairs, haircuts, and some other stuff I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting.  I did put $80 in for gas, but didn't put in a line item for car repairs.

Try itemizing and categorizing all of this stuff for a couple months, and I'll bet you'll find places you can cut pretty painlessly.  I don't know how much diapers are, but the rest of it shouldn't add up to that much, and should probably be put into other categories so you can really see what you're spending.

Ditto the comment about the little expenses that add up to a lot.  I've cut out most lunches out, coffees and various random small purchases, and it's been astounding how much difference it's made.

I guess I got distracted in the middle of my post.  Meant to add that CostCo might be a good option for you if you have one within a reasonable distance.

Also, look at what you're spending on cleaning supplies and so on.  There might be some places where you can simplify or use homemade alternatives using vinegar, baking soda and other cheap stuff. 

tomsang

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #32 on: March 08, 2014, 09:10:35 PM »
I would start out with a discussion with the principal or management. Explain to them that you love the school, but that you are not meeting your financial goals.  I would be shocked if they don't find an extra $5k for a great teacher. If they can't then I would consider looking at other opportunities. If you can find a school that has a pension that can be a significant asset as well.

It sounds like at minimum you are leaving $9k on the table based on your wife's salary.

Add in some tutoring, summer work and real estate and you can rock it like arebelspy.

The income per effort and time of having this type of conversation could be more valuable than the highest CEO in town. Considering you might get $5k+ more annually for an hour conversation.

Good luck,

Tom

.22guy

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #33 on: March 08, 2014, 10:13:42 PM »
Have you ever seen the show Breaking Bad? 

On a more serious note, just pare a few expenses down, work a summer job and stay the course.

BPA

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #34 on: March 08, 2014, 10:26:30 PM »
Hey there!  I'm a teacher too.  I find that worrying about the little things helped me, so...

Edit: Budget

Expenses: (excuses in parentheses)

Mortgage: $821 (400 principal, 303 interest, 118 escrow.  93,500 and 15 years left on a 119,900 house at 3.875%)
Day Care: $520
Car Insurance: $60 (Actually paid $700 for the entire year already)Is it possible to live without a car?  I do and save a lot that way.
Gasoline: $80 (mostly seeing family on weekends)Could they come to see you?
Electricity/Gas/Water: $270 (thermostat at 68)
Internet: $40
Ting Cell Phone: $67 (4 lines, 2 of which we're reimbursed for by in-laws)I find having a landline cheaper.
Doctors/Dentists/Medicine: Varies wildly, but probably around $150
Life Insurance: $73
House repairs/improvements: Varies wildly, but probably around $150

Subtotal $2231

Now for the face-punching stuff:
Grocery store/Target/Wal-Mart: $400Keep a pricebook and shop loss leaders.
Eating out: $160 (includes subsidized lunch at wife's school)Is subsidized lunch worth it?  I honestly don't know, but I find our cafeteria stuff akin to slop.
Weight Watchers: $18 (to counteract the previous two entries) Try www.myfitnesspal.com instead.
Netflix: $8 I might drop this and get entertainment from the library
Entertainment: $30 (one or two date nights per month)
Other Shopping/Misc. $150Keep track of what you are spending to determine if it adds value to your life or not

Total: $2997

Well, that's embarrassing- all of our "typical month" averages only add up to $3k but our spending has been around the $3500/3600 level.  Something always comes up- February featured serious plumbing bills.  I've attached a screenshot of our spending from January/February farther down the tree.

I say keep the life you love (ie the career you love) and adjust spending.

phred

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #35 on: March 09, 2014, 08:59:12 AM »
I would start out with a discussion with the principal or management. Explain to them that you love the school, but that you are not meeting your financial goals.  I would be shocked if they don't find an extra $5k for a great teacher.
It sounds like at minimum you are leaving $9k on the table based on your wife's salary.

No, this is how it is with private schools.  I've met college instructors who make $11,000 less just because they teach at private colleges.  Private schools can't pillage the taxpayers like public schools can.  It's a constant tug with the students' parents who already think they're paying just a bit too much.
  Private schools must have other advantages as I find few who want to enter the public school staff

Dee18

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #36 on: March 09, 2014, 09:18:40 AM »
Tutor high school students in chemistry.  The going rate in the well to do suburbs and among private schools (in mid sized cities in the southeast) is $50/hour.  You could also develop a specialty tutoring high school students with learning issues in SAT or ACT prep.  It would take a while to develop a reputation, make the connections,etc, but it could be very lucrative.  One tip for getting in to meet the high s hool teachers who could recommend you, offer to judge the science fairs at schools.

5inatrailer

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #37 on: March 09, 2014, 09:59:31 AM »
I think the wonderful part of this thread is the theme of work to live or live to work.

This guy has gotten his work-life balance totally figured out.  Kudos man.

That being said, as with most charity-based positions, you are getting paid way less than you are worth.  The school is the charity. Not your family.

Reflect on what you love.  Maybe you don't LIKE chemistry that much to do it on the side as well.  If you are getting by on your current salary/expenses (once adjusted), find a side gig that you enjoy and put all of that away into your retirement. Problem solved.

I enjoy working for myself.  You'd be surprised how rewarding that is. I'd way rather work for myself (on a side gig) at 30$/hr than someone else for $40. (been there, done that)
Plus the business expenses offset really help the entrepeneur.

You probably arent alone in the region.  Ask around.  Any decent side gigs you think you would like?
Some posters here make twice alone as what your family makes together.
Any extra dough always helps.  Rent out a room in your home? Basement?

As a father, you kinda need passive income coming in. You'll get there.

You figured out the hardest part already.  Just keep the good and add on some more extra goodness.

Ftao93

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #38 on: March 09, 2014, 10:11:34 AM »
I think you have a great life set out!  Not being in public school, you might lose some gov't benefits, but being that close to home, work, etc....awesome!

Your income is plenty (it's 30k more than we're bringing in) to put some away.

To ease the transition, I paid off all debts, bought a ton of things cash that I wanted/needed (except for one financed motorcycle that is my main commuter).  Then upped my contributions a couple % each month. 

Got a 3% raise and small bonus, into the 401k it went!  As time goes on, I'll increase it to at least 25% by the end of this year.  As my wife makes more, we'll save lots more!

Anyway, point being, if you just trim the fat you could easily make a few extra principle payments a year, knock that puppy way down, and still 'stache' quite a bit!

tomsang

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #39 on: March 09, 2014, 10:35:35 AM »
I would start out with a discussion with the principal or management. Explain to them that you love the school, but that you are not meeting your financial goals.  I would be shocked if they don't find an extra $5k for a great teacher.
It sounds like at minimum you are leaving $9k on the table based on your wife's salary.

No, this is how it is with private schools.  I've met college instructors who make $11,000 less just because they teach at private colleges.  Private schools can't pillage the taxpayers like public schools can.  It's a constant tug with the students' parents who already think they're paying just a bit too much.
  Private schools must have other advantages as I find few who want to enter the public school staff

I disagree. Private, for the most part means that there are no unions or rules. If he is a top instructor then his salary is very much negotiable. If he has a set of skills that are in demand then there are no set maximums for his position no matter what they initially say. If he can show that he can make more elsewhere and if the school knows that they will have a hard time replacing him at the current salary, then his salary will be increased. The stigma that the administration is locked into a specific salary is what keeps people from asking for fair compensation. They will start off saying that he is making the highest salary allowed by xyz. This is a great way to push the blame to a mystical person. When you call them out and say that you would like to discuss this with the board or persons that has a control on the finances there created barriers will crumble if they want to keep you.  During this process I would not tell other teachers or other school employees about the meeting. Raising your salary $5k+ is not a problem, raising the whole school is probably not possible. Providing them with assurances that your compensation increase will be kept confidential is key.

The point is that it does not hurt to ask if it is done appropriately and with lots of preparation. Yesterday a person came to me to discuss compensation. It was clear that they had spent 5-10 hours preparing for the meeting. The time spent will result in a $15k raise. He made $1,500+ per hour for preparing and getting up the nerve to ask.  His leadership and worth increased in my eyes because he approached it very professionally.

lifejoy

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #40 on: March 09, 2014, 10:56:55 AM »
Some thoughts:

Next time you want to eat out, ask yourself: would I like to eat out, or would I like to work at a job I enjoy?

Consider trying a new career during the summer months. That's my plan! Come September, then I'll make a decision about what I want to do.

And remember: sometimes if you have a higher paying job but you don't like it, the unhappiness and/or stress can lead to more spending. That's my situation and I stress shop and I buy lots of junk food because work makes me so unhappy :(

Fuzz

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #41 on: March 09, 2014, 01:53:40 PM »
Have you ever seen the show Breaking Bad? 

On a more serious note, just pare a few expenses down, work a summer job and stay the course.

Yeah, I was going to suggest a side hustle too. Just watch out for the cartels! And the fugue state.

Freckles

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #42 on: March 09, 2014, 02:23:58 PM »
Not sure where you live...but I would also challenge your ideas on a high paying job...I work from home, so no commute, sometimes pick up my daughter from daycare between 4-4:30 depending on my schedule (some days she stays home completely), no weekends, 4 weeks paid vacation per year, not on call, yet make $122k per year plus my employer chips in close to $9K into my retirement each year (so $131K total compensation). DH works <2 miles away and has a similar situation, makes about $155K but usually gets home around 5:30. We don't have summers off like you, but again, I am just saying you might have a stigma of a high paying job means/equates longer commute, all your free time taken, etc. You might want to explore virtual tutoring or other means to raise your income.

nottoolatetostart, can I ask what you and your husband do for jobs?  My husband and I, like the original poster and his wife, are teachers, and I just can't even figure out what kind of job makes your kind of salary.  I see people post incomes like that on this forum sometimes and my brain just about explodes at the thought of so much income.  Also, with envy.  The truth is I'm pretty sick of teaching and really want a new career but I don't know what I want to do.  I'm trying to collect information on all sorts of careers to figure out what to pursue.

Also, congratulations on your pregnancy!  We have two kids and it's been so much fun.  Watching the two of them play together is really joyous. 

Grassisgreener, thanks for your post.  I'm kind of in the same boat so I'm reading with great interest.  I have no advice, obviously, but good luck figuring it all out.

tracipam

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #43 on: March 09, 2014, 04:29:24 PM »
I'd get a programmable thermostat and start changing that 68 value.  None of you are at home during the day; let it drop when you're gone and asleep.  $270?  Year round?  Yikes... 

Grassisgreener

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #44 on: March 09, 2014, 06:29:59 PM »
Partially retired early on isn't a bad thing...

If you work 20% less but retire 20% later, isn't that equal?

That's a great point.  One of the things I like about MMM is that he's not just interested in getting to FI, but is full of ideas about how to have a better life right now.  It's like religion promising not only a heavenly reward, but a more abundant life in the meantime.

Editor's note: OP does not actually believe MMM is a god and he is not interested in joining a cult.

I would start out with a discussion with the principal or management. Explain to them that you love the school, but that you are not meeting your financial goals.  I would be shocked if they don't find an extra $5k for a great teacher. If they can't then I would consider looking at other opportunities. If you can find a school that has a pension that can be a significant asset as well.

It sounds like at minimum you are leaving $9k on the table based on your wife's salary.


I've really got to reflect on that.  I know this is a business decision, but I would feel guilty asking for $5k more, particularly knowing that they raised tuition this year and that I make more than many of the other teachers.  Last year (before I accepted the position) I negotiated a higher salary in return for not using their insurance. This year they offered about a $500 raise, but I also got onto their health plan, meaning they paid about $4,000 more for me this year than last.  That all sounds like a lot of excuses to avoid an uncomfortable situation, but I will give it serious thought until contracts come out next month.

I have thought about applying for a position at my wife's school when one opens up.  It would definitely be more work and more stress, but it might be worth $9k.

I'd get a programmable thermostat and start changing that 68 value.  None of you are at home during the day; let it drop when you're gone and asleep.  $270?  Year round?  Yikes... 

We do have a brand new HVAC unit and programmable thermostat that drops the temp down during the day.  We actually dry our clothes with a dryer (worth the facepunch) and have a 40 year old house without any "efficiency upgrades", so maybe that drives the price up.  The $270 was averaged from the past two months (like the rest of the budget), but we've got pretty hot summers.

Tutor high school students in chemistry.  The going rate in the well to do suburbs and among private schools (in mid sized cities in the southeast) is $50/hour.  You could also develop a specialty tutoring high school students with learning issues in SAT or ACT prep.  It would take a while to develop a reputation, make the connections,etc, but it could be very lucrative.  One tip for getting in to meet the high s hool teachers who could recommend you, offer to judge the science fairs at schools.

I think that would be a great side hustle- I advertised for such things on Craigslist last year with no luck, but perhaps I'll do it again this year.  I'll try to hit up science fairs if they are on the weekends.

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #45 on: March 09, 2014, 06:54:08 PM »
What is your and DW's net take home pay? The daycare is a big line item that will go away soon, but nothing about your other spending is particularly egregious (though it can certainly be improved!).

Seems like you should be saving even more, when my family saves $10K+ after tax on less combined income, two extra kids, and loads of student loans.

If you enjoy your teaching job, I'd stick with it. Find a summer job that you like, but focus on reducing the spending first.

tomsang

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #46 on: March 09, 2014, 07:27:39 PM »
That all sounds like a lot of excuses to avoid an uncomfortable situation, but I will give it serious thought until contracts come out next month.

Are you you trying to piss me off?  Here are some face punches!!!!!  Do not wait until contracts come out, talk with them now so they can plan their finances now so that they can keep their best educator.

While others are trying to play with your thermostat to save $2k a year, I have provided you with a way to increase your earnings by $9k+ forever for less than 10 hours of your time.

You are a seasoned professional educator making $34k a year. We have people making burgers at Dick's drive-in who make more than this with 401k, health provided, eduation assistance, etc. 

You need to man up and ask for a fair salary. They are taking advantage of you.  If this organization is a non profit and you need further proof that you are under compensated go to guidestar.org, look at the form 990's which shows the compensation of the top 5 employees, and report back. If they are making under $50k then maybe this is an organization where everyone is sacrificing to save the world. If they are making $150k, then you know you are a sucker.

Good luck. Control your destiny. Don't wait for others to control it for you.


Freckles

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #47 on: March 09, 2014, 08:57:47 PM »
I think I need Tom to give me a call every morning.  I'd have the whole world in my hands in no time!

Argyle

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #48 on: March 10, 2014, 07:37:36 AM »
I've dealt with private schools and many of them are operating on a knife-edge of being in the black.  In fact quite a number are operating in the red; one I know just closed down last year for this reason.  So I would not be hard put to believe that they simply don't have more money to put into salaries.  The best time to bargain would be if you have enough job offer, for instance at your wife's school ó at that point your current school is at their most motivated to give the money if they have it, and if they don't, you have another alternative.  Of course it never hurts to ask carefully, but I'd be very cautious about the attitude of "Sure, they have enough to raise your salary substantially." 

amyable

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Re: Living a perfect life but not saving enough
« Reply #49 on: March 10, 2014, 07:56:33 AM »
Former charter school teacher here--I moved to a "normal" public school for better pay.

I would think about the things you like about working at a private school.  For me, I really liked having small classes and working one on one with students.  I was very deliberate in choosing a job in sheltered instruction for English language learners, because it preserved a lot of things I liked about working at a charter. 

You might also look into magnet schools or gifted and talented programs.  As someone with a M.A. in Chemistry, you could do dual-enrollment classes for juniors and seniors if that's available in your area.  I also second trying to adjunct at a community college during the summer.