Author Topic: Big Career Decision  (Read 10188 times)

NorCal

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Big Career Decision
« on: April 28, 2015, 09:50:56 PM »
Well, this isn't a direct question.  I've just come to the realization that I need to make a drastic change, and I'm just trying to form my thoughts coherently.

Here's some background:
I'm married to the greatest woman ever, and we have the smartest 18 month-old child the world has ever seen.  We're a dual-high income household in the ridiculously expensive SF Bay Area.  We're in our mid thirties, and would like to buy a house, but realize the math here makes that a bad financial decision.  I do corporate finance and my wife works in law.

Income:
We have a pre-tax salaried income just north of $400K.  2015 bonuses are expected to make this ~$500Kish total.  I expect these bonus levels will not repeat themselves.  My income is roughly 1/3 of the total, and my wife's is the remaining 2/3.  My wife is in an up-or-out profession.  Around the end of this year, she will either be promoted or asked to leave.  Our historical savings rate has been ~50-60%, and a recent raise/promotion will be keeping it in the higher end of that range.

Net worth:
Cash + Emergency Savings: $22K
CD for house down-payment: $150K
Brokerage Account (very conservatively invested, also for down-payment): $205K
Pre-tax retirement accounts: $196K
Pension (former employer): $27K
Roth retirement accounts: $51K
Daughter's 529 Plan: $10K
Other (illiquid) misc investments: $10K

Total net worth $670K (no debt).  Target for FI: $1.5M-$2M

So that was the background.  Here's my dilemma. I left my stable megacorp job for a startup job about a month ago.  This was a dream job on paper.  I could run my own shop, get a great promotion, and a decent pay raise.  If I could design my own job, this would be it.

I've recently discovered the downside.  The overall office environment is a toxic place to be.  It's mostly driven by one person who spends most of the time yelling and screaming at everyone, even the people (like myself) that don't work for him.  Everyone's stressed and on a hair trigger.  This person is also the CEO's trusted adviser, so I actually have to take his tirades seriously, even though he's technically a peer.

I've worked in this environment before when I was in the Army.  While I can deal with this personality type, life is too short.  I won't allow this level of stress and headache enter my life and impact my family life.  I don't know the exact timing, but I don't expect to stay in this job very long.

Here's the options as I see them:

1. Quit, but try to find side-work.  I may be able to scrounge up some side-consulting gigs within my network, but nothing that could come close to replacing my income.  There is also a small possibility of being able to build a rental home on some family property.  This would be a lucrative opportunity, but it's low-likelihood that I could get the required family buy-in.  The $22K question (literally) is whether I can make enough doing this to justify keeping my daughter in daycare.

2. Become a stay-at-home dad.  I don't think I'm psychologically ready to give up my career for this, but it might be the best option.

3. Job search.  Who knows where this will go?  I am skeptical of my likelihood of getting picked up for good jobs having such a short time at this job.

4. Quit being a compainypants and stick it out.


Option #1 has the most intuitive appeal.  This is what I would do if I was already FI.  However, it will likely delay FI by some number of years.  I just picture this scenario as also being the beginnings of a warning story of what not to do.

Any thoughts? 

Zamboni

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2015, 10:05:31 PM »
If you aren't willing to stage a coup d'etat against toxic man, then put some serious effort into #3.  People will understand that sometimes one takes a job and it just isn't turning out to be the best fit (usually for reasons similar to what you describe.) I don't think the short duration of your current job will bother employers that much.  It's much easier to get another job or even sometimes side work while you have a job, and you seem to have some ability to put up with this at least in the short term, so quitting right now probably isn't the best choice.

terran

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2015, 10:11:28 PM »
You're playing at a level that I'm not and probably never will, so take this with a grain of salt and all that, but is there anything to calling this guy on his shit? Worst case you end up getting fired with all the same options except 4, best case he shapes up or ships out and you end up with an awesome job without the toxicity.

john c

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2015, 03:09:51 AM »
I probably live not too far away from you, and work in a similar field. 

First of all, I think it's very foolish to think about buying a house in the Bay Area when 1) the market is so high and 2) both of your job situations are so volatile. 

Second, I think you're over estimating the impact of a short term job.  Start looking, and explain the short tenure as a desire to get the experience but that you want to go back to megacorp.  The Bay Area job market is at a low boil right now, you should be able to find something.

Third, quitting and trying to find side-work is very difficult unless you've spent a couple of years developing a network.  You'll probably work 60+ hours for the next two years before you made any money.  That's just how it is when you're starting a new business. 

Startups are not really for folks who have families.  If you're 23, and don't mind 100+ hour weeks, then they're great.  If not, megacorp is the place to be.

Good luck!

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2015, 06:51:39 AM »
#5: You already have FI-level net worth for a lot of people in less expensive areas. Just keep that in mind.

velocistar237

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2015, 08:55:34 AM »
You have FU money. If you're going to leave anyway, do your coworkers a favor. Stand up to the guy, and tell the CEO or the HR person. If he's creating a hostile work environment, then it might qualify as harassment. Do it well, and you could end up staying, under much better working conditions. Worst-case, you bail.

Capsu78

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2015, 09:11:33 AM »
I am so thankful to have lived in the Bay Area... in the 80's. 
Sorry for your situation, but I would never dream of paying $1.4 million for that standard 4 BD house we bought and sold in our early 30's that backed up to the freeway in Fremont.
I would look at my wonderful wife and beautiful daughter and make your families happiness my no 1 driver.  I would consider having child #2 as well- an investment we never regretted!

JLee

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2015, 09:14:45 AM »
#5: You already have FI-level net worth for a lot of people in less expensive areas. Just keep that in mind.
Yup. "One more year" to bank another $200k would put you around $1MM NW, which would be a nicely livable 40k/yr in most parts of the country.

DecD

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2015, 09:21:49 AM »
I'd schedule a meeting with the CEO and very politely and respectfully let him know that this guy's yelling tirades are creating a toxic work environment that isn't sustainable.  And that you believe in the mission of the company but that the stress levels raised by this dude's reactions are detrimental to the productivity of the office. 

See what happens.

Maybe you spark a major change that turns things around.  Maybe you decide to job hunt. 

Whatever happens, best of luck to you!

skunkfunk

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2015, 09:22:24 AM »
Do you plan to stay in the bay area after retirement? You could move to a lower COL area and get a couple of lower paying & less stressful jobs to cover expenses while the stash grows.

Exflyboy

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2015, 09:59:06 AM »
Personally I'd pull this guy into a room and point out that his behavior is ruining the work environment and making peoples lives miserable. Miserable people won't perform for very long and will end up leaving if they can.

If he doesn't calm down, then I would raise the issue with his boss and HR.

Whats the worse thing that can happen?

I'd be looking for another job anyway, you might find something even better.. on paper anyway..:)

Michread

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2015, 10:03:32 AM »
You have FU money. If you're going to leave anyway, do your coworkers a favor. Stand up to the guy, and tell the CEO or the HR person. If he's creating a hostile work environment, then it might qualify as harassment. Do it well, and you could end up staying, under much better working conditions. Worst-case, you bail.

THIS! 

Yes, and job search too.  If you were at your previous employer for an extended period you will be fine if you walk from this job.  Most understand a toxic job environment. 

Sibley

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2015, 10:08:47 AM »
I just have to say this. Your family makes $400k+ a year, and your savings level is 50-60%? Seriously? Facepunch. You should be at least 75% savings.

Fix your spendypants lifestyle, because you're screwed if your wife loses that job. And you can't afford to buy a house.

mm1970

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2015, 10:28:44 AM »
Hm.  Well, I guess I would either look for a new job or wait it out.

Since you know your wife is either going to be promoted or asked to leave, I would wait until that happens.

You have enough money to buy in the Bay Area, but probably not enough stability until your wife's job thing plays out.  (I have such a hard time grasping those incomes - we live in Santa Barbara, we're at about 2/3 your income.  But home prices are slightly lower.)

The question becomes where do you and Mrs. NorCal want to be?  We are in our mid-40's (kids 2.5 and 9), and truthfully, could sell the house (or keep it and rent it out), move somewhere cheaper, and retire TODAY.  But we love SB, so aren't going to do that.  How much do you like the Bay Area, and do you want to be there long term?  I know that the "traditional" MMM folks here think buying homes in an expensive area is crazy even if you have the money.  But I'm going to set that aside for "where do you want to live"?  Because for many people, that's a huge part of happiness.

backyardfeast

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2015, 10:42:00 AM »
Stick it out until the end of the year (only 6 months! ish!) and your wife finds out if she's getting a promotion or leaving.  If she gets the promotion, quit to be SAHD, with side-gigs if you feel like it.  If her job goes up in pay, responsibility and corresponding stress, having an at-home partner can be worth its weight in gold. 

If she's asked to leave, you are both FI and can be jobless and move out of the Bay area.  Pick a new, lower COL place to raise your daughter, and enjoy your fantastic life!  You will pick up other work if you want to, but the salary level won't matter, and you'll be set.

Good luck!

NorCal

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2015, 08:48:35 PM »
Thank you all for the level headed replies.  It's very helpful and exactly what I needed.

Long term, we know we need to get out of Silicon Valley.  But it would be stupid to leave while we're increasing our net worth at a rate of ~$200K/yr.  We're ball-parking FIRE sometime around mid to late 40's.  We hope to have the ability to retire in the greater Bay Area or LA area, but the (relatively) less expensive parts.  That will keep us close to family.

While I don't consider myself a religious person, the quote "The Lord works in mysterious ways" applies to life today.  I found out that my company will be moving their headquarters.  My commute will go from 5 minutes to 1+ hour.  At least now I won't feel guilty about immediately jumping back into the job market.

So are any of you Bay Area Mustachians looking to hire a good finance person by chance?

SpicyMcHaggus

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #16 on: April 29, 2015, 09:50:50 PM »
quietly ask for your old job back ?

NorCal

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #17 on: April 29, 2015, 10:04:38 PM »
quietly ask for your old job back ?

Not out of the question.  I left on good terms, and have good referrals from senior management.  I plan to start some informal conversations over the next week.  My former position was filled with an internal hire and the whole group has been restructured a bit.  I need to find out if there's anything available, and if it's something I'd want.

SpicyMcHaggus

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #18 on: April 29, 2015, 10:07:38 PM »
That's good news. Also contact some recruiters. You may find something more local and perhaps you could consult for more freedom.

zurich78

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2015, 09:01:40 AM »
If it were me, I'd go back to the corporate world.  I didn't notice your age, but you seem fairly young still, in the prime years of earning potential.

I'd probably try to find a company with a really, really good retirement program, benefits, work/life balance, and very competitive pay (usually, this is the megacorps).  I'd save, save, save, and with you being so far ahead of the game, I would view it as a means to ER and stick with it.  Then, when the numbers are there, quit and spend time with the family or live a more flexible life (i.e. consulting or part-time work).

Capsu78

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #20 on: April 30, 2015, 09:41:42 AM »

While I don't consider myself a religious person, the quote "The Lord works in mysterious ways" applies to life today.  I found out that my company will be moving their headquarters.  My commute will go from 5 minutes to 1+ hour.  At least now I won't feel guilty about immediately jumping back into the job market.


So they are moving 3 exits up the freeway?  :-)

mm1970

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #21 on: April 30, 2015, 10:50:53 AM »
Thank you all for the level headed replies.  It's very helpful and exactly what I needed.

Long term, we know we need to get out of Silicon Valley.  But it would be stupid to leave while we're increasing our net worth at a rate of ~$200K/yr.  We're ball-parking FIRE sometime around mid to late 40's.  We hope to have the ability to retire in the greater Bay Area or LA area, but the (relatively) less expensive parts.  That will keep us close to family.

While I don't consider myself a religious person, the quote "The Lord works in mysterious ways" applies to life today.  I found out that my company will be moving their headquarters.  My commute will go from 5 minutes to 1+ hour.  At least now I won't feel guilty about immediately jumping back into the job market.

So are any of you Bay Area Mustachians looking to hire a good finance person by chance?
Hopefully the move takes awhile?

BlueHouse

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #22 on: April 30, 2015, 11:54:05 AM »
#3.  It's very common for people to find a mismatch with a new company and the sooner you do something about it, the better from another employer's perspective as well as for your own happiness.  Just say "I thought we'd be a better fit, but some things just didn't play out as expected (commute, work arrangements, etc)" 

Velocistar has great advice:

You have FU money. If you're going to leave anyway, do your coworkers a favor. Stand up to the guy, and tell the CEO or the HR person.  Do it well, and you could end up staying, under much better working conditions. Worst-case, you bail.

Do it well as practice for problem resolution -- pretend this is your business and you need to fix it.  Probably won't work, but great experience and it will help keep emotions in check.

NorCal

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #23 on: May 19, 2015, 10:50:23 AM »
So here's an update.  The company is moving ~1-1.5 hours away, depending on traffic.  This is not something I can make work with childcare and family obligations.

I have told my boss that i don't expect this to work, so they have plenty of notice.  The company is in the process of raising money right now, so I expect we'll come to some arrangement for me to stick around and work remotely while we finish that process over the summer.

Now I just need to figure out what's next.  I've put some initial feelers out to my former employer and have a friends referral into a new company.  Otherwise, I'll be in full job search mode.


SpicyMcHaggus

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #24 on: May 19, 2015, 11:51:01 AM »
I don't want this to come off as judgmental, so understand that I completely understand, and having been in a similar situation have done exactly what you are planning on doing.

I would recommend you take some time to go on an adventure, relax, learn a new hobby, DIY your bathroom, play with the kid 8 hrs / day, or anything that is not work, or looking for work related.  I think you can afford it, and not only will it remind you why you work so hard right now, but it will add perspective so that you will be more eager to stop when you can afford it instead of pushing on. 

Good on you for taking step 1; no thank you to hour long commutes.

NorCal

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #25 on: May 19, 2015, 02:37:07 PM »
I don't want this to come off as judgmental, so understand that I completely understand, and having been in a similar situation have done exactly what you are planning on doing.

I would recommend you take some time to go on an adventure, relax, learn a new hobby, DIY your bathroom, play with the kid 8 hrs / day, or anything that is not work, or looking for work related.  I think you can afford it, and not only will it remind you why you work so hard right now, but it will add perspective so that you will be more eager to stop when you can afford it instead of pushing on. 

Good on you for taking step 1; no thank you to hour long commutes.

Thank you for that.  You're probably right.

I WANT to not work, or at least slow down for a while.  The hard part is that we're currently saving $10K+/month towards FIRE, and it's really hard to give up that savings rate.  Sure, we could manage to spend somewhat less if I'm not working, but we wouldn't nearly make up that lost income.  We'd just be putting FIRE off to a later date. 

Ideally, I'd like to pick up a few part-time consulting gigs from my network in the short term.  I might even have the ability/bandwidth to start construction on our eventual retirement house (to be a rental until we RE).  I honestly don't know how realistic this is.

Where I'm settling is a limited job search, only applying to jobs that are truly interesting and at the right level.  I'm geographically restricted based on my wife's current work, so there aren't a huge number of opportunities.  If something comes up, great.  If not, I will take some time off, and try for some part time consulting gigs in the short term.

I do greatly appreciate your comment.  It's one of the few I've seen that's come from experience.

James!

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #26 on: May 19, 2015, 03:10:18 PM »
I don't want this to come off as judgmental, so understand that I completely understand, and having been in a similar situation have done exactly what you are planning on doing.

I would recommend you take some time to go on an adventure, relax, learn a new hobby, DIY your bathroom, play with the kid 8 hrs / day, or anything that is not work, or looking for work related.  I think you can afford it, and not only will it remind you why you work so hard right now, but it will add perspective so that you will be more eager to stop when you can afford it instead of pushing on. 

Good on you for taking step 1; no thank you to hour long commutes.

Thank you for that.  You're probably right.

I WANT to not work, or at least slow down for a while.  The hard part is that we're currently saving $10K+/month towards FIRE, and it's really hard to give up that savings rate.  Sure, we could manage to spend somewhat less if I'm not working, but we wouldn't nearly make up that lost income.  We'd just be putting FIRE off to a later date. 

Ideally, I'd like to pick up a few part-time consulting gigs from my network in the short term.  I might even have the ability/bandwidth to start construction on our eventual retirement house (to be a rental until we RE).  I honestly don't know how realistic this is.

Where I'm settling is a limited job search, only applying to jobs that are truly interesting and at the right level.  I'm geographically restricted based on my wife's current work, so there aren't a huge number of opportunities.  If something comes up, great.  If not, I will take some time off, and try for some part time consulting gigs in the short term.

I do greatly appreciate your comment.  It's one of the few I've seen that's come from experience.

Take it from someone who built themselves a home. That will be a fulltime job if you want to finish it anytime soon.  Based on your earning potential it makes no sense to do it yourself. If you want to build a house you should work a little bit longer and pay someone else to build it, then stop working. Don't quit your job to essentially take a construction job that will pay much less. Just my $0.02.

-J

NorCal

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #27 on: May 19, 2015, 04:39:56 PM »


Take it from someone who built themselves a home. That will be a fulltime job if you want to finish it anytime soon.  Based on your earning potential it makes no sense to do it yourself. If you want to build a house you should work a little bit longer and pay someone else to build it, then stop working. Don't quit your job to essentially take a construction job that will pay much less. Just my $0.02.

-J
[/quote]

To clarify my home-building intentions, being without a job will give me the time I need to acquire the land, deal with permits, and hire the right people to build it. 

I'd be scared of building anything bigger than a treehouse.

chasesfish

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #28 on: May 20, 2015, 05:28:52 AM »
I've read through this, what's your spouse's opinion on all of this?

I haven't fully run the math, but would your savings rate really go down that much?  If my math is right, you make around $140,000 a year and your wife is in the $250,000 range.  That means your income is taxed at roughly 56% between California, federal, social security and medicare.   You're putting up with a lot to keep $0.44 of every dollar you earn.

Judging by your nest egg and age, you probably have some expenses that could be removed if you didn't work full time.  Commuting, daycare, and any other services you outsourced.  There may also be some marital happiness that comes from being the #1 support person behind the high income earner.

I just went through this not too long ago and the savings rate didn't really decline.  I earned 2/3rds of the household income and she earned 1/3.  It just didn't make sense for her to put up with what she was putting up with to keep just over $0.50 of each $1 earned.


alsoknownasDean

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #29 on: May 20, 2015, 05:48:06 AM »
I reckon it might be worth taking a few months or so off, provided you can easily get back into work.

With a $600K networth, you've got so many more options than someone living paycheck to paycheck.

Does it matter an awful lot if it delays FI by just a little? Once six months has passed, you'll also know what's happening with your spouse's work.

Definitely get yourself out of the unpleasant work environment though, no amount of money is worth that.

NorCal

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Re: Big Career Decision
« Reply #30 on: May 20, 2015, 01:45:19 PM »
I've read through this, what's your spouse's opinion on all of this?

I haven't fully run the math, but would your savings rate really go down that much?  If my math is right, you make around $140,000 a year and your wife is in the $250,000 range.  That means your income is taxed at roughly 56% between California, federal, social security and medicare.   You're putting up with a lot to keep $0.44 of every dollar you earn.

Judging by your nest egg and age, you probably have some expenses that could be removed if you didn't work full time.  Commuting, daycare, and any other services you outsourced.  There may also be some marital happiness that comes from being the #1 support person behind the high income earner.

I just went through this not too long ago and the savings rate didn't really decline.  I earned 2/3rds of the household income and she earned 1/3.  It just didn't make sense for her to put up with what she was putting up with to keep just over $0.50 of each $1 earned.

My wife is generally supportive of whatever I decide, but she does have resistance to me completely giving up my career while she's still working a very busy job.

Your numbers are pretty close to accurate.  My back-of-the envelope math is that my job increases our after-tax net worth (including maxed 401k) by about $84K/yr.  By quitting, I figure we could save ~$12K/yr between taxes, food, gym, etc.  As a true stay-at-home dad, we'd save another $18K on daycare on an after-tax basis, so that's $30K total savings.

Bottom line, I'm working for about $55K/yr after taxes.  I'm not personally ready to go the full SAHD route, but I could see getting there. 

I'm heavily leaning towards taking a few months off before making big decisions.

If I were ever at the point of being truly FI, I would become a part-time consultant as a way to keep my skills sharp and contribute.  I'm heavily leaning towards this as a near-term option just to try it out.

Again, I greatly appreciate all of the thoughts and ideas.  You've all been an amazing help in thinking this through.