Author Topic: Need advice on what to do next  (Read 1806 times)

zurberts

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Need advice on what to do next
« on: April 18, 2017, 05:38:50 PM »
My wife and I recently paid off our mortgage and are trying to figure out the “what’s next” part of our lives and could use some advice. Our goal is to “find our happy” and have been so focused on establishing some security over the past several years and have lost sight of that. We are in a good position now, I think, to have a change of focus/change of scenery/something. I am looking to the MMM community for some advice on what possibilities we could consider since this blog has been so helpful in figuring our strategy to this point.

I will start with the numbers:

Liabilities
  • $4000 in our home buyer plan. We owe $800 each year at 0% until it is done.

Assets
  • Home – paid $287k 10 years ago. Probably worth about $400k now.
  • 2 cars. 2005 Toyota Matrix & 2013 Santa Fe Sport. I consider their value to be $0 as we plan to “drive them into the ground”.
  • Cash - $30k
  • TFSA - $45k
  • RRSP - $320k – maxed out my contributions for the 2016 tax season
  • Total $800k

Expenses (yearly)
  • Property taxes $3900
  • Home/Car Insurance $3200
  • Natural Gas $720
  • Hydro/water $1800
  • Internet $660
  • Home phone ($22 month), wife cell phone ($22 month – mine is paid by work) - $528
  • Food and other “disposables” (about $200/week) $10,500
  • Daycare (5 year old $20/day 3 year old $38/day  $340/week) $14,200 Note: this drops when our 3 year old starts school in September to $20/day
  • Gas/auto expenses  $4000
  • Total $40,000

Income
  • I make just over $100k and my wife makes $47k. We have about 15 years of tenure with our employers. I have an MBA and BSc while my wife has diplomas in interior design and a human resource management.

Other general family details:
  • I am 38, my wife is 36. We have 2 daughters 3 & 5.
  • We both work away from home – about 25km/15 miles away (the drive is min 40 min each way which we are finding adds up). The jobs are easier to find in that area but the house prices are at least double. I have the option to work at home a few days a week. My wife does not.
  • We plan to pay for their University/College since our parents did the same for us. We have been using the RESP program and have contributed since they were born so they are all caught up for their age. We need to ride the course and put $5000 in each year until we max out the 20% government match (by the time they are about 14).

The problem/question:

Basically, what would you do in our shoes?

Generally, my wife and I both feel she is sorely underpaid for the experience and skills that she has. Perhaps a change here is the obvious first step. We have talked about her just going in and spelling out to her employer what she wants as far as career development & advancement and walk away if she doesn’t get what she wants. The way I see it, after paying for daycare and gas to get there, she is only coming out a couple hundred dollars ahead which isn’t worth it for slogging along 40 hours a week.

She is completely fluent in French and has worked in customer service & administrator roles in the past but doesn’t like being on the phone as a front line worker – too many angry customers. 

As for myself, I don’t mind what I am doing for the moment so will keep doing that at least for the foreseeable future unless an opportunity comes along.

Anything else we should consider trying? Any other details that we should share to help you understand our situation better?

Thanks in advance for the advice!
« Last Edit: April 18, 2017, 06:35:39 PM by zurberts »

nereo

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Re: Need advice on what to do next
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2017, 06:19:19 PM »
First, well done on achieving a high level of financial stability at your ages. This will give you lots of options starting now.

Your goal is to "find your happy" - so let's focus on that.
Reading your post the following aspects jump out at me (in no particular order)
i) your commutes are a drag on your life.  40min each way x 2x/day x 5x/week  x 50week/year = 333 hours/year stuck in traffic.  Literally two full weeks.  For both of you. Not coincidentally, the largest line-item in your budget is gas/auto expenses.

ii) your wife feels under compensated at her job.  Usually that also means she doesn't find the work compelling either

iii) you have two young children who will grow up faster than you realize.

Advice:
This is a bit tricker since your goal of finding your happy (while an awesome goal) is harder to quantify. 
For starters realize that your wife's job is completely optional.  She could quit now and financially you'd be just fine.  That means she could be a stay at home parent (saving you $14k per year) or take up an alternative career she enjoys more.  You said the two of you had discussed her going in to her employer and laying out what she wants in order to stay.  Follow that instinct - if she doesn't get it she can walk away and you will both be fine.

Second, those commutes are completely soul-crushing over time, and will become only more-so as your children get older.  Look for options closer to work, or look at work options closer to home.  Finding a home within a 2 mile radius of your job would be like instantly getting an extra 2 weeks of free time per year.  It's the difference between coming home each day with no free time or having time to commit to a hobby or be more active in your community.

hope that helps.
~n~

chasesfish

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Re: Need advice on what to do next
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2017, 07:01:30 PM »
I would encourage your wife to leave her job.   You're loosing money after the higher tax rate, dayacre, commuting, and other random costs that employment brings.   

The non-financial advice - Tell her you will support her in whatever she wants to do.

RichMoose

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Re: Need advice on what to do next
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2017, 12:01:46 PM »
I think happiness is important. Considering your situation, especially with your wife's work, I would encourage her to quit now. If she can save the $14k on daycare and if you sell one of your vehicles, I think you may actually find yourself further ahead financially and she is likely to be happier as well.

She can always try to freelance or pursue a flexible, part-time gig if she has the extra time in her day. Interior design is a field that can lend itself nicely to a small business format. If she does this, you may also be able to realize tax benefits for home office expenses, phone expenses, etc.

With your finances, take advantage of your TFSAs and RRSPs. You should probably try to use spousal RRSPs to balance out your future retirement income. If you stick to dedicated saving and indexing, you will definitely be able to retire early. That's with or without your wife working.

Laura33

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Re: Need advice on what to do next
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2017, 12:19:51 PM »
So what does your wife actually want to do?  It looks like she has expertise in areas that rely on "soft" skills.  Unfortunately, because these are difficult to quantify or measure, they tend to be undervalued by employers, who tend to think that they can just get another "people person" to fill the role.  For the same reason, this can make it hard to find a better job, because it is hard to distinguish yourself from all of the others out there.

So my first question is does she want to stay in her current field?  If so, are there specific skills, areas of expertise, certificates, or other "things you can put on a resume" that she can develop?  If she generally likes the work/field, I would focus less on the immediate pay and more on using her current employer to develop quantifiable skills that improve her marketability.  Then, in a year or two, she will have a solid base of support to justify the raise she wants -- and a much better resume if they don't fork it over. 

OTOH, if she doesn't like her current field, then she can quit and try to build her own design business or follow whatever other ideas she may have.

zurberts

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Re: Need advice on what to do next
« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2018, 06:48:27 PM »
Just wanted to follow up and let everyone know that my wife gave her 2 weeks notice and is going to have her last day tomorrow. She will spend the summer with the kiddos and figure out in the fall the next chapter in her career - maybe a part time gig, maybe something different. I am totally OK with it and support her. Looking forward to her having more free time to take care of the family since it is important to me. I still enjoy doing what I am doing so can see keeping with it for a while which with us saving on child care, won't be too different on the financial front. May come out ahead with a few adjustments. Taking this slow and steady.

Here's to starting our new chapter next week!

RichMoose

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Re: Need advice on what to do next
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2018, 08:51:58 PM »
Just wanted to follow up and let everyone know that my wife gave her 2 weeks notice and is going to have her last day tomorrow. She will spend the summer with the kiddos and figure out in the fall the next chapter in her career - maybe a part time gig, maybe something different. I am totally OK with it and support her. Looking forward to her having more free time to take care of the family since it is important to me. I still enjoy doing what I am doing so can see keeping with it for a while which with us saving on child care, won't be too different on the financial front. May come out ahead with a few adjustments. Taking this slow and steady.

Here's to starting our new chapter next week!
Thanks for the update, I'm sure it will work out well for you guys in the long run. Being able to stay home and raise your own kids is a great advantage! Adjustment periods can always be a tad challenging, so keep positive.

zurberts

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Re: Need advice on what to do next
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2018, 07:19:14 AM »
Thanks for the update, I'm sure it will work out well for you guys in the long run. Being able to stay home and raise your own kids is a great advantage! Adjustment periods can always be a tad challenging, so keep positive.

Thanks for the support. I will probably come back in a few months and give another update :)