Author Topic: What is (was) Your Career?  (Read 48590 times)

Aloysius_Poutine

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What is (was) Your Career?
« on: October 15, 2012, 03:24:11 PM »
I'm at a crossroads with respect to career choice. I'm 29, just finishing college (late start), and deciding on my next step. I see so many of you folks posting about your excellent financial positions, and I wonder, "how did they make their money?"

So I'll put it out there: what was your career path? What job has enabled you to think about FI/RE?
« Last Edit: October 15, 2012, 03:28:32 PM by MarkCB »

rjack

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2012, 03:30:32 PM »
Software engineering/programming

freelancerNfulltimer

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2012, 03:34:06 PM »
I make $60k salary plus freelance between $10k-$21k a year as a website/graphic designer. I do mostly websites and the money is in the ability to code.

sol

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2012, 03:39:25 PM »
Physical sciences (geology), seven years of graduate school, then government job with good benefits.  MMM retired at just about the same age that I collected my first real paycheck, so I don't really recommend a Ph.D. as a path to early retirement.

Marrying another frugal but high-earning professional helped a lot.  If I work ten years in total in my career, together we'll have over $1m saved.

okits

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2012, 05:04:39 PM »
I've been all over the place. Highest income has been from the job with the highest stress and most hours which, sadly, seems to be the correlation the majority of workers experience. (It makes sense, just wish it wasn't so!)

I understand the interest behind the question ("what fields of work pay well?"), but would like to add that I would not have been able to save a thing had my parents not instilled an attitude of modest spending in me (I will take a smidge of credit for actually listening to them.  :) As MMM has shown, FI is possible on any income, as long as your expenses are just a small fraction of that.  On the surface it would seem that this would be easier with a bigger income, but I do think there's definitely a point of diminishing returns on the higher-earnings-equals-higher-savings continuum.

I hope one of your career choices is something you will enjoy, because even if you only work for five years and save like a fiend, that's five years of your life you'll never get back.

(Will now sit back and enjoy, with curiosity, the other Mustachians' responses!)

Spelling edit.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2012, 05:22:29 PM by okits »

AJ

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2012, 05:08:10 PM »
Software engineering/programming

DH is a website/graphics designer

Russ

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2012, 05:47:12 PM »
Professional intern (and student), as I try to get experience in as many types of mechanical engineering jobs as I can before I have to commit to one.

Zaga

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2012, 05:48:21 PM »
Food science for me.  I've worked up to earning about $40K a year.  DH is in IT and earns double what I do.  We have a very long way to go, I'm not sure we qualify as mustachians.

grantmeaname

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2012, 05:50:57 PM »
I'm going to try a summer out at a financial firm, hopefully an investment bank in a financial analyst capacity. After that, I'll have a summer at a Big 4 accounting firm, then a decade's enslavement at whichever I like better.

pepper

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2012, 05:55:18 PM »
I am also in Software Development (currently game development).  In my experience it can be very rewarding but can also lead to burnout so don't take your enjoyment of your career early on as a sign you don't need to save.  I know I am preaching to the choir here, but I see a lot of posts of people saying, "I love my job why would I want to retire early", but things can change especially in a high stress career.

gooki

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2012, 06:37:36 PM »
User Interface Designer/Multimedia Developer

My income is nothing stellar - but we got to our financial position through being more aggressive with debt repayment than your average Joe.

When we hit FI, I intend to do part time Cabinet Making from home along with what ever else comes my way.

kkbmustang

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2012, 08:27:44 PM »
Tax Lawyer: BigLaw, Big 4, In-House Counsel, Tax Consulting. High stress, ridiculous hours, not worth the money, IMHO.

herisff

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2012, 08:38:45 PM »
Registered Nurse, currently working in surgery (circulator). Prior jobs included writing medical policy, utilization review, intensive care, floor nursing - all with one professional degree. Not extremely high paying per se, but I've always been frugal and I'll always have a job opportunity (especially now that I work in surgery - high demand for that specialty). Cons are that it's hard work (many nurses have back issues), irregular days off, and for surgery I'm on call a minimum of 1 day a week and 1 weekend a month. Very doable, but my time is not my own when I'm on call. It's a very flexible and, in many ways, satisfying job. I'm very task oriented, and working in surgery suits me very well.

arebelspy

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2012, 08:40:35 PM »
The wife and I are high school and elementary schools teachers, respectively.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

Nords

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2012, 08:57:48 PM »
24 years in the U.S. Navy, mostly in the submarine force.

http://the-military-guide.com/for-the-media/authors-biography/

The pay was OK, but the real financial compounding came about due to a lack of liberty to spend the pay...

Self-employed-swami

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2012, 09:16:03 PM »
Geologist.

It pays similarly to the engineering types (six figures 4 years out of uni).  I'm in oil and gas.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2012, 09:36:40 PM by Self-employed-swami »

prosaic

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #16 on: October 15, 2012, 09:30:01 PM »
Higher education administrator and former college professor.

inthebiz

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #17 on: October 15, 2012, 09:52:48 PM »
Financial advisor. As others have mentioned, it's not so much about what you make, it's what you're willing to save. I see many of my colleagues in the nicest cars and biggest houses but they are hoping to bank enough for retirement in their 60's.

mustachio

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #18 on: October 15, 2012, 10:05:22 PM »
Agriculture (government). Second career (went back to school in a totally different field than my previous education and got the job while a student).
« Last Edit: October 15, 2012, 10:18:05 PM by mustachio »

Mr. Sharma

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #19 on: October 15, 2012, 10:14:31 PM »
CPA with a focus on small business tax and accounting.  Have been working in this capacity since college for about three years now and love it.   

JJ

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #20 on: October 15, 2012, 11:59:18 PM »
Hmmm - few geos and software engineering types.  I studied geology and geophysics, but became a software engineer fairly shortly after being let loose in the corporate world.  In the boom/bust cycle, geophysicists are first to get laid off and last to get rehired, so not a great original choice.

marty998

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #21 on: October 16, 2012, 12:13:05 AM »
Financial Accountant at a bank. Hours not bad, commute horrendous (increased from 2 to 3.5h/day due to a "restructure" - don't you just love management buzzwords). Please don't berate me, trying for 6 months now to find a new job.

Sometimes I think I should identify myself as an Accountant/train rider

JJ

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #22 on: October 16, 2012, 01:36:40 AM »
Speaking of commutes - the downside of life as a geo/natural resources/engineering job is the sometimes crazy long commute.  The upside is it tends to crazy in other, fun ways.  Here's a couple of examples:

Home -> Airport: 20mins
Fly to Dubai: 10hrs
Fly to Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania): 4.5 hrs
Hang around in a dodgy hotel for a few hours
Fly to regional Tanzanian airport: 1hr
Hop on little prop plane and fly to operation with a fat, wheezing "heart-attack-about-to-happen" pilot in command: 15mins

Home -> Airport: 20mins
Fly to Jakarta (Indonesia): 5 hrs
Fly to Balikpapan (Kalimantan, Indonesia): 2 hrs
Drive to river: 3 hrs
Speed boat up river deep into jungle: 4 hours. +20 mins for a refuelling stop - with a sock over the gas tank to filter out the rust from the gasoline, and the guy filling up having a smoke just to ensure there was enough imminent danger to keep you awake.

On the financial side of things it can work very, very well.  If you are single and don't blow all your cash on a binge when you get back home you can stash a lot of money away as you do tend to get well paid visiting crazy parts of the world, particularly as an expat from a western country.  You also tend to have all food, accommodation and transport paid for, and can end up on a tax free gig depending on where you go and where you base yourself [unless, of course, you are a US citizen where the IRS hunts you down and taxes you wherever you happen to be - good to be an Aussie sometimes]. 

To put it into perspective, you could probably buy a reasonable place in Longmont, home of MMM, every 18 months or so or a foreclosure project every 8-10 months.  It is easily possible to retire in style after 5 years unless you develop an expensive lifestyle.  A couple of other bonuses: 1) you may get an expensive habit [travel] out of your system on someone else's expense account, 2) you end up roughing it due to circumstances from time to time, so you toughen up a bit [see stoicism post], 3) you don't accumulate stuff, 4) and most important, you see how the rest of the world lives, really understand the inconceivably good conditions we have in the west and also see the incomprehensible waste with fresh eyes.

However, to have the experience where people will pay crazy expat rates, likelihood is you won't be single.  In which case chances of getting divorced due to long absences and having big maintenance payments for the rest of your life is quite high.  So be careful ;).

I have seen guys retired with a large property portfolio aged 32 and guys without a penny to their name drowning their sorrows in a sleazy bar in the middle of the jungle aged 60.

BTW - you don't need a particular degree to get good $s - you just need to become expert in something important to a high value industry.  Degrees which can get you there include engineering (mining, civil, oilfield), IT, geology, surveying, process engineering, but I have seen guys do well with less academic qualifications and experience.  For example, drillers, blasters, fitters/mechanics, carpenters/builders/electricians [short stints building camp accommodation].

Me, I was a software systems consultant to these kinds of guys so was never fully in the lifestyle but I did observe it up close for years.

JT

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #23 on: October 16, 2012, 02:09:28 AM »
Assistant Accountant for a Design company.  Prior to this I did management (ie organisational development and process re-engineering).

simonsez

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #24 on: October 16, 2012, 05:33:08 AM »
Statistician for the federal gov.  I like the work, good training opportunities, decent benefits, and pretty good experience I can label as "project management" should I want to springboard into something else.

1 year of grad school at out of state public university.  Still have loan debt higher than my salary, will finally change in 2013.  Go to grad school if you must to land a job or a better job or whatever but be smarter than I was and find ways to not fund it 100% on loans, or perhaps find a place where you can be a TA/RA or not pay out-of-state/private tuition rates.  I did the 12 month intensive Master's program in another state thinking I'd come out ahead with another potential year of salary but turns out I'll be behind compared to if I would've went to a normal 2 year Master's program in my home state.

bo_knows

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #25 on: October 16, 2012, 05:33:46 AM »
Bachelors in IT and Masters in Systems Engineering, led me to the position of Software Test Director as a government contractor.

Wife is a hard worker, and despite being in a consulting job that has zero to do with her degree, she has excelled and makes just a little less than I do.

jrhampt

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #26 on: October 16, 2012, 06:45:08 AM »
Interesting to see some geologists on here...that was my original undergrad degree, but it wasn't doing so well when I graduated (1999).  Part of that could depend on location; here in the NE, most of my geologist friends do environmental geology, which doesn't pay as well as oil/gas.  Hours are long, lots of travel, and I'm happier with my current career as a SAS/SQL developer in the health insurance industry.  I'm also finishing up a master's in statistics (paid for by my job), and have an earlier master's in English/TESL (used that one for test development). 

Edited to add:  I'm married to a fellow geologist undergrad who has done his career in operating power plants - operator, safety supervisor, chief engineer, and now environmental specialist.  It helps to have two high earners and no kids.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2012, 06:47:38 AM by jrhampt »

igthebold

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #27 on: October 16, 2012, 07:02:12 AM »
Freelance iOS and Rails programmer.

maryofdoom

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #28 on: October 16, 2012, 07:24:52 AM »
Technical writer/editor for a federally funded research and development organization that is part of a university.

I get all the benefits of being in both a government job and an academic job, with every single one of the attendant drawbacks.

trammatic

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #29 on: October 16, 2012, 07:38:35 AM »
Mathematician. (Also with the government)  I specifically found a less-analytical focused agency to work in so that I'd be unique and in demand.  I permanently work at home and can live anywhere I want in the US...and have a low-stress 40-hour/week job.

I'm in the process of downsizing housing and moving farther out into a small town with a lower cost of living.  I currently live in a DC suburb which is expensive, but since I don't need to commute anymore, woohoo!

bo_knows

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #30 on: October 16, 2012, 08:02:23 AM »
but since I don't need to commute anymore, woohoo!

Wow, that is nice in the DC area. I'm out in NoVA and would kill a man to work at home.

James

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #31 on: October 16, 2012, 08:13:37 AM »
I provide anesthesia as a nurse anesthetist.  It's an unbelievably great career for those in nursing, excellent job satisfaction and great pay.  Faster and cheaper than becoming a doctor, and I make more than some doctors.  If I had followed MMM for the past 8 years I'd be FI right now, but unfortunately I'm fixing financial mistakes still at this point.

JohnGalt

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #32 on: October 16, 2012, 08:23:49 AM »
Statistician/Programmer for a small consulting firm

kaeldra

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #33 on: October 16, 2012, 08:32:35 AM »
I'm a graphic designer and my partner's a project manager in computer stuff. He makes more than I do though I'm the one with a degree! (To be fair, my degree is unrelated to my job.)

Use it up, wear it out...

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #34 on: October 16, 2012, 08:56:37 AM »
I'm an enterprise architect, formerly a network architect (IT mumbo-jumbo). My original degree: English Literature with a minor in Economics

DW worked admin jobs out of college the first time (degree: theater). She just graduated with a BS in Textile Development, and is working in a fabric design department for a large retailer.

Osprey

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #35 on: October 16, 2012, 09:12:42 AM »
Medical doctor in a developing country. At this stage it's a love/hate relationship. If I could go back in time I wouldn't change anything but having said that, I would strongly discourage my kids from joining the profession.
Evidently there are lots of engineers here (and off topic, but a lot of engineery/analytical types in early retirement forums in general.)

Taylor

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #36 on: October 16, 2012, 09:17:41 AM »
I'm a psychotherapist (master's degree in social work and clinical license). I love what I do everyday, but it defiinitely does not pay well (especially working in a non-profit, as I choose to do).

In response to an earlier poster in regards to asking about potential income in a certain field:
("As MMM has shown, FI is possible on any income, as long as your expenses are just a small fraction of that.") There really IS a floor to basic expenses and I understand that the blog and advice is geared toward very high-income individuals in certain fields (ahem, engineers and software developers:).  I think it's more important to find a career that you actually enjoy and makes a difference, then set realistic financial goals from there.


Aloysius_Poutine

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #37 on: October 16, 2012, 09:21:25 AM »
^^No doubt. These engineers have taught us how to engineer our personal finances to great effect!

Thanks for all the interesting responses.

tooqk4u22

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #38 on: October 16, 2012, 09:44:06 AM »
I'm going to try a summer out at a financial firm, hopefully an investment bank in a financial analyst capacity. After that, I'll have a summer at a Big 4 accounting firm, then a decade's enslavement at whichever I like better.

What happened to the high satisfaction/low pay prospects of anthropology?

jpo

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #39 on: October 16, 2012, 09:48:04 AM »
Another notch in the software engineer column.

totoro

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #40 on: October 16, 2012, 09:54:57 AM »
Lawyer in private practice.  Work half-time directly for clients.  Enjoy my job and it was well worth the schooling to have the lifestyle options I now have. 

sideways8

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #41 on: October 16, 2012, 10:26:17 AM »
Career A: Office job for a non-profit. I talked to my boss recently about my interest in moving up. Wee! Currently, I make just over $41K plus benefits.
 
Career B: My piano teaching business. This is what I really want to do and it will be part of my retirement. In fact, one of the reasons I desire FI/ER is so that I can do just music. Right now, I have just two students and pull in about $1400/year. One of these days I'll get around to putting some effort into getting more students but I'm pretty happy where I'm at...for now!


etselec

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #42 on: October 16, 2012, 10:26:54 AM »
Nonprofit administration. Pays beans but I work for a small shop and like what I do. And it's not a permanent position at all - potential to move in 1-2 years to something better-paid and more intellectually challenging.

I'm with Taylor - that floor to basic expenses makes it really hard to keep a high savings rate. But I think people in low-paying jobs by choice are more likely to be happy with what we do, and therefore less motivated to reach FI quickly. I could probably make nearly double my salary if I went for-profit, but I'd probably also hate my job and want to get to FI ASAP. It's a trade-off.

grantmeaname

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #43 on: October 16, 2012, 10:33:04 AM »
What happened to the high satisfaction/low pay prospects of anthropology?
I became less enamored with museum curatorship during the year I worked in a museum (in a non-curatorial capacity). I totally love the subject material, but it wears on me to be around people who don't have my skills and values even while I enjoy the subject matter. Analytical work in something I'm tangentially interested is better than descriptive/qualitative work in a fascinating field if I feel like my faculties are going totally unused.

I'd love to do analytical work in Anthro someday as a professor or a curator at a really academic museum (AMNH/Field/Smithsonian). A PhD takes almost a decade, on average, and even if I could do it a few years quicker that places it firmly in the extravagance territory. After I retire, I may get one (hard to say, it's hard to imagine how I'll feel when I have kids), but it's just not worth a decade of my life in my wage-slavery years.

tooqk4u22

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #44 on: October 16, 2012, 10:46:00 AM »
What happened to the high satisfaction/low pay prospects of anthropology?
I became less enamored with museum curatorship during the year I worked in a museum (in a non-curatorial capacity). I totally love the subject material, but it wears on me to be around people who don't have my skills and values even while I enjoy the subject matter. Analytical work in something I'm tangentially interested is better than descriptive/qualitative work in a fascinating field if I feel like my faculties are going totally unused.

I'd love to do analytical work in Anthro someday as a professor or a curator at a really academic museum (AMNH/Field/Smithsonian). A PhD takes almost a decade, on average, and even if I could do it a few years quicker that places it firmly in the extravagance territory. After I retire, I may get one (hard to say, it's hard to imagine how I'll feel when I have kids), but it's just not worth a decade of my life in my wage-slavery years.

Totally get it - I definitely enjoy analytical work more than the alternative.  Besides once you hit FI you can do whatever you want.....get a PhD or not, and i would imagine you can study/analyze/participate in anthro field with or without PhD. 

Taylor

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #45 on: October 16, 2012, 11:13:09 AM »
Nonprofit administration. Pays beans but I work for a small shop and like what I do. And it's not a permanent position at all - potential to move in 1-2 years to something better-paid and more intellectually challenging.

I'm with Taylor - that floor to basic expenses makes it really hard to keep a high savings rate. But I think people in low-paying jobs by choice are more likely to be happy with what we do, and therefore less motivated to reach FI quickly. I could probably make nearly double my salary if I went for-profit, but I'd probably also hate my job and want to get to FI ASAP. It's a trade-off.

It definitely is a trade-off. I hear a lot on these forums of people who absolutely hate their jobs and want FI so badly. I can't really relate to that, as I put a lot of thought into my career path and wouldn't quit even if I had tons of moolah. I still want to be FI in the sense of working part-time if I want, or starting my own non-profit someday.

That being said, it's hard to keep the 'comparison monster' in check and not compare my savings rate to those who make 3-4x what I do. Currently hovering at 40% and that's not bad for a 30k take-home salary :)

Self-employed-swami

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #46 on: October 16, 2012, 11:14:03 AM »
Hmmm - few geos and software engineering types.  I studied geology and geophysics, but became a software engineer fairly shortly after being let loose in the corporate world.  In the boom/bust cycle, geophysicists are first to get laid off and last to get rehired, so not a great original choice.

I'm about as non-corporate as you can get as far as a geo goes (I work on the rigs).  The office geophs do get paid slightly better though, and I know a bunch that made it through our last recession without getting laid off.  I know a lot of geos though, that were unemployed all the way through.  I guess it depends.  But spending on geophyisical acquisition did drop a lot.

Self-employed-swami

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #47 on: October 16, 2012, 11:19:05 AM »
Speaking of commutes - the downside of life as a geo/natural resources/engineering job is the sometimes crazy long commute.  The upside is it tends to crazy in other, fun ways.  Here's a couple of examples:


I have the longest and shortest commute of anyone I know!

I have a 2 day commute to work once a month or so, (and then back home) but when I'm at work, 4 steps from the bedroom to the 'office'.  I routinely work in my pajamas, and I can, if being really lazy, spend most of my shift sleeping on the couch, waiting for alarms to go off.  It's great most of the time.  However, having to trudge through the mud or snow about 50% of the time sucks.

Edit:  I should have mentioned though, that I am paid handsomely for my commute.  I get paid from the moment I walk out the door, to the moment I walk back through it.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2012, 11:43:58 AM by Self-employed-swami »

sideways8

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #48 on: October 16, 2012, 11:38:09 AM »
That being said, it's hard to keep the 'comparison monster' in check and not compare my savings rate to those who make 3-4x what I do. Currently hovering at 40% and that's not bad for a 30k take-home salary :)

I think I really needed to hear/read that! And 40% at your salary is f-ing impressive if you ask me. Hell, I'm trying to rev my self up to 30% by age 30 (just over a year)... and I'll probably cheat and include the employer 401K contributions just to hit that number. My salary is similar so it's cool to see someone sort of like me doing so well. Very good inspiration.

Bank

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Re: What is (was) Your Career?
« Reply #49 on: October 16, 2012, 11:50:55 AM »
What happened to the high satisfaction/low pay prospects of anthropology?
I became less enamored with museum curatorship during the year I worked in a museum (in a non-curatorial capacity). I totally love the subject material, but it wears on me to be around people who don't have my skills and values even while I enjoy the subject matter. Analytical work in something I'm tangentially interested is better than descriptive/qualitative work in a fascinating field if I feel like my faculties are going totally unused.

I'd love to do analytical work in Anthro someday as a professor or a curator at a really academic museum (AMNH/Field/Smithsonian). A PhD takes almost a decade, on average, and even if I could do it a few years quicker that places it firmly in the extravagance territory. After I retire, I may get one (hard to say, it's hard to imagine how I'll feel when I have kids), but it's just not worth a decade of my life in my wage-slavery years.

Warning:  Unsolicited Advice --- You may find the consulting side of corporate finance to be more satisfying than either accounting or i-banking, given your liking for analytical work and research.  Those of us in the field tend to think of investment bankers as primarily sales guys, and accounting as too process driven to be interesting.  If you haven't already considered and rejected this option, check out The Brattle Group, Cornerstone, Analysis Group, Duff & Phelps advisory services.  These are big practices, but there are many smaller firms too.  Pay is worse than i-banking and better than accounting.