Author Topic: Calling all downshifters!  (Read 50900 times)

SpareChange

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #150 on: February 10, 2020, 09:36:57 PM »
I downshifted back in July from a 40hrs/week contract gig + some side gig hours to a 3 x 8hrs/day Mon-Wed contract gig. With 4 months of part time work under my belt I am noticing I don't fit in well to the discussions FT workers are having nor do I resemble the lucky bastards who are FIRE. Downshifting seems to have its own unique set of benefits and challenges. So I figured it was worth starting a thread where MMMers who have reduced their work hours from FT, but haven't quite managed to FIRE yet can gather and chat.

FIRE related definitions are arbitrary, but they provide a framework to base discussion off of so here are mine:

- Working = greater than 75% FT hours
- Downshifted = 25% - 75% FT hours
- FIREd = less than 25% FT hours

I started this thread back in 2017 then failed at downshifting so I stopped posting/following along. I figured I'd update my situation since I got to the planned end goal just by a different path than planned.

When I posted the OP I was at ~60%FT and solidly downshifted and loving it. Then my work schedule went from 3 x 8hr days to 4 x 8hr days so at ~80%FT and no longer downshifted at least by my own definitions. Then I got some easy PT remote work and was back to ~100%FT. I put away all the extra $$$ I could since I was earning a lot more than at 60%FT. I hit FI in Jan 2020 and will be done 4 x 8hrs contract end of May this year. I'll keep some easy PT work from home consulting work that'll be 25%FT or less so I'll be FIRE...again by my own definition.

On one hand I missed the downshifted lifestyle I would have had between 2017 and now. OTOH I am happy to have turbo charged my savings and hit FIRE sooner. The key for me is that I don't hate the work I do. I don't love it either, but it's easy and relatively stress free. Since my GF is going to work another ~6 years to get her pension downshifting longer wouldn't have been bad since my FIRE is somewhat restricted by my GF's continued working. So really I feel like both paths were excellent options for me and it was a wash when evaluating between them.

If my work had sucked I would have stuck out the downshift. My guess is the downshifted me would have caught up with the 100%FT me in ~3 years with average market returns. So the extra work paid off, but the difference isn't huge and I would have had a lot more free time at a 60%FT downshift.

Anyways I thought I should follow up my original post with my data. Congrats to everyone rocking the downshift. Enjoy your extra free time. :-)

The man, the myth, the legend returns! :D  It's great to hear about your progress. I've been paying attention to this thread since you started it, as working PT seemed like an attractive scenario, and a relatively easy one to set up in my position. I've been enjoying my downshift for a few months now. Cheers!

startingsmall

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #151 on: February 11, 2020, 08:42:08 AM »
I tried to downshift, but hasn't quite worked out like I expected. Apparently, I'm a workaholic.

BEFORE: Worked 40ish hrs/wk as a full-time veterinarian, spent approx 5-10 hrs/wk on freelance writing side hustle.

AFTER: Work 17 hrs/wk as a part-time veterinarian, do occasional relief shifts at other veterinary clinics (avg ~5 hrs/wk), spend approximately 20-30 hrs/wk on freelance writing side hustle.

I'm definitely happier now... I'm not working any less, but I control my own schedule so I have a degree of flexibility that I didn't have before (want to go to yoga class on Friday morning? no problem!). Plus, I'm making a good bit more money than I was making previously. The relief work isn't really part of my overall master plan, but it's $650/day and I actually really enjoy the days I spend at the clinic where I'm mostly doing relief (great team, fabulous clients, fun location within walking distance of cool lunch restaurants)... so I'm not planning to give it up. I'm not ready to give up the stability of at least a PT vet job just yet and the writing is my long-term plan (just didn't expect it to take off so quickly) so that's not going anywhere.

Looks like my downshift will have to wait a while.

It's been roughly a year and a half since my last update, so here's another...
- Still working 17 hrs/wk as a part-time veterinarian.
- Relief work temporarily increased (avg. of 10 hrs/wk), but then I cut WAY back (10 hrs/month). Planning to stop completely after April.
- Freelance writing holding steady at 15-20 hrs/wk.

I'm trying to decide what's next.

The official plan is to hold steady at this level for the next 2-3 years, then relocate towards the coast. At that point, we (husband & I) will be roughly 75% of the way to FI and I plan to REALLY downshift at that point (stop the PT vet work and just write).

Recently, however, I've been much busier with our daughter. She begged for violin lessons and I significantly underestimated how much of a parental time commitment Suzuki violin lessons would involve!! Between than and some other volunteer commitments, I'm feeling kind of fried. I'd like to downshift even more on my work right now, but I don't know how. My PT job provides our health insurance, so it seems stupid to give that up until we see how the election/ACA goes. The writing is my post-relocation income plan (assuming that the ACA sticks around in some form), so it seems silly to cut back on that. I guess my best bet is to stick with the official plan, but I don't know.

« Last Edit: February 11, 2020, 08:51:30 AM by startingsmall »

Retire-Canada

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #152 on: February 11, 2020, 08:44:29 AM »
Recently, however, I've been much busier with our daughter (I significantly underestimated how much of a time commitment Suzuki violin lessons would be!) and have been feeling kind of fried. I'd like to downshift even more right now, but I don't know how. My PT job provides our health insurance, so it seems stupid to give that up right now (until we see how the election/ACA goes). The writing is my post-relocation income plan (assuming that the ACA sticks around in some form), so it seems silly to cut back on that. I guess my best bet is to stick with the official plan, but I don't know.

Are the violin lessons essential?

startingsmall

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #153 on: February 11, 2020, 08:53:01 AM »
Recently, however, I've been much busier with our daughter (I significantly underestimated how much of a time commitment Suzuki violin lessons would be!) and have been feeling kind of fried. I'd like to downshift even more right now, but I don't know how. My PT job provides our health insurance, so it seems stupid to give that up right now (until we see how the election/ACA goes). The writing is my post-relocation income plan (assuming that the ACA sticks around in some form), so it seems silly to cut back on that. I guess my best bet is to stick with the official plan, but I don't know.

Are the violin lessons essential?

Not at all, but she BEGGED for them for over a year before I agreed to them. Honestly, she loves playing the violin and I also play myself. I don't see myself pulling the plug on lessons. I've considered becoming less invested in daily practice, but it seems silly to pay $1000/year for lessons and then be lazy about practice at home.

The time commitment is roughly 2 hours on Tuesday (drive time plus the lesson itself) plus 30-45 minutes each night for practice. In a couple of years, she'll be able to practice independently... but she's not there yet. So honestly, it's not a HUGE time commitment. But doing that on top of my work and church commitments and family time and helping her with homework occasionally and leading her Girl Scout troop just seems like a lot right now. I'm finally understanding why people told me that kids are often MORE work as they get older, not necessarily less!! 
« Last Edit: February 11, 2020, 08:56:34 AM by startingsmall »

Retire-Canada

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #154 on: February 11, 2020, 09:01:55 AM »
But doing that on top of my work and church commitments and family time and helping her with homework occasionally and leading her Girl Scout troop just seems like a lot right now.

Sounds like a lot. I think the healthy solution is not to just grit your teeth and try and survive....it's to list everything you need to do currently. Then prioritize that list from top to bottom. Then be honest with yourself and draw a line as you move down the list where stuff is too much to have a good quality of life. Whatever is below that line has to go or be significantly changed.

Nothing wrong with prioritizing violin as long as you are willing to cut back somewhere else in your life.

Just as some external feedback not once in my youth did I ever think my mom being stressed out was a good thing and it always affected me even if I didn't say anything.

x02947

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #155 on: February 12, 2020, 12:04:49 PM »
Bottom line up front:  Has anyone here experienced any negative consequences at work when they switched to PT?  Have you been moved to a less desirable group, or given assignments that aren’t up to your skill set?  Have you been marginalized?

Background:  Single income household (DW is a SAHM who homeschools) with enough of a stash already to “standard retire” at 65.  If I stay FT I’m 10-12 years from FIRE.

I would love to go to PT while the kids are young and to up my volunteering, as well as take a larger portion of taking care of the several elderly family members nearby.  I feel like 32 hrs/wk would be a good start- every Friday off.   I am part of a really good group at work; we all get along great and they are really good about flexing schedules around to help with personal issues (it’s “travel season” and two other people volunteered to cover down on 3 weeks of travel so I could spend time with DW during some semi-major surgery and recovery).  Not only that, I actually enjoy the work- I just want don’t want to dedicate ~40% of my awake life to it right now.  I would happily still go FT and take my turn doing traveling season.

DW is concerned that going PT would essentially marginalize me at work.  The concern is not for “career progression” as I’m happy being a nuts and bolts engineer, but more in the sense of leave requests being denied (why would they give me more time off?), less important work being assigned which would lead to bad/not-good annual reviews, etc.
She thinks every other Friday (72 hrs/wk) might be acceptable.  I feel that this just wouldn’t be worth the pay cut.  I would rather do, as many here do, an alternate schedule where you work 9 hrs/day and then take every other Friday off. 

Maybe I’m just being rosy, but I don’t see any of the bad things happening.  I would talk with my supervisor and team lead beforehand and get their input/feedback, and as mentioned above I would be willing to still pull my fair share of traveling and crunch time duties. 
What do y’all think?

Malcat

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #156 on: February 12, 2020, 12:09:54 PM »
Bottom line up front:  Has anyone here experienced any negative consequences at work when they switched to PT?  Have you been moved to a less desirable group, or given assignments that aren’t up to your skill set?  Have you been marginalized?

Background:  Single income household (DW is a SAHM who homeschools) with enough of a stash already to “standard retire” at 65.  If I stay FT I’m 10-12 years from FIRE.

I would love to go to PT while the kids are young and to up my volunteering, as well as take a larger portion of taking care of the several elderly family members nearby.  I feel like 32 hrs/wk would be a good start- every Friday off.   I am part of a really good group at work; we all get along great and they are really good about flexing schedules around to help with personal issues (it’s “travel season” and two other people volunteered to cover down on 3 weeks of travel so I could spend time with DW during some semi-major surgery and recovery).  Not only that, I actually enjoy the work- I just want don’t want to dedicate ~40% of my awake life to it right now.  I would happily still go FT and take my turn doing traveling season.

DW is concerned that going PT would essentially marginalize me at work.  The concern is not for “career progression” as I’m happy being a nuts and bolts engineer, but more in the sense of leave requests being denied (why would they give me more time off?), less important work being assigned which would lead to bad/not-good annual reviews, etc.
She thinks every other Friday (72 hrs/wk) might be acceptable.  I feel that this just wouldn’t be worth the pay cut.  I would rather do, as many here do, an alternate schedule where you work 9 hrs/day and then take every other Friday off. 

Maybe I’m just being rosy, but I don’t see any of the bad things happening.  I would talk with my supervisor and team lead beforehand and get their input/feedback, and as mentioned above I would be willing to still pull my fair share of traveling and crunch time duties. 
What do y’all think?

Your wife's concerns seem kind of arbitrary. Why would every second Friday be okay, but not every Friday??

Are there possible consequences...sure, I guess, but most of those would come down to your employer not valuing you very much, which sounds like a bigger issue.

Truthfully, I'm not sure an employer would actually give you that much thought as long as you did your job well and they like you.

The biggest risk of dropping to part time is exactly that, your employer not giving it much thought and dumping as much work on you as they always do because they forget that they aren't supposed to expect as much from you.

If you are valued at your job and good with setting and maintaining boundaries, then you will be fine.

If you aren't valued at your job and not good with boundaries, then you have bigger fish to fry.

Taran Wanderer

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #157 on: February 13, 2020, 12:27:00 AM »
PTF.  Looking for inspiration.

happy

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #158 on: February 13, 2020, 03:32:35 AM »
I did not experience anything I perceived to be a negative experience going much more part-time than one day a week off. That being said, I was well regarded and valued in my workplace, and I made sure that I stayed in the loop. There were naturally projects/jobs I couldn’t take on since they needed someone available every day - but I was aware of this and didn’t see this as a negative consequence.

If you have a job where you might get good bonuses I’d discuss with your supervisor what effect your plans might have on things like this, so you can gauge the full financial trade off.

x02947

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #159 on: February 13, 2020, 10:13:09 AM »
Your wife's concerns seem kind of arbitrary. Why would every second Friday be okay, but not every Friday??

I mean, it is kind of arbitrary.  She feels that if I were to drop every Friday I would be perceived as "not pulling my weight", whereas thanks to the alternate work schedule some people already do, every other Friday would not really be noticed.  Most people would just assume I was doing the alternate schedule.  I, somewhat arbitrarily, feel that I wouldn't be perceived that way unless I went to 24 hrs/wk or so.

If you are valued at your job and good with setting and maintaining boundaries, then you will be fine.

If you aren't valued at your job and not good with boundaries, then you have bigger fish to fry.

I feel like I'm valued.  I've got no problems with boundaries- those have already been set for evening/weekends/vacation. 

If you have a job where you might get good bonuses I’d discuss with your supervisor what effect your plans might have on things like this, so you can gauge the full financial trade off.

Minimal bonuses.  I am slightly worried as to how my supervisor will adjust the annual review, but that's just a matter of communication and clear expectation setting.  He is, at the end of the day, a good guy who cares. 

Malcat

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #160 on: February 14, 2020, 04:23:48 AM »
Your wife's concerns seem kind of arbitrary. Why would every second Friday be okay, but not every Friday??

I mean, it is kind of arbitrary.  She feels that if I were to drop every Friday I would be perceived as "not pulling my weight", whereas thanks to the alternate work schedule some people already do, every other Friday would not really be noticed.  Most people would just assume I was doing the alternate schedule.  I, somewhat arbitrarily, feel that I wouldn't be perceived that way unless I went to 24 hrs/wk or so.

If you are valued at your job and good with setting and maintaining boundaries, then you will be fine.

If you aren't valued at your job and not good with boundaries, then you have bigger fish to fry.

I feel like I'm valued.  I've got no problems with boundaries- those have already been set for evening/weekends/vacation. 

If you have a job where you might get good bonuses I’d discuss with your supervisor what effect your plans might have on things like this, so you can gauge the full financial trade off.

Minimal bonuses.  I am slightly worried as to how my supervisor will adjust the annual review, but that's just a matter of communication and clear expectation setting.  He is, at the end of the day, a good guy who cares.

I've personally found that blending in and not making waves professionally puts you at a much higher risk of being devalued and taken for granted compared to demanding what you want and making a case for why your value warrants it.