Author Topic: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance  (Read 2164 times)

use2betrix

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Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« on: September 14, 2022, 06:22:29 PM »
Looking for feedback on anyone whoís made similar changes and how they took advantage of the adjustment.

I have worked in industrial construction (power/chemical/oil & gas/nuclear) new construction for my entire career. Iím 34 and have been doing it about 13-14 years. I went to a trade school and have an associates degree in my field.

I have been fortunate to take risks and make a lot of sacrifices to continue moving up the ladder on consecutive projects with many different companies, primarily as a contractor. This resulted in frequent moving (my wife and I have lived in 7-8 states and easily moved 15-20 times). It has also resulted in tons of hours, little vacation, but a few really really badass sabbaticals that most people would never dream of.

After several years of trying, we just had our first child last year. I found a longer term job that was also a promotion and a bit of a pay increase. Iím still a contractor, however.

The numbers: This year Iíll make about $410k, the last several years have been around $350k-ish (lots of tax free per diem for travel and such in previous positions). Since we move so much and I work so much, my wife doesnít work. This has been especially a blessing with DD.

The ďdreamĒ for many people in my industry is getting on full time in a key position with one of the major Fortune 500 companies in the industry. I have been fortunate that after 18 months on this project, they have offered me an excellent full time position.

I knew it would be a huge pay cut, but after doing the math and looking at the actual hourly rate, itís easier to stomach. Right now my actual hourly rate is $120/hr with 1.5x OT and I typically work 50-60 hrs/wk. 2 weeks vacation and no paid holidays.

My new position has a base of $186k, plus a 401k match, pension, and target bonus (target bonus is paid out basically every year in companies history, last year had a multiplier of 1.4x the base). With the benefits it comes out to be about $250k, however it has 4 weeks vacation, paid holidays w/ 2 floating holidays, 5 personal days, 2 days/wk remote, and I should be able to be at 40 hrs/wk.

When I do the math, the hourly rate for my actual hours worked will be very close. Itís going to be especially hard the first year as I wonít get the first bonus until Spring 2024.

As a contractor, I typically finish a project and have to find the next one. Iíve been fortunate many years, but thereís always the risk of not finding anything. Fortunately Iím to the point now where a 6 month sabbatical would be a blessing anyways!

It seems many others have made similar life choices here. We have enough of a nest egg (over $1MM liquid) where I can continue to save moderately and just cruise while the nest egg grows. We have always wanted to buy a home and may have that chance.

We plan to just play it by ear and see how it goes. Have never had this type of lifestyle so doing our best to be optimistic, but as I do our budgeting and look at our savings rate crumble it is a little hard to stomach. Fortunately we have bought/own nearly everything nice we would really want while we had the income (vehicles, bikes, guitars, tools, etc.)

Any feedback would be appreciated. Iím mostly looking at the hobbies iIíve always wanted to get more involved with now that I have time (bike races, welding, woodworking, more camping in our trailer Iíve spent years perfecting, car shows with my car I bought last year, more time with friends/family, etc.)

Worse case scenario, I can always hang on until a final big/long term contracting job comes up and brings us to FIRE. I think this is an opportunity worth exploring first.

/rambling
« Last Edit: September 22, 2022, 05:53:46 PM by use2betrix »

Dicey

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2022, 07:33:54 PM »
What's the worst that can happen?

What is your gut telling you?

DH took a huge pay cut to work for a public entity that provided a rock-solid Defined Benefit Pension. The job was easy for him, but challenging. He got tons of vacation and insane benefits. His pension ended up being far larger than he expected it to be. He's glad he "downshifted".

ixtap

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2022, 07:40:53 PM »
How does your financial situation stand? If you have been building savings, there shouldn't be any reason to worry about merely being in the top 10%.

It isn't all about money. DH has downshifted to low hours for ~1/4 pay and no benefits. It has been a bit of a shock, but we are already FI, so it certainly isn't an irresponsible choice.

Malcat

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2022, 07:57:54 PM »
Do it, don't look back.

Let me frame it this way: if your job offered you 10 more hours of work per week, compensated at the same rate, would you take it?


BigEasyStache

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2022, 08:34:23 AM »
About a year ago both me and DW worked full time (40 hours) and made about the same income.  So let's say $100K ea. for a total family income of $200K.

She retired and I dropped from 40 to 32 hours.  I am now off on every Friday.  So now our annual income is now $80K.  We own our house and cars and for the last several years our annual spend has been ~$49K.

So with no change in lifestyle (other than not working to death) we were able to significantly downshift and still have a little leftover for saving.

The best life change we've ever made.  I highly recommend it for those who can manage on the lesser income.


wageslave23

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2022, 08:49:51 AM »
My first job required 60 hrs a week during tax season.  After one year, I vowed to never work that much again unless I was facing literal starvation.  So that's my answer. 

In my career, I've basically made the same choice except it's trading $200k a year for $100k a year.  We still save about 50% so it would take a lot of money to convince me to work more hours because there is really no need for extra money.  Its like offering Joey Chestnut free hotdogs after he just got done eating 65 hotdogs in an eating contest.

dandarc

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2022, 08:55:22 AM »
Do it. Not sure I've seen anyone who has downshifted significantly who regrets it.

patchyfacialhair

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2022, 11:25:13 AM »
I say do it. While we haven't done exactly the same thing, we both work from home, and it's just awesome getting able to spend a ton of time with the kids. Any job that takes us away from the kids for a meaningful amount of time, whether it's because of distance or hours worked, is a no-go for us. They're only young once.

Laura33

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2022, 01:38:41 PM »
I totally get it.  When you're used to a giant firehose of cash, it's scary to think about a slightly-less-huge firehose of cash, even when objectively the firehose is still pretty damn big.* 

Take the job.  You're still making more than the vast majority of Americans, and unless you have to relocate to a super-HCOL area, that $186K base is more than ample for a lovely lifestyle and savings. 

Really, what's the worst that can happen?  You hate it and go back to the job you're doing right now for a lot more money?  Maybe have to fall back on that teensy little million bucks you've saved up for a few months?  Gee darn, how will you manage?  ;-) 


*Speaking as someone about to get her first hourly paycheck of $0 (because she didn't work enough hours to cover her 401(k) withdrawal).  I do not enjoy the feeling, even though objectively we're still more than fine.

LifeHappens

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2022, 01:48:31 PM »
You're 34 with $1 million in liquid savings. You don't say what your hoped-for FIRE date is or your expected annual spend, but you have 99% won the game. If you never saved another penny and retired at 65 you would have well over $4 million in today's dollars.

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2022, 02:03:47 PM »
What are your expenses like? With such high income over the past decade and relatively little time to spend, aren't you basically FI at this point?

rothwem

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2022, 02:35:47 PM »
What are your expenses like? With such high income over the past decade and relatively little time to spend, aren't you basically FI at this point?

This is the same question I had.

Personally, I think Iíd rather just keep my foot on the gas until the end. Why bother downshifting when you can just turn the engine off? If Iím going to downshift, itís going to be to a hobby job like bike mechanic, dog walker, outdoors guide or something else with a high fun/pay ratio. Fuck downshifting to a ďreal jobĒ.

use2betrix

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2022, 05:53:55 PM »
Thanks everyone for the feedback and general confirmation.

Ultimately, if I didnít accept the position my contract would finish around March and my wife and I (and baby and German shepherd) planned to take around a 6-12 month sabbatical.

The location is definitely not in a place Iíd ever choose to settle down if we were FIREíd (large southern hot city near the coast). It doesnít lend well to many hobbies I enjoy (hiking, camping, mountain biking, etc.), but we can find ways to enjoy it. There arenít a lot of jobs in my industry in places like Colorado or the PNW. If there are, itíd be another $100k+ paycut. That may be the next step after this.

@Malcat - thatís a great and ironic question. My team (and myself) was just presented with that option today. Iíve always had the option. Personally, for my hourly rate, I find 55 hours to be a sweet spot. I work 6:30-4:30 M-F and around 5-7 hrs from home on Saturday. I find it to be a good option with work/life balance considering the added income (the extra 15 hrs/wk for 50 wks is approx $138k in pre-tax annual income).

With that in mind, I have no interest in working more and will turn down the additional hours. I find time to generally run 3x/wk and lift weights 4x/wk before work and on the weekends, and evenings with the family and a chunk on the weekend. Having weekends fully off will open a lot more options for hobbies and entertainment.

@Dicey - my gut is saying this is my chance to give it a shot. This Ďpermanentí job is about the pinnacle for my industry, particularly for someone my age with only an associates degree.

The Ďworstí is that it just sucks and we take that much needed sabbatical weíve been waiting for. Really, the worst would be that we buy our first home (dream home) and then they transfer me or some crap lol.

I Ďmayí have the upside down the road of relocating and working 100% remote with around 6-8 weeks/year of travel to projects/job sites. That would be my ultimately dream/goal.

@2Birds1Stone & @rothwem / others - our spending has always been really rough. Weíve largely spent to compensate for the lack of free time, hobbies, etc. This year alone weíve spent $7500 on restaurants. These will be easy to squash. I have no doubt at all that we can get our spending way more in check (although still a ton compared to the forum). I bought a lot of ďbuy for lifeĒ expensive items in the last year expecting a large downshift, sabbatical, etc. I.e. about $6500 in guitars, have a camping trailer (paid off) worth about $40k, My Ďdream carí - 9k mile 2003 mustang cobra (paid off) - and my Ďdream truckí worth around $80k (I owe $27k I can obviously easily pay off), paid off 2006 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon (paid off) we have very nice gravel bikes, etc. etc.

Current expenses are:
$2600 rent/utilities/cable, (month to month lease with a nice 4 bedroom, 3 car garage in a neighborhood/location we love)
$175 phone bills incl watch/ipad data,
$300 auto insurance
Netflix $20
Apple Music $10,
Apple TV+ $5
Pandora $5,
Audible $15
Apple Cloud Storage $10
Protein/Supplements $150
YouTube: $15
Gas $300
Groceries $800
Life Insurance $90
Dog Food $100
Health/script $100
Trailer Insurance $40
Truck $570
Lawn - $80
Peloton - $40
Storage - $340

Total: $5765/mo

Thatís not a total breakdown of things like actual health insurance and also our variable expenses (travel, entertainment, restaurants, incidentals that seem non stop like dogs toe amputation, torn hamstring, kidney stone, etc.). I can easily pay off the truck (-$570) we could downsize our storage unit (we have a big unit, it was all that was available for our trailer nearby at the time and we kept it thinking weíd put everything in it if we took a sabbatical).

We obviously have a bunch of memberships for streaming, but being the truck is the only debt, and if we did a sabbatical weíd stay in our trailer and travel full time, we could get our expenses insanely low if we needed to. Also, when Iím currently taking home around $26k/mo, we donít feel the need to cut things like a YouTube or Apple Music subscription..

Iím estimating that taking this full time job we will keep our spending around $9k/mo total, and take home (incl 401k match and pension) will be about $13,800/mo and incl. bonus around $16,900/mo.

I donít have a FIRE number in mind, and doubt Iíll ever fully FIRE (I can always do contract work a few months a year or find a hobby to earn income Iím passionate about, something fabrication related).. I ultimately want to live somewhere in the mountains where iíve got around $2MM and can do the passionate work I mentioned.

Dicey

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2022, 07:07:55 AM »
No gifts? No charity?

Malcat

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2022, 07:20:15 AM »

@Malcat - thatís a great and ironic question. My team (and myself) was just presented with that option today. Iíve always had the option. Personally, for my hourly rate, I find 55 hours to be a sweet spot. I work 6:30-4:30 M-F and around 5-7 hrs from home on Saturday. I find it to be a good option with work/life balance considering the added income (the extra 15 hrs/wk for 50 wks is approx $138k in pre-tax annual income).

With that in mind, I have no interest in working more and will turn down the additional hours. I find time to generally run 3x/wk and lift weights 4x/wk before work and on the weekends, and evenings with the family and a chunk on the weekend. Having weekends fully off will open a lot more options for hobbies and entertainment.

Lol, yep, I asked that question because I'm pretty familiar with your situation and was quite certain that you had the kind of career that you could choose to make more money.

Those of us with careers where we can choose to work longer hours to make more have a *very* different relationship with work/life balance than most people do.

I know yours isn't as flexible as mine was, I could literally scale my hours up and down as I pleased, so I could just decide my comp as I worked.

I know you've talked for years about your intense work schedule and how your wife is a key support system that enables you to do this because she doesn't have a demanding career of her own.

Except, she does now. She's a mom, and you're a dad.

Be honest with yourself how sustainable and optimal your balance is now that an entire full time, demanding career of parenting has been added to the mix. How is the balance of resources working out and how sustainable is it?

The other thing is that even if you scale back a bit now, it's not like your human capital is becoming less valuable. You will still have the power to scale up and down as it suits you moving forward.

You might be able to "pull off" grinding and parenting and your wife may adapt and still manage to support you, but project forward 1, 2, 5, and 10 years. Where are you two at if you sustain your current patterns.

I'm not asking rhetorically, I mean, go talk to your wife and have a deep conversation about how each of your see yourselves in 1, 2, 5, and 10 years if you sustain your current patterns. Then ask the same question and project out what happens if you cut back.

It will help quantify what each of you hopes and fears, what factors each of you are handling well and what you are struggling with. How you can each aim to support each other more effectively as things change.

I'm serious. Grab your kid, some comfortable shoes, and some sunscreen and go for a long ass walk with your wife and do this exercise. Your best collective options will become remarkably self-evident. Plus you will learn very valuable information.

use2betrix

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2022, 11:25:29 AM »
@Dicey - I have those tracked in my personal capital but I donít consider them as fixed as things like rent. Although I have sent a gift to both parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews for every single birthday, Christmas, mothers/fathers day since graduating high school. Charitable giving is more of an.. ďas things come upĒ vs a standard deduction type.

@Malcat - as always, very spot on. The parenthood (particularly being a stay at home mom) is very, very much a full time job. DD is 13 months now, and when I am able to work from home, my door has to be shut unfortunately to get anything done. If sheís in here sheís constantly trying to unplug things, press the keyboard, take the mouse, etc. Itís lovable in doses, but is a very clear reminder how much of a full time responsibility that is. In fact, one thing we love about the permanent position is that it will be much more conducive to having a 2nd, but both of us couldnít even fathom having a 2nd child to take care of at this stage in parenting!

Great advice on the walk and exactly what we did last weekend! We have a beautiful small pond/lake with a walking path near the house and a 1 mile loop we walk around (something Iíd love to do together more butÖ work..) Likely something we will do more when Iím not working Saturday mornings and leaving for work at 6 a.m. M-F! We discussed everything regarding what changes this will bring. Communication has always been one of the strongest parts of our relationship. In regards to decisions like this, there is no stone unturned in terms of discussing all aspects.

We are very much aligned and my wife is very, very go-with-the-flow. The one thing that we have both always been certain of is that our future has been entirely uncertain. That makes it near impossible to look into the future. If I wouldnít have taken this full time offer, next February we could have rolled into a 3 year project, or started a year long sabbatical! Weíd have no way of knowing. Itís been that way my whole career. A contract job ends and the next one generally isnít lined up until a few weeks prior. We could be moving to Nebraska or South Carolina! While itís been part of the career path, itís made planning for the future near impossible and also incredibly stressful.

Giving this a shot is exactly what we need. Iíve never worked regularly less than 50 hr weeks in my career, nor have I ever had more than 2 or 3 weeks vacation (though we did have two long sabbaticals). I did one stint after a 4 month sabbatical that was 13 days on, one day off (every other Sunday) all 12 hours shift. Did that for 6 months straight without missing a day or hour for the first 4-5 of those months.

Our current lifestyle always has me stressed, both all the hours, stress of the specific projects, and the uncertainty and inability to plan for the future. Fortunately, my wife is so laid back and non-stressed that it at least balances us out. This opportunity will allow us to see what a more Ďnormalí lifestyle is like and see what sort of happiness it brings. Worse case scenario, this job will get my foot in the door for many other positions in my career. If it doesnít bring a work life balance weíre looking for, I can hang onto it until I get one last high paying long term contract position to bring us to FIRE and then pull the plug after!

Freedomin5

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #16 on: September 17, 2022, 03:51:32 PM »
I think you should go for it.

Up until four years ago, I held a job where I worked 6 days a week, 10-12 hours a day. Pay was similar to your current job. As my daughter grew older, I was missing out on weekend family time, and most days Iíd get home after her bedtime. Once she started school, I tried to cut down on overtime but even that was stressful as some evening work was required.

When an opportunity arose to take a stable, lower paying job with fantastic hours, I took it. Compensation was about 70% of my previous salary. But 70% is still around $300k, so itís actually really okay. Now I only work during DDís school hours. Iím able to drop her off at school and pick her up after school. There is no evening or weekend work. I didnít have to worry about loss of income during the pandemic ó in my previous job, there was more instability and I would have lost clients during the various lockdowns.

In addition, once DD started school, we wanted the stability. We didnít want to have to move or switch schools every few years. We wanted to live in one neighborhood where she can keep a stable group of friends and develop those friendships.

With less stress, we are also spending less, and we have actually been able to increase our savings rate and maintain the same dollar amount saved. My income has continued to increase. Iíve gotten annual raises. For us, downshifting was entirely the right thing to do.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2022, 03:55:04 PM by Freedomin5 »

clarkfan1979

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2022, 01:17:31 PM »
In 2015 my wife transitioned from full-time work at 50 hours/week to part-time 15 hours/week. She now works 10 hours/week. She was making 60K/year. She now makes 15K/year. We gave up 45K/year of income and we have no regrets. We live where we want to live and do that things that we want to do.

Our monthly spend is around $5,500/month. This doesn't include our $550/month payment for health insurance, so our total monthly spend is around $6,050/month. After mandatory retirement contributions and taxes, my take home pay is $3200 and my wife's take home pay is around $1,000/month. We make up the difference with rental income. In 2015, our rental income was enough to cover the gap, so we pulled the trigger and have no regrets. 

I teach community college. I am required to be on campus 24 hours/week, 32 weeks/year. This is 768 hours/year. I work another 250 hours from home for a total of 1,018 hours/year. My wife works 500 hours/year. We spend about 200 hours/year managing and doing repair work on the rentals.


poetdereves

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2022, 08:33:16 AM »
I think you should go for it! DW and I are in a similar situation, but we both work. We have a son that will be six months old next week and I am in the middle of a job swap. I will go from working 14 days a month to 8 days a month with a 15% reduction in my salary. DW already works from home and makes her own schedule, so there will only be a handful of days a month that we aren't around and need an in-law to help with childcare. The transition is just now starting to happen, but we can already see a huge change in how our schedule is going to work out for the better. It is completely work the small reduction in salary. We honestly would have done it even if the reduction was much larger.

use2betrix

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #19 on: September 21, 2022, 06:42:38 PM »
Thanks all for the additional feedback. I have fully accepted the position and slowly started the onboarding process. I think I mentioned it in my original post, it I wonít fully transition until January. My current project is crazy busy and I couldnít imagine still dealing with the Ďcrapí with the huge paycut, particularly because the 55ish hours Iím working are necessary. The good news is that once I transition Iím confident that my new schedule will kick in soon (Iíll likely have 1-2 months wrapping up my current project).

I also met with my current corporate boss and what will be my new boss once I transition yesterday, that went very well. Also, I was concerned how clearly they would communicate my current role to my existing colleagues (3 guys in leadership and then around 40-50 associated personal across the globe). My company has had some issues with communicating clear lines of reporting in the past which has caused some major friction. I met with my colleagues yesterday (who will be my employees in the new role) and it was clear that our boss clearly communicated what the new organization structure will be. That was a huge load off my shoulders.

Thereís even some Ďsmallerí bits of excitement beyond the two days/wk remote, worklife balance, and general relaxed workload:
1. Slightly shorter commute
2. Parking in a parking garage vs a gravel lot on a job site (I have nice vehicles Iím passionate about and only willing to drive one to the job site with the gravel lot)
3. Office with a window (currently in windowless bomb proof buildings)
4. Very nice/new office building
5. Iíll get to wear my normal clothes vs ďconstruction job site clothesĒ

Iím sure thereís a few more, but even those items on a regular basis will be a very welcomed change!!

Dicey

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #20 on: September 21, 2022, 07:32:02 PM »
Congratulations!

darknight

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #21 on: September 21, 2022, 07:57:28 PM »
Congratulations!
I mean on all of it! Cool to see there are people out there that stuck to the grind earning that kind of income..

I earned a tenth of what you do currently when we had our firstborn, working 40-50 hrs a week. I regret not spending more time with the baby during that phase of life. I would gladly have earned less realizing I can never buy that time back.

You're making the right decision by getting a better work/life balance with young kiddos. Don't worry about the money.

Freedomin5

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #22 on: September 21, 2022, 08:11:23 PM »
Congratulations!

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #23 on: September 22, 2022, 06:19:10 AM »
Congrats, this is great news!

lifeisshort123

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #24 on: September 22, 2022, 02:12:10 PM »
Glad to hear it.  You made the right choice.

joe189man

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Re: Massive pay cut for stability and work/life balance
« Reply #25 on: September 22, 2022, 05:34:32 PM »
Congrats, i think you made a great choice - your kid is only little once

 

Wow, a phone plan for fifteen bucks!