Financial Friday #16 – Living Versus Working

Stretching out under the covers (as well as you can when you share the bed with two dogs and a husband) waking up to the noise of birds, I stick my tongue out at my alarm.  It doesn’t own me today.  It’s Sunday, there’s a virus out there and I’m not working.

The Back Story

In 2017 in solidarity of my husband’s decision to leave a toxic work environment, I ramped up my hours from a 25-hour work week to a 40-hour work week.  This was a temporary change until we got on our feet again.

As per my husband’s usual, he pounded the pavement and found himself another job within a couple of months.  However, there were always reasons why it didn’t feel right to change my hours.  Financial setbacks, shortage of work, cars breaking down…always reasons why the time wasn’t right to give up income.

Punch buggy blue…green…rust coloured!?
Photo by The Nigmatic on Unsplash

Before Coronavirus

Flash forward to 2020, I was still working my 40-hour work week and not even thinking about it.  Being the one working from home, I was primarily responsible for being the master organizer of meal planning, children, household chores and scheduling.  Being also a mother, this meant I naturally invested myself into the emotional and relational pulse of the household. Often, I found myself short on work time during the week and made up time on the weekend. Lucky for me, I work a job with flexible hours where I commit to a volume of work, but it’s up to me when I get that work done. Seven days a week though does not contribute positively to being a well-rounded individual.

This is the schedule that I have worked for the last three years.  Being self-employed, stat holidays and vacation pay are non-existent, so I would find myself working those days as well with maybe a week or so off a year.  I realize that in the scheme of life a 40-hour work week and juggling home life is the norm for most people, so this is not a complaint.  I just like many of you ran out of energy before I ran out of week…a life lived on autopilot.

Then, COVID hit, and my hours were slashed to half. I was now self-employed with a 20-hour work week.

More Time, Less Money

First, a little worry clouded my horizon.  Then, curiosity drove me to see how this experiment would work and where we could tighten up financially.  I was excited by the challenge.

Then, I remembered.  I remembered what it was like not to have to work on the weekend, to sleep in, to start the day with a book, to watch Netflix, to start projects, to do more than just the bare minimum on the house, to get rid of stuff, to have more time to maintain relationships and to cook from scratch.

And I loved it!!!

Hearing from my work that hours would be picking up this week, my initial feeling was one of loss and sadness, but what was I going to do about it?

A New Normal

Work started up again slowly this week, but with one big change, my future schedule will have a max of 30 hours. I feel so fortunate to be in a job where changing my hours are an option.  This short glimpse of living more slowly was addictive, and I just couldn’t let it go.  I had a discussion with my husband, and we both agreed that while we have goals, time for a living is an important element of our journey.  My husband has also been intentionally decreasing his hours.  This may delay our journey to financial independence, but I am optimistic it will not significantly even if we have to employ geoarbitaage.  In decreasing by 10 hours a week, I am hopeful it will give us more time to further figure out our long-term plan. 

Shortening my week by 10 hours doesn’t seem like a lot, and like finances, I will have to guard against time creep, but to me at this moment, it feels like an absolute luxury.

The gift of time
Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Re-evaluating Priorities

While I am not at all happy that it took a virus to make me stop working so much, I am not sure I would have been able to do this without having my work hours cut so abruptly and without having our financial house in some amount of order. 

I know I’m not the only one saying that I have enjoyed living more slowly during this pandemic. It is my hope that people all over the world consider life today against pre-pandemic life and have the chance to make changes….maybe your kids will be in less activities, maybe you’ll enjoy more family time together with a game night, maybe you’ll continue to support local businesses, get out in your neighborhood more or maybe like me you’ll cut back your working time.  Whatever it is, readjusting our lives in alignment with our values is always a worthy endeavor…just wish it didn’t take a pandemic to do it.

Stay safe, my friends.

This Week’s Financial Plan
To DateGoal
Emergency Fund (Up $19.73)$2349.45$6000
High-Interest Savings
* Monthly car insurance/property tax
$7861.46None
Current DebtTotal Paid
Debt (Starting $21,803.49)
* Minimum payment of $95. Interest rate dropped!
$20578.151225.34
Savings Rate (April 2020)7%58.8 years

Slow progress during COVID. Interesting to see how things play out during this next few months.

Joy Powerup

“You sure look happy today!” was the greeting of our safety-vested customer service agent directing me into the correct grocery lineup.

“I don’t want to pair you up with Cashier #12.  She’s smiling just as much, and you two might cancel each other’s happy out.”

Brilliant! Watermelon…the COVID mask.
Photo by Caju Gomes on Unsplash

Needless to say, this little exchange just made me and Cashier #12 smile bigger, but since I was directed to Cashier #11, I didn’t get to explore this further with her. In typical fashion though, I ruminated on this little tidbit in my morning walk and have concluded that I totally disagree.  One of those moments you wish your brain processed a bit faster so you could come back with an articulate response. Apparently, my articulate responses take three days.

Upon reflection of happiness math, I have concluded that a negative mood and a negative mood equals a negative mood, a negative mood and a positive mood equals whichever is stronger, and a positive mood and a positive mood equals a joy powerup.  Think when Mario gets the fire power flower in Super Mario Bros…complete with powerup music.

Thank you for this joyful pic.
Photo by Joao Tzanno on Unsplash

Cashier #12 and myself should have been paired together.  Everyone benefits when happy people are strengthened with a joy powerup.  

While I go off and find Cashier #12, keep smiling and creating your own powerups!

Even a little sparkle will do.
Photo by Prokhor Minin on Unsplash