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Family or Marriage Finances & Money Frugality

Now, when do we GO?

I recently told you how my wife and I had to just STOP some activities and new opportunities in our lives so we could focus more on what we want/need to do better. For both of us, we want to focus more on our jobs and careers, as well as exercise. We’re both still involved in volunteering, but when we want to take part rather than always being the leaders. And we’re hoping to rekindle friendships and family ties, as well as ignite new friendships with a few people we’ve met recently.

But although we’re stopping some things (or trying to take more control of them), what are we planning to do now?

Good question (that nobody asked)! My wife and I are both known to hate committing to things, and it shows more and more. I don’t mean commitment to each other, but rather to events, purchases, hobbies and the like. For purchases, we can put off a $1 purchase just as easily as a $50,000 purchase anymore. For instance, I’ve been complaining about our couches almost since we bought them. The love seat kills my back, and now I sit in a hand-me-down recliner fit for a child as punishment for complaining. But we keep the couch because it’s a sleeper sofa and we haven’t committed in 8 years to making one of our rooms into a true guest room, so we need the sofa bed.

We have friends who just throw out perfectly good furniture that’s younger than some cheese in our fridge simply because styles have changed (but I couldn’t convince the wife to take said furniture in time and replace what we have with the good leather stuff). Our house is a hodge-podge of furniture and knick-knacks collected across generations, including our own, and thrown into random rooms as either decoration or just somewhere to put it. Don’t worry, though, we’re not hoarders; we just can’t commit to tossing/selling/donating all the stuff we don’t need…and we don’t bring anything new into the house because, as I said, we can’t commit on that either.

Careers

So I’ve been at my current job closing on 2 years now, which is longer than I was at my last job. I’ve been tempted to leave and get back into more hands-on implementation work than the sales-type work I do now, but I recognize my job provides a number of benefits fit for my personality and needs:

  • Work from home (or anywhere). I can drive to my parents’ house a state away or be in another part of the country and still be as productive as at home or in the office because I rarely need to visit customers or meet with my coworkers/management in-person.
  • Training, training, training. Because I’m in a technical sales position, I NEED to be trained on both current and new products and technologies, and my company insists on it. In the 10 years working on the “other side of the table” as a customer, I might get training once every 5 years (hence, twice); it was always on-the-job training. Now I just sign up for a course (usually online to save travel costs) and it’s free and on my time. Plus, we’re releasing all our new major product revisions now, so it’s the best time to stick around!
  • Variety. I can’t work in a job where I’m only doing one thing. I don’t mean assembly line repetition style, but rather where I’m only taking customer calls on one product. In past jobs, I loved sharing the hat of system administrator, business analyst, project lead, and developer on multiple systems and products. This current job REQUIRES me to be a generalist across all our product lines, create technical demonstrations (developer), understand customer needs (analyst) and respond to prospective customers (subject matter expert). One day I’m working with a colleague across the country on a product demo for an airline and the next I’m editing a response for information (RFI) for a major federal agency.

Unfortunately, though, my wife’s job isn’t as flexible, nor does it allow her to choose what she works on and when. She’s regularly putting in 50-60 hour weeks, finishing work at home at night and on weekends, and seeing patients when her schedule is clearly full. She hasn’t been able to draw boundaries and get people to respect them, so she’s rethinking her future, especially since there is NO career advancement at this job.

Should/Can We Move?

So my wife and I have been talking for a while now about what we want to do. Since I’m the “breadwinner”, and I have a pretty flexible job, we have thought about the following:

  • Wife leaves current job, finds another in our current area
  • Wife leaves current job, enrolls in college for a different masters or a PhD program (here or elsewhere)
  • Wife leaves current job, finds one in another city and I follow (depending on location, I might need to apply for a move to a different team though. This also applies to the bullet point above about higher education)
  • I find a new job or new career (same or different area)
  • We stay where we are, doing what we do

Most of our options are pretty big decisions. Luckily, in our case, we don’t have children to complicate the decision, but we do have to consider our families. We like being close to them (we’re 2.5-3.5 hours away from our parents right now), so moving to the west coast from the east would be a MAJOR decision that I can’t believe we’ll ever be ready to make. But in my job field, there’s jobs all over the place, and I still almost have my pick (I really lucked out in my first job out of college, and I’ve been milking it this whole time!). I could be an employee of a company working in-house, or as a contractor or self-employed. I can stay in my current job and continue up the ladder, knowing I can move to a completely different product line if I’d like (VARIETY!).

In the end, this uncertainty about careers AND where to live is affecting our purchasing habits in that I’m not willing to buy replacement furniture or appliances if we’re potentially going to move. My plan, if we move, is to sell most of the crap we have now and start fresh…and that’s hard to do when you have brand new furniture. Plus, we get partway into researching things like a new washing machine, but then lose steam quickly knowing the hassle of making a decision, what to do with the old (still working) washer, etc. To some, these are simple, spur-of-the-moment decisions (like me about 5-10 years ago), but for us, we have other things on our minds that we always have to consider before making a decision.

I’ve seen what impulse purchases nets you (lots of lost money on cars, uncomfortable and poor quality furniture, decor that doesn’t quite fit with whatever theme we’re attempting, etc.), so I can definitely say I’ve changed from the 20-something “kid” who would just trade in a new car for another, more expensive new car on a whim to a thoughtful, more cautious spender. We have a nice savings account, separate from our investments, that is reaching close to 6 figures, while we’re also paying down our only remaining debt (mortgage). There’s nothing forcing us to make a decision, other than my wife’s mental health, so I feel like we’ve been stuck in limbo for a couple years now and may be so for some time.

So for now, we’ll just keep plugging away at our mortgage, saving up for whatever we might need down the road, and keep our eyes open for opportunities that we can’t pass up. But will we pull the trigger when the time comes? Hard to say.

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Clever Dude

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