Sure, you love the idea of a reduced workweek, but you also can’t help but think: No way could I afford to work part time!
Stop a minute. Consider whether “I can’t afford it” is an objective conclusion or an emotional response based on fear of the unknown.
Then explore the unknown. Yep, that means digging into the numbers: your income, expenses, and then changes to the budget to make a reduced workweek affordable. Let’s begin.
“Can I Afford to Work Part Time?”
Take these five steps to answer the question objectively.
1. Figure the Percentage Pay Cut
First, figure the percentage cut in your take-home pay that corresponds with your planned cut in hours.
For example, if you’re planning to propose a four-day workweek, (80% of full time), figure about a 20% reduction in take-home pay; a three-day workweek (60% of full time), about a 40% reduction in take-home pay; and so forth. (It’s an approximate figure because of the income tax factor.)
2. Figure Your Monthly Dollar Pay Cut
Next, translate the percentage pay cut into a monthly dollar amount. That’s the amount you’d need to trim from your current expenses to match your new (lower) income level. Call that figure your Monthly Savings Target.
3. Cut Expenses to Match Your Target
Start to look for the cuts, trade-offs and adjustments needed in your household budget to reach your Monthly Savings Target.
Yes, this is painful, but remember the goal: being able to afford to work part time.
Begin with the expenses that could drop along with your work hours: commuting costs, lunches out, wardrobe, dry cleaning, child or elder care, and so on.
Then, look at discretionary areas: club memberships, entertainment and recreational choices, holiday spending. Where can you trim your groceries, dining out, clothing or transportation expenses?
4. Get Budget Help If You Need It
Financial adjustments are not a quick and easy step, but a critical planning component beyond the scope of this website.
If budget planning and ways to reduce (or slash!) expenses are new topics for you, turn to the extensive resources found online, or at your library and bookstore to walk you through the process.
I like the debt-free living advice and resources found at Crown Financial Ministries.
5. Practice Living on Your New Income Level
Once you’ve determined your new income level and revised budget to match, do a practice run.
To get a realistic picture of how well you can live on your reduced income level, I recommend three months or more.
Stash the surplus (that is, the difference from the full-time income you’re still making) into an emergency fund, long-term savings or to pay down consumer debt.
More Ways to Afford to Work Part Time
- Change your definition of part time. If the numbers don’t support your ideal schedule, don’t ditch the idea. Instead, look for a compromise. For example, a 30-hour workweek over four days instead of a 24-hour workweek in three days.
- Check if one of the choices in 5 Affordable Ways to Have Fridays Off is an appealing match for your money situation.
- Add one or two telecommuting days to your reduced workweek schedule. When you cut the commute, you recapture time for life. That’s what you’re ultimately after, right?
- Cut your hours and keep close to your full-time salary. Could you pull it off? Find out when you check the 5 criteria for making it happen.
Make the Trade-offs to Work Part-time Hours
In the end, you will probably find yourself making material trade-offs in order to yield intangible, emotional benefits that cost mainly time and energy.
Isn’t that exactly what you are negotiating for with your new flexible work arrangement?
Others Have Done It; You Can, Too.
“My proposal for [a combination of] part-time and telecommuting was approved! I doubted my chances of attaining my goal of staying home with my first child working 20-24 hour/week because of the employer culture where I work. But my manager stated that it was the best proposal he had ever read and he was going to give me a chance. Thanks for making this process so easy!” Kristin Scharfen, Project Manager, Lees Summit, MO
The Fastest Way to a Flexible Work Schedule
Once you decide on the flexible work arrangement of your choice, use one of my proven proposal template packages. Pick and click a cover to learn more. Or download it now.