Last week, I heard from a state government employee who told me his current job provides him with “much flexibility and work life balance.”
Josiah* said he works an average of 35 hours a week, plus he can flex his hours as needed to meet family needs that come up. Oh, and he makes more than $125,000 a year.
All that’s the good news.
The bad news? Impending state-mandated furloughs along with 12% across-the-board pay cuts. It’s a salary slashing Josiah says he can’t absorb, forcing him to respond to an opening for another higher-paying job. A job where the culture is far from flexible.
Josiah came to me with his dilemma: “I’m devastated about the pay cut, but even more scared of the prospect of going to a new job where I no longer have the flexible schedule I currently have.”
You can sense by the words he uses how important job flexibility is to him, but the salary reduction is driving him away from a satisfying job within a flexible work culture. Can you see his options? Does he have any?
Josiah didn’t come to me for budgeting advice; his session focused on specific strategies for negotiating flexibility during his upcoming job interview, because that’s what he asked for.
Yet I wondered (silently) if there were lifestyle adjustments he’d be willing to make that would allow him to keep the flexible job he already had.
If his annual salary was $30,000, I wouldn’t give this much thought. But at $125,000+ a year, could there be places to trim expenses and make material trade-offs for time freedom? It’s something I’d be willing to explore with him if he wanted to go down that path.
It’s Not How Much You Earn…
But I know nothing about Josiah’s life circumstances and financial situation otherwise, and I’m not here to judge his choices. Rather, I want to make a point about the broader subject of income and spending: living within your means gives you wider work options. You may have heard it before: it’s not how much you earn; it’s how much you spend.
Yes, I realize that the “American way” promotes the opposite with excess consumption and a lifestyle of consumer debt. So forging a different path, i.e., spending less than you make, takes courage and discipline. But when life’s realities take an unexpected shift, you’ll have a financial cushion that gives you the flexibility for dealing with them.
- Want a reduced workweek to help care for your grandchild or elderly parent?
- Wishing for a reduced workday to pick up your kids after school or to attend MBA classes?
- Need flextime to go to the gym or your health care appointments?
- Want to job share so you can plan a short-term sabbatical and still have work coverage?
Whatever the reasons for wanting more control of your time, with prudent budget practices in place, you’ll have more liberty to make self-directed decisions about your work-life choices, instead of being forced into them.
Is This an Area of Struggle for You?
Who hasn’t been making financial adjustments and sacrifices since the Great Recession? It’s been a bumpy road for almost everyone.
Here are a few recommended resources to make money issues more manageable:
Being Minimalist – I like Joshua Becker’s “regular guy” story of how he and his young family learned to live with less stuff and enjoy life more.
Crown Financial Ministries – This long-standing organization has loads of practical resources for wise, biblically-based management of personal finances, career, business and even your marriage.
Don’t let finances foil your flexibility options. Build a budget—and a lifestyle—that fosters time freedom and choices.
*Name changed and identifying details omitted to retain privacy.